whatzup2nite • Tuesday, July 28

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Things To Do

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National Shows

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Music & Comedy

KT & the Swingset Quartet — Blues at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526

Open Mic — Hosted by Dan Smyth at The Green Frog Inn, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 426-1088

Karaoke & DJs

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

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

Stage & Dance

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Art & Artifacts

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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

Invisible College — Group exhibition co-curated by Andrew and Shawn Hosner of Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Gallery and Josef Zimmerman of FWMoA featuring works by 46 artists belonging to the New Contemporary Movement, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 27, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

M.Y.O. (My, Yours, Ours...) — Photographs of disparity, race perceptions and race relations through current national events by Palermo Galindo, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 1 , Betty Fishman Gallery, 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

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


Mary Poppins

Family at the Core of Mary Poppins

Disney’s 1964 movie Mary Poppins was indeed “practically perfect in every way.” Based on the book by P.L. Travers and music by the Sherman Brothers, it garnered 13 Academy Award nominations with Julie Andrews winning the Oscar for her portrayal of Mary Poppins. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Disney brought the story to life on the stage on London’s West End in 2004 and then to Broadway in 2006 where it received seven Tony Award nominations. The stage musical is not a direct adaptation of the Disney film, but it features elements of the film and the original books, plus original updated elements and additional music supplied by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The story takes place in Edwardian London in 1910 where a magical nanny visits a dysfunctional family and opens their eyes and hearts to what is truly important in life: family. I found my first “theater family” here at the Civic 38 years ago when I performed in The Music Man. I went on to do two more productions under the wonderful guidance of director Richard Casey. Through him and the actors I met and shared the stage with, I found my passion and true calling. My Family. I left Fort Wayne when I was 17 years old and am happy to be back after all these years. So many great memories are in the rehearsal halls and on this stage for me. I have loved working with these actors on this piece. Each brings his or her own unique spirit and talent to tell this story and to create “our” Mary Poppins to share with you – and to be reminded also that “Anything Can Happen” if you let it.

Jane Lanier

Wayne Baker Brooks

His Blood Runs Deep Blue

Wayne Baker Brooks grew up wanting to be the next Michael Jordan, but fate had other plans for him. “Basically what happened was I broke the same ankle twice,” Brooks told me in a recent phone interview. “It was just God’s way of saying, ‘Hey man, this basketball stuff’s not for you. Leave it alone and pick up a guitar and start writing songs. That’s what I put you on this earth for.’ “I guess it’s true what they say,” he added. “God works in mysterious ways. And you can’t block a blessing.” Brooks will kick off the Botanical Roots Outdoor Concert Series on Friday, July 31. The series marks its 10-year anniversary this year with a lineup that boasts not only Brooks but MODOC, J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices, Buckwheat Zydeco, Sierre Leone’s Refugee All Stars and John Nemeth. The goal of the series is to take audiences back to the roots of American music and to familiarize them with a wide variety of genres and styles, including blues, rock, reggae, zydeco and country. Baker, who co-wrote the book Blues for Dummies, shares the series’ goal of imparting knowledge and expanding horizons. “My thing is, every night I ask everyone to open their mind,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know the blues, so I’m there to educate them, specifically about Chicago blues. But I’m also there to show people a good time, to let people forget their world for two hours. And I’ll tell you what – when we start playing, people don’t want to leave.” If Brooks’ surname sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the son of blues legend Lonnie Brooks. He’s also the brother of blues guitarist Ronnie Brooks. You might say the Brooks blood runs deep blue. “Dad’s dream was for the three of us to go on the road together – for me to play drums and for my brother to play bass and for him to play guitar – and we did that a bit for local TV stations and commercials. But now Ronnie and I both play guitar and write songs like our dad, and he’s accepted that because he knows that means that if anything happens to him, his music will always live on through us.” That’s not to say that Brooks mimics his father. His style and voice and work ethic are very much his own. “My dad is a legend,” he said. “I can’t get around that. He’s my dad, and I can’t get around that. I don’t want to. I love my dad. But you’ll never hear me say to people, ‘Nice to meet you, I’m Lonnie Brooks’ son.’ I don’t throw that around or expect anything because my dad’s a legend. I know I have to work my own ass off doing what I do to get real respect for myself.” And he has earned that respect. The Chicago native put out his debut album, Mystery, on his own label, Blues Island Records, in 2004, and the record quickly gathered its fair share of accolades from critics and fans. Mystery helped boost Brooks’ growing popularity, but even prior to that release, he was gaining a fan base thanks in part to his live performances at Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven – with none other than then first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in the audience – and and the 2003 All Star Game where he played the National Anthem. Brooks lives to perform live, having developed a love of the road when he worked as his father’s main tour technician as a teenager. It was during one very memorable tour that Brooks decided to put down the drum sticks and pick up the guitar. At first, his father was skeptical. After all, Lonnie had groomed his son to be a drummer. “One night I said to my dad, ‘I’ve been messing around on the guitar. I think I want to play guitar instead of drums.’ And he said, ‘Are you sure? The guitar will drive you crazy.’ And I said, ‘Too late for that.’” Lonnie then lent his son one of his guitars and prompted him to play a series of increasingly difficult riffs. Each time, Brooks impressed his hard-to-impress father with his skill and determination. “So he told me, ‘You know you got this. Just keep practicing.’ And I did. I taught myself how to play guitar. And it was the right choice for me. Some people can talk better through their guitars than anything else. That’s how it is for me. Playing guitar is how I get things off my chest.” Brooks’ childhood prepared him for a life of music and writing. He remembers waking up and seeing his father at the kitchen table, writing songs. Then he and Ronnie would go to school and come home, and there was Lonnie, at the kitchen table, writing songs. They’d have dinner and Lonnie would go back to writing. They’d go to bed, and, you guessed it, Lonnie was still writing. “We’d wake up the next day and dad would be at the table again. It was like our version of Groundhog Day,” Brooks said. “We’re a musical family. Records were always playing, and even started in the womb for me and my brother. Dad used to put headphones on Mom’s stomach and play Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Elvis Presley, Albert King. We were destined to be musicians.” Brooks’ career has been one of self-discovery, hard work and reverence not only for his father’s contribution to the world of blues, but to the long line of bluesmen and women who have come before him. He said that anyone who comes to his show gets a taste of what he’s learned and what he loves most in the world. “They should expect to get some old school blues, some contemporary blues, some new blues. All Chicago blues. The main thing is that the show’s a journey. It lets people know where I’m from musically, where I’m at and where I’m going.”

