whatzup2nite • Thursday, July 2

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Things To Do

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National Shows

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Music & Comedy

Jason Bach — Variety at The Green Frog Inn, Fort Wayne, 9-11 p.m., no cover, 426-1088

Jason Paul — Acoustic variety at Arcola Inn & Ale, Arcola, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 625-4444

Kenny Taylor — Variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 482-6425

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

Shelly Dixon & Jeff McRae — Acoustic at Checkerz Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 489-0286

Karaoke & DJs

American Idol Karaoke w/Dave — Karaoke at Latch String, 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

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

Stage & Dance

Bye Bye Birdie — Musical story of a rock n’ roll singer that is about to be inducted into the Army, 7 p.m. Thursday, July 2; 8 p.m. Friday July 3; 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday, July 5; 7 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, July 7-8; 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday, July 9 and 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 10-11, Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts, Warsaw, $14-$32, 574-267-8041


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Art & Artifacts

20 Year Retrospective — Works from Jody Hemphill Smith, CW Mundy, Katy McMurray, Michael Poorman, Mike Kelly, Joey Frisillo, Diane Lyon, Doug Runyan, Susan Suraci, Terri Buchholz, Andrea Bojrab, Bill Inman, Terry Armstrong, Carolyn Fehsenfeld, Lori Putnam, Rick Wilson, Fred Doloresco, Forrest Formsma, B. Eric Rhoads, Robert Eberle, Pamela C. Newell, Shelby Keefe, Mark Daly and Maurice Papier, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru Aug. 29 (artists reception 6-10 p.m., Friday, July 10), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568

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

Christina Bothwell: Spirit into Matter — Stone and glass sculptures reflecting the processes of birth, death and renewal, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 13, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

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

Exquisite Corpse — Writings and drawings inspired by Surrealist Movement dating back to the 1910s, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 15, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Steve Linn and Robert Schefman — Sculptures and paintings, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 13, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Summer of Glass — 43rd Annual Glass Invitational Award Winners; solo, exhibit featuring Christina Bothwell, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 13, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Featured Events

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

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

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

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

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

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


Joe Bachman & the Tailgaters

Philadelphian Freedom

Joe Bachman might hail from Philadelphia, but he’s as country as they come. Just ask his fans, many of them active and former military, and take a listen to his music, which celebrates not only pretty girls and front porch beer parties, but patriotism, family loyalty, and the importance of having a place to hang one’s hat. (Bachman’s, by the way, isn’t cowboy. He seems to prefer the baseball cap.) “No one who lives in Nashville is from Nashville,” Bachman told me in a recent phone interview. “There are probably 10 or 12 straight-up redneck boys who grew up on a farm working in country music today. The majority of us come from different places, and I promise you, Philly is more redneck than most.” Bachman credits his strict upbringing with establishing his country cred. “I was a military son. Every day until I was 18, I went to bed at 8 p.m., and that was after all my chores were done. I’ve had jobs since I was 13. I went to church every Sunday. My father wasn’t a music man really, and there were only two artists played in our house – Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.” “Country,” he added, “is a lot more about how you were raised than where you’re from.” Bachman and his band, the Tailgaters – Ryan Burdette (drums), Brian “B-Dubs” Walsh (piano), Chris “Oz” Ferrara (acoustic guitar), Tyler James (lead guitar) – will play a free show Friday, July 3 as part of Warren, Indiana’s FREEdom Festival. The show will start after the parade. When I caught up with Bachman, he was getting ready for a gig in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Known as a consumate road warrior, Bachman said he’s learned during his 15 years as a performing musician the secret to stamina when on tour. “The two most important things you need to do to maintain this crazy lifestyle and keep your body in check are exercise and sleep,” he said. “We’re musicians, right? So our job is to bring the party. But that doesn’t always mean that you get to party yourself. Don’t get me wrong. We like a few beers as much as the next person, but we just have to be smart about it.” Bachman grew up in Philadelphia, but spent much of his adult life in Key West, which is also where he got his big break. Literally. While performing at one of the island’s many clubs, he met Kenny Alphin of Big and Rich fame. A few years later he moved to Nashville where he recorded his debut album, One. The 10-tracker features several catchy, radio-friendly singles, including “Small Town Rock Stars,” “Like I’m Elvis” and “I Sell Em Out of Beer.” As is often the case with Nashville debuts, the songs on One were written by other, more established writers. That’s because Bachman and his producer at the time agreed to a simple song selecting strategy: they pitted a Bachman-penned song against a song from that of a better known writer. The best song won. “It’s very intimidating going to Nashville and waking up to an email that contains, say, a song by Lee Bryce,” Bachman said. “And I’m supposed to choose my song over Lee Bryce’s? Nah. That’s a no brainer.” Bachman is proud of One, and said recording it was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but his as of yet untitled second album, slated to come out sometime this fall, will consist entirely of songs he wrote himself. The five years that have passed since One dropped have boosted Bachman’s confidence, as has the fan response he’s gotten from sharing songs like the sweet pop hit “Lookatchu” and the more serious and melancholy ballads “The Way I Used to Be,” which explores Bachman’s father’s battle with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and “A Soldier’s Memoir.” “A Soldier’s Memoir,” which grew out of a marathon, four-hour performance following the announcement that American forces had captured and killed Osama Bin Laden, addresses the struggles of soldiers returning from conflicts in Iraq and Aghanistan. Bachman was inspired to write the song when a friend of his texted him in the middle of the night, saying, in effect, that countless songs had been written about soldiers dying for their country, but that none addressed the very real phenomena of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Bachman immediately began researching PTSD and TBI, and the resulting song gets roughly 4-6,000 shares a day on Facebook. More importantly, Bachman has been told by a number of veterans that they were on the verge of committing suicide and that it was his song that changed their minds. “It’s been a life-changing experience for me,” Bachman said. “What a feeling, to be told your work might have saved someone’s life. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.”

