The Tumbleweeds
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The Tumbleweeds

Band Americana Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"ARTIST OF THE WEEK: The Tumbleweeds"

IMN / 92.3 FM / NUVO "Artist of the Week" presents the Artist of the Week. Each week our editorial staff will select one local artist who has made a place in the spotlight for themselves by giving Indy's music lovers something they should be hearing. Along with the weekly IMN feature, the Artist of the Week will also be featured in the pages of NUVO Newsweekly and on the air on radio station WTTS - 92.3 FM.

Outside of a John Phillips Sousa festival or Polkapalooza, there’s a relatively small market for tuba in today’s popular music. Bravely venturing forth, though, The Tumbleweeds have taken the enormous instrument under their wing. Singer/guitarist Zorba Rose says the decision was more about the player than the instrument. “It’s not about the tuba, but about Ben Vokits because he is a wonderful musician. Now, I’ve fallen in love with the sound of the tuba, and that it can hold down the bass, as well as take leads and fills.”

The choice of tuba also reinforces the sense of tradition about the band, something Rose points to when asked to describe their music. “I like to think that we’re a continuation of Cosmic American Music, which was first coined by Gram Parsons. It’s a combination of the American sounds, and mix country, rock, bluegrass, R&B and Jazz in our music. Now we’re adding elements of pop art and classical music into the mix.”

The group revolves around Rose and his wife, vocalist Kim Grissom. “The Tumbleweeds were formed in August of 2004 to play gigs for the Children’s Miracle Network fundraiser, and a Fox59 ‘Fox Rocks’ show. Kimmy and I asked Ben and drummer Zach Yde if they wanted to start a project. Fred Yde started playing keys with us in the fall for a wedding reception we played for some friends, and he immediately had an impact on our style.” Since then, the band has gone on to some pretty prestigious shows.

“I cannot believe that I’ve performed on the same bill as Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Peter Rowan, The Duhks, Hasil Adkins and Hank III. I’ve also made wonderful friendships and created some great music over the years.” Rose adds “I was almost in tears performing on the main stage at Bean Blossom. Just being on the same stage where all my musical heroes performed was an emotional experience. I was a nervous wreck before I took the stage, but after cracking a joke I settled down, and played a wonderful show.” The Tumbleweeds haven’t wrapped up their year of touring yet. “In late October, we are performing at Magnolia Festival at Live Oaks, Florida. We’re sharing the bill with Donna and the Buffalo, Peter Rowan, Victor Wooten and MOFRO. Hopefully we’ll have some support dates in Atlanta and Nashville around the tour.”

The group is also working on an ambitious recording. “It’s a mini-opera about being in an independent band. So far we have three songs – ‘Monkey,’ ‘Life on the Road,’ and ‘Waiting for the Money.’ We’re currently working on a story song called ‘Dr. Tuba’ that’s about the creation of a Tubastein or Frankintuba.” Just don’t expect a hard and fast schedule. “I write best at odd hours and on deadline - it’s a curse. If there’s project in the works, I’ll sit down and write a song. Usually I come up with a key line and then tell the story around that phrase. Other times, I just tell the story.”

The Tumbleweeds are an institution at the Melody Inn on Friday nights, where they host the Hillbilly Happy Hour early show that kicks off at 7pm. “We’ve been throwing great shows, and are excited to announce that Danny Thompson is joining the Hillbilly Happy Hour family in October! Danny will perform the first Friday every month at the Melody Inn. I think he’ll add something special to the line-up that already includes the Punkin Holler Boys and The Tumbleweeds. I’m very proud of the country music niche that we’ve carved out on the North side.”

-- Ryan Williams --


"Hilarious romp"

This play certainly lives up to its name. Theater on the Square’s encore presentation of Del Shores’ black comedy about Texas white trash, big hair, crazy sex lives and fatal wooden legs is a screamingly hilarious romp that twists and turns through a series of random and increasingly improbable mishaps. It all starts when Grandma dies under highly humiliating circumstances. Things go downhill from there, as all the town secrets and dirty laundry come spilling out en masse and feuding relatives try and fail to keep it all under control before the funeral.