Deborah Kennedy

The Addams Family

Creepy, Kooky, Well Done

As soon as the orchestra began to play the theme of the 1960s TV show The Addams Family, the opening night audience at the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts started the double-finger snap we’ve been conditioned to know goes along with the creepy, kooky and delightful Addams clan. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a reaction start quite that soon in a theater before, and it was sweet and indicative of what was to come. The Addams family, led by Gomez and Morticia, are all here, and this fairly new musical shows they can sing and dance (more than the tango for which they are known). I have to say I was surprised how well all the elements of this show come together and how well the familiar characters moved into the world of the musical comedy. The plot centers on a more mature Wednesday having found and fallen in love with a “normal” boy from Ohio. She confides in her father, Gomez, that she plans to marry the boy, and much of the play’s conflict centers on his turmoil over keeping the secret (the first ever) from his wife. There are, of course, subplots involving Fester, Grandma Addams, young Pugsley, butler Lurch and a bunch of ancestors returned from the land of the dead to help the family move props and serve as dancers. “Thing,” the hand in the box, even makes a few appearances. The parents of Lucas, Wednesday’s love, are interesting and welcome additions. It all works beautifully on the Wagon Wheel’s round stage under skilled direction of Scott Michaels and his production team. The songs, though perhaps not super memorable, are fun and very well delivered. “Just around the Corner,” sung by Morticia about the comfort that death is never far off, is great. “Happy Sad,” sung by Gomez to his daughter about his feelings related to her moving ahead with her life, is sweet. Fester’s love song to the moon (yes, the moon) is funny and imaginatively staged. The actors have been well cast. A standout is Danny Borgos as Gomez. The glee he brings to the over-the-top role is amazing and contagious. Ellen Jenders makes a fine and sexy Morticia. Scott Fuss is a hysterical Uncle Fester and has the perfect face for the role. Clara Cox is a sweet Wednesday as she shows the character’s conflict between a dark nature and the brightness of the love she’s come to feel for Lucas. Kira Lace Hawkins play’s Alice Beineke, straightlaced mother of Lucas, who falls victim to a potion made by Grandma and administered by Pugsley, with panache as she goes a little uncharacteristically wild. Keaton Eckhoff plays Lucas and makes for a fine romantic interest. I kept thinking his strong voice and style would work well in a variety of roles. As his father, Jordan Edwin Andre is fun to watch as the madness of his environment takes hold and leaves him transformed. Costumes, particularly those of the ancestors representing various time periods, are just right and the props and moveable sets serve the theater-in-the-round perfectly. It’s sometimes easy to forget what a resource we in this area have in the Wagon Wheel, since it’s down the highway a bit from Fort Wayne. However, the drive is short considering the payoff provided, including this chance to see wonderfully creepy and familiar characters in a new way, showing off their song and dance skills in Wagon Wheel’s 415th production. 1kmsmith@frontier.com

