whatzup2nite • Sunday, August 30

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Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival

Annual Garage Cruise — Visit garages of area automotive enthusiasts, Auburn and surrounding areas, 12-4 p.m., $10/tour or $5/garage, 925-9100


Things To Do

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival Classic car shows, 5K, live entertainment, craft show, Gatsby Gala Ball, historic tours, games and activities, ice cream social, swap meet and more, hours vary Sunday, Aug. 30-Monday, Sept. 7, various location, downtown Auburn, free (activity and admission fees may apply), 925-3600


National Shows

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Music & Comedy

Yesterday's Headtrip — Variety at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 483-5526


Karaoke & DJs

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


Stage & Dance

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Movies

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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 Sept. 13, 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

Artlink Members’ Show — Works from Artlink member artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 1, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

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

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

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

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

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



Features

Don McLean

American Songsmith

Music can be a window to the world. Take for example a 10-year-old girl whose only real exposure to art is through a couple of coffee table books, limited perhaps to a few of the Italian masters. For that girl, a song like “Vincent,” which lovingly tells the tale of artist Vincent Van Gogh, is an eye-opener. The song, opening with the line “Starry, starry night,” paints a picture almost as colorful and enlightening as the artist and painting that inspired it. Four decades later, how does that girl fully thank Don McLean, the man who wrote the song, for bringing new and thrilling influences into her life? She can only try. “Music should be more than entertainment,” says McLean in humble response. Don McLean has a long list of such songs, having been one of the more prolific singer-songwriters of the early 1970s with “Castles in the Air,” “And I Love You So,” “Dreidel” and, of course, the ubiquitous “American Pie” in his songbook. The latter alone could have set him up for life, but with that kind of classic comes plenty of both good and bad responses. “The song has definitely lasted and grown and means something to people,” says McLean. “I had 10 hit records, but that one was huge which was surprising. It just became a phenomenon. But then there was backlash because it was played so much in the early 70s. Then there was ‘Vincent’ and ‘Castles in the Air,’ and ‘Dreidel’ was off the wall. so they didn’t really know what to make of me.” But with all great songs, backlash is a temporary thing, based mostly in a reaction against popularity rather than the singer himself. Such was the case with McLean who has continued to write, record and tour steadily throughout the years to devoted fans who never tire of his work. And the public at large also caught up again, providing him with a bit of a renaissance. “In 2000 there started to be some new attention to me and my music. ‘American Pie’ was named the fifth greatest song of the century, and it all sort of grew from there. Madonna had a cover of it. Garth Brooks has done a cover too. And Ed Sheeran did a cover of ‘Vincent’ on Storytellers. Millions of people bought [American Pie], and Ed Sheeran has said how influential that album has been to him. That all means a lot to me.” McLean’s reach goes beyond his own composition. His song, “Empty Chairs,” was the inspiration for the Roberta Flack hit “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” and that title in turn has been adapted for McLean’s authorized biography, The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Songs by Alan Howard, and a 2012 DVD, American Troubadour, combines both concert and documentary elements to provide insight into McLean’s life and work. He says both are accurate portrayals of him and says he’s granted access to a British filmmaker to further tell his story. McLean says to fully understand his music, you have to look at a broad range of American music. “I’m really a fusion songwriter. I’m influenced by Irving Berlin, but also by the rock n’ roll of the 1950s – Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent. I’m not a trained musician; I don’t read music. I’ve just fused all of these different elements together.” McLean has a remarkable catalog of beloved hits but is not content to rest on his laurels, still mining stories from the life he sees around him, including a recent song about a man who lives in and wanders around McLean’s hometown of Camden, Maine. McLean says he “fantasized about his life” and wrote a song. Four of his newest songs, from an upcoming collection which may also include a greatest hits package, are now available online. McLean sees both good and bad in the way technology allows for the transmission of music and other content, admitting that he enjoys the ready access but fears the long-term ramifications. “I do have a huge presence on YouTube, and many albums are available for download, which has introduced me to new audiences. And I think as a tool to find out stuff and see things you might not otherwise be able to access, it’s terrific. If I want to find out about an actor or see photographs or look something up on Wikipedia, it’s great. But more and more people are putting their total reliance on their computer or their iPhone, and they aren’t using their minds anymore. As someone who knows 10,000 songs, I’m not really worried about using my mind, but I see people who don’t use their minds much anymore, and they’ve become very sedentary. It’s also ruined a lot of businesses which is really a form of cultural terrorism. The music business has been destroyed by it, the book and newspaper businesses are being destroyed by it, and the film industry eventually will be destroyed by it. So it’s also very dangerous in that sense. “It has also brought us to the point where Joe Six-Pack can have a video on YouTube and be regarded as an artist,” he continues. “And he’s not an artist, and it’s important that we realize that’s the wrong way of becoming an artist. I don’t care if people think that’s arrogant. Not everybody can be a pro baseball player either. You can’t just put yourself on the internet and say you’re an artist.” McLean still enjoys time on the road and is happy to continue the life of a troubadour. With 70 shows this year, both in and outside of the United States, he figures to spend about 200 days of this year traveling with his five-piece band. That’s more than usual, he admits, but he still enjoys talking with people as he travels to learn more about the world. It’s clearly been the reward for his many contributions to American music. “It’s in my blood, to travel around and see things, and I get paid to do it. I’ve been paid to see America.”