Deborah Kennedy

Ike Reilly Assassination

Too Cool for Television

Four years have elasped since the release of Hard Luck Stories, the eighth studio album from indie rocker/working man’s hero Ike Reilly, and the story behind the long release gap isn’t what you might expect, given the tales of other bands’ dramatic hiatuses. In the case of Ike Reilly and the Assassination, there was no battle with writer’s block, no big breakup, no waiting for a troubled band member to check out of rehab. Rather, Reilly and his mates did indeed record 15 new songs, only to lose them to the ether. A hard drive crashed and the songs, which hadn’t yet been mixed, simply disappeared in the frustrating and forever way work does in our so-called digital age. “If you talk to the guys, they’ll be the first to tell you I shouldn’t be the one who handles any kind of technological or digital storage stuff,” Reilly told me in a recent phone interview. “And you know what? I really wish they’d take any mention of the lost recordings out of the press release because now I have to talk about them in every interview, and it hurts. It hurts a lot.” Likers and followers of Ike, born Michael Christopher Reilly, know that, while he’s deadly serious about songwriting, he doesn’t approach the subject of himself with any sort of reverence. After telling me of his hurt, he laughed it off. A tad ruefully, perhaps, but he laughed all the same. “Everything happens for a reason, right? And there are lots worse things in the world than losing a few songs.” He sighed. “Whatever.” Fans also know that Reilly is something of a rough-around-the-edges renaissance man. His work experience includes stints as a hotel doorman and grave digger. It will come as no surprise, then, that what some might call a side project was another reason behind the delay between Hard Luck Stories and the band’s newest album, Born on Fire. During those four years, Reilly was also hard at work writing and starring in a dark comic drama for AMC. The show, titled Where’s My Goddamned Medicine?, was in the filming stages when AMC dropped it in favor of a slightly more conventional show. “My show was sort of a modern take on Jack Benny,” Reilly said. “It was cinematic, dark, funny, poignant, cool, very quirky. Turns out it was also too smart for TV executives to understand, and in the end, they went with something else.” “Long story short,” he added, “AMC owned me for a couple years, which diverted my attention away from writing songs. Usually, I can write a song a day, but the TV show set me back a bit.” Reilly wasn’t bragging when he said he can write a song a day. Prior to the four-year gap between Hard Luck Stories and Born on Fire, he’d basically been averaging an album a year and fans never had long to wait for their addictive dose of Reilly. Following his 2001 Universal Records debut, Salesmen and Racists, Reilly didn’t waste any time putting out Sparkle in the Finish, The B-Sides, Junkie Faithful, The Last Demonstration, We Belong to the Staggering Evening and Poison the Hit Parade. The albums are diverse and idiosyncratic, but one thing that all Ike Reilly songs have in common is a commitment to layered, smart storytelling. “The best songs are simple songs,” Reilly told me. “I’m interested in humans interacting in America, the struggle between fulfillment and survival. I like language, how it works, what it means when we mess with it, and I like finding humor and irony in the darkest situations. My friends always claim they write my songs for me because I quote them a lot, but I’m like, ‘Hey, I wrote it down, didn’t I?’” In Born on Fire, Reilly takes on everything from the Trayvon Martin shooting to America’s crumbling infrastructure, corrupt office politics and the dangers inherent in telling the truth. I asked him if he’d written a song the day we spoke. “Nope,” he said. “No time. I was busy this morning, playing guitar and yelling at my son to get ready for work. I was hollering at him about the importance of preparation and being prompt in almost Ethel Merman fashion. Maybe I should start an Ethel Merman tribute band, now that I think about it. Nothing else has worked out. Why not?” He was only partly kidding. Obviously, this much-lauded musician, who describes himself as “the cockroach of rock n’ roll” need not quit his day job in favor of impersonating a 1950s musical comedy star. But, as an independent musician in his late 40s living in the same Chicago suburb where he was born, Reilly does admit to being frustrated with the fact that a certain amount of success has eluded him thus far. That’s why he’s making a greater effort to tour behind Born on Fire. The tour brings Ike Reilly and the Assassination to CS3 Thursday, July 9. “I’ve always been all in on the writing, all in on the recording, but not always all in on the touring,” Reilly said. “I’m a dad. I’ve made an effort to stay home with my freeloading kids. But this time I’m getting out there. I’m doing all the stuff you’re supposed to do to promote a record. I’m being a very good boy.” That said, his identity as an artist doesn’t hinge on mainstream success. Mainly, he’s driven by a desire to pay his band – David Cottini, Phil Karnats, Pete Cimbalo, and Adam Krier – and to continue to grow as an artist. “What I consider success is the kind of music we’re making right now. It’s being able to take a song and, through improvisation and incredible musicianship, make it the best song we can. It’s going up on stage and performing soulful, uninhibited rock n’ roll. That’s success.”

