Every November for the last ten years, I’m been a man with a mission. That mission has been:
a. Trying to figure out a Tonic Ball schedule that doesn’t feature John Byrne, Brian Deer, or Matt Wilson on more than one stage at once.
b. Trying to see how many people we can jam into Radio Radio over the course of a night.
c. Trying to figure out how to protect my bids on the amazing pieces of art at Tonic Gallery while I’m supposed to be emceeing Tonic Ball.
d. Trying to imagine how Tonic Ball and Tonic Gallery could ever get any better than they already are.
e. All of the above.
The answer, of course, is “e.” I think it was David Lindquist who called Tonic–which happens in Fountain Square on Friday, November 16–a sort of unofficial opening of the holiday season and, falling as it always does on the Friday before Thanksgiving, he’s not wrong. It certainly is one fantastic party and as good a way as I can imagine to start the season of giving.
And this year, I get to enjoy it.
Not that I haven’t enjoyed it; in fact, I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of it for a decade. It’s just that, this year, I’m not in charge. So I can:
a. See just about any performance I want.
b. Have dinner with My Beautiful Wife before the show.
c. Protect my own damn Tonic Gallery bids.
d. Appreciate the fact that Tonic just keeps getting better and better.
e. All of the above.
The answer is “e” again, but I’d like to pay special note to “d.” I take a lot of comfort in knowing that I can retire from the chairmanship of this great organization knowing that Matt Mays and his very capable crew will put on an even better show than we did last year–and that, if I don’t say so myself, is some feat. Thanks in no small part to the efforts of Second Helpings Director of Development and Engagement Charrie Buskirk, Tonic shattered its all-time sponsorship record before the first tickets were sold. It’s already the most financially successful Tonic ever–which means less food ending up in landfills, more Hoosiers who won’t go hungry, and more people trained for meaningful employment in the culinary industry.
What else is going on this year? Lots of new bands–and over 45 bands in all– on three stages in beautiful Fountain Square, those stages being Radio Radio, the Fountain Square Theatre, and the White Rabbit Cabaret. Where said bands will be playing tunes by The Kinks, U2, and Stevie Wonder, respectively. I have it on good authority that every room is stacked with crazy hot acts.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Tonic and Do317.com have collaborated on a pretty amazing schedule that allows you to program the night for yourself. Want to make sure you don’t miss Yoko Moment at 10 p.m. at Radio Radio? (Trust me: you don’t.) Put it on your agenda. Easy.
But you say you’ll have the kids? You have no excuses. Tiny Tonic, featuring the diaper-kicking kid-friendly stylings of Ruditoonz, happens at Southeast Community Center from 5:30 to 7–and the Fountain Square Theatre is an all-ages room, and you do not want to go home until you’ve seen The Common covering a U2 song.
You say you’re too old to rock and roll, yet too young to die? Tonic Gallery at New Day Meadery is still the best one-piece show in the city. It’s open from 5 – 8 p.m. on Tonic Friday, November 16. But if you want first crack at all the good stuff, come out for the First Friday preview party this Friday evening, November 2.
Does it feel weird to not be in charge of Tonic? A little. But mostly, it feels great. Tonic was never about me–never about any of our little band of founders, who just wanted to have a rock show and do some good in the world. Tonic has always been about the love–love of music, love of art, love of community and this big family of creative people, loving humanity enough to know that it’s a crime for people to go hungry when we have the capacity to feed everyone.
It’s humbling to realize you’ve created something that should outlive you. But we didn’t create the love. It’s always been there, just waiting for a lens to bring it into focus. I’ve been fortunate enough to hold the lens for ten years. Now I’m going to love being part of the prism.