Michele DeVinney







John Németh

Coming to the Blues by the Back Door

When you call bluesman John Németh and get his voice mail, the outgoing message is a simple and telling one. It’s his smooth, soothing voice, singing, “What a beautiful day we’re having, what a wonderful day. What a beautiful day we’re having. What a wonderful day.” Kind of difficult to have the blues when one is confronted with such a sweet statement, but anyone who’s ever gone to a blues show or, better yet, played them live, knows that the blues aren’t really about being down, depressed, hopeless. “The underlying feeling is that, ‘Hey, these are the blues. Everybody gets them, but everything’s going to be all right,’” Németh said in a recent phone interview. He was at home in Memphis, having missed my first call because he and his wife were taking their son to the ER for an allergy attack. “He’s going to be all right too,” Németh said. Németh, who will close out the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory Botanical Roots concert series Friday, September 4 at 7 p.m., is, by conventional standards, not your typical bluesman – he’s the son of a Hungarian immigrant and hails from Boise, Idaho – but Németh doesn’t buy into media-perpetuated stereotypes about what sort of person should play what genre. “Musicians aren’t ever really surprised that I play the blues, especially here in Memphis,” he said. “People have come from all over, with no exposure whatsoever to Southern culture, and they can play the blues like they were born to it. The only people who are ever surprised that I’m a bluesman are members of the public who’ve been told to be surprised because, supposedly, people who play the blues look a certain way.” Németh credits his background with helping shape him as a musician. His main musical influences growing up were his parents. His mother spoke in colloquialisms that to this day inform his approach to the blues, and his father listened to Hungarian folk music which, Németh says, has a great deal in common with American blues. “We lived out in the middle of nowhere in Idaho, and my mom’s speech, it was funny and full of colloquialisms. I guess she thought, ‘Why not pepper conversation with innuendo? It might at least make life more interesting.’ And Hungarian folk is very emotional, very harmonically complex and full of feeling. When I first heard the blues, I was like, ‘Wow, this is cool. There is so much innuendo and colloquialisms the way my mother speaks, and the music has undeniable passion and emotion like gypsy music like father likes.’ I fell in love with the blues right then and there.” Németh formed his first band in high school and began playing clubs in and around Boise when most of his classmates were still focusing on SATs and homework. A strong singer and songwriter, Németh’s instrument is the harmonica, which he picked up partially because it was cheap and, when he was just getting started in the 90s, electric pianos were not. “It was the perfect instrument for a poor high school kid,” he said. “I remember I was out one day and I saw a harmonica in a case. I was already a fan of Junior Wells and Little Walter, and I thought, ‘How hard can that be?’ Little did I know it’s tricky to pick up and play well, whereas with a piano you press a note and it happens. Any note you need, you push down and it comes out. The harmonica has hidden notes. Who knew?” Németh gained a reputation beyond Boise for his powerful and unique approach to the blues. He even toured with Junior Watson, serving as his opening act, and in 2004 Watson appeared on Németh’s debut album, Come and Get It. Later that same year, Németh made the difficult decision to move to the Bay Area with his then girlfriend, Jaki. It proved a fateful decision. Németh was signed to the legendary Blind Pig Records label, and he began playing in (speaking of legendary) Elvin Bishop’s band. “Working with Elvin Bishop I learned a lot about American music, about the possibilities in combining styles I’d never even thought of before,” Németh said. “Elvin is a master at seamlessly arranging different stylistic influences, and he taught me so much about composition that really improved the records I made with Blind Pig.” With Blind Pig he put out Love Me Tonight, Magic Touch and Name the Day. Critics and fans responded to Németh’s idiosyncratic style which, again, he said might have something to do with the fact that he grew up far from the birthplaces of the blues. “I was somewhat in isolation in Idaho,” he said. “The only comparison I can make is to reggae artists who grew up in Jamaica, listening to American R&B on shortwave radio. Given the way the music was recorded and how it was transmitted, some things were lost – notes here and there, pieces of a song – so you pick up on what the overall feeling of the music is and you fill in the blanks in your own way. It’s a way of bringing a different dialect to an already established musical language.” Németh and Jaki, the girlfriend he followed to California, eventually married and started a family. As much as they loved Oakland and San Francisco and the music scene there, they found the Golden State an increasingly stressful and difficult place to raise a family, so in 2013 they moved to Memphis. In Memphis, Németh hooked up with producer Scott Bomar, who composed the film scores for Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan. Németh was soon back in the studio, laying down tracks for Memphis Grease, which he recorded with a little help from Bomar and his session band, The Bo-Keys. “In Memphis they’re still cutting records exactly the way they cut them back in the day,” Németh said. “It’s like getting back to square one, to what really matters. The talent on that record is astounding to me. I’ll let it speak for itself.” And speak it did, earning Németh, among other accolades, a Soul/Blues Album of the Year from the Blues Music Awards. It was also the most played blues record in the world in 2014. Not that Németh is resting on any laurels. He’s always making changes to his music, tweaking his songwriting and his way with the harmonica. He also has a new band he’ll bring to Fort Wayne. He described the Blue Dreamers – Johnny Rhoades (guitar), Danny Banks (drums) and Matthew Wilson (bass) – as a bluesy version of the Beatles. “They’re a bunch of young guys, really fantastic players and they all sing harmonies. Some even played my music before they joined band.” A good sign for a genre some claim is in danger of dying out. “The Grammys keep eliminating blues categories from their awards, I guess because of lack of participation? What does that even mean? And who cares about ‘participation’? If it’s only five guys out there playing the blues, it’s still five guys playing the most important musical invention in the United States. A lot of people love to mine the blues but keep it on the back burner like it’s some sort of little secret. That’s okay for them, but the blues are what I’ve done, what I love, what I’ve always played and I’ll play them until my dying day.”

Deborah Kennedy







Avenue Q

Muppet-like Mayhem

If you have ever dreamed of attending a comedy club on Sesame Street, then Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts has just the show for you. They close out their 2015 summer season with Avenue Q, their second annual Encore Series production. Known for their universally popular, family-friendly musicals and plays, the Wagon Wheel takes a bit of a chance with its Encore Series productions. “With the Encore shows, we are trying to pick smaller shows that would appeal not only to our existing audience, but hopefully to draw in new audience members,” says Artistic Director Scott Michaels. “We look for shows that were successful on Broadway but that people might have a limited chance of seeing.” They also tend to have content that pushes some boundaries for their regular season-holding membership. Much like Rent, last year’s inaugural Encore Series production, Avenue Q certainly fills the bill. “There is a reason it won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical of 2003, and is still running Off-Broadway today,” says Michaels. “It’s a great and funny show.” The musical tells the story of recent college graduate (and puppet) Princeton, who moves to a shabby urban apartment on Avenue Q. He meets a host of colorful characters – some human, some puppet – and together they learn important lessons. Much like Sesame Street teaches preschoolers important life lessons about friendship, handling their emotions and navigating play dates, Avenue Q’s characters learn about racism, love, careers, first apartments, shattered dreams, the ramifications of poor choices, sexual identity and how to find one’s purpose in life.   “I have often wondered what it would be like for [Sesame Street] characters if they had to face real-life adult situations,” says Michaels. “With this show, you get that chance.”   Michaels says he and the rest of the Wagon Wheel staff wanted to capitalize on the ongoing success of Avenue Q’s composer, Robert Lopez. Not many people realize that songwriter for the film Frozen and the co-creator of the stage musical The Book of Mormon had his first success with this subversive and irreverent musical about Sesame Street-style puppets living in the gritty real world.   Yes, the same man who wrote “Let It Go” and “Love Is an Open Door” also wrote ““Hasa Diga Eebowai” and “The Internet Is for Porn.” Realizing that some shows, such as Avenue Q, may have a slightly smaller fan base than its regular season shows (which this year included such wildly popular favorites as West Side Story and The Little Mermaid), the Encore Series is scheduled for a shorter run (only a six-day run rather than 11).   “The Encore Series is still a new venture for us,” says Michaels. “We can keep production costs down by having a short run. We have also found it challenging to get people to commit to a longer season, since kids are already back to school in the fall. And Warsaw is a summer lake town, so after Labor Day there are fewer people living here.” He is quick to point out that Avenue Q is not a show for kids – despite all the puppets. “The content is R-rated, but it’s all in good fun,” he says. “I leave it up to the parents to decide if their teenagers should see it. But if you like shows along the lines of South Park, Family Guy, Archer, or have seen The Book of Mormon, then this show will be right up your alley.”   Even non-fans of those shows can get something out of Avenue Q, he says. “It’s touching and funny with a touch of raunchy fun. I equate it to going out to an adult comedy club.”   Michaels is cognizant of the fact that the Wagon Wheel may risk offending some audience members who don’t know what they’re getting into with the Encore Series. But he hopes that subscribers will give Avenue Q a chance and that the unusual offering will bring in new audiences. “Last year’s production of Rent brought in a very different crowd to the theater, and we hope that this show does the same,” he says. “But as with any Encore show, there is always a gamble of people being offended. These shows are meant to appeal to an adult crowd, something we don’t offer in our summer season.” Avenue Q premiered on Broadway in 2003, and although the script can’t be changed for legal reasons, it does allow for topical humor to be added, which Michaels promises will happen. As raunchy and potentially offensive as it might be, Michaels asserts that the show still holds some universal truths about entering adulthood. But mainly, it’s great fun. “It’s meant to give our adult audiences a night out,” says Michaels. “It’s a great date show that has catchy music, a touching story line, and, of course, puppets.”

