whatzup2nite • Friday, August 29

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Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival

Pancake Breakfast — North parking lot of National Automotive and Truck Museum, 7-10 a.m., freewill donations to museum appreciated

ACD Club Swap Meet — West parking lot of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automotive Museum, 7-12 p.m., free

Ladies of the ACD Club Vintage Treasure Sale — Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automotive Museum, 8-11 a.m., museum admission required

Mobile Food Court — Courthouse Square,11 a.m., pricing varies

Downtown Cruise-In — Courthouse Square, 1 p.m., $10/vehicle, spectators free

Cruise-In Concert — Live music by Atomic Sharks (4-6 p.m.), Urban Legend (6-8:30 p.m.) and Sugar Shot (8:30-11:30 p.m.), Courthouse Square, 4-11:30 p.m., free

Mimi’s Retreat Beer Tents — Corner of 8th, Main and Cedar streets, Auburn, 5 p.m.

Ice Cream Social — Courthouse Square, 2-8 p.m., $1/scoop

Ultrazone Activity Area — Courthouse Square, 4-8 p.m., pricing varies by activity

Speakeasy 2014 — Auburn Moose Family Center, 10th and Main streets, Auburn, 5-11 p.m., free (food and spirits additional)

Moonlight at the Mausoleum — Trolley tour of Auburn’s three cemeteries and mausoleum, departs from corner of 9th and Cedar, downtown Auburn, 9 p.m., $5 (adults only)

Things To Do

Auburn Cord Duesenberg FestivalDowntown cruise-in, ACD car show, antiques and flea market, parade, food and beer courts, tournaments, contests, live bands, family activities, hours vary thru Sunday Aug. 31, various locations, Auburn, activity fees vary, 925-3600

Auburn Fall AuctionClassic, collector and new car auction, live music, vendors, door prizes and more, 9 a.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 29-30 and 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 31, Auburn Auction Park, Auburn, 877-906-2437

National Shows

Carl Strong w/Jeff Bodart — Comedy at Snickerz, Fort Wayne, 7:30 & 9:45 p.m., $9.50, 486-0216

Nikki Hill w/Swick & Jones — Blues at Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., $6, 12 and under free, 427-6440

Music & Comedy

Atomic Sharks w/Urban Legend, Sugar Shot — Variety at Courthouse Square, Auburn, 4-11:30 p.m., free, 925-3600

Carl Strong w/Jeff Bodart — Comedy at Snickerz, Fort Wayne, 7:30 & 9:45 p.m., $9.50, 486-0216

Grateful Groove — Grateful Dead tribute at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526

Hindered Folk — Variety at Deer Park, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966

Joe Justice — Variety at Dave's Lake Shack, Fremont, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 833-2582

Marshall Law — Country rock at Beamer's, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 625-1002

Mike Conley — Variety at Don Hall's Triangle Park, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 482-4342

Nikki Hill w/Swick & Jones — Blues at Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., $6, 12 and under free, 427-6440

Sirface w/Blood from a Stone, Further the Fallen — Rock at 4D's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 490-6488

Karaoke & DJs

Fort Wayne

Babylon — DJ Tabatha, 10:30 p.m.

Babylon, Bears Den — DJ TAB & karaoke w/Steve Jones, 10:30 p.m.

Columbia Street West — Dance Party w/DJ Rich, 10:30 p.m.

Stage & Dance

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Art & Artifacts

America’s Spirit: Evolution of a National Style — Collection drawn from FWMoA’s permanent collection chronicling American art from 1765-1900, Tuesday-Sunday thru Jan. 25, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Beyond the Classroom — Works by regional members of the Art Education Association of Indiana, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 2, Betty Fishman Gallery, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

F.A.M.E. Exhibition — Works by young northeast Indiana children, daily thru Sept. 1, First Presbyterian Art Gallery, First Presbyterian Church, Fort Wayne, 426-7421

Members Show — Works from over 200 artist members, Tuesday-Sunday, thru Sept. 2, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

The Next Generation — Works by high school and college art students, daily thru Oct. 5, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102

Summer of Glass — Glass works by Peter Bremers and International Glass Invitational winners, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 31, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Featured Events

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

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

Sweetwater Academy of Music — Private lessons for a variety of instruments available from professional instructors, ongoing weekly lessons, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, $100 per month, 432-8176 ext. 1961,


Nikki Hill

w/Swick & Jones
8:30 p.m. Friday, August 29
1100 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne
Tix: $6 d.o.s.
Children under 12 free with adult

Nikki Hill

Vintage Rock & Soul

Some artists – even great artists – take years and even decades to uncover their essence. Others seem to spring fully formed as soon as they open their mouths. 

It didn’t take long for the rock ‘n’ roots-belting force of nature known as Nikki Hill to figure out which camp she fell into. Hill, who grew up in Durham, North Carolina, had no sooner found her sound when she found that a growing number of others agreed. Two well-received releases and several national and international performances later, Hill continues a whirlwind ride that shows no signs of slowing down. And she’s fine with that. 

You can catch Nikki Hill and her band (which she has dubbed the Pirate Crew) in person when they perform at the Botanical Conservatory on August 29. We caught up with the singer shortly after she returned from a European jaunt. 

The surprising thing about Hill’s success is that it wasn’t a result of a lifelong drive to make music. “I wasn’t a kid who dreamed of being a singer or a musician. The inspiration wasn’t the same,” she says. 

