whatzup2nite • Monday, October 5

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Things To Do

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National Shows

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Music & Comedy

G-Money Band — Open jam at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 482-6425

Kings Road — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8 p.m., no cover, 432-8966

Karaoke & DJs

American Idol Karaoke — Karaoke at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 483-5526

DJ — Variety at O'Reilly's Irish Bar & Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 11 p.m., no cover, 267-9679

Mantra Karaoke w/Jake — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038

Stage & Dance

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Art & Artifacts

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

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, academy.sweetwater.com

Whitley County Farmers Market — Farmers market sponsored by Whitley County Chamber of Commerce, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays thru Oct. 10, Courthouse Square, downtown Columbia City, free, 248-8131


Anything Goes

The Road from Dolly to Reno

When a show like Anything Goes comes around, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. Featuring songs that are beloved, dance that is exciting, and roles that are iconic, it is a full musical theatre package. And there comes an absolutely surreal moment, waking up on audition day, that you realize you are about to audition for one of the most well-known roles in one of the most well-known shows in musical theater history. And later there is another moment, considerably more frightening, when you are looking at a cast list thinking to yourself, “I got the part and how in the world did that happen?” Such was my experience when I was given the unbelievable opportunity to play Reno Sweeney in the last musical of my college career. I am acutely aware of how lucky I have been in terms of the roles I have been given in my time both at IPFW and before. In high school, I played Dolly Levi in my senior production of Hello Dolly! That was a huge turning point in my life, and though I had known I wanted to go into theater as a profession before then, it was during that production that I knew I never wanted to do anything else. From Dolly, I learned what it was to be a confident woman. I got to be someone who knew exactly what she wanted, who pushed past grief in search of life, who used her wit and charisma to build herself a future and bring joy to the lives of the people she cared about. That was so absolutely liberating for someone like me with very little self-confidence at the time. It started me down the path that eventually led me to playing Amanda Wingfield in IPFW’s production of The Glass Menagerie. Portraying Amanda at my age and limited life experience was both challenging and beautiful. Beneath the pain of Menagerie, I found a woman whose love for her children and desperation for their success was ferociously unmatched. From Amanda, I learned the importance of compassion and came to understand more wholly how deeply protective one can be of another’s success and happiness. And from there, I find myself here, shaping someone new from the women I have been. From Reno, I am learning how to be unstoppable. She is truly a force of nature, unwaveringly confident and comfortable in a way I someday hope to be. She is, like Dolly and Amanda, a woman pushed forward by the overwhelming strength of her convictions. Anything Goes is a marvel in that every woman has a definitive sense of agency. Though they may be swayed in smaller ways by circumstance, these women stand firm in their beliefs and reach for what they want. They are vibrant, bold, clever, and outstanding. I cannot say how much of an honor it is to be where I am among them, and how happy I am that my road has led me here.

Darby LeClear

Lord of the Flies

Not Just for Kids Anymore

With its upcoming production of William Golding’s classic 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, Fort Wayne Youtheatre is going dark. After decades of producing musicals, plays based on fairy tales and other whimsical fare, the venerable theater is saying goodbye to all that. At least for now. The plunge into to the deep end of human nature is a big step for the 81-year-old organization, and a big challenge as well. With a cast of mainly 12- to 14-year-olds and relatively severe time and budget constraints, Fort Wayne Youtheatre is kicking down the walls that constrain conventional youth theater groups and taking on big issues in the form of a full-length, three-act, action-filled drama. Lord of the Flies, is the story of a group of English school boys stranded on an uninhabited island. Freed from the world of adults, the boys at first see the island as a paradise. But utopia quickly dissolves into dystopia as the boys break into two factions, one thoughtful and diplomatic, led by Ralph, the other savage and warlike, led by Jack. The best and worst of human nature, the two groups roam the island in search of food while paranoia and the quest for power shatter their Eden. Leslie Hormann, Youtheatre executive and artistic director, said the idea to tackle the play arose from a production of Oliver! with IPFW. John O’Connell, Dean of IPFW’s College of Visual & Performing Arts, after directing Youtheatre actors in the classic musical, suggested taking a stab at Lord of the Flies. Hormann agreed. “We decided to put our big boy boots on and do something that is really pertinent to youth,” Hormann said. “We love our fairy tales. We love our light youthful stuff, but we kind of have a responsibility to address things that maybe are a little more serious. Bullying is such a huge thing, and at the start of the school year we’ve got a lot of school groups coming. The story is required reading for almost all middle and high school students. We’re partnering with the Center for Non-Violence in addressing this very serious issue that all school kids have to deal with.” Bullying is certainly a fact of life, both in and out of school. But for O’Connell, the most pressing issue is the play itself. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” O’Connell said. “The biggest challenge is the fact that it’s a real three-act play with 12- and 14-year-olds, mainly 12-year-olds. Most of these boys are used to plays that are about 50 minutes. This a is full three-act, two-hour play. Just the amount of memorization and the challenge of the type of play makes it difficult. It’s a drama. It’s not a musical; it’s not a kids play. On all levels, it’s nothing ever undertaken before by these young actors.” That may be, but the young actors in Fort Wayne certainly did not shy away from the challenge. “We had 45 show up for 11 parts,” O’Connell said. “That completely threw me for a loop.” Two of those young actors, Ben Westropp, 14, and Miles Warshauer, 13, worked with O’Connell previously, in Oliver!, three years ago. And both are meeting the demands of the play head-on. In fact, they seem to be having fun with it. “I’m Jack in Lord of the Flies, the antagonist, the troublemaker,” Westropp said. “A group of British boys get stuck on an island. We try to be civilized, then I’m the bad guy. I disrupt the order and I take away my group of hunters and we kill and slaughter people. It’s quite good fun, really. So yeah I enjoy being able to go to play practice and be the bad guy.” The fun, in Westropp’s view, is what gives the play a PG-13 rating, a rating the Canterbury High School freshman acknowledges. “It’s probably something little children should not see,” he said. “There is some profanity and blood and gore. I like it. I think it’s awesome.” It’s also a far cry from his previous roles in Oliver!, Our Town and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. For Warshauer, who plays Ralph, the drama is a marked departure from his previous roles as well. “I was Edmund last year in Narnia in the Youtheatre and I was Oliver in the joint production with IPFW,” said the Canterbury seventh grader. “This is longer and also a much heavier plot. There’s nothing you can mess around with.” Warshauer is right about that. There is no time to mess around. O’Connell said with college students rehearsals for a three-act drama generally run to three hours six nights a week for five weeks. With the Youtheatre actors, rehearsal time drops to two-and-a-half hours five nights a week over five weeks. The level of focus, the sheer volume of memorization and-the absorption of new acting techniques is pushing both actor and director to their limits. “I don’t have to teach acting when I’m being paid to work with equity actors,” said O’Connell, who spent years directing plays professionally. “In college I have to teach acting and direct a good show. With kids I’m trying to direct a good show, I’m trying to teach acting and I’m trying to keep them focused and energized to work faster than they’ve ever worked before because they have a huge weight on their shoulders. They don’t realize that yet.” The boys in the play not only have to spark their imaginations to pretend they’re on a lush tropical island with mountains and wild animals and huge signal fires instead of on a stage with little more than raised platforms and a few props, they have pages of dialogue to recite in convincing British accents. Cheerio! “At night I’ll go over the script with my mom and we use these British accents,” Westropp said. “Sometimes in my daily life at school I’ll start speaking in one. Funny stuff. My family is so annoyed because my mom and I are always talking like that. It gets on their nerves a lot.” Warshauer’s had a little more experience with the English way of speaking. He recently got to hear it first-hand on a family trip to the United Kingdom. “They have different dialects,” Warshauer said. “In a short two-hour train ride from London to Manchester you hear a lot of changes in the dialect.” Hormann said the shift away from the usual slate of plays will continue in February with Ruby Bridges, the story of the first student to attend a desegregated Southern elementary school. But for now, all eyes are on the 11 actors in Lord of the Flies. “We’re really happy with the level of commitment,” Hormann said. “It’s great to do Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but for a 12-year-old to do something this serious is exciting. It’s really a gift to be able to push their limits and their interest in the theater.”