Jen Poiry-Prough







Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend

A Collection of Cars & Stars

With auctions it’s all about the numbers. And it’s especially so for car auctions. Take for instance the 2014 Auburn Fall auction. Well-known worldwide for its high-quality cars and its often star-studded attendees, the Auctions America event also has the numbers thing down. Big numbers. Last year some 81,500 people attended the four-day event. Those who stayed through it all got to see $29.5 million worth of cars and other collectibles find new owners. In all, 77 percent of the items offered for auction sold. Impressive numbers. And the top price for a car last year? A 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Dual-Cowl Phaeton sold for $1,150,000. Now that’s a nice warm number. Auburn Fall 2015 promises to be just as exciting. There’s a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy hitting the block that could fetch a similar price. The Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend, which runs from Sept. 2-6, is among the top auctions of its kind in the world. Now in its 45th year, Auburn Fall 2015 is bigger and better than ever. As usual the Labor Day weekend tradition will have a large number of amazing and rare cars up for auction. It will also have lots of exciting things to do for outside of the auction arena. Ryan Hurst, star of Sons of Anarchy, Remember the Titans and Saving Private Ryan, will be on hand Saturday and Sunday to sign autographs. Stock car racing fans will get the chance to test their skills in the pits and on the track. Sportbike enthusiasts can watch in awe as a pair of the world’s best riders perform tricks and gasp-inducing stunts. There will be monster truck rides, helicopter rides, a swap meet and the ever-popular car corral. The car corral is where you want to go to buy a car and the swap meet is the place to be if a car you already have needs a hard-to-find part. But it’s the cars up for auction that drives attendance. Auctions America marketing coordinator Drew Gerhart said the lots for sale should garner lots of attention. “The cars look really, really great this year,” he said. “There’s great offerings from the main three associated with the festival – the Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs – and also a number of entry-level cars for people just getting into collecting. It’s a great place to find a project. There’s really something for every level of collector and enthusiast.” A quick scan through the lots catalogs bears this out. In addition to the 1929 Duesey there are Auburn Phaetons, a Cabriolet and a Speedster, and a nice cohort of Cords. Plus Cadillacs, Packards, Mercedes, a Delorean, a couple of sweet Sunbeam Tigers, Beetles, MGs, Fords, Chevys, Buicks and a bunch of car memorabilia and car parts. Vintage bicycles, wagons and toys will get their time in the spotlight as well. Gerhart said about 1,000 cars will be auctioned over the four days of the event. This year’s auction is being touted as the most diverse to date. One of the featured lots is the vast and diverse collection owned by Steve Ramsey. His offerings include a 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat with just two miles on its odometer, an all-original 1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427/400 Coupe with just 18,000 original miles; a 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air 409 Bubbletop; and an all-original 1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible that’s seen just 177 miles of road. Other featured lots include the Duffy Grove Collection, the Frank Heiss Sr. Collection, the Suburban Collection and the Cord Trademark. With NASCAR’s booming popularity, the addition of the Ultimate Race Fan Experience seems like a no-brainer. The Roush Fenway Racing’s NASCAR racing simulators will allow two players to test their skills on the track, while a pair of mobile tire changing stations let you go for the tire-changing record. There will also be several NASCAR race cars driven by Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon on display. “They’re also bringing a car transport converted into a rolling museum,” Gerhart said. “You can check out different race car equipment.” Two-wheel sport fans get their moment too. Top Sportbike freestylers Kyle Sliger (a Fort Wayne native) and Jesse Toler will put on a stunt show that is certain to impress. Informative and mind-boggling, Sliger and Toler will put on two shows, one each on Friday and Saturday, tracing the birth of freestyle stunt riding through live demonstrations of tricks as they were developed and perfected. Keep your cameras handy. And back this year are the ever-popular monster truck and helicopter rides. Bouncing and flying. Similar yet different experiences you won’t want to miss. When combined with the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in downtown Auburn (easily accessible from the auction park by free shuttle) the 2015 Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend is a must-attend event.

Mark Hunter







Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival

The Cars Are the Stars

Downtown Auburn is about as small-town Indiana as it gets. A quiet and prosperous community of 12,000 residents with a county courthouse rising stoically above a grassy square dotted with trees and monuments anchoring a thriving central business district filled with shops and restaurants and professional offices, Auburn wears its success with an unassuming modesty synonymous with Hoosier virtue. Even the city website shies away from boastfulness. It wonders “Why Auburn?” in its attempt to attract new residents and industry before calmly providing a bullet list of its many, if non-flashy, civic amenities: lowest municipal electric rate in the state; less than 200 miles from Indianapolis, Chicago and Detroit; community-owned fiber optic infrastructure. But come Labor Day weekend each year, all that quiet stuff goes out the window. That’s when the city of Auburn throws a huge party for the beautiful, sleek and sometimes ostentatious automobiles that made it famous as the classic car capital of the world. Each year more than 100,000 people from around the world flock to Auburn to get up close and personal with the spectacular Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs that were built here in the 1920s and 30s. Now in its 59th year, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival has blossomed from an annual meeting of those who collected Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs into a three-day celebration featuring not just extremely cool automobiles, but a classic car parade, concerts, fireworks, auctions, museums, crafts, arts, food and even educational programs. Sarah Payne, executive director of the ACD Festival, says the weekend is an all-ages party that has something for everybody. “It’s free family-friendly fun both Friday and Saturday night. We have Chris Worth, Joe Justice and Big Caddy Daddy on Friday night and The Freak Brothers and Sugar Shot and fireworks Saturday night.” The real stars on Friday night are of course the cars. Payne says as many as 700 – hot rods, classics, one-of-a-kinds – will be on hand for the Downtown Cruise-In. The cruise-in takes place at the courthouse square. The streets will be closed to accommodate all the cars and all the people who will be milling around. The bands will be playing nearby; the Fort Wayne Food Trucks will be there; there’s even an ice cream social. The Official Auburn Cord Duesenberg Beer Tent presented by Main Street Bistro invites you to “take in the sights, relax with friends and grab a cold one. Enjoy our live music, beautiful cars and friends and wet your whistle while you walk.” Sounds like a good plan. But that’s just a smidgen of the planned events. Throughout the days of Friday, Saturday and for a good part of Sunday, festival goers have a full menu of options, from museum tours at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum and tours of the city to fun activities for children including an automotive bounce house and vintage backyard games. Sunday is the annual arts and crafts show, sponsored by the Downtown Auburn Business Association. There are flea markets, swap meets, kids tours, a speakeasy. The list of events is 40-plus pages long, so be sure to pick one up early. Everybody loves a parade, right. Well on Saturday at 1 p.m. the Parade of Classics begins. ACD Club members get behind the wheels of their classics and drive them slowly through the streets of Auburn. It’s a good chance to see these cars in action. It’s also a good chance to meet new people from all over the country and from around the world. Payne says it’s quite common for car enthusiasts from different parts of the planet to make the pilgrimage to Auburn, not only to look at the cars but to get a taste of a truly American event. “This is one of the things that is on a lot of people’s life lists,” Payne says. “People come from everywhere. That goes for the car owners as well. Since this is the annual meeting for the ACD Club, it’s not unusual for car owners to come from overseas and bring their cars with them.” Payne says the ACD Club was the starting point for the festival. “If you think about it, back in the 50s these cars were old but not really classics. Some of the folks from the club started to pull some of the owners together and thought it would be fun to go back to where these cars came from. So they made their first trek to Auburn back in the 50s. And some of the local folks recognized the value of this club coming to town and really rolled out the red carpet for them. It started out as a Chamber event and has just been growing ever since.” Then, of course, there are the auctions. Two separate auctions will be held over multiple days during the festival. Auctions America holds its annual Auburn Fall auction at its park while Worldwide Auctioneers hosts events at the National Auto and Truck Museum. With all this going on in a city of 12,000 it’s understandable to think that parking might be a nightmare, that the crowds will be overwhelming and that the whole thing is just about cars anyway, so what’s point? Not to worry. There’s plenty to do for the non-car enthusiasts out there. We’ve already covered that. As for parking, Payne says there is plenty of on- and off-street parking to handle the load. Plus there is a trolley service running between the activities downtown, the museums and the Auctions American Auction Park. The trolley runs from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. “There are a lot of moving parts and different organizations that are a part of this,” Payne says. “There are the museums, two auctions and a lot of clubs and organizations and businesses that collaborate with us. There are lots of different activities that happen that are put on by these partner organizations. It allows us to have a whole lot to offer visitors over that weekend.” It’s also something the city might consider adding to its list of reasons to consider Auburn. After all, any community of this size that can successfully pull off an event this huge and do it for almost 60 years must have something pretty good going on.