Karen Irwin and Zorba Rose perform during the intermission of 'Sordid Lives.'In a neat bit of synergy between theater and the local music scene, each performance and intermission is preceded by a local musician playing a solo set, as well as providing in-show guitar backing. This time around it was Zorba Rose of the Drunken Deacons and the Melody Inn’s Hillbilly Happy House, performing the oldest of old-school country and western classics — we’re talking Hank Williams SENIOR, here. Next week will see Deacon Sean taking the stage, with Kit Malone following the final week.

Sordid Lives continues March 11-13 and 18-19. For more information check out or call 637-8085.

- Nuvo Newsweekly/Paul Pogue

"Deacons to bring honky tonk revival to Muncie"

Kimberly Grissom has been a pastry chef, a teacher and now she's a cute-as-a-button singer with a hillbilly band.

And through it all she has also been my best friend. So it gives me great pleasure to be able to interview her, in a professional-like manner, for this here column in honor of the band's first performance in Muncie.

You will find the band most Friday nights hosting the Hellbilly Happy Hour at the Melody Inn in downtown Indy.

Now The Deacons are moving up (north) and will be headlining this year's Folk Jam Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Speakeasy in The Village. The Jam will begin at noon and will not stop until about 3 a.m.

Bands will be performing on the lovely outdoor patio and in the bar. Performing on the patio will be Scott 'n' Chops, Kirby, Ark & The Sharks, Sammy June, Luke Crawley, Joe Hladek, Mike Feeney, Jake Hendershot and Barry Dingman. Bands on the inside stage will be Michael Martin, The Silver Dollar Family Band, Pray for Mojo and The Deacons.

The folks at the Speakeasy will be grilling out grub all day. Cover is free until 9 p.m.

I had a chance to interview Miss Kimmy (her stage name) this week about the upcoming gig.

Me: So, your band got the plumb spot of playing at the butt crack of dawn?

Miss Kimmy: Yes. People must stay up. Take a nap if you have to.

Me: How long have you been with The Deacons?

MK: I am actually coming up on my 1-year anniversary.

Me: And how did you meet the members of The Deacons?

MK: I hired them to play a party at my house. Little did I know that they had never had a playing gig before. They rooked me out of 200 bucks.

Me: But you got a spot in the band out of it.

MK: Yes, I did. Good thing, too.

Me: So, how would you describe your role in the band?

MK: I am stage dressing. I do not play an instrument. I sing a little. And I dress the band, too. I put together most of the costumes and make sure everybody's shirts match.

Me: Which do you prefer, sequins or rhinestones?

MK: Rhinestones of course. Those are real nice. But we can't afford those yet. We have fancy sequins.

Me: How would you describe the Deacons sound?

MK: Indescribable. Sometimes more shows are more indescribable than others. (Laughs) Really, I would hope the words "country" and "honky-tonk" would come to mind.

Me: Your thoughts on coming to Muncie?

MK: We are kind of approaching this show as our introduction to Muncie - getting up there, meeting new people, making some friends. Basically we will be bringing our honky-tonk revival to the Muncie masses.

Me: I assume you will be playing your toe-tapping originals. What is your favorite Deacons tune?

MK: That would be our new hit single 421. You can find it on Indianapolis Music.Net's showcase CD. It's No. 3,290 with a bullet. So, are we done yet? I have dishes to do.