Kevin Smith

Joey O

Wish Upon a Starr

Everyone handles grief in their own way. When Joey O lost his younger Start Me Up bandmate Scott Starr last November, he decided to honor him with the kind of album they would have listened to growing up together, an album that was diverse yet cohesive, culling the best from rock’s last few decades. And for some reason, Joey O decided to make it an instrumental album as well, writing engaging hooks to serve as a foundation for impromptu soloing. He also decided to mourn in solitude and thus played every instrument as well as handling engineering, mastering and mixing duties. And what fantastic decisions those were. Some of rock’s greatest hits are instrumental numbers and the 11 tracks on Wish Upon A Starr fit quite comfortably among such classics as “Jessica”, “Walk Don’t Run” and “Pipeline.” For instance, the opening track, “Starr Power,” is a bluesy upbeat rocker that evokes memories of Stevie Ray Vaughan with scorching solo after solo. “S.M.U. Stomp” is a perfect summertime feel-good song that brings the 50s into today while “Turtle Bay” utilizes a ringing mandolin to underscore its breezy melody. At 3:48 the ballad “Wish Upon A Starr” is the longest track on the album (most scream by in under three minutes) but its gorgeously aching melody makes one wish it were longer, likewise for the chiming clean guitar tones of “Scotty” which form a warm and endearing memory in notes. Not all the memories are mournful, though, as “See You Again” is a cheery, upbeat recollection of good times spent just hanging out, couched in a peppy melody that had me thinking of the perennial classic “Winter Wonderland.” Another stellar cut is “One in a Billion,” a heavier rock song that contrasts excellent guitar tones with passages of clean mandolin. Wish Upon A Starr fits right in with the high quality one expects from Joey O, blending impressive technical chops with memorable pop-rock melodies. My condolences go out to Joey O on his loss, and I can’t help but imagine that Scott would be pleased by this impressive tribute.