Mark Hunter

The Illusionists

Prepare to Be Amazed

Even in our increasingly cynical world, there’s nothing people like more than to be amazed. Perhaps especially now, when so many things seem so easily magnified and sensationalized with the tap of a screen, it remains thrilling when a magician can show something so inexplicable that we are left in awe of our own wonderment. For those who enjoy such celebrations of magic, the Embassy Theatre is the place to be on October 11 when The Illusionists take the stage for not one but two high-voltage performances. With seven different magicians taking the stage, there will undoubtedly be something for everyone, and the show promises to be a fast-paced and electric evening for all. Among those taking the stage that night will be Jeff Hobson, “The Trickster,” who originally began doing magic when he was seven, thanks to a performance in his Detroit elementary school. “A magician came to the school and did this show that made it look so easy. From that day on I didn’t worry about school because I knew what I was going to do. I performed in my first show at 11 and was paid for the first time at 12 and never looked back.” For years he didn’t even know who this magic man had been who had set the course of his life, but just this year, in a conversation with someone about that day, he finally learned his name. “It was a Detroit police officer who taught safety through the use of magic, and this person who figured out the year and when that would have been, told me it was Wally Wilson. The funny thing is I had known him for years, though he’s passed away now. But I never put two and two together and realized that I’d known him all along.” Hobson was greatly influenced, as are his six fellow magicians in The Illusionists, by the many great magicians over the years, including television specials by Doug Henning in the 1970s and David Copperfield in the 1980s. He says thanks to cable channels and video sources on the internet, there’s more magic to be seen now than ever before. But nothing beats seeing it in person. “All seven of us look very different and have very different acts. It’s not just one guy up there for two hours. Seven of us are coming in and doing our acts, so it’s very fast-paced. In fact, I think this version of the show may be the most fast-paced we’ve ever done. The advertising makes it look very edgy, but believe me, it’s very much a family show. People of all ages can come and enjoy it.” Hobson’s own act was honed over the years, first in Detroit where he was close to Colon, Michigan, Magic Capital of the World and host to an annual magic festival and convention. Hobson began competing there at 12 and eventually brought home two first-place finishes. In 1989 he moved to Las Vegas where he worked on the Strip for 23 years before getting his gig with The Illusionists. He says the travel is a big change, but it has provided him and his colleagues with a unique opportunity. “Our first gig was at the Sydney Opera House where we performed for two weeks of sold out shows. We performed in front of 40,000 people during that time, so that was quite a way to get started. We’ve been doing the show for almost four years now, and we’ve played on Broadway and crossed the country multiple times. It’s a big change from when I was working in Vegas and heading out at 6 p.m. every night and coming home at midnight. Now I’m catching a plane at 6 and heading someone new each night to perform. It’s been quite a different thing, but I have some sweet frequent flier miles to show for it.” Although all seven of the performers with The Illusionists are pros and are deeply dedicated to their acts, Hobson says when they aren’t performing, there’s no rivalry brewing, but more friendship among colleagues. “Here’s what’s nice – you have seven of us who are all pretty much at the top of their game, so you’re not afraid of anyone copying you. We’re all past all of that, and if we get together to talk, it isn’t necessarily about magic. We ask each other about golf or just have normal conversations. When we do talk about magic, we’re all being really supportive of each other. It’s really a family affair.” The show is already booked into 2019, so clearly Hobson and his cohorts have no plans to abandon ship anytime soon. The Illusionists is the most popular touring magic show in history, which he says is largely because they welcome even the non-believers. “We’ve really embraced people who didn’t like magic, but when they see the show, they say it’s the best they’ve ever seen. They go crazy. It’s not at all what they think they’re going to see. I always say this is the show for people who didn’t think they liked magic. They’re watching a magician right before their eyes. It strips away all of the things we’ve learned about what is possible and what isn’t possible. “I also think that even though kids really enjoy the show, it’s the adults who enjoy it most because it makes them feel like a kid again. It just affects them more because maybe they are used to CGI and such so the fact that they can feel this sense of wonder makes them feel good. We have 15 people come up from the audience, so they see people looking and examining things [and] they can verify that it’s the real deal. Plus there are big screen, hi-def views on the screen, which makes it seem like it’s happening a few inches away even from the back of the house.” With the show set to run for several years more, Hobson and The Illusionists are looking forward to revisiting Broadway and continuing their intercontinental travels. Perhaps eventually, Hobson will even get back home to Las Vegas. “I’ve seen the world and this country in the last four years, more so than others could do in several lifetimes. I mean, the grass is always greener and sometimes it’s hard to be away from home, but I imagine one day I’ll be back in Vegas doing my show. Or maybe The Illusionists will end up performing on the Strip. That would be good.”

Michele DeVinney

The Kitchen Witches

Cooking With Dolly & Isobel

The Kitchen Witches by Caroline Smith is a very funny comedy with what I believe is a fabulous cast. The show opens with Dolly Biddle (Carol Howell-Wasson) doing her farewell performance of Baking with Babcha. As the show unravels, it is interrupted by an old enemy by the name of Isobel Lomax (Ellen Akins Schroeter) who is fed up with Dolly’s constant negative remarks about her. The havoc that prevails causes the show to become an instantaneous hit with the audiences as well as Programming Executive Hugh Patterson who now wants to continue the cooking show, but with Dolly and Isabel working together as a team. Stephen Biddle (Kerry Yingling), Dolly’s son, who is also the show’s producer and director, renames the show The Kitchen Witches, which pleases neither lady immediately, but they succumb to the new title and the promise of huge ratings. This is one cable cooking show that conjures up more laughter than actual food. Join Dolly and Isobel while they bicker and threaten each other’s lives as they try to create “Burnin’ of Atlanta Spare Ribs” or “Mammy’s Famous Buttermilk Biscuits.” Act One ends with a big bang, and Act Two gets even more hilarious as the two create different dishes in a race against the clock. What will they make that one lucky (or unlucky) audience member will get to taste and judge? There are plenty of surprises in this show that are guaranteed to cause much laughter. At times, Dolly, Isobel and Stephen all talk to the audience, so please feel free to comment back and interact with the characters. There truly is no deep meaning nor moral to this show, except maybe to confirm that true friendship can survive a tremendous amount of turmoil for many years and eventually things can work themselves out and a friendship once lost can renew itself. The Kitchen Witches is a show where you need to sit back, relax, leave the stress of the day behind and just enjoy this delicious recipe for good hearty laughter.

