Gretsch Events

French Lick, Indiana: Too Classy for a Roundup?

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Those who pay attention to such things have no doubt noted the on-again off-again thrashing about over a midwest/midsouth Roundup this year.


Brief history
From 2008 to 2014, the then-so-called Nashville Roundup was held at Phila Hach's Hachland Hills facility in Joelton, TN outside Nashville. The atmosphere and facilities were unique, and we made them perfect for our purposes. Phila, her hospitality and cooking became as much a part of Roundup lore as the many now-familiar traditions which developed at that venue.

It was a special place, they were special events, and nothing is likely to replace them in our memory.

Alas, time trudges on, all things must pass, we'll see perpetual change, etc. Phila passed last year and the new management was less willing to compromise on costs (which were always high-ish), facilities, and "policies."

In 2015 we took the Roundup show on the road to the former Hopson cotton plantation outside Clarksdale, MS, where the plantation's holdings have been divvied up between two competing groups of former partners. We had our event at the Shack Up Inn, a facility which includes a variety of sizes of "sharecropper" shack lodging and a restaurant/bar/performance venue in a re-purposed barn.

This venue was charming in its own funky way, drenched in north Mississippi blues vibes, and served our purposes pretty well. Not perfectly. We didn't have exclusive run of the place, were expected to provide semi-appropriate entertainment at their restaurant stage, and there was some hassle over our jamming volume.

Still, a worthy Roundup venue, worth a return trip.

Adjacent to the Shack Up Inn is the plantation's original commissary building. It's big, with lots of interesting historical features (plantation post office, barber shop, general store, bar, etc), a roomy and fabulous performance space (bigger than Phila's tobacco barn), a smaller more intimate performance space, AND an outside patio area.

We did NOT have access to the Commissary for last year's event, as it's run by different management than the Inn and would have required a separate facilities fee. (We didn't figure all this out till we were onsite.) Of course, we were free to wander through the facility, and that visit sold us on the notion of having the 2016 Roundup in the Commissary rather than at the Shack Up Inn's property.

But the Commissary doesn't have as much available lodging, so our plan for 2016 was to try to party at the Commissary and sleep in the Shack Up Inn's cabins.


Forward to 2016 and our planning. The Nashville/Midwest/Midsouth/Mississippi Roundup has always been ostensibly put together by a committee of four: Steve Nobody McCloud, Doug Fieldhouse, Dave SuprDave Miller and me.

In point of actual fact, Doug and Steve have always carried by far the larger load, handling all the arrangements with venues, payments from attendees, and other financial and logistical details. SuprDave has been a kind of onsite logistical facilitator, making sure the various venues are equipped and ready, and being the FireMaster for brandings. That's left me to do...you know, not all that much. Running my mouth, contributing an idea here and there, bringing some PA gear (sometimes), showing up and pretending I belong.

This year, two us us (Steve and I) were so buried in various life projects that we plain let time slip by. Steve has been working on his WWII history book and I was remodeling, moving, and editing an area county history book.

So if planning was not done in a timely manner, blame me. I just wasn't paying enough attention.

Doug has done his best to herd the rest of us cats (well, get our attention), and has worked with both the Hopson plantation businesses to get a thing organized. He made a lot of progress with them. But there are lots of schedules to coordinate and logistics to arrange, with too many moving parts - and the bottom line is that we can't get enough lodging in the area during the window of time we could schedule the Roundup. It would be much easier if the two properties scheduled and booked as one unit - but they don't.

To have a Crossroads Roundup this year would mean many folks would have to stay at motels 35-50 miles away. Seemed a kind of non-starter.


Given that logistical collapse, I revived a pet project of mine, and that is having a Roundup in French Lick, Indiana.

French Lick is a very small town (pop. 1,807) nestled in the "uplands" (that's Hoosier for hills, I think) of southeastern Indiana, so-named because an early French trading post was established near a salt lick. The area's mineral water springs (you know, smelly sulphur) began to be exploited commercially in the 1840s, and up through WWII, the tiny town waxed and waned as a watering hole for the rich and famous, with truly spectacular (and, in one case, unique-in-the-world), decadently opulent hotels.

