Formed a decade ago, Ripley Street is a veteran region band that mixes original "old school"-sounding rock with customized or rather "Ripley-ized" covers of classic rock standards that have stood the test of time.
Over their career, Ripley has released two original music albums - "Ripley Street" (2002) and "Traffic Jam" (2007) - have performed at most of the area's major night clubs and at numerous annual festivals (including this year's Porter County Fair),
They also have strutted their stuff on stage at Merrillville's prestigious Star Plaza Theatre no less than three times. "Playing Star Plaza is always a huge thrill," said vocalist Ken Williams, who spent many of his youthful years touring the country with a variety of show bands and rock groups.
Rounding out William's seasoned troupe - who borrowed their name from a highway sign spotted while traveling down I-94 one summer day - is lead guitarist Charlie Jones, rhythm guitarist Mark Rossi, keyboardist Theron Schmeckpeper, bassist Bill Turvo and drummer Tim Majkowski.
Some of their own songs have enjoyed radio play. Their first region radio hit "No Way" was featured on their debut CD; while "Traffic Jam" has yielded two songs that have gotten some radio attention - "The Best I Never Had" and "Back Again."
These three originals are always slipped into the band's live set, with a few others from the albums rotated from night to night.
Brand new tunes getting for their third album are being written, though there is no target date for recording or releasing it just yet.
"The original songs usually go over very well, especially the ones that people have heard on the radio. But about half of every live show consists of covers, that we totally 'Ripley-ize' just enough to make them feel like our own," said Williams.
When they opt to perform it, Ripley's "Abbey Road" Beatles medley is always a highlight of their live set.
Other classic artists who frequently get Ripley-ized during a typical gig are: Grand Funk Railroad ("I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home"), Aretha Franklin ("Chain Of Fools"), Bill Withers ("Ain't No Sunshine") and The Animals ("We Gotta Get Out Of This Place").
While songs by the likes of Joe Walsh, The Who, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and other major classic rock artists are also rotated through the show from night to night.
Another bright spot in a Ripley Street concert is when Williams relinquishes lead vocal duties to Jones for a tasty treatment of the old 1967 psychedelic classic by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition's "Just Dropped In (To What Condition My Condition Was In)."
"We just love to get out there and play," Williams said. "This band is like an extended family. Some of us have been friends for most of our lives, so getting together to do a gig is like a 'boys night out' for us. Just point us to the stage. We always have a ball."
Ripley Street, 9:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Drena's Bar & Grill, 636 N. - 700 W. (on Duck Creek Golf Course), Hobart
COST: $5 (21-and-older show)
FYI: (219) 363-0890; drenasbarandgrill.com