whatzup2nite • Thursday, July 28

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Things To Do

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National Shows

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Music & Comedy

Morgan Showman — Acoustic variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 625-1002

Open Mic — Hosted by Mike Conley at Mad Anthony Brewing Co., Fort Wayne, 8:30-11 p.m., no cover, 426-2537

Karaoke & DJs

American Idol Karaoke — Karaoke at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 482-6425

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

Bucca Karaoke w/Bucca — Karaoke at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 432-8966

Karaoke — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 422-5055

Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at American Legion Post 47, Kendallville, 6-9 p.m., no cover, 483-1368

Stage & Dance

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Art & Artifacts

Alexander Lawrie: A Master Portraitist in Indiana — Works painted during his time in Indiana between 1881-1917, including portraits of prominent figures in Indiana history, especially Civil War generals, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 21, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Artlink Members’ Show — Works from over 200 members, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 30, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Decatur Sculpture Tour 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, 2017, Decatur, free, 724-2605

Don and Mary Gagnon — Photographs, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 30, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Tom Martin: Everything and Nothing — Realist paintings resembling life and reality and focused on the effect money has on people, Tuesday-Sunday thru Oct. 16, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Rick Wilson “The Nature of Art: Painted Parks” — Paintings of Indiana state parks, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru Aug. 13, (artist reception 6-10 p.m., with Artist Gallery Talk 7 p.m., Thursday, July 21, $10) Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568

Summer of Glass — Annual showcase of brilliantly executed studio glass feat. works by Albert Paley and Davide Salvatore and award winners from 44th Annual International Glass Invitational, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Featured Events

Fort Wayne Dance Collective Summer Workshops — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, dates and times vary, 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

Live Trivia — Trivia night with live host, 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Duesy’s Sports Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, free, 484-0411

Summer Nights at the Embassy — Live entertainment, cash bar, and local food on the Embassy rooftop, 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays thru Sept. 7, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, $5,424-6287

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

Team Trivia — Trivia for teams of up to 6 players, 7 p.m. Thursdays, Crazy Pinz/Coconutz, Fort Wayne, free, 969-9336


C.J. Chenier

Carrying the Zydeco Torch

Many followers of the New Orleans music scene will recognize CJ Chenier’s surname immediately. That’s because he’s the son of Zydeco godfather and legend Clifton Chenier. Chenier the younger, now a legend in his own right, will take the Foellinger Freimann Botanical Conservatory stage Friday, July 29 as part of the venue’s annual Botanical Roots Outdoor Concert Series. Chenier will be joined by the members of The Red Hot Louisiana Band – Glenn Griffin on bass, Brian Rochon on drums, Will Jacobs on guitar and Tony Stewart on washboard. Together, they’ll be reminding the audience why Zydeco is and always will be America’s original party music. “The Red Hot Louisiana Band was my dad’s band, until he passed away,” Chenier explained in a recent phone interview. He and his mates had some down time between gigs in Cleveland and they were enjoying the nice weather and relaxation. “It just made sense that, when he died, we’d keep the name the same, keep the tradition going.” Keeping the tradition going is exactly what Chenier has been doing since he started touring with his father back in 1978. Chenier, a college music student and a fan of funk, blues, jazz and R&B – everything but Zydeco, which he thought all sounded the same – joined the Red Hot Louisiana Band as a saxophone player. “I’ll tell you how it went,” Chenier said. “I was working, I wasn’t doing much, and my mom made me go out on the road with my dad. She was like, ‘You don’t have a job, you’re not doing anything else, get out of the house.’ And I did as I was told.” The Port Arthur, Texas native thought it might be an odd and uncomfortable experience, playing not only with his father but with other men much older than himself. He’d been used to performing in Top 40 bands with musicians his own age. He soon found, however, that being a part of his dad’s group was fun. It was also an education. “When I got out on the road with him, I started paying attention to the audiences,” Chenier said. “They had so much fun, they were going crazy and doing stuff I’d never seen crowds do at a music show, and that’s how I got attracted to Zydeco. And I thought it’d be strange and tense, playing in a band when I was the youngest member by 20 years at least, but it was really relaxing. They gave me some grief about being green, but it was all good. It turned out really good.” Seven years into his tenure as a red hot sax player, Chenier was charged with taking over the band. Clifton had grown ill from diabetes and wanted to spend less and less time touring. Chenier filled in for his father on vocals and accordion, opening more and more shows. Then, in 1987, Clifton died. It was up to Chenier to carry the torch. “I was already opening shows for him and playing all kinds of gigs,” Chenier said. “It was just natural to keep the act together and keep on rolling.” Chenier’s style, which is part funk, part blues, part jazz, all Zydeco, caught the ear of Paul Simon in 1990, and that songwriting guru asked Chenier to play on his Rhythm of the Saints album. A few years later, he and his band played the Austin City Limits stage, and two years after that, Chenier was signed to Alligator records. His debut album, Too Much Fun, garnered best Zydeco album of the year honors from Living Blues magazine. That album thrust him into the spotlight, and soon fans were seeing him and the Red Hot Louisiana Band on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, VH1 and CNN. Chenier and the RHLB also played South by Southwest, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Milwaukee’s Summerfest and San Diego’s Street Scene. In 1997, when The Big Squeeze, Chenier’s sophomore effort, dropped, he took home the Living Blues Critics’ Poll award AFIM Indie Award for best Zydeco album. Keep on rolling, indeed. Chenier gives props to Zydeco for his success. “When you go to a Zydeco show, you should go in with an open mind and be ready to have a good time. There’s no better good time music to be had anywhere. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, it’s designed for a party. That’s how it all started.” Zydeco, a rich, aural stew of blues, R&B, rock n’ roll, soul, reggae and Afro-Caribbean and native Louisiana beats, grew to prominence among the Creoles of southwest Louisiana. While its exact origins are still a bit of a mystery (some say it developed first among the Atakapa people of the Louisiana woodlands, and others that it originated in West Africa and was brought to America by slaves) there is no doubt that it became popular in the last century as house party music. It was the kind of music bands would play to get people on their feet, to help them forget their troubles. Masters of the form, musicians like Clifton Chenier, Rockin’ Sidney and Queen Ida, brought Zydeco out of Louisiana’s swamps and into the main stream in the 1980s. Then the next generation, men like CJ Chenier, Terrance Simien, Chubby Carrier, Geno Delafose, Nathan Williams and Beau Jocque picked up where they left off, introducing younger and younger fans to Zydeco so that the party might never end and a part of New Orleans area history not be forgotten. In 2007 Zydeco even got its own Grammy category. For Chenier, the point is having fun. He still remembers the first time he saw an audience lose its collective mind over Zydeco, and his goal is to make sure every crowd he entertains from now on has a foot-stomping good time. That doesn’t mean everyone in the audience has to dance. Not at all. “This is heartfelt party music,” he said, “so a lot of people will be compelled to get up, dance the night away, but others might just want to sit there, listen to it, take it all in. Whatever they want to do is fine with me. I’m just there to keep it as true as possible. Some people say, ‘Do you play old school Zydeco?’ And I’m like, ‘Old school? I don’t know. We play real school. That’s what we do. You come to our show, and you’re going to get the real school.”