Becky Niccum


Back to the Looney Bin

Of all the spine-chilling characters to stalk and slash their way out of Hollywood and into a theater near you, Michael Myers is among the spine-chillingest. With his featureless mask and his steady gaze, the loony bin escapee and homicidal villain of John Carpenter’s low-budget 1978 masterpiece Halloween became the template for a padded room full of copy-cat creepers armed with Ginsu knives. While the psychopath Michael Myers went on to horror film infamy, the actor Tony Moran, the man behind the mask, lived in relative obscurity. But 10 years ago Moran emerged from his quiet life and began hitting the horror convention circuit and making appearances at various haunts around the country signing autographs and posing for pictures. Photos are free, but autographs will cost you. Moran’s next stop is at the local haunt Hysterium where he will greet fans on Friday, September 18 and Saturday, September 19 from 7 p.m. to midnight each night. Hysterium, formerly the Haunted Cave, is the perfect venue for Moran. Over the past two years, the space at 4410 Arden Drive in Fort Wayne has undergone a striking face-lift from abandoned mine to lunatic asylum. Michael Myers will be back where he belongs. For Tom Scheer, the creative force behind Hysterium, the inclusion of Moran during the popular haunt’s opening weekend represents a kind of affirmation of Hysterium’s brand of fright. “We want to set an ambiance that awakens the fear in the back of your mind and let the actors create the fear that makes you scream,” Scheer said. “Our haunt is a walk-through rather than a walk-by.” That’s what made Halloween so scary. There was no blood, no gore. Waiting for that pallid face to emerge from the shadows is what caused your neck hairs to scramble for the exits. The back of your mind was Myers’ home base. If only Tony Moran had realized that 37 years ago. When his agent told him about the part, Moran said no. Moran was 21 at the time and busying himself in an acting workshop, trying real hard to become a serious actor. His agent told him what the role was and who was the lead actress was and who was directing. Moran was unimpressed. “She called me up and said I’ve got this low-budget, $350,000 horror film, and Jamie Lee Curtis is in it and you play some psycho,” Moran told me in a telephone interview. “And that’s all she knew. I was like, ‘Who’s Jamie Lee Curtis?’ I didn’t know who she was. She explained it, and I was like, so what. Being in a workshop, I was kind of like a snob at 21.”(Moran’s sister is Erin Moran, who played Joanie on Happy Days. He said that’s where his snobbish attitude came from. Visits to the set of a professional Hollywood network production studio led him to turn up his nose at the sparse Halloween set, where even fake blood was beyond their reach.) He didn’t recognize the name John Carpenter either. But when his agent said Donald Pleasance was going to be in it too, Moran was incredulous, but intrigued. “I was a huge fan of his,” Moran said. “He’s a classical British actor. I said there is no way he’s in this movie.” But he was, and after a 15-minute audition with Carpenter and producer Irwin Yablans a few days later, Moran was in the movie too – though he was still somewhat dismissive. “I was like whoop-ti-do. A week or two at the drive-in, and that would be it.” Carpenter made Halloween in 21 days. It has taken far longer for Scheer and his small crew to get Hysterium prepared for new patients. The sewer room alone must have taken him that long. Even after running my fingers along the hand-carved Styrofoam bricks, I couldn’t be certain they weren’t real. The attention to detail and authentic feel of some of the rooms drive the brain toward complacency. Nothing new to see here. Which is just what they want you to think. “One of the big things we’re trying to get away from is the old-school haunted houses where everything is painted black and they just have people pop out at you,” Scheer said. “We’re trying to allow people more space to be scared. The mind is the greatest source of fear.” Part of that space this year is outside, where guests will be menaced once again by ghouls with chain-saws. Not especially subtle, but you gotta give the people what they want, and from what Scheer said, the people want chain-saws. In Moran’s case, his mind was his greatest impediment to fun. When the invitation to the cast and crew screening arrived in the mail, he threw it away. “I thought that was the funniest thing I ever heard in my life,” Moran said. “I didn’t even go. I was such an idiot.” Moran finally saw the film with his girlfriend after seeing billboards advertising it and noticing that it was still showing in lots of theaters around the country months after it was released. That’s when he realized Halloween was something special. Moran was one of five actors to wear the infamous mask in the movie, but he was the one whose face was revealed near the end, and he was the only actor credited as Michael Myers. Still, when they offered him the same role in the sequel, he turned it down. “I didn’t want to wear the mask again,” he said. “So they used my footage from Halloween, gave me credit for the role and paid me, which was nice.” Moran has lots of stories from his three weeks on the set of Halloween. Finally embracing his role in one of the best horror movies of all time has been good for him. He said meeting Michael Myers fans is great. “That’s my favorite part. They’re so smart and normal and well-informed. Meeting the fans is a blast.” So is Hysterium. Scheer and his crew have created a family-friendly haunt that expands to fill your capacity, and your need, to be scared.

Mark Hunter

Columbia City Haunted Jail

Deep in the Dungeon of Death

There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Death. Actually his name is Deimos Nosferatu, and technically he’s not the new sheriff. But he is the new owner of the Columbia City Haunted Jail, the long-time home of everyone’s favorite vampire. And though he wasn’t elected to head the local constabulary, Deimos has ruled his fiefdom with a the tacit approval of area citizens, even though the good people of Columbia City and elsewhere supply the blood that keeps Deimos and his hoard of murderers alive. The Party of Slaughter has no plank of mercy in its platform. To be sure, Deimos didn’t need to take title to the jail to continue his campaign of terror, but it does ensure his right of due process should he run even more afoul of the law than he has. And the word is Deimos is about to ramp up his lawless quest. It’s hard to imagine, I know, but the gruesome surprises he has in store for the hapless victims lured to the Columbia City Haunted Jail in the next weeks make previous forays into human harvesting seem like child’s play. “Deimos has finally gained full and complete control of his home,” said the disembodied voice that stalked me on my annual daylight trek through the jail. “This is now his permanent home. He is here to stay. Let the Rise of the Vampires begin!” Astute Haunted Jailophiles will understand better than the uninitiated the significance of this articulate announcement. It means that the coalition of the coerced – the ranks of werewolves, zombies and vultures who reacted to every demented whim of Deimos – are now reduced to mere support staff while the true bloodsuckers take control. From the moment you enter the autopsy waiting room, the change Deimos has presided over becomes mortally apparent. For starters, who willingly enters an autopsy waiting room? No one in their right mind. Then again, right minds tend to go wrong the moment the Haunted Jail comes into view. The sheepification of the standard human brain comes about in part due to the relentless nature of Deimos’ minions, some of whom will harangue the line standers while others will stalk those already inside. “We have 10 to 15 stalkers at any one time,” my personal invisible stalker told me. “They know all about your Freud, your Jung, your Dr. Phil. Pikers! They know what you’re thinking long before you do. They’ve seen your dreams and they will turn them into nightmares. They pick the weaklings out of the crowd.” “How can they do that?” I wondered. “Call it vampire instinct. That zombie sense of smell. It doesn’t matter. There is no escape.” Waves of sheets and dangling bodies impede movement through the first rooms of the Haunted Jail. Goopy floors turn lug-soled shoes into skis. Screams of terror bounce through the rooms. Strange things grope from above. “What’s up there?” I ask, pointing up a set of stairs. “That’s for Vivs,” the voice said. “Vivs?” “Very important victims.” We wander through a Barbie disassembly room (you know, for kids) and into the Room That Cannot Be Mentioned and then down to the catacombs, where begins the story of how Deimos came to occupy the jail. When Deimos left his temporary quarters back East, he did so with the purpose of arriving in Whitley County in time to see the hanging of doomed prisoner and murderer Charles Butler. Butler, who in a drunken rage shot his wife, was locked in his cell in the basement of the jail. Deimos changed form and slipped through a crack in the foundation and entered the catacombs, where prisoners were beaten, adjacent the cells. While Butler slept, Deimos entered his dreams and wandered through them. There he met Butler’s father and immediately recognized him as someone he’d met before. With dawn approaching, Deimos reverted to his human form and mingled with the waiting crowd gathered to watch Butler swing. In the body of a man and under the climbing sun, Deimos had fewer powers at his disposal and, having committed some small infraction, found himself at the mercy of deputies who arrested and beat him before throwing him into a cell of his own. At least that’s the narrative the hovering voice told me. I’d heard it before, more or less. I told this to the voice, but he made some sound to indicate I was more a fool than I appeared. “You think you know this place? You don’t know this place. It transforms itself continually. It improves with age. It adds new ways to help you lose your mind, to make it more difficult for saps like you to make it through alive.” Snakes and other hairless creatures, deformed and pale, inhabit the nether regions of the jail. Something called “the Licker” lives here. Stay away from the Licker. The jail cells lead to the execution chamber, naturally, where Cain the Executioner suffers his death without end. The tomb of Deimos follows in the next room, which also serves as the chamber for his wife, the Contessa. Bodies, the food source for the thirsty couple, hang in cold storage, waiting their turn. Are they still alive? Perhaps. My guide won’t say for sure. A gruesome kitchen is next. Body parts seem to fill the space. And blood. Always the blood. Just when it seems that escaping the kitchen alive is not possible, an escape presents itself. Back in the moonlight, only a maze of screaming chain-saws stands between you and exit. Safe passage is not assured. I ask the veiled docent if I can speak with his master. He laughs and says only if I want to die. Not yet, I tell him. I want to live long enough to see Deimos succeed at converting the masses to loyal subjects. He laughs at this and says, “In the immortal words of Deimos, ‘It is not enough that I succeed; everyone else must fail.’”

