City Gallery and the Master of Place-based Music

As many of you know (or at least we hope you know!) Midwestern multi-instrumentalist and prolific songwriter, Sufjan Stevens is coming to town on April 18th.

On the cusp of the release of Carrie and Lowell, Stevens’ ninth full-length album, we are reminded of his uncanny ability to translate the world around him, and his personal experiences into song. But for our purposes, what we love most about Stevens comes not from his captivatingly mirthful depictions of predatory wasps and festive unicorns, but from the role that he lets place play in his tunes.


Today, we remember Stevens’ Michigan and Illinois albums, and the labors of love they were for each state. By sharing the stories and folklore of both Michigan and Illinois with that whimsical imagery we’ve come to expect from him, Stevens highlights the defining elements of history and landscape that make these places unique.

paul in sufjan stevens shirt

Paul Smallman wrote and recorded "King Park," a cd of songs celebrating the neighborhoods of King Park Area in the summer of 2013.

As we prepare for the whimsical yet intimate experience that is a Sufjan Stevens show, we want to take a second to reflect on the place-based music our interns have created. From the work of resident singer/songwriters to the spoken word poetry of the Neighborhood Ballad Project, the City Gallery has enabled interns to tell the stories of place.

Neighborhood Ballad Project

The Neighborhood Ballad Project produced spoken word pieces highlighting famous Hoosiers past and present.

chad for video

Singer-songwriter Chad Caroland wrote and recorded music about urban Indy.

Whether you're heading to the Sufjan Stevens show Saturday night or not, take a few minutes and be serenaded by the stories of your city. We guarantee your appreciation for place will grow and grow.