But her lifetime love of listening to music contributed at least as much to her career as her talent has. She recalls some of the factors that shaped her. “Like any kid of the ‘90s, my interest seemed to revolve around MTV and the radio at that point. I was very much a part of that generation. Having two older sisters as well, either I was forced to or by default listened to whatever they listened to.” 

Hill notes, however, that she was drawn to old-school rock and soul early on. 

“There’s always a catalyst, someone who introduces you to something different – allows you to have that chance to hear something different. A lot of times, driving around with my parents, we’d listen to a lot of the oldies stations. That’s where I got to first hear a lot of the 50s and 60s rock n’ roll and R&B and soul, and 70s funk.” 

Even when she was a child, Hill made connections between different types of music – namely, the sacred and the secular. 

“I grew up singing in gospel choir as a kid, and it definitely taught me a lot. I attribute that, plus the influences I got later on, to the way I sing today. I always really loved the older gospel music. I loved the music that came before the instruments and the production and before the gigantic arrangements.” 

Hill eagerly sought out some of the classics. 

“I really loved the stripped-down vocal groups like the Soul Stirrers and the Dixie Hummingbirds. And singing in the choirs let me do stuff like that. It just had the best energy and a great raw feeling. I’ve always thought that always tied into rock n’ roll. It was completely parallel to me. Listening to the radio with my dad and hearing something like Little Richard, it was the same thing, you know? Singers like Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis or Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, other people who originally came from the church, I think that sound kind of resonates in the music no matter what you’re singing.”

Her proximity to a large college environment gave her plenty of opportunities to seek out new music. 

“As I got older and into adolescence, I started looking for something different,” Hill remembers. “I met a young lady in middle school who, you know, smoked cigarettes and dyed her hair. I found it really intriguing. We’d drive around and listen to really loud music. When you’re a teenager, that’s the coolest thing, you know? We started going to shows together, really would go to almost any show.” 

She says punk rock attracted her for a time. 

“I liked the energy, the youth, the attitude ... the kind of ‘do it yourself’ aspect of it.” 

Eventually, she discovered music that fused punk’s energy with the styles she always appreciated. 

“Being near Chapel Hill and the big college there was great. There was actually a lot of really good roots music happening at that time, and I was lucky to be able to see a lot of those acts, especially local acts. It was all right there.” 

She remembers being drawn to the earthier music that drew from classic forms but added an influx of new energy. 

“The cool thing about so many of those artists, like Southern Culture on the Skids, Dexter Romweber and Flat Duo Jets, was that a lot of their influences were roots artists from the 50s and 60s. You hear what they brought with them from 50s rock n’ roll or 60s soul. ‘Roots music’ is such an open term that you’re able to put your own spin on it.”

By the time Hill had moved from avid listener to active participant, she already had a good idea of where her own style was headed. But it was the encouragement and backing from seasoned musician (and now husband and bandmate) Matt Hill that helped set her on her way. 

“I was doubtful in the beginning: ‘Really, you think I can do this the way you’ve been doing it?’ I just wasn’t sure of it at all, but he gave me a huge push,” Hill says. 

“But also, I’m pretty bullheaded. Despite being doubtful at the start, stage confidence wasn’t something that I had a problem with. You just have to get up there and do it. Thankfully not having stage fright gave me a boost: ‘I’m gonna get up there and give it a shot.’ And the more I got up there, the better the responses got.” 

The ball began to roll from there. 

“Then it was time to write and record some tunes, because there was already some demand,” she says. “I was lucky to have that assurance from the beginning that people wanted me to release something and wanted to see the live show. That’s a big confidence boost.” 

Hill’s career picked up steam at an impressive clip. She released an eponymously titled EP in 2012, just as her performance calendar exploded. 

“It all kind of happened at once. When I recorded the EP, it was definitely in response to encouragement from people. One of the first big pushes was actually people shooting videos of shows and putting them on YouTube. Pretty soon, the name came up and people started looking for records. And there wasn’t a record yet. Messages were coming in, saying, ‘Where’s your record?’ and ‘Come play at this festival,’ and ‘Are you open for gigs?’ At that point, I’d only done a handful of gigs. It all came really, really suddenly. Pretty much as soon as I recorded the EP, I started touring full time.”

Hill embraces the challenge of being a full-time musician, and her clear-eyed view of the situation sets her up well for success. 

“I’d say the road has been the absolute best training I could have gotten. Granted, you’re learning things on the spot at times. But there’s no other way around it. You’ve got to go through all the weird stuff and all the good stuff, and learn how to handle it,” she says. “It did happen very suddenly. You have to understand that you’re still an artist, but it’s also a business.” 

What was her initial studio experience like? 

“I had a good time, but I was completely green to it,” she says. “Recording the EP took a handful of hours in one day, so it wasn’t really a full-on experience. It was like, ‘Come on in with these great, seasoned musicians and cut this,’ and everybody made it so easy, you know?” She notes that recording her debut full-length, Here’s Nikki Hill, “was a bit like that as well. I enjoyed it. It’s quite a bit different from performing live, but there’s something very cool about making a permanent record of your songs. I also like being able to record a song one way and then later going back and listen to how we perform it live, seeing how it was different when we recorded it initially. We didn’t even get to play through the songs on the album live before we recorded them.”

Hill’s lively blend of vintage rock n’ roll, R&B and soul is no facile, crowd-pleasing act. This is the sound she’s always loved.

“It’s the music I love. If I wasn’t making this kind of music, I’d be searching for it and listening to it,” she says. “It doesn’t feel right to get stuck in one ‘roots’ subcategory. If you want to just play all rock n’ roll one night, you should be able to play that, or soul, or blues, or country. There are a lot of artists who feel that way. And I’m definitely not bothered by people saying my sound has a vintage edge. I mean, thank you, you know? It’s representing the sound that we love and the people we admire musically.” 