Mark Hunter

David Frincke

From Inspiration to the Stage

Dave Frincke was on his treadmill when an idea came to him, seemingly out of the blue. “That’s how all good stories start, right?” he joked in a recent phone interview. “’I was running on my treadmill ...’” The idea that took root in his brain was that he should write a musical about the Welsh revival of 1904. The father of three and Heartland Church worship leader had never written a scripted musical before, and he’d only read one book about the revival many years previous. Still, he could not banish the notion that this musical needed to be written, and he immediately jumped off the treadmill and went to tell his wife, Bethany. “I said to her, ‘I think God has told me to write a musical about the Welsh revival,’ and she was like, ‘Um, okay?’ That night, after my family was in bed, I started researching, and I was overwhelmed by what I was reading. A nation’s culture literally changed in a matter of months.” The Welsh revival of 1904 was an undeniably fast-spreading, wide-sweeping phenomenon. There is no single explanation for why the revival took place or why it was so pervasive, but in the winter of that year converts began packing the churches in Wales and the UK in almost record numbers. The Welsh movement soon spurned corresponding revivals in U.S., Africa, India, northern Europe and Latin America. And while the revival was led by a number of fiery Welsh preachers, including Joseph Jenkins, Nantlais Williams, J.T. Job, Seth Joshua and Evan Roberts, it was given a boost by a few secular newspapers, namely The Western Mail and The South Wales Daily News, whose reporters gave extensive coverage to the now impromptu and impassioned services, which one worshipper described as akin to a hurricane. Frincke’s research led him to believe that the revival rose out of a number of cultural, socio-economic and spiritual factors. His historically rooted musical, Bend Us, which will get its world premiere September 18-20 and 25-27 at the PPG Artslab as part of all for One Productions’ 2015-2016 season, concerns itself with all the forces at work, while focusing primarily on the spiritual side. “There’s no quotable easy answer for why the Welsh revival happened when it did, but spiritually, God just did it,” Frincke said. “He is so sovereign, he brought about the changes in the hearts of the people. A hallmark of the Welsh revival is that it was a revival of repentance. The main teaching phrase of the revival was ‘bend me,’ which came from a very popular prayer and really speaks of repentance, of being humble and teachable. It tells us that God uses people who are teachable, humble and repentant.” Frincke himself learned a little something about humility while writing Bend Us. A trained musician who plays piano, sings and has written and produced four solo albums of his own work, Frincke was new to script writing when he sat down to tell the story of the Welsh revival. That’s why he was delighted when all for One Productions artistic director Lauren Nichols volunteered to read his first draft. Nichols’s resulting critique was not exactly a delight to read, but it turned out to be exactly what Frincke needed to make Bend Us not simply a retelling of significant historical events, but an emotionally stirring dramatic narrative with true-to-life characters and high stakes. “She basically told me that the story was compelling, but she couldn’t possibly put it on stage,” Frincke said. “She was very blunt, in the nicest and most loving way. There was a line in her critique that really struck with me. She said, ‘Your script doesn’t make me care about the Welsh revival.’ Probably because the script was so event focused, I was missing the emotional connection. Thanks to Lauren, I knew what I had to do, and I started revising that same day.” In a very short amount of time, Frincke turned out a second draft, and this time Nichols said she would be thrilled to stage it. Originally, Frincke was going to produce the show himself with Nichols directing, but plans changed with all for One moved from the Allen County Public Library stage they’d been using for all of their productions to their own space at PPG Artslab. “Lauren asked if I’d like it if Bend Us was produced as part of all for One’s season, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled,” Frincke said. The fortuitous meeting with Nichols (not to mention the treadmill revelation) was just one of many pieces of good fortune Frincke has encountered during the writing of his first musical, and he is as sure as he ever was that it was God’s plan for him to bring Bend Us and the story of the Welsh revival to American audiences. Another fortunate event was his online correspondence with a Welshman named Dave Pike. During the course of his research, Frincke emailed Pike, a blogger and an expert on the Welsh revival, to ask him if he knew about the origins of a particular chorus often sung during revival services. Pike went to work researching the chorus, and the two men struck up a friendship that led to Frincke visiting Wales for the first time a few years ago. Later that same year, Frincke was electrified when he heard that a Welsh couple was in the congregation at what turned out to be a particularly memorable Sunday at Heartland Church. He made sure to introduce himself to the couple and was thrilled to find out that the woman was a classmate of his at Concordia, and that she and her husband had spent the last several years founding churches in and around Cardiff, Wales. “I told them that I knew someone from Cardiff and his name was Dave Pike,” Frincke said, “and guess what they said? ‘Dave Pike? We know Dave. He went to our church.’ It was crazy and wonderful and a sign to me that God was connecting us.” Frincke then discovered that Heartland Church, which he started attending in his late teens because Bethany was a member there, had at one time an active relationship with Wales, but that the relationship had lapsed. Thanks to a series of events set in motion by Frincke’s writing of Bend Us, the connection between Heartland and Wales is again healthy and vibrant, and Heartland has sent many ministry teams and interns to work in Welsh churches over the last couple years. Frincke said working on Bend Us has reinforced his faith that God is never far away, that he concerns himself quite literally in the doings here on earth. That’s why he made sure to incorporate the hymn “Here Is Love” into the musical. Not only was it considered the love song of the Welsh revival, but its chorus has particular significance to the main themes of the show. “There’s a chorus to the hymn. It’s a beautiful little phrase that when translated into English means, ‘Thanks be to Him for ever remembering the dust of the earth.’ To me, that means not that we’re worthless, but that God never forgets. When we see him change the hearts of an entire people, we see that we’re not forgotten, that God is closer and cares more than we could ever have imagined.”