Mark Hunter







all for One productions

New Season, New Digs

For its 2015-16 season, all for One Productions will have a new home. Having started small as a traveling theater troupe, all for One is used to moving about. Most recently they called the Allen County Public Library theater home. While it was a good home, the vision of the troupe grew larger than what the space could provide. When an opportunity arose for them to move into the PPG ArtsLab in the Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Artistic director, Lauren Nichols, was thrilled. “When I was growing up here in the 1970s, Larry Life was doing all his studio shows in Kettler Hall. I didn’t know it was called Black Box [Theater], but I knew how exciting it was that every time you went the stage looked different [and] was in a different part of the room. There was an extra energy because of that factor, and we get to do that now. Fort Wayne audiences haven’t had that experience in quite a long time.” What part of moving is Nichols most excited about? Lighting! The move “allows us to do multiple-level sets we never could before. In the theater we used at the library, we had to have movable sets that we would bring in, and they could not be fixed to the floor. We had to be careful not to damage the flooring there. Now we can build secure structures right on the stage, configure it to what we need and use lighting in ways we never could before. We can do visual effects we could never do before. We are very excited. A whole new world has opened up for us.” Nichols went on to add that the new location itself was a breath of fresh air. Having spent so much time hidden away in the basement of the library, moving to the Auer Center was like an awakening. “ The night Around the World in 80 Days opened there was an Artlink gallery opening, the ballet was rehearsing upstairs and the Pembroke Bakery was humming. I’m exited to be right in the heart of the arts community. I’m excited to bring our audiences in and to give them that experience.” Producing four shows again this season, each one will stretch the imagination and use the fullest extent of the facilities. First up will be a world premiere musical called Bend Us. Other shows include Just So Stories, Turtle Soup and Jane Eyre. Families coming this year will not only laugh and be entertained, but will learn, reflect and even be introduced to one of the classical greats in literature. The theater experience this year is designed to bring afO’s audiences face-to-face with the actors and being intimate enough that audiences will feel part of the production. Several productions will have attendees actually crossing the stage itself in order to reach their seats, a far cry different from their previous stage home with its traditional staging. “Our first three shows will be three different configurations, and this just excites me,” Nichols said. “It may not be a big thing, but I really think our audiences are going to enjoy that added feature of wondering how we are going to stage things.” This season’s line up has been chosen carefully in order to make the best use of this kind of extra personal experience. Bend Us, a musical by local writer, musician and pastor Dave Frincke, will have its world premiere September 18-27. “Bend Us is a full musical, but not a traditional musical in the Broadway sense,” Nichols explained. “It’s a musical with contemporary music by Frincke, mostly in which characters express internal dialog mixed with historical hymns of the day.” It’s a truly captivating story told through the eyes of a young girl on the verge of womanhood and swept up in a monumental wave of spiritual renewal. The cast is so changed in the course of the production that Nichols says audiences will feel it from their seats. The musical focuses on a series of events that change an entire culture, leading to a revival in Wales. It spreads like wild fire through the countryside, even moving swiftly across the ocean. The set will allow audiences to not simply peer inside a home, or a church, but a mineshaft, its vast dangers and everywhere in between. This play will give audiences a chance to be swept away to Wales and back in time. While it is rated G, middle schoolers to adults will appreciate it best. Just So Stories will run from November 13-22 and is Joseph Robinette’s adaption of five charming Rudyard Kipling tales. An area premiere, the show is specifically designed for the youngest of audience members and is a perfect show to introduce kids to the world of theater. With a cast of all children, this show will not only inspire the budding theatergoers, but will bring out the kid in everyone. They’ll be especially excited as they enter a magical world, walking through special doorways and across the set as they reach their seats. They will join Elsie, who is in need of serious distraction while her parents are traveling abroad, in a creative wait. Her father wrote some stories for her, and to pass the time, she decides to act out father’s lively and imaginative scenes, all leading to a surprise twist ending. With a fast pace, quick costume changes and a chance to guess what character is coming up next, this show is perfect for the whole family to come see together. Next up is Turtle Soup, running February 19-28. Local playwright Michael Wilhelm premiered his hilarious and shockingly entirely true play about the origin of Churubusco’s Turtle Days back in 2011. In his fun look at a local tradition, we see through comedic proof that truth is much stranger than fiction. All for One’s new staging ability and style, mixed with an assortment of skeleton sets and the use illusion to create multiple locations across a large stage area will bring excitement to it. You will want to bring the whole family over to gain some laughs along with a rib-tickling history lesson that will make you want to take a drive through our neighboring town on your next Sunday drive. The final show of afO’s season is another special one. Jane Eyre, April 29-May 8, is the world premiere for Nichols’ adaptation of one of the most cherished and highly regarded British novels in literature. Taking an unusual approach to the storytelling style, Nichols’ play will treat audiences to flashbacks and theatrical effects to bring the classic tale to life and is a perfect way to introduce a new generation to Charlotte Bronte’s classic and to see Jane Eyre in a new light. While many may know this story well, this fresh approach should keep audiences hopping the whole way through. This play is more suited for those in the PG range due to the subject matter, but it’s a great family play for those with older children. Be sure to mark your calendar today for these dates. You wont want to miss a single show. It’s going to be an exciting year.