Deborah Kennedy

Little River Band

Keeping Pace with the ‘Cool Change’

Although the Little River Band are still considered an Australian group, understandable since the group was originally formed in Melbourne, the current lineup of the band has been led by American Wayne Nelson for more than a decade. Having joined the group in 1980, in the midst of the group’s peak of popularity, Nelson quickly made his mark with his lead vocals on “The Night Owls,” introducing fans to a voice other than singer Glenn Shorrock. While Shorrock’s voice was iconic, particularly on such hits as “Reminiscing” and “Cool Change,” Nelson has seamlessly covered those duties since 2000 when he officially became the frontman for the band. But when the group first appeared in 1975, it was something of a supergroup to anyone familiar with Australian music. The band quickly began charting with songs that not only featured Shorrock’s distinctive voice but remarkable harmonies which highlighted songs like “Lonesome Loser” and “Happy Anniversary.” Shorrock and Graeham Goble were responsible for writing most of those songs, but it was guitarist Goble who led the band through production, arrangements and overall direction, something appreciated by some of the band members more than others. Shorrock reportedly bristled under that leadership, being quoted as saying that “it’s like having a policeman on stage with you every night.” Shorrock left for a time but returned later for a few years. When he left again in 1988, he yielded rights to the band name, which have since been given to Nelson. Although the band first began charting with a series of hits in the 1970s, the 1980s were very good to them as well. Goble, who had written “The Night Owls” but couldn’t convince Shorrock to record it, saw Nelson’s voice as a new sound for the band, but even he couldn’t have imagined that Nelson would outlast all of them by many years. Although the current lineup does not include any of its original members, Nelson is quick to point out in interviews that it’s the most stable lineup in the history of the Little River Band. Nelson himself has been with the group for more than 36 years, minus a break he took in the 1990s after the death of his daughter. He was brought back to tour with the band for a time in celebration of the group’s 20th anniversary but, as he said in a 2013 whatzup interview, he was discouraged by the direction the band was taking by that time. “No one wanted to do original material anymore. They just seemed to want to show up and do the songs and leave, and that left no room for a creative life. That’s not being a musician, that’s being a robot. And even with the hits, there was so little desire to acknowledge the music that people wanted to hear. One guy didn’t want to do ‘Happy Anniversary,’ another guy didn’t want to do ‘Lonesome Loser,’ someone else didn’t want to do ‘Take It Easy on Me.’ And that left huge gaps in our history. People come to hear the songs that they remember from their first date with their wife or from their prom.” Following that tour, Nelson left the group again, seemingly for keeps. He saw no future for the Little River Band and saw no need to continue with them. But after a few more personnel changes, Nelson was lured back yet again in 1999, and when the lead singer of that lineup departed in 2000, bassist Nelson become the lead vocalist permanently. But, not surprisingly, he was never content to be a traveling jukebox. Although happy and proud to play all of the songs that fans have come to expect from the Little River Band, Nelson’s re-arrival more than a decade ago was to mean a renewed openness to new original music. Those new releases began appearing in 2001 with the album Where We Started From which included new songs written by current band members. With Shorrock gone for good and Goble leaving in 1992, Where We Started From provided the current lineup a chance to establish its own sound while allowing Nelson to make his first major mark as lead singer. To that end the CD included remakes of “The Night Owls” and “Cool Change.” Test of Time followed in 2004, and Re-Arranged, a collection of re-recordings of iconic songs using the vocals and arrangements in the band’s live shows, came in 2006. One review said Re-Arranged captured the sound of the Little River Band live without being a live album. “These are classic songs, brilliantly performed, and captured with a real sense of the live feel that was the inspiration for the album,” wrote Martin Starkie. “It should find a place in the collection of every LRB fan.” Two Christmas albums, We Call It Christmas and A Little River Band Christmas, followed in 2007 and 2011, respectively. In 2013, when the Little River Band last visited Fort Wayne’s Foellinger Theatre, they did so in support of their most recent album, Cuts Like a Diamond, a collection Nelson said at the time fulfills the creative needs of the band. “Having new music gives us a fresh energy, and if our audience receives it with the same spirit as they do our older material, then we’re grateful for that. We might not get any more hit records, but we’re still doing what we want to do, still telling good stories with good music in the way that Little River Band [have] been doing for years.” Although they have renewed their focus on new material in recent years, fans who attend Little River Band concerts can rest assured that Nelson understands and respects how audiences who come to their shows feel about their favorite LRB songs. It’s that mutual understanding between the band and its devoted following that keeps bringing the Little River Band back into towns year after year. “We’ve toured with some bands, and I won’t name any names, but who sing their hits and then come off stage and say ‘I hate doing that song,’” he said in 2013. “You have to acknowledge how your audience feels about that music and be grateful for it. People have boats named ‘Cool Change,’ they played ‘Reminiscing’ at their weddings or their proms, they danced with their husbands or wives to ‘Lady.’ There are kids walking on this planet because their parents were listening to our songs. Recently we had a 21-year-old girl come up to us with tears coming down her face, mascara streaming down her cheek. And she told us ‘Yes, that music means a lot to the older people here tonight, but that music was played so much in my house when I was growing up and was part of my life when I was 6, 7, 8 years old.’ It’s cliché but it’s just such a part of people’s lives.”

