whatzup2nite • Saturday, May 30

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Things To Do

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National Shows

Chris Barnes w/Shane McConnaghy — Comedy at Snickerz Comedy Bar, Fort Wayne, 7:30 & 9:45 p.m., $9.50, 486-0216


Music & Comedy

Big Caddy Daddy Rock/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 833-7082

Chris Barnes w/Shane McConnaghy — Comedy at Snickerz Comedy Bar, Fort Wayne, 7:30 & 9:45 p.m., $9.50, 486-0216

Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., $5, 422-5055

Dave Liles Band — Country at Mad Anthony Lakeview Ale House, Angola, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 833-2537

Dave Todoran — Variety at Mad Anthony Brewing Company, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 426-2537

Good Night Gracie — Variety at 4D's Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 490-6488

The Illegals — Rock at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 625-1002

KT & the Swingset Quartet, Plus One — Blues at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 482-6425

Pearl Pressley — Rock at O'Reilly's Irish Bar & Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 267-9679

Walkin' Papers, Tim Harrington Band, The Orange Opera, Freak Brothers — Variety at Rock The Plaza, Downtown Branch, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 6-11 p.m., no cover, 436-8080


Karaoke & DJs

American Idol Karaoke w/Scott — Karaoke at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., no cover, 483-5526

DJ Trend — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038


Stage & Dance

Is This Seat Taken? and Touch & Go — Stage performances of the Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival’s two winning one-act plays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 30; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 31; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, June 5-6 and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 7, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts and Culture, Fort Wayne, $20, 422-4226

T.B.D. – To Be Determined — Stage reading of the Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival’s second place-winning play, 10 a.m. Saturday, May 30, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts and Culture, Fort Wayne, $10, 422-4226


Movies

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Art & Artifacts

AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair — Photography chronicling the evolution of the Afro in America by Michael July, Tuesday-Sunday, thru Dec. 31, 2016, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Al Satterwhite: Fear and Loathing on Cozumel — Never-before-released photographs from Satterwhite’s week on Cozumel with Hunter S. Thompson, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 31, 2016, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

American Brilliant Cut Glass — Highlights form the American Cut Glass Association Permanent Collection, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 6, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Brilliant Optics: A Spectrum of Mediums and Color — Contemporary works with a bold pallet and an underlying static movement by national artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 31, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Donald Martiny: Freeing the Gesture — Abstract sculpted paintings, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 31, 2016, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Dennis McNett: Legend of the Wolfbat — Woodblock Nordic mythological creatures inspired by the 80s skateboarding and punk rock scene, Tuesday-Sunday, May 30-Aug. 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Emerging Spring — Mixed media pieces from Jody Hemphill Smith, Katy McMurray, Michael Poorman, Mike Kelly, Joey Frisillo, Diane Lyon, Doug Runyan, Susan Suraci, Terri Buchholz, Andrea Bojrab, Bill Inman, Terry Armstrong, Mark Daly, Dan Woodsman, Donna Shortt, Lori Putnam, Mark Burkett, CW Mundy, Rick Wilson, Fred Doloresco, Forrest Formsma, B. Eric Rhoads, Robert Eberle, Pamela C. Newell and Shelby Keefe, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 30, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568

Freedom Riders and Bus Boycotters: Threads of a Story — Large scale portraits from the Civil Rights Movement, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 31, 2016, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Graphicanos: Contemporary Latino Prints from the Serie Project — Prints focused on a variety of sociopolitical and cultural issues of the Latino community, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 31, 2016, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Heritage Barns of Indiana: An Artist’s Passion — Plein air barn paintings by Gwen Gutwein, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 31, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Meridian: Paintings and Ceremonial Art — Mixed media pieces from Tobi Kahn, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 7, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Steven Sorman: Only When — Paintings and prints, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 14, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467


Featured Events

Fort Wayne Dance Collective — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574

IPFW Community Arts AcademyArt, dance, music and theatre classes for grades pre-K through 12 offered by IPFW College of Visual and Performing Arts, fees vary, 481-6977, www.ipfw.edu/caa

Junior Rising Star Summer Camp — For grades K-2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 3-7, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, 422-6900

Rising Star Summer Camp — For grades 3 and up, June 16-26 and July 20-31, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, 422-6900

Sweetwater Academy of Music — Private lessons for a variety of instruments available from professional instructors, ongoing weekly lessons, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, call for pricing, 432-8176 ext. 1961, academy.sweetwater.com



