Lessons in history

Indianapolis has never been at the top of my list for places to visit. Unless you have family or friends here, I imagine it wouldn’t be on the top of yours either.  But it’s not the easiest to get a show in Madison or Chicago on a Tuesday or Wednesday, so Thursday night at Indy’s Jukebox on the south side of Indianapolis was our first show of this November tour.  Twelve hours on the road is long, a very long drive. We left Halloween night around 10:30, stopped for some sleep near Madison, and woke up to drive the remaining eight hours to arrive around 6:30 after the time zone added an hour. The venue wasn’t easy to find, both our navigation devices started freaking out and either showing us floating between streets or showing the street we were driving on as “road”. But find it we did, and though unusual, the place is quite fascinating.

I’ve sometimes wondered what we’re doing, driving around the country, playing shows. Who is it for? Ourselves? The audience? The venue? The answer would include all of the above I’m sure.  Personally, I’ve decided I would like to use these travels to gain some insight and perspective into who we are. As a society and country.  As a culture. This music thing is culture if nothing else.  Our collective history is what drives that monster and in one way or another creates that culture.  Indianapolis turns out to be a perfect locale to get a little taste of that collective history.

Indy’s Jukebox is a venue in an old building. I like historic architecture because it connects us to our past in a visceral way. When you are before or inside an old building you can imagine all the people that were once there, and the lives they were leading, what they cared about and believed in. I asked a couple of the locals what this building used to be; they weren’t sure. A church or a school they said. Neither one actually. Turns out it was a place called Southside Turnvereine Hall.  Built before the turn of the 20th century, it was the gathering place for the South Side Turners, a German social and athletic club with a strong focus in Gymnastics. The Turners were even bodyguards for Abraham Lincoln at one point! Though I’d like to think not that fateful night at the theatre with John Wilkes Boothe.  wikipedia has a lot more info at this link which is quite interesting. The building has a really cool sculpture done by Rudolph Schwarz, an Austrian stone carver, not to be confused with Rudolf  Schwarz, a German architecht who worked about a decade or two later, nor with Rudolph Schwarz, an Austrian born British conductor. Whether or not you believe in actual ghosts, a place like this can lead our imaginations to conjure up whole individuals and personalities that may have inhabited it, and in some way still do.

Enough about that. If you’re into it, follow the links and educate yourself, I can’t tell it all on this here music blog. Suffice it to say I was granted an excellent opportunity here in Indianapolis to satiate my thirst for collective history and cultural underpinnings.  The show was not well attended, but it was our first time here in Indy, and we had a good time nonetheless. Luke Knight and Ryan Puett formed the singer-songwriter bread for our Daymoth sandwich. Both were good, and nice people to boot.  We’re headed to Bloomington tonight, so a short drive is all we have today. That makes me and my sore back happy. Until next time.

Yours Truly, O

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One thought on “Lessons in history

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