And, when asked about what she’s been listening to lately, Hill responds with enthusiasm: “I am obsessively listening to the Staples Singers right now. There was a point where I was just listening to Freedom Highway on repeat. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Bon Scott-era AC/DC. Right now I’m really appreciating his vocals. And Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry has been a great artist for road trip listening. Steady beat, steady dub... a totally different thing than what we do. It feels good when you’re driving.”

Speaking of driving, the singer and her band will be doing plenty of it in the months to come. 

“We’re stateside through September, then on to Europe – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and France,” she says. “We’ll be over there until late November. Once we get back, we’ll take a little bit of time and then go back into the studio and record. And after that, start all over again!”

D.M. Jones

Auburn Fall
Collector Car Auction

Wednesday-Sunday, Aug. 27-31
Auburn Auction Park
5540 County Rd. 11A, Auburn
Tix.: $15/day or $50 full pass

Auburn Fall
Collector Car Auction

For classic car collectors and enthusiasts there is only one place to be on Labor Day Weekend. And if you have to ask, you aren’t a classic car collector or enthusiast. That place, of course, is the Auburn Auction park where some 1,200 classics, muscle cars, exotic vehicles, hot rods and one-of-a-kind cars will be up for auction. The five-day event is hosted by Auctions America and promises to fulfill nearly any vehicle-related activity that floats your 1942-45 GMC DUKW 353 Amphibious Truck.

The auction, held during the famous Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, runs from Wednesday, August 27 thru Sunday, August 31. In addition to Maseratis and Sunbeams and popcorn wagons (at least one will be auctioned), the event features the ever-popular swap meet, helicopter rides, monster truck rides, food, fast-paced gavel action and stars of some of television’s most popular collector shows. But if you can’t make it to the auction every day, you can still keep up with the action by watching NBC Sports Network coverage.

There’s good reason Auburn is the classic car capital of America. Now in its fourth decade, the Auburn Fall Collector Car Auction attracts some 70,000 people, and last year saw more than $28 million dollars pass under the gavel. Auctions America, which is hosting the event for the fourth year, expects no less this year.

As usual, the cars and trucks and all manner of wheeled vehicle that will be on the block this year are nothing less than spectacular. Just flipping through the pages of the catalog is enough to make almost anyone drool. From American classics from the 1950s and 60s with their beefy fenders and bulked-up personalities, to sexy foreign jobs that for some reason make me think of Sophia Loren, to gangster models that would make Jimmy Cagney feel right at home, there’s nothing you won’t see.

If the dazzle of the cars doesn’t kick your pulse up a bit, then maybe getting a chance to chat briefly with a TV star will flip your ticker. Frank Fritz, star of History Channel’s American Pickers will be signing autographs on Saturday from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 pm and again from 2-3:30 p.m. An avid collector of just about anything from a barn, Fritz, aka the Bearded Charmer, has what some people consider the best job in the world.

Courtney Hansen, star of PowerNation and Overhaulin’, will be signing autographs on Saturday from 2-3:30 p.m. Hansen has hosted several makeover car shows and is the author of The Garage Girl’s Guide, a car book for women and first-time car owners.

On Sunday from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and again from 2-3:30 p.m., Rick and Kelly Dale, stars of History Channel’s American Restoration, will take their turn at signing autographs and chatting with fans. Known for their ability to restore anything from a Cadillac to a Coke machine, the pair prove that nearly anything old and battered can be made to look as good as new.

For an exciting diversion, follow the distinct whine of off-road motorcycles to catch some jaw-dropping stunts when Selection Action Sports presents freestyle ATV and dirt bike shows on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. The shows are free with auction park admission.

If monster trucks are your thing, you’re in luck. Monster truck shows will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. And if you want to get up close and personal with one of the beasts, you can take a ride in one on Saturday from 12-1pm, 3-4 p.m. and 4:30-7 p.m., or on Sunday from 12-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Again, the shows are free with auction park admission.

More than 80 million people tuned in to NBC’s coverage of Auburn Fall two years ago. The network took last year off but is returning this year with bigger and better action, including six hours of live gavel-to-gavel coverage over four days. The broadcast will feature the stories behind some of the hottest cars at the auction and will get up close with collectors from around the world.

With all the hoopla of the auction, it’s easy to forget that the whole thing started as an offshoot of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival which runs from August 24-September 1. 

The Auburn Fall Auction and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival have put northeast Indiana on the classic car map. But If you’re looking for something to do Labor Day weekend, you won’t need a map. Just follow the cool classics as they tool along the highway. You’ll be glad you did. 

Mark Hunter

ACD Festival

Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 28-31
Various Auburn locations
Admission varies

ACD Festival

Auburn Throws a Party

Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg. Three separate names, just to clarify.

As the festival season tapers off around Labor Day and the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Festival kicks up, you’ll hear those names bandied about quite a bit. I’d never really been sure of what they meant; like the blurry chorus lyrics of “Blinded by the Light,” I just ran the words together in my head. I figured they referred to the city of Auburn and a couple of dudes, or else three ladies, or else a company or a landmark or something. But there were cars involved; that much I did know.

But if you peek under the hood of Auburn’s small-town charm, what you will find is a very big name with a rather rich history, and the ACD Festival is just the event to celebrate it.

