Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • What Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band promises to do at the Eiteljorg June 1

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | May 22, 2013

                                                             Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
                                                                    Performs at 7:30, June 1
                                                                     at the Eiteljorg Museum

    A blast of hillbilly passion and Delta blues will captivate audience members when Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band hits the stage NEXT Saturday, June 1 at  7 p.m., here at the Eiteljorg.

    The group known for its incendiary live shows promises to bring the heat - with a ferocious blues explosion never before seen inside the walls of any museum. Roaring out of the southern Indiana foothills, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, plays a brand of Americana and Blues music that stands alone. The band’s new album, “Between The Ditches,” chronicles their Indiana roots.

    "I love guitars,” says the good Reverend. “The guitar has shaped my whole life, and given me a career where I get to travel the world and play music… I know it is a museum, but wine and cheese crowd be warned. We still plan to rock the place!" And because Reverend Peyton plays everything - from a 1930s National guitar to a cigar box, his act fits right in with the museum’s Guitars! exhibit.

    “I am going to be performing songs in honor of the exhibit from my personal collection of rare, vintage, and custom guitars,” he says.  Here are the details about the June 1 show:

    Attendees must be 21 and older
    $15 general admission
    $10 Eiteljorg Museum members
    Tickets may be purchased by calling the museum at 317-636-9378.

    Photo credits: Scott Toepfer and Bill Steber

    According to their website, the Rev. J. Peyton, his wife Breezy and distant cousin Aaron “Cuz” Persinger, who make up the trio, are a living breathing embodiment of the traditions and hard work ethic native to their Brown County, Ind., home. Their June 1 concert will fill the museum with music that celebrates the growl of a good truck engine, passion for their country upbringing and the importance of family.

    Hope to see you at the concert for a hillbilly good time!

    DeShong Perry-Smitherman
    Eiteljorg public relations manager


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  • How we got such remarkable images for our Guitars exhibit

    by Elena Rippel, Eiteljorg curatorial intern | May 20, 2013

    Guitars! gallery
    From this angle, there’s a great contrast between the proper Victorian guitarist
    and the high-energy Nancy Wilson.

    When I started my internship with the Eiteljorg's curatorial department last August, I was looking forward to learning more about the curatorial process by working on Guitars! Roundups to Rockers.  Now, looking back on these past months, I’ve not only received quite an education on guitars and 20th century popular music, but also gained valuable practical experience.

    One of the main things I’ve learned is that creating an exhibit is truly a collaborative effort.  Besides all the work the Eiteljorg staff put in to creating and publicizing the exhibit, there were many outside collectors and institutions that we depended on to even have an exhibit in the first place!   While the curators were working out loan agreements for the great selection of guitars on display, I was busy tracking down images to illustrate them.

    You might be aware of all of the digitization efforts many archives and libraries have gone through in past years to put collections online.  As a history student, it was fun to go through the online photo collections of institutions like the Denver Public Library or Los Angeles Public Library searching for people playing guitars.  (I encourage browsing through historical photos; you never know what you’ll run across).  Through these databases we were able to find many of the photographs you’ll find in the exhibit. 

    Each of the images on this label came from a different source.

    However, tracking down photographs of specific musicians playing the guitars on display could be more difficult, especially keeping our budget in mind.  I enjoyed talking with various archivists and photographers, both amateur and professional, across the country on the search for fitting images.  Even CD covers and advertisements could help tell the story of Western guitarists.  Photo acquisition had its share of obstacles with image sizes and delayed orders, but in the end, everything managed to come together.

    If you’ve been to Guitars! Roundups and Rockers you’ve probably noticed the photo murals throughout the gallery.  In lieu of objects, photos can illustrate stories (so if we didn’t have a guitar of Nancy Wilson, at least we had an awesome photo of her) and show a diversity of experiences. 

