Popular Local Duo Nears 25 Years of Performing In Hamilton County & Beyond
Photographer: Amy Payne
Before Lisa Rae Hodge had celebrated her 21st birthday, she was a huge fan of Dave Edmonds when he played with the band The Oliver Syndrome. It was the spring of 1995. Hodge, who was working several jobs at the time, approached Edmonds after a concert and told him that she would love to sing with him sometime.
“I can harmonize and play tambourine,” she offered.
Though she was auditioning for another band, she knew she’d prefer to play with Edmonds if given the chance. They became fast friends, despite being polar opposites. As it turns out, their yin-yang dynamic played out beautifully on stage.
“He’s the introvert. I’m the extrovert. He’s the mechanic. I’m the driver. He’s the musician. I’m the entertainer,” Hodge says. “Or as Dave’s son tells me, ‘Dad plays the guitar. You shake your booty.’”
When they first started, Edmonds sported dreads, Hodge had a perm, and they collaborated on a part-time basis. Before long, however, they were receiving so many requests for gigs that Edmonds left The Oliver Syndrome, Hodge quit her jobs, and “Dave & Rae” transitioned to full-time performers.
Initially, the paired played primarily bars and for a solid decade spent a ton of time in Bloomington playing at places like the Bluebird Nightclub. In fact, one night they broke a 21-year record at the Bluebird for number of attendees — somewhere around 1,500.
“People were lined up around the block,” Hodge says. “I remember crying on the way home, I was so overwhelmed by the support.”
Hodge has gravitated toward music ever since she was a little girl, singing her first song in church at 19 months old.
“Mom said the words were not discernible but that my pitch and tune were spot on,” Hodge says.
Edmonds (no relation to Babyface though he fields that question frequently) started playing guitar at age 12, joined some neighborhood bands and was playing regularly by age 18.
In his free time, Edmonds, who used to play Mozart on his piano, enjoys riding his motorcycle and, above all, loves being a dad to his son Oliver. Hodge, who has been married to her husband, Bobby, since 1997, enjoys yoga and golf. Both Edmonds and Hodge like to read, though their interests vary.
“He reads Aristotle while I devour whatever’s on the best-seller list,” says Hodge with a chuckle.
Performing folk, funk, pop, rock, dance, country and sing-a-longs, Dave & Rae are masterful at entertaining the crowd with everything from Janis Joplin and the Beatles to Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift. They take audience requests and belt out staples such as “Sweet Caroline,” “Me & Bobby McGee,” “Oh, What a Night,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Jack & Diane.”
Though they once dominated the bar scene, now they primarily play weddings, birthday parties and bar mitzvahs.
“At one point, we were doing 40 to 50 weddings a year,” Hodge says. “Now, we’re doing those people’s 40th and 50th birthday parties and their children’s graduations. As we grow older, our fans are growing older with us.”
They also play at corporate events and do a lot for the Indiana Pacers such as FanJam, which celebrates the kickoff of the new season.
“We’ve been playing there since it was Market Square Arena,” Hodge says. “We played in the Reggie Miller era and now are playing in the Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner era.”
Though they like mixing up their venues, weddings are always special.
“They booked us because they’ve shared a memory with us, not because they found us in a phone book,” Hodge says.
In fact, this spring they flew out to Arizona to sing at a wedding of someone from their Bloomington Bluebird days.
“They wanted Dave & Rae’s music on their special day,” Hodge says. “I love putting a smile on people’s faces.”
As the duo approaches their 25th anniversary as a band, their calendar is still full. Summer months are especially busy with outdoor parties and festivals. The band is thankful for their longevity in this industry, and they have no plans to retire.
“We’ll keep doing this for as long as people keep coming to see us,” Hodge says. “We’ll be in wheelchairs and walkers still performing.”
To learn more or to book the band, visit them online at daveandrae.com for more information.
Upcoming Dave & Rae Gigs
Dillon Park, Noblesville, June 6
Clay Terrace, Carmel, June 20
Urban Vines, Westfield, July 4
Fishers Summer Concert Series, July 16
Cool Creek Park, Carmel, July 19
*All shows 7-9 p.m.