Michele DeVinney

Peter Frampton

Surviving Rock n’ Roll Glory

In 1977, three pop stars vied for space on the covers of teen magazines like Tiger Beat and Teen magazine: Leif Garrett, Shawn Cassidy and Peter Frampton. About the only thing Frampton had in common with those young men was his towheaded pulchritude. While Garrett and Cassidy were native Californians with little discernible musical talent, Frampton was a well-established and well-respected British rocker who was enjoying the unforeseen fruits of a monster success: a double-disc live set called Frampton Comes Alive! which had just surpassed Carole King’s Tapestry to become the bestselling album of all time. Frampton’s time in the limelight was brief. Some blame confusion over Frampton’s teen idol appeal. Some blame his decision to star in a critically reviled, big-screen, jukebox musical based on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Frampton, who performs July 31 at the Foellinger Theatre, blames the pressure he felt to come up with something half as newsworthy and noteworthy as Frampton Comes Alive! “I guess I got very excited,” he said in a phone interview. “Everyone was riding the crest of a wave, and it was a very exciting period. But it can have its downside too ... You’re not only a successful album, you’re not only a No. 1 album, you’re not only a Platinum album many times over … Now, go follow that one up. “And that’s where the pressure really came in,” Frampton said. “I don’t think I was, at that point, ready to go right back in and do the album that then became, I’m in You. That should have been done about three or four years later. We should have just waited because, people say you’re only as good as your last record. ‘My last record was the biggest record of all time. I think I’ll wait a little bit.’” Frampton acknowledges that his career didn’t progress precisely as he’d hoped, but he has no major regrets. “I’m still here talking to you,” he said. “Frampton Comes Alive! is 40 years old this summer, and I couldn’t be more proud of it. We’re still talking and I’m still playing around the world to wonderful audiences. “That’s something I love to do, playing live,” Frampton said. “It’s something I am able to do as long as I want to, and that is a very luxurious position to be in. I couldn’t be more grateful.” Of course, being a celebrity musician and being a good musician are sometimes mutually exclusive concepts. Frampton was a good musician before he got preposterously famous, and he has improved considerably since fame faded. His chops are well displayed on his latest album, Acoustic Classics, a collection of stripped-down hits and deep cuts. The idea was to commemorate Frampton Comes Alive! in some fashion. But he said he could never do slavish remakes of any of his old material, so he tried a different tack with this. “I can’t go backwards,” he said. “I want to go onwards and upwards. What I decided to do was do it acoustically and do it as if you had come over for coffee and I said, ‘Hey, I’d like to try this new song out on you that I just wrote last night.’ And I get the guitar and I sit down at the kitchen table and I play it for you.” Releasing an album in 2016 is a different proposition from releasing an album in 1976, Frampton said. “A lot of people have said what I am about to say,” he said, “but you used to go out and tour to promote an album. Now we make an album to promote a tour. It’s completely reversed.” The album that eventually outsold Frampton Comes Alive! in 1978 was another double disc set: the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The double album has since gone the way of the rotary phone, the three-martini lunch and the human attention span. “You don’t need to put out as much stuff at once,” Frampton said, “even though I did with this Acoustic Classics because I felt that there were songs I knew everyone would want to hear and also songs that maybe didn’t see as big a light of day.” From an artist’s standpoint, the streaming music economic model is about as far from the double album economic model as canned tuna is from fresh lobster. “I’ll just give you a figure,” he said. “An iTunes download was 99 cents; $1.29 for better quality .. I know people who have had a hit record and it’s streamed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of times and their check is $31. You’d be better off being a vacuum salesman door-to-door than a musician.” The streaming music booster club claims that streaming gives artists massive exposure that they can use to make money elsewhere and in other ways. But that may not mean much to a serious musician who has never had much interest in using his music or celebrity to sell skin products or colognes. Frampton has lived in Nashville for several years and he said many of his friends and friendly acquaintances there have scaled back their musical aspirations. “I just know from the songwriters who have had to go back and get day jobs,” he said, “and engineers from studios – the same thing. And studios that have closed down. It’s quite amazing to think that if it goes on much longer … people are going to have to go into debt to make records and not get the money back. It’s a losing concern.” This year has felt like a particularly pivotal one in the music industry with the passing of such giants as Prince and David Bowie. The lives and careers of Frampton and Bowie were intertwined since the two were teens. Frampton and Bowie attended a technical high school located in the Bromley suburb of London where Frampton’s father was an art teacher. Frampton sat in on jam sessions with Bowie and his mates during which they performed the music of such American rockers as Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. Bowie was still called David Jones at the time. “David was already in a local band called The Konrads, and I’d seen him play, and he was already a mentor of mine right from the off – ‘I want to be like him,’” Frampton recalled. “So even though we were only three years apart, he was already someone I was looking up to. He was already singing like Elvis and playing sax as well.” Bowie went on to open for Frampton’s band Humble Pie. When Frampton’s career took a nosedive in the early 1980s, Bowie invited him to join his band. Frampton’s stint as Bowie’s guitarist reminded people of his virtuosity on that instrument. “With the ‘Glass Spider’ tour, he could have chosen any guitar player he wanted, and he chose me,” Frampton said. “We’d always wanted to play together on the same stage at the same time. It was a wonderful gift. He took me around the world and introduced me as the guitar player. It was incredible.” Being known as a guitar player is all Frampton has ever really wanted. “I just want to play something on the guitar today that I couldn’t play yesterday,” he said. “It’s just always been about the guitar for me. I’m so lucky that passion reinvents itself. That is something that I have always been so thankful for, that my first addiction is still with me and it’s roaring right now.”

Steve Penhollow

Joe Walsh

A Guitar Player’s Guitar Player

Most music aficionados who do not play an instrument know Joe Walsh by his nickname, “the clown prince of rock.” They also know him for such funny, self-deprecating hits as “All Night Long” and “Life’s Been Good.” What many of them probably do not know is that Walsh, performing at the Foellinger Theater on August 2, is widely acknowledged as one of the best guitar players in rock music. Joey Ortega (aka Joey O), a northeast Indiana resident who is widely acknowledged as one of the best guitarists in the Midwest, has been well aware of this for a while. He remembers watching a DVD of Eric Clapton’s 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival, which featured performances by Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, Jonny Lang, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Steve Vai and Walsh, among many illustrious others. “It had all of Clapton’s buddies in it,” Ortega said. “And Joe Walsh for me was the highlight, and that’s saying a lot. When I watched that, my mouth was hanging open: ‘Holy (expletive)! Did Joe Walsh just steal the show? Was Joe Walsh the best guitarist there?’ He just killed it.” The average person little suspects that Walsh enjoys such a distinction, Ortega said. But another guitar player will “be the first one to tell you that [Walsh] is one of a small handful of guys who can really play,” he said. Chilly Addams, a longtime local media personality and a bassist in the band Phil’s Family Lizard, said Walsh isn’t the sort of player who tries to dazzle you with how many notes he can pack into a solo. “He’s not into making it so technically difficult and awesome that people go, ‘That was really technically difficult and awesome,’” he said. “It’s more like, ‘That was really fun! That sounded great, man!’” “Not a lot of guys express themselves at his level,” Ortega said. “Any kid in any little town can play fast, but at the end of the day, that means about as much as talking fast.” Walsh came up at a time, Ortega said, when the better you could play, the cooler you were. “If you couldn’t play, you were David Cassidy,” he said. “Nowadays, everybody wants to be David Cassidy.” Venerable local DJ Doc West may not be a guitarist, but he has been a sagacious and passionate music devotee longer than Walsh has been a professional musician. West recalled seeing Walsh perform with the Cleveland-based James Gang in 1969 at a now defunct Columbus venue called the World Theater. Clapton’s band Cream was popular at the time, and the James Gang had whittled itself down to a power trio in a similar vein. “He was just phenomenal on guitar,” West said of Walsh. “I remember thinking that it was like Ohio had its own Cream.” A year later, West saw the band open for The Who. That was the tour where Pete Townshend first developed his lifelong and oft-expressed love of Walsh’s playing. “Pete Townshend said, ‘Hey, we love a band from your parts here called the James Gang,” West recalled. “Everyone went nuts. He said, ‘You know, they just released an album called Yer’ Album and we love it. So tonight, we want to be known as Yer’ Who.’” Ortega believes that even if Walsh had hung up his guitar after leaving the James Gang, his place in the pantheon of great rock axe men would have been assured. But he didn’t hang up his guitar after leaving the James Gang. He went on to a successful solo career and two stints with the Eagles, the second of which led to Walsh’s sobriety. Before that second stint, Walsh was known for partying hard. In the late 1980s, Ortega recorded at Sound City in Van Nuys, California. He said he was puzzled by a camper that seemed permanently anchored in the parking lot. “There were always a lot of nice vehicles, of course,” he said. “Maybe I was the only one who didn’t have a nice vehicle. And I kept seeing this big-ass camper. I thought, ‘Who the hell has this big-ass camper out here?’ “It had this orange extension chord running out of it to the studio,” Ortega said. “Turned out it was Joe Walsh. This was back in Joe’s party days. They didn’t want him driving home and getting arrested, so he just slept out there.” Ortega said Glenn Frey added Walsh to the Eagles because he had a vision for the band and he knew Walsh could fulfill that vision. “They were successful before Joe Walsh,” he said. “They were a country band. But Glenn Frey wanted to be more of a rock band, and he wanted to be as successful as a rock band.” Walsh’s eventual sobriety was greatly helped along in 1993 by fellow Eagles Frey and Don Henley, according to an article in the Washington Post. West said Walsh’s sobriety was made a condition of payment. “My message is there is life after addiction, and it’s really good,” Walsh told the Post in 2015 after he’d been sober for 11 years. “If I had known, I’d have stopped earlier.” In Walsh’s case, sobriety has one discernable downside, according to Addams. “The only thing that bums me out about that is that he started wearing blazers,” he said. “He wears blazers all the time now. The Eagles turned him into blazer wearer!”

