Sour Mash: Classic Covers, Original Style

Indianapolis sure does love its jam bands. There’s no shortage of Indianapolis bands that can noodle, improvise, play off the crowd, and build a massive surge of good feeling out of nothing more than a basic chord structure and a sticky bass line. Indy also loves cover bands: witness the extreme popularity of Indianapolis dance clubs that have live bands, the overabundance of karaoke in the city, and the slew of cover groups that perform everything from Cash to Lady GaGa. However, despite the popularity of these two genres, rarely do they merge together into one band, and rarely does that band try to escape the creative shackles of covers. Indianapolis band Sour Mash is that band: they can noodle with the best of them, and though they cover the originals, they’re quickly branching out to include their own personal musical vision.

Sour Mash first broke into the Indianapolis music scene in 2007, when they were an acoustically inclined trio of singers and songwriters. In the beginning, Sour Mash was just a group of guitarists, all with similar music interests and goals. In 2008, the band grew to include a powerful rhythm section, and the current iteration of Sour Mash was born in the Circle City. Nowadays, the group is made up of four members: Joby Hurst on guitar, sax, and vocals; Colby Sandlian on guitar and vocals; and the two Steve’s on rhythm, Steve Fulton keeping time on drums and Steve Wolf on bass and lead guitar. Each member of the group has music in their blood, and each member brings his own style to the table.

In the beginning, Sour Mash played all covers, over 100 of them, much like fellow Indianapolis cover bands like American Cheese, Lemon Wheel, Dave and Rae, and The Flying Toasters. Though Sour Mash’s musical style is mostly in the bluegrass/classic rock vein, Sour Mash’s covers span the whole musical spectrum. The list includes plenty of crowd favorites, including classics like Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved,” “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles, Santana’s “Evil Ways,” and “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones, in addition to oddities (for a cover band) like Wilco’s “I’m the Man Who Loves You” and the ever-popular “Business Time” by Australian comedy band Flight of the Conchords. Sour Mash’s cover tunes are designed to get Indianapolis people out on the dance floor, making every Sour Mash concert a hilariously fun Indianapolis event.

Recently, however Sour Mash decided to move beyond the realm of covers and start penning their own tunes, an admirable step that not too many party bands decide to take. The Indianapolis band is currently working on their first studio recording, a record that will likely earn them plenty of shows at Indianapolis music venues. Last year, they played several originals at a show at The Mousetrap to great success, a show they’re likely to replicate and embellish on as soon as their originals begin to match the quality of their covers.

Sour Mash has been a fixture at Indianapolis bars and Indianapolis restaurants since their debut in Indianapolis. Venues that’ve experienced the Mash include The Casba, the Ale Emporium, Champps Americana, the Britton Tavern, Indianapolis City Market, Apres Jack’s, and more. If you really want to catch Sour Mash but don’t have access to their show calendar, you can stop by Connor’s Pub in Broad Ripple Village on a Sunday night; chances are you’ll see Sour Mash in action, since they’re the house band for Connor’s. The six Indianapolis cultural districts (especially Broad Ripple Village, Mass Ave, and Fountain Square) are great places to see Sour Mash, as is downtown Indianapolis.

The next time you want to hear something familiar with a little original styling, check out show times for the next Sour Mash concert in Indianapolis. Combining the free form improvisational magic of a jam band (think Twin Cats) with the crowd pleasing catalog of a cover band (Band Wagon), an evening with Sour Mash ensures you’ll have fun at whatever Indianapolis nightlife venue you choose. Though the band is heavy on the country, fans of classic rock, bluegrass, and radio rock will all find something to love with Sour Mash. With a list of 100 covers and a smattering of cool originals, Sour Mash is only going to get better with age, just like their namesake.

For more information on Sour Mash, including show times and venues, pictures, links, and music samples, visit the band’s homepage.