The history is a hoot. Show-biz, gambling, pro baseball, bicycle racing, laxatives, politics, monks, Larry Bird, world-class golf – the town's got it all. The area went into a gradual decline through the back half of the 20th century, then gambling was legalized, a casino was built and the two landmark hotels – with over 700 rooms between them – and their grounds were restored to eye-popping splendor.

One in particular, the "dome" of the West Baden hotel, immediately strikes the imagination as what an incredible place to throw a Roundup. As in, we've done funky and rustic...what if we tried something plush and luxurious?

The two hotels are roughly a mile apart, with the casino between them. An antique rail trolley provides regular service between them - not that you wouldn't drive.

So here's the deal. It's still possible to have a very different and memorable Roundup in the midwest this year. The weekend of October 8-9 is one target date, and possibly the weekend of Oct 29-30.

Actual performance venues haven't been confirmed, but I did my level best to explain that they could expect rock nightclub volume levels of unstructured jamming for 13 hours a day. We would likely be set up in fairly typical hotel conference rooms for this. They have a venue for the branding. These facilities are all quite affordable - IF we commit to at least 15 rooms in one or both of the hotels. (And they'd prefer us to stay together.)

Of course they cater meals - but there are over 10 restaurants of all descriptions and price ranges scattered throughout the hotels, plus the full range of fast food and local restaurants in the small town. So I figure we'd just have the Saturday evening meal catered, at roughly 50.00 apiece - and be on our own for other face-stuffings.

Everyone would also be responsible for booking their own rooms. Rooms at the French Lick hotel start at 179.00 a night, double-occupancy (at the group rate); rooms in the West Baden dome start at 229.00 a night (and that's for an outside room, not facing the inside atrium which is the focal point of the hotel).

I don't think everyone is obligated to stay in one of the resort hotels. There are three other new hotels in town: Comfort Suites (138.00 + tax for a double), Best Western Plus (164.00), and Big Splash (connected to an indoor waterpark, 159.00). There's also the older but recently remodeled Lane's Motel (77.00) - and a slew of bed-n-breakfasts. If you wanted lodging without resort town pricing, the town of Jasper (25 miles away) has a number of the usual hotels at the 80.00 - 100.00 rate.

But we do have to get to at least 15 rooms at the resort to qualify for the pricing and to rent the facilities.

There will be a modest registration fee of some amount (as yet undetermined) at least to cover the Saturday night meal. With travel, lodging, and food, I'm figuring altogether it's a 700.00 - 1,000.00 weekend for a couple.

And about the travel: French Lick is about an hour from any interstate, all smooth two-lane roads, as lovely scenery as the midwest has to offer. (I like rolling hills, farms, lush valleys, small towns. Tastes vary.) You'd fly into Louisville, Indianapolis or Evansville - and then have a 60-90 minute drive.


I realize this is an expensive Roundup (though not drastically more than Nashville). I realize it's pretty different in surroundings and facilities.

But the hotels at French Lick are very much a destination in and of themselves. I can guarantee you've never seen anything like them, and surely not in a small rural town. There are two world-class golf courses, the casino, plenty of shopping and other activities (indoor go-karts, laser tag, putt-putt, a train ride, the water park) for wives and kids. You might look it over and decide to add another couple days to the visit and make it more than just a Roundup vacation. The size of the town makes it the easiest deluxe destination I know of.

I'll include some links so you can study up - but bear in mind that the photos can't do justice to the most spectacular interiors.

BUT HERE'S WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW: is there enough interest in the event that we can guarantee the 15-room group rate on which everything else depends?

Chime in here. Let us know if you'd be a definite, a probable, a maybe, or no-way. And which weekend: Oct 8-9 or Oct 29-30. We have to nail it down soon.

The Resorts
About the Town
Lodging in the Area

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So...I would get to take a road trip to a part of the country I've never seen before and hang out with other GDPers? And stay in an opulent hotel? Yes, please.

I hate to say that you should put me down as a definite, because shit happens, but certainly put me down as a probable. A very probable. A super probable. Either weekend works, but if I had to pick one I'd say the weekend of the 8th is probably preferable.

