Category Archives: Indianapolis Monthly

Spirits Are Moving: The Rise of Indiana’s Craft Distillers (Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly —  Not too long ago, ordering a beer generally meant choosing from a menu of taps that offered everything from Budweiser to Bud Light. Today, there’s a craft brewery on every other corner, a cleverly christened IPA for every town. In short order, beer went from something monopolized by a wagon-circled posse of famous names to an indicator of witty naming conventions, taste, and local pride. If the men and women on these pages have anything to say about it, the next logical step is upon us. “The spirits side is just getting to where beer is,” says Travis Barnes, founder of Hotel Tango. “We’re at the infancy of that cycle.”

Make no mistake, the boom is on: In 2017, the American Craft Spirits Association reported that more than 1,500 craft distilleries currently operate nationwide. In 2010, there were about 200. It’s lively locally, too: There are more than 20 in Indiana, and the number is going up. That’s largely thanks to the 2013 passing of the Indiana Artisan Distiller’s Permit, a law that allows distillers to sell directly to consumers. Initially, there was a catch: The long-delayed permit required distilleries to wait three years before being eligible. In 2017, that wait was reduced to 18 months.

As such, Indy’s distillery surge is partly due to legalese and paperwork. But it’s also cultural. We’re all good with craft beers, but, jeez, those have a lot of carbs. Mostly, spirits are the next evolution in the maker movement as it pertains to alcohol. “Craft beer’s been at it for a while, and craft wine for longer than that,” says Dave Colt, cofounder of Sun King, the city’s preeminent brewer, which is getting into the distillery game. “Spirits are the next wave, that natural progression.” And, as with the craft beer revolution, the local insurgents are taking dead aim at the big guys. “I don’t see 8th Day or Sun King as competition,” says Barnes. “We’re trying to flip the switch for guys who only buy Jack or Jim Beam to try local or state spirits. The rising tide lifts all ships.”

Meet the makers on the cover of this month’s Indianapolis Monthly. 

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The 10 Greatest Things I Witnessed at My First Gen Con (via Indianapolis Monthly)

OH GOD LOOK OUT THE ESCALATOR IS ABOUT TO END

 

Indianapolis Monthly — If you are a gamer, Gen Con is like hitting the sundae buffet on your birthday: It’s one of the few times you are allowed, if not obligated, to put aside your cares, concerns and core humanity to plunge into the goodies with your face.

If you are new to Gen Con—as I was—it’s more like materializing at a bus station during rush hour on some exceedingly distant planet. One minute you’re wandering your hometown on a beautiful Thursday; the next you’re stupidly spinning in circles trying to process an unending flock of orcs, card towers, and paunchy Deadpool cosplayers. It’s like learning what ice cream sundaes are, and then being told to go make yourself one using three million toppings. There is no way to process all of it in one day, so in no particular order, here are 10 things that stuck with me after I returned to my decidedly unmagical and +20 suburban home office.

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Review: Foo Fighters in Indianapolis, the Best Dad-Rock Band on Planet Earth

This man loves Honda Odysseys more than I do.

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Indy Monthly — Dave Grohl and company put on the best dad-rock show on planet Earth, full stop, and if this sentence reads negative to you, please put down our website and get back to, I don’t know, standing in front of national parks taking pictures of your face or whatever you people do, for it is intended as the highest of compliments.

Where to start about Thursday evening’s show by Foo Fighters, who, after 23 (!!!)(!) years, are officially a band of astonishing stability: 22 songs, two-and-a-half-hours, “Everlong,” Dave Grohl’s running gag about the pure dependability of Honda Odysseys (accurate), 95 singalongs, two Queen covers, and one my-hand-to-God mashup of “Imagine” and Van Halen’s “Jump” that would bring “Weird Al” Yankovic to actual tears? In his endless drive to maintain peak crowd enjoyment, Grohl says “Okey dokey artichokey,” encourages us parents to sing along, gets giddy about the moon, and pretends to be paternally disappointed in Chris Shiflett’s guitar solo. The man even brings his seventh-grade daughter up to sing background vocals, for God’s sake, that is PARENTING.

More on the band’s Noblesville stop at Indianapolis Monthly.