Features

John Mellencamp

Speaking the Plain Truth

At 63 John Mellencamp looks and sounds like he’s missed more than a few scheduled maintenance appointments. During a recent appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, Mellencamp displayed the lines etched around his eyes and across his high forehead, and the gravel he carries around in his throat. Put him in a pair of overalls and he could easily be mistaken for a sun-baked farmer fresh from the plow, a perpetual cigarette clenched in his lips. In this case it was Mellencamp’s right hand clutching the smoke, which Letterman eyed warily each time his guest reached for the desk to flick an ash. It was an odd and funny scene. Mellencamp brought up the fact that both of them had had heart attacks. Letterman, possibly confusing Mellencamp’s mild heart attack with one that killed Morphine’s Mark Sandman onstage in Italy in 1999, suggested Mellencamp’s occurred onstage in Japan when, in fact, it happened sometime during his 1994 Dance Naked tour, maybe in New York. Mellencamp didn’t know for sure. “You don’t know when you have those things,” he said. Flick. Scoffing at his doctors. Lighting up wherever. Fighting authority. It was classic Mellencamp. Mellencamp was in New York with his band as part of a tour that visits the Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne on Saturday, June 6. The Bloomington, Indiana resident will perform some songs from Plain Spoken, his 22nd release, as well as many of the hits that defined a decade. He still likes to rock, but these days there’s more roll involved. Plain Spoken is the third record Mellencamp has made with T Bone Burnett who, according to Mellencamp, gave him the best advice he’s had in recent years: be age appropriate. On the record Mellencamp stays with the themes that have served him so well over the past 30 years. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. His songs focus on the struggles of daily existence in whatever form those struggles take. In his case he is working to be the best John Mellencamp he can be. Many artists his age find that their creative well is drying up year by year. This is not the case with Mellencamp. But he no longer claims responsibility for the songs he writes. They just come to him from someplace and he merely jots them down. When he’s not writing songs, he’s painting, a talent he may have pursued earlier if things had worked out differently. In the mid 1970s Mellencamp left his hometown of Seymour, Indiana to move to New York. He had played in several bands around Seymour and wanted to see if he could make it in the big city. At the same time he was trying to save money to go to art school. Music won. He got a record deal, and a new name. He was happy about the first and not so happy about the second. By the time he found out that he was going to be known as Johnny Cougar, his manager had already plastered the name on posters and on the first album. His manager, Tony DeFries (who also managed David Bowie) told him no one would buy a record by John Mellencamp. Turns out no one would buy a record by Johnny Cougar either. In an interview Mellencamp did with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, he mentioned the review of Chestnut Street Incident that ran in the magazine. Then Wenner read it: “Johnny Cougar is a comically inept singer who unfortunately takes himself seriously. His debut album is full of ridiculous posturing with virtually nothing to back it up. Cougar’s talent is all in his face – nice haircut, nice stylized James Dean headshot on the cover – and that makes him just another ready-made pop throwaway.” Ouch. Some guys might have cashed it in at that point. His label dropped him. People thought he was a joke. But he kept at. He had left Seymour because he was running out of options. He was married and had a daughter and he’d tried a bunch of blue-collar jobs that he either quit or got fired from. Going back to Seymour was not going to satisfy him. Mellencamp had been a fighter since birth. (He was born with spina bifida, and when he was days old underwent an experimental and life-saving operation.) So he found a new label and released two more records, the second of which, Johnny Cougar, struck a chord with the song “I Need a Lover.” In 1982 his fifth record, American Fool, went to No.1. With his sudden yet hard-won success, Mellencamp slowly began to regain and discover his identity simultaneously. His next record, 1983’s Uh Huh, was by John Cougar Mellencamp. It took another eight years before the Cougar part of his name would wander off for good. His success earned him the freedom to pursue his obsession with perfection. Always determined to have things his own way, he now had the weight of his fame to make people respond to his worldview. Mellencamp would wander through an auditorium before a show and tweak the stage setup or the sound. He worked tirelessly on his writing to create songs that would get on the radio. He wanted his music to be heard. Otherwise what good was it? He told Wenner he knew early on that he wasn’t going to have the support of the rock world or the critics. So he would neutralize them with success. It was never cool to like Johnny Cougar or John Mellencamp, he said. But all that has changed. Mellencamp, by sheer force of his will and talent, is cool. And sold-out shows on the current 80-city tour prove it. He long ago abandoned vast and impersonal stadium shows for more intimate venues like the Embassy. The move mirrors the shift in his writing and fits well with his tight band, most of whom have been playing with him for decades. He showcased that band and the songs on Plain Spoken with a show on iHeart Radio last September in his studio in Belmont, Indiana. All of the records he has made since 1984 were made in that studio. The small crowd in attendance leaned against the walls, sat on plastic chairs or on the floor in the shadows of the darkened studio and listened as Mellencamp told stories and, with his band, rolled through age-appropriate versions of his expanding catalog. It was classic Mellencamp, in his element and in full control of his vast talent.