Me: Ah, the life of a rock star. - The Muncie Star/ Michele Kinsey

"Deacons Mark 2 Years at the Mel"

The fun-loving, rabble-rousing Indianapolis group The Drunken Deacons will be celebrating their two-year anniversary of weekly shows at the Melody Inn this Friday with a good old-fashioned cookout (See Feature on the Melody Inn on page 15).
"It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing a weekly show for two years,” says Deacons singer and head chef Miss Kimmy. “But it’s been so much fun that I wanted to do something to show our fans we appreciate them for coming out. So we decided to feed them."
The show begins at 7 p.m. and will feature “anti-folk” singer/songwriter Jes Valentine and rockabilly bands King Creole and The Wailin’ Elroys from Athens, Ohio. Headlining along with the Drunken Deacons will be local favorites The Fuglees.
The $6 admission includes a buffet of fried chicken, rib tips, baked beans, potato salad and Miss Kimmy’s Ding Dings. “They’re like Ding Dongs, but I can’t call ’em that or Hostess will sue my butt,” Kimmy says.
In their two years as hosts of the Friday night Hellbilly Happy Hour at the Mel, the Deacons have provided a stage for many up-and-coming local acts regardless of genre.
"One of the things I like about being in this band is that we all want to promote musical camaraderie in the scene," Kimmy says. "The guys in the band have gone out of their way to share the wealth. We’ve got this great little showcase and we’re doing our best to showcase talent."
Semi-finalists in last year’s Battle of the Bands, the Deacons hope to do well in this year’s competition and finally record an album that represents their live sound.
"We are more than ripe for an album," she says. "One of the reasons I’m so pleased to be in this band is that there aren’t a lot of bands that have the direct purpose of entertaining people. Some bands act like they’re doing you a favor when they play. We’re working for the audience."
The Melody Inn is located at 3826 N. Illinois St.
- Nuvo Newsweekly/Steve Hammer

"Sound Bites"

Winning pair: Area musicians Bobbie Lancaster and Zorba Rose teamed to win the songwriting portion of last Saturday's Masterpiece in a Day competition in Fountain Square. They will split a $2,000 prize. For more information, visit - The Indianapolis Star/ David Lindquist

"Top Ten musical (listening) moments from my July tour"

10. "Rain and Snow" - Peter Rowan and Tony Rice et al at MagnoliaFest Midwest in Bean Blossom, Indiana
9. "Vincent Black Lightning" - The Tumbleweeds on the Porch Stage at MagnoliaFest Midwest
8. "Riddle of the Universe" - Donna the Buffalo, Positive Friction - because it's always in my Top Ten
7. North Country - Michael Stadler's new CD
6. Moon on My Pillow - The Spud Puppies, Pick of the Litter
5. "You Can't Save Everybody," the title track from a 2004 CD by Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch
4. Chavez Ravine - Ry Cooder's amazing new album.
3. "Willie Taylor" - Uncle Earl, She Waits for Night
2. Buddy Miller's entire set at MagnoliaFest Midwest
1. "The Road" - Russell Smith, The End Is Not in Sight

- David Gans Blog


Zorba and Miss Kimmy have been featured on the IMN Music Sampler, Showcase 10 sampler, Benchmark Battle of the Bands Sampler. They have recorded Drunken Deacons Liquor and Loss and Songs.


Feeling a bit camera shy


In the summer of 2004, Kimmy and Zorba formed The Tumbleweeds with bassist and tubist Ben Volkits and Zach Yde on drums. Keyboardist, Fred Yde, joined The Tumbleweeds soon after. We also play with pedal steeler Joe Alterio, keyboardist Brad Moore, and percusionists Lenen Nicola and Scarecrow.

Kimmy and Zorba are former members of the Honky Tonk band the Drunken Deacons. They have performed more than 170 shows together, and have been featured on Showcases, Melody Inn Parties, and venues through-out the state. Ben Vokits is a graduate of Oberlin College, with a degree in music. Fred Yde is a seasoned veteran on the Keyboards having played with Chooch and The Enchanters. Zach is a drumming prodigy and a recent graduate of Carmel High School.

The Tumbleweeds host the Hillbilly Happy Hour every Friday Night at the Melody Inn, 3826 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis. This show freatures The Tumbleweeds on the second and fourth Fridays of each month and showcases new bands and singer-songwriters.