Christi Campbell







The Hoppy Gnome

A Big City Feel Downtown

There’s nothing more exciting for a foodie than a new restaurant opening in town, especially when it’s locally owned and located downtown, so when news hit about The Hoppy Gnome, I was beside myself with anticipation. Owned by the same folks as Baker Street Steakhouse, it opened a few weeks ago on the ground floor of the Anthony Wayne Building, a former office building at the corner of Berry and Clinton streets. I’ll admit I was skeptical about the location because there’s a perceived lack of accessible parking, but since its opening the place has been slammed, and for good reason. The Hoppy Gnome serves a variety of tacos, tortas, salads and starters. It also boasts an extensive craft beer menu which rotates regularly. Before I get too far into the food and drinks, though, I have to mention the ambiance. Fort Wayne is the second largest city in the state, but I don’t often feel like I am in a big city. Walking into The Hoppy Gnome changed that for me. The entire place is lined with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook The Courthouse Lawn and Citizen’s Square. I’ve visited during lunch and dinner, and there has been considerable foot traffic outside, which lends to the feeling that you’re right in the heart of the hustle and bustle – and it makes for good people watching. The décor is sleek, upscale and contemporary, featuring unfinished wood and exposed ductwork in the ceiling. It also features outdoor seating along Berry Street, another bonus. The Hoppy Gnome has nailed the big-city feel, and that’s exactly what we need. Beyond the ambiance, the food is unique and well executed. The Hoppy Gnome focuses on fresh ingredients, and everything is made in-house. Tacos are the focus, and guests have the option of choosing two for $9 or three for $13. Here are a few of my favorites: La Taqueria: Choice of carnitas, short rib or chicken with onions, cilantro and salsa verde. This taco is perfect in its simplicity. The well-seasoned meat is complemented with the bite from the onion and the tart of the salsa verde. Pork Belly Monfongo: Crispy mashed plantain, sous vide pork belly and sweet corn relish. I am a big fan of pork belly, and these tacos present them in a delicious format. I like the contrasting salty and sweet, though I felt it was missing something like a sauce, as it was a bit dry. Dryness aside, the flavor is spot on and I’ll definitely get it again. Dante’s Inferno: Garlic-chili tempura chicken, avocado, pepperjack cheese, seven levels of hell hot sauce and sweet potato threads. I was scared to try this one at first because of the hot sauce (I can be a wimp when it comes to spice), but this taco is delightfully unique. The flavors combine with the varied textures in a mouthwateringly pleasing way. It’s a must-try. Duck Confit: Mapleleaf Farms duck leg, pasilla pepper infused olive oil, chipotle and tart cherry salsa and queso fresco. If there is duck on a menu, you can count on me to order it. I adore these tacos. The duck is prepared impeccably, and I especially enjoyed the punch of spicy and sweet from the salsa. The queso offsets the texture of the duck for a simply exquisite taco experience. Other highlights from the menu: Fattoush ($8): A salad made with romaine, Peruvian peppers, cucumbers, red onion, scallion, chickpeas, olives, crispy pita, feta cheese and champagne-white balsamic vinaigrette. I appreciated the presentation of this salad, and it was just the right size for lunch. It is pleasantly simple and fresh. Ceviche ($9): Sashimi grade tuna, serrano pepper guacamole, mango salsa,\ and tortilla chips. Ceviche can go either wonderfully right or terribly wrong. The Hoppy Gnome nailed it with quality tuna and fresh guacamole and salsa. The kick from the serrano pepper guacamole was tempered well by the sweet mango salsa. I foresee a lot of this ceviche in my future; however, I’d go out on a limb to call this guacamole and not ceviche, as it didn’t have as much tuna as I was expecting. S’mores ($5): Housemade Tahitian vanilla bean marshmallows, dark Belgian chocolate bark and housemade graham crackers. This is a real treat. It comes to the table with an open flame so you can toast your marshmallow and assemble your S’mores. A super fun dessert for sharing, and it tastes pretty good too. Another bonus? The Hoppy Gnome is open on Sunday! I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to go out for dinner on Sunday, only to find that many places are closed. For this reason, and all the others mentioned above, The Hoppy Gnome is a welcome addition to the downtown food scene. The wait staff was prompt, courteous, and knowledgeable. The owner came to my table at each visit and was eager to hear feedback – always a good sign. The rotating craft beer menu is a big draw, and the White Sangria is a little too good for its own good – clean, crisp and refreshing. I can’t wait to visit again. amber.foster@gmail.com

Amber Foster







Al Moll

The Man In Charge of Fun

With an eclectic resume which includes private businessman, corporate employee and a stint as Fort Wayne’s first deputy mayor in the Graham Richard administration, Al Moll was already deeply entrenched in the community by 2005. A Kansas native, Moll grew up in the Washington, D.C. area before moving to Fort Wayne in 1984. By the time he became deputy mayor, Moll was already interested in working for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, but when a search commenced to find a new director, Moll chose to see where the national search led. When none of the candidates quite filled the bill, Moll decided to throw his hat into the ring and, as a result, has now been director for 10 years. In that decade, Moll has tapped into his varied professional experiences to bring solid leadership to Fort Wayne Parks & Rec, a department which is not only among the most respected in the city but also the most beloved. Each neighborhood has its own parks, and every citizen seems to be attached to their favorite, most likely the one they frequented growing up or the one where they had their wedding or took their children. It’s a public trust that Moll takes very seriously.   “Of all the things I’ve done professionally over the years, this is by far the most rewarding. It’s a great opportunity, and I feel blessed and honored to have it. There’s an incredible amount of support in this community which treasures its park system. We have both seasoned and young staff members who are all so energetic. Everybody wants to work for the parks system because we love seeing the fruits of our labors.” That staff includes over 100 full-time, year-round employees, plus an additional 40 to 50 which provide seasonal support. In the summer, those numbers grow to 400 more who help run 1,500 programs to serve the community. Having just celebrated the department’s 110th anniversary with a community party at Headwaters Park, Moll says that support from not only the mayor’s administration, but from the citizens of Fort Wayne makes the continued growth and expansion possible. “Some people don’t realize that Headwaters Park and the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo are part of Fort Wayne Parks & Rec. We let the Zoological Society run the zoo, and I know enough to just stay out of Jim Anderson’s way because they do a great job there. But they’re part of our system, and they’re an example of how, while we’re a government entity, most of our programs are self-sustaining. We also have a Park Foundation which has set up endowments for some of our parks. Freimann Square, for example, is completely endowed, so all the money to maintain it comes from that endowment. Headwaters Park, the Courthouse Green and Lakeside also have endowments.” Recent upgrades to McMillan Park, with a new community center which repurposes the old ice rink, has provided basketball, soccer and technology programs, all designed to fill a void and serve the underserved in our community. A new playground at Kreager Park, which includes a splash pad, is “Disney-like” in its offerings, says Moll. He also notes that Foster Park is considered “The People’s Park,” one of the crowning jewels in the city. “We try to maintain the parks and offer programs that get kids outside to enjoy nature,” says Moll. “It’s a little harder to do these days, but we know it’s better for their health if they have reasons to go outside. We try to keep our programs reasonably priced which attracts more people, but these programs have a strong tradition in this community.” One of the biggest changes to the parks system during Moll’s era has been the explosive growth of the Foellinger Theatre in the last several years. From the time he took the position as director, he saw the theatre’s potential and sought to do something about it. “I really drove that expansion. When I took the job in 2005, there were 10 to 15 free events in the theatre each year, and attendance at those was next to nothing. It was a great place to have free movies and free concerts, and we still offer all of that. But sometime around 2006 or 2007, we booked the Grass Roots to play and charged maybe $10 admission. Maybe not even that. “We were just looking to see what would happen if we had concerts in there, and the show sold out. So we started bringing in more acts like Grand Funk Railroad and some cover bands. Hotel California has been coming here every year and will be back again next year for its seventh consecutive time. Each year when they come they draw a bigger crowd.” As the concert schedule at Foellinger continued to grow, Moll decided to take a chance and book a band who cost a little more, whose ticket price was a little higher, just to see what might be possible. “Our turning point in 2012 was when we brought in Huey Lewis & the News. We’d already had some big names come in – we’d had groups like Three Dog Night the year before – but we took a chance with some bigger, more expensive names, and the risk paid off. So the following year, we brought in Chicago, America, Little River Band, Kansas, and pretty soon, promoters were contacting us, trying to book shows here. “Now we’re working with Pacific Coast Concerts, and we have some of the biggest lineups ever. When our summer series is announced, it’s a big community event. This past year we crashed the city’s website because as soon as the tickets went on sale, there was such a high volume trying to register on the site.” Aiming for the baby boomers, and now looking to the next generations, Moll has perfectly targeted the audience for the summer concerts, and ticket and concession revenues not only pay for the show but provide additional monies for upgrades to the theater, which has recently included a new rigging system and a likely upgrade of an already elaborate sound system. Recent renovations to the stage, which no longer includes a cover to a defunct orchestra pit, allowed for additional seating closer to the stage. “We sought input from the bands that played here, and they wanted less distance between them and the audience,” says Moll. “So now we have additional seats, which provide more revenue and allow for the bands and the audiences to be closer. The bands that play here tell other bands what a great experience they have, and that helps spread the word. Mike Love of the Beach Boys said what a great experience they had in Fort Wayne last year, which is why they came back again this year. He’s been all over the world, and he has great things to say about playing at the Foellinger.” Although 2015 has been a mixed bag – Moll says the success of the concert series built him up while flooding and fallen trees brought him back down to earth – he is happy with the growth he’s seen during his tenure and looks forward to continuing in the role. “Although budgets are strained at times, we’re still able to take care of the community, and these concerts are the icing on the cake. It’s great when people come up and say you’re doing a great job, but it’s really about so much more than me. It’s a pleasure serving the public and serving this park system.”