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Eat Your Way Around the Indy 500 (via Indianapolis Monthly)

69,492 points

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Indianapolis Monthly — Fun fact: In addition to hosting the Largest One-Day Sporting Event in the World, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds the Largest One-Day Volume of Chicken Tenders Put in the Mouths of 300,000 Humans. There are untold regions from which to obtain chicken tenders here: There are tents devoted to them, and concession counters flush with them. I’m pretty sure you can get some from Letterman’s luxury box. Today, on Fast Friday, I am simply sitting in Pagoda Plaza in the midst of a chicken-tender Fantasyland that would paralyze my children with joy.

But I am here in search of OTHER FOODS, the non-vaguely identified poultry parts that make up the culinary options at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To do so, I wandered the Pagoda Plaza and drifted down Georgetown Road like a creeper, circumventing the entire outside of the oval and doing my due journalistic diligence while pre-emptively working off turkey legs (HA. Just kidding; to do so I’d need to walk 3,499 more laps). Sure, IMS houses plenty of traditional concessions—your tenders-on-a-bed-of-waffle-fries ($10), your burger-esque objects ($10), and your Indy Dogs ($5), which are like regular hot dogs, except made of pollen. But my assignment was to wander a bit off the track (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) and see what I could find.

The main takeaway: Everything is very healthy.

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Weird Al’s Parody-Free ‘Vanity Tour’ is a Deep-Cut Joy (Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly — Of all the weird things about “Weird Al” Yankovic, this may be the weirdest: While Coolio, Huey Lewis, and Michael Jackson really only had to worry about sounding like themselves, Weird Al and his criminally under-heralded band have to worry about sounding like The Collective Whole of 35 Years of American Pop Culture, plus Don McLean and Bob Dylan sometimes. There’s being diverse and then there’s being profoundly insane: I’ve never been in a band, but I imagine playing a set list that includes Chamillionaire, Madonna, an iconic grunge song, and a runaway polka is tougher than it looks, much like writing parody in the first place.

One guesses this was part of the drive behind Yankovic’s brilliant “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” which jam-packed the Palladium on Thursday night despite a preemptive barrage of reminders that humanity’s most iconic musical parodist—a guy whose name is synonymous with basically anything that contains some singing and is funny—would not be doing much of that.

Obviously it was one of his best shows anyway.

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Review: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Need to Quickly Exit the Murat Please (via Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly — There’s a moment in Jason Isbell shows that comes during the second verse of “Cover Me Up,” a vivid love letter that’s also the sound of a guy falling to the floor and smashing into pieces. Isbell sings of some definitively indefensible booze-fueled infraction, and midway through it the crowd starts cheering, and this pre-emptive cheer builds on itself and builds some more, and by the time Isbell gets to the payoff line about sobering up and swearing off liquor “forever this time,” this cheer sounds like a wave, an instinctive release of support, and understanding, and either the memory of or wish for committing to the kind of all-or-nothing change required to reclaim a life. It’s an incredible few seconds of direct nerve-to-nerve contact, not to a band or a singer, but to a human being at the front of the room. And even if you’ve seen Isbell’s four Indy-market shows in the past three-and-a-half years, it still wields the power to remind you of his gifts as a writer while also, at the same time, taking your hair and physically blowing it toward the back of your head. Actual, 100 percent physically. I am pretty sure that after “Cover Me Up,” I spent the rest of the night looking like Doctor Who.

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Ed Rudisell: The Number of the Beast (via Indy Monthly)

Photo / John Bragg

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Indianapolis Monthly — GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE: The ’80s-era metal gods in Iron Maiden are still amazing, like you can’t believe how amazing they are, it’s ridiculous, especially since they’re all like, what, 60? Singer Bruce Dickinson even had throat cancer a few years ago, but he worked his voice back and sounds perfect now. Did you know he had to get specially certified to fly the band and crew around in the band’s special 747, the one with the huge Eddie decal on the side?

I did know that, and I’m glad I did because it makes keeping up with Ed Rudisell significantly easier. We’re tucked in a post-lunch-rush corner of Rook, Rudisell’s sleek third restaurant, ostensibly to discuss his portfolio of Indianapolis eateries, his forthcoming Fountain Square tiki bar, and the manner in which he’s sniffing around potential involvement in the legalized marijuana industry (if Indiana ever gets around to doing that). But frankly, we started with Maiden and moved quickly to other relevant topics, like his take on Indy’s death-metal scene (it’s way bigger than you think), age-appropriate nostalgia for cassette mixtapes (Spotify makes curating a playlist convenient—and boring), and ability to recite the entirety of Slayer’s classic Reign in Blood album (guitar solos included), all in about 15 minutes. This is how he talks, bringing up and tearing through bands and liquors and books in a bang-bang-bang flurry of Stuff He Likes, a delivery system that only gets faster if you stumble into a field of shared interests, which you probably will.