    (Left- Chris Knutsen Harp Guitar, 1898-1900, Loan courtesy of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion)
    (Right - The Knutsen Family, 1900, Courtesy of the Jefferson County Historical Society – Port Townsend, Washington)

    What I most like about the images we ended up choosing though is that they place the guitars in context.  I can imagine Chris Knutsen and his wife playing duets on harp guitar, the electric energy of a grunge concert, or a chill moment of strumming to friends on the streets of San Francisco. 

    guitars gallery photo book
    Guitars! photo book

    Do you have any favorite images from the exhibit?  As is often the case, many great photos didn’t make the cut to appear on the walls and labels, so make sure you check out the photo books for more! 

    Elena Rippel
    Eiteljorg curatorial intern
    (The guitar Elena's holding is now in the galleries for all to play.)

    By the way, you can check out more than 100 guitars—owned by greats including Roy Rogers, Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Woody Guthrie, Buddy Holly, Les Paul and others—during Guitars! Roundups to Rockers, at The Eiteljorg Museum through August 4. The exhibit explores the Western connections of guitars and artists who have provided the soundtrack for America. 


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  • The Fuss Over Fry Bread at Indian Market

    by Claire Quimby, Eiteljorg festivals and markets intern | May 15, 2013

    “It’s one in the morning, and I’m awake, thinking about frybread…”
    – from Frybread Dreams, a poem by Richard Walker

    Frybread picture from -

    If you’ve ever been to any Native American event, you’re probably familiar with fry bread. If you’ve never tasted it, you are truly missing out. Fry bread is just what its name implies… dough that is fried in oil to create a puffy, delicious bread. Fry bread can be a sweet treat or the foundation of “Indian tacos,” topped with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa/chile.

    Images from and


    Every year at Indian Market and Festival, people happily wait in line at the Indian taco truck (rain or shine) for their fry bread fix. It’s so popular; the Eiteljorg staff looks forward to it each year as one of the highlights of the whole event.

    people wait in line at indian market for their frybread fix!

    Most of us agree that fry bread is super tasty. But the fuss over fry bread isn’t just about taste. It’s about history, tradition, survival and love.

    According to Frybread by Jen Miller (Smithsonian Magazine, July 2008), the origins of fry bread date back to 1864 and the Long Walk of the Diné (Navajo), when the U.S. government forcibly relocated thousands of Native Americans from their lands in Arizona to New Mexico. Removed from their traditional sources of food, the Diné had to rely on meager government rations. Many died of starvation. Fry bread was a food of survival, created from a few simple ingredients that the Diné had access to: flour, lard, baking powder, salt, water and powdered milk. For many Native Americans fry bread is a reminder of the conditions their ancestors endured, and how they created something from nothing to live another day.

    Many foods evoke strong feelings and memories, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better example than fry bread. Fry bread fans have created facebook pages, websites, poems, stories and cooking competitions. Most agree that love is a critical ingredient. How else would you turn rations and suffering into a food of survival and celebration?

    Fry bread is loved, but it has also been criticized. In an article in Indian Country Today, Suzan Shown Harjo railed against fry bread for the sorrowful history it represents, for its high calorie count, and for being a poor substitution for many other traditional Native American breads. Despite calories and history, however, Native America is still a strong supporter of fry bread, mockumentary film dedicated to it.

    Either in spite of its difficult history or because of it, the lines in front of the fry bread truck, during the Eiteljorg's Indian Market & Festival June 22 and 23, will continue to form this summer. No Native American gathering would be the same without it. 

    2013 indian market flyer

    Claire Quimby
    Eiteljorg festival and markets intern

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  • From an indie-rock player’s perspective: My top 5 guitar song playlist

    by Matt Askren, Eiteljorg visitor experience manager | May 13, 2013

    Throughout the run of Guitars!Roundups to Rockers, we’ll highlight the top five guitar picks from an Eiteljorg employee and find out whether there’s a Western connection! This week’s playlist comes from Matt Askren, visitor experience manager for the Eiteljorg Museum. 

    Matt Askren plays guitar

    Matt playing guitar in Rooms live at the Melody Inn (with bassist Andrew Greenburg and drummer Ben Traub.)

    Being a (hack of a) musician, I suspect I hear music a bit differently than the average listener. While a good vocal melody is important, it’s the music behind it which spurs my love for a song. In my favorite five picks, note that the drums are as integral to these selections as the guitars.     