Michele DeVinney







Anna Lee Huber

Historical Sleuthing

Anna Lee Huber thought for many years she wanted to be a singer. A native of Hicksville, Ohio, she grew up dreaming rock star dreams, and in college she majored in music and psychology. It wasn’t until years later that she rediscovered one of her first loves – writing – and good thing she did, because now Huber, who resides in Fort Wayne with her husband and daughter, can add “best-selling author” to her already impressive list of accomplishments. Huber is the author of the Lady Darby mysteries, a four-book strong series set in 19th century Edinburgh. The books – The Anatomist’s Wife, Mortal Arts, A Grave Matter and the latest, A Study in Death, which hit shelves July 7 – follow the adventures of Lady Kiera Darby, a talented portrait painter turned reluctant homicide investigator whose short-lived and unhappy marriage to an anatomist makes her a much sought-after crime scene expert. Huber decided to write the Lady Darby series partially to please herself. A fan of historical fiction, she wanted to immerse her readers in a world different from their own. “All the elements in my book are the kinds of things I gravitate toward as a reader,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I love history and romance. They say ‘write what you love.’ These are things I love, they’re the things that get my imagination going.” She also wanted to create the kind of character she would love to follow. Unlike the female protagonists of many mystery stories, Kiera Darby is not a social darling. Instead, she is shy and retiring, and it’s her expertise, not her infectious charm, that makes her an essential part of the investigations that form the backbone of the books. “There are so many mysteries out there about female detectives whose charm is what sets them apart. Those are great,” Huber said, “but I wanted to do something different. Lady Darby is awkward in society, she’s shy and retiring and doesn’t enjoy the spotlight, but her skills make her so valuable.” Choosing the setting and time period that would prove the perfect backdrop for Lady Darby’s life required a bit more research, another passion of Huber’s. Knowing that she wanted Lady Darby to be a portrait artist, she started digging into the history of the discipline of anatomy and came across material on the Burke and Hare Trial. The case, which scandalized 1820s Scotland, concerned two Irishmen – William Burke and William Hare – who murdered men on the streets of Edinburgh for the purpose of selling the cadavers to Dr. Robert Knox, a renowned anatomy lecturer. “The time period was a no-brainer,” Huber said. “There was a lot of political turmoil, and just a couple years after the trial a number of reform acts were passed, including the Anatomy Act which changed the way medical schools dealt cadavers obtained for research purposes. The early 1830s inhabits this neat little cusp in history, after the crazy body-snatching period and before the reform.” Huber clearly did her homework before she sat down to write her first Lady Darby mystery, but what she couldn’t have prepared for was the critical and popular reception of her work. The Anatomist’s Wife made her a nationally best-selling writer and the three Lady Darby books that followed solidified her reputation as a mystery writer to watch. And, of course, read. “I feel really, blessed,” she said of her success. “It’s a dream come true excitement kind of feeling.” Huber’s dreams have changed a bit since she was a young girl growing up in Hicksville with four brothers and a sister and fantasizing about life as a pop star or even a celebrated soprano. But even back then, she was an avid reader and reading fed her love of writing. “At one point I thought I should try writing stories of my own,” she said. “I was always making them up in my head, so it was a natural progression to start writing them down. I loved creating my own worlds. I even made up my own Nancy Drew-type series.” Only time will tell whether Lady Kiera Darby joins Nancy Drew in the pantheon of female detectives that have become household names, but in the meantime Huber is hard at work writing the next part of Darby’s story. Over the course of the four-book series, Kiera Darby and a fellow investigator, Sebastian Gage, have fallen deeply in love and are now engaged. A novella, entitled A Pressing Engagement, is slated to come out May 17, and the fifth full book, As Death Draws Near, should hit shelves next July. Huber’s goal as a writer is to entertain, and she also wants her readers to identify with her characters, to find them life-like and relatable. In particular, she hopes Lady Darby’s story of triumph over adversity – Kiera’s husband, the anatomist, was an abusive brute – will strike a chord. “Everyone has their own darkness, their own shadows to move past,” Huber said. “Lady Darby’s story is a journey from a period of darkness to one of strength and happiness. I hope the books give other people the encouragement to do the same thing.” The life of a writer is not an easy one; rejection and poverty and periods of darkness and shadows are all part of a writer’s life. Huber’s advice to aspiring writers is simple: read a lot and keep writing. “Read what you want to write. Examine how they’re doing it, discover the tricks of the trade, but really just keep writing. The best way to write is to write and write and write and write. Find that voice that is uniquely yours and use it.”

Deborah Kennedy







BC Fuzzz

Familiar Songs You Won't Recgonize

Being a musician boils down to two basic skills: knowing what to play and knowing when to play it. Implicit in the first, of course, is knowing how to play what to play. And getting the second thing right means knowing how to count in ways non-musicians don’t understand, so that when the when arrives you’re already there playing. Or stopping playing. For musicians who mostly play cover tunes, the what and the when of the playing are pretty much already settled. There are variations in phrasing and tempo and chord structure and instrumentation that can alter a song ever so subtly, but for the most part, cover bands stick to the song the way it was written, and the people listening are happy because they recognize the song (Hey! That’s “Sugar Mountain!”) and the people playing are happy because the people listening are happy. Everybody’s happy. Everybody might also be a little bored. But so what? That’s not to say any of this is easy. Or always tedious. Very good bands build very good reputations playing other bands’ songs. A good version of “Sugar Mountain” or “Straight, No Chaser” generally warrants another round. Which brings me to BC Fuzzz. BC Fuzzz are ostensibly a three-piece cover band. They play songs by a variety of popular artists from a variety of genres sprinkled with some originals like a lot of cover bands. But there the similarity ends. BC Fuzzz – Dan Mihuc, guitar and vocals, Bryan Nellums, drums and Tim Beeler or Marco Franco, bass, depending on who’s available – take tunes and run them through an atom smasher, then reassemble them in some sort of improvisation machine. The result is music that makes you lean forward. Forget online brain workouts. BC Fuzzz will open parts of our brain you never knew were there. “If we’re going to do cover songs, we want them to be ours,’ Mihuc said. “We change the tunes, the chord progressions. Don Henley has this song ‘Boys of Summer’; we do it like an R&B folk tune. I really dig that. The whole approach to the band is to draw the audience into what we are doing. Some of the lyrics will be familiar, but the music and the groove and the approach [are] different. I guess that’s how I try to suck people in. It think it’s a good formula. People come up to me after the show and say I can’t believe that was that song.” Most people know Beeler and Mihuc from their previous work – Beeler as a member of Fawn Liebowitz and a score of other bands and session work, and Mihuc through the Freak Brothers and his solo stuff. Nellums is relatively new on the scene. He worked with Voices of Unity on their triumphant world tours and did brief stints with the Afro-Disiacs and Elephants in Mud. Franco may not be as familiar a name in these parts as his home state of Michigan, but his reputation is huge. Mihuc says playing with these guys is a guitar player’s dream. “Tim is one of the most sought-after bass players in town. He’s played with everybody, like all the Sweetwater stuff that’s going on. Any time Sweetwater has a clinic, he gets the call. He’s just a certified bad ass. And then I’m so lucky, Marco is my No. 2 guy. He’s absolutely fantastic. He toured the world with blues acts for probably 15 years. “Nellums hasn’t really done too much for any length of time. He was just getting established on the scene in 2011, and everyone knew who he was instantly. When we were doing those open mic jams, everybody was like, okay, I want you to play with my band. Everyone was trying to snatch him up. I was lucky.” BC Fuzzz came together during those open jam sessions hosted by Dave Pagan at the now defunct Mid City Grill. Pagan called Beeler and Nellums, and then Mihuc came on board. They were the backup band for anyone who wanted to play. They would jam whenever no one claimed the stage. After doing this awhile, a thought popped into Mihuc’s head. “I was like, ‘Guys, we need to do a trio, and we’ll call it BC Fuzzz.’” Since then BC Fuzzz have started a buzz. I first caught wind of the band a few years ago while sitting at the bar at The Venue (formerly Skip’s) in Angola. A guy I know who knows Mihuc said something was brewing with Mihuc and Beeler. Earlier this year The Venue reignited the legendary Wednesday night blues gigs and had BC Fuzzz as regulars the first three months. Mihuc is choosy about where the band will play. It has to be the right crowd, the right place. They have four gigs in the next two months, August 22, September 19 and October 17 at Club Soda and August 28 at Nick’s Martini & Wine Bar. “Basically we only play just a couple places around town,” he said. “Club Soda primarily, Nick’s. We played Ribfest and a couple openings for bars around town. We don’t do a whole lot of regular gigging at regular bars. The 10 to 2 thing kind of left me a few years ago. I get to pick and choose the gigs that I want to play. I’m very careful about that. I only want to play the best spots.” And the best spots deserve the best music. BC Fuzzz challenge themselves and the audience. For Mihuc, any song is on the table. “I’m fearless,” he said. “I don’t care. We try to keep each other off balance. We play a Bruno Mars pop tune. Some guys are like, ‘I’m not playing a Britney Spears tune.’ But if the chords are good and you put the time in to put a twist on it and make it your own and it’s interesting, then I think any song is approachable.”  