Deborah Kennedy

Steve Miller Band

Embracing the Hit Parade

These days, nobody much remembers a band called Gerard McMahon and Kid Lightning. But in 1982, there was dissension in its ranks. Three of its members, pretty much the entirety of Kid Lightning, wanted to break away and form their own band. Guitarist and bassist Kenny Lee Lewis said in a phone interview that he, guitarist John Massaro and drummer Gary Mallabar readied eight demos for shopping-around purposes. Then Steve Miller called. “Gary comes in from a telephone meeting and said, ‘(Miller) needs some material,” Lewis recalled. “He’s got to deliver an album to Capitol in two months and he’s stuck. He’s dry. Should we send him our demos?’” The artists formerly known as Kid Lightning decided that, yes, they should send Miller their demos. “We thought, ‘Maybe he’ll cover one song,’” Lewis said. “He ended up taking all eight of them.” Rather than re-record the songs, Miller merely supersized the demos and added his voice to them. Thus it was that Lewis became an integral part of Abracadabra, a hit record by Steve Miller that Lewis didn’t know he was making at the time. When Miller asked him to join the subsequent tour, Lewis sought the counsel of his future wife. “She said, ‘You’ve done three records. You haven’t had a hit. You came to L.A. – not just to be a studio guy – but to write songs and promote them. Here’s your chance.’” More than 30 years later, Lewis is still with Miller’s band which performs Sunday, July 12 at the Foellinger Theatre. The immediate aftermath of “Abracadabra” was heady. Lewis realized what he had signed up for when he performed at a Belgian outdoor music festival for 40,000 people. “I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” he said. “‘Babies are being born out there and there’s mud everywhere.’ Everyone was on a cell phone, which I had never seen before. It was definitely a shock.” Miller had been a hit-making machine for over a decade and there was every reason to expect that trend to continue. But it was not to be. “Things tapered off pretty quickly,” Lewis said. Eventually Miller made a foray into jazz and Lewis made a foray into the manufacture of musical equipment. In 1993, Miller recruited Lewis to write songs for the album Wide River. But the music business had changed a great deal in the decade that separated Abracadabra from Wide River. Lewis said the classic rock radio format which became popular in the late 80s helped acts like the Steve Miller Band, but it hurt them as well. “Here’s Steve Miller,” Lewis said. “He’s classic rock. His stuff is playing 24/7 on classic rock radio stations. And he comes out with a new record. What are you going to do with it? It’s not classic. It actually competes with the classic rock market. “It was a really strange time in music history,” Lewis said. Asked if Miller took all this in stride, Lewis said, “No,” then laughed. “He’d like it to be the way it used to be, the old model,” Lewis said. “Hardware that you completely control. He would love to be able to sell hard copies again. It was a lucrative business and a second-stream income.” Lest anyone imagine Miller to be consumed with bitterness, Lewis said Miller has made peace with certain aspects of the way things are (his fans’ enduring affection for his old hits) without accepting other canards about aging musical careers (the idea that he shouldn’t keep trying to generate interest in his new music). Lewis said many people on the outside of the music business have an unrealistic idea about what it’s like inside the music business. Interviewers often ask him what it’s like to be a rock star and he laughs. “I’m not a rock star,” he said. “I am just a journeyman/sideman who, by the time he turned 50, actually managed to turn it into a career. It took me that long to get my arms around it.” It’s a terrible business, Lewis said. “It’s absolutely, ridiculously competitive,” he said, “and you need to learn every single facet about the business.” In addition to performing live and appearing on recordings, Lewis has sold musical equipment, made musical equipment, given lessons, performed at weddings and corporate functions, and done every conceivable type of writing, including business writing. He’s produced, engineered, rented out studio space and transferred tapes. These days, he’s even writing novels and screenplays. “Everything you can think of that touches the arts, you have to embrace all of that,” he said. “If you don’t, then you’re probably not going to make it.” Lewis said he knows such talk “sounds a little dark and dismal and takes a little romance out of it for the fans. “Because they think you’re having the greatest time of your life,” he said. “I hate to burst bubbles, but it’s hard. I don’t recommend it to anybody.” But magic does still occur, he said. Like when certain audiences hear certain songs played live. “When they lose their brains and start thinking they’re children again – then a transformation happens,” he said. “It’s a Dionysian equation. Hit record equals pandemonium.” Lewis said it almost becomes a mini-Mardi Gras for the moment. It was during a break in the early 2000s, Lewis thinks, that Miller made peace with the idea that his audiences want to hear a greatest hits package and that he should be grateful to have a greatest hits package to offer them. Lewis said he knows of artists who refuse to play their hits, and he finds this either insane or immature. Artists like Steve Miller are merely vessels for “an incredible catalog,” he said. “People don’t come to see Steve,” Lewis said. “They come to hear his amazing voice singing this catalog. That’s kind of nice. You kind of have to turn it over to a higher power, if you want to get spiritual about it. “You have to decide,” he said, “‘Am I going to agree with the direction of this blessing or am I going to fight against it?’” “These fans are just thinking, ‘Can you please play that song for us?’” Lewis said. “It’s been a nice run. We’ve been out consistently since 2004. The fans are happy. He’s happy. The relationship is working out.”

Steve Penhollow

Black Canyon

A Star on the North Side

Fort Wayne is a playground for foodies if you look beyond the chain restaurants. We have an adequate selection of locally-owned fine dining establishments, and now we can add another to the list: Black Canyon, located in the former Oyster Bar space at the corner of Lima and Dupont roads. While this is territory typically out of my bubble, after hearing rave reviews from several trusted sources, I ventured north to give it a try. Restaurants in strip malls usually do not hit my radar. I find their atmosphere lacking, and in most cases the food follows suit. Black Canyon bucks this trend. I have no idea how much money the owners invested in the remodel, but from a consumer’s perspective, it was worth every penny. The patio out front boasts ample seating and a beautiful stone fireplace. (Hooray for more outdoor dining options!) Once you walk through the front doors, you’ll forget you’re in a strip mall. The décor is upscale and modern, with a nice open floor plan with tables and large booths. The bar is my favorite area. It is located just to the left as you walk in and features seating in the round with a full view of the kitchen. I love watching the hustle and bustle that occurs in a busy restaurant kitchen. The décor isn’t the only thing that wowed me. The food and drinks are on point too. The cocktail menu features a nice selection of wine, bourbon and signature drinks, and while the food menu is on the smallish side, it offers a nice variety of salads, sandwiches, and entrees. Here are a few of my favorites: Appetizers Bao Steamed Buns ($7): Steamed buns stuffed with traditional Asian barbecued pork, Hoisin and oyster sauces, brushed with sesame. I love ordering steamed buns because they typically come to the table inside the bamboo steamer, as Black Canyon’s version did. It is kind of like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning. I enjoyed this appetizer from presentation to taste, even though they were a bit on the sweet side. Tex Mex Egg Rolls ($6): Crispy egg rolls stuffed with chicken, peppers, corn, spinach, tomatoes and black beans, served with house made avocado buttermilk ranch and barbecue sauce. I would not have ordered this if it weren’t for my dinner companion, but I am glad that we did. I’ve had them on two separate occasions, and both times they were prepared impeccably: nice and crispy on the outside, fresh and tasty on the inside. I especially like the avocado buttermilk ranch sauce. Salads Avocado Kale Salad ($11): Kale, both fresh and grilled, tossed with house-made avocado lemon dressing with edamame, cashews, cranberries, cherry tomatoes, crispy carrots, avocado and crème fraiche. Including a combination of grilled and fresh kale is genius. It’s basically like summer in salad form. Thai Steak Salad ($14): Napa cabbage, udon noodles, mesclun greens and beef tenderloins, gently folded with peanuts, carrots, avocado, cherry tomatoes, scallions, toasted coconut and fresh mint. The flavors and textures in this dish are spot on and complement each other well. Tomato Mozzarella Salad ($11): Sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and red onions. Sadly, this salad failed to impress me. The tomatoes were mushy and small, and the dish was too salty overall. I’ll give it another try this summer when tomatoes are in season because I love tomato mozzarella salads, and based on how much I enjoy other dishes at Black Canyon, I am not going to rule this one out. Sandwiches & Entrees B&B Burger ($12)- An equal blend of in-house ground chuck and ground bacon topped with cheddar, blue cheese, chipotle mayo and avocado. One word: Yum! This tastes like a $12 burger should taste, and I love the salty, crunchy taste and texture of the bacon. This is a must try – and make sure you get it with the skinny fries. My only suggestion: ditch the pretzel bun. This would be much better on a fresh-made traditional hamburger bun. The pretzel bun was chewy and made it difficult to eat the burger. Fish Tacos ($14): Wild caught Mahi Mahi in a warm flour tortilla with avocado, queso fresco, chipotle crema, cabbage and diced tomatoes served with black beans and rice with jalapeno. While these aren’t my favorite fish tacos in town (Paula’s still holds the title), these rank right up there. The fish is mild and not too fishy and pairs well with the fresh avocado, cabbage, and tomatoes. Prime Rib ($25): 18-oz. bone-in, carved to order with a fully loaded baked potato and house-made beef au jus. I am a big fan of prime rib, and I’ve been on a mission to find the best in town. I don’t know if I am ready to bestow the title on Black Canyon’s version, but it is pretty darn tasty. Tri-Tip ($17): 9 oz. cut of marinated sirloin, in-house cold-smoked, finished to temp over hardwood, served sliced at a bias with a loaded baked potato and roasted cherry tomatoes. I didn’t know what to expect from this dish, and I was floored by the complex flavors presented in the meat. The smoky flavor comes through and finishes nicely with a hint of hardwood. It is the most unique steak I’ve ever had. Black Canyon is a welcome addition to the fine-dining options in Fort Wayne. If you’re interested in giving it a try, I suggest stopping in on Craft Beer Sunday or Martinis on Monday to enjoy discounts on drinks. The restaurant is also open for lunch Monday through Saturday. amber.foster@gmail.com