    Message In A Bottle- The Police

    Journeyman guitarist Andy Summers 10 years of playing soul, rock, and jazz fusion made for an interesting blend when punk hit and The Police formed. Summers’ joined the simpler punk style with a rich jazz-informed sense of harmony which helped him create the verse riff for Message. If you have any background in music, he’s playing a series of 9th chords. I’ve ripped that off the 9th chord plenty over the years- with distortion it sounds like a warm knife! Also, of note is drummer Stewart Copeland’s beats- fantastic hi-hat work!

    Summers was my first guitar hero. Coincidentally, my main guitar is a Fender Telecaster with a humbucker in the neck position- same as Summers.

    Cassavettes- Fugazi
    When I began playing guitar, bands blending punk and classic rock were all the rage. That movement had developed in the independent underground before it broke. Fugazi were the quintessential post-punk band.

    One of Fugazi’s two singer/guitarists, Ian MacKaye, was the poster-boy of the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic . He was co-founder of D.C.’s independent Dischord Records, frontman for the straight-edge punk band Minor Threat and later was founder of Fugazi, a more experimental post-punk band. This song celebrates the individual creativity that goes with a DIY entrepreneurial spirit- specifically the work of independent film maker John Cassavettes.  The first riff includes a guitar imitating a siren which mirrors the singer/guitarist Guy Picciotto’s  alarm upon watching a Cassavettes film. When the verse arrives, the guitars crash in with the coolest noise junk-guitar riff of all-time. Clearly, this isn’t the status-quo method of playing guitar- and that’s the point! DIY means among other things, act. Don’t wait, create!  Also of note is the call-and-response guitar work in the bridge riff at 1:47- very cool! Like many musicians with a background in indie and post-punk, I’ve ripped off plenty from Fugazi! 

    Still Ill – The Smiths
    The punk-informed Smiths brought a more sophisticated pop-oriented sound to the scene than most punk influenced bands of the time. Singer Morrissey was a master of brash, often hilarious, hyperbole and melodrama. Is this song a commentary on the biology of sexual orientation, or a critique of the Thatcher administration?  I don’t know.  But what’s important here is how awesome the guitar is! Guitarist Johnny Marr is a master of coming up with colorful guitar parts and this syncopated verse riff doesn’t disappoint. However, his choice of burying it in the mix may be a challenge though as you’ll need to squint your ears to hear it.

    All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
    Hendrix made Watchtower his own a mere six months after composer Bob Dylan released the original version. With its alarmingly immediate beginning punctuated by the click of wood blocks, perfectly percussive 12 string rhythm guitar, Dylan’s dark ambiguous lyrics and Hendrix’s brilliant fills and transcendental solos; it doesn’t get much better than this. Hendrix is the only player listed here that isn’t a personal influence. What would the point be? Nobody will ever be this good again.

    Fragment of a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster
    electric guitar formerly owned by Jimi Hendrix.
    (Photo courtesy of EMP Museum, Seattle, WA)

    You can check out Jimi Hendrix’s Gibson Les Paul custom guitar and the remains of his Sunburst Fender Stratocaster in our Guitars! Roundups to Rockers exhibit through August 4.    

    Pele- Long Fin Killie
    Scotland’s little-known Long Fin Killie once again proved that innovation bubbles up from the underground as guitarist Phil Cameron exclusively used ringing-bell guitar harmonics for the atmospheric verses of Pele. Sadly, this 90’s band’s distinctive blend of percussive indie rock guitar, non-traditional use of world music instruments, drum-and-bass informed rhythms and singer Luke Sutherland’s uniquely poetic gay African-Scot perspective never got above the water table of the underground. Sutherland went on to form the band Bows and has since written 3 somewhat acclaimed novels. Numerous interweb searches have not revealed the what-abouts of guitarist Cameron.

    And their Western connections?
    Andy Summers played a California made Fender guitar. Hendrix is from Seattle. Fugazi influenced plenty of Western bands including Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam. Long Fin Killie were influenced by the soft-loud approach of Seattle’s Nirvana. Johnny Marr influenced, and later played in, Washington State’s Modest Mouse.