Mark Hunter







Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival

A Familiar Winner's Circle

When the annual Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival began five years ago, it was a logical and exciting extension of what the Civic Theatre has been doing for years. But now, after hundreds of local actors had sharpened their skills and shared their talents with regional audiences on one of the most popular stages in town, those wishing to work on the other end of the play – the writing and creating of characters, plots and action – had their opportunity to shine. Phillip Colglazier, the Civic’s longtime executive and artistic director, had experience of his own as a playwright, realizing that without a stage and cast to bring those pages to life, a play is just a bunch of papers in a drawer. But the Playwright Festival has provided writers from or formerly from the Fort Wayne area a chance to bring those pages to the light, giving them voice and form. This year, two faces very familiar to the Civic are having their submissions performed in a first ever tie for first place. What’s really remarkable is that the selection committee that chose the winning plays did so without knowing whose submission they were judging. That detail alone makes it especially surprising that the winning names are closely associated with Civic Theatre. “I felt a little funny about it at first,” says Rebecca Cameron a member of the Civic Board of Directors and employee of Lincoln Financial. “I wondered if people would think my play was chosen because of my connection to the Civic. But I was assured that the committee doesn’t know any information about the playwright when they’re reading them, so that made me feel better.” Cameron, whose one-act play Touch & Go will be performed at the festival, needn’t have worried. A professional writer who not only provides her talents at Lincoln, but also has had a freelance business for 15 years, has been jotting down ideas for years and only recently decided to try her hand at the Playwright Festival contest. “I’ve been writing a lot over the years, but I haven’t had enough time to pursue creative writing. You get busy with kids and your job, and you just don’t have the time to do all the things you want to. I’ve kept a notebook for about 20 years with ideas and snippets of dialogue, so when I decided I wanted to try to submit something for this, I went to that notebook for ideas and thought this one would be a good one.” Touch & Go tells the story of a woman who lingers in a coma following an overdose and confronts her own inner demon, one with a mind and personality of its own. The play also shows what happens to a family when brought together by a tragedy like this. She says it was fun to give voice to that kind of personality. “I won’t say that it’s comedic or even light-hearted, but that demon character gives the story a little bit more pizzazz. It’s funny because I heard that Phillip was surprised that something like that could come from ‘sweet Rebecca,’ but he doesn’t know the sarcastic and less sweet side of me!” Cameron’s co-winner, Bob Ahlersmeyer, is familiar to audiences of Civic productions over the years. He and his wife Eileen are well known to theatergoers in the area, having each performed in dozens of shows over the years. A teacher at Carroll High School and adjunct faculty at IPFW, Ahlersmeyer loves to share his passion for theater with students, but had previously experienced it only as an actor. Now he gets to see a different side of the process. “I got to sit in on the audition process. Phillip asked for my input on casting ideas and choices, so I’m getting to see the process from the other end. I’m realizing that once the actors perform it, I have no control over it anymore. As an actor, I’m used to being in charge. Now I’m giving my work to someone else and meeting them at the finish line. “I’m just going to enjoy this experience of being the writer instead of the actor and sit in the audience, hold my wife’s hand and hear my own words coming from the stage.” Like Cameron, Ahlersmeyer is happy to know that his reputation with the Civic played no role in his play, Is This Seat Taken?, being chosen for first place at the festival. “I’m glad the committee didn’t know who had written the plays when they were judging them, so I know that it won on its own merit, not because I have a history with the Civic. Honestly, I felt like I was a winner when I was told I was in the top three because I wasn’t even going to submit it until some friends who read it encouraged me to do it.” Cameron has been submitting pieces to the festival for the past few years, always making the first cut, which whittles the list down to six, but not quite making the top three. This year she learned she made the next cut and then, finally, that she was the co-winner. Having two playwrights sharing the top prize is a first for the festival, but Colglazier said it seemed a good year to do it. “It’s funny how it happened,” says Colglazier. “Both plays were well done, and it was hard to take one over the other. But both are one-act plays, each only about 60 pages long, so we decided we could do both and have them share first prize since together they’re the length of a two-act play.” Cameron expects to be a “hot mess” at May 29 opening and is looking forward to sharing the experience with family and friends. Ahlersmeyer is already submitting his play, featuring a man and woman meeting over drinks at a bar, to other similar contests and is also happy to learn more about what happens behind the scenes, away from his more comfortable role as actor. “I’m getting a good grasp on how hard it is to cast a show,” he says. “I never really had that appreciation because I’m used to going in as an actor and thinking in terms of why I should be cast. This has really opened my eyes to how many factors are involved in casting decisions. I’m also looking forward to sharing this perspective with my theater appreciation students at IPFW.”