Deborah Kennedy


Still a Fine Dining Favorite

I am ashamed to admit that, until recently, I hadn’t visited Catablu since it moved to its new location in Covington Plaza years ago, even though it was my go-to special occasions dining establishment for many years. I loved its former location in an old theater on Broadway and just couldn’t bring myself to make the trek to the southwest side of town. Over the past few months, I’ve visited a few times for lunch and dinner and have been extremely impressed. The new location, with outside seating available and its dressed up menu, exceeded my expectations. Inside, the ambiance is upscale and cozy, with a huge horseshoe shaped bar as the dining room’s main focal point. The outdoor patio is quaint and comfortable, even though it’s simply an extension of the sidewalk that runs in front of the shops at Covington Plaza. The staff is friendly and helpful; they always answer my extremely obnoxious questions about the menu with patience. Catablu features rotating daily specials like slow-roasted tuna steak with frisee salad, green beans, oranges and an orange sherry vinaigrette; and flatbread with rosemary-smoked chicken, caramelized onions and goat cheese and topped with arugula and fresh grapes, then finished with a drizzle of truffle oil, for example. The drink menu at Catablu is a lot of fun too. I tried the Angry Ginger which features Domaine De Canton Ginger Liquer, apple cider, Captain Morgan Rum and lime for $10. It was the perfect cocktail for a summer dinner on the outdoor patio. Here are some of my favorites from the menu. Fried Brussels Sprouts ($8) – Served with bacon and miso glaze. This prepared dish was not what I was expecting. The miso glaze translated more as a barbecue sauce than a glaze, but the flavor was outstanding. I shared this appetizer with my dinner companion, and we were fighting over the last sprout. I liked this dish so well, I tried to replicate it at home to no avail. That miso glaze/barbeque sauce holds some magical secrets. Smoked Duck Flatbread ($12) – Catablu offers several flatbread options which are great for sharing. My favorite from the list is the Smoked Duck, served with fresh spinach, cilantro sour cream, roasted mushrooms (I asked for mine without due to allergies) and balsamic vinaigrette. The flavor combinations in this dish are so unique, I have a hard time comparing it to anything. The smoky flavor from the duck goes well with the punch from the cilantro sour cream and balsamic vinaigrette. It is definitely a must-try for adventurous eaters. Kale Salad (small $5, large $11) – Kale is all the rage right now and can be found on most upscale restaurant menus in many forms. The Kale Salad at Catablu was light and fresh, kicking off the meal just right. It is served with romaine, peppers, smoked cheddar, sweet corn, sunflower seeds and buttermilk vinaigrette. I dare say it is the best Kale Salad I’ve had. Grilled Pork Chop ($24) – Served with a blackberry glaze, broccolini, cherry wood bacon, fingerling potatoes and smoked onion rings. I don’t typically order pork at a restaurant. Heck, I don’t typically prepare pork at home. It’s a difficult meat to cook just right without getting too dry. This pork chop is the best pork chop I’ve ever consumed, and I made sure to send that message with our waiter to the chef. Perfectly cooked and juicy, the savory pork chop was complemented well by the sweet blackberry glaze. The broccolini and fingerling potatoes were scrumptious too, but the real star of this dish is the smoked onion rings. With just a slight smoked flavor, the onion rings paired with the sweet from the blackberry glaze on the pork chop resulted in a taste that is out of this world. Really, I went on and on and made such a ruckus about this delicious dish that other tables started to gawk at me. Grilled Filet Mignon (6 oz. $23, 8 oz. $28, larger cuts available $3 per oz.) – Filet served with roasted garlic Parmesan smashed potatoes, asparagus and red wine veal jus. There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about this filet: no hidden special ingredient. It simply stands alone in its perfection. Cooked to medium rare, the filet was a mouthwatering, extremely tender piece of meat which was boosted by the simplicity of the sides with which it was served. Lobster Mac ’n’ Cheese ($29) – Orzo pasta, sweet peas, black truffles, lobster and mascarpone cheese. Don’t let the price tag deter you from ordering this dish. It is worth it. Though a bit rich, this is absolutely a must-try. It is decadent, rich and oh so good. I even scraped the large bowl with my fork to make sure I consumed every last bit of cheesy goodness. While I haven’t ordered a burger from Catablu yet, I have dined with several who have, and they had rave reviews. As an added bonus, you can add a fried egg to any burger for $1.50. While dining on the outdoor patio, I saw many people enjoying a casual dinner of upscale burgers and fries. Here are the two currently featured on the menu. Grass Fed American Kobe Burger ($18) – Served with grilled peach, ancho honey glaze, goat cheese, wheat bun and hand cut fries. BBQ Ranch Burger ($13) – All natural beef patty, apple smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, Tabasco onion rings, ranch dressing and BBQ sauce, served with hand cut fries. Whether you’re looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion or simply enjoy a casual dinner with friends on the patio, Catablu has you covered. Its innovative menu, with regularly rotating specials, gets an A-plus in my book. I can’t wait for the next special occasion to roll around so I have an excuse to visit again.

