Bobbie Lancaster
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Bobbie Lancaster

Bloomington, Indiana, United States

Bloomington, Indiana, United States
Band Pop Children's Music




"LOU'S VIEWS: Local music makes 24-hour road trip sound sweet"

With apologies to Willie Nelson, the truth is I could wait to get on the road again.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy spending time at the Jersey shore with family—it’s just that getting there (and getting back) is never even close to half the fun. It’s more than 600 miles each way of driving, and when the air conditioner isn’t working and logistics demand overnight drives each way, well, those 13 hours require some careful audio planning to maintain sanity.

My first move on the listening front was to catch up on CDs by Indiana artists—disks that have been collecting on my desk waiting for some concentrating time.

I’ve sung the praises of Bobbie Lancaster in these pages and in my blog before. Whether as a part of the Hoosier Dylan show, on stage at the Phoenix Theatre in “Pure Prine,” or taking the stage at the Broad Ripple Art Fair, Lancaster’s combination of presence and musical talent have captivated me every time I’ve heard her. Her voice is distinct and fresh and avoids the over-twang of a lot of music you find in the Folk or American category. Yet there’s an authenticity to her and a passion that finds the heart of her music, whether it’s a wistful love song or a heavily plotted ballad.

AE BP But I think anyone who loves music can point to occasions when a performer who is effective live doesn’t quite translate to recording. Sometimes, the performance feels too scrubbed by recording—buffing off the edges and imperfections loses the heart. Other times, the orchestrations detract rather than accentuate.

And, of course, sometimes, a band just isn’t as much fun when you don’t have a beer in your hand and/or a crowd of friends around you.

I’m happy to say that Lancaster’s self-titled disc, recorded at Farm Fresh Studios in Bloomington, delivers. Particularly strong is the take-no-prisoners “The Tragic Tale of Maggie Donovan” and the raucous “Oh Carolina.” And, yes, that’s Jennie Devoe providing backup for four of the 10 songs.

So far, so good. In Ohio, I change the pace a little with Gary Walters’ new solo piano disc “Moments in Time.” Walters has been teaching jazz piano at Butler University since 2000, has played on 11 of Carrie Newcomer’s discs and performs with Icarus Ensemble. I still remember with pleasure a post-fireworks Fourth of July performance by Walters at Symphony on the Prairie a few years back. Translation: The guy is versatile.

Here, he skillfully constructs a disc that opens with music by Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson and Arthur Schwartz, closes with Henry Mancini and Richard Rodgers and, in between, highlights his own compositions. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was no noticeable drop in listening pleasure during the meat of the disc.

Nearing Columbus, Ohio (and with darkness descending), I probably should have put on something upbeat. Instead, I went with “Goodnight Charlotte,” the dreamy new disc from singer/songwriter/guitarist Cara Jean Wahlers and cellist Grover Parido.

There’s both a vulnerable ache and core strength in both Wahlers’ words and her voice. And the match with Parido, a member of the (Re)Collective Company that proved an Indy Fringe hit a few years’ back, is a strong one. This is a low-key disc, so, as the moon rose, the barriers between songs didn’t seem very strong, making this sound more of a gentle, continuous piece than a collection of distinct songs. That’s not a criticism, though, and I look forward to repeat listenings.

But with a bit of West Virginia and all of Pennsylvania ahead, a drastic change was in order. Which meant putting aside the local (I didn’t have any Polka Boy music on hand) and switching to a collection of Prairie Home Companion’s “Pretty Good Joke Shows.” A personal favorite: A police officer sees a car weaving back and forth and he takes off after it, pulls up alongside, and sees an elderly lady knitting as she drives. He can’t believe it and he yells at her, “Pull over! Pull over!” “No,” she says, “it’s a scarf.”

When the jokes ran out, it was time for catching up on recent Broadway cast recordings. “A Little Night Music” has been given a roomy, two-disc treatment that includes some key dialogue, but the performers—including Catherine Zeta-Jones—don’t add much to the work done on the original cast recording by Glynis Johns and Len Cariou. And Leigh Ann Larkin gives an over-obvious read to one of my favorite Sondheim songs, “The Miller’s Son.” I would love to be able to hear the replacement company, currently on Broadway, including Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch.