Michele DeVinney







Bob Roets

33 Years on the Record

National Record Store Day has become an increasingly serious day of observance of late, growing substantially since its humble beginnings in 2008. And Fort Wayne’s undeniable ringleader of the record store circus is Bob Roets, owner of Wooden Nickel and local music maven. After more than 30 years at the helm of Wooden Nickel, he’s become the face of local music at a time when CD sales may be waning but, somewhat improbably, vinyl sales are soaring. And there to help lead the charge is Roets, a savvy businessman and enormously enthusiastic music fan. Though Roets is firmly ensconced in Fort Wayne and a devoted fan of the Indianapolis Colts, he came to the city from Madison, Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, it was a record store that brought him to the area. While still a student at University of Wisconsin, Roets worked at two different Playback Music stores before moving onto manage Slatewood Records on the main drag near campus. After he graduated, he was given the chance to manage a Slatewood Records in Fort Wayne, a store that was located in the North Clinton building that Wooden Nickel now calls home. But not long after his arrival, Slatewood’s owner decided to sell the business in favor of a video rental concern, a response to the hot ticket of the early 1980s. Roets, who had long hoped to one day open his own record store, took matters into his own hands. “When he closed the stores, it left all of us high and dry,” says Roets. “I was 23 years old and went six weeks without a job. I had hoped to run my own record store by the time I was 30, but I had some money saved up, and I had a personal collection of 2,500 albums. I also knew a guy who had a warehouse full of cut-out records, records that weren’t selling but couldn’t be returned to the distributor. He said I could sell those. So I filled the store with my records and those cut-outs. It didn’t come close to filling the store, but it was a start.” At that moment in 1982, Wooden Nickel was born. Roets might not have imagined that he and his family, which eventually included wife Cindy and his sons Christopher and Andrew, would have a business they could call their own more than three decades later. It’s even more remarkable when one remembers that Fort Wayne had nine record stores – both locally owned and national chains – at the time. Roets recalls four in the adjacent Glenbrook Square alone. But always a good host, Roets began filling Wooden Nickel with music, via the newly introduced MTV which aired constantly in the store, and a clever little novelty that has become iconic. “I always say that the smartest thing I did was those Wooden Nickel tokens. They were a nice discount, and people like that. But they were also a conversation piece. It was like a calling card, except instead of me handing you my business card, I could hand you a Wooden Nickel. That whole thing blew up really well and has been great for us.” Roets also positioned himself on the front end of the CD wave, picking up an early Genesis CD when they were not yet available in the States and getting one of the first CD players when they arrived at Lehman Electronics. That additional novelty, and the fascination that accompanied a new technology, helped boost foot traffic as well. “The bulk of our profits came from the introduction of the CD back then, and it really peaked when the Beatles catalog came out on CD. We had a big event when Sgt. Pepper’s came out, put black lights in the building and had lava lamps like it was 1967. It was a lot of fun. CDs were just killing it. We had six stores opened by then, and 1988 to 1992 were our best years.” But after years of growth, there came a time when Roets admits the business suffered. When Best Buy arrived in 1992, it introduced discounts that the locally owned shops couldn’t match and, along with Target and Walmart, came to offer special edition CDs which contained bonus material. It was hard for independent shops to compete. “That hurt us a little bit because when Best Buy opened it took one-quarter of our business away. Then Napster came along and nobody wanted to have to pay for music anymore. We eventually had to close three of our stores – the ones at Georgetown, Dupont and Southgate.” But help was to come from an unexpected source. Vinyl, which had seemed all but dead with the arrival of CDs and digital sources like mp3s, began to slowly catch on again – and not just with the oldsters who still fondly remembered the format, but with a whole new generation who hardly remembered it in the first place. Wooden Nickel’s North Anthony location, which carries as many albums as CDs, became a favorite stomping ground for those looking to expand their vinyl collection, and the vinyl offerings at the other two Wooden Nickel locations has slowly begun to encroach on the CD shelves too. “A couple of years ago, I started seeing parents who had given their kids turntables for Christmas and they were coming in together to buy vinyl to play on them. And they weren’t just buying brand new releases; they were getting the same thing kids were getting when I was buying albums and rediscovering classic rock and 60s hits and Motown. It’s really a compliment to that time and how eclectic the bands were back then. I get a big kick out of seeing the music I experienced as a young lad being discovered by kids now.” An additional source of strength for Wooden Nickel has come recently with its inclusion in The Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS). Created to help promote indies against the huge corporate competitors by providing some of the same benefits available to large retailers, interest from CIMS was a surprise to Roets, who noticed that most of its participating stores were in large markets like Los Angeles. But the folks at CIMS became aware of how much product Wooden Nickel was moving, as well as the in-store appearances by local bands, something Roets had suggested to the members of CIMS when they were first introducing National Record Store Day. After passing through a long process, Wooden Nickel is now a member of CIMS and can offer discounted new releases just as the “big box” retailers can. Another recent benefit is the addition of sampling stations where shoppers can scan a CD and hear a small sample of the music before buying. Greater web presence and social media awareness has also come thanks to CIMS, and Roets can now move merchandise that had been relegated to a warehouse and better promote in-store appearances and, of course, Record Store Day. The recent event saw the highest foot traffic ever, with Roets counting at least 50 heads in the store at any given time. With 18 bands booked, some were calling the event “Nickelstock,” and while Roets chuckles at that name, it can’t be entirely denied either. Where he once had to beg bands to play, he now begins to hear from them shortly after Christmas each year, asking to be included in the day’s full schedule. The addition of Dogfish Beer as a National Record Store Day sponsor meant a beer truck stationed outside the North Anthony store, and businesses in the area provided their own celebration of the day. Clearly the love of records has become big business again, and Roets is starting to see that it isn’t just a fad – and that he and Wooden Nickel have survived the lull. “Vinyl has really gone mainstream. I’ll tell you when I knew it was really moving that way was when a 16-year-old girl starts coming to a record store to buy vinyl when she grew up with mp3s. When that starts happening, you know it’s not just a fad anymore. I was not confident three or four years ago, but when you see double-digit vinyl sales increases each year, you have to say it isn’t a fad anymore.”

