Lori Canada

September 19, 2009

Music and culture critic Jessica Hopper -- consultant for the revered public radio show, This American Life and whose work is regularly featured in publications such as SPIN and LA Weekly -- indulged a diverse Boxcar Books audience on Aug. 28 with readings from her new book The Girls' Guide to Rocking.

A meaty manual on creating, recording and performing music, The Girls' Guide to Rocking is garnering across-the-board praise for its painstaking nuts-and-bolts approach to music and for its expediency to anyone -- not just the adolescent girls it targets -- interested in making it.

Though written in direct, accessible language, the book is impressive in its breadth and scope, and Hopper, a musician herself since age 15, explained that in writing it she drew from her own experiences. "I wrote this book on how to start a band and play and pursue your own interest in music, and a lot of it is culled from my own experiences from being a teenager in a band and growing up as a girl in a band."

May 3, 2008

If Democratic Sen. Barack Obama has been fatally wounded by the most recent onslaught of drive-by attacks on his presidential run, he didn't show it as he delivered a red-meat speech to 13,000 still-feverishly-on-boards on April 30 in Assembly Hall.

In a long and bloody primary race between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, one that many fear will be settled by what could turn out to be this year’s hanging chads -- superdelegates -- Indiana’s May 6 primary could play a decisive role in a presidential election for the first time in decades.

As part of his Indiana tour, Obama spoke to a swooning Bloomington audience, which, while student-heavy, was as diverse in its demographic make-up as the disparate cultural identities and political perspectives the senator has sought to mobilize in his historic campaign.

U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ninth, made introductory remarks, announcing his late-in-the game, surprise endorsement of Obama, saying, "I believe he can change the tone and tenor in Washington. ... I believe he can bring our country together in a way we so desperately need right now. Barack Obama is going to be the next president of the United States."

The Fatted Calf String Band

April 12, 2008

Not a single member of The Fatted Calf String Band is "terribly thrilled" with the demo they recorded in guitarist and fiddler Brad Baute's living room last year. And they offer little more than a noncommittal yawn when asked if and when they might record again soon. That's because The Fatted Calf String Band, not unlike all the unrecorded "old-time" bands of the pre-Library of Congress folklorist explosion of the 1920s, is an adventure better experienced live, in shoes made for kicking up dirt.

Indeed, for over a year now, with evangelical ardency, the band has been moving hippies and hip, head-nodding taste makers alike to dance to the venerable tunes of their great grandmothers' songbooks. From Southern Appalachian fiddle-driven jaunts to a Lotus Dickey tune that was once a square dance staple in the hills of southern Indiana, the band has honed an expansive repertoire of old-time songs to airtight perfection.

Looking like John Boy Walton's hipster cousin from the city, Baute says the band started when he got together with fellow punk-turned traditional fiddler and guitarist Joel Lensch and porch-playing banjoist Chris Mattingly in late 2006. Bloomington's recently deceased beloved multi-instrumentalist Evan Farrell played upright bass for the outfit briefly before Alex Mann took over in January of 2007.

February 16, 2008

Betsy Stirratt feels your pain. "Parking on campus is very frustrating," she agrees. And while she's not exactly proposing that anyone break any laws, the IU School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery director did recently say -- out loud -- that, "Many people find they don't get ticketed on Friday nights when they park in the main library lot, probably because a lot of events are happening on those evenings."

Opening receptions for the SoFA Gallery exhibitions, featuring works of students and faculty, as well as that of regional and national visual artists, for example, tend to be held on Friday nights. With a slew of provocative exhibitions on the horizon, Stirratt would like to see more folks from the community visiting the SoFA Gallery, for Friday receptions and otherwise, even if that means maneuvering around parking headaches and the invisible but daunting divide, that in the imaginations of many, segregates the townies from the gownies.

December 4, 2007

While most know that Monroe County is home to modern folk hero John Mellencamp, many aren't aware of the fact that the universal symbol of benevolence and charity himself, Santa Claus, is also an area homeowner.

