Remembering summer with the place-based music of Paul Smallman
As a bright spot during this long reign of arctic temperatures, snow and ice, we‘ve been remembering summer. Our first singer-songwriter, Paul Smallman, has just completed two new songs about his summer here in Indianapolis. Paul’s first album, King Park, told the stories of inspiring neighbors, secret places, and surprising events in the King Park neighborhood, but Paul spent a lot of time exploring the rest of the city while he was here, too. Sometimes it’s not until you leave a place that you realize how meaningful some parts of it were to you.
NESCO Feast of Lanterns
One of our favorite summer events is the NESCO Feast of Lanterns, described by Indy Star writer and St. Clair Place resident, Robert King, as “a perfect emblem for life on the Near Eastside — offbeat, not carved from a mold and a little rough around the edges.” There were several “Feasts of Lanterns” in Indianapolis during the early 1900s, but the Spades Park festival was considered to be one of the most magnificent. Neighbors would gather for games and dancing during the day; then at dusk, thousands of lanterns would light up with candlelight, creating what must have been a magical spectacle. Paul’s new song, Favorite One is “loosely based on my memories of the Feast of Lanterns, but uses that experience as a way to talk about nostalgia connected to a particular place with special people. The guy in this song has a nostalgic experience triggered by his surroundings, but also looks forward to having a nostalgia for the life memory that he's creating with his friends, in this place now.”
Paul lived with a family in Fountain Square while he was with us, drawn into the rich and vibrant community that lives in that little corner of southeast Indy. His second song, Until Then, is a reflection on that time. “It's based on my own personal experience of living on Pleasant St. with the Sinsabaughs when Nathan went to Africa. Although everyone missed him, our neighbors were always around and available to hangout or help Carrie out with the kids. I thought it appropriately captured the idea of "It takes a village to raise a child."
I’m thankful for the “village” that’s helping raise my kids . . . good neighbors, teachers and friends. And I’m grateful for the crazy, magical experiences we all get to have here in the city. They make great memories.