By Rick Wilkerson
You say, “Let’s make Indianapolis a real music scene”.
Well now. Mama always said, “whatever you do, son…don’t make a scene!”
She knew. Don’t mess up what you’ve already got.
Your scene? Better than most, but there are ghosts.
Ghosts of musicians passed. Passed on, some. Passed through, a few. Passed onto other parts? Now you’re getting somewhere.
Somewhere, anywhere, but here. That’s where they go.
You mourn Indiana Avenue. You should. A beautiful thing, over way too soon.
You know what, though? She wasn’t built to hold her best. Wes, Freddie, J.J., Slide, Vinnegar, Baker, Jennings. On to bigger, brighter, warmer, sassier places.
Same with Ink Spots and Four Freshmen. Too big for your pop stand.
More than just them. Pharez. Rayford. Burton. Ranelin. McLawler. Young. Dawn. Spaulding. Ridley. Royce. Caesar. Tyler. It goes on and it keeps on.
The Avenue? It was murder, plain and simple. Torn down. Sold off. Paved over. Gone.
You can kill a place, but you can’t kill a sound.
Indy soul exploded in the 70’s, picked up where Avenue jazz left off, but you forgot to remember your own little Motown. You were napping and might still be.
Manchild blew up with parts landing in LA. Kenny became Babyface, you’ve heard of him, maybe? Griffin practically invented techno beats. Manchild. Who?
One day, they’re your garage band, Sounds Unlimited. Next day, they’re Mason Proffit, with LP’s, tours and airplay. Mason Proffit, aren’t they from Illinois?
One day, they’re your garage band, Him, Her and Them. Next day, they’re Coven, on Mercury Records, “Chicago” band, inventing devil rock before Black Sabbath was a thing.
You knew that, right? No, you didn’t.
John Hiatt and Steve Wariner, Nashville. Mandy Marie Luke, Austin. Kate Lamont, Oakland. So many more, gone or working on it—-they’ll let you know on their way out.
The Ataris, California. Soon as they leave, call their album “Anywhere but Here”.
Anywhere but here.
Naptown, you got it goin’ on. You really do. Look all around you. It’s amazing.
But what don’t you got?
Sunshine with a lack of winter.
A real music industry.
So, you’re a mighty fine blasting off pad. It’s your thing, OK? Do whatcha gonna do.
You know what else you don’t got, Naptown? A freaking memory. Like, stop forgetting every good thing that happens here, ok?
Stake a claim. Honor it, cherish it, let the world know it’s yours. Or was.
When you don’t own your best, the ghosts get riled up. No wonder this place is so haunted.
Make a scene in Indy? Sure, why not?
Until you figure it out, remember what’s here, right now, always, until it’s not.