Michele DeVinney







IPFW Community Arts Academy

Making Summer a Blast

Summer is right around the corner, and for many parents that means asking one question: What to do with the kids? It might be too late to consider shipping them off to some woodsy camp someplace in the hinterland. Those places fill up early, so I hear. But there is time to enroll them in one of the many camps that IPFW is offering this year. While being attacked by a raccoon or a brown recluse while sleeping in a bag in a WPA-era cabin might be considered one kind of fun, there’s something to be said for learning to make your own animated short and then being able to be home by dinner, exploring the art of Japanese pottery, getting an introduction to jazz or ballet dancing or tackling theatrical makeup art or the intricacies of Photoshop. The beautiful thing about the IPFW camps is children will have a chance to keep their brains active while doing some really cool stuff. And since they won’t have to leave town, they’ll be available for all sorts of fun summer chores like weeding the patio and picking bush trimmings out of the landscaping lava. The Community Arts Academy at IPFW is offering a wide variety of camps for kids from pre-kindergarten to high school and even some for adults. Melinda Haines, director of the IPFW Community Arts Academy, among other things, said the CAA camps have been around for decades, but only recently have they encompassed such scope. “The camps started out as strictly private music instruction,” Haines said, “but CAA has evolved into offering art, dance, theater and other music programs. During the school year we offer mostly Saturday classes for those things. During the summer we change most of them to week-long classes, Monday through Friday. They are all very successful.” And why wouldn’t they be? With offerings like Zombie Makeup Workshop and Drawing the Superhero, what member of today’s youth wouldn’t be all over these camps? But the range of classes extends far beyond Hollywood-type endeavors. There are four different dance classes for pre-kindergarten children and 17 choices for kids in kindergarten through elementary school, including several types and levels of dance, drama, clay work, drawing, printmaking and string music. Haines said the summer camps in years past tended to be geared more toward younger students. But now there are just as many, if not more, classes for students in middle and high school. “What we really wanted to do was increase the amount of programming for middle and high school kids,” Haines said. “We’ve been doing that with our art classes and drama classes during the past school year by making them a one-day workshop, which have been very successful. So this summer we’re going to have a combination of two-day up to five-day things.” Middle schoolers this summer can choose from 25 camps, everything from printmaking and drawing and animation to theater and improv and audition techniques. They can also learn the art of creating zombie makeup. “It’s amazing the stuff they use to make that,” Haines said. “You think, oh, that’s got to be some Hollywood special makeup, but it’s not. It’s like tissue paper and glue. The kids will learn how to make it with things they have at home. Then they’ll do a photo shoot.” Things get a little more advanced for high school students. One of the 22 camps for students in grades 9-12 is raku ceramics which, according to the description on the IPFW summer camps website, “is a traditional Japanese fast-fire ceramic technique that is expressive and dramatic; ware is heated until glass becomes molten, then pulled from the kiln red-hot and placed in a container of combustibles for reduction and cooling. Participants will be instructed on this historic process and will make projects that focus on basic hand building.” “It’s not something they would get in a typical high school setting,” Haines pointed out. There are dance classes taught by instructors with the Mikautadze Dance Theatre (which is open to adults as well), an intensive examination of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, improv workshops, a healthy voice class, beginner and intermediate Illustrator and Photoshop classes, Japanese anime drawing, and on and on. Haines said class sizes are fairly small, with many in the 12-15 student range. Camp fees are under $100, and there are scholarships available for students who qualify for financial assistance. If the arts aren’t your child’s thing, IPFW is also offering camps in science, math, technology and business. The IPFW Community Arts Academy Camps begin in June and continue through July and into to early August. Online registration is available.