The recording of the current “Promises, Promises” revival features appealing vocals from Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth, but the Burt Bacharach score doesn’t hold up very well, even punched up with the addition of “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “A House is Not a Home,” two songs not in the original 1968 production.

And that brought me to … the middle of Pennsylvania.

Note to self: Next year, stock up on more local music. Or fly.• - NUVO magazine 8/7/2010

"Lou's Views: Phoenix premiere is more than a John Prine Tribute Show"

The theatrical landscape is littered with tribute shows to well-known songwriters that only served to remind audiences how great the originals were and how lame the imitation.

Such Broadway productions as “Lennon” (which ran for under two months in 2005), “Ring of Fire” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (each ditto in 2006) and the Burt Bacharach 2003 cringe-fest “The Look of Love” (the same in 2003) are all testament to the difficulty of creating satisfying theater out of the catalogs of individual songwriters.

A&E The Phoenix Theatre’s Bryan Fonseca transformed the songs of John Prine into a theatrical evening. (Photo courtesy Phoenix Theatre)

I bring these up in an effort to make clear the brutal task the Phoenix Theatre’s Bryan Fonseca created for himself in transforming the songs of John Prine into a theatrical evening.

Prine is the sort of three-chord singer/songwriter beloved by fans and fellow musicians but little known to the rest of the world. Best known for “Angel from Montgomery,” (notably covered by Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews and others), his songs go from the whimsical “Illegal Smile” to the mournful elegance of “One Red Rose” with plenty of unsentimental, realistic ground covered in between.

In “Pure Prine” (which, I’m sorry to report, had a limited May 7-16 run), the music seems to grow organically out of the characters and the environment. Fonseca finds a theatrical voice and structure for the show that doesn’t compromise the material, providing just enough dialogue-free plot to keep the show moving forward. And the timing beautifully allows the show to take advantage of the detailed bar-room set still standing from the previous Phoenix show “Yankee Tavern.” Its specificity helps anchor the show. Prine writes the kinds of characters that are intimately familiar with the feeling of sitting on a bar stool too long.

Populating the bar are a couple (Tim Grimm and Jan Lucas-Grimm) whose affection for each other has clearly helped them weather more than a few storms. There’s a troubled guy (Michael Shelton) who can’t stay loyal to a feisty good girl (Bobbie Lancaster) and finds himself drawn to a barmaid (Jenni Gregory) as haunted as he is. And, of course, there’s a bartender (Tim Brickley) who has seen and heard it all.

It’s helpful that all involved are expert musicians. And that none tries to imitate Prine. Instead, they pay tribute by honoring the grace of the music and the richness of the characters, both in their humor and in their pain. Only once does a number feel distractingly choreographed. Only one or two songs feel forced into the show because they are better-known Prine tunes.

But these minor glitches are heavily outweighed by the combination of the performers’ skills, Fonseca’s deft guiding hand, and Prine’s achingly human songs. I’m hoping to catch “Pure Prine” again before the run concludes. And I’m hoping that the most impressive world premiere theater production to come out of Indy in recent memory has a long life beyond this short run. - Indiana Business Journal 5/15/2010

"Using her full name: Bobbie Lancaster"

Using her full name: Bobbie Lancaster

Posted on Nov. 25, 2009 by Rob Nichols

Two new cds on the horizon

With a pair of new albums last year and two more on the way, Bobbie Lancaster may have — after a few twists, turns and roadblocks — finally found her road home. She's finished recording her first solo album, a second children's CD, and along the way, developed a gutty yet sweet stage persona.

Her haunting vocals on “I’m On Fire” as part of this summer’s Tim Grimm-organized “Hoosier Springsteen” concerts made the short, brooding song one of the best performances of the show. The Bloomington singer has a bouncing, smiling, in-the-moment stage presence; she can crank it up like Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt, and engage a crowd with her subtle stage charms. Watching Lancaster is watching a woman who knows her strengths and power, but is only beginning to refine and unleash it.

