Even though I've been covering the arts in Central Indiana for years, there are still places that I've somehow never visited. I hope to change at least some of that by periodically featuring "Places I'd Never Been" here on the blog.
First up, Indy Hostel.
For the uninitiated, a hostel is an inexpensive place to stay while traveling. Usually these feature barracks-like bunks in room shared with fellow travelers and a comfortable common area. I took advantage of these during a sea-to-shining-sea odyssey of self-discovery hitchhike/bus trek in my younger days, but that trip didn't include an Indianapolis stop (And Indy Hostel didn't open until 2003 anyway). For years now, I've heard about concerts held at the Indy Hostel, but never got around to attending one. Until last night.
The casual concert featured singer/songwriters Cara Jean Marcy (accompanied by cellist Grover Parido), Tim Grimm (familiar beyond folk music circles for his stage work at the IRT and beyond) and Heather Styka, a now-Maine-based songstress who appeared in the Phoenix Theatre's "Forever Sung" show a few seasons back. About 50 mismatched chairs were crammed into a small room, with pots of chili, donated beer, and pot-luck munchies filling the kitchen. Money collected at the door (with all the formality of a frat party) went to the musicians.
Performers here dispensed with any formality. They chatted over chili before the show, casually took the stage, offered unscripted banter, and took turns playing their tunes unamplified. They celebrated (and teased) each other, shared stories, and responded to comments from friends in the full house. Among highlights: Grimm, just returning from a performing trip to the Netherlands, teased his new CD, to be released in January. Marcy and Parido played a beautiful tune she wrote for (but didn't play at) her wedding, sharing a hilarious tale that included a wedding dress and a can of Hormel chili. And Styka stunned with "Contented," a gorgeous, deceptively simple song that a smart country star should grab and run with (Even though such a cover is unlikely to be as strong as Styka's version. Give a listen to it here).
Indy Hostel hosts concerts throughout the year as well as a folk festival in August. Look for more here.
FYI: Styka and Grimm, separately, will be headlining concerts in the Indy Folk Series. Details here.
And if you like folk music, keep an eye on this blog. I'll be giving away passes to an advance screening of the new Coen brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davis" soon. It's set in the early 1960s in Greenwich village and focuses on a troubled folkie.
Wait. What am I saying? Folk musicians can never stay tuned.