Mark Hunter







Jafunkae

Jafunkae

Jafunkae is quite the name. What is it? What’s it mean? Is it a new drink at Starbucks? Possibly some sort of fashionable scarf all the kids are wearing on the south side? Fortunately, it’s none of those things (but I will have to say I’d drink something called Jafunkae with a little rum thrown in.) No, Jafunkae is the name of a new band in the Fort Wayne area. The name comes from the main musical elements thrown into the pot that makes this rock n’ roll jambalaya kick. Jazz, funk and reggae are interspersed throughout the songs on Jafunkae’s debut EP. This well-produced and -performed EP just may be your favorite summer jam. Jafunkae are Dave Ealy on lead vocals, Patrick Mathews on lead guitar, Peter Klopfenstein on keyboards, Daniel Gomez on bass and Will Heingartner on drums. This group of young dudes is showing a lot of potential for a bunch of guys just out of high school. (Ealy and Heingartner are seniors at South Side High School, for the love of Pete!) The songs these fellas have written and recorded are tight and well played and show off more than just a bunch of high school kids jamming. Ealy has the voice of someone far beyond his years. After a few more years of living, I can’t imagine what he’ll sound like. But as it stands, even as an 18-year old he’s got a hell of a lot of range and soul to match. In fact, everyone here can play – great guitar, tight rhythm section and songs with great melody. “Don’t Take Me Away Johnny” has some peppy organ and groove. With Ealy’s vocals it almost has a Curtis Mayfield meets Fishbone skank to it. “Hillside Terrace” seems to float along like a cross between Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” and an island breeze – more palm trees and sunshine than London fog and gray skies. “Bright Eyes” has a ska back beat and Allman Brothers swing, while “One More Time” has a big old classic rock vibe. I think “Ska”funkae would be a more accurate name for these whippersnappers. They have more in common with the likes of Fishbone and The Specials than guys like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. If they add a horn section, these guys would be cookin’ for sure. With the oldest cat at a barely graduated 20 years old, I can’t imagine what Jafunkae will sound like in a couple years, with a little bit of life’s grit under their fingernails. (John Hubner)







