Sunday, Dec. 31
Zanies Too has been a rock and roll oasis on Indianapolis’ Eastside for almost 20 years now. If you live near the area, chances are you’ve shown up at Zanies. With the always delectable Mickey bartending, good ol’ E.J. standing at the door and owners Charlie and Barb Kerher sitting at the bar, Zanies Too feels like home — the closest thing to an Eastside rock and roll hillbilly Cheers, where everybody knows your name (and your health problems and your romantic history and your drinking habits).
So, what better way to bring in 2007 than with a smoking hot New Year’s Eve gig by Indy’s premier blues-rock guitar-slinger Gene Deer? For years, Deer held down a steady Sunday and Tuesday residency at Zanies Too, consistently drawing crowds with his good-time mix of covers, originals and blues standards. After a three-year absence, he gave the packed house a New Year’s Eve homecoming performance that demonstrated why he might just be the tightest, most entertaining “blooze”-rock practitioner in the city.
Sporting a band that included the tasteful keyboard work of Brett Donovan, the incredibly soulful and groovy bass of Henry Conely (who used to be chief of the United States Navy Band) and the tight, yet unrestrained drumming of longtime cohort Keith Yount, Deer pulled out all the stops. Running through a mixed bag of originals like “Just Shoulda Laid Off’a the Booze” and “Too Far Gone,” in addition to covers ranging from Van Morrison to Jimi Hendrix, the band kept the crowd happy.
It was shortly before midnight when Deer dropped an unexpected bomb on the place, unleashing a savage version of The Bob Seger System classic “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” The Eastsiders lost their minds, jamming the dance floor and, as Deer and his band rocked 2006 away, the smiles were wide, the beer flowed and the bar family was happy to be together.