Auburn was the name of a car company begun in the early 1900s in the city for which it is named. When the company began to fail in the 20s, E.L. Cord, a former race car driver, took over, and soon Cord’s surname was added to the illustrious cars being produced at the Auburn factory. Not long after this, Cord acquired another failing car company from the masterful Duesenberg brothers and commissioned Fred Duesenberg to build him the world’s best automobile.

For a few brief, glorious years, the Auburn Automobile Company produced Duesenbergs, some of the most advanced, luxurious and expensive cars on the market. But the Depression sealed the fate of the company and production shut down in 1937, leaving their art deco headquarters behind. From a dead car company to what is now considered the classic car capital of the world was a journey that would take a few more years.

A meeting of Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg car enthusiasts was the seed from which the festival grew. The annual collector car auction soon brought interested car enthusiasts from all over to the annual gathering, and funds were collected to turn the old Auburn Automobile Company offices into the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum that partners with the festival today. This year marks the 58th annual ACD Festival, one of the most exciting yet.

“The Festival has been going on a very, very long time in Auburn, and it has evolved over the years in many ways. This year is no exception. So we really want to make it new and exciting every single year,” said Sarah Payne, the festival’s executive director. “There are lots of traditional things that happen at the festival; it has such a rich history, but we’re always adding new and exciting things to do.”

While on the surface the ACD Festival looks like something meant mostly for automobile enthusiasts, it’s also for enthusiasts of whimsy, nostalgia, the roaring 20s, fitness, the mystery of mausoleums, and – dare I say it? – much, much more. Just imagine your average festival, then add in large doses of history, charm, cars and fun, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what this festival is about these days.

This year’s most exciting addition to the schedule is the long list of musical artists performing Friday and Saturday night. While there will be local favorites you’ve definitely heard of – like Good Night Gracie, Sugar Shot, Joe Justice and Urban Legend – there will also be some acts that are worth getting to know a little better. The Atomic Sharks, featuring local celeb Kenny Taylor, is a duo that makes island-style music for families. Another name to get used to is Influx, a soulful, contemporary group that boasts plenty of local music veterans.

“We picked bands that would appeal to lots of different ages. They’ll perform downtown on a main stage that will be family-friendly. Of course, there will be the fun stuff like a beer tent, but the whole area will be open to all ages,” Payne said. “It’s really our chance to include everybody in this event like we’ve never done before.”

This festival might be the only one trying to ensure everyone has fun without getting nickel-and-dimed in the process. If families are looking to entertain the kids during the day without spending anything extra, the festival will have a free kids’ area with activities, bounce houses and slides. 

“That’s going to be great for families,” Payne said. “We want people to just come out and enjoy the event and enjoy the music and cars and not feel like it’s going to cost them an arm and a leg.” 

The list of activities for families and adults goes on and on, with every minute of weekend dedicated to celebration. Why not try the pancake breakfast, the 5k or 11k run, the Friday night speakeasy, a moonlight tour of Auburn’s historic graveyard, a cook-off, the beer tents, the arts and crafts show or the flea market? 

And if you’re looking for a bite to eat at the fair, you can expect food that is far and above the usual fair selection. Fort Wayne Food Trucks will be out in full force over the course of the weekend, so you can take the money you would usually spend on a deep fried doorstop and get some delicious, original, artisan creations instead.

While there’s plenty to do outside of ogling cars, it would be silly to miss the Festival’s beloved traditions that celebrate the classic Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs that put this town on the map. Friday night’s cruise-in will feature hundreds of cars with enough variety to please the muscle, classic, and rare car fans, while Saturday’s Parade of Classics will be exclusive to the cars that gave the festival its name. The parade will host about 200 of them, as well as a special celebrity guest.

“This year’s grand marshall is Courtney Hanson. She’s really famous for being both beautiful and very car-smart,” Payne said. “She hosts a block of TV shows that are automotive-related, called Power Nation on NBC Sports, and she’s also hosted TLC’s Overhaulin’ and Rides. She’s very car-focused, so she’s a perfect fit for us.”

The ACD Festival often plays host to a slew of unscheduled celebrity guests who, like most, come for the fabulous display of classic cars. Jay Leno has been a regular attendee in the past, and just last year Kid Rock was seen around town during the festivities. 

Whether you go for the cars, the food, or the slew of exciting and original activities, the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Festival will give you a great way to spend the last days of summer and go out with a bang.

Kathleen Christian Harmeyer

Rodney Carrington

Southern Raunch

Name a male body part and chances are very good that comedian Rodney Carrington has written a song about it. There is, of course, his single “Letter to My Penis” off his first full-length album. And his second and third albums were likewise named for aspects of dudeness – Morning Wood and Nut Sack, respectively. 

That is not to say that this Southern boy, often seen on stage in a pearl-buttoned shirt and black Stetson, is a one-trick pony. In his act he often plays the part of the country music star as he takes on everything from plus-sized women to what it’s like to arrive in Heaven drunk as a skunk after having hit a tree while driving under the influence.

Call it satire. Call it irreverent send-up of a musical genre that often takes itself very seriously. Call it whatever you want if you can stop laughing long enough to draw breath.

Carrington, who will be at the Honeywell Center Sunday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m., was born in Longview, Texas, but spent enough time in Oklahoma to claim that state as his own. The ABC sitcom based on his life, Rodney, ran from 2004-2006 and was set there. In Rodney, Carrington played a character very much like himself – a funny father of sons – but the difference was that TV Rodney wanted desperately to leave a dead-end job to pursue a career in standup comedy, whereas actual Rodney was living that particular dream and had been since the late 90s when he began cracking jokes and singing silly songs to crowds in and around Texas, Oklahoma and parts largely south.