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First of all---How ya doin', Tim?

Secondly, that's a gorgeous part of Indiana. It's also a perfect time for a Roundup---right in the start of autumn leaf season. If French Lick proves unworkable, there are places closer to your B'ton stomping grounds, like Nashville, tho, it's the "busy season" in October. French Lick would be far easier for me than Clarksville. I'd almost think that the hotel might even be too classy for the likes of us. I could bring a PA and keyboards as well. How close to the new I-69 extension is it? Indiana being what it is, there is no direct route to anywhere instate, only out of state. Sounds good, all in all. So, pencil me in as a maybe.

Third---French Lick ain't what it sounds like.

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I've stayed in one of them, though I was too young to care about such things, or really remember much aside from the impressive sight of the building.

I think it could be a good idea. Not sure if I can commit, but I'd do my damnedest to get there. It's a little closer for me than Nashville, or any of the other prospects I've seen (8-9 hour drive vs. 15+). Also, the dates are better for me personally. Nashville always fell on either my birthday, or my sons, or both, and the better half wasn't too pleased about me taking a road trip that encompassed both events.

I'll be watching this one pretty close.

Also, good to see you Tim, hope all is well man.

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Oh my goodness. Look what (who) has risen from the dead. Will wonders never cease? Good to see you back on the 'Pages, Timmy.

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Let me add to this discussion that, on one occasion where I attended the Nashvillian Roundup, I connected with Proteus in Indianapolis and we traveled together through Indiana down to N'ville. By design, we took a detour to French Lick and did a leisurely once through the domed West Baden hotel. I am here to tell you that it is a very cool structure and beautiful building to look at. If a more luxurious type of Roundup were to be held, this would be a very nice place to have it. It seems to me that there are a lot of moving parts to the analysis of how a Roundup would be done there, and whether the costs of attending it for most people can be contained. But, if those issues are worked through, it would be a very nice place to hang out for a few days.

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Good to see you Tim!

Great news on the Roundup

I would love to make the trip but could only make the Oct 29th-30th as the first two weeks in October I'll be on vacation in Italy stuffing my face with pasta and drinking enough wine to sink a battleship.

If it turns out to be the later October date count me as an almost positive. "Yes, I'm surely coming barring natural disasters" type of attendee.

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Concerning French Lick:

Is there going to be a side trip to Hanover, Indiana?

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I'll add another chorus of (pleasantly surprised) "nice to see you back" Tim. (refreshing pause... like a cold drink on a hot day: ahhhh....). Hopefully this means we'll be seeing a bit more of you 'round these parts. If not, that's OK too, but I'm sure many agree with me that you've been missed.

Was just talking with Curt yesterday about all this and bemoaning the lack of any new or even "no news yet" updates. So thank you for this bit of news

I should mention that sometime last year I wrote on the pre-Clarksdale-search-for-another-roundup-location thread that I could never see myself attending a roundup at any place with this silly of a name.

(But I was joking, of course.)

I am therefore (to the best of my busy work schedule abilities and lack of a true forecast), fully, firmly, absolutely IN.

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Count me in, good sir. It's so nice to see you back around these parts!

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I can't make the roundup, but just wanted to say hey. Good to see you, well spoken one.

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OK then, pretty good so far. Looks hopeful.

Hey to everyone. I expect to be around more, yes. Never had a policy of staying away - but the projects that have occupied me for the past 18 months about wore me down to a nub. Perhaps the stories will be told in fuller detail - but they're done, and I'm gradually recovering. I should eventually have the GDP time I've been missing.

As for the Fwench Wick Woundup, I hate for anyone to be excluded because of costs. The drive from Jasper is as pleasant as can be, only half an hour, and depending on how many needed to stay in more popularly priced digs, we could probably pre-arrange to rent a big van at not many dollars for the backenforthing. Just an idea.

My wife and I have long been looking for an excuse to stay in the dome, so if it all comes true, I know I'll want a room overlooking the atrium. (We've stayed in the French Lick hotel a couple times in the past, and always enjoyed ourselves.)