“I was scared to death,” she says of the shows, talking on the phone from her Bloomington home. “We had a rehearsal and I just felt I had to get in there and give everything I had. And at the end of the gig, I felt really good about my performance and overcoming that little confidence hurdle I had before the show.”

Lancaster jumped over that hurdle and right into Bloomington's Farm Fresh Studios, where, in September, she laid down tracks for her upcoming solo release with a band brewing a stew of rootsy, Americana music.

“I have cried and squealed with joy so many times that I think they (the band) are worried about me. It's the most incredible thing to hear these songs I wrote on a mandolin be brought to life,” Lancaster says.

This new record will come a little more than a year after she released a catchy preschool-focused children’s album (Bobbie Lancaster’s Little Folks) and On with the Show, an album by Stella & Jane, her Americana duo with fellow Bloomingtonian Stella Suzette Weakley.

The Stella makes sense, by who's Jane? Well, Jane is Lancaster's middle name. But then, using a middle name isn’t the quickest way to wider recognition, right? Maybe Bobbie wasn’t ready to come out from behind the one-name middle-name anonymity when she formed the duo? Things seem to have changed.

“I am looking forward to focusing on doing more solo stuff. It's where I feel led to go right now,” she says. “Every CD I have done has been with a group and a compilation of different writers. I have probably 50 or 60 songs that I’ve just been sitting on, plus have written seven new songs since May — I have just had a nice creative spurt lately.”

As happens with most good stories, it hasn’t been a simple process to wind up where talent and opportunity intersect.

From the beginning

Some 25 years ago, Bobbie Jane Lancaster’s mother and father had her take piano lessons, from kindergarten until fourth grade. She’d always had the gift to be able to sing, even earning a full ride scholarship in music vocal performance to Indiana University. But she lost the full ride and the scholarship.

“I was so young when I went (to IU), I wish I had a better grip on myself at the age that I went to college,” she says. “But I didn't and I gave that up, not really realizing what a gift it was to get that scholarship.”

She ended up going to Vincennes University, held three jobs, and started singing in a coffee shop when she was 19.

“That's when I first found my own voice,” she remembers.

She has spent the past five years starting a family and playing music, first with a Bloomington blues band called Code Blue, and more recently, with musical partner Weakley.

“I was a real estate broker for about seven years and actually got fired by some guy,” Lancaster admits, recounting how she and Weakley got together. “I had never been fired in my life and was shocked. I called Suzette — I had met her just once before — and went to work at a real estate company she owns.”

The two started playing music together. Weakley essentially served as Lancaster’s mentor, musical partner and teacher. Bobbie started by singing some background vocals when the two met at Weakley’s house.

“She had a little Contessa mandolin in her basement and said ‘Why don't you pick this up, I’ll show you a few chords and see what you want to do with it.' When I picked up a mandolin, it just felt like I had been holding it forever,” Lancaster says.

“She taught me three chords, and I went home that night and I played until my fingers couldn’t stand it anymore. Then I iced them and I kept playing.”

On the Stella & Jane album (with help from multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Jeff Foster), Lancaster’s singing shines on the self-penned CSNY-ish “The Rain," the bluesy, sassy, Hammond B3-drenched “Fast Car” and especially on “Low Down," a shorter than three-minute pop-rocker that hints at a healthy John Hiatt influence.

About her new solo work, Lancaster says, “I have been really open with everybody in Stella & Jane. I have their support. We just all care about each other an awful lot, and I think by being open and honest makes those conversations easier. I think they both understand I am just coming into my own right now."

Lancaster says she wants to have the album out before February, when she travels to the Memphis Folk Alliance.

Lancaster's newest children's album is a live recording of a recent performance on Bloomington community radio station WFHB. Children’s music is a burgeoning part of her musical career, and includes weekly musical sessions at four different preschools and appearances at Central Indiana public libraries, performing for kids and parents.

