Melody Inn celebrates 10 years of music


All you really need to know about the long history

of the community hub known as the Melody Inn can be summed up by a

couple of photos someone recently showed to owners Dave Brown and Rob


"We had a guy come in from a local band

recently who had told his grandfather he was going to play the Mel,"

Brown says. "It turns out his grandpa used to mop the floors

back in the 1940s, so he gave him some photos from that time. Turns

out it was a real swanky joint back then!"

The punchline may be that the Mel is now your

classic hole-in-the-wall, but the most fascinating thing about the

photos of a brand-spankin'-new speakeasy with immaculately laid out

tables and metalwork is what hasn't changed. The floor is the same,

as is the tile, the distinctive big mirror in the back - even the


In that time it's gone through only six owners.

Ten years ago this week, Brown and Ondrish took over with a month's

rent paid, eleven bucks in the till and no clue if their new venture

would live past the first thirty days. Things seem to have turned out


"Ten years is a lifetime in the bar

business," Ondrish says.

They're pulling out all the metaphorical stops to

commemorate the event, with a five-day concert series covering

everything from original rock to DJs to punk rock, with long slate of

performers every night.

"We wanted to really support local live

musicians, and as it turns out, a lot more places are doing that now

than there were 10 years ago," Brown says. "It's kind of

neat to hear when people tell us they came here and used the Melody

Inn as a template for their own approach to live music."

"We've always tried to treat the bands really

well, but to be honest, we didn't even know we were treating that

well," Ondrish says. "We were just being decent. But a lot

of these places out there, you hear stories of shady bar guys, never

getting paid, gear getting stolen. We've always taken the road bands

very seriously."

The Mel's diverse crowd comes from all walks of

life - everything from the Punk Rock Night gang that's been in

place from the beginning of the Brown/Ondrish era, to businessmen

dropping by, to old couples who remember courting each other and

falling in love here decades ago.

"This place has always defied categorization;

you can some in here and see any kind of people," Ondrish says.

"We're in a situation where people from a lot of scenes can feel

comfortable calling this place home. It cross-pollinates; we'll have

kids who come in on electronic night who end up coming by for Punk

Rock Night. We do all kinds of music all the time. If you like music

of any sort and you're not a snob, you'll be able to have a good


That very sense of family has contributed to the

stability of the place after all these years, and helps maintain

order even when more than 100 punks fill the place on a Saturday

night, spread out over two different rooms and an outdoor beer


"People look out for this bar and each other,

and that's really amazing," Brown says. "They respect the

place and the atmosphere. If someone's acting stupid, we can say to

their buddy, 'Hey, your bud is being a real jerk.' If you can't get

your shit together here of all places, there's no hope for you!"

Ondrish's fiance Nikol Prieto is assembling a

video of longtime fans sharing their own memories of the place. "I'm

amazed at how many hookups and marriages we've gotten over the

years!" she says. "So many people feel like this place is

home to them."

"People don't just wander in; this is a

destination," Brown says. "People know why they're coming

here, which helps weed out a lot of bad people. It's a family vibe

around here."

"I guarantee we have less bar fights than

anywhere in Broad Ripple," Ondrish adds. "When someone

comes out here that's an asshole, they stand out like a sore thumb."

For their own part, Ondrish and Brown say they're

happy for everyone who's helped bring the bar to this point.

"We're thankful for all the bands that have

played here, all the promoters, all the DJs and all the fans that

have come out to support it," Brown says. "We wouldn't be

here without the help of all those people. We always hope people will

continue to come and support the bands we have on tour, even if

they've never heard of them before. We're so often amazed by an

underground band we've never heard of. You may just be blown away."

Click here for full details on "The Melebration," the Melody's 10-year-anniversary extravaganza.


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