Steve Penhollow

Paul Cebar

Spreading the Joy Around

Paul Cebar is the kind of artist who’s hard to pin down. Is his music R&B laced with blues and jazz? Or does it fall under that large and enticing label “world,” influenced by Cuban, Calypso and African beats? Do you, when you listen to one of his records – 1993’s That Unhinged Thing or 2011’s Tomorrow Sound Now for Yes Music People, for instance – hear soul mixed with funk and straight-up New Orleans dance hall music? The answer to all of the above is both a resounding yes and an equally resounding “does it really matter what style he plays when the style sounds this good?” Cebar will light up the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory courtyard Friday August 5 with his band, The Tomorrow Sound, and local openers Kitchen Table Players as part of the Botanical Roots Outdoor Concert series. The Tomorrow Sound are Cebar on vocals and guitar, Bob Jennings on saxophone and keys, Mike Frederickson on bass and Reggie Bordeaux on drums. Cebar got his start in music as a student of the art form. A native of Milwaukee and for a while a member of the 1970s earnest folk scene there, he eventually moved to Sarasota, Florida to attend New College. It was during this time that he soaked up as much knowledge as he could pertaining to the New Orleans music scene, writing his thesis on the work of Louis Jordan and Buddy Johnson. He was also teaching himself to dance. “It was a sort of music apprenticeship for me,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I was hoping that through scholarship, through studying what was at that time relatively obscure rhythm and blues stuff, the tunes of Jordan and Johnson, I would figure out what kind of music was my kind of music. I thought I might also figure out what kind of man I was. Back then I was your typical frightened-of-dancing-and-making-a-fool-of-myself guy, but I quickly noticed at the outdoor parties we attended then that the people dancing were having the best time. The good time was always had by the people out on the floor. “I decided to go ahead and dance,” he continued. “No one was watching me anyway. They were too busy having their own fun, and through that I basically tricked myself into having more enjoyment in life.” It became his goal to provide the same sort of enjoyment for others. In 1980, he joined a group of like-minded musicians called the R&B Cadets. For six years, he and his mates got audiences in and around the Milwaukee area up on their feet and enjoying themselves by playing a combination of high energy originals and old B-side covers designed for dance halls. But sometimes dance hall days come to an end, and in 1986, after the Cadets called it quits, Cebar started his own band, Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans, which brought together the irresistible, foot-tapping sound of New Orleans jazz and blues with the Caribbean, African and Calypso strains that had begun to inspire Cebar and transform his ideas about original music. The Milwaukeeans put out several albums, including the aforementioned Unhinged Thing, as well as Upstroke for Downfolk, I Can’t Dance for You, The Get Go and Suchamuch. They also toured widely, performing all over the U.S. and Canada. Despite their growing acclaim and their focus on world beats, they were, deep down, a Wisconsin act. Cebar explains the unique musical milieu of Milwaukee this way: “It’s an underdog town, probably not unlike Fort Wayne is an underdog town. It’s not expected to be a hot bed of anything, but at the same time, it’s always been a soulful town with a lot of access to music, and there are a few homegrown hit makers that hail from here. I think the main thing is you’re out of the glare of the coasts and Nashville and the other music centers. It’s the music that matters, not the fame.” The name can also matter. In the mid-aughts, Cebar rechristened Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans “Paul Cebar and the Tomorrow Sound.” Several of the band members remained the same. What Cebar hoped to change was the band’s image, which the media in their coverage of the group often mislabeled as “old timey” and backward looking. “I kept seeing stories saying we were ‘interpreters of old music,’ and things like that,” Cebar said. “I thought to myself, ‘I’ve been making original music for 25 years!’ It was time to shift the focus forward. We hoped, of course, that the fans who really loved the old name wouldn’t be too angry to come out and see us.” They weren’t. They aren’t. The crowds still flock, and Cebar, who hosts his own radio show on Milwaukee’s WMSE and can often be found touring with fellow Wisconsin singer-songwriters Peter Mulvey and Willy Porter, is busier than ever. Not only are he and the Tomorrow Sound working on recording a new album, but, in celebration of the Cadet’s 30th anniversary, he’s been reuniting sporadically with his former bandmates from that era, playing dance music and taking a nice stroll down memory lane. At this point in his life, three decades into his calling as a musician, he has the enviable chance to revisit key artistic periods he went through as a younger man – that of folk singer-songwriter, dance hall musician, and frontman and bandleader. “This sort of stuff, revisiting your past, is actually a good way to keep yourself fresh,” he said. “There’s a mystery to what your music ends up sounding like after a long career. Hopefully you end up with some kind of version of something that has a vital, big heart in it. I think I’ve been doing that.” Cebar is loving all of it. It’s like he said: it’s the music that matters, not the fame. And certainly not the labels. “Sometimes the best thing you’ll ever hear is being played in a tiny corner of a tiny bar in a place most people have never heard of. Have you noticed that? I certainly have.”

Deborah Kennedy

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

A Pitch Perfect Show for Families

If there are people who come from families with many siblings, as I do, they may have once or twice in their lives considered selling one of their siblings into slavery. Most of the time, this is just a passing dark fancy because we all know that it is quite wrong to sell your sibling to passing traders and then say that he is dead. And if you do sell your sibling into slavery, you will get your comeuppance. That’s the moral of the story of Civic Theatre’s summer offering, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph is an example of their earlier work. This production combines a delicious mélange of musical forms – both traditional and non-conformist – and is closer to opera than the more familiar musical theater. This vocal and visual feast is the perfect show to open the Civic Theatre’s 89th season. We hope for many, many more! Joseph is a perfect show for parents – parents who might want to find one event to haul a truckload of children to. Even better, parents should take siblings who fight and complain about each other a lot because in this story Joseph, played so beautifully by Kontrell Tyler, will show them that forgiveness and brotherhood is the better plan. This is the third Civic production of Joseph in which Tyler has performed, and his maturity in the leading role makes it a most satisfying experience. He is a joy to watch. Even small children will respond to this lovely show, because it is action-packed: wonderful singers and dancers weave in and out of the mobile set, and – even with intermission – the play runs a little less than two hours. It’s a dynamic experience. For this, thank Director Doug King, Music Director Eunice Wadewitz and Assistant Choreographer Heather Closson for wrangling a huge cast into a tight, seemingly effortless spectacle. The athleticism of the dancers is electrifying, and the voices are charming, moving and hilarious. The cast is absolutely first-rate. Look for Cedric Reeder-McClure, who combines comic sense with some gorgeous pipes. He plays the hapless Baker and one of the “villainous” brothers. His second-act “Those Canaan Days” is a sweetly-funny lament straight out of a Paris night club. Other standouts include riotous Ken Low in multiple parts, country-fried Kerry Yingling and Brad Davis as a hunka-hunka burning love Pharaoh. Joseph also features a 37-member children’s choir, directed by Holly Knott. The addition of these young voices brings a timeless quality to the piece, for what child does not love these stories of high adventure? What child does not occasionally wonder how it would be to perform center stage in an enormous theatre? And, in keeping with the story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, almost all children, children of any age, have dreams of being the heroes of their own stories. These dreams might be tall or small – but any dream will do. vrelph@gmail.com

