Oferle: Familial Connections
by Steve Penhollow
As band names go, Oferle is a great one. It evokes the word "offer" but with an enigmatic twist suggesting, perhaps, an offer with unspecified strings attached.
As it turns out, Oferle is the last name (minus an "f") of two of the band's three members: siblings Annette and Luke Offerle.
A third member, Jonah Baker, is a cousin.
"I am half-Offerle," he said.
And it's pronounced "Oh-feerle" not "Off-erle."
Oferle have been accumulating fans and accolades of late. The band took first place in an Indianapolis singer-songwriter competition, and it was named one of Fort Wayne's top acts by WAJI. A late January concert at 816 Pint and Slice drew a capacity crowd.
The band recently worked on a song with Mike Daley, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer who has collaborated with Lady Gaga, Chris Brown and Rick Ross.
Oferle are a bit of a rarity on the Fort Wayne music scene these days: An enthusiastic embracer of slick, hook-laden, sweetly harmonized contemporary pop music as practiced by John Mayer, Colbie Calliat, Lady Antebellum and Sugarland, among many others.
A talent contest at Indiana University was what gave the siblings the idea to form a band, and Baker joined later because he "wanted to get in on the fun."
The trio's uncanny chemistry was evident at the start.
"Obviously, we're family," Luke Offerle said. "But there's something about our sense of musicianship as well. It really has a good feel to it.
Being in their early 20s, the band members have written a lot of breakup songs.
"It's triple the heartbreak when you have three," Baker said.
Sometimes, a family band dynamic can mean more conflict, but not with Oferle.
"It's a lot easier to song-write that way," Luke Offerle said, "We're naturally closer."
"We already have that established relationship," Annette Offerle said. "There's no judgment when we're telling each other our heartbreak stories. Since we know each other, it's easier to figure out what everyone else is trying to say."
There's incentive not to fight, Baker said, because they all see each other outside practices and performances.
"I feel like there's less drama," he said, "because, if one of us quit the band, that would make for a really awkward Thanksgiving."
The band is gearing up for a busy spring and summer of performances (including a gig at Indy's Rathskeller) and it's weighing what its next big move should be.
Thirty years ago, a band that wanted to make a national impression would have courted major labels and moved to one of a handful of big cities.
But the truths of those moves are no longer self-evident.
Some folks have suggested that Oferle move to Nashville, Luke Offerle said.
"That's been a suggestion that's been swirling around the band," he said. "We've considered it."
But people in the know have advised against it, saying that Nashville is oversaturated with talent.
Trying to make it here in Fort Wayne makes more sense for the time being, Luke Offerle said.
"Stand out," he said.
"Focus on being a big fish in a small pond," Annette Offerle said.
A number of smart people have been saying recently that Fort Wayne is poised to be the next music mecca, a la Austin or Seattle, Baker said.
"Especially with Sweetwater the way it is," he said. "All the musicians that are moving here to work at Sweetwater and are gigging on the weekends."
Baker said he thinks Fort Wayne has a more vibrant and promising music scene than Indianapolis.
The goal of the band right now, Luke Offerle said, is to write a "crap ton" of songs and focus on being the best musicians that they can be.
"I think it's fair to say we want to be the best musicians in Fort Wayne and the best musicians in Indiana," he said, "because, if we're going to do this music thing, why not be the best at it?"
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Marquee Gala — Embassy Theatre fundraiser featuring cocktails, four-course dinner, behind-the-scenes tours and performance by Billy Porter of Kinky Boots, 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, $250, 424-6287
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Platinum Boys w/The Meat Flowers — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., $5, 267-5303
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Chris Worth — Variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 7:30-10:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Fort Wayne Comedy Connection — Comedy at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Hubie Ashcraft — Acoustic at Mad Anthony Brewing Co., Fort Wayne, 6-9 p.m., no cover, (260) 426-2537
Joe Justice — Variety at Arbor Glen Retirement Village, Fort Wayne, 4-5 p.m., no cover, 492-2202
Open Mic — Hosted by Mike Mowry at Pedal City, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 415-6167
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James and the Giant Peach (May 11-13) — Fort Wayne Youtheatre auditions, 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, 422-4226
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22nd Annual Valentine’s Invitational — Works from local and national artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru March 31, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568
2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards — Award-winning works from northern Indiana and northwest Ohio middle and high school students, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Afros: A Celebration of African Hair by Michael July — Contemporary photography exhibit by Brooklyn author/photographer, daily thru April 14, D’Agostino Art Gallery, Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne, 399-8626
An Artful Spring — Works by Gwen Gutwein, Patricia Weiss, Austin Cartwright and more, Tuesday-Saturday thru March 31, Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Decatur Sculpture Tour — 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, Decatur, free, 724-2605
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Entropy — Daniel Swartz solo exhibition explores relationship between death and mourning through combinations of mythology, mathematics, multi-dimensional physics and pop culture, Monday-Saturday thru April 1, Jennifer Ford Art, Fort Wayne, 740-1309
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Garden Party — Garden-themed works in a variety of mediums from over 30 local artists, Monday-Saturday thru March 31, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Generations: A View of Who Was Who — Works by Romare Bearden, Kara Walker, Alma Thomas, Jacob Lawrence and other African-American artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
A Mary Poppins Garden Party — Child-oriented garden exhibit, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 1, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Wabash County Schools Exhibition — Works by high school art students, daily thru April 16, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102