I've been visiting the dome since it was in an abandoned state in the late 80s and through the 90s, when you had to sneak in to soak up the ruined splendor, and I've followed every stage of the restoration (which took years) - including the day the four turrets were replaced via helicopter. Some years ago, there was a glittering show of Indiana-made classic cars in the dome: Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Marmon, Studebaker, Stutz. Hog-heaven for me.

Somehow that gave me the notion to have a concert in the dome. The acoustics are lousy, but no one would ever forget the atmosphere. Now, I was promised that, unless we could sell out all 200-some rooms of the West Baden hotel, we will not be able to perform in the dome itself - as whatever we did there would impose itself on all other guests, which...no, ain't hapnin'. (They do host small acoustic-ish combos, however, and solo players.)

(I'm dreaming that if we made friends there this year, we might organize a more spectacular event in the future where we could have the dome - or a concert stage - for an evening. I'm thinking some genuinely famous Gretsch players, and an evening of music that could present Gretsch history in pop music from Chet to Duane to Beatles to rockabilly to the present, maybe as a ticketed event open to the public. Big thinking.)

Another cool feature we could sneak in this year: there's a temple-shaped enclosed gazebo, off the formal gardens in front of the dome, which once surrounded one of the sulfur springs. The monks who occupied the property from the early 30s into the...70s? 80s?...considered "taking the waters" decadent, so they had it filled in with concrete. That left the perfectly-round small domed structure a perfect infinite reverb chamber. Whisper on one side, hear it on the other. Roar like a beast, sound like a thundering herd. Chant like a monk, sound like a cosmic choir. Can't wait to sneak a guitar in there, whang a big chord, and record the result. I imagine everyone could take a shot at it over the span of the weekend.

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Don, Hanover isn't far. 90 minutes maybe. Beautiful drive on IN56 through Paoli and Salem. If you wanna pay your respects to Woody, feel free.


Hey Richard. Good to see you. You should come. I asked'em, and they said Okies was welcome if they'd wash their feets.


Nitro, the earlier weekend is probably more likely...but it's tempting to schedule just so's you can make it.


JB, rr, Ripley, good to see you fellers. Glad you're provisionally in.

Ric12, hey to California. You ought to come to this one.


Herr Lindsey, it would be good to see you at an event!


Slim, probably 30 miles from I-69...but easier to just stay on 37 at the south end of Bloomington where it sweeps off to join 69, and go straight down through Bedford, Mitchell, and Paoli, then take 56 to French Lick.

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Thanks for taking the time to piece this together, really.

I've committed to things that I'll do my best to see if there's an escape hatch.

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Far out.

Prolly a little too far out for this homebody, but I could be there in spirit if my astroplane ticket hasn't been suspended.

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Thanks, Tim.

I think Indiana is a good location for it. Hope you can find a place we can 'own' for a few days.

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The Hoot Owls are available for the last weekend. Are acoustic addled Coon Asses from Louisiana welcome in Hoosierville?

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Thanks for the update, and good to hear from you again!

Indiana pretty much rules me out. I was looking forward to Clarksdale, proximity and all.

Have fun!

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Welcome back! This sounds great. I'm sure that everyone appreciates your efforts.

I stated in a thread earlier this year that I was probably out this year. Only the early date might work but I doubt it. However, last year was my first national roundup and I encourage everyone to try to make at least one. It's a great experience which I hope repeat next year. Putting faces to the names and sharing good times (maybe winning a guitar doesn't hurt either) - doesn't get much better.

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And damn glad to see you

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Well butter my ass and call me a biscuit! My life just took another step towards a return to "normal". Howdy to ya, Tim!!!! I needs me another RoundUp...er...WoundUp.

HOWDY to ever'body else, too!

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Not 100% "in" yet, but leaning in that direction. First Oct. weekend would work best for me. Last weekend is extremely questionable.

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The Hoot Owls are available for the last weekend. Are acoustic addled Coon Asses from Louisiana welcome in Hoosierville?

– Hoot Owl

The Hoot Owls are most welcome anywhere they go.


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