Its always hard to review the annual Essentials compilation disc put out by WEJE or WXTE or WJJFabini or whatever theyre calling themselves these days. Aside from the fact that were mentioned in the liner notes after the daily newspapers, theres nothing about the CD that were inclined to criticize. Indeed, theres usually so much to praise about the disc that theres not space to say it all. Thats even more the case this year than in years past because, in our opinion, this years Essentials release is the best yet.
Sure, there's some music on here that I dont much like; there's music you wont like, too. Chaotica, just by way of example, either suit your musical tastes or they dont (they dont mine), but thats hardly the point they, like a number of the local bands that made this years cut, beat the snot out of a lot of bands of their ilk that get national airplay. Thats the point of the Essentials releases: to showcase the Fort Wayne music scene in all its breadth and depth and it does this extremely (no pun intended) well.
Whats the most fun about these releases, for me at least, is that it introduces you to bands with whom you might not be familiar. Has anyone ever heard of Pheen? I havent. Yet these kids (from their picture, they look to be maybe 16 years old) contribute one of the most enjoyable (to me, at least) tracks on the disc. Bet you havent heard of The Side Windows either. Based on the hilarious Dent, theyre picking up the mantle from Jackie Fly who, after all, did pretty well in this town. The same might be said for Corporate Circus (Im not Dairy Queen / but I treat you right.)
I have heard great things about homeless j, Black Tooth Grin (now Sfumato) and The Wailhounds but have yet to see them play. Its a pleasure to find them included here, and if they come close to matching their studio sound on stage, theyll be the next three bands I go see.
While my personal favorite on last years Essentials release was Rosemary Gates Free, it was Abraham (now Jettingham) that landed a national record deal thanks in large part to their contribution to the disc (Cheating). This year its Matthew Sturms Rusted Road (recorded with Tim Beeler and Tim Bergen) that gets my vote. I suppose that means that Sturm wont get a record deal (and we took Best Italian Restaurant off the Readers Poll ballot this year, so Matt cant win fame and fortune that way either although he has picked up a couple of votes for Best Country Music Club). Who could get signed on the strength of Essentials Five? Just about any of the 18 bands featured (Im going with Chaotica).
There are plenty of Essentials veterans here: Strut Train, Rosemary Gates, Northern Kind, Heavy Step, Buttonhead, the Sunny Taylor Band, the Shelly Dixon Band and Surface, just to name a few. Their contributions are likely to please their fans, but for me are, in most cases, pretty typical of earlier material recorded for either the Essentials series or their own discs. The exception is Strut Trains Turn Me On, which I guess youd have to call a ballad and features, of all things, a flute solo.
I've got to say, though, that its the new, unfamiliar stuff that excites me about this project, even the stuff thats not quite up my alley (aka Grumpy Old Man Road), especially since it illustrates just how deep, diverse and burgeoning the Fort Wayne music scene has become over the past few years. Bands that used to be known for covers (the Wailhounds, Sfumato) are writing terrific original music. Bands that have emerged over the past few years just keep getting better. And new bands continue to appear, bringing even greater diversity to a thriving music scene. I doubt that many other towns, even towns a lot bigger than this one, can put out an 18-song compilation that is as enjoyable to listen to as this one.
You've got to be grateful to JJ Fabini, Wil Putt and the staffs at WXTW and Soundmill for doing it again.
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Tessa Lark w/Peter Klimo — Classical at Arts Place, Portland, 7:30 p.m., $8-$18, 726-4809
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Fort Wayne Comedy Connection — Comedy at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Hubie Ashcraft — Acoustic at 469 Sports & Spirits, New Haven, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 749-7207
Open Jam — Hosted by G-Money at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
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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Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Variety at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., no cover, 490-9464
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 434-1980
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Josh — Karaoke at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 422-5055
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., ,
Karaoke w/Bucca — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at By: Belle Haven, South Whitley, 8 p.m., no cover, 866-716-9243
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Shut Up and Sing — Karaoke at Duesy's Sports Bar, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 483-5681
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 483-1311
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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
41st High School Exhibition — Student art from Great Lakes region high schools, daily thru March 19, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
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
An Exploration of Perspective — Multimedia works by Deborah Robinson Miller, Tuesday-Sunday thru March 24, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
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 March 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 March 31, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday, March 5-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
Liberations of Line & Matter — Digital works by Adam Meyer, Tuesday-Sunday thru March 24, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
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
Maurice Keltsch Art Collection — Works from the collection of the late pharmacist and patron of Fort Wayne arts, daily thru March 19 , Goldfish Gallery, Rolland Arts Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-8064
Moments in Time: Reflecting on the Human Spirit — Elizabeth Opalenik photographs from her recent Amish series A Journey Home and her Reflecting on the Edge exhibition, daily thru March 26 , Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
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
Overlapping in the Proximity of the Sublime — Works by Ashley Beatty, Tuesday-Sunday thru March 24, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
RAW. Untamed. Unashamed. Visions of Freedom. — Abstract romanticist works in acrylics and epoxy from Kristy Jahn, Fridays and Saturday-Thursday by appointment thru March 25, The Gallery at Pranayoga, Fort Wayne, 423-9642
Semantic Sequences — Exhibition of letterpress prints by Stephanie Carpenter, assistant director of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Tuesday-Sunday thru March 24, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
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
SOCA Student Highlights Exhibition: 3D — Works from students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts’ 3D studio art program, daily thru March 19, John P. Weatherhead Gallery and Goldfish Gallery, Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Tim Brumbeloe Retrospective — A retrospective of local photographer’s works over the past 25 years, Monday-Friday thru March 17, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Artlink Educational Programs — Art classes offered by Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, dates and times vary, Artlink, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-7195
Fort Wayne Dance Collective Workshops — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, dates and times vary, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574
IPFW Community Arts Academy— Art, 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
Tincture Trivia — Trivia night for teams of 4 or 6 people, 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Nick’s Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, free, 482-6425
Watercolor Instruction — Artist Tom De Somer of De Somer Fine Art Studio offers watercolor painting instruction 6:30-8:30 p.m. the first four Thursdays of each month, Indiana Wesleyan University, Fort Wayne, $144/four-week course, 805-328-8336, www.desomerart.com/classes