There’s a flurry of regional music news to report this week - new local artist recordings, sad news of a popular music retailer closing, good news of another area music retailer being saved from the same fate, the loss of some talented folks, and more.
• The Nomad Planets have been spending time at Thunderclap Studios in Hammond recording a handful of new original songs. “We’re getting pretty close to done on a couple of them and will announce the particulars on a release date soon,” said the band’s guitarist/vocalist Mark Mybeck.
Mybeck will be teaming up for a duet night with fellow region singer/songwriter Joshua McCormack for a special night geared at showcasing new solo songs from both artists and having fun with a few choice cover tunes that may surprise. The free 9 p.m. acoustic concert happens on Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) at Finnegan’s Pub (US 30) in Dyer. It’s a 21 and older event.
• Crown Point singer-songwriter Robert Rolfe Feddersen -- the former lead vocalist and guitarist with the 1990s Chicago-based group Loudmouth (Hollywood Records) – is currently recording new songs for his sixth solo album with iconic Chicago record producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, Page & Plant, etc.). The full length release titled “American Losers” is expected to be ready for release by mid-summer. Hear Feddersen perform a pair of new songs from the album during his studio visit to “The Midwest BEAT” program tonight at midnight on Merrillville’s NPR station, 89.1FM - The Lakeshore.
• Popular region cover band, Zodiac, has announced a revamping of their live set list. “We have a lot of new tunes that we’ll be performing for the first time on Sunday (2/3) when we play Pioneer Tap (6826 Kennedy Avenue in Hammond),” said vocalist/founder Jill Field. More: www.Zodiac69.com
• Longtime region bassist Billy Ozzello (who plys his musical skills with the current line-up of the national touring group, Survivor) has officially taken over as the new owner of the venerable musical instrument store, Dynamite Music in downtown Griffith. Aside from being a locally owned and operated retail store, Dynamite Music has long been a popular gathering place for local talent and a place for them to network. Thanks to Ozzello taking the reins from Dynamite’s founder Jerry Clemons (bassist of The Nick Danger Band) regional musicians still have a special place to call “home.”
• This good news comes followed by bad news. Another longtime music retailer and networking place for local players located just across the state line in Lansing is shutting its doors. After decades in business on Burnham Avenue, Music Lab is sadly no more. Thanks to the late Tom and Neal Barnhart who co-founded the store and to current management Linda Barnhart and Nick Kutzko and the store's wonderful staff -- past and present -- for all the years of service to the local music community.
• Sad to report the death of Region rapper/rocker, Erich Beard, who performed under the name “Solitaire” from 1999 to 2002 while rocking the mic with Northwest Indiana’s hardcore group Gravelbone. Beard was victim of a shooting in his hometown of Gary on Jan. 28. He was 39. The shooting is still under investigation. “Solitaire joined the band after we heard him recording his solo album at Sheffield Studios,” recalled Gravelbone guitarist Kenny Gannon. “He joined us and was the second vocalist on our album ‘Thunder Gospel.’ He wrote the song ‘Haters,’ which was one of the featured tracks on the album.”