In 1998 Carrington released his first comedy album, Hangin’ with Rodney. Because it featured a preponderance of songs, it found its way on to the country music charts, garnering him the attention of the folks at The Bob and Tom Show. He’s been a regular guest of that radio laugh fest for decades now, and he’s gained a number of fans thanks to his appearances on the Indianapolis-based program. 

Two years after Hangin’ with Rodney hit the shelves, Carrington put out Morning Wood. It gave Carrington his first Top 20 album. He followed that with the live compilation, C’Mon Laugh You Bastards, and 2003’s Nut Sack. Shortly thereafter he got the TV gig which put his life as a family man front and center. Carrington has three sons with ex-wife Terri. In 2012 he and Terri divorced after 18 years of marriage. He told Doug Elfman of the Las Vegas Review Journal that at his age he’s just not interested in starting over. He’d much rather play golf than go on a date.

   “What are you going to do?” he said. “Meet some girl and say: ‘Listen, I take 20 milligrams of Lipitor. I take one Prilosec a day. I like to be left alone about seven hours a day. If you’re okay with what I’m telling you so far, we can finish this salad and order an entree. If not, I’m just gonna run you to the house.’”

Carrington’s acting career did not end when his show did. In 2008 he partnered with country music star Toby Keith to make the feature film Beer for My Horses. Carrington is Lonnie to Keith’s Rack, and together the two longtime friends and vigilantes pair up to save Rack’s girlfriend from the clutches of a Mexican drug lord. 

Beer for My Horses wasn’t a favorite with critics, but it, like Carrington’s 2009 comedy album, El Nino Loco, kept him in the public eye and won him more loyal fans who can’t get enough of his funny stories set to song style. Speaking of songs, Carrington put out a Christmas album, Make it Christmas, that same year. Proving that he’s a dude who can wear many hats, the holiday album is serious. There’s nary a tongue-in-cheek reference anywhere on its 11 tracks.

Speaking of serious, Carrington, when he’s not touring or putting out albums or hanging with Toby Keith, runs his own charity, The Carrington Charitable Foundation. As part of his philanthropic work, Carrington recently partnered with actor Gary Sinise and his foundation to build smart homes for wounded veterans.

Clearly there’s much more to Carrington than crotch jokes. Consider his explanation for how he’s able to cover so many controversial topics in his stand-up acts: “You can talk about anything if you go about it the right way, which is never malicious.”

Deborah Kennedy

The Beach Boys

Fun, Fun, Fun in the Fort

It’s been more than 10 years since anyone in Fort Wayne has been able to yell “surf’s up” without tiny waves of irony breaking over their ankles. In the first place, there’s no surf to be up. (If only everybody had an ocean.) In the second place it’s been that long since The Beach Boys last played Fort Wayne. And if you’re going to yell “surf’s up” around here, you might as well wait for The Beach Boys to come back.

The wait is over. Let the yelling begin. The Beach Boys bring their 50 Years of Fun Fun Fun tour to the Foellinger Theater on Wednesday, September 3 at 7:30 pm.

But if you plan to attend the show and are inclined to shout “surf’s up” at some point, be aware that your outburst may be interpreted as a request for The Beach Boys song “Surf’s Up” rather than a stab at humor and that the likelihood of the Beach Boys playing “Surf’s Up” are zero. “Surf’s Up” does not figure in the Beach Boys set list these days. To hear “Surf’s Up,” wait for Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck to tour together again.

But don’t be sad. What you will hear from Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and the rest of the current Beach Boys touring band is what you probably want to hear anyway, namely the hits that have come to represent summer and all things surf, sand, cars and girls. It’s those hits – “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “California Girls,” “Kokomo,” etc. – that everyone wants to hear. It’s those hits, and Love’s recognition of their power, that have kept The Beach Boys on the road every year since they formed in 1961. And it’s those hits that made The Beach Boys the America’s best rock band.

That’s quite a statement. But when you look at the numbers, it’s hard to refute. Thirty-six Top 40 hits, four Billboard Hot 100 Chart toppers, more than 100 million records sold worldwide. Their songs have been covered by everyone from the Meat Puppets to Gene Clark.

On the rock n’ roll innovation front, The Beach Boys and the Beatles led the way for nearly all other aspiring bands in the mid 1960s. But while the Beatles had the songwriting skills of Paul McCartney and John Lennon and the production prowess of George Martin, The Beach Boys were kept aloft by the immense talents of Brian Wilson alone. Wilson wrote and arranged the songs, hired top-line session musicians to play them and then handled all of the production work himself.

The history of the Beach Boys is well known. Brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and Brian’s high school classmate Al Jardine formed the band in 1961 and later that year released a regional single, “Surfin’.” With the help of the Wilson brothers’ father, Murray, they got a record deal with Capitol Records. Their first album, Surfin’ Safari, came out in 1962. Their upbeat, carefree songs and intricate harmonies struck a chord with teenagers and helped ignite the surf rock craze. By the end of 1963 they had three full albums to their credit and Brian had taken over the production from Capitol’s own staff.

Throughout 1963 and 1964 the group toured non-stop, a schedule that proved too much for Brian, who decided to withdraw from the touring band and concentrate on songwriting and producing. Another friend, Bruce Johnston, was hired to take Brian’s place. With the band on the road, Brian spent his time in the studio writing and directing the top session players in Los Angeles to record the music. When the rest of the band returned, they would add vocal tracks. The freedom allowed Brian to explore his considerable talents to create the most innovative and complex pop music ever made.

