Indian Lake is a special place, with its rich history of island life living and legendary memories of the old Sandy Beach Amusement Park. It’s a place like no other, where famous bands and musicians have performed in the past and people came from all over to see them and enjoy the lake. It could be described as one of those places they would make a TV show about or maybe write a song about.
Sounds like a cliche, I know, but it really is true in this case. The famous 60’s group the Cowsills, sang the hit song “Indian Lake,” which reached the Billboard top 10 at the time. Also, two reality show episodes have been recently shot at the lake for the hit TV show “Island Life” on the HGTV network.
So, it’s only fitting that such a special and iconic place, like Indian Lake, would produce a very special legendary musical talent and songwriting superstar.
Welcome home Even Stevens! That’s his name, and he’s from Indian Lake and he’s the Songwriter of the Century. Seriously, BMI, the leading performing rights organization in the world, named Stevens the Songwriter of the Century. Think about that, he’s considered the best songwriter there ever was in the past 100 years. What an honor for Indian Lake’s native son and also what an honor for the communities of Indian Lake.
Now, if you’re not from around here, then you may or may not have heard of him because, fair or not, it’s the Blake Sheltons, George Straits and Kenny Chesneys who get all the credit for the great songs you hear on the radio. But in reality, it’s usually a Hall of Fame songwriter like Stevens, working behind the scenes, who is often responsible for the creation of a hit song that we all like to listen to.
So, there is no doubt that even if you have never heard of Even Stevens you have probably heard many of the songs he has written. And, he has written a ton of hit songs. If fact, you’ve probably hummed or sung along to many of his famous works and catchy tunes and probably have gotten one or two of them stuck in your head playing over and over again. That’s how good his songs are.
Heard of Eddie Rabbitt’s “I Love a Rainy Night?” Tim McGraws “Suspicious?” Dr Hooks “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman?” Or what about “Drivin’ My Life Away” and “Step by Step?” Yep, he wrote all those hits and so many more. His songs have been recorded by mega superstars like Kenny Chesney, Kim Carnes, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Blake Shelton.
The multi-talented Stevens grew up in nearby Lewistown and is a graduate of Indian Lake High School. At a young age he began playing guitar but actually dreamt of becoming a graphic designer. His first initiation into music came from his Minister Father, Floyd and sister Sandy in their family group “The Gospel Balladeers” which recorded and toured the Midwest.
After high school Stevens attended the Dayton Barber College. Upon graduating from there he worked for about a year or two in that profession and then entered the U.S. Coast Guard.
While stationed as a Morse Code operator in the Monterey San Francisco area during the “hippie” era, Stevens started writing and performing songs in the local folk clubs and coffee houses. He also started to sell his paintings and write poetry in his free time. Upon calling and getting advice from his father about his chances of making it in the music business, Stevens took a leap of faith and moved to Nashville to become a singer/songwriter.
Sleeping on couches
His first years in the Music City were pretty tough. Sleeping on friend’s couches and in his Jeep, Stevens worked as a lot attendant at the airport. He soon began writing with a fellow struggling songwriter named Eddie Rabbitt.
They teamed up with recording engineer/songwriter David Malloy and Deb/Dave/Briarpatch Music was begun. In 1973 Stevens got his first song recorded when Sammie Smith sang “I’m in for Stormy Weather.”
Stevens went on to sign a contract with Elektra Records and cut an album called “ Thorn on the Rose.” He soon found out though, that performing and all the traveling around was not really his thing. He much preferred being a songwriter which was his real passion. After teaming up with Rabbitt the talented pair eventually wrote a staggering 900 songs together, including the mega smash hit at the time “ I Love a Rainy Night,” And as they say, the rest is history, a storied history of the life of a famous Nashville songwriter, that is.
Writing for himself and others
He has since worked with all the top talent in Nashville and written songs for many great country stars. Throughout his career Stevens has literally written thousands of songs. He’s a virtual songwriting machine, churning out hit song after hit song. He is also a talented visual artist, record producer and vocalist.
Fifteen of his songs have been awarded the rare BMI Millionaire or Multi-Millionaire status. (If a song is played 1 million times on the radio or more, it receives Millionaire Status) Many of his songs have also been used in popular TV commercials such as Volkswagen and Yoplait Yogurt ads and he has also won awards for Miller Beer commercials. He has received a whopping 54 BMI songwriting honors and a total of 29 Millionaire Awards.
