The Why Store: Still Questioning After Twenty Years

In the late 1980’s, Ball State University students Greg Gardner and Michael David Smith decided that Muncie, Indiana needed a little musical pick me up. Joining forces with a drummer from Indianapolis, Graig Adams, the group became known as Emerald City after picking up the talents of vocalist Chris Shaffer. In 1992, Adams was replaced by another drummer, Charlie Bushor, and The Why Store was born. After six albums, two breakups, and twenty years of music, The Why Store is poised to make a comeback with their brand new record, Vim.

The Why Store is an Indianapolis band that plays their own breed of acoustic guitar laced, layered, lyrically driven rock. Many of their songs have a feel good element that is similar to another member of the Indianapolis music scene, singer songwriter Rich Hardesty. Unlike Hardesty, however, The Why Store’s members all collaborate on the band’s music. As a matter of fact, the band’s creative input has been responsible for some of the hardships the band has encountered; The Why Store’s two dissolutions, one in 2000 and one in 2005, both occurred because of “artistic differences” within the band. That’s alright, though; lead singer and principle songwriter Chris Shaffer has over 130 original songs at his disposal, and he makes use of them all during The Why Store’s long, mesmerizing live shows.

A video of The Why Store, an Indianapolis band, performing “Your World” live


The Why Store takes elements from many different bands to create its sound. Shaffer’s voice has a rusty, grizzled growl to it that is worlds apart from the satiny texture of Andrew Young or Jon McLaughlin, but most of his lyrical content is far from depressing. Currently, the band consists of four members: Chris Shaffer on vocals and guitar, Dan Hunt on bass, Jerry Reiskamp on drums, and Troy Seele on guitar. Hunt and Reiskamp also share backup vocal duties. Each member brings their own experience and skill to the band, creating a well-defined, cohesive sound that sets The Why Store apart from the rest of the pack.

Video of The Why Store, an Indianapolis band, performing “Fade Away”


The Why Store has released seven albums: 1993’s Welcome to the Why Store, 1994’s Inside the Why Store, 1996’s eponymous The Why Store, 1998’s Two Beasts, 1999’s Live at Midnight (a double disc concert set), 2000’s Life on Planet Six Ball, and their newest release, 2009’s Vim. Vim is actually a re-release of the latest solo album by Chris Shaffer, also called Vim, with new artwork on the cover, liner notes, and back panel. Regardless, the songs still pop with vitality and feel good energy.

Video of The Why Store, an Indianapolis band, performing live in 2000


Throughout The Why Store‘s long history, the band has played at many Indianapolis music venues. Right now, they’re playing in cities around Indiana in support of the re-release of Vim in April of 2009. In Indianapolis, The Why Store has played at Zanie’s II, the Celebrity Golf Tournament (an Indianapolis sports tradition), and the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the 2009 Indiana State Fair, where they shared the stage with The Elms and Jon McLaughlin; Stereo Deluxe and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra also played at the Indiana State Fair.

The Why Store is slated to play at several Indiana cities, including Angola, Winona Lake (home of Grace College), North Manchester, Elkhart, Carmel, Monticello, Kokomo (home of hardcore and metal bands In the Face of War and The Blood Reckoning), New Haven, and Auburn. As far as Indianapolis music venues go, The Why Store has played at many of the more popular ones. In the past, they’ve been seen at Rib America, the Vogue Nightclub, The Slippery Noodle Inn, Doc’s Music Hall, and the Indiana State Museum.

For more information on The Why Store, including tour dates, song samples, and merchandise, please visit the band’s homepage.

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