Amber Foster

Diane Groenert

Painting Houses into Homes

Nestled in the heart of Fort Wayne’s beautiful West Central neighborhood is the studio and home of local artist Diane Groenert. Her studio is drenched in sunlight that pours through windows, portals to the world she paints. Singing birds, a cup of tea and soothing music set the tone for a productive day of painting. Groenert needs a clear head, peaceful surroundings and slow-moving hours to get in the flow she requires to work through her paintings. “I like to have a long period of time to paint because it takes me a long time to get in the flow. Once I get there, I want to stay there,” she says. On painting days, she likes to spend at least eight hours standing in front of a canvas. Her current work is that of a charming home, lit up and glowing on a Halloween night. The canvas rests on an easel adjusted to a height that requires Groenert to stand as she works. “I’m afraid if I start sitting I’ll get stiff and grow wide hips,” she says. Groenert paints portraits of homes. She captures the essence of families and illustrates the houses they live in with details that reflect both history and personality. She uses curved lines and bright, bold colors that catch the eye. Viewers can’t help but imagine the type of people who live inside these homes and what they might be up to. Her work invites you to spend time with it, look for details and imagine yourself crawling inside a window to snoop around while the owners are out. “I try to get in the mind frame of the owner and the stories they have told me,” she says. Research for each painting begins with an interview. Before her first sketch, Groenert sits with the family and listens to its stories. She looks at family photos and takes new photos of her own. She captures all angles of the house, the front, back and sides. She takes photos of the family and mounts the collection of information on a reference board that sits in her studio on a table just behind the space where she paints. Take a look at her work and you will understand the need for such a comprehensive collection of information. Groenert fills her paintings with details that tell about the most personal aspects of a family’s life. “This family has roots in New Mexico,” she explains, “so I placed cacti all around. Their bicycles are here because they do a lot of biking, and the cloth with shamrocks on it is there because his wife does Irish dancing.” These details are often so small that, unless pointed out, a person would likely never notice them. A hat rack inside a window, a family pet or an Air Force fighter flying through the background all require a tiny brush and a skilled hand. Groenert focuses on perspective, line and color when she paints. “I use burnt sienna for the undercoat that gives the painting a warm feeling,” she explains. “I have a commercial art degree, so I have a good black and white foundation. That informs the light colors and the dark colors. I know how to bring certain colors forward to get people’s attention.” Her use of line brings life into each of her works. She curves and bends lines that in reality are straight. By doing so, ordinary houses seem to come to life, as if they breathe and dance. “I use the fish eye lens to bring more excitement to the scene. It’s all done in my head, not with a real camera.” Moving things around inside her head is something Groenert has mastered. She can paint from a bird’s eye view without having seen a house from above. “This one had an interesting backyard and I wanted to include it so I went up and over,” says the artist, describing a piece that resembles something that popped out of a fairy tale. She can paint a home as it is or she can create a retro version, capturing historic homes before the renovations that modernized them. Living in the West Central neighborhood, Groenert is surrounded by inspiring architecture. Each day she sees homes that people make a point to drive past just to admire the charm and individuality of the neighborhood. She has been commissioned to paint a total of 48 homes in West Central, and they will all be included in a book she plans to release on September 10 at the Paradigm Gallery inside the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. The book will be a collection of full color images, a collection of West Central homes. In addition to her house portraits, Groenert has painted most of the downtown Fort Wayne landmarks. She makes the city look alive and vibrant – bustling with activity and high energy. She incorporates the people who are making things happen in Fort Wayne by painting them into her works as tiny people, perhaps sitting in front of JK O’Donnell’s or piling through the back door of Henry’s on Main Street, or even the Stoner family peeking out from their storefront doorway. “Fort Wayne needed some lively images of downtown,” says Groenert. She created a series of 18 paintings, each one showing people interacting and enjoying good times shared in the city. As Groenert flips through her portfolio, she identifies names of people as if they were part of her own family. She remembers details of stories told by the homeowners of each of her paintings. She points out Betty Fishman, painted into one of her pieces, appropriately hanging a piece of art on the wall. Groenert knows this city’s history well. “I’ve been in the neighborhood since ’74,” she says. Inside her head are clear memories of the lives of those who live and work in the city. She’s dedicated to celebrating the efforts of those who strive to make our city better and through her paintings has preserved pieces of history that are no longer with us, such as the Tiny Tim Diner. “I blunder my way through each piece,” she says. “I can’t do much planning. I put a blob on the canvas and move it there, then move it over there, and move it again until it’s just right, and then I move on to the next blob. It takes a lot to get all the stuff in,” she continues. “I have to move things around and rearrange until it all fits. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle; I have to figure it all out.” Groenert is an artist who has seen and studied the pieces of Fort Wayne; but beyond that, she has enjoyed getting to know the people behind the businesses and the families who live inside grand homes. She paints the details that make up people’s lives. She’s like the secretary who sits by the water cooler collecting stories and sharing them through her paintings. The rest of us look through the windows of her dancing houses and wonder what it all means. Each brush stroke tells a story but the stories are for Groenert to know and for us to discover. “I like to get a feeling about the place,” she says about her work. An outsider looking at one of her paintings is sure to think of our city as a place of vibrancy and bustling energy. Through her eyes, our city is a place like no other.