Mark Hunter







Emily Arata

The Center of Attention

Emily Arata says that she was a sensitive, talkative child who had an opinion about everything and liked to be the center of attention. She also claims that not much has changed. “I was always interested in performing,” she says. “I used to act out the books my mom read me using props and costumes. I studied with the Fort Wayne Ballet until sixth grade and had the coveted role of Party Child in The Nutcracker.” She also recalls coercing her family into annual Thanksgiving puppet shows (“heinously long, plotless and violent”) that she would produce, direct and star in. Performing was almost inevitable for Arata, who comes from an enormously creative family. Her grandmother and several great aunts were involved with the Fort Wayne Ballet. Her mother is a visual artist specializing in “really tiny things.” Her father is a karaoke standout (“His ‘Mustang Sally’ is glorious”). Her younger brother Sean is “freakishly musically talented, both instrumentally and vocally, and is a very natural actor.” She also has a number of cousins who sing, act and play in bands. While many performers cite their high school or college theater experiences as instigating their love for performing, Arata was inspired by her kindergarten. “Weisser Park really made it happen for me,” she says. “There were, and are, so many opportunities there for kids to perform and express themselves artistically. I wanted it all. I took dance, piano, band, choir, everything they had. I ate it all up. I will never be able to express how thankful I am that I was able to go through that program.” As easily as performing comes to her, she does not feel the same about auditions. “I have always been the worst auditioner,” she says emphatically. “My first audition was for The Music Man at Memorial Park in the sixth grade. I sang ‘76 Trombones’ with a weird, fake slide in my voice. So gross. So bad. [Director] Kirby Volz didn’t cast me until a later show, when I discovered how to sing like a normal person.” She earned her first theater role when she was cast as Lucille in No, No, Nanette during her eighth grade year. “I loved it,” she recalls. “I got to wear cool dresses. I had a solo, and my voice cracked in the middle of my song. [But] it was great.” She went to Indiana University in Bloomington, initially studying criminal justice with a theater minor. She soon switched to elementary education, which didn’t allow for a minor, but she continued to take theater classes as electives. Her first community theater production was Where’s Charley? at IPFW under the direction of Larry Life. “I didn’t have many lines but it was a great experience,” she says. “Larry just terrified me, but I felt so lucky to be working with him that it was okay.” As she grew, she became enamored with the professional-level acting and musical talent of the Fort Wayne community. “I still freak out when I meet people,” she says. “They think I’m joking, but to me, it’s like getting to hang out with celebrities.” She cites several experiences meeting such talents as Abby Ehinger, Gary Lanier, and Christopher J. Murphy, who cast her in a show with some of her other idols, Jim Nelson, Rosy Ridenour and Jim Matusik. “Murphy still makes fun of me about how much I was acting like a creepy fan,” she says. “I can’t believe I get to work with these people. I can’t believe these people are my friends.” Despite her feelings of intimidation, Arata has garnered accolades for a variety of noteworthy roles, including Jenny in the Arena Dinner Theatre production of Company and Marcy Park in the Civic Theatre production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The latter role was a particular challenge, as Arata was called upon to “do a cartwheel, twirl a baton, play trombone, do karate and even to do the splits – which I unfortunately could not do,” she says. An even bigger challenge was to interact with audience members in a surly fashion. “I had to be really mean to random audience members every night,” she says. “I caught up with some of them in the green room and apologized later.” The empathy she felt for the audience members translates to her acting. “I think if you have empathy for your character,” she says, “you can understand how and why they react like they do.” The other key to acting, she says, is to study and learn from other actors. “Jim Nelson is the king of facial expressions and holding the exact right time for laughs,” she says. “Joel Grillo is so good at body language on stage. Emilie Henry’s got these big, expressive eyes and this amazing, maniacal laugh. Clare Ramel is totally fearless on stage. In every show I do, I try to pick up something like that from someone and then use it in my acting.” She says that if she were to be typecast, she would most prefer to be “the hilarious sidekick. Less pressure than being the lead, and usually more laughs,” she says. “That’s my jam.” Her current leading role as Meredith Parker in Arena Dinner Theatre’s production of Bat Boy: The Musical does not exactly fill that niche. But she isn’t complaining. “I love this role,” she says. “I play the wife of a veterinarian who has been taking care of a bat boy that some kids found in a cave. She really takes to the boy, but not everyone feels the same.” Arata has enjoyed the challenge. “It’s the biggest role I’ve ever had, by far,” she says. “The music is hard, and [Meredith] goes through a lot of emotions in the show.” She is also proud of the production itself. “We’re doing things that haven’t been done in Fort Wayne,” she says. “We’re pushing boundaries, and we might offend some people. We’ve all worked together to find the humor in this really dark script. Audiences have responded very well to it. It’s been amazing.” As soon as the Bat Boy run ends, Arata will return to work as a teacher at Weisser Park, the fine arts magnet that fostered her love of performing. This fall she will start a new position there as the drama teacher, and she is looking forward to teaching and inspiring a whole new generation of performers. She is replacing Bruce Hancock, who is also taking a new position as the fine arts liaison this year. “Bruce is one of the most eloquent, kind, brilliant people I’ve ever met,” she says, “and he is an enormously difficult act to follow.” Fortunately, she says, he has agreed to mentor her as she learns the ropes. Her love and respect for theater education are a great start, however. “Theatre is the great equalizer,” she says. “It teaches you to empathize. It teaches you to speak in front of people and not be scared. It teaches you discipline. It lets you just be who you are and hang out with people who are different from you, because they’re busy being who they are. Kids need that. Our society needs that. I get to teach kids to have more kindness, creativity, diversity, and self-confidence all at the same time. How could a job be better than that?”