Virginia Relph

Rick Wilson

Indiana Landscapes

The artist Rick Wilson lives and works in Edinburgh, Indiana, a small town whose central location between Indianapolis and Columbus was ideal for Wilson’s most recent series of works. From 2014 to 2016 Wilson travelled to all 24 state parks in Indiana so he could paint them. When he finished, he had 70 paintings depicting an aspect of the beauty and enjoyment each park, in its own way, provides. He also had the makings of his latest exhibition, which he calls The Nature of Art: Painted Parks. The show is also part of Indiana’s Bicentennial Legacy Project and a timely celebration of the creation of the state’s park system a century ago. Wilson is currently touring the exhibition around the state. His next stop is Fort Wayne’s Castle Gallery where he will take part in an artist reception on Thursday, July 21 from 6-10 p.m. He will also give a painting demonstration Wilson’s paintings reveal what visitors to the parks have already discovered: the rich mixture of Indiana’s landscape. “We have one of the best state park systems in the country,” Wilson said. “I really wanted to celebrate Indiana’s parks and get the word out that Indiana has a vast array of landscapes, from the beaches up north to the wetlands and prairies in Prophetstown. Lots of diversity and subject matter. I wanted to take two years so I could have two chances to visit all the parks in all the seasons.” Wilson’s paintings don’t merely show the diversity of the landscapes in the state; they convey the emotions of being in them without resorting to cliché. For his first painting in the series, Wilson and his wife visited Ouabache State Park outside Bluffton during a snowstorm. The finished painting is of bison grazing in the snow in the winter twilight. You can almost smell the snow and hear the bison blasting great puffs of air as they chew. While bison chomping away at grass may be a trite image in a place like Yellowstone, the scene is not so familiar here. The same is true of a painting he made of Turkey Run. The picture shows a couple hiking in the shadows in mid-day, dwarfed by walls of rock. You want to step into the space with them, before the light changes. “Turkey Run is a fabulous park,” he said. “The topography there is just amazing. Doesn’t seem like you’re in Indiana. Deep canyons and great paths and trails to walk.” The toboggan run at Pokagon State Park is featured. So are the green and white Lake Michigan waves boiling along the shoreline at Indiana Dunes State Park, with the black Chicago skyline on the horizon. The idea of painting all of the state parks is one Wilson had carried with him for years. A lifelong artist at heart, Wilson didn’t take on painting full time until 2003, when he was forced into early retirement. “When I was terminated from my 29-year job – downsized – I decided to take that opportunity to pursue what I love, fine art,” he said. “A friend of mine who happens to be an internationally acclaimed artist, C.W. Mundy, when he heard my plight he invited me to his studio and said ‘whatever you’re doing the next two weeks cancel it. You’re going to be painting with me.’ His famous words are ‘it’s easy to start a career, it’s something else to maintain it.’ He taught me what he calls the science of painting, design, brush work, color theory and values, all the elements that go into a painting, taught me the language of art, the business.” Ten years later Wilson was talking with another friend, Shaun Dingwerth, executive director of the Richmond Art Museum when the parks idea came up. “He loved the idea,” Wilson said. “He asked me to submit it to their board. This was in December of 2013. They voted on it in January, and in February I started painting.” It didn’t take long for other groups to join in. A PBS film crew followed Wilson on some of his park visits and made a documentary about the project and the tie-in with the 100 year anniversary of the state park system. Cope Environmental Center in Centerville, Indiana, donated walnut from fallen trees so Wilson could build frames. “My wife and I always loved visiting the state parks and we had always intended to see them all,” Wilson said. “But life always got in the way.”

Mark Hunter

All Fired Up

Reunited Brothers

When Mark Magdich left the successful band Brother, he quickly began to suffer remorse. Not that he necessarily regretted his decision, but he did miss playing with his two brothers who had given the band’s its name. His brother Chris shared that desire to play with his big brother again, and together they sought to find a new way to make music. “I retired from Brother in 2014, and since then I’ve dealt with a few health things, cancer and back surgeries,” says Mark. “But I really missed playing with my brothers, so I said to Chris, ‘Let’s go find a couple more dudes to join us.’” Those dudes – guitarist Brian Kinerk and drummer Beto Magana – are no strangers to local music fans. Mark called them to join the band, and Kinerk, who has known Mark since they were both youngsters, was quick to sign on. “I’ve known Mark since I was 17 years old,” says Kinerk. “I know he’s a great player, and he’s one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known.” Magana, who was then with the band Sum Morz, was somewhat more reluctant. “Beto was my first choice,” says Mark. “But he was happy with Sum Morz, and I totally got it. In the meantime, I called a couple of other people, but Beto gave me a call and said ‘I’ll take it.’” The foursome met at Cheddar’s last September, mostly to see how they all got along together and found an immediate rapport, primarily because they all had the same vision for what their new band – All Fired Up – would be. “I just want to get out and have some fun,” says Magana. “When we get together it’s like we’re kids. We’re like 15-year-olds getting together and goofing around. We love to play together. There’s no sense of competition among the four of us. We’re just doing what we love and having fun.” “We all have the same sense of humor,” adds Chris Magdich. “We can be in the middle of rehearsal and just look at each other and fall down laughing. We work hard and take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.” The connection among the players went beyond clicking personally. It was also apparent that they knew what they wanted to band’s sound to be. “I grew up playing this kind of music,” says Kinerk. “When we sat down to decide what we wanted this band to be, there was no variation. We all had the same idea.” Mark Magdich says those who know Brother can expect a similar sound from All Fired Up, but a more pop-oriented variation on that theme. “Our goal is to keep the dance floor packed every single minute,” says Mark. “We have about 40 songs we’re doing right now, and there are a few metal songs – but really more pop metal like Judas Priest. We keep adding songs to our list too.” There’s also a hope that eventually All Fired Up will be featuring original material as well, and hopefully in the not too distant future, a CD will be possible. Making a growing set list of covers and the hope of new material possible is the band’s professionalism, something each member appreciates. “We’ve all been in situations where there’s a lot of BS,” says Chris. “Here, we’re all a little older, and everybody is prepared and on time for rehearsals. Every time there’s a rehearsal, everybody comes ready to work.” Kinerk echoes those sentiments, saying that “it’s the band’s work ethic that I really like. I’ve been in other bands where that hasn’t been the case …” “Where someone is always late,” says Magana, finishing Kinerk’s sentence. “Where there’s a lot of drama and baggage. And with this band, everything just fell into place.” At the core of that cohesiveness are the Magdich brothers, both of whom are just happy to be working together again. “Mark and I are best friends,” says Chris. “Besides being in a band together, we work together at Sweetwater. Even when Mark was in California and I was here, we talked more on the phone than we talked when we were growing up. There are a lot of times when he and I know what the other one is thinking without it being said, but it’s also like that with the four of us on stage. We’re becoming like a family that way too, where we can just look at each other and know what the other one is thinking.” With a few gigs already under their belt, All Fired Up look to expand their horizons and should build their fan base significantly this summer when they open for Night Ranger at the Three Rivers Festival. Mark Magdich recalls when Brother played at the Whammys and their Facebook page received 500 hits that night and the next day. He’s hoping for a similar boost to their Facebook page from their gig opening for a national act, but he says he’s also happy playing smaller venues too. “At this point I think we are primed,” he says. “We’re locked and loaded, and we’ll do anything. We’ll play a 50-seat bar and be happy because that’s really a lot of our roots. I love that connection with the audience. I really think right now that the sky’s the limit for this band.”