Inspired by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, Brian began work on Pet Sounds, considered by many to be one of the most influential rock albums ever made. Critics raved, but fans took a much less enthralled view. After hits like “California Girls,” “Help Me Rhonda” and “I Get Around,” songs such as “Caroline No” and “I Know There’s an Answer” proved to be a bit too introspective for average listeners. But Pet Sounds did give us songs like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Sloop John B” and “God Only Knows,” staples of the current Beach Boys setlist. The Pet Sounds sessions also produced “Good Vibrations.” Though not released on the album, “Good Vibrations” marked a turning point in Brian’s production methods. Rather recording the song in a linear fashion, Brian took what he called “snippets” of songs and pasted them together. Though intricate and complex, the song is the most frequently played song in The Beach Boys’ repertoire.

While Brian was turning toward more deeply personal songwriting and increasingly convoluted production, the rest of the band felt the change in direction was not a good one. When the band returned from a tour of Europe in 1967, they were greeted with Brian’s latest project, the infamous SMiLE. Though the work was highly anticipated by critics and represented Brian’s most personal vision to date, he decided to shelve the record because of his bandmates’ reaction to it. (SMiLE was eventually released in 2011, though Brian, with the help of many others, finished the record and performed it live in 2004 with his own band.) The fallout from SMiLE pushed Brian more and more toward the mental and emotional problems that forced him into isolation for many years.

The 70s and 80s saw The Beach Boys continuing to tour, sometimes with Brian but most often without him. They continued to write and release albums and even scored some hits, namely with the songs “Kokomo” and “Do it Again.” In 1983 Dennis Wilson drowned after diving off a boat in Marina del Ray in Los Angeles. Carl Wilson died in 1998 from lung cancer.

In 2012 the remaining members, including Brian and David Marks, who had performed with the band off and on almost from its inception, recorded and released That’s Why God Made Radio, their 29th studio album, and embarked on a 50th Anniversary Tour. But the reunion was short lived, and soon Love and Johnston were back on their own with their version of the Beach Boys. (Jardine had left some years earlier.)

Throughout the convoluted and tragic journey of the Beach Boys, it was Mike Love who saw the value in keeping the surfing, girls and cars hits alive. He recognized the overwhelming power of nostalgia to keep audiences coming back for more good vibrations and fun, fun, fun. Brian Wilson followed his vision and his musical genius. Mike Love followed his desire to entertain.  

Mark Hunter

Charles Shepard

Bullish on the Region

Before his arrival in Fort Wayne in 2003, when he assumed the executive director position at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Charles Shepard had a choice to make about where he wanted to set down roots. Originally from Maine, he finished graduate school intent on becoming an art professor before deciding to broaden that ambition.

“I realized I could be a professor, but I could also run a university art museum, which I did at the University of Michigan, University of Maine, Ohio University and Connecticut College, where I specialized in starting a museum or repairing one that was in trouble. But I struggled with the notion of wanting to work more for the community. I was fortunate in that some of those universities allowed me to work with the community, but in a university system, that comes first and the community comes second.”

Determined to make a mark in a community beyond university guidelines, Shepard was sought out by headhunters looking to fill positions in a variety of exciting locations, including New York, Los Angeles, England and Puerto Rico. But another option existed, one in Fort Wayne, and it was that opportunity which spoke to his ambition to build a top notch museum in a community. Why Fort Wayne?

“For me it was an interesting combination of things. It was a new-ish museum, having been built in 1984. The museum dated back 57 years, but the building itself was young for an institution, so there was this almost brand new building downtown, in the heart of the city. And I studied the situation that they had here. At that point they were focused on an audience that was self-identified. In other words, we liked the people who liked us instead of focusing on the people who don’t know you. I wanted to fix that.”

In his 11 years with the museum (Shepard celebrated his anniversary on July 1), he has grown the collection dramatically. While he inherited a museum which had 1,300 objects in its collection after almost six decades, the seventh decade saw 1,800 more items added. Instead of two galleries, a recent expansion now provides nine galleries in addition to more meeting rooms, more storage space and an expanded gift shop. The additional pieces have also allowed Shepard to completely shift the way the museum has been doing business.

“We no longer look to book ‘pre-fab’ shows, preferring instead to tap into our own collection and just borrowing things to add to an exhibit. Before the renovation, we would look through rental exhibit catalogs and bring in shows that were visiting Chicago or Wisconsin. Now we’ve become the one who rents our shows to other museums. Our recent Afro show is now in Seattle. It may take us another two to three years to get the word out that we have exhibits to share. It’s just a light under the basket, but we’ll let that light come out from under the basket.”

Shepard is also proud of the increasing numbers of people who visit the museum and especially touts the geographic and demographic diversity. Upon his arrival he began to target people who lived within a 90-minute drive, tapping into the largeness of the overall northeastern Indiana community and bringing in shows which attract a more racially diverse audience as well. He’s found working within the confines of a city the size of Fort Wayne a refreshing change from other larger metropolitan areas.

“Anybody can get involved and make something happen. You don’t have to be a special person to sit down and talk to the mayor. A lot of cities are structured very differently, and you have to be there for 20, 25 years before you can do anything. The professor in me knew I wanted to go somewhere where people would pay attention. People talk about New York, Los Angeles, Boston and think the people all know about art and theater. But, of course, they don’t. People here don’t try to do that. They aren’t pretentious. It makes it easier to do things.”