Amber Foster

Teresa Bower

Familial Role Player

Imagination, family and the outdoors have always played a big part in Teresa Bower’s life. As a tomboy growing up in Fort Wayne, she, her brother and her friends spent hours outdoors, creating dramatic scenes in their backyards and the adjacent woods. “I was filthy, bruised and sunburned most of my childhood,” she recalls. “With the help of my dad, we built a functional bridge, a terraced stairway into the side of a hill replicating the stairways of Aztec temples and even a zip line over a creek.” Religion also came into play early in her life. “My first performance was when I was eight in a Holy Week drama at my church in which I played the donkey bearing Jesus,” she says. “I was ecstatic about the entire experience, because I had a mad crush on the little boy playing Jesus.” But she didn’t get officially bitten by the theater bug until her eighth grade class staged an abbreviated production of Tom Sawyer. As a child, she had identified with Tom and Huck, but as a young teenager, she portrayed Aunt Polly. “I imagine it was awful – full of stilted performances and cracked voices,” she says, “but to me at the time, it was a magical experience.” She continued to perform and work backstage throughout her teen years at Wayne High School, participating in two shows per year. As a high school senior, she appeared in the ensemble of the PIT (Purdue-Indiana Theatre) production of Fiddler on the Roof under the direction of the late Larry L. Life. “The production had a huge cast spilling off the stage and covering all the aisles,” she says. “That was my first taste of how serious theater was done.” She went on to Valparaiso University where she took some acting classes while majoring in education. Due to family circumstances, she returned home to Fort Wayne for her sophomore year and went to IPFW, switching her major to nursing with an emphasis in mental health. As a result, her love of theater fell by the wayside. “Nursing was a field of study and profession requiring every ounce of my physical and mental energy,” she says. “Sadly, I believed that theater was something belonging to my childhood. Now it seemed time to grow up and make sober, responsible choices that more closely reflected those of the other adults in my life and led to a predictable paycheck.” She abandoned theater for nearly a decade, although she says that as a psychiatric nurse “during those wilderness years,” she saw her own fair share of real-life drama. But theater was always in the back of her mind. “I don’t think a day went by that I didn’t deeply miss it,” she says. Eventually the pull became too strong, and in 1988 she took a small role in the First Presbyterian Theater production of Ah, Wilderness!, along with an actor/writer, Alan North. Thus began a series of events that would change her life – in more ways than one. The year before, along with Larry Bower, North had founded Bower North Productions, a local company producing original audience-participation murder mystery comedies. North invited Teresa to attend one of their first productions. “Let’s just say that during the audience participation portion of the evening, Larry’s character interacted with me a lot,” she says of her future husband. She was soon invited to be an actor with the company and became a permanent member of the group, appearing in around 25 different shows. She and Larry fell in love and got married. She was so thoroughly re-infected by the theater bug that she even went back to school to study theater officially about 10 years ago. “I was attracted to the high standards of Huntington University’s curriculum, faculty and student productions,” she says. “However, going back to school as an adult surrounded by young college students was easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Talk about feeling out of place!” She pressed on, she says, gaining the trust of her fellow students, and learning about the art of acting. She was close to finishing her theater degree when a job opportunity came along that she couldn’t pass up. “I thought I’d go back to tie up the loose ends of a degree, but I just never did,” she says. “Life built up too many roadblocks. But I’m grateful for the time I had there, the people I met and the skills I learned.” All told, in addition to the 25 Bower North productions she has appeared in, Bower has performed in 30 other plays as well. Her current one is in all for One production’s 2015-16 season opener, Bend Us. “The show is a new musical drama that retells the challenges and victories of the Welsh revival of 1905,” she says. “It’s a gripping story overlaid with richly textured music.” Some of the music is original, written by David Frinke, and some is actual music from the era. Bower plays the wife of a Welsh coal miner and the mother of another major player in the story. These characters are based on historical figures of the time. The role has come with some unique challenges, including a Welsh dialect, research, and “a lot of subtext.” But Bower embraces the challenges. “I always enjoy doing dialect work,” she says, “and it’s fun to escape to a completely different time and place. I also enjoy stringing together the clues to my character and how she fits into the story being told. The woman I play is conflicted, which is great fun to portray.” One of her favorite aspects of the show on a personal level is that her son, Andrew Bower, is also in the show, playing two roles. “We did our first full-length show together four years ago,” she says, “and we’ve done a show together every year since.” She loves that theater is a way to bring her whole family together. “Our family’s shared onstage experiences have been a unique way to go through life together,” she says. “One of the great thrills of my life is to share the stage with my guys.” Although she has performed with all the local theaters (“as well as some that no longer exist”), Bower says that what sets all for One apart from the rest “is the immediate spiritual connection we’re invited to make from the first read-through until closing night.” Actors and crew have the opportunity to join in group prayer, if they so desire. “As a group we often sense God’s presence uniting us and moving us forward,” she says. “Divine inspiration, you could call it.”   In addition to her stage role, Bower is appearing in her first film as well. The film, Healed by Grace II: Ten Days of Grace, is the sequel to a film her husband Larry had starred in for writer/director David Weese through Blended Planet Productions. “Dave thought I had a quality intrinsic for the character that could translate to film,” she says. “I hope he was right.” The film is a dramedy about a dysfunctional family in need of grace. “Another strong storyline,” says Bower, “is the timeless tale of a girl and her horse, curiously named Grace – just the quality this family needs.” Bower plays an equine veterinarian, which she says is the fulfillment of a real-life childhood dream. “My character’s name is Marianne, so you know she’s going to be sunny and positive,” Bower says. She is the perfect foil to Gauff, the “crusty, pessimistic ol’ critter” who is played by husband Larry. “My character spends a significant amount of time encouraging him to do the right thing,” she says. “Not much of a stretch from reality. Just kidding.” As much fun as she is having now, appearing onstage with her son and on film with her husband, Bower says her life is a little more hectic than she would like. “I don’t think I’ll ever try to do a play and a movie simultaneously again,” she says. “Right now almost every minute I’m awake has to be extremely productive with no margin for error. This is definitely not the way I prefer to live.” In addition to two simultaneous productions, she is continuing her part-time contract work as a case manager – “with a dash of nursing thrown in,” she adds. “God is helping me navigate this tricky time,” she sa

Jen Poiry-Prough

Jim Mohr

I'm Me

There’s plenty of fictional country-style fun on Jim Mohr’s I’m Me, the seventh album of original songs from the New Haven-based singer/songwriter. In “Island in the Sun,” Mohr experiments with a Toby-Keith-style bad-boy romp. “Welcome Home” deals with the ultimate country fantasy – winning the lottery – and “I May Be Right” works hard to create an entire fictional musical persona. The most affecting songs, though, come from Mohr’s real life. The album’s title track is the kind of personal manifesto that you hear pretty often in country music: an ordinary guy’s declaration of his ordinariness. But Mohr’s assertion that he’s the kind of guy whose “beer tastes like beer” doesn’t come off as a defiant shout of superiority over the kind of guy who drinks artisanal microbrews. Instead, it sounds like the peaceful reconciliation of a guy and his insecurities, the realization that it’s just fine to be who he is. It’s in this song, and in songs like “Saddle Up,” that you really hear Mohr’s vulnerability. In these songs, Mohr copes with a past that includes a fight with cancer, anxiety and depression, and he comes out the other side. He’s not exactly exuberant, but he sounds settled and mature. In tone, the songs veer back and forth between extremely traditional country and more contemporary, slightly slicker Americana. Nowhere on the album, however, will you find a hint of Auto-Tune or anything else that takes the edge off the homegrown songs. Mohr isn’t that kind of guy. He is who he is, and that’s not a problem for him.

