GREENFIELD — Jordan Smith, aka Jay Arizona, walked across the Ricks Centre stage followed by bandmate Cody Young. Although Smith and his band The Avenue, had played the Ricks before, Young, the bass player, was new to the venue; Smith showed him around.
All was quiet at the Ricks for now, but on Saturday night, Smith hopes, the place will be rocking.
Organized by local promoter and Eastern Hancock graduate Shawn Randolph, “The Avenue’s ‘Lust Love Heartbreak’ album release party opens it doors at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main. Tickets are available at the door for $10, and the music starts at 6 p.m.
Smith, 22, has been in a band since 2014. Originally entering the music scene with punk rock and pop covers under the name Sexist Alexis, the group has played at the Hoosier Dome, an all-ages music venue in Fountain Square, at parties and local music festivals.
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As the group has matured, recent changes include a new name – to The Avenue – and a change in personnel which resulted in a change in the band’s musical sound.
The Avenue — now made up of Smith on lead guitar and vocals, Young on bass and back-up vocals, John Richardson on guitar (and occasionally the violin) and Raegan Gordon as drummer and pianist — recently released “Br3athe.” The single, a hip-hop rhythm and blues single available on iTunes and Amazon, has a vastly different vibe than previous Avenue recordings.
Promoter Shawn Randolph, Randolph Promotions, credited with assembling the line-up of musical entertainment, is impressed with the group’s growth.
“I think they have a lot going for them, and they could go a lot farther,” Randolph said.
As an upstart promoter, Randolph has been attending local music shows like the one going in at the Ricks for several years and decided he wanted to get more involved in the local music scene. He got his start as a promoter at the Hoosier Dome. Randolph looks forward to his first promotional gig at the Ricks Centre.
“My very first concert made of local groups was actually at the Ricks,” Randolph said, “so I’m very excited to get to work with that venue.”
As promoter, Randolph tapped a friend with design skills to create flyers, but relies on the acts he books to draw attention to the event.
Randolph says his biggest challenge is finding groups who are all available to play on the same date. He usually begins planning several months in advance to assemble the groups and coordinate with the manager of the performance venue.
As a personal friend to members of “The Avenue,” he rarely misses one of their concerts and looks forward to having them headline his event, he said.
In addition to “The Avenue,” a number of regional bands will warm up for the headliners.
The show will open with “Something Else,” out of Columbus, Ohio. Advertising themselves as “an alternative, porch-punk band,” their website describes their most recent self-titled single as “angst-filled lyrics and screaming punk guitars” with “soothing melodies throughout.”
Jay Putty, from Evansville, has found musical success in the local music scene in Nashville, Tennessee. His song-writing skills and country pop sound have resulted in the release of several singles available on iTunes including his most recent, “Sunday Morning.”
Local band Perceived//Persist features Damian Hyde on vocals, Andrew Murray on vocals and rhythm guitar, Nick Mohler on lead guitar and Brandon Werthen on drums.
Of all the opening acts, “The Day After” may have the largest fan base. Formed in the summer of 2008, this five-piece pop band regularly plays the Hoosier Dome and the Emerson Theater among others. After several changes in the group’s configuration, the group now performs with Kevin Kirk on lead vocals, Jacob Rangel on guitar, Dan Herring on drums and Collin Fiol on bass and secondary vocals. Last spring “The Day After” released its first new single, “The Underdog” and in May, the group will open for nationally known performer Andrew WK at the Hifi in Indianapolis.
Looking ahead, Smith has big dreams for himself and the band. He is proud of the fact that the group has its own in-house recording studio, and they recorded their new album in just four months. The band is developing a following, he said, and he hopes to expand the group from local to regional and hopefully national recognition.
In the meantime, the group will keep performing.
“When you have popularity, you can’t let people wander off,” Smith said. “You have to keep them locked into the fandom; you gotta keep putting out stuff to keep people’s attention. You need to strike while the iron is hot.”
The Avenue and four other local and regional music acts will perform Saturday at the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts, 122 W. Main St.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; music begins at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $10 at the door