Jason Hoffman

Chris Rasor

Sticking Close to His Roots

Chris Rasor was born blessed with a vivid imagination, a flair for drama and the ability to entertain himself for hours on end. This served him well as an only child for the first eight years of his life until the first of his two brothers was born. Not content to live inside his own head, he was also a very social child. “I had a teacher say once that it took me 20 minutes to turn in my homework,” he says, “because I had to stop by and talk to the other students in class.” As he grew, his imagination and social skills continued to inform his career path.   He played trumpet in middle school but in 7th grade decided to give choir a try. “I fell in love with it intensely,” he says.   Although not the first in his family with an interest in performing choral music, his bigger influence was his grandfather, who played harmonica in church. “He would take me to concerts and always encouraged me,” he says. The middle schooler branched out onto a new path when a friend took him to see a Fort Wayne Civic Theatre production. “That was my first community production, and I was just in awe,” he says. “I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be up on that stage.” He went on to North Side High School, where he “did and tried it all.” He was a four-year member of the school’s show choir, Wave of Distinction, as well as the jazz choir and concert choir. He participated in all the school’s musicals and plays during his high school career and performed in his first community theatre production (Cinderella at the Civic).   Already musically and theatrically accomplished, Rasor went to IPFW after graduating North Side, earning his bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in voice. At IPFW he performed with the University and Chamber Choirs and participated in the music department’s opera workshops. He was also proud to work with the IPFW Department of Theatre in their production of A Chorus Line under the direction of Larry Life. Despite the classical vocal training he received at IPFW, he never strayed far from his theatrical roots. “I was steered toward opera and classical music, but the love for musical theater was too great,” he says. “I always had that passion deep down.” Although he studied voice and, to a lesser extent, acting, he has never taken a formal dance class. Nevertheless, he has extensive experience dancing in shows, even winning Anthony Awards for his dance performances. “Dance has just come naturally to me,” he says. “I surrounded myself with the right people in the theater community. Watching them and absorbing everything they did was my training.” Soon after graduation Rasor landed his first leading role in a community theatre production: the 2004 production of Dames at Sea at Arena Dinner Theatre. “It was my opportunity to prove to myself that I could be the leading man,” he says. Whether a leading or a supporting player, Rasor says he takes a philosophical approach to performing. “All of us have different gifts that we bring in life, whether it’s being a doctor, teacher, athlete, or performer,” he says. “To me, performing is the gift that I share with others. When the audience comes to a show, they want to be entertained. They want to escape from their day of work and forget about life. That’s my job as a performer. For that short amount of time, I want them not to have to worry about life, but just sit back and let the show entertain them.” He considers it not just a privilege to give the gift of entertainment to audiences, but he believes in sharing in the fun while doing it. “When I go see a show, I want to escape from reality,” he says. “There has to be fun and enjoyment in the performing. I approach every show that way; I want to have fun. Why would you spend all that time rehearsing if you are not going to have fun?” Rasor isn’t just all about fun, however. “I also want to take something away from every show,” he says. “Something that I have learned about myself or someone I’ve been working with.” One of the roles he had the most fun playing was Will Parker in the IPFW production of Oklahoma! that was performed at the Embassy Theatre. “It was in conjunction with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic,” he says, “so that made it very special to not only perform on the Embassy stage but also perform with The Phil.”   Performing the lead in in a big musical can also present special challenges. “I played Bobby Child in Crazy for You at the Civic Theatre,” he says. “That character doesn’t get a chance to breathe. He’s a character playing another character – one who has a Hungarian accent – and you’re constantly making sure you have the right costume and facial hair for the right character, trying to remember if you have your tap shoes on and trying to remember all your songs, lines, and dances. Pretty easy right? Gary Lanier was my dresser, and I would have been lost without him during that show.”   Without a certain degree of concentration and cooperation, acting can also be downright dangerous. “During a production of Guys and Dolls, I was supposed to get hit over the head with a tray,” he says. “The person who was to hit me just swung it too hard and knocked me out cold onstage.” Rasor is currently co-starring in his 35th production, Mary Poppins at the Civic Theatre. One of the challenges of this role has been taking place before he makes it onto the stage. “When you tell people that you are playing Bert in Mary Poppins” he explains, “they say, ‘Oh, you’re playing the Dick Van Dyke role. Are you dancing with penguins?’” He has to explain that the stage production differs slightly than the Disney film classic. For one thing, no penguins. The songs are (mostly) all there, he says, but may be in a slightly different order or even sung by other characters. “But the moral is the same and has that Disney magic that we all love,” he says. The most exciting aspect of the role for Rasor is discovering the inner workings of his character. “Our director Jane Lanier and I have had fun talking about ‘who is Bert?’” he says. “We all know he is Mary’s friend and they go way back, but there is so much more depth to the character and the role he plays in the show.” Actually, the most exciting aspect of this show doesn’t have anything to do with character discovery. “I am going to have the opportunity to fly,” he says. “I have never flown in a show and probably will never get this opportunity again, so I am super-excited.” On second thought, he says, “You might want to ask me again after they hoist me up in the air for the first time.” Excitement or terror aside, Rasor is happy to be back “home” at the Civic. “It’s where I did my first community show,” he says, “so every time I walk on that stage it feels comfortable and feels like I never left.” When he’s not singing and flying for audiences, Rasor is an elementary music teacher for Fort Wayne Community Schools. He is also the resident choreographer for the Northrop show choirs, Charisma and Allure, and along with Leslie Beauchamp, he choreographs for Homestead’s show choir, Elite. But he never strays far from his theatrical roots. “Even though I teach general elementary music, I am already exposing them to musical theater,” he says. “Each grade level watches a different musical, and we talk about characters, plot, setting, music and how it relates to the culture of that time. With my high school kids, I am always drawing upon my experiences in theatre when I’m choreographing.”   With such a hectic schedule, Rasor sometimes finds it difficult to squeeze in family time. “My wife Stacey doesn’t perform,” he says, “but she was a swimmer in high school and college, so she understands all the hard work that I put into the rehearsal process.”   Nevertheless, there are sacrifices the entire Rasor family must make. “There are times it is difficult to leave my family in the evening,” he admits, “and my wife has to play mother and father to our two little girls

