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Lucky USU books Indigo Girls
Suggestion that was made in jest pays off: Duo accepts

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Suggestion that was made in jest pays off: Duo accepts

Utah State University got lucky. Really lucky.

When activities vice president Mandy Leishman joked with other members of the Associated Students of Utah State University (ASUSU) about trying to get the Indigo Girls to come to Logan, that's really all it was -- a big joke.But they put the request in anyway, and it just so happened that the Indigo Girls were planning their tour and accepted. Now the laughs are more of delight.

The Indigo Girls will play the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum Wednesday on the USU campus in Logan. The show starts at 8 p.m.

In planning its annual Week of Welcome, ASUSU was looking for bands to help welcome students back to campus. They were looking for small acts, mostly -- The Samples was one idea, The Connells another. Once upon a time, bands like Oingo Boingo and Chicago played at USU, but it's been at least five years since a band as widely renowned as the Indigo Girls has played there.

But Emily Saliers, half of the popular folk-rock duo (with Amy Ray), says that just makes her look forward to the concert even more.

"Those shows tend to be the most exciting," Saliers said during a telephone interview from Dallas. "The crowd isn't spoiled by seeing other concerts, and it becomes a special event for them. Besides, we really like playing places we've never played before."

Students snatched up nearly 1,000 tickets to the show on the first day they were sold, which is impressive considering that just under 6,000 are available.

This tour is in support of "Come On Now Social," the Indigo Girls' seventh album in 10 years together. The title comes from an unfinished song called "The Measure of Me," which Amy Ray is writing. It's meant to be a beckoning for people to take a part in the world, Saliers said.

Since their major-label debut in 1989, with "Indigo Girls" going double-platinum and the duo earning a Grammy as Best Contemporary Folk Group the same year, Saliers and Ray have struggled to break free of their reputation as a folk band. It's not easy, either, when the majority of the radio-listening population associates the musicians with "Closer to Fine."

"It's difficult because radio is an avenue for exposure," Saliers said. "Usually the songs they play are never indicative of the breadth of the album. 'Closer to Fine' did really well, but people assume we're a couple of guitar-strumming women, when our music is more expansive than that. It really makes it difficult to try to give them a fresh album."

With the new album, they've done their best to convince listeners they're anything but folk. With a punk song, some MOR ballads and horn-based numbers, they show just how expansive their music is. The fact that friends Sheryl Crow and Joan Osbourne perform doesn't hurt, either. Even Rolling Stone likes the album.

"I hate to admit it, but when Rolling Stone gives you the thumbs up, it's good," Saliers said. "It causes people to check into your music more. We have wonderful fans, but we would like to keep going."

And, admittedly, the Indigo Girls have been around longer than many groups, which goes beyond singing together -- they were also high school friends. One has to appreciate what the band members do and really respect them as people, or it's not worth it, according to Saliers. Other tips she offers to bands that are on the verge of breaking up: Keep your ego in check and have a good time.

For the record, Saliers and Ray are writing music for themselves -- not the public. A good number of their songs are largely tied to environmental issues or women's rights, because those are issues the band is passionate about. But the Indigo Girls write about other things, too.

Saliers laughs. "We've actually written a number of love songs as well."