Heather Miller

Jon Gillespie

Saving the World's Music

For the past 15 years, Jon Gillespie has been immersed in a project that could go on forever. A composer and ethnomusicologist by training, Gillespie is better known as a recording engineer. His work at the mixing board can be heard on scores of records made by local musicians. And while he continues to do that work to a certain degree, his main focus has turned to his own vision of what music is and can be. He calls the project Dream Rodeo, and his goal is to record vocalists singing in different languages. There are around 6,500 distinct languages spoken in the world today. Gillespie would like to record them all. But to even approach that goal would require several lifetimes and a global battalion of intrepid travelers armed with microphones. In Nigeria alone, for example, there are more than 500 distinct languages arising from a few basic language families. So rather than focus on the languages themselves, Gillespie has divided Dream Rodeo into geographical groups that align with the continents. And thanks to the internet, trotting the globe can be done with a mouse click. Through serendipity and active searching, Gillespie has managed to record vocalists from roughly 25 different countries from Asia, North America, Europe and Africa. To date, he has nine finished albums, with a couple dozen more in various stages of completion. Gillespie works as a sales engineer at Sweetwater where on any given day top-notch musicians from around the world drop in to record. That’s where Gillespie met the vocalist Amadhia Albee. Amadhia, as she is known, collaborated on an album called Catala: Songs of the Catalans. It is Dream Rodeo’s most recent release and a good example of the ambient, dream-like style of the project – and the mechanics of it as well. “She lives in Arizona,” Gillespie said. “All of the vocals and the flute were done in her closet in Arizona, and she drop-boxed them to me. I’d send mixes of the arrangements back to her. She said ‘no’ to a jazz interpretation of one, and I had to start over.” The songs tend to be long (seven or eight minutes is about average) and packed full of sounds. One piece on Catala has more than 80 separate tracks. If Gillespie can’t create the sounds he needs on his own, he hires local musicians and those he meets through work or online. He works with a drummer from Uganda on a regular basis, trading audio equipment for tracks. He got Bakiti Kumalo, who played bass on Paul Simon’s Graceland, and Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess to play on songs. Fort Wayne musicians Mimi Burns and Fernando Tarango both are featured on a Dream Rodeo albums, one of Celtic songs and one of Gregorian chants. It all begins with the vocalists. The concept for the Dream Rodeo project came to him on a day in 2000 in the form of Jeff Britton. Britton and Gillespie have known each other for years and have worked together on numerous ventures in the past. This day, Britton dropped by Gillespie’s studio with his niece Lydia Brown, who is a cantor in her Greek Orthodox church. Britton wanted Gillespie to record her singing and then put music to it. Brown sang three parts, two harmony and one melody, with only a metronome and drone note. Gillespie then had her sing each part two more times without hearing what she had already sung. “They have some really cool chants,” Gillespie said. “After all the parts were triple-tracked, I spread them out in a nice stereo image and played it back, and it was amazing. The sound was just full and rich and gorgeous.” Gillespie and Britton brought in keyboard player Eric Clancy to play some drum loops on a synthesizer; they threw in some other sounds, and Gillespie added some spoken lines and voila. They both thought it was pretty cool. They decided to do an album of Brown singing Greek Orthodox chants with Gillespie’s compositions added later. One recording session with Brown took seven hours. “So it’s a pretty involved process,” Gillespie said. “But my method was developed that first day.” He tends to work spontaneously, using whatever sounds right at the time. As long he keeps things interesting, freaky even, he’s happy. Britton moved on to other things after that first album, but Gillespie was hooked. Gillespie, who is 52, grew up in a musical family. His father played the violin, his mother, the piano. His grandfather was a traveling evangelist whose wife played the piano. His father had a large record collection, mostly classical and jazz. The only pop music Gillespie remembers hearing from that period was Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming, which he listened to and then discussed with his family. Later some friends came to live with his family and they brought Beatles records. “They weren’t horrible,” Gillespie recalled thinking of the Beatles at the time. At Wheaton College in Illinois Gillespie studied composition and ethnomusicology, later earning a masters in recording. It’s also where he first began to appreciate rock n’ roll. “At that time I really just didn’t pay attention to popular music, and then somebody played the Police for me,” he said. “Zenyatta Mondata. And it was like, bing! I had been studying the minimalists like Stephen Reich and Philip Glass, people like that, and here was a band that took the best of the minimalist movement and created these soundscapes in which there would be an ostinato guitar and it wouldn’t change, but the bass would change under it and shift the entire harmony, and the melody would create the other part of the harmony and it was brilliant, you know. I found it intellectually fascinating and from that point on that was like the gateway drug to rock n’ roll.” From 1985 to 1992 Gillespie played keyboards in a Christian rock band called Juso, a nonsense word they made up. The band toured the country and nearly made it big, besting 42 other bands in a nationwide battle of the bands in St. Louis. But when the time came to make the jump to hyperspace, his bandmates got cold feet. “We had record people talking to us, and man, once the possibility of the band becoming something big, that was it. I have never seen so many people scuttle the same ship.” That’s when he decided to steer his own course. Dream Rodeo is his dream project, his life’s work. It allows him to use whatever he can get his hands on, whether it’s snippets of Bob Marley skanking from the master tapes or the sound of an early morning rainstorm. He pays for the rights for what he uses and does what he can to help collaborators when they need it. Recently through Facebook he met a 15-year-old Ukrainian girl who sings old Russian folk songs and plays a type of lute her father makes. It’s perfect for Gillespie. “Here’s a bunch of these folk songs, and they’re being played by two or three people in the world, and when those folks stop playing them nobody will hear them ever again,” he said. “These songs need to be saved somehow. They’re not recorded. It’s an oral tradition. Nobody’s buying records of this stuff. So I said, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And she’s like ‘yeah, I’ll ask my dad.’ And her dad is like ‘how will we record this?’ And I said, ‘Well, let me help you.” Through his connections Gillespie was able to get a professional vocal mic and interface to the girl and her father, even in war-torn Ukraine. “I’ve gotten the files for one song so far. Got seven or eight more to go. I’m really pumped about this.” Gillespie does not see an end to Dream Rodeo. “I want to keep doing this till I keel over. So if there are other people out there who can sing in other languages, get in touch. There is just so much to do.”

