Originally conceived as a backing band for Armstrong’s increasingly well-crafted pop/rock, the band finally shortened the name to His Righteous Fold and independently released one album, Ted, in 1998. His Righteous Fold’s success peaked that year with an appearance at Deer Creek Music Center before a capacity crowd of 15,000. The band was invited on the bill by Chris Shaffer of the hugely popular Indianapolis band The Why Store, who were at that time celebrating the release of their second album for MCA records. Both bands would eventually dissolve (though The Why Store still appears occasionally for one-off reunion shows), after which Shaffer would invite Armstrong to join the post-Why Store project, Shaffer Street.
Armstrong played bass and keyboards and toured regionally with Shaffer Street for about two years. He helped recruit longtime friend and guitarist Aaron Stroup into the band, where the two met drummer Gonzalo Dies. The three of them would go on to form Middletown along with their friend Stasia Demos. Middletown was conceived as a one-off to appear at a local Christmas show, but during rehearsal the formula clicked and it was obvious to all four that they’d stumbled onto something special. They began playing shows locally, then regionally, and released what would be their only full-length album, Welcome to the Family.
The album, a folk-tinged acoustic rock hoe-down including songs penned by Armstrong, Demos, and Stroup, featured a guest appearance by Peter Holsapple (the dBs, Continental Drifters, REM) received critical praise nationally and garnered international radio play, and even spawned a hit single in Belgium. Middletown quickly followed with a contribution to the Uncle Tupelo tribute album For Anyone That’s Listening. The band recorded a fresh version of Give Back the Key to My Heart, featuring Holsapple again, this time as producer. In turn, Middletown served as backing band for Holsapple’s take on Still Be Around for the same album.
Both songs received national Americana radio play, and the album was adored critically and added to play lists around the world. Middletown continued to tour, and in 2004 headed to Brooklyn to record a follow-up to Welcome to the Family with Steve Earle guitarist Eric “Roscoe” Ambel handling production duties. The sessions (sans Demos and including bassist Jeff Downey) showed off Middletown’s increasingly polished electric rock sound. Alas, the album was never completed, and Middletown’s members scattered. Armstrong would eventually release some of these recordings independently as a solo EP entitled T minus One.
The small pressing sold out quickly, and is currently being retitled and packaged for rerelease. After Middletown, Armstrong remained in Indianapolis, continued writing and performing solo and with a new band, The Benders. Often considered a classic rock cover band, The Benders simply play music they love, including songs by the Band, Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, and original songs by Armstrong and guitarist David England. In 2006, Tad Armstrong was recruited by New Orleans singer-songwriter Susan Cowsill (The Cowsills, Continental Drifters) for a summer tour to support her first ever solo release. The tour included stops all over the eastern USA, as well as a trip to Fenway Park to perform the National Anthem at a Boston Red Sox game.
Armstrong continues to perform occasionally with Susan Cowsill and her band, also featuring old friend Aaron Stroup. Tad Armstrong lives in Indianapolis, where he continues to write, record, and perform his music. He performs around Indiana with The Benders, and is currently preparing his solo EP for rerelease and beginning work a new CD. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..