Hammer steps down as music editor 

For the last 10 years, I’ve served as NUVO’s music editor, listening to hundreds of bands at hundreds of shows, and profiling the people, both famous and non-famous, who’ve made the Indianapolis music scene one of the most vibrant in the nation.

Effective with this issue, I am leaving that post behind. Ten years is a very long time to be a music editor anywhere, and the music scene, NUVO and myself are best served with a fresh start and new energy in this section.

I’m remaining with NUVO as a contributing editor, a columnist and writer of occasional features elsewhere in the publication. This isn’t a farewell address.

NUVO’s music section will continue to expand and evolve and will remain the primary source of local music news, just as it has done since its inception in 1990. Look for changes in the upcoming weeks and months that will better serve the music scene and its followers.

NUVO remains dedicated to being the best weekly newspaper in Indiana and I’m sure it will be.
While my tenure here has not been without controversy, I look back at my decade of service as music editor with fondness and nothing but good memories. I apologize to those to whom I’ve done wrong, congratulate those who’ve been successful and wave a defiant middle finger to nobody.

It’s been a good run. I’ve had a shot of Jack Daniel’s with Tony Bennett. I’ve been on stage with Chuck D., Flava Flav and the rest of Public Enemy. Fiona Apple told me I have a kind face. George Clinton once gave me a sweaty bear hug, one that I could have done without.
But it hasn’t been the famous people who’ve made this experience so memorable. It’s the individual people and bands who made this a great job for me for so long.

Probably the most memorable moment for me came in 2002. I was casually attending a Patio Battle of the Bands show when out of nowhere, in a lineup of otherwise unremarkable bands, The Slurs appeared on stage.

It’s probably the single most memorable performance I’ve ever seen. Never before or since have I seen a band come out with so much passion and fury and energy. In the course of a 30-minute set, they changed the Indianapolis music scene permanently.

When Nick Pryor took his guitar and smashed it into a million pieces at the end of their closing song, “The Problem With Rock and Roll,” it was like being present at the Cavern Club for a Beatles show or at a dank London club when the Sex Pistols first played.

The fact that The Slurs haven’t become international superstars yet makes me believe that the problems with rock and roll go way, way beyond the reason The Slurs’ Jim Kuczkowski listed in his song.

I remember being present at the Emerson Theater for many, many shows by Perfect Nothing, probably my other most favorite local group of the last 10 years. The great thing about the Emerson is that it’s dark, sweaty and crowded. Randall Sharkey and Stephanie Brewer were such a potent one-two force on lead vocals. They overpowered the audiences.

I remember people walking out of their shows at the Emerson and Festivilla with dazed looks on their faces, like they’d just witnessed a thermonuclear bomb being detonated. Their lack of international superstardom also baffles me.

In a job like this, you see the good, the bad and the ugly. I remember sitting at Festivilla, playing Connect Four with Christiebelle when Dearnt took the stage. With a potent combination of grindcore, theatrics and Internet shit-talking, they were a hilarious and effective presence on the scene. When they opened for The Slurs at the Monkey’s Tale, it was surreal watching hundreds of people standing there listening to their room-clearing music. Not a single person left as lead singer Wudearnt cursed, screamed and insulted the crowd.

The list of people I’d want to thank would go on way beyond the space allotted for this story. Besides the people at NUVO who gave me a chance, I’d like to thank Steve Hayes, David Lindquist and Jeff Napier for their personal support and kindnesses. Others who have made this job such a great one were Erin Brown, Gwen Noel, Innate, Ron Miner, Russ Johnson, Rhymefest, Origin-Al, Dale Lawrence, Jeb Banner and probably 10,000 others whose names immediately escape me.

Thanks to all of them, and all of you, the readers of NUVO, for your support over the years.
Old music writers never die, they just keep on finding more and more innovative ways to get into shows for free. Being in these pages for so long has been an honor and a privilege, in the literal sense.

Thanks for reading.

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