Jen Poiry-Prough

Jim Anderson

The Human at the Helm

When I was a young child and my family would come to Fort Wayne to visit relatives, our most anticipated event was visiting the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo with our grandparents. Each summer we would go to the zoo and spend the day – animals, rides, lunch, souvenirs. It’s was the highlight of every visit, every summer, every year. Living here as an adult and raising three children of my own, that annual outing was a huge part of their lives, and my grandparents were always the ringleaders. When my sisters would visit with their children, we knew a trip to the zoo was mandatory. I now have a granddaughter, and we’re taking a somewhat different approach. Instead of the one-day, all-day blowout, we have a grandparent membership which allows us to take her for an hour here, an hour there, taking as much or as little time as she can handle on any given day. It’s a new way to experience the zoo, and as thousands of families in and around Fort Wayne know, there’s no bad way to experience our Children’s Zoo. It’s a landmark and a treasure, and it’s provided joy to generations. One of the many who have a lifetime of memories of the zoo is its director, Jim Anderson, whose entire academic and career plan was altered by a summer job. A graduate of South Side High School, Anderson played trumpet in the band and decided to pursue a major in music at Indiana University. In 1976, home for a few months after his freshman year, he applied for a summer job at the zoo. That was all she wrote. Within a few years Anderson was graduating with a degree in animal science from Purdue University instead of the music degree from IU. He’s been working for the zoo ever since, for the last two decades as its director. As the zoo celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Anderson is only the second director in its history. Founding director Earl Wells preceded him and laid the groundwork for Anderson’s own vision of the zoo. “We have 250 employees this summer, and we give them each a piece of responsibility,” he says. “That also gives them a piece of the success of the zoo. I’m here, but I’m not going to be driving the train today or flipping burgers or feeding the giraffes or selling tickets. All of those things are an important part of what makes this zoo successful, and we can all take credit for making that happen.” Giving each person at the zoo a stake in its success – and understanding their importance to the zoo’s mission – has made it a happy place to work and to visit for half a century. “You have to understand that no one person is more important than the newest employee,” says Anderson. “Each person is part of something big. We tell them ‘We can’t do it without you.’” That sense of team spreads beyond the zoo’s borders and into the city and region as a whole, with Anderson understanding that there’s a great relationship between the zoo and the community which has so embraced it. “Part of what we’re trying to do with this 50th birthday celebration is to get our message out to more people, to share our zoo with the community and to thank the community for all its done for us. We don’t get money from the city to keep this all going. We’ve been built by donations, admission and memberships, and we use that money to pay our staff and feed the animals. We serve the community, but the community has served us. It’s been a very circular thing.” Although open for guests April through October, the zoo is maintained all year long and hosts school field trips which help youngsters learn about zoology and animals in a fun and interactive way. Anderson says that even if you drive by the zoo on Christmas day, you’ll see 30 cars in the parking lot, since staff are always checking on the animals and the facilities. A walk around the zoo quickly demonstrates the sense of teamwork Anderson touts, with everyone working diligently to serve the thousands of visitors that come through the gates each year. (That numbers 20 million visitors in 50 years.) Anderson feels strongly that the zoo’s greatest goal is in the experience they give their guests. “Our founding director Earl Wells said ‘People don’t want to see things, they want to do things,’ and we try to provide an interactive experience. I want to provide an enriching experience for families that come here. It really is a higher purpose. It’s a pretty big thing.” Two directors in 50 years is a fairly remarkable accomplishment for any organization and demonstrates the stability which has made the zoo successful. Always moving forward with new attractions, the updated reef aquarium recently reopened and the stingray exhibit is set to open mid-summer. There are more plans to expand and grow the Australian Adventure with a new aviary and reptile house along with improvements to the boat ride. There are always possible projects in the offing. “We have two lists: the ‘want to do’ and the ‘have to do,’” says Anderson. “It’s always a matter of time and money what gets done. For example, the Mother Goose which has been sitting there for 50 years is on the ‘have to do’ list. It’s a great need of a cleaning and update. I want everything to be perfect, and it’s just a matter of making sure we have the money to do all of it.” The father of five children, ranging in age from 14 to 23, Anderson has turned that summer job 39 years ago into a lifelong career and passion. He says there are some zoo directors who hopscotch around the country moving from zoo to zoo. That isn’t his career path. “I’ve seen about 150 zoos all around the country, and I think the experience we offer our guests is as good as it gets. In the almost 40 years I’ve worked here, I’ve had other opportunities. But it’s a hometown thing, it’s a family thing, and I’ve always felt this community and this team here is headed in the right direction. It’s fun to be part of it.”

Michele DeVinney

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

Madeline Wilson

Shooting the Streets of L.A.