Meet the only restaurateur in town with a full-back Muppets tattoo.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Graciously Answers Questions From My Children (Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly — For a nearly infinite number of reasons, I am profoundly under-equipped to interview astrophysicists like Neil deGrasse Tyson. I do not know the age of the sun, I have zero ideas about how to deflect murderous asteroids rocketing at us from deep space, and I know precisely two facts about Saturn, which are the same two you do. (It has rings and would float in an enormous bathtub.)

For this reason, and to preview Tyson’s December 5 appearance at Old National Centre, I have outsourced the following interview to two much more knowledgeable associates: my 13-year-old and 6-year-old, who joined me in listening to Tyson’s endlessly enjoyable StarTalk podcast on the drive home from Thanksgiving and have, as such, come to regard Tyson as Earth’s Smartest Person. Tyson, quite graciously, is happy to go along with this. “All you need is curiosity, and kids have it in abundance,” he says. “A professional scientist is simply a kid who never grew up.” (My 6-year-old, on the morning drive to kindergarten, asked me, “Is this the day you talk to that guy who’s the biggest expert on everything?”)

Indeed, as a best-selling author, podcast host, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, owner of a Twitter account with 10 million followers, host of the revival of the Cosmos television program, and teacher of unceasing charm and enthusiasm, Tyson has achieved the superstar status afforded to scientists like Carl Sagan, the MythBusters and, y’know, Einstein. He’ll bring all that expertise to town in a one-man show titled An Astrophysicist Reads the Newspaper, all about the current scientific climate, as well as asteroid collisions, cosmic travel, dark matter, and purely theoretical objects known as “newspapers.” (The show’s about two and a half hours and for all ages, though some language may be PG-13, because when discussing your potential extermination by enormous flying mountains from space, it’s appropriate to curse a little.)

So now, if you’ll permit, my sons throw a few questions to the biggest expert on everything.

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Give This Man Some More Awards: A Review of Gregory Porter at the Palladium (Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly — Gregory Porter’s rich, sturdy baritone is filed under jazz in large part because singers have to be called something; those “genre” fields don’t fill themselves out, people.

It’s true that Porter won exceedingly deserved jazz vocal Grammys for 2017’s Take Me to the Alleyand 2014’s Liquid Spirit (and odds are pretty good on a third for his new tribute album, Nat “King” Cole and Me), all of which arrived via Blue Note. But while his big, booming voice is worthy of gold, filing it under jazz leaves out more than it lets in. Porter wields command over a vast range of genre fields, as he proved in a gleaming and diverse Saturday night set at the Palladium: Rare is the performer who can conjure Cole’s ghost, lead his own band through a steam-train version of “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and close by gorgeously damning an industry complicit in “musical genocide” all in a baritone that booms as much as it comforts.

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Slightly Confused Review: Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples at the IU Auditorium (via Indianapolis Monthly)

Indianapolis Monthly — A longtime Bob Dylan–fan friend of mine recently made this very good point: For all of Dylan’s reputation as an inscrutable recluse, a sly mystery, some mythic brand of unknowable stringy-haired wraith, he’s not that hard to catch.

I don’t have the exact math on this—God save anyone who does—but Dylan is on the road so much that everyone gave up and started calling it the “Never-Ending Tour.” He releases an album maybe every other year; the most recent is a set of three CDs. He’s up to 13 editions of his ample “Bootleg Series,” the latest of which comprises eight discs chronicling his still-not-unweird Christian-flavored “Gospel Tour.” (It accompanies the just-released documentary “Trouble No More,” which features gobs of new footage.) To recap: That’s eight archive CDs for a weird spell that produced two albums that people mostly did not like. And while he’s hardly a cover model or anything, he’s good for a major interview or two every year, which was at one time considered an appropriate amount to hear from famous singers.

Point is, if you’re looking, Dylan is about as hard to find as a bag of Doritos. Armed with this revisionist knowledge, I attended my first Dylan concert in 12 years on Sunday night at the IU Auditorium, and found him … pretty much an inscrutable recluse. The full review at Indianapolis Monthly. 

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