Michele DeVinney

Gavin Drew

Performing’s in His DNA

From an early age, Gavin Drew was aware of the power of entertainment. “I think that performing was just in my DNA. Whenever I found someone who was sad, I would put on a show for them,” he says. “I wanted to make them happy.” In fact, he says, in addition to his “weird obsession with puppets” (that persists to this day), he was constantly putting on his own shows—“any kind of show I could put on for anyone who would listen or watch.” As a boy in Conway, Arkansas, he taught himself ventriloquism (“it took hours and hours of standing in front of a mirror and watching my mouth”) and he says he made up for his lack of siblings by amassing a collection of over a hundred puppets over the years. Drew wasn’t an anomaly in his family when it came to entertaining. “My parents did some high school theater, and my grandfather was a party magician,” he says. His father has several musicians in the family. He was first bitten by the theater bug at the age of five after his family had moved to Wisconsin. He saw his live musical, a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof. “I remember loving it and being so jealous of them getting to have that opportunity,” he says. “I expressed this to my mom, and she found an audition for me.” The audition was at The Good Company Too, a Wisconsin children’s theater, for a production of The Wizard of Oz, the film of which had been a huge influence on his performance ambitions. “I was auditioning for any role I could get,” he says. “I was nervous, but my parents were more nervous.” He sang the requisite “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the stage, and afterward the director said to the teenage auditioners, “Shame on you. This five-year-old can project louder than all of you combined. That’s how it’s done!” “I’ve never had an inside voice,” Drew says now. “I’m a loud mouth.” He was cast as the Mayor of Munchkin City, and it was the last time he was ever nervous at an audition. “The Good Company Too laid the foundation for my love for the theater,” he says. “They held Saturday classes before the beginning of rehearsals to teach us children about the different aspects of theater – makeup, sound, lights, scenic design. It was a fantastic program.” When he was eight, his family moved to Ossian, Indiana. “We moved around a lot because of my dad’s work,” he explains. His first major community theatre audition was for Oliver! at Wells Community Theatre in Bluffton. He also performed with and took classes at the Fort Wayne Youtheatre when he was in seventh grade. While attending Norwell High School (he graduated this spring) he was more involved in show choir than with theater. “Show choir and theater are very different animals,” he says. “In show choir it’s all about being uniform with the other performers. That is not applicable to theater. Instead of blending in, you want to stand out.” However, he says that theater gave him the basis for learning to “tell a story with your face,” which helped him in show choir. Even without formal theater training in high school, Drew has gotten plenty of theater experience outside of school. “I am crazy busy with community theater,” he says. “My life and schedule revolve around it.” He says community theater has helped him mature as an actor. “I think that I have a better understanding of why we perform now than I did as a child,” he says. “I used to do it just to have fun. But I now understand that we act because it fulfills a secret part of us. It’s an alternate reality that we get to play in. When we have good material, good directors and good cast mates, the process is magical.”   Since moving to the region, Drew has had opportunities to work with several of the community theaters in Fort Wayne, including the Fort Wayne Youtheatre, Fort Wayne Summer Music Theatre and Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. But the theater with which he has the most longstanding relationship is Wells Community Theater (WCT) in Bluffton. “They are small, but mighty,” he says. “I think they don’t get the credit they deserve because they are ‘way out in Bluffton,’ but they are legitimate and wonderful. When my family moved to Indiana, they welcomed me with open arms, and that kind of brings it back full circle to the show I’m in today.” That show is a one-man comedy, Buyer and Cellar, by Jonathan Tolins. The 2014 play focuses on Alex More, an underemployed actor who is hired to work in the mall in the basement of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu home. “It is a hilarious piece of fiction,” says Drew. He was actually approached by the Creative Arts Council of Wells County, which runs WCT. “I’ve become sort of a regular at WCT, and they called me with the offer of a farewell performance show,” he says. “The idea was that the proceeds would go to my college fund. I jumped at the opportunity.” Drew was given his choice of production. “I did some research and found Buyer and Cellar which is hysterically funny and filled with heart,” he says. He says his director, Marlyn Koons, “is one of the best when it comes to creating moments and interpreting dialogue. Marlyn and I work well together. With a show like this, there is a lot of communication between the actor and the director, and working with her makes it so easy.” He is also enjoying the challenge of memorizing a 90-minute show (with no intermission) in which he never leaves the stage. “It has made me grow as an actor as it has pushed me harder than any show has so far,” he says. Drew says his natural sense of humor tends to land him character roles, particularly comedic ones. “I played an old man for Youtheatre for what seemed like decades,” he jokes, “but I would love to play the romantic lead every now and again!” He’s not really complaining about his typecasting, though. “Those comedic roles are very fun and keep me entertained,” he says. Drew hopes to expand his range and repertoire beginning this fall when he enters the music theatre program at Oklahoma City University. Auditions for the prestigious program were intense. “We arrived and were immediately escorted to a dance hall,” he says, “where they taught us a three-minute dance combination that we performed for the dance faculty. Then I was taken to a smaller room and performed two monologues, and after that I went to a concert hall and performed three full songs for the music faculty.” After two long months of waiting he was notified of his acceptance just before Christmas of 2015.   “They have a fantastic musical theater program and a track record to back it,” he says, citing such stars as Tony Award-winning stars Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara who graduated from the program. He’s already had a small taste of acclaim here in Fort Wayne. Last month he won his first Civic Theatre Anthony Award (it was his third Anthony nomination) for his performance as Igor in the Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein. “That show was the most fun I have ever had in the theater, and anyone involved can testify,” he says. Drew’s longer-term goals are to make a living as a theater performer after he earns his degree. “I would love to see myself living in New York and going to work on stage every night,” he says. “Broadway is the ultimate goal.”