Evan Gillespie

Matt Kelley

Fort, Music Booster

Matt Kelley has made his presence known in Fort Wayne in a variety of ways. His company, One Lucky Guitar, has grown into an advertising juggernaut, changing even local signage into something hip and cool. His commitment to making Fort Wayne equally hip and cool has taken a variety of forms, including his concept to put local bands on the Embassy stage to cover iconic artists from the Beatles to Queen. Down the Line has since become a two-night event and has spawned spinoff versions devoted to hard rock and country. And all the while, Kelley has pursued his passion for music both through his own erstwhile (and recently revived) group, The Legendary Trainhoppers, and by bringing some of his own favorites to town for performances. Never one to rest on his laurels, Kelley continues to diversify and conquer various areas of commerce and creativity. He handed the reins of Down the Line over to the Embassy several years ago, secure in the knowledge that the fundraiser was a success, and he could move on. He’s happy, however, with the way that project continues to evolve and broaden in scope in the years since he ceased involvement “You know, I haven’t attended since the fifth year,” says Kelley. “OLG ran the first three Down the Line performances and co-produced the fourth, before handing the keys over to the qualified team at The Embassy. As for the broadened scope, as a fundraising event, that’s kinda what happens. An organization naturally tries to figure out how it can raise even more funds. I get it. “For me, that was probably at the expense of the narrow artistic focus of the first few years, when it was very specifically about bands that were slugging it out at The Brass Rail on a weeknight, playing original songs to 40 or 50 people – and doing the hard work of raising our community’s quality of life and helping to put us on the map, musically – and rewarding them on the city’s finest stage where they would pay tribute to the artists that inspired them. OLG’s model wasn’t really sustainable—frankly. We ran out of bands we liked at the time. “The event is probably more fun now than it was when we ran it,” he adds. “I’m not sure if it’s better, but the bottom line is, I think it’s terrific that the series has raised so much money for The Embassy, which is a real treasure in our community and has created such amazing moments and memories for performers and audience members alike.” While Down the Line has gotten bigger over the years, Kelley has started focusing on returning to that original concept: to provide exposure to bands that are on the cusp of major success, providing them with a way to reach a larger audience. To that end, he developed The B-Side, a performance venue within the confines of One Lucky Guitar. An intimate area, perfect to fully experience the music, The B-Side was more or less a reaction to all of the large scale projects he was tackling. “With Down the Line, a thing we did with The Phil called Fortissimo and some of the block party things we helped the Downtown Improvement District with, we were kinda doing ‘big shows,’” says Kelley. “And that was great. But these days I tend to be of the mind that sometimes the smaller things, the most niche and unique things, are as important, in fact more so, to a community and an arts and cultural scene than the bigger deals. It’s great that Elton John played the Coliseum, but where hasn’t he played? I think Titus Andronicus at the Brass Rail was a bigger deal, and probably saved us from losing at least a dozen people to ‘the brain drain’ in a single 45-minute set. I love going to TinCaps games, but I never saw one change a life like Rayland Baxter did at The B-Side. Know what I mean? “The idea for The B-Side came from us feeling like Fort Wayne finally had some killer venues for touring bands that used to skip Fort Wayne – specifically The Brass Rail and The Tiger Room at CS3 – but that we lacked an intimate ‘listener room’ for quieter, solo shows. We landed a David Bazan [Pedro the Lion] gig when he was on a living room tour. We e-mailed in saying we didn’t have a living room, per se, but we had an office, and we could move the desks. “At that show, we found that our space sounded ridiculously amazing, without us having done a single thing to make it so, and that the 50 people in the room were hanging on every word, every picked guitar string, every breath, treasuring each moment of being so close, so intimate, with one of their favorite performers. And that’s happened again and again, with performers that I’m still absolutely shocked have played in our office – Lloyd Cole, Rayland Baxter, Eef Barzelay, Tim Rogers, Ike Reilly, Marah and on and on.” If that weren’t enough, Kelley also jumped into the arena of fashion design, specifically teaming up with Denise DeMarchis at Matilda Jane to launch The Good Ones, a line of boys clothing which proves that the little guys can rock a stylish look too. This past year, DeMarchis lost her battle with cancer, leaving the future unclear. Kelley says he’s trying to determine where to go from here. “We’ll see. The reality is, Denise and I just wanted to start a company and work together. She was my friend, my soulmate, and will be part of whatever I do, for the rest of my life. Definitely gonna write a book about working with her.” And his Trainhopping past has finally caught up with him, too. With plans to return by the end of this year and make a push for glory in 2016, Kelley is excited to pursue something he thought he had long and permanently abandoned. But following a Lovelines show he booked at the Brass Rail, a tribute show for Kelley’s favorite band, The Replacements, he was bitten by the bug and began imagining the return of the now ever more Legendary Trainhoppers. “At the very end of 2014, I ran into my old friend Phil Potts, guitarist from the Trainhoppers. And Phil leaned in close and whispered in my ear, ‘It’s time we make that second Trainhoppers record. Well, that became all I could think about for several weeks. Phil and I hatched a plan and I sent letters – and lyrics to a new song – to each of the Trainhoppers, and everyone was in. We got together in March, the first time we were all in the same room since 2007, to talk about maybe getting back on the tracks. And now we’re making a new album. We’ve spent the last four months writing songs, and I have to say that it’s been really, really incredible. I could not be more excited about the new material. “We could have pretty easily just dusted off some old live favorites that we never recorded, but we wanted to write new songs, too. We went fishing, not sure what would happen, and we have truly landed some whales. There are some big songs here that will inspire, entertain and challenge, in a great way. “The plan is to record through the fall, then start learning how to play live again. I think our return to live performing will be at The B-Side in late-December, with an album release loosely targeted for February 2016, exactly 10 years after Ramble On came out. “On a more personal note, I didn’t really think this band would ever play again. Our bass player, Damian Miller, was killed last January, and I never wanted to play in this band without him. But with friends who had fallen ill, and my own dad having a stroke in December, I really just felt like, if we can do this, we have to do this. And it has been beyond magical so far.” With plenty on his plate, it’s Kelley’s devotion to the Fort Wayne community that shines. Hopes for a large-scale musical festival are but one of his dreams for the future. And when asked what benefits have come from having a musical venue in his own office, one thing that strikes him is again to the benefit of the area rather than his own bottom line. “My favorite moments are those when someone says, ‘Oh my, I moved back from Portland three months ago to help take care of my mom, and this is the first night I haven’t missed the Pac

Michele DeVinney

Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra

A Handful of Whammys

Aaron King said when he got the idea to form Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra, he wanted it to be something worthwhile, something he could feel positive about. So he called on friends and former bandmates, many of whom had not met one another. “I brought them all together,”said King, who plays trombone, raps and serves as the artistic director. “So I felt like it was something special that we could blend together and make some magic happen. I just felt like Fort Wayne needed something different.” Apparently Fort Wayne felt the same way. When the results of the whatzup Readers Poll were tallied, the funk/hip-hop powerhouse had hip-hopped away with an unprecedented five Whammy awards. There have been plenty of multiple winners over the years and even a few four-time winners, but until now none had swept up so many. And this after winning the 2014 Battle of the Bands competition. Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra beat out worthy nominees to win Performer of the Year, Best New Performer, Best Funk/World Performer, Best Live Band and Best Oldies Performer. They breezed in the Live Band and Funk/World categories by 38 and 11 percentage points, respectively. But the other ballots were closer. A lot closer. FWFO edged Sum Morz (Best Rock Cover winners) in both Performer of the Year and Live Band voting. The tally? FWFO 16.83 percent, Sum Morz 16.38 percent for Performer of the Year and 17.83 percent to 17.65 percent for Best Live Band. King was understandably pleased, if somewhat perplexed. “It’s a little disarming,” he said. “I’m definitely surprised, I’m definitely super happy. I feel a lot of vindication in that I helped start this organization. But I’m a little shocked about the oldies win. We play ‘Vehicle’ by the Ides of March and ‘Beginnings’ by Chicago. That’s about all I can think of.” The Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra organization is eight members strong, with King joined by lead singer Tony Didier, Jamont Simmons on drums, bassist, Drake Bates, keyboard player Dave Latchaw, guitarist, vocalist and rapper Dave “Catfish” Pagan, Jason Westerman on trumpet and Will Brown on congas and vocals. An impressive lineup to be sure, and one that combined has extensive experience here and elsewhere. It’s no surprise that King wound up playing the trombone. It’s a family tradition. His father, North Side High School band director Ed King II, and his grandfather, Ed King Sr., were both trombone players. But he did attempt to follow his own path “I wanted to play drums in sixth grade,” he said, “but my dad said no.” The trombone isn’t the only King family tradition. Like his father, King is a band teacher. He runs the program in Anderson, Indiana, teaching grades 5-12. King holds a bachelor of arts degree in music education from IPFW and a master of arts degree in wind conducting from Middle Tennessee State University. He sees his work not only as returning a favor, but as a possible fast-pass to paradise. “It’s demanding,” he said. “But somebody had to listen to me be awful on my instrument for me to get where I am now. I’m just returning those dues that somebody paid for me. And I feel like when I’m helping these kids, I’m being the best human being I can be. I’m hoping it might get me into heaven too. I’ll be like, hey, I taught sixth-grade band – I should get in here.” The members of Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra come from varied musical backgrounds. Bates previously played with King in a hip-hop band, but left to help his mother, a gospel singer, in Las Vegas. He’s a multi-instrumentalist who likes the originality of FWFO’s approach. Latchaw is well-known around town as a jazz player, but he has also played with musicians from around the world in a variety of genres. In addition to his work with FWFO, Latchaw fronts his own jazz trio, among other things. Pagan is a funk and hip-hop veteran who led Strut Train to numerous Whammy wins about a dozen years ago. He has since made a name for himself throughout the region with various bands. Brown founded the Afro-disiacs in Fort Wayne and gigged with the prog-rock/fusion band Particle. Plus his dad was a recording engineer at STAX, Ardent and the Willie Mitchell Studios. Didier is an actor, dancer and singer who has performed with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and opened for jazz great Boots Randolph. Westerman is also a graduate of the vaunted North Side jazz program and played with King in the New Millennium Jazz Orchestra. Simmons is a well-known drummer around town, recently working with the band Last Call. He is the newest member of the Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra. “Our rhythm section was born out of the gospel church scene,” King said. “Gospel music kind of gave birth to a lot of different things. They have a deep understanding of those rhythms.” The approach the band takes is simple. King sees the act of playing in front of an audience as the tacit acknowledgment that they are entertainers first and artists second. So King likes to rehearse beginnings and endings. That’s the most important thing a band as entertainers can do for its audience. The middle is where the artistry lets loose. “I like to have really high-quality beginnings and really high-quality endings so that we come across as being well-rehearsed and being tight, but we still have that freedom in the middle where we improvise and do different things to bring the song to life and make it more of our own.” And don’t look for a lot of time between songs to straighten your tie and refresh your drink. FWFO moves quickly between tunes to keep the energy high and the dancers, of which there are many, happy. Covering Earth, Wind & Fire and Rick James helps. “We play ‘Brick House.’ I’m not too proud to play ‘Brick House.’ I love that song, and the people love that song. But it’s really repetitive. The horn part is extremely repetitive. A lot of horn players don’t like to play it. But if people love to dance to it, I love to play it. I like that. I have no problem serving a crowd. I think that’s what it’s supposed to be.” They also have a number of originals they play live. King sees the hip-hop aspect of FWFO as a blend of West Coast and East Coast styles. The difference, he says, is like the difference between bebop and cool jazz. He says he’s more West Coast while Pagan is more East Coast. But together they are Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra style. “I like to be somewhere in the middle of that. I kind try to maintain that cool sound of the West Coast and also have the vocabulary from the East Coast style. I think we do a nice job of that.” Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra feels like a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They are a class act. They have the maturity, experience and respect to take nothing for granted. It’s an approach that paid off in Whammys. “When you have this type of competition thing that’s happening here, it makes everybody better,” King said. “Regardless of who wins. Everybody gets better from it. Obviously, there’s a lot of great bands. The bands that are on those lists could have won just as easily as we did. We had maybe just a little bit more following in the voting process. I did know we were nominated, but I had no idea we were going to win.”

