Writer  /  Lisa Mitchell
Photos provided

img_0718_26774775190_oFishers residents (and husband/wife team) Ryan and Lauren Ahlwardt are bringing back your favorite ’90s soundtrack and give you permission to dance your face off!

It was no ordinary night on May 13 at Bella Vita on Geist. Not only was it Friday the 13th, but what started as a busy Friday night dinner rush evolved into a full out ’90s dance party by the end of Mixtape’s first song. It was on!

Mixtape is not your normal cover band. Although they play all your favorite songs from the ’90s and rock a set list that will handily put any Pandora ’90s channel to shame, it’s the true musical talent and quirky performance aspect of Mixtape, complete with costumes and choreography, that really had me buying in to what they were selling: the best damn party band in Indy.

Mixtape is the creation of Jason Hayes of The Flying Toasters fame, another well-followed party band in the Indy area. Jason is also the worship leader at Geist Christian Church on Promise Road in Fishers, which is where he crossed paths with Ryan and Lauren who sang in the worship band as well as several other members of the band including keyboard player Greg McGuirk and guitar player Jacob Brown. The current band is rounded out by vocalist Brian Kelly and bass player Randy Melson.

Hayes put the idea of forming a band out to the Ahlwardts a while ago as he was continually having to turn down great gigs for The Flying Toasters because they were already booked. He saw the opportunity – if he could get the right collection of talent and chemistry together to create a new band that could bring another great party to the community. He’s achieved that with Mixtape as witnessed at their first public performance as a band at Bella Vita that Friday night.

For Ryan and Lauren, performing as part of Mixtape is realizing one of their marriage “bucket list” goals that they have in their own handwriting hanging in a frame over their bed: to create and perform together. Each of them are accomplished musicians and performers in their own right. Ryan was a member of Straight No Chaser, both the IU version and the world-renowned international touring version, and Lauren was a member of the IU female a cappella group Ladies First.

The two met through their love of singing and performing while students at IU in Bloomington, and it’s something they’ve continued to enjoy doing as a couple since marrying and becoming parents to their daughter Olivia. Date night now often consists of seeking out a fun karaoke spot and spending the evening singing together and entertaining friends.

They see being in Mixtape together as a dream realized and a continued blessing that allows them to do what they are both passionate about doing and also getting to do it by each other’s side. It’s the best possible scenario for the music-loving Ahlwardts.

When asked how it felt to be back in a collaborative musical environment after a long hiatus, Lauren says, “It is a dream come true. No kidding. I get to sing all these awesome songs, these musicians are all amazing and so talented, and the icing on the cake is that Ryan is right beside me.”

Ryan echoes Lauren’s sentiments and adds that for him, getting to perform these great songs and be their goofy selves, complete with Napoleon Dynamite-worthy dance sequences with his bride, is really a highlight. When asked what Ryan thinks of having Lauren to perform with this time around as he takes the stage, he says with the greatest tone of appreciation in his voice, “Lauren is Super Mom by day and a shiny pant-wearing rock star by night!”

Ryan and Lauren hope that this is just the start of something great here in the Indy area and that Mixtape will soon be a name that is synonymous with fun, unique, truly entertaining performances, and above all, great music. With Bel Biv Devoe, No Doubt, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears tunes packing the dance floor in just the first 20 minutes of their debut performance, I’d say they are well on their way to claiming their title as the best ’90s party band in the city.

Mixtape is currently booking clubs, weddings and corporate events. For booking inquiries, email mixtapebandindy@gmail.com. Keep up with all their upcoming performances on Facebook or follow them on Instagram and Twitter @mixtapeindy.

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