The Brass Rail

The Makeover on Broadway

Oh, the little bar that could. You know that one that so many doubted would find its way after changing hands in fairly rapid succession? That bar whose storied rep predisposed it to all sorts of rumor and misguided hype? That little bar some swear was among the bane and blight of all things Broadway back in the days of rough and tumble Saturday nights when bikers and blue collar types drank away the strain of long work weeks and low pay. Where, indeed, fights broke out on occasion and blood ran on the sidewalk. Yeah, that one. That brick and mortar classic on the corner of Sturgis and Broadway that has since 2006 basically redefined what downtown bar in Fort Wayne even means. That little bar that is now known nationwide as a rock n’ roll venue in the vein of CBGB’s, where you can not only see some of the nation’s and even the world’s hottest up-and-coming, underground, midstream punk, rock, reggae, country, folk, metal and hip-hop acts, but where you can now also take your mom. Where fisticuffs are rare as they are brief and smiles from strangers and head nods between disparate types are common. Where, as the newest slogan reads, “Everyone is welcome until they’re not” is as undeniable as the dirt and sweat of 500 bands that have all but lacquered the thin carpet of the stage. Yes, that bar. The little bar that made good, nay kicked proverbial butt. The Brass Rail, 1121 Broadway Ave., under the Pepsi sign. The Rail has a long history, but this isn’t about that. This is about now. In fact, as the Rail’s website sums it up: “The bar has been around forever so let’s just say 40 years.” Perfect. The past nine years are when the Rail became the Rail of today. The transformation began after current owners Corey Rader and John Commorato Jr. were handed the keys in 2006. It was a slow change at first. Nothing major – a bit of paint here and there, a few pictures taken down, a few new ones put in their place. If you haven’t been to the Rail in the past three years, you will notice a lot more than just a few replaced items: bathrooms have been remodeled; new hardwood floors have been laid throughout; exquisite murals by outstanding local artists Jeff Stump and Daniel Dienelt decorate the walls; and a concrete slab has been poured in the famous outside smoking section. The “Odd Couple” of bar owners, Rader and Commorato had to practice compromise and cooperation to blend passion and vision on a level that can only be described as almost martial arts-like in discipline and focus. Breathe. Stretch. Bend. Flow. Block and strike only when necessary. They learned an invisible tango with one another, and for the most part got pretty damn good at it. The passion was the bar itself; the vision was a punk-rock-metal-country-indie-rock-alt-country-folk venue that would somehow be all things onto all people. Ha. Right. Like that happens. When I first started frequenting the Rail in 2008, it was still a fairly consistent punk, rock, reggae and old school country venue. Bands like Jay Reatard, Radio Moscow, Off with Their Heads, The Slackers, La Armada, Murder Junkies, Murder by Death and Wayne the Train Hancock routinely came through its doors and put on the kind of shows that shook the floorboards, rattled the mason jars and made ears ring for hours – and they did it all for a cover charge that typically couldn’t buy a combo meal. In the past few years the Rail has not only begun to bring in a much wider array of musical genres – Water Liars (Hi, Courtney!), Damien Jurado and Marah being a few of the favorites – it also has expanded its daily/evening offerings of drink and food. That’s right, food. The legendary Brass Rail Red Barron frozen pizza (microwaved first to melt the ice, then toasted to a sagging semi-crisp mediocrity) is no more. In its place are hand-crafted Cuban-style, pressed sandwiches made with care and attention by head Rail tender Zoe Martin and her husband Jim: Asian Chicken, Sausage and Kraut, Bacon and Chicken Pesto, Mediterranean Veg, Buffalo Chicken, and the sammy that started it all, the Muffuletta (ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni and Provolone with a Giardiniera olive spread). There is also the occasional “secret sandwich” that is offered up when the spirit moves. As Zoe remembers, the move from frozen pizza to hand-crafted sandwiches was rather abrupt. “People were getting hungry before shows started and would leave to go to Arby’s. We needed to have food so people didn’t feel like they had to leave. So I finally just said to Corey one day, we do frozen. Why not just do real food! It’s not that hard. Corey will let you do anything as long as you’re trying, so we went for it.” I went for it on a Thursday recently and had the flagship Muffuletta. The crisp, Italian bread introduces the “rainbow of meat,” as one patron recently described it, as delicately and succulently as a lover’s kiss. And the olive spread? I could continue the erotic depiction here in the most obvious way but will spare you, dear reader, and say only that it is a veritable explosion of flavor on the palette: green olive, garlic, pickled onion, red bell pepper, cauliflower, carrot, and celery. But let’s not forget we’re at the Rail. Booze is still king. There are a lot of great bars in town that pour good drinks, but there is no place in town that pours them with as much love as the Rail. You might get more umbrellas and fruit in a fancy glass at a bar up north, but you won’t get as much fun. And, as she did with the menu, Zoe is putting as much heart and attention into the drinks as she does the sandwiches. Two of Martin’s drinks have risen to near-cult status of late: the seasonal “Zojito,” a spin on the traditional mojito that features flavored vodka instead of rum, hand-picked mint from Zoe’s garden and house-made, infused simple syrup. The other is “Zoe’s Famous Bloody.” It’s not so much a bloody Mary as a meal that landed in spicy tomato juice and vodka – bacon garnish and an entire skewer packed to the hilt with pickled veggies and assorted meats and cheeses. Nightly activities at the Rail are also jammed with variety. Monday night is vinyl night. Bring your favorite vinyl in and hear it spun over the bar speakers while you relax. Tuesday nights are “Zoe’s Movie Night” where you can enjoy double features of classic films spanning the past few decades. There are also monthly events like Brass Rail Trivia, Coloring with Ashley and Cards Against Humanity. As if that weren’t enough, there are also the killer shows. Usually a killer show headlined by a national act and supported by any number of local, all-original bands. I could go on and on here about the dozens of mind-blowing performances I’ve seen here in the past seven years, but space won’t allow or even do justice. But it will only take me the next 35 words to say the most essential thing that must be said: if you haven’t been to a show at the Rail you have cheated your soul. If you’ve stayed away because you don’t feel like you “fit” or are too “square” or too “old,” just stop. That myth has been exploded. The Rail is for everyone. Of course you might want to check the bar’s web site for upcoming shows and do a little research on bands you might not be familiar with, but you can find something. Don’t let another year go by and wish you would have. Do it. See you there.