This past June, Roanoke’s Crestwood Gallery hosted an exhibit entitled Permutations, a series of 17 single-print photographs shot with an eye that has the natural ability to combine shape and form into striking compositions. With such maturity reflected in her work, one would expect Madeline Wilson to be much older than her 23 years. Her obsession with her camera started at an early age and has allowed her to create photographs well beyond her years. “I grew up in Fort Wayne,” says Wilson. “I lived here for 18 years of my life. I went to school here and then I went to college in L.A. at USC [University of Southern California]. I only came home for visits. My work has been an ongoing series checking in with people back home. Here is where I am today, and this is what I’m seeing.” Wilson has photographed a range of subjects on a spectrum that spans from and beyond the salt flats in Death Valley to the homeless living on Skid Row. Her photos elicit stories within the viewer’s mind. When looking into the eyes of a homeless man standing in a soup kitchen, one is sucked into photograph, wondering what the the subject’s deep, hidden stories could be. Wilson shot a large series of photos of people living on the streets, and in doing so she grew close to a population that she most likely never would have if it weren’t for photography. Friends and family cautioned her before stepping out into territory that is often considered dangerous, but once she hit Skid Row and started taking photos, the people there quickly warmed up to her. “They were more friendly than the people in my actual neighborhood,” says Wilson. “They were so hungry for human contact there. Just by being someone who talked to them and acknowledged them, they started saying ‘hey how’s it going,’ It’s the only place where I’m recognized for my profession. When I come people say, ‘Hey, you taking more photos today?’” Wilson shares stories about the people she grew to know. Her photographs captured big personalities, including the man who calls himself, Blade. This 68-year-old dresses in an outfit he crafted himself using materials he collected from the dumpsters in the fashion district. Donned in purple from head to toe, he is himself a conversation starter. He is an inspiration, one who captured the eye of Wilson and her camera. Another shot depicts Momma D, a woman who wears a brightly colored and textured hat, a woman who insisted Wilson photograph her doing laundry on the street with a series of buckets filled with water. While the people she photographed for the project had a tendency to be clothed in a patchwork of color and textures, Wilson chose to shoot the series in black and white. “What people collect creates an interesting palate, but I chose black and white because the colors can be so distracting,” she says. Black and white images allow us, the viewers, to notice elements like composition and contrast both of which are important to the artist. The choice to omit color was an editorial decision for Wilson who makes a conscious effort to take time to think before pressing the shutter button. “It’s good to act like you only have 12 shots on your digital camera. That way you have to think about each shot more carefully. You think about them more, so you have better work.” Wilson also has a keen sensibility to detect the beauty in what many may find ordinary or even downright ugly. One weekend she packed up with friends and headed out to Death Valley in search of such beauty. “When we got there, we picked up a map to get the lay of the land,” she says. “We saw all the big sights on the first day. On the second day we bought an off-roading map and started looking for some abandoned mines.” The map took them to a desolate place where they found nothing but a rusty pipe sticking up from the ground. “That’s when we decided to drive up farther and I almost broke an axel on my car. We had to drive in reverse for over a mile to get back down to the road.” They ended up on a beautiful salt flat that extended for miles before it met with the mountain range. While walking through what Wilson describes as “the most beautiful landscape I think I’ve ever seen,” she happened upon a single, gnarled bush, dead and grey. “Out of everything we saw, that bush ended up being the event of the whole trip,” she says. She took a shot and ended up with one of her favorite images, collecting another interesting story in the process. Along with editing her work before she shoots, Wilson is an enthusiastic curator who enjoys the process of paring down a series until she finds the select few that make the cut. Wilson hopes to continue to develop the freelance contacts she has made in Fort Wayne while at the same time spending most of her time in Los Angeles. She has grown to love both places, and with the setup she is creating, she will have the ability to do it. “As a 23-year-old, I’m older and doing what I love to do. I could actually have an art practice here in Fort Wayne because I can afford to it. Back in L.A., I just couldn’t.” As Wilson continues to develop, she is certainly a photographer to watch out for. Her ability to bring a fresh perspective to what many of us find ordinary is refreshing. Work like hers makes one stop in their tracks, take a moment to slip into another world and ponder the stories that are connected to each one of her works. Says Wilson, “I am constantly grateful and surprised by the way that my life is working out so far.” Those of us who have seen Wilson’s work agree that things are working out just fine.