The remote regions of the North Terrestrial Pole is where the globe's most recognizable jet-setting do-gooder spends most of his time, but the merry man in red escapes to his Bryan Park neighborhood getaway bungalow a few times a year.

Fresh on the heels of unseating Bill Gates as the world's top philanthropist as named by Business Week, and in town for a jug band extravaganza at Max's Place, Father Christmas recently sat down for an exclusive interview with The Bloomington Alternative.

November 20, 2007

Indianapolis is home to an extraordinary, off-the-beaten-path museum on the grounds of what was once Central State Hospital - the city's sprawling Victorian-era institution for the mentally ill. The Indiana Medical History Museum (IMHM) is the site of what functioned as the hospital's pathology unit for decades.

In an effort to reverse the inertia of deeply entrenched beliefs and mores regarding 19th-century psychiatry, Dr. George Edenharter, visionary and Central State superintendent from 1894 to 1923, established the pathology building in 1895.

"Dr. Edenharter was very aware that science was the wave of the future for psychiatric care," explained IMHM executive director Virginia Terpening. "The plan was to use the science and laboratory method and other means to try and figure out the causes of mental illness. This was very much 20th-century, cutting-edge psychiatry."

November 6, 2007

A busload of card-carrying peace activists, jacked up on caffeine and shared contempt for the Bush war machine and a Democratic Congress that needs to dial 1-800-GROW-A-SPINE, rolled out of Bloomington early Oct. 27 to join several thousands more in Chicago for one of 11 regional anti-war demonstrations that took place that day.

Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC) organizers Christine Glaser and Timothy Baer led that group to the Windy City. And several other area groups and individuals met them there.

Other cities that participated included Boston, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Orlando and Seattle.

September 11, 2007

For the last seven years, when he hasn’t been chasing area hell-raisers, Bedford police officer Brian Turpen has quietly and painstakingly researched the life of a man who, according to country music lore, was perhaps the quintessential hell-raiser: Hank Williams Sr.

Turpen, whose zeal for the music legend is already well-known among a small but fervent church of Hank Williams superfans, may be on the verge of achieving wider recognition with the July release of his book, Ramblin’ Man: Short Stories from the Life of Hank William.

The book is a collection of more than 50 articles Turpen has published in various fanzines and newsletters over the last few years, all of them written exclusively by the man in blue, with the exception of one sprawling, standout piece on the 1949 Grand Ole Opry European Tour, which was co-written with Manfred Reinhardt of Germany.

July 31, 2007

Indisputably one of the 20th century's most important literary figures, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. needed "repeated reassurance" that the batches of personal and professional ephemera he sent over a period of 10 years to the IU Lilly Library "were actually wanted," according to Seth Bowers, one of four undergraduate IU students who curated "Mustard Gas and Roses: The Life and Works of Kurt Vonnegut," an exhibit that runs at the Lilly main gallery through Sept. 8.

Even after the Lilly Library officially secured the bulk of Vonnegut's letters and manuscripts in 1997, the complex iconoclast, who many regarded as the Mark Twain of 1960s counterculture, continued feeding materials to the library until shortly before his death in April at 84.

July 3, 2007

As another summer from Hades blankets south-central Indiana, an early sign of merciful fall arrives with the Summer Night of Lotus, a concert of musical hors d’oeuvres meant to whet appetites for the upcoming Lotus World Music and Arts Festival.

Three very different – but all triple-strength caffeinated – musical adventures will unfold in high gear at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre on Friday, July 13, at 7 p.m.

Initiated three years ago as an annual means of officially launching the Lotus “season,” this year’s Summer Night of Lotus features Grupo Fantasma, a lively, 11-man, Austin-based Afro-Latin funk fusion outfit; the Wilders, a four-piece string band from Kansas City known as much for their torrential, comedy-peppered live performances as for their remarkable musicianship; and Kusun Ensemble, an exhilarating percussion and dance group hailing from Ghana, that many folks will recall having seen during Lotus Festival, 2005.

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