Mark Hunter

Left Lane Cruiser

Dirty Spliff Blues

Left Lane Cruiser have been making solidly dirty, crunchy two-man blues for 10 years now. Each time out they upped the ante a bit, adding a little more grit and grease. Now that guitarist and vocalist Freddy J IV is the only remaining original member, he’s changed things up a bit by taking that two-man dynamic and making it a three-piece with drummer Pete Dio and bass and skateboard (yep, stringed skateboard) player Joe Bent. The result is the balls to the walls Dirty Spliff Blues. There’s no denying that Clarksdale, Mississippi by way of Fort Wayne, Indiana by way of Hades death blues vibe. It’s blues as heavy as anything you’ll hear on Relapse or Tee Pee Records. Has the sound changed that much? A little more low end and a little more growl, but it’s still the straight up blues you’ve grown to love. Maybe a little hazier and stickier. “Tres Borrachos” blows out of the speakers like a unholy mixture of Corrosion of Conformity and Jas Mathus and his Knockdown Society. It’s low down boogie-woogie from the fires of hell or an ash-covered car seat. “Elephant Stomp” is soggy from dank water and the spirit of RL Burnside. It crawls and creeps. Giving the LLC sound some low end in the form of bass does nothing but make their sound that much better. That point is proven by this song. “Whitebread N’ Beans” moves steady and solid like a muscle car through downtown looking for action. “Tangled Up In Bush” and “Heavy Honey” falter in their own chugging pistons and pedestrian lyrics, but side two opens with title track “Dirty Spliff Blues” and erases any mediocrity we may have heard previously. Elsewhere “Skateboard Blues” goes old school with some great skateboard guitar slide and Chicago-style blues, while album closer “She Don’t Care” blows some powerhouse blues right into our faces, leaving us buzzing long after the album ends. Left Lane Cruiser have been a staple in the two-man blues scene for a decade now. Even with that two-man operation becoming a three-man outfit, the mission statement still seems to be the same: keep it authentic and keep it loud. Freddy J IV and his new cohorts are indeed keeping things authentic and loud. Dirty Spliff Blues is another fine installment in the Left Lane Cruiser canon.

John Hubner

Phillip Colglazier

Still Happy After All These Years

Phillip Colglazier’s life in theater came from a somewhat surprising direction. A gymnast through his school days, he was regularly demonstrating his prowess as a Lane Middle School student. That’s not to say that other kinds of performance hadn’t begun to take shape long before that, however. “As a little kid I used to dress up as a clown and would balance on oatmeal boxes,” he says now with a laugh. “I was hanging curtains in my basement and wrote plays. My family was always supportive and nurturing my creativity.” But it was definitely gymnastics which held his focus for many years, even being part of the men’s gymnastics team while he attended Ball State University. He just knew he wanted something more. “As a male gymnast at that time, there were few outlets where I could utilize my skills, things I could do that could nurture my soul. Theater gave me a place to develop friendships and gave me a broader sense of the world. So I decided to switch my major to theater at Ball State.” After getting his first paying job in theatre in the summer of 1979, Colglazier “knew I had the bug,” and after three summers at Opryland, he completed his degree in speech and theater education. But he knew he had to take a leap of faith to assure he’d have no regrets. “I knew I had to go to New York City. I knew if I didn’t, I would regret it. I had a passion for theater, and you just need to let yourself go down that path and see where you can take it. I knew I had to do it. There was no choice.” Ironically, most of the jobs he got while in New York took him to places around the globe – Italy, Austria, Korea. Theater was indeed providing him with a broader sense of the world, but injuries were taking their toll, and Colglazier says, “I decided to start listening to my body.” Thus began a journey that would ultimately bring him back to Fort Wayne. That journey started with a year spent at the Old Indiana Fun Park in Thorntown, a place where he was able to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work that would one day fill his life. He also took on a variety of jobs, teaching gymnastics among them. Along the way he worked at Fort Wayne Ballet and gained further experience teaching dance and applying for grants as their education director. And one more interesting job helped put him in touch with community and business leaders. “The only paying acting job in Fort Wayne was as Happy the Hobo, and I played Happy for three years. What people don’t realize about that kind of thing is that I was producing the show too, so I had to write the skits, create the material, schedule the guests who were going to be on. I met a lot of people in the community through being Happy the Hobo.” Choreography also became a big part of his résumé, working with the Fort Wayne Fury dance team as well as the Civic Theatre, where he eventually accepted a position as education director and, for a time, interim director. A year spent as managing director for Indianapolis’s Edyvean Repertory Theatre was the final piece to the puzzle. In 2000 he was offered the position of executive and artistic director for the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. On the surface, juggling executive and artistic duties sounds pretty right brain/left brain, calling upon business savvy and creative inspiration which don’t always coexist. But for Colglazier, it’s that very thing which has made the job so fulfilling for the last 15 years. “I would definitely say I get the same pleasure of opening night applause when I receive a grant approval check! Really, the two roles are not that different. A good director is organized, and you really have to bring the best out in people. Those things carry over. The palate may be different, but the skill set is very similar, at least in the way I approach the position.” Colglazier points to the Civic’s two signature fundraising events – Celebrities Act Up and the Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival – as ways that he’s brought creativity to the administrative side of the organization. His own years as a playwright inspired his desire to provide a forum for local talent to get their words on a stage, before an audience. He continues to direct some of the Civic’s productions and can be seen on stage from time to time (recently in the Fort Wayne Ballet production of Don Quixote), providing him further opportunities to explore his creative side. Having gotten his start in theater in Fort Wayne with a production of South Pacific at age 15, Colglazier is happy to have returned home to share his love of theater with others. “I think the Civic Theatre is a true gem in this community. Having the background that I have, this is not a stepping stone position. This job is bigger than me. I look at kids that are doing our plays, and I’ll ask them ‘How old are you?’ and if they say 15, I say, ‘You could be in this job one day.’ Because I didn’t imagine when I did my first play at that age that I would one day be here doing this. “I want to strengthen the Civic’s place in the community so one day, when I pass it along, it’s in good financial order.” Above all, Colglazier has seen enough to keep some perspective, and it’s that mind set that allows him to enjoy all aspects of his long run at the Civic. “I try not to take myself too seriously. There’s enough stress in the world, and the job can be stressful. If you don’t have a sense of humor, it’s hard to keep your perspective. It’s not brain surgery.”