    Matt Askren

    (Matthew Askren is the Eiteljorg’s Visitor Experience Manager. He also plays guitar and sings in the band Rooms.)


    (Above) Fender Stratocaster, early 1990s, formerly owned by Kurt Cobain; Courtesy EMP Museum, Seattle, WA. See it at the Eiteljorg through Aug. 4.

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  • Riders In The Sky and seven more live concerts at the Eiteljorg Saturday

    by User Not Found | May 10, 2013
    Saturday, May 11 – During Indy’s Cultural Trail Celebration, several bands and singer-songwriters will jam at the Eiteljorg!

    Two Live Lawn Concerts, 1p.m. - 3p.m., FREE
    Devil to Pay

    Fresh off of the release of their latest album, Fate is Your Muse, this Indianapolis-based metal band will hit the stage outside the Eiteljorg. NUVO music reporter, Jeff Napier, writes that Devil to Pay’s newest release is “without a doubt, a towering, monumental piece of metal that has the power to transcend labels and genres.”

    Ha Ha You
    Hailing from the Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis, Ha Ha You is an underground rock trio. Featuring ex-members of June of 44, Household Guns and Thin Fevers, the band channels the best parts of late-90s indie rock, jagged post-punk and pop music. Their songs include stories of family, friends, hearts and humor.

    Five Songwriters in the Round, 2p.m. - 4p.m., FREE with admission
    Hear singer-songwriters trade songs and talk about their processes

    Laura K. Balke – Singer/Songwriter (PICTURED ABOVE)
    From sporadic stints on the coffee house circuit in 2011 to solidly-booked tour dates, Laura Balke has come a long way. Two years ago she made the commitment to fully focus on her music. Concert goers will get to hear her play and sing original songs – packed with nods to country, alt-pop and folk. Balke, who’s played guitar since she was 13, will be finishing up a tight touring schedule that sent her to 25 states.

    Kenny Childers (of Gentlemen Caller)
    Being a past member of several bands has helped fuel the musical genius of Bloomington’s Kenny Childers. His current band, Gentlemen Caller, has rocked the indie scene for more than a decade. Kenny will bring his acoustic guitar and vocal swagger to the stage – sharing with audiences the talents that make him so beloved that a tribute album was produced to honor his 40th birthday.

    Christian Taylor (of America Owns the Moon)
    The lead singer of America Owns the Moon shows a milder side with his indie folk-inspired acoustic work. His strong body of work ranges from the light-hearted (“New Age Girlfriend”) to the tender (“Honey Child”) to the transcendental magical realism of “Rain Falls Up” and everywhere sideways of that. Taylor is also ½ of the duo C-Tay and Homeschool with cellist Leilah Smith.

    Simon Moore (of Kentucky Nightmare)
    Simon P. Moore is best known for his work as singer and songwriter for Kentucky Nightmare. In his solo project, he showcases a more light-hearted, whimsical narrative voice and intimate guitar style. Some of these songs are new, some as old as 13 years, but they share classic themes such as love, loss, work, and frat boys.

    Liz Janes – Singer/Songwriter

    She writes. She plays guitar. And, she’s got the strong vocals to match! Liz Janes will give guests a sampling of emotion from several of her original ballads. Her sound flexes from R&B to folk and from soul to pop.

    And.. An Evening with Riders In The Sky.. nearly sold out!


    Live Concert:
    An Evening with Riders In The Sky (PICTURED ABOVE)
    $ 25 general public
    $ 20 Eiteljorg Museum members
    Tickets may be purchased by calling the museum at 317-636-9378

    The Eiteljorg will open its ballroom to America’s favorite cowboys, Riders In The Sky, for an evening of wacky humor and Western wit! For more than 30 years, Riders in the Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by Gene Autry and Roy Rogers! They are stellar vocalists and guitar virtuosos who have recorded over 30 albums and have provided three decades of western entertainment. Based in Nashville, Riders has been embraced by the country music community. They are performing members of the Grand Ole Opry.

    Enjoy the Eiteljorg!
    DeShong Perry-Smitherman with guitar
    DeShong Perry-Smitherman
    Public relations manager

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