Darren Hunt







Triple Play

Fashioning a Following

If having groupies is a measure of a band’s success, then Triple Play must be doing something right. Okay, maybe the word “groupie” is a bit misleading. It conjures images that don’t exactly conform to the realities of Triple Play’s loyal fan base, or to Triple Play themselves for that matter. It might be more hip, if a little lazy, to describe their fans by attaching the word “head” to the band’s name, as in Triplehead or Playhead. But even this approach sours when put to the on-the-spot TV reporter test. Consider this: “The streets of Wapakoneta are buzzing with self-described Playheads as these ardent fans of the band Triple Play eagerly await tonight’s show at the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Back to you, Kenneth.” Playhead sounds like something on a tape deck that might need adjusting. Triplehead could just as easily be a term uttered by a craft beer snob. The point is this: People who like Triple Play really like Triple Play and will gladly follow the band along the highways and byways connecting the towns along the Indiana-Ohio boarder. Triple Play – Steve Bailey, Bob Creager and Larry Wogaman – are on the road some 50 nights a year, playing VFWs and Legions and Eagles lodges. And they see a lot of familiar faces wherever they go. They plan to expand their range north to Fort Wayne. When that happens they’ll find out who the real road warriors are. So who are Triple Play and what is it they do to inspire such fan loyalty? I found the answers to both questions about two months ago when I traveled the highways and byways connecting Fort Wayne and Wapakoneta, Ohio, where the band did in fact have a gig at the Fraternal Order of Eagles. And the room, if not the streets, was buzzing as people filtered in an hour before the show. Chatting with the members of Triple Play before the show, I got their story and discovered the reason for the enthusiasm. They first teamed-up in 1973 in a band called New Product of Time, with Bailey on guitar, Wogaman on bass and Creager playing drums. That was in Piqua, Ohio, where Creager and Bailey are from. Wogaman grew up in nearby Houston, Ohio. (Piqua, Creager noted, is a Shawnee word translated as “he has risen from the ashes. Othath-He-Waugh-Pe-Qua,” Creager said in his best Shawnee.) Part of the appeal is the music they play. They cover more than 60 different bands and musicians, including the Beatles, Temptations, Eddy Arnold, George Strait, R.E.M., The Eagles, The Safaris, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brooks & Dunn, Queen, Stevie Wonder, Matchbox 20, Van Morrison, Springsteen, Clapton, Buck Owens and on and on. Another part is the songs they cover. As soon as the first notes of Creedence Clearwater Revival’ “Down on the Corner” hit the air, half of the crowd at the Eagles got up and hit the dance floor. They were two-steppin’, doing variations of the foxtrot and other dance lesson staples. They were even line dancing. “We have a lot of line dancers follow us,” Wogaman said. “They’ll line dance to “I Saw Her Standing There.“ “We play pretty much the same type of music we played in the 60s and 70s,” Bailey said. “We don’t play the hard stuff. Middle of the road rock. More country than we used to play. The feel good stuff.” That first band lasted about year before Creager packed his bags and hauled off to Arizona to be near his parents, a move Wogaman found humorous. “He ran away from home,” Wogaman said. “That’s funny. He ran toward his parents.” In Arizona Creager kept playing music with various bands while he raised a family and built a business. Bailey and Wogaman did the same but stayed closer to home. In the 90s Bailey took part in a nationwide singing contest at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and placed in the top 10. “They offered me $10,000 worth of studio time,” he said. “They said we could do a lot of stuff.” But Bailey understood odds of getting anywhere and decided he’d had his fun and came back to Ohio and kept right on doing his thing. Wogaman also had a brush with fame in the early 90s, playing bass for Michael (son of Conway) Twitty’s band. “It was just for a few weeks,’ Wogaman said. “It was a taste of the big time, but just a taste.” The years rolled by, and they all kept in touch with each other. Wogaman and Bailey got back together in 2009 and played as a two-piece with a drum machine. A few years later Creager came back for the holidays and went to see his old friends play in Troy, Ohio. He liked what he heard. “They told me they were holding the drummer chair for me,” Creager said. It took two years for Creager to sell his house and his business in Arizona. “My daughter is assistant vice chancellor at IPFW, and so in semi-retirement we decided to come back to this area.” Creager now lives in Fort Wayne. Wogaman again found humor in Creager’s relocation choice. “Most people retire to Arizona.” The easy banter they share between themselves carries over to their interactions with their fans. Between songs, audience members shout out requests, and the band does their best to squeeze them in. Between sets, Creager, Wogaman and Bailey joke and catch up with whoever happens by. Then it’s back to work. They play three tight sets. They bring their own stage, lights and sound system. They leave nothing to chance. The discipline they display in the technical aspects of each performance frees them to concentrate on having a good time, which in turn pretty much ensures their fans will have a good time too. After all, what should it be if it shouldn’t be fun? And if it’s fun, it’s worth the drive. “We have a gentleman who drives from the other side of Richmond (Indiana) when we play here,” Bailey said. “One thing I’ve seen that has been cool since rejoining with these guys is the amount of people who are following this band,” Creager said. “To me that’s a huge statement. I think a lot of it is the demographic. They look at us and they see themselves.”

Mark Hunter








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