Having accomplished a lot in just a decade on the job, you might wonder if Shepard is looking for greener pastures, considering another place to repair and grow a museum. But he says he sees another 10 to 20 years of growth possible for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and has a lot of plans for how to make it even better.

“Right now we have about 3,500 objects, but I’d like to take it to 10,000 to 12,000 in the future. I’d also like to take the museum’s endowment to $10 to $12 million to make the future more secure. I also want to generate a sculpture collection that would bring scholars here to publish about the collection and have shows that feature the sculptures.”

Shepard says the recent series of glass exhibits have brought international audiences to the city. Those visitors not only benefit the museum and help grow its reputation, but it has helped generate good publicity for the city.

“People who come for these exhibits will stay an extra three days just to spend time in the city. They’ll take in a ballgame or enjoy the restaurants, and no one has ever had anything but good to say about those times they spend in Fort Wayne. Plus, we can bring in these artists and show Fort Wayne these influences while returning the favor and showing them our city.”

All of this growth and innovation – in a downtown area which has grown tremendously in his short tenure with the museum – has validated Shepard’s choice of Fort Wayne over cities that might have been higher on a director’s list of possible choices. But Shepard reiterates what he sees as the city’s greatest strength.

“There’s a real can-do environment here. I’m bullish on downtown and bullish on the region. If you say you want to do something, you’re going to be able to do it. Other places have so many obstacles. I grew up in Maine and had someone complain to me that even if you live in Maine for 30 years, you can’t run for city council because people think you’re an out-of-towner. But it’s not like that here.”

Michele DeVinney

William Andrews

Born Performer

William Andrews would have been a viral YouTube sensation if YouTube had been around when he was a toddler.

“When I was two my mom started to encourage me to perform,” he says. “The first performance I did was at my third birthday party where I sang ‘Do You Think I’m Sexy?’ by Rod Stewart. My family really pushed me to sing in front of anyone, and it didn’t take much.”

His true performance skills were cultivated in church. 

“I grew up singing almost every Sunday,” he says, “but it clicked for me in sixth grade when I did Bye, Bye, Birdie at Blackhawk Middle School. I had one line: ‘He’s coming, he’s coming! Conrad Birdie is coming!’”

Like many in theater, he inherited the performance gene. 

“My grandma was the yodeling champion of the county fair in 1943,” he says. “My mom and aunt did shows when they were young. When they were 10, they devised their own flying [effect] for Peter Pan. They hung a rope over a tree and jumped. In high school my mom was in a rock band called Andy and The Impacts. She was lead vocalist and faked playing the guitar. They mainly played gigs on my grandma’s porch for the other kids in the neighborhood.”

As a sixth grader at Blackhawk Middle School, he auditioned for the role of Mr. Bumble in their production of Oliver!, directed by Elaine Nichol. 

“Sadly I didn’t get the role because before my voice changed I had major pitch problems,” he says. “I was cast in the ensemble, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven because for the first time in my life I met other kids who did what I loved to do.”

Not getting the role he wanted was a minor setback. He recognized his limitations and began taking voice lessons with Dr. Joseph Myers, head of the IPFW vocal department at the time. Andrews’ vocal prowess improved and, most importantly, his confidence grew. He started getting bigger roles.

He also grew as an actor. 

“I used to just paint on my show choir smile and go for it,” he says of his acting method. “Now I have to feel it from the heart to mean it.” This more careful consideration of emotion onstage led to several award nominations and an Anthony Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play for Biloxi Blues at the Civic in 1998.

Andrews and his partner Justin Cooper moved to Indianapolis in 2005, but returned to Fort Wayne in 2007. Andrews was cast in a show at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, and two days later, Justin’s job transferred him back to Indianapolis.

Back in Indy, Andrews made a name for himself in the Indianapolis theater scene, both as an actor and as a director, working for a variety of theaters, including Theatre on the Square, Footlite Musicals, The Artist Studio, Buck Creek Players and Meyers Dinner Theatre.

“It was a shock when I moved to Indy because I started getting good parts right away,” he says. “I was given a chance to grow and hone my skills.”

In 2010 he had his first foray into directing with Crazy for You at Footlite Musicals. He soon amassed over 20 award nominations, and many of his cast members won acting awards for their productions.

“Directing is a lot of hard work,” he says. “In acting you only need to worry about yourself, but in directing you have 20 to 40 people to worry about.”

He has been called a tough director, even by the professional actors who have worked for him, but he believes this is because of his high expectations based on his years as an actor.

Though an award-winning actor, Andrews feels he is stronger as a director. 

“It’s easy for me to read a script as a director and know exactly what I want,” he says. “As an actor, I need direction.”

When he directed his first show in Indianapolis, several key crew members unexpectedly left the production for personal reasons. “Justin jumped right in,” he says. “He is now an award-winning scenic designer, set decorator, and light and sound designer in his own right.”

The couple returned from Indianapolis this February to care for Andrews’ terminally ill mother, Diana. He took a hiatus from theater, but when he learned that Jake Wilhelm was making his directing debut with Violet at Arena Dinner Theatre, he decided to audition. The musical centers around a young woman (played by Darby Bixler) with a severe facial scar who goes on a physical and spiritual journey, seeking healing, and Andrews portrayed the televangelist Violet believes to be her salvation.

It’s was a role he considers to be his most challenging. “[The Preacher] has a scar just like Violet, but it’s on his soul, not on the outside,” he says. “I have walked a fine line between being real and making fun of him, but I have had a great director who trusted my instincts.”

His instincts came from a place of familiarity. 

