Editor's note: In the wake of RFRA, we asked David McMillin of Chicago band Fort Frances to comment on recent activity in his home state. Fort Frances will donate 20 percent of Saturday's show proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign.
Most people don't understand Indiana.
For those on the coasts who have never spent time in the heartland, Indiana has historically been a place that hosts a big car race in May. More recently, it's been dragged through the dirt thanks to some ignorant moves of the closed-minded officials at the helm of Indiana's legislation.
For me, though, Indiana is everything. I grew up in Columbus. I went to school in Greencastle. I spent the summers in Hartford City where my grandparents lived. Thanks to touring both as a solo songwriter and with my band Fort Frances, I've been lucky to see a large swath of the country. But Indiana will always be home. Everyone who comes to our shows knows it, too. We drape the Indiana state flag over our keyboard on stage.
I'm a next door neighbor now. I live in Chicago. As I watch Indiana grow from a distance, I feel like some sort of proud parent thinking back to the first time I ever played in Fountain Square. This was well before the Super Bowl, before Fountain Square Brewing, before Bluebeard — I think the only pre-show option around was a Subway.
Now, there's something new every time we return. Thanks to people like Tufty and Roni at Radio Radio, Dodge and Josh at MOKB and Brett at IndiENGAGE, Indy is no longer a city that emerging bands are forced to skip due to a lack of venues. It's become a destination in the independent music world, one where bands like ours can count on a supportive community.
As a champion of all things Indiana, you may think the cover I'm sharing with NUVO is an odd choice. David Mead's "Indiana" embodies the whole what's-in-Indiana-besides-endless-cornfields stereotypical question on the minds of so many outsiders. "I'm in the middle of nowhere, population of one," he sings. "Indiana's the wrong place to be stuck in a car." It's a first-hand perspective of an endless drive across the Midwestern flatlands.
But I love this song, and I love that endless drive — the one marked by barns with chipping paint and roads with names like County Road 500N and 30W. I couldn't be more excited to be stuck in a car for a few hours on the way to The Hi-Fi for our show on Saturday night.