Jen Poiry-Prough







Kerosec

Kerosec

Kerosec, a four-piece outfit fronted by namesake Tom Kerosec, claim influences like Tool, Deftones, NIN, Radiohead and other 90s lovelies, and you can certainly hear the echoes of yesteryear’s alternative giants in the six tracks included on the Kerosec EP. Blood vessels are popped and vocal cords are shredded for sure, but when the songs work the most on this album are when the band stays within a level of energy that best fits them. When you open a record with a cover song, you’re either pretty confident in your original material or you’re compensating for what’s lacking. Kerosec come storming out of the gates with a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” fodder for many generations of cover bands across this great land. Kerosec seem to do a decent enough job with it, though I think first impressions are everything and making your opening salvo a CCR cover seems a bit odd. Closing the record with a cover would seem to make more sense, especially if you got the goods to make your own music. Following their take on the Fogerty brothers is “5 Body Blade,” a rather interesting listen. Amps are turned up to 12, and there’s a Muse-like swagger with thunderous guitar squalls with quiet falsetto vocals in the verses. Here’s where reining that energy in a bit would’ve come in handy. Tom Kerosec is a decent enough singer, but those falsetto moments tend to get bigger than he is and the melody gets lost a bit. And the screamo stuff just seems a little over the top. It’s like there’s three different songs in this one song. “Turn On, Tune In, Freak Out” seems like a good spot for Kerosec. Mid-tempo rocker with the vocals right in the sweet spot. “Gratitude” is the ballad part of album, and the guys seem to be comfortable here. Again, that falsetto seems to be a little more than his vocal range can handle, unless strained is what we’re going for. Otherwise, it’s a solid tune. “Make The Best” is a good mid-tempo rocker, something that would’ve gotten played a lot back in the day on 96.3. “Lines in the Sand” closes this EP, and it’s a fun, manic track. A huge plus is the production value here. Along with vocal and guitar duties, Tom Kerosec produced, engineered, mixed and mastered this EP, and his studio prowess certainly comes through. Les Lesser, Matt and d. make up the rest of Kerosec, and all do a great job of building these songs up with some solid playing. Kerosec are off to a good start. There’s tons of potential here, and the band can certainly play. If they hone some of that energy in, who knows what the next album will be like.

John Hubner







Nina Bennett

Auburn’s Expression Maker

Nina Bennett is an artist who has the Midas touch. Whatever she is involved in vibrates with the energy of art. Her creative mind expands far beyond her own two hands and has helped to build a foundation of artistic representation in the city of Auburn. Bennett has helped develop several community art projects, including the annual Downtown Business Association’s paint the (fill-in-the-blank) project. One year it was park benches while another year yielded garden gates. Summer 2015 brings small rocking chairs scattered downtown. Most are charming decorations. Bennett’s, of course, has a unique twist. Her chair makes music. When it rocks back and forth, gravity takes hold and makes the cymbal clang. “I don’t just paint things,” she says. “I want to incorporate a lot of the arts in my projects. I want to get people thinking. People come in and ask me about it [the chair]. I love it because it’s interactive.” Bennett has also spearheaded other public art projects, her most recent being the winter yarn-bombing during which volunteers wrapped barren trees with knitted yarn. The practice is common in urban areas, but not so much in a small-town. The effect in Auburn was whimsical, as if the trees were bundled up for the cold winter wind. “We’re such a small community and we think small,” says Bennett. “I’m always pushing the line. I want to figure it [art] out too and I want people to expand what art is.” Bennett is an artist who experiments with ink, watercolor and mixed media. Actually, she’s open to trying just about anything, including taking the plunge into starting her own gallery. Expressions Gallery was her first adventure and was a small gallery and frame shop that held the work of local artists. “My first purpose was to find an art studio where I could work. During that process I really wanted to provide a space where artists could show year round, so they wouldn’t have to do the festivals.” Toward that end, Bennett began collecting work from artists she knew. “There were also people who lived just a few blocks away who had full-time careers but also made art, art that is really good,” she recalls. The gallery filled up and it seemed everything was complete. Even with her own space, Bennett dreamed of something bigger, something that could make a real impact on the community. When she found out an antique store was closing, her creative juices started to percolate. Through a long, drawn out series of events involving financing, ownership and development, Bennett finally came into a position where she could move her dream from concept to concrete. Working with contractors and the owner of the building, Bennett was able to design the space and direct the construction of the interior of the building at 106 West 6th Street. It was completed in less than six months. A dream that had once been plugging and slogging along suddenly lurched forward at full speed. The result is the Auburn Atrium Marketplace. The Marketplace is set up to house a collection of vendors. Walk in and you can’t help but look up at the high ceilings and windows that allow buckets of daylight to pour into the space. Surrounding the upper level is a wide balcony, wide enough to give an artist space to create. Bennett is determined to fill the upper level with working artist studios, a feature never thought possible in Auburn. Downstairs visitors are greeted by an absolutely delightful stationary shop, The Paper Gourmet. Just beyond is a small bookstore run completely by donation and volunteers working to earn revenue to support the Dekalb Humane Shelter. The jewel of the market is Bennett’s gallery and framing shop. Tucked in between the oil paintings and pottery, you will find samples of Bennett’s own work. With such a bright personality, one may be surprised by the edge that much of her work reflects. One particular ink drawing is oozing with raw emotion. The piece shows series of figures that flow from a cowering form to stretching upward toward the heavens. Networks of bold and hair-like lines seem to tangle around the figure bringing across a feeling of struggle and strength. While her watercolor and ink drawings are powerful, Bennett is ready to take a turn with her work. “I want to take a step beyond and move into mixed media. You get bored if you stay within. It took me a long time to figure out that I love design. I got to design this building,” says Bennett. “It goes along with the insanity.” Bennett is at a place where she feels comfortable with her own work. She is ready to make art for art’s sake rather than let the sales numbers drive her vision. “I want to make art that is a step beyond. I don’t want to make art because I think someone is going to buy it. I want to make art that someone is going to love. I want to be happy with it and then it is okay.” Just as with her smaller space, Bennett is looking for work of other artists who are brave enough to step beyond. She is drawn to work that is unique to add to her eclectic collection at the gallery. Bennett plans to keep the momentum moving forward. She has plans for pop-up stores to fill the space over the Labor Day festivities. She would also love to see a group of artists start a co-op within the space. Bennett is an optimist. “I believe that Auburn can support the arts more now that it could 10 years ago when I first started my business,” she says. “In those 10 years we’ve had the Seward Johnson statues twice and a public art project each year since. This is just another character of Auburn that has popped out.” Bennett is a visionary and a pioneer who has bolted along, fostering the art scene in a small town. Thanks to her, Auburn can enjoy a taste of art that is unique to this area. Bennett summed it up best when she said, “There are a lot of really cool things that can be done if you go out into the world with your mind open.” The community should be thankful that this open-minded artist calls Auburn, home.

Heather Miller







The Frye Family Band

Reclamation

The Frye Family Band’s bio is something of a suspense story. It kicks off by mentioning that patriarch Tom Frye got a call one day expressing interest in featuring his family on a reality TV show, but the bio takes its time revealing how the phone call turned out. In the meantime, the bio focuses on the music and religious faith of the Frye family, which is really what the Frye Family Band are all about. Reclamation, the band’s new EP, is a collection of six tracks, each with a subtly different flavor, but all of them fitting comfortably within the pop-country-Christian pigeonhole. “Creation’s Song” is just what you’d expect it to be: a simple song of praise for God’s creations, including imagery of the sea and flowers and replete with hallelujahs. “All In,” one of two tracks that brings the vocals of the young Frye women to the fore, is a confection sweetly reminiscent of “Love Story”-era Taylor Swift, but here the love story is between the singer and God. The other of the two songs, “Completely Yours,” is distinctly more folky. “Song of Hope (I Am My Father’s)” kicks up the energy a bit, with Nate Dugger’s banjo providing a bluegrass tint that leads toward a gospel hand-clapping climax. “Broken Places” is an understated encouragement to hang on to faith even during difficult times. The message of both songs is one of devotion in the face of doubt, but even in these songs, there’s not much tension. I’ll end the suspense: Tom Frye turned down the TV show when the producer suggested that it was “weird” that a family was making music together. Spooked by the idea that the show was looking for dysfunction, he backed away. Given the fates of famous reality-TV families these days, it was probably a really smart move. Instead, the Frye Family Band remain devoted to their music, functionally, faithfully and happily.

Evan Gillespie








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