Liz Janes is a singer-songwriter, folk artist, guitar player, and — to her own surprise — a Midwestern girl. After living everywhere from Washington, D.C., to Orcas Isle, Washington, Liz is officially settled in Indianapolis, and wouldn’t dream of moving anywhere else. Keep reading below to find out what makes the place she calls home so special.
What’s your town’s nickname?
What’s your nickname for your town?
Why do you live there?
All of our family is out in California. We moved here six years ago really just on a whim. My husband and I had been very transient and adventurous in our twenties. We had each separately moved from coast to coast multiple times. We used to spend our free time dreaming about what place to move next, what job to try next, always thinking about moving on. Imagine our surprise after a few years in Indy, to realize that our hearts just felt settled. We realized that we’d no longer talk about where we wanted to move, but instead we’d talk about the new people and places in our own city that we were discovering. Over time, we realized that we had everything here that we’d wanted in other places. We can walk or bike to everything we need—library, post-office, work, school, groceries, farmer’s market, cafe, record store, parks and playgrounds. Our neighborhood is demographically diverse. The local farming/ slow food movement has tons of support and a great culture around it. Lots of art and artists, with institutions and a city culture intent on supporting artists. So, Indianapolis fits all of our priorities to a “T”: pedestrian, diversity, creativity, sustainability. It’s all here in Indy.
Did you grow up there? If not, what brought you there?
Nope, Born in D.C., grew up mostly in Reston, VA, but moved to Philadelphia during high school. Then, moved to Portland, OR; then Seattle, WA; then Olympia, WA; a couple seasons on Orcas Isle, WA; then Gloucester, MA; then San Diego, CA. I’ve called all these places home, but what brought us here was just another adventure – never meant to stay.
What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?
The weirdest thing of all is that I’m a Midwestern girl now! Never in a million years would I have guessed that.
What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
The IMA (Indianapolis Museum of Art) opened a new Art and Nature Park last summer. It is literally 100 acres of land full of incredible permanent art installations from all over the world. Some of it is wooded, some is wide open space. There is a lake, and the whole place is so amazing to explore. Everything about it is exciting and experimental.
What is your favorite local event or festival? IMAF (Indy Music and Arts Festival) is at the Harrison Center for the Arts every summer. It is free all day long and hosts tons of music as well as the HandiCraft Exchange which is like visiting an “Etsy Only” shopping mall! The whole event is so creative and inspiring, and the Harrison Center offers wonderful hospitality to the artists.
What is the best time of year to be there?
Every season has its charms, but I’d say late spring when it’s warmed up outside, but still cool enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Who is your favorite local celebrity?
Melina Kennedy! She is running for mayor here, and I’ve met her and she’s lovely, and powerfully capable of doing great things for our city. Go Melina!
Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?
First of all, I don’t condone drinking. I’m old enough to have seen alcohol ruin beautiful people and good marriages, and I just can’t stand it. But if you’re not an alcoholic, and you’ve got your head on straight, and you’re doing right by your loved ones and making an honest living, and it’s time to toast a birthday or anniversary or Christmas or it’s just time for a pint in midwinter, I enjoy the Brugge Brasserie. It’s as European as any place in Indy will ever feel and they brew three or four different beers at any given time which are always very rich and unique. They also serve crepes and frites and oysters, so it’s a perfect place for the occasional indulgence.
Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
Since I don’t frequent bars, I have no idea who has the best jukebox. So I’ll have to say the listening station at Luna Records – and right now? I’m in it! Yay, have a listen!
Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?
I don’t play here (or anywhere) very often. But I look for small alternative art spaces. I’ve enjoyed playing at Big Car, Harrison Center for the Arts, Luna In-store, and I hope to play the Earth House soon.
Does where you live influence your music?
Yes, but only in the fact that I have free time and head space for making art and music. This is a friendly and slow Midwestern city where people can enjoy life and not just struggle to get by.
What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
I will never forget the first time I saw Jookabox. It was at the “Indie Indy” festival at Big Car gallery, um, 2006 I think? I actually played my set and then right afterward, Moose from Jookabox started playing. Back then he was called Grampall Jookabox and was more of a solo guy. He was amazing! He just jammed on this acoustic guitar with his rosey cheeks like Santa Claus, and his girlfriend and another guy were just making noise along with him. But his groove was so strong and the music was so beautiful and the poetry immaculate and his face was just shining! That man is a genius.
What is your favorite local band?
Have to say Jookabox.
What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
Honestly? I don’t eat out much. I prefer to make food at home. But there are two places I’m excited to try. R Bistro is our local restaurant that emphasizes locally raised produce and meats. And the Earth House has a “slow food” café that I’ve still never tried.
What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
Luna Records is my neighborhood record store, and they just always have whatever I’m looking for and they’re so friendly.
What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
Nuvo and MyOldKentuckyBlog.
What is your favorite local shop?
Midland Arts and Antiques. It is a giant warehouse where hundreds of vendors have stalls. Every beautiful old thing in the world that you would ever want or need is in there somewhere. Just have to find it.
If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
I can honestly say, there is nowhere on earth I’d rather be, than right here in Indy.