"Uh, I know this might sound kinda flaky, but does anyone here have a pick? This is the only song I play with a pick!" Erin Jordan of Chicago asks. If there's not a pick around somewhere, we're all in trouble; Indy's Music House is a mild-mannered instrument shop by day, and only recently took up a secret identity as live stage on Friday nights. It's an interesting contrast, the elegant and enormous pianos surrounding the makeshift stage upon which Jordan and her lone guitar performs. Fortunately, someone does have a pick, and disharmonious disaster is averted. Erin Jordan, singer/songwriter from Chicago, recently performed on the new stage at Indy's Music House.
"It's so nice playing someplace that's not full of drunk people!" Jordan says - a handy side effect of the all-ages nature of the show.
Located about a mile outside 465 at 9470 E. Washington St., it's a bit farther out of the way than SoBro's late lamented Cath Coffeehouse, but on this recent Friday night it's worth the drive to hear Jordan's traditional folk singing and songwriting.
She's not the only one performing tonight; the Friday live stage starts up at 7:30 p.m. with live open stage hosted by Robin Coleman, then a headline act, followed by more performances until everyone's ready to go home. On this particular night, owner Kevin Bechman and his band jam until nearly dawn. Their open stage draws everything from jazz to bluegrass to alternative.
"I just wanted to pull in local musicians, change local music for the Eastside," Bechman says. "There's nothing to do over here! I wanted to do an all-ages thing and not turn anybody away."
The roster of singer/songwriter acts is meant to at least partially fill the void left by the closing of the Cath, which had built up a reputation as a serious stop on the road between St. Louis and Chicago. Coleman and Bechman are bringing in acts from as far away as Nashville, New York and Michigan, trying to keep up the old Cath tradition.
"Independent artists like being treated well, mainly," Jordan said. "Everyone in Chicago loved Cath and what Nora did there. There are a lot of crappy coffeehouses out there."
The weekly Fridays have been going since Oct. 8, and in the spring they'll start running on Saturdays as well. Bechman has fully committed to the new theme, preparing to knock out walls and build a patio to make more room for people to see the stage. So far it's working; from word of mouth alone, Friday nights have been pulling in between 60 and 100 people every week. At the moment it's donation only.
"With the lessons department I have here, they can bring their kids on a Friday evening, versus going to your smoky bar," Bechman says. "We've had a lot of students play here. People sit anywhere: on the floor, on top of the piano."
"I love intimate concerts," Coleman says. "I would much rather sit in a room like this and listen to music; you know you're with people who are there for the love of the music. It's like house concerts; house concerts are big again. People are out there searching for great music that's not top 40 stuff."
"Without passion and conviction, I think you have nothing," Bechman says.
For the upcoming schedule, check out www.indysmusichouse.tripod.com.