“I know what I want, I'm happy with what I'm writing, and these amazing people have shown up in my life and wanted to help me do this,” she says, referring to her studio band, led by Scott Kellogg, “I'm feeling the love right now.” - NUVO magazine 11/25/2009

"Hoosier Springsteen Concert Review"

(Music) Hoosier Springsteen - Concert Review
Mon, 05/04/2009 - 12:30am — Rob Nichols

Saturday night's Hoosier Springsteen — a tribute to Springsteen's music paid by Indiana artists — proved to be an inspired effort not only by the musicians, but also by the crowd, who hung in and responded throughout the three-plus hour show. It was the first edition of the event, put together by Indiana songwriter Tim Grimm, following on the Grimm-organized Hoosier Dylan tribute show.

Unlike doing a similar show for nearly any other artist, those on stage had to meet the challenge of doing more than simply singing Bruce's songs.

To be truly effective in capturing the essence of Springsteen, they had to hit on at least two of the three skills that make Springsteen legendary. They did.

It's hard to miss on the songs. With few exceptions, Springsteen's catalogue of songs is exquisite, with more tunes to choose from than could be played in one night.

Secondly, there's the performance. While albums like "Nebraska" or "The Ghost of Tom Joad" are unarguably lo-fi affairs, picking a song from a record like "Born to Run", "Darkness on the Edge of Town" or even "Born in the USA" means taking on the iconic music too. It's either replicate or reinvent if you take a shot at those records.

And the third challenge is finding a way to add a little homage to Springsteen's live show. The best live performer of his generation, the Hoosier Springsteen gang needed to bring the power, the touches of gospel and the push that comes with his live performance for the night to be a complete success.

Turning a rundown Crump Theatre in Columbus, Indiana into the perfect venue for a debut of a the Grimm-led series, the singer and actor took a break from performing in a stage play in Chicago to trek back to Southern Indiana and treat the 150 or so in attendance to a night that made us glad we were there.

Among the performers included Grimm, John Prine guitarist Jason Wilber, guitarist and songwriter Gordon Bonham, Bloomington-based singer and songwriter Bobbie Lancaster and hillbilly bluegrass band White Lightning Boys, plus a terrific backing band, highlighted by the spectacularly tasteful Troye Kinnett, from John Mellencamp's band, on keys.


Leaning heavily on "Nebraska" and "Born In the USA" material - 14 of the night's 31 (!) songs were from those two early and mid 80's records - the musicians found "Nebraska" perfect for a night of Americana songwriters playing Bruce music.

Yet it was individual performances that elevated the evening's best moments, when performers strayed slightly from the records.

Columbus singer Dale Sechrest opened each of the two sets solo, "Cover Me" appropriately starting the show, followed by the obscure "Jesus Was an Only Son" to a hushed crowd. Wilber, a hell of a guitar player, introduced the band with a rollicking "Hungry Heart" and the first magical moment of the night, teaming with Bonham and Kinnett for an angry "State Trooper".

Lancaster provided the first glimpse at her engaging stage persona and "aw shucks, ain't I a killer singer?" voice with a bluegrass-inflected "All I'm Thinking About is You" from the "Devils and Dust" album.

Grimm joined for Lancaster for a smoldering duet of "I'm on Fire," the band's restrained playing and Kinnett's mid-80's keyboard touch gluing the song together, making it new and classic at once. Perfect.

Bonham's first turn at vocals came with Nebraska's" "Reason to Believe", morphed into a country shuffle, complete with Lancaster and two friends dancing behind the band. The band stayed with the 1982 album for "Open All Night", creating a jubilant rock song that had the audience moving up front to dance and Jason and Gordon trading searing leads. Another keeper.

Poet Matthew Jackson provided a breather with his first of three appearances, reading original poetry, before the White Lightning Boys turned in an Avett Brother-like performance of "I'm Goin' Down", followed by the economic hardship song "Youngstown" from The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Grimm and his wife Jan dueted beautifully on the sad story song "Highway Patrolman", before the group hit on a set of tunes that became the best segment of the night.