At one point in his career, an extensive catalog of his works was purchased by Mary Tyler Moore Productions (yes, THE Mary Tyler Moore) and then later re-sold to Michael Jackson ( yes, THE Michael Jackson). He had more Millionaire Awards than the Beatles and 29 of his songs were #1 hits with countless others earning Grammys, CMA and Dove awards and more. This gentleman is truly a living legend, a national treasure and pure Indian Lake Royalty. Construction of a statue of his likeness at Indian Lake, is quite frankly long overdue.
Here’s a unique opportunity to see this mega songwriting star actually perform his own hits. You can see him preform right here at Indian Lake, very soon, in fact.
Nashville Hit Makers on Aug. 18
A fantastic event to be held at Indian Lake High School on Saturday August 18th is quickly approaching. It’s called Nashville Hit Makers and quite frankly it’s something you don’t want to miss.
This is a wonderful opportunity to see Stevens, who is headlining the event, and five other talented songwriters he’s bringing along with him. They will all play and sing their own songs they have written for the stars.
This unique show will showcase and highlight many original great hit songs and the writers behind those songs actually performing them. Learn the interesting stories behind the origins of their songs and get to know how these writers create such great hits. These guys and gals write songs for all of our favorite Nashville stars that we listen to on the radio everyday. It will be a show to remember and a very interesting evening.
Even though this is actually the 7th year of the show, some have not maybe heard of this event yet, nor understand how big a deal it is and how rare such events like these are. Thanks to Stevens’ Indian Lake roots and his connections in Nashville this big-time event can occur here. And it’s for a good cause too!
Raising money for good causes
The annual show serves a fundraiser for both the Indian Lake Watershed Project (ILWP) and the Music Departments of Indian Lake Schools, according to ILWP Board Member Sandy Helgeson. Helgeson also serves as the Events Manager for the Nashville Hitmakers events.
Helgeson, who is Stevens’ brother, actually came up with the idea of the Hitmakers about 8 years ago as a fundraiser for the Indian Lake Watershed Program. The musical talent runs deep in the veins of this family: she herself is an accomplished organist and she also served as Eddie Rabbitts’ fan club manager for 17 years. Her son Kent Burnside, an accomplished jazz musician, lives in Nashville and often plays in Dayton and Yellow Springs.
“The Indian Lake Watershed Project, which is in its 28th year, is nationally acclaimed for creating such water clarity that Indian Lake is recognized as one of the cleanest lakes in the Midwest,” said Helgeson. “That is evident from its lack of algae blooms that other some other lakes have experienced,” she adds. Her brother Steven who is a long-time environmentalist strongly supports these causes and loves spending time on Indian Lake when he is able to return to his hometown.
While in town this summer, Stevens will also be touring the local area on the “Nashville Brewery Tour” sponsored by BMI and the Ohio Craft Brewery Association. Shortly after that he will be on the road with the Nashville Hitmakers Riverboat series. Stevens’ also has a Nashville radio show called “The Originals.” It airs on Sunday nights at 9pm on 94.5 FM on Nashville Hippie radio. ( It can also be streamed online)
Performing with “Songwriters Hall of Famer,” Stevens’ this year at the August 18th Nashville Hitmakers Show at Indian Lake are an amazing group of writers/artists who will bring stories about some of your favorite songs.
They include Dean Dillion (who wrote Tennessee Whiskey for Chris Stapleton and has written 55 songs for George Strait), Alison Prestwood (who plays bass for Blake Shelton and is a 4-time ACM nominee for bass player of the year ), Jason White (who wrote Red Ragtop for Tim McGraw), James Slater (who wrote In My Daughters Eyes for Martina McBride), and legendary session guitarist Michael Loudermilk. All of the artists who perform each year love staying on the lake and it is a traditional gesture each year that local residents accommodate and host them at the O’Conner area on the lake during their stay.
This is a fabulous must-see event for visitors, tourists and residents of Indian Lake and beyond. Three ticket options are available: $25 for students & seniors, $50 regular admission and $100 VIP seating which includes a pre-show dinner event and a “Tunesmith” gift bag.
Remember, the show is at 7pm, Saturday August 18th at Indian Lake High School.
Call 937-441-5738 for tickets before it sells out.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.