Heather Miller

The B45s

And the Beat Goes On

Things happen fast in rock n’ roll. One minute you’re throwing a band together to help out a friend, and the next you’re opening for a legendary local band in a 2,750-seat venue. Okay. It took a little more than a minute, but for the B45’s the time between their first gig and their upcoming slot ahead of the Bel Airs at the Foellinger Theater is a testament not only to their popularity but to their chops. These guys can play. They play so well it’s easy to forget that no one in the band is old enough to vote. “We got off to a really fast start,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Ben Tarr who, at 17, is the oldest member, “It just kind of picked up. People liked our sound and really wanted to hear us more. Our name kind of spread.” Joining Tarr are Colin Taylor on bass and vocals and Sam Clay on drums, both 16, with 13-year-old Kellen Baker handling lead guitar and vocal duties. Thus far the band has played at a few bars around town, including the Brass Rail. They played SolFest and Rock the Plaza earlier this year. The Foellinger Theatre show with the Bel-Airs will be by far their biggest gig. About a year ago a friend of Tarr’s who knew him from his other band, Soft N’ Heavy, asked him if he could perform at a party she was hosting. “That’s when we threw the band together,” Tarr said. “We were told we had to have a name, so we decided on the 45s because of our retro sound. At that time we had no original music. We were playing Elvis and Beatles and Otis Redding covers and stuff like that. Not too long after that we discovered there was already a band called the 45s, so we decided to name ourselves after he B-side of the 45s ’cause the hit song is always on the A side and the B song is always the more obscure songs.” That gig was a success, and they decided to carry on not only with the cover songs but with tunes of their own. Tarr had been writing songs for a couple of years, and it turned out the B45’s were the perfect vehicle. It’s easy to assume a young band like the B45’s would do mostly cover songs as some sort of novelty act, but that assumption would be wrong. Indeed, while the B45’s do their share of covers that make the pairing with a rockabilly band like The Bel-Airs a natural, they have a growing body of originals that make you scratch your head wondering where you heard them before. Is there a secret cache of Beatles tunes you somehow missed, or maybe a previously unreleased collection of Dave Clark Five B-sides lurking in record store bins? Though settled comfortably among the B45’s’ influences, their songs are not mere rip-offs of classic 60s pop. The compositions seem familiar enough to make them enjoyable on a first hearing, yet maintain a level of coherent, confident originality that urges repeat exposure. “Our songwriting is young and fresh and appealing to the ears,” Tarr said. “A lot of younger people don’t generally listen to 50s and 60s music, but they really love coming out to our shows. They have a blast, and that’s really flattering. And we’re just having a blast providing that kind of music. We’re not trying to be retro. We love all kinds of music. We all play in jazz bands, and my other band, Soft N’ Heavy, is kind of bluesy. We play Zeppelin.” Tarr, Talyor, Clay and Baker came together through some of the same paths. Both Tarr and Taylor went to Memorial Park Middle School and attended the Sweetwater rock camps, as did Baker. Tarr met Clay later at North Side High School where they play in the school jazz band. Taylor (the son of guitarist Kenny Taylor) and Baker play in a Sweetwater group called Beatles 64 Lab Band. “I went to middle school with Colin,” Tarr said. “And when I went to high school I saw Sam play and thought wow, he’s a really good drummer. “We picked up steam a lot on originals,” he continued. “We just write a lot. And that’s one of the big pros of us being friends and getting along so well. It makes the creative process really easy. Everybody is really easy going, and when we’re writing songs it’s really fast and easy.” Tarr credits his development as a musician to the elementary and middle school programs he got involved with. He started playing piano in the arts magnet program at Weisser Park Elementary and continued through his years at Memorial Park Middle School, picking up the bass and sax along the way. “They have an awesome jazz program,” Tarr said. “They needed a bass player and asked if anyone wanted to learn. I was like heck yeah. Bass is awesome.” In high school he immersed himself in music. He started Soft N’ Heavy, bought a turntable, started listening to vinyl and decided he found his purpose. “At this point in my life – I’m going into my senior year – I have no doubt that music is the path I want to pursue in my life,” he said. “So it’s kind of weird how things work out. If you go back to the beginning, I was just some first grader who was told to play piano. But now it’s definitely my passion. I take it very seriously.”