"Devils and Dust" started the momentum with a great vocal from Tim, and a more uptempo performance than on the record, followed by "Johnny 99," featuring stinging leads from Bonham's Fender Telecaster.

But it was the Wilber/Bonham duet on "Born in the USA" - just two guys, two Telecasters and a bit of a crowd singalong too - that told the crowd why they came. Wicked guitar playing and Wilber emanating a comfortable yet forceful energy on stage perfect for the song and the night. That song led into the full band's rousing and fun "Glory Days."

Lancaster grabbed "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" off the Seeger Sessions" record, released in 2006, with Kinnett's accordian playing and Lancaster's southern lilt working together. "My Hometown" wrapped the first set up, and it clicked along nicely, in part because she changed the lyrics to reflect a daughter instead of a son in the song.

A more ragged second set began with a trio of songs from the bluegrass White Lightning Boys, on stage for "Old Dan Tucker", "Nebraska" and "Mrs. McGrath", followed by Grimm and Wilber for the title cut from "The Ghost of Tom Joad". Sechrest came back for Seeger Session's obscure "Eye on the Prize".

Give the band extra kudos for next tackling one of the legendary anthems of Springsteen canon. "Racing in the Street" is long, beautiful, iconic and an anthem. Not the easist to pull off, but they did. "Used Cars", and a pair from the 1995 "Greatest Hits" album followed, with Tom Clark contributing a lovely sax solo during "Secret Garden," replete with Wilber playing along, eyes closed, fully in the moment. Grimm led "Blood Brothers" with son Conner onstage playing bass, and they stayed for a joyous "Thunder Road".

Bonham burned in a rendition of "Atlantic City", using a fiery Bruce concert arrangement. An unexpected "Meeting Across the River" off "Born to Run" from Jason led to a finale of the title cut from that 1975 record, putting a fitting cap on a Springteen length live show.

For a Bruce fan, it was special to watch some of the best from our little state tackle Jersey's chosen son. And give the crowd credit for making the night fun and helping make the first shot at performing this show a winner. Worth a trip to Danville to see the next outing on June 20.
- Nuvo Magazine 6/2009

"Stella & Jane press "On With The Show""
Stella and Jane press ‘On With the Show’
By Rama Sobhani For The Herald-Times
February 5, 2009

Correction The CD release concert starts at 6 p.m., and tickets are $10.

Chance meetings often yield the most favorable results, especially when talking music. What if a young Paul had never seen a skiffle group called the Quarrymen and never met its frontman, a teenager named John? History and record collections the world over would be quite different.

Maybe not quite on that level, but tasty nonetheless was the occurrence of Stella Suzette Weakley meeting a co-worker of hers, Bobbie Jane Lancaster, and their decision to compose music together.

“(Bobbie) was an employee at Bloomington Realty, which I own,” explained Weakley, who plays guitars and sings. “We discovered that we both wrote music but . were frustrated that what we were writing wasn’t suitable for the bands we were in.”

Weakley and Lancaster were both performing in other local groups at the time they met. Weakley was with a classic rock outfit and Lancaster in a blues group, but neither was contributing original material to their respective bands.

Weakley’s experience performing music goes back further than 2005, when the ladies first teamed up. In fact, her earliest memories of being in front of a crowd is when she and her sister would warm up audiences for Johnny Cash at state fairs as children.

“I remember how exciting it was,” she said. “I don’t know how much money we got, but I do remember a big roll of tickets for the rides, and that’s what was important.”

But when they got together for the first time to compose their own songs, the result was a flood of ideas that would solidify into a soulful mix of what they term “alt-rock with a country folk edge.” That’s pretty close, and there’s definitely some traditional American influence, but there’s a complexity in the music that description doesn’t cover. Especially with recent the addition of multi-instrumentalist Jeff Foster to their ranks, Stella and Jane create a multi-layered cake of emotive expression.

To support their latest release, “On With the Show,” the now-trio is being sponsored by local radio station WFHB for a CD release party to be held at the Waldron Art Center on Sunday.

