Restoring the Old Centrum as a musical destination
When promoter/manager and man-of-all-musical-trades Ray Mills started working in the Indianapolis music scene six years ago, he built his approach on a philosophy of mutual support and success, founding the ironically named Nice Guys Finish Last Coalition. Quite a bit has changed since 2001, but he’s still promoting the local indie pop and rock scene with NGFL music, particularly in his efforts to establish the Old Centrum as a downtown destination for local music and art, with the “Centrum Live” series, intended to introduce an all-ages crowd to new musical genres.
The inaugural show took place Friday, March 23, with the Born Again Floozies and Ebenezer and the Hymnasters. “It was just such a cool looking thing, kind of different than your usual concert,” Mills says. “It had a great feel. We had a really eclectic crowd: everything from really young kids all the way up to 70-year-olds. We weren’t quite sure what to expect for that one, but we liked what we got.”
The next Centrum Live show is at the Old Centrum building, 1201 N. Central Ave., April 18, featuring Elf Power, Everything, Now! and Lovely Houses (7:30 p.m., $10 & 12, all-ages). Mills hopes that he and the bands can continue to take advantage of the building’s old-world, elegant atmosphere.
“The old building was built in 1892, and the part we’re in was built in 1900,” Mills says.
With nearly two decades of experience in the music industry, Mills says one of his goals is to guide potential talent through the musical industry minefield.
“I wanted to help great artists become somewhat successful and help them keep their feet on the ground in the process,” Mills says. “The music industry is a weird place with so many weird pressures, and I’ve tried to be a voice of reason in the middle of that.”
He also hopes to continue to spread new music via the series.
“It’s not music that’s found on the radio; it’s a lot of word of mouth and Internet,” Mills says. “Those are the people we want to reach out to and bring out quality shows that people want to see. And we’re hopefully drawing people to the Old Centrum and helping keep that alive.”