Yes, Virginia, there truly is a Greencastle music scene

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I rather routinely referred to the boys from the Average House Band as perhaps the best-known and longest-performing contributors to the Greencastle music scene.

One of my co-workers seemed astonished by that statement.

He scoffed, "There's a Greencastle music scene?"

His incredulous attitude admittedly caught me off-guard.

I mean, it wasn't as though I'd told him Sasquatch was spotted somewhere near Fillmore. Or perhaps that the Goat Man lives in Madison Township ... although, wait a second, I think he still does.

It's that he doesn't seem to realize something that seems so obvious to most of us. There are some pretty good and interesting local musicians performing amongst us.

Consider the case of the Average House Band. While AHB is neither average nor a house band these days, they have made incredible music each August when they return to Greencastle without practicing together for a year. Amazingly they're able to pick right up where they left off in the late 1970s.

Yet there's more to this story and the Greencastle music scene than looking back on the gaggle of gigs Steve Michael, Danny Martin, Sandy Williams, Bill Hamm, Rod Kersey and Fred Badalli have shared. Truth be told, not only is there a Greencastle music scene, but it keeps getting better and more diverse.

From acoustic night at the Swizzle Stick to Open Mike at the Blue Door to Parkfest on Tuesdays at Robe-Ann to the Greencastle Summer Music Festival at Gobin on Wednesdays, the musical menu this summer has struck a chord over and over with live music aficionados.

Granted, it's not Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett and The Rolling Stones we're talking about, but it is still good, live music.

One night at Parkfest you might get The Fret Set, bluegrass performers nearing 20 years together locally, while the next night at The Swizzle it might one of the various local bands to which Steve St. Pierre lends his karate-kicking guitar talents (don't miss Blues Side Up when they play, by the way).

And thankfully, there is much more to come.

Next up, this Saturday Gail Smith of Almost Home is hosting the lively Greencastle Music Fest on the north side of the square with bands performing from 3:30-11 p.m. Granted, they are not all local this time but most of the groups have performed previously at the Swizzle Stick or other local venues (save for headliners The Flying Toasters).

On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend comes the annual musical treat known as the Crown Street Music Fest featuring blues and jazz musicians from our midst.

The exact lineup hasn't been released just yet but rest assured it will be as entertaining and musically enlightening as it always has been. The best the local music scene has to offer. And then some.

Sept. 15 brings the annual Taste of Greencastle at the Dixie Chopper Business Center. And aside from tasty treats from 10 local eateries, the day will feature a sampling of local music as well.

Scheduled to entertain are young singer-songwriter Anthony Mullis, a popular local favorite; Mary Michael, who gets her musical chops naturally as the daughter of Steve and Nancy Michael; and Barbara Ellen, a Montgomery County woman who wowed the crowed at the Taste event last year.

Consider this: We're about 500 words into this column right now without even mentioning the Babe Ruth of the Greencastle music scene, Tad Robinson, whose blues work has been honored nationally and who seems to enjoy performing locally about as much as we enjoy listening to him. (I'm still kicking myself for not getting down to the Oliver Winery in Bloomington last Friday night to pair Tad with a glass of Camelot Mead).

So, yes, Virginia (and Grant, too), there is a Greencastle music scene.

And not only is it alive and well, but it's hitting all the high notes these days.

My recommendation? Sit back and enjoy, my friends, sit back and enjoy ...