Mark Hunter

Maurice Papier

The City’s Master of Art & Artists

The Artlink Gallery is about to be taken by storm. Currently hanging is a retrospective show that is safe to say will bring in hundreds of people before it runs its course. The artist is Maurice Papier, an enthusiastically supported painter and educator who planted seeds of thought in countless students. Some may say his influence helped create the foundation of the regional art scene. Many impressionable minds passed through his classroom as he taught young artists at the University of Saint Francis from 1972-2004. Several of those artists are still practicing in the area, making art, seasoned with what was learned from Papier. Sixty-two works by Papier hang in the gallery, enough pieces to fill the walls of the entire space. As a bonus, several past students, hand-selected by Artlink, show alongside the artist. The pairing allows viewers to discover the ripple affect that was stirred by Papier’s years of teaching. Artlink is a suitable venue for such a show, not only for it’s lighting, space and location, but also for the relationship between the gallery and the artist. Back when Bruce Linker, who gave up his apartment’s walls to showcase art, housed the gallery, Papier was the very first artist to hang work in the space. It is only fitting that his retrospective be held at the gallery’s current location on Main Street. Add the fact that three friends – Rick Cartwright, Betty Fishman and Karen Thompson – curated the show, and the whole celebration comes full circle. The show is a true retrospective. “Some of this stuff goes back, jeepers, 10 years,” says Papier. His works may span the past 10 years, but his history as an artist runs much deeper. “When I was in high school, I was going to be an engineer,” says Papier who took all the mechanical drawing classes he could. His adept ability to draw caught the eye of his instructor. “He liked me so much he took me to International Harvester to watch what the engineers did. When I saw, I knew that was not what I wanted.” Papier went off to college, choosing art as his major, “Because it was the thing I least disliked to do.” Within six months he was hooked and the soul of an artist was unleashed. While mechanical engineering didn’t grab his attention, geometry and trigonometry are still highly identifiable influences of his work. He is often told his pieces reference buildings and that even his abstract pieces are architectural. Papier explains, “All my stuff is based around Indiana landscapes. They can be really pretty realistic like the Tennessee Bridge or they can get very abstracted.” His paintings reflect a collection of landscape photographs Papier has amassed. Shot with his own camera he was careful not to glorify his subject. “I made sure they weren’t that spectacular because the Indiana landscape really isn’t … I’d feel like a fool painting mountains and oceans.” Interpretations of landscapes, cityscapes, outer space and a lifetime of memories swirl about in Papier’s head. Bits and pieces end up on his canvas. Careful viewers will notice the small figures often tucked between the lines and shapes of his compositions. The intent of the figures is to give his pieces scale and to remind us how huge the universe really is. “That little guy on the tightrope is trying to get through the craziness of life. It’s so unpredictable, and it’d be awful if everything were just the same.” The idea for using small figures to illustrate scale came from a childhood interest in building model airplanes. “I was a nerdy little guy. I’d fly them around lamps and pretend they were trees. All that ties into my work today.” His dreamy sense of wonder is heavily reflected his paintings. Tiny figures dancing in night skies while balanced on thin lines that intersect with shapes and planes of brilliant color give us a window into his interpretation of time, space and life. “The night skies fascinated me when I was a kid. Even the idea of eternity used to just scare me to death. The distances between stars – some may not even be there once we see them. The distance, all that stuff, it’s mind-boggling.” Papier spends about 50 to 60 hours contemplating and creating each painting, much of that is done during the late hours of the night. His fascination with the night sky started in childhood and remains with him today. He feels most at ease to create at night and often has to stop himself from working, knowing he will be too ramped up to sleep if he lets the creative juices flow too long. Brilliant color, line and shape are three dominant elements of Papier’s work. Shapes combine to create architectural forms. Lines direct the eye across, up and down and off the picture plane, leaving the viewer to wonder what lies beyond. What else is in this artist’s mind? Color is bold, whether it is a dark background supporting a field of warm-colored shapes, or a bright yellow field of paint that makes the entire composition pop. Papier thinks deeply about color, but he prefers to keep things simple. “I only use blue, reds, some yellow, black and white and burnt sienna,” he explains. “I only have about six or seven tubes. That’s all I need. If I had more I’d just get confused.” A recent piece titled, “Ornamental Tower,” grabs one’s attention with a bold field of yellow. “I just started to use yellow. Now I’m kind of fascinated with it. Yellow doesn’t cover well at all. That’s five or six coats of paint to get it that solid. It’s a pain to use, but it’s an interesting color. It activates things. It’s got a lot of punch.” Papier’s pieces are most often a combination of painting and collage. Look closely at the thin lines on his works and one will discover that they are not painted features, but rather layers of paper. With a hand as skilled as a surgeon’s, Papier cuts amazingly thin strips of magazine pages with a knife to create the colorful lines within his work. “Sometimes I’ll sit down and go through magazines for a couple of hours looking for the right color,” says Papier. His eye for detail matches his meticulous hand and after 15 years of practice, cutting razor sharp lines with smooth edges is second nature. “Sometimes one will be a hair thicker than the other. I’ve tried all kinds of knives but what it comes down to, eyeballing works as well as any gadget that I’ve ever found.” Painting, cutting paper and dreaming are enough to keep Papier’s mind satisfied. “I’m never bored because of this stuff,” he says. “It keeps me completely occupied. It’s a great thing. It’s much more comfortable now that I’m retired because I’ve got all this time. My thoughts can move along with hurry. I really thank God that I’ve got painting.”

Heather Miller


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