Fast facts

WHO: Stella and Jane

CD: “On With the Show”

RELEASE CONCERT: 6 p.m. Sunday at the Waldron. Tickets are $10 at the door.

PERFORMERS: Tim Grimm opens. Special guests include Anne Hurley, Slats Klug, Scott Kellogg and Ron Fife.

MORE: The show benefits WFHB Community Radio.

Stella Suzette Weakley, left, and Bobbie Jane Lancaster, of Stella and Jane. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Copyright: 2009 - The Herald Times: Bloomington, IN


Bobbie Lancaster (2010)
"An earthy, rootsy, sexy sound lays the blueprint for the record: soaring vocals that build, almost so subtly, that by the end of a song, you've got goosebumps."
~Rob Nichols, NUVO magazine, June 14, 2010

For Children:
Little Folks (2008)
"Part game, part story, part folk honky-tonk, the original songs range in tempo and topic and will captivate little ones."
~~ Kristina Wood, The Herald Times 12/2008

Little Folks 2 (2009)
We absolutely love "Little Folks"! Not only has it helped my son increase his vocabulary, but the songs also help to reinforce the little lessons in life such as having good manners and eating healthy".
~~ Laurie (mom & preschool teacher)

With Stella & Jane
Myths & Dreams (2005)
On With The Show (2008)

With Code Blue
Code Blue Featuring Bobbie Lancaster (2004)

With Code Blue
Code Blue Featuring Bobbie Lancaster (2004)



With the release of her newest album, Bobbie Lancaster has been honored with invitations from both the Kerrville Folk Festival & the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. This is a wonderful turn of events for this mother of 2! She's a story teller, a sincere vocalist, and audiences young & old have gravitated to her.

Bobbie hails from a small farming town in Northern Indiana & has been a resident of Bloomington for 12 years. She came to Bloomington in 1997 via the I.U. School of Music & somehow made the unlikely jump from Opera to Folky-bluegrass. From 2004-2009, Bobbie was the lead singer & mandolin player for "Stella & Jane", a Bloomington-based folk duo with which she's recorded 2 albums. She & Stella (Suzette Weakley) also teamed up to create the Bloomington Songwriters Showcase, which features songwriters from around the globe each Monday night in Bloomington, from Joe Crookston to Krista Detor.

In the Summer of 2009, Bobbie chose to work as a solo artist. She was invited to perform the songs of Carrie Newcomer with the gifted cast of Wilderness Plots stage show. She's played the Birchmere & the Ark with fellow songwriter Krista Detor, and shared the stage with friend & fello folkie, Tim Grimm.

2009 was also the year for the tribute show. She was honored to perform the music of Bob Dylan & Bruce Springsteen during Tim Grimm's "Hoosier Dylan" & "Hoosier Springsteen" shows. Bobbie has also been a featured songwriter at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN & her children's music earned a Performance Alley Showcase at the 2010 International Folk Alliance Conference.

2010 has been amazing, with an invitation to be a New Folk contestant at Kerrville, an Emerging Artist at Falcon Ridge, and a role in Bryan Fonseca's stage production, "Pure Prine", an Operetta of John Prine Songs, co-starring Tim Grimm.

She's been always writing, always singing, but during the past few years, Bobbie has also started a family with her husband, Jeff. Her 2 small children changed her view on the world & have inspired 2 albums of original music for children with messages about using good manners , learning to share, & taking care of our earth. The CD's, "Little Folks" & "Little Folks 2: Live & Laughing" quickly inspired "Music for Little Folks", a series of children's music programs, interactive family workshops, and courses for new parents & early childhood educators. Bobbie has performed hundreds of children's programs through the midwest, which has not only allowed her to stay close & connected with her kids, but also helped her expand her fan base & presence. She earned a Performance Alley Showcase at the 2010 International Folk Alliance Kids Show.

It's a full life for this songwriter & it just keeps getting better!

For more information on Bobbie & her full performance schedule, visit
For information on specific children's programs & workshops for parents & educators, visit