By Zach Spicer | For The Republic
Seymour — A band made such an impression at last year’s Seymour CityJam that the event’s organizer decided a repeat performance was in order.
The Woomblies Rock Orchestra, a rock band with a string section and a piano, will open the fifth season of the summer concert series at 6:30 p.m. today on a stage on Second Street between Indianapolis Avenue and Ewing Street in downtown Seymour.
Darnell Dukes, organizer of CityJam and a volunteer with Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, said the reaction from the crowd during last year’s show and the number of people who shared positive comments after the show prompted her to ask the Indianapolis-based group back this year.
In putting the series together each year, Dukes said she consults with the sponsors, JCB, Seymour Crossing and The Tribune. They all had good things to say about the group, too.
“We always get some feedback, but this group, we got more than normal, just how unique it is to have a band like that in the area that incorporates strings into the music and some of their song selections,” she said.
This year’s shows, which will be on the third Thursday of each month through September, will run at a new time, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Food and drinks, served by The Pines Restaurant, will be available for purchase beginning at 6 p.m. At Thursday’s show, nachos and margaritas will be sold along with the other food and drink options.
The arts center receives a percentage of the food sales and also has volunteers collect donations toward the end of the show.
The rain location is the Knights of Columbus, 118 E. Second St., Seymour.
When The Woomblies Rock Orchestra played at Seymour CityJam in August 2016, it was the group’s first time performing in the city.
Dukes saw Phil Pierle, a vocalist and guitarist with the band, performing with another band in February 2016 at Pewter Hall in Brownstown and learned about the rock orchestra.
The Woomblies started as a quartet in 2000 in Indianapolis. Pierle and Paul Holdman, who also is a vocalist and guitarist, had been casual acquaintances through the local music scene and decided to start performing together.
They had different drummers and bass players with them in the beginning, but Pierle said they clicked right away when Jamey Reid (drums and percussion) and Brant Milholland (bass and vocals) came on board.
“It was a definite musical chemistry between the four of us,” Pierle said. “Back in those days, we never rehearsed. That’s how we developed our unique sound.”
Then in 2012, The Woomblies Rock Orchestra was created. Pierle said he always had wanted to do something with strings, and that became a reality when he received a call from Dan McMichael, operator of The Rathskeller in Indianapolis.
McMichael wanted a rock band with a string section, and Pierle jumped on it.
With help from McMichael, The Woomblies added a four-piece string section and a pianist, forming a rock orchestra that could play some of the greatest classic rock and Motown songs ever written, Pierle said.
The string section is led by cellist Grover Parido from Carmel. He brought along Melinda Riley on viola, Allison Emmert on violin and Julie Schull from the Carmel Symphony Orchestra on violin. The group’s longtime friend, Greg McGuirk, joined them on piano.
Looking at the rest of the Seymour CityJam season, the performers will be Back in the Day, a classic rock group from Columbus, on July 20; First Time Caller, a cover band from Indianapolis that includes three Woomblies members and a female vocalist, on Aug. 17; and The Louisville Crashers, a party band from Louisville, Kentucky, on Sept. 21.