“I used childhood memories of growing up Pentecostal to play this role,” he says. “I have experienced many people just like this preacher in real life.”

Andrews appreciates being welcomed back to the Arena after so many years away. “The cast and staff have been super sweet,” he says. “We have had a wonderful time putting the show together, and it shows in the final product.”

Violet was the 112th production he has been a part of, including acting, directing, designing and crewing, and he shows no signs of slowing down. But whether he’ll remain in Fort Wayne or return to Indianapolis – and when – remains to be seen.

“When I moved back to Fort Wayne in February, I was only planning on staying six weeks,” he says. “All I can say is I am here for now and living day by day.”

Jen Poiry-Prough

J.L. Nave

Conducting Phil Inc.

  Now in his ninth season as executive director of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, J.L. Nave has overseen much change and growth, not terribly surprising at any thriving orchestra or established arts organization. It’s a career he hadn’t anticipated as he was growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, the heart of country music and Southern charm, but his willingness to adapt and his openness to change have served him well both in his own career and in his professional capacity.

Although he says he enjoys a wide range of music, his own musical background wasn’t exactly steeped in the country sounds of Nashville. However, his job during high school and as he went to college in nearby Belmont University was the iconic Opryland theme park where he developed a deep and abiding respect for the performers who were legends of that genre.

“My primary responsibilities were in guest services,” says Nave, “but during my years there I had the chance to work with a number of country artists that were out there on a regular basis. What I found was that they were all just good people. It’s the opposite of what you sometimes hear or experience with pop and rock performers. Country artists were just humble, appreciative people. It was really refreshing. I may not have necessarily been a big fan of all of their music, but I had a huge respect for their talent and their graciousness.”

Growing up in a musical family helped form Nave’s musical interests from the beginning, and he began singing at the age of two. Both parents belonged to the church choir, and his mother was a music educator. He had access to a piano at home and began playing the trumpet in the fifth grade, the handbells in sixth grade. A photo of a young J.L. playing handbells hangs from Nave’s office wall, and he admits that, while he hasn’t touched his trumpet in 15 years, he does still play handbells and will occasionally sing with the Philharmonic Chorus.

Given his background, a degree in conducting was a natural, but as he moved toward graduate work at the University of Alabama, he began to question whether he wanted to pursue that vocation enough to invest the time and work required. He now has great appreciation for what people like Andrew Constantine, the Philharmonic’s musical director, do to reach that point in their career.

“I think about what Andrew and the 200-plus applicants for the music director position have done, and I realize now it was something I just wasn’t willing to do. But I couldn’t get away from music, and I began hearing about a degree in arts administration. I, like many people, had never given any thought to what it takes behind the scenes just to get to the point of putting a performance on the stage. People who have had the opportunity to peek behind the curtain, to see what it takes to put on one concert, realize how many elements there are to it.”

Earning degrees in arts and business administration from the University of Cincinnati, Nave says now that he’s never looked back, that he loves what he does. And since his arrival in Fort Wayne in 2006, he says he has loved the diversity of the job, not to mention many of the other perks.

“I get to go to 60 or 70 performances a year, and I get paid for doing it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

There are challenges, of course, but many of those come from the very variety that he enjoys about the job.

“I am the touch point for all aspects of the organization, and there are six parts to Fort Wayne Philharmonic Inc., or as we like to call it, Phil Inc. There’s the orchestra, the staff, the board of directors, the Friends of the Philharmonic, the chorus and the youth orchestra. There are 400 people under that umbrella. Most of the interests of all of those parts align, but sometimes they don’t. It’s my job to keep them all moving forward and in the same direction.”

He concedes that his job is made easier by the team atmosphere of those under that umbrella and points to the recent contract negotiations which could have gotten unpleasant but didn’t.

We ended up much better off than many of our colleagues where there have been work stoppages. As difficult as those negotiations were, our players kept playing. I have to give them huge credit because it wasn’t easy for them either. But we were all focused on helping to keep the Fort Wayne Philharmonic here in northeast Indiana for many years to come. We all have a common direction and a common commitment.

“You know, they say laws and sausages are the two things you don’t want to know how they’re made. Maybe orchestra management is the third thing on that list. It can be messy, but what’s important is that we all get there together.”

Since his arrival, he has overseen the change in musical leadership with the search that brought Constantine to the city. He has also been there as Constantine has hired a new associate director, Sameer Patel, a search which began again with Patel’s recent departure after a three-year tenure with the orchestra. Those kinds of changes bode well for the orchestra, oddly enough, since they demonstrate the demand for the talented conductors which have come to our area.

“It’s really our job to make sure that those assistant and associate conductors don’t get stuck, that they stay on a good professional career path. Sameer was guest conducting a great deal and was in great demand, which reflects very well on our orchestra.”

Nave is satisfied not only with his professional duties but with the area he now calls home. Having lived in larger metropolitan areas, he has a great appreciation for the small town aspects of Fort Wayne while enjoying the great number of advantages the city has to offer.

“I always say that there are a lot of Southern qualities to this area. People here are friendly and willing to help. They’re polite and a little more relaxed than people are in larger cities. I like not having a two-hour commute, and the infrastructure is here to make life easier. Synchronized lights were a huge thing for me when I came here. It may not sound like a big deal, but it’s definitely a quality of life issue. And we have the orchestra, Cinema Center, the zoo, the ballet, numerous theater companies, the Botanical Conservatory. You’re lucky if you find one or two of those in a community this size. The culture and recreation here is incredible. You have access to big city type activities without the hassle.”

Michele DeVinney


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