Jen Poiry-Prough

Secret Mezzanine

A Uke Becomes a Duo

It’s been two years since Cai Caudill wandered into Canterbury High School cradling a homemade ukulele and changed not only his life but the life of a fellow freshman he had yet to meet. Caudill had built the instrument with his father as a sort of science project, but he had no idea how to play it. By chance, he bumped into Rob Greene in the hall during finals week at Canterbury. Greene, who had been taking guitar lessons for several years, was impressed by the contraption, a kind of Hawaiian Frankenstein’s monster assembled using a cigar box and discarded guitar parts. “We didn’t really know each other at the time, and he was like ‘that’s cool, man,’” Caudill said. “He started strumming on it and playing actual music. And I was thinking ‘that’s kind of neat.’” So Caudill and Greene began hanging out together. Greene taught Caudill some things on the ukulele, and Caudill started singing. They made some recordings of cover songs, dove into writing their own and decided to form a band. They called it Secret Mezzanine. “We started off as a ukulele duo,” Greene said. “Then we started adding other instruments. I switched to guitar and we just grew from there.” Now, two years on, Secret Mezzanine play regularly at bars, restaurants and festivals in and around Fort Wayne. They also have an EP called Passing Dreams. For some gigs they bring on drummer Jacob Sherfield and bassist Ben Tarr. Sherfield works as a sales engineer at Sweetwater and has a degree in music technology from the University of St. Francis. Tarr plays bass with Soft N’ Heavy and guitar with B45s. Secret Mezzanine (the name refers to a sign in the Canterbury High library pointing to a mysterious upstairs mezzanine) have a breezy sound that propels their songs regardless of the lyrical content, content that ranges from typical pop-song girlfriend stuff to subjects of a more philosophical bent. With Caudill handling the lead vocals and Greene providing the bulk of the guitar work, the music is at once familiar and fresh. It’s a sound that appealed to judges at the University of St. Francis Battle of the Bands in late 2014. Secret Mezzanine won the battle, and the studio time that was the top prize. For the battle, Greene and Caudill played two originals, “Electron” and “First Derivative Rule” along with a cover of The Strokes’ “Someday.” The two originals ended up on Passing Dreams, which they began recording at USF’s recording studio. But time in a professional studio proved to be inadequate to satisfy their desire to learn how the process of recording works, so they took over a spare bedroom in Greene’s parents’ house, set up a studio and hid themselves away. “It allowed for more experimentation at my house because we didn’t have a time limit,” Greene said. “We weren’t taking up anyone else’s time. We spent off and on about two months on just one of the songs.” “The cool thing was trying to figure it out ourselves,” Caudill said. “Like how music works or how it sounds to us. It really helped us playing live as well.” They began to use the studio itself as another instrument, Greene said, helping them to decide everything from the length of a song to the final arrangements based on their ability to manipulate the equipment. Greene said he puts a lot of effort into not sounding like other bands, even groups he cites as influences. “If I’m writing something and I think it sounds too much like something else, I’ll try to change it or make it a little less derivative,” he said. “I want it to be something original. To a seasoned musician, it may seem simple and childish. It doesn’t really seem that way to us. It takes a lot to figure out the parts; we don’t always know where one chord should go to the next, what the natural progression is. Sometimes that helps us come up with interesting combinations we haven’t really heard before. ” That Secret Mezzanine happened at all is a bit of a surprise to Caudill and Greene. Neither of them read music. Greene said he found taking guitar lessons tedious. Caudill didn’t even like music. “The weird thing is [that] my mom is a music teacher at Deer Ridge Elementary,” Caudill said. “We’ve always had a bunch of instruments in our house. And my dad builds instruments as a hobby. I never really liked music. She would try to teach me piano or how to read I would like just really zone out and not pay attention. Because I guess if you grow up with something so much it becomes a burden.” “That was the same with me and guitar lessons,” Greene said. But that’s all over now. The burden has been lifted. Both Caudill and Greene play multiple instruments and contribute to the songwriting. They appeared on Julia Meek’s NIPR show Meet The Music a total of four times. They’ve played Rock the Plaza, at Deer Park Pub, Trubble Brewing and CS3, to name a few. And this summer they’re scheduled for Riverpalooza, Buskerfest, Living Fort Wayne Concert Series and at farmer’s markets in Fort Wayne and Bloomington, and various other events around town. In addition to their own songs, their shows will often include covers of Dr. Dog, Paul Simon, Hippo Campus and others. Playing live affords the duo more time to try out new things and see the reaction. Or not. “We mess around a lot more at restaurant gigs,” Greene said. “People aren’t necessarily listening. That makes it fun.” If people aren’t listening, they should be. Secret Mezzanine have come a long way in a short period of time. And despite the looming demands of their senior year in high school and the inevitable “what’s next?” questions posed by parents, teachers and nosy reporters, Caudill and Greene are zeroed in on the coming weeks and months. “We just want to play this summer as much as possible,” Green . “I have no idea what it would be like to tour. I mean I play a gig and get to go back to my parents’ house and sleep in a nice bed.” “Maybe go to college,” Caudill said. “That’s kind of something we have sort of talked about it but we kind of avoid it until we have to. Check back with us in a year.”

Mark Hunter

Sharon Henderson

An Enduring Legacy

When Sharon Henderson retired from her position as executive director of all for One productions, she closed the chapter of a project which began more than 40 years ago. As she steps away she leaves behind a remarkable legacy for the community she has now adopted as her hometown. She wasn’t sure at first if Fort Wayne was really destined to be that, however. Growing up a military kid, she was never able to put down roots in any one place, and when a job brought her to Fort Wayne in 1974, she wasn’t sure how well she would fit in. Having moved along with a friend who had also secured employment in the area, Henderson, a single mother with two young boys, began finding her niche. She worked at IBM for a short time before accepting a position at First Missionary Church, where she worked for 27 years. It was during those early years that the seed of a future project began taking form in her mind. “I was attending a woman’s retreat, and I met a woman there who absolutely engaged me,” says Henderson. “I just thought she was hilarious, but she was also a very spiritual woman. I was having fun listening to her and not necessarily the other women. She made me see that you could be a theatre person and a Christian at a time when theater didn’t have much acceptance in the church yet. I was a single mother, divorced, and new to my faith. I didn’t sing or play the piano, but I just felt there was room for a faith-based theater company here in Fort Wayne.” The dream took hold, and there were times Henderson thought it might come true. Each time she hit a wall, but she continued to persevere. It was years later, when she attended a national conference in Chicago, that she encountered some like-minded people, fellow believers with theatrical experience who were interested in pursuing the same goals as Henderson. Among those was Lauren Nichols, now artistic director of all for One, and her husband Dennis, both of whom had the academic credentials in communication and theater to help expand on the plan for a faith-based theater company. Both writers and performers, they were able to join Henderson on her mission to write and produce plays which were based in faith while not necessarily being religious in content. It was a plan which would eventually bring the fledgling company some work, albeit as a touring company performing in other people’s venues. Eventually they knew they wanted to stay closer to home, and one of the plays they had written collectively, Sentimental Journey, was their vehicle for making that possible. “We had been a traveling repertory company, performing in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, cutting our teeth and learning some lessons along the way while someone else was footing the bill. By 2000 we were older and weary of the road and ready to put our foot in Fort Wayne. We had no theater, no rehearsal space, no storage – but we did have this script, Sentimental Journey, which we had written collectively. We had talked to veterans of World War II and found out what their stories were, what songs they liked and what their commitment to the cause was. We put together a tapestry of that era, and we wrote a play around that.” Securing a place to perform at the Grand Wayne Center, the company they had dubbed all for One originally scheduled two performances. But response and demand required that they add a Sunday matinee. Feedback immediately confirmed that they were on the right track, that audiences were craving more of the kinds of plays they longed to produce. While they continued to find some random places to ply their trade, including a stint at Canterbury School where they were limited to when and how many times they could perform, Henderson and her staff knew that they needed to find a more permanent home if they were to ever be able to maintain a full season of productions. Then she received a game-changing call from Harvey Cocks. “Harvey called me one day, and he said ‘Sharon, they’re putting an auditorium in the new library, and it could be a nice space for you.’ So I went down and put on a hard hat and stood in the middle of the construction and tried to imagine us making that our home. That was in 2007, and moving into that space for the next several years helped us grow to the point that we could host full seasons.” Although the writing of the all for One team was strong, they knew they’d be unable to provide enough material to produce full seasons year in and year out. It was then that all for One really began changing the face of local theater, finding plays that were thought provoking and very different from what other theaters were offering. They have also served as a place where other area playwrights have been able to see their own material produced, something unusual for many cities which tend to focus on the splashy Broadway musicals or well-known plays to sell tickets. “We want to focus on plays which are value-rich and family-friendly,” says Henderson. “We’re not preaching anything, but we’re always honoring God and his guidance.” Having recently moved into the ArtsLab at the Auer Center, all for One may have finally found its permanent home, a space where they can fully take root. And having seen her early vision become a successful reality, Henderson began thinking a few years ago that it was time for her to step aside. “I’ve known this time was coming for a couple of years now because I’m a firm believer in the dangers of a founder staying with an organization too long. Once you’ve taken an organization to a certain point, you need to go with fresh horses and get out of the way. Now some new blood can come, and we have a great transitional team that will pick up my duties and will work together to find someone who can take the organization into the future.” Henderson credits not only the staff at all for One but also the board, which she says “don’t just sit on the board – they roll up their sleeves and get to work.” She’s proud of how the theater company she long dreamed would develop now serves as an educational tool for those who participate and attend their productions and how it has helped nurture talent in and around the community. She says that, while she plans to stay away for a year lest she or anyone else feel she’s intruding on the company’s new path, she hopes to spend her time volunteering and enjoying her grandchildren while continuing to spread the word about all for One. “I will definitely be an ambassador for the company during this year,” she says. “Just the other day I was talking to a mother whose child was in a dance class, and she was looking for other ways to engage her in the arts. I said ‘Have you tried theater?’ and this woman felt most of the plays weren’t age-appropriate. \ I said ‘Well, let me tell you about our upcoming season which includes A Wrinkle in Time!’ So I will definitely be spreading the word even as I spend some time away from the day to day functions of all for One.”