Mark Hunter

Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits

Great Food, Great Music

I had a big year in 2008: got a new job, got dumped by a girl, met the girl, decided I’d had enough of apartment life and bought a house. It was also the year I officially woke up, as it were, to “the scene.” Sure “the scene” had been around in various forms and intensities long before my awakening, satisfying or disappointing whatever proclivities fickle audiences brought to the table, but as the Judge says in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” What mattered about the scene in 2008 was that it now mattered to me. Selfish much? Yes. Who isn’t? It was also at some point in 2008 I began hearing a new name dropped in conversation about all things downtown. Admittedly, it took a while before it stuck, since people were confusing me by interchangeably using the long and short forms of this establishment. The long form was a definite mouthful: Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, Spirits and More. Wait, slow down. I’ve had three beers. Say that again. CS3. Ah, got it. Now that’s a name the sober and the not-so-sober can contend with. I was intrigued. It took some time before I finally made it down to CS3, but get there I did. Like so many who first visit the place, I was immediately taken with the building itself. In my opinion, and I don’t think it’s a slam on any other of the fine bar/restaurants in town, CS3 is the best-looking downtown bar we have. The interior is a knockout: original light-oak, hardwood floors refinished and preserved beautifully but still water-stained here and there to give it that time-worn look and feel; warm brick walls accented by the light green of the original embossed tin ceiling; an impressively large L-shaped classic bar with the requisite backdrop mirror reflecting customers’ eager faces as they are served; and dining tables and chairs all made of exquisite hardwood and lit up in the daytime by ample light coming through an entire wall of front windows. But wait, there’s more. The patio: a neatly landscaped terrace with a large gazebo, bountiful seating, strings of white lights and awning-covered seating with heaters for colder weather. Again, not sure there is another like it. According to owner Donna Kessler, the building itself was completed in 1880 and over the years has hosted various businesses. One of the more well-known was Welch Hardware, opened in 1901 by John Welch. One of Welch’s great granddaughters recently stopped by and was very impressed by its preservation. Not sure if she stayed for lunch, but if she did she would have had more opportunities to be impressed by CS3’s delightful menu which is not just soups and salads, although they do feature prominently. House, Greek, Deluxe Caesar, and Southwest Chicken are all salads I have had over the years, and they are consistently fresh, well portioned and expertly mixed. My favorite is the Greek, which comes with pitted olives instead of the teeth-shattering kind that served up by other places trying too hard to be authentic. The Deluxe Caesar is also an excellent choice, with that just-right level of anchovies—not too little not too much. Freshly made soups feature daily and run the gamut from the traditional chicken noodle, ham and bean and vegetable to adventurous seasonal varieties like Cheesy Reuben, Stuffed Pepper, Cabbage Roll, and the award-winning White Chicken Chili. If you’re like me, however, salad and soup are often a warmup or just a passing thought. You want the beef, the grease, the hearty fare. Something to complement a cold beer or tasty cocktail. Well, CS3 has that too. The mac and cheese is legendary, as are the deep-fried onion straws. My hands-down favorites in this category, however, are the burgers: 1/3 pound of pure Angus beef on a deal-maker pretzel bun. Great flavor every time, and you have choices: the Jack and Blue with blue cheese, grilled onion and pepper, and a homemade signature Jack Daniels sauce; the Smokestack, featuring a hearty slice of beef brisket on top of the Angus, onion straws, pepperjack cheese, and BBQ sauce; and the Pizza Burger, featuring pepperoni, banana peppers, grilled onions and peppers, provolone cheese and pizza sauce. Or you can build your own. My personal pick is the Smokestack because who doesn’t like meat on top of meat? Okay, not everyone. If you’re inclined toward vegetarian, CS3 has plenty of wraps, salads,and soups to accommodate. Originally Donna and her husband Phil envisioned a lunch-only place; get in at 9 and home by 4. But destiny had other plans. Leo Vodde, who before Donna came into the picture was working on what would become CS3, wanted a bar. At first Donna and Phil were reluctant, but the sheer size of the building seemed to demand more than just lunch, so they relented. Not long after this concession, Donna’s nephew, a senior in high school at the time and fronting the newly formed psychobilly band, Sour Mash Kats, began urging her to think about opening up the back room of the bar to bands, starting with his own. Becoming a music venue was definitely never part of Donna’s vision. “I’m a huge music fan,” she says, “but I just knew that it would become so much more involved. Looking back now to that first show seven years ago, I’m really glad we took the leap.” She is particularly glad since over the past seven years she has been able to book some of her personal favorite artists like Eef Barzelay, Matthew Ryan and one of my favorites, Ike Reilly. I first caught Reilly in 2007 at the Botanical Conservatory. Really fun show. But three years later, on a steamy late July evening he came back to town and brought his young, hungry band with him to debut his latest release, Hard Luck Stories, at CS3. It was, hands-down, one of the best live shows I’ve seen in the Fort or anywhere. They played nearly every cut off the narrative-driven album with sweaty abandon and had the near-capacity crowd at the “Tiger Room” (a borrowed name from the fictional Fort Wayne venue from the movie The Rocker) stomping the floor for more. Fast-forward to a less than steamy July night here in 2015 and I was able to catch Reilly again at CS3. Once again he came on the heels of supporting a new album, Born on Fire. At an age when most performers have long since hung it up, Reilly went for broke once again, prowling the stage, looking lean, mean, and completely invested in each word. Donna and her excellent staff will also continue to invest day in and day out at CS3. Once a tad gun shy, they now relish new opportunities be it food or music. You can catch more than just a rock show at the Tiger Room. As I write this – on yet another rained out Tuesday – Jen Kirkman, TV comedian from shows like Chelsea Handler, Funny or Die and Drunk History, is on her way to the Tiger Room to do a show. I, sadly, will not be there dear readers, but here’s to hoping you threw a middle finger to the weather and your own laziness and decided to go. If you did, good on ya. If you didn’t, there is always tomorrow. Roar. dlh219@aol.com

Darren Hunt


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