Michele DeVinney

Ricky Kemery

Painted Sky

If you think life is easy and uncomplicated, you need to listen to Ricky Kemery’s Painted Sky. The singer/songwriter’s second album is an ambitious testimony to the difficulties of making it through this world, all of it wrapped in an appealing cloak of folk-country good-naturedness. It’s no slight album, either. Kemery gives us well over an hour of songs about people figuring out how to handle things, whether that means running away from their troubles or making peace with the way things are, thinking about life’s big questions or just bumping up against the conflicts of interpersonal relationships. Even when it seems like the mood could be set to lighten up a bit, as in “Drinking Song,” Kemery puts a wry twist on the tradition of odes to alcohol. Kemery is supported on Painted Sky by multi-instrumentalists Gwendra Turney (violin, keyboard) and Tommy Myers (bass, flute, accordion, percussion); Kemery himself provides guitar, mandolin and percussion, and Austin Putt contributes rhythm guitar to the album’s opening track. For the most part, Turney and Myers stay in the background, providing a gentle bed for Kemery’s vocals, although Turney’s violin does occasionally bring a floating melody to the fore, and the pair’s harmonies broaden the choruses. In general, it’s all Kemery up front, his gravelly voice just the right combination of weary and warm. And that’s what Kemery’s songs leave you with in the end: a warm weariness, the comforting idea that even though the journey through life can be a tough one, on most days it’s worth it.

Evan Gillespie

Janet Piercy

From Ingenue to 'Mom'

Before she even knew what it meant, Janet Piercy was a performer.   “I wrote plays as a kid and organized the neighborhood kids doing shows,” she says. “I’d also play ‘priest,’ giving communion or marrying other kids. When we weren’t putting on a show or doing cheers, we would do ‘gymnastics’ on the swing set – hanging upside down, doing flips over the bars, jumping off the swings. It seems like I was always performing.” When she wasn’t faking her way through gymnastics or the functions of a Catholic priest, young Janet Ankenbruck was singing along to show tune record albums. “I loved Julie Andrews,” she says. “I learned every song from Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, all the classics.”   It wasn’t until her eighth grade year that she took the next step and made it real. “A neighbor girl took me to see Sing Out, Fort Wayne [a local subgroup of Up with People] perform at the outdoor Foellinger Theatre at Franke Park,” she says. “I wanted to sing and dance like those kids did, so I joined that summer. We learned all the songs and choreography, made our costumes. I eventually got to sing some solo numbers with the group.” Then her parents took her to see My Fair Lady at the Wagon Wheel Playhouse, and that opened her up to a whole new aspect of performance. Shortly thereafter, she used one of the show’s signature songs, “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” at her first community theater audition. “My sister Margaret took me,” she says. “We auditioned at the Jefferson Center for the park board’s summer production of Mame at the Foellinger Theatre. I really had no idea what to expect. I sang my audition piece a cappella. The show starred Ann Colone, a local TV celebrity. Margaret and I were cast in the chorus. I loved every minute of that experience. I met wonderful people who I later did other shows with.” Her experience in Mame got her hooked for life. Two years later she was appearing in North Side High School’s production of Oklahoma! She was cast in the chorus, but she was also asked to understudy Laurey, the female lead, who was played by an upperclassman. A pretty big deal for one of only a few sophomores in the cast. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music at Indiana University and a master of science in secondary education from IPFW. While in school, she performed extensively in theatrical productions, recitals and summer community theatre. She sings professionally for weddings, funerals, concerts and in musical revues. Overall, she has performed in over 50 stage productions to date, mainly in ingénue roles. “Doing theatre takes a big commitment of time and energy,” she says. “Juggling your job and family commitments and still finding time for yourself is not easy.” She did manage to find time for herself after the birth of her first child, playing Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance. “That role was very special to me,” she says. “I have also been blessed to get to do several shows with my husband or children, such as Lily in The Secret Garden, Marian in The Music Man and Edith in Never Too Late.” Her entire family appeared together in the 1999 Civic Theatre production of State Fair, for which Piercy won an Anthony Award. Piercy has been a music educator for the past 37 years, teaching kids kindergarten to high school and directing choir concerts and mini musical productions. Her three children are grown now, and her oldest daughter, Elizabeth, has followed in her footsteps, having performed professionally for Disney Entertainment and Celebrity Cruise Lines and teaching voice in her own music studio. Onstage, Piercy has graduated from ingénue roles to comic roles. “It seems like these days I’m [playing] everybody’s mom,” she says. She has enjoyed her most recent acting challenge, Marlee in Touch & Go by Rebecca Cameron with the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s 6th annual Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival this summer. It was the “most serious and dramatic role” she’d ever played, she says. As an accomplished musician and singer, she said she enjoyed stretching her acting muscles as Marlee. “What is always fun is taking words from a page and bringing them to life,” she says, “communicating with the other actors and with the audience through action and voice and facial expressions.” Characters in musicals can sometimes be a bit over-the-top. But no matter what role she is performing, Piercy says she puts a lot of focus on genuineness. “No matter whether it’s a big musical or a small, personal play, I want the character I play to be a real person,” she says. “There has to be an honesty to them.” Piercy also appreciates the opportunity to perform, acknowledging the wide range of competition in this city. “There are many talented actresses in Fort Wayne,” she says. “I would love to see more great roles for mature women written and performed.” Nevertheless, she says, “I’m grateful that Fort Wayne has such a vibrant arts community. While I don’t get into every show I try out for, I am still able to enjoy performing on stage with some regularity.”