Michele DeVinney

The B45’s/Battle of the Bands

The Kids Make Their Mark

It was a night celebrating local music. It was a night where Trichotomous Hippopotamus put their experience to use. It was a night where Jafunkae brought their blend of soul and 70s rock. And it was a night where Three Cities won over legions of fans with their high energy show. But ultimately, the finale night of the 2016 Battle of the Bands was a night that saw upstarts The B-45’s come into their own, displaying professionalism and showmanship way beyond their years while laying claim to the title of Battle of the Bands Champion. Revitalized after a one-year hiatus with a change of venue, a new scoring system and new primary sponsors, the 2016 Battle of the Bands featured what was probably the most diverse lineup of artists in its history – with jazz, rock, funk, blues and quite a bit of music that crosses genres on display for all to hear. The contest was also changed to enable contestants of all ages to participate, a significant change considering the fact that the eventual winners would not have been able to participate under the old rules. “After the last Battle of the Bands (in 2014), we felt as though we needed to make some changes to freshen it up a bit,” said contest sponsor Bob Roets of Wooden Nickel Music. “Thanks to Sweetwater’s huge commitment, we were able to make some positive changes to make for a stronger contest. I think that, along with John Vitale and Mark Hornsby from Sweetwater helping mine some of the top talent in the Fort Wayne area, really paid off for us in this year’s battle.” Doc West, from sponsor WXKE, emceed the contest, and as one who has attended more than his share of Battles of the Bands over several decades in the radio business, he agreed wholeheartedly. “This was probably the most diversity and the best quality I’ve ever seen in a Battle of the Bands contest. I find that original music takes a little more effort to consume, so when I see bands as good as we have seen this year that can also hold my interest, I know they are good.” The B-45’s originally formed as “a group of friends who wanted to write and perform music,” according to drummer Sam Clay. The members of the band, now ranging in ages from 14 to 18, mostly met through school band programs at Memorial Park Middle School and North Side High School. Guitarist Kellen Baker, bassist Colin Taylor and frontman Ben Tarr also participated in some Sweetwater Rock Camps together where they found they had common interests in music. “That’s kind of how we all met,” Clay said. “Ben then got asked by a family friend to throw together a band to provide music for an event they had going on, so he asked the rest of us to join him. What started off as a one-time get-together to play some mutually enjoyed covers transformed into a fully functioning band that gravitated more towards original music and writing. We don’t play many covers at all anymore.” The B-45’s have now been together for a little over a year and a half and have started really making their mark on the Fort Wayne music scene in recent months by playing shows on a relatively regular basis throughout the Fort. In fact, the demand for the band has been high enough that they were double booked on finale night, first playing a four hour show on the rooftop of the Embassy Theatre before they made the short trek over to CS3’s Tiger Room to play another half-hour set for their rabid fans. The band appeared to be completely spent at the end of the night, but, according to Clay, the end result justified the extra effort. “It felt amazing to win the Battle of the Bands, especially considering our ages. Facing off against bands with people who are as much as double our age was exciting.” The excitement is justified. Mixing a heavy Beatles influence with occasional Americana-tinged rock, The B-45’s put on an energetic, crowd-pleasing show every time they set foot on the stage. “People like our music because it makes you get out of your seat,” Clay said. “It’s very hard to sit still while listening to our music, and we proved that at the Battle of the Bands finals.” True to form, the band’s last song ended with what seemed like half of the crowd joining the band on stage to dance and celebrate their contest-winning set. With the success of this year’s contest, there seems to be an equally bright future for both The B-45s and the Battle of the Bands. Undoubtedly gifted and talented beyond their years, The B-45’s strengthened their status in the Summit City’s music scene and are planning to continue to hone their craft this summer by playing shows around the area while preparing to record their debut CD at Sweetwater Studios, a prize they won courtesy of the local music company and the contests main sponsor. The band is also unveiling a brand new website and continues to write new songs, ensuring they will have plenty of quality material to choose from when it comes time to record that album. As for Battle of the Bands, Vitale, who, along with Sweetwater’s Head Producer/Engineer Hornsby, were the main forces behind resurrecting the event, was impressed with the amount of talent he saw during the contest and hopes to make it even more successful next year. “Everyone involved in the 8-week competition couldn’t have been more professional,” Vitale said in a recent interview. “The bands were very conscientious of one another’s time on and off stage, networked, made connections and put future shows together with each other. “Several of the bands who were eliminated [in earlier rounds] still came out and supported other bands because of the talent, variety of music represented and friendships that were made. Several musicians even made a point to pull us aside and let us know this was the best BOTB they’d ever participated in and that it went a long way in cultivating our local music scene. We couldn’t have written the script any better. Music brings people together!”

Chris Hupe


Don't Stop Giving Up

“The least of my worries / is drowning and then / I felt the water / trickling in.” That the line that greets the listener on the first Vandolah album since 2012’s One More Minute. Singer Mark Hutchins follows that up with “The beast of my worries /appeared to me then / he said I’m all you got now / I’m your only friend.” This is the sardonic, dark humored and grizzled Vandolah we’ve come to love over the years, but this time around there’s a tired, world-weary acceptance that engulfs us like smoke from an out of control brush fire. Don’t Stop Giving Up is a collection of grizzled pop songs that feel like they’re attempting to put that brush fire out before the whole world goes up in flames. Don’t take that to mean this is a downer album. Vandolah have always countered the bitter with the sweet, and this new long player is no different. “Vahd K & Zan X” is a sleepy acoustic strummer with keyboard and e-bow accompaniment that is equal parts Eels and Vic Chesnutt. Hutchins sings “There’s a TV speaking blankly to you / A furnace kicking on in the soundtrack / You’re not moving from that spot / the same place claimed so long ago” as the stark lyrics are tempered by sunshine emanating from the music. “Hope” is a mid-tempo rocker that is three parts Guided By Voices and one part Grandaddy, with jangly electric guitar a prerequisite here. “Enola” sounds like Being There-era Wilco, fuzzed-out guitar popping in and out of an otherwise acoustic rocker. This is primo Vandolah, folks. “Gold” is grizzled melancholy. It sounds like a middle of the night emotional shrug, an in-the-moment confession that made the cut. Musical expression, warts and all. “Hole in My Pocket” is the sing-along of 2016 we’ve been waiting for: all “oohs” and “ahhs” and loping rhythm that grabs your attention immediately. “Hole In My Pocket” is the theme for the broken-hearted and disenfranchised you had no idea you needed. Vandolah have reached a point in their musical narrative at which a good portion of folks in the Fort Wayne scene might not even know who they are or how important they have been to local music history. With a steady flow of great, local artists still filling local stages and record shops, it’s just the natural order of things, I suppose. Well, here’s to Don’t Stop Giving Up changing the narrative a bit and giving Vandolah some well deserved new ears and minds to blow. Hutchins is as sharp and poignant as ever. Just a little more world weary. Vandolah will be playing The Friendly Fox on July 23 and The Patio at CS3 on July 29. A limited number of Don’t Stop Giving Up cassettes (download code included) will be available for purchase at these shows. The album is available digitally at vandolah.bandcamp.com. (John Hubner)

John Hubner


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