Jen Poiry-Prough

Joe Reese & T'Gracie

The Cozy Murder Couple

Although Joe Reese grew up in Texas and his wife Pam grew up everywhere (moving from Kansas to West Virginia to New York to Louisiana), it was in Austria where their paths ultimately crossed. Joe, employed by his alma mater Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was overseeing a study abroad program, one in which Pam would ultimately participate, setting up their meeting in a lovely setting. In fact, the Salzburg tavern where they spent time can be seen in The Sound of Music. Both academics, their Austrian love story culminated in their wedding in 1980. Having just celebrated their 35th anniversary, Pam continues to teach full-time as faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at IPFW while Joe now teaches part-time at the university. If it all sounds pretty cozy, it is. And it became even more so when a bit of murder entered the story – several murders as it turns out, with the couple having just released their seventh “cozy mystery,” Climate Change. How does a happily married couple become the successful mystery-writing team, T’Gracie & Joe Reese? It’s not a big leap, it turns out, if the couple includes a writer and a mystery novel fan. “I’ve always been a mystery reader and read all of the classics,” says Pam. “Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie. Joe has a knack for writing and has written plays, essays, a couple of young adult books. I kept pestering him over the years about when he was going to write a mystery for me. I told him I knew he could do it.” When the couple was living in Louisiana and Pam was working on her Ph.D., Joe finally came through. But despite his efforts to have it published, the book was rejected by publishers who read it. One publisher, however, liked the book even though it didn’t fit its genre. The publishing company, Cozy Cat Press, asked if Joe could send a cozy mystery. “We immediately asked ‘What’s a cozy mystery?’ and so Joe started looking online to find out what it was,” says Pam. As it turns out, a “cozy mystery” is pretty much what it would seem to be. Think Agatha Christie meets Angela Lansbury, Miss Marple meets Jessica Fletcher. Cozy mysteries provide all the sleuthing fun of murder without the language, sexual situations and violence that appear in more hard-boiled thrillers. The Reeses began pondering how to adapt their project to a cozy and stumbled upon the perfect setting for their books. “I had a job interview in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and we were driving back to Lafayette, Louisiana which takes you along the Gulf coast,” says Pam. “We ended up going through Bay St. Lucy, which is a really nice artists’ community. It was a quaint little town, even quainter before a couple of hurricanes went through, and it seemed the perfect place for our mysteries to take place.” It was then that a third person joined the Reese marriage, namely Nina Bannister, the heroine and sleuth who tackles crime in a series which now includes seven titles. Though most of the stories are written by Joe, Pam makes her own contributions to the efforts, but does so under the pseudonym T’Gracie. “Since I’m really expected to write non-fiction in an academic style for my work, I thought I should have a pen name for writing fiction. My middle name is Grace, and in the south they have a habit of putting a ‘T’ in front of things. It means petite, and it’s used as an endearment. So I thought T’Gracie would be a good name for me to use for our cozies.” Joe confirms that T’Gracie has become something of an alter ego for his wife. “We have to buy T’Gracie clothes now.” “And I usually have a T’Gracie hat that I wear,” adds Pam. “So she really is my alter ego, I guess.” Since their first book, Sea Change, was published by Cozy Cat in 2013, the Reeses have added six more books in just two years. Although it wasn’t planned at the beginning, the books have followed a pattern in their titles –Set Change, Game Change, Oil Change, Frame Change, Sex Change and now Climate Change. Joe says the original title Sea Change was never intended to start such a trend. “Nina is a retired principal and English teacher, and, of course, she loves Shakespeare,” he says. “I could imagine her sitting, looking out over the water, and thinking of the quote from The Tempest: ‘Nothing of him that doth fade, but doth suffer a sea-change.’ So that title just came from that. Then as we continued to write them, we began finding titles that continued the pattern.” When they wrote a book in which Nina wins a special election to fill a seat in Congress and ultimately looks to change the male-dominated process of Washington politics, the couple also fulfilled a running joke among those who read their books. “People would ask us all the time ‘Oh, you have all these books with change in the title, when are you going to write Sex Change?’” says Pam. “And so we did it, but it’s not what you think it is!” Pam concedes that Joe does most of the writing, though she chimes in with suggestions and often enjoys developing characters. She has also spearheaded their marketing. “It is true that I do a majority of the writing,” says Joe, “but marketing the books is just as big a job because you can’t do one without the other. Digital marketing is beyond me, but it’s not beyond her so our efforts are very much 50/50.” While the proceeds from book sales go to the publisher, the couple earns their income from the cozies through Kindle sales, providing Pam with her focus in marketing. She’s developed a Nina Bannister Facebook page and has begun blogging as well. A website has recently been developed which will include updates and even recipes culled from the pages of their novels, meant to tout the local cuisine of their heroine. There is also a contest in the works to name their next book, having already rejected the titles Brain Change and Mind Change. It’s all part of their hope to continue to write these books well into their retirement. “Once I get these characters in my mind, there’s no way I can’t write,” says Joe. “They just won’t shut up.”

Michele DeVinney


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