Prime Time is a relatively new band but its members have been around a long time and that gives them the experience few new bands have.
Chuck Surack and Brett Kelsey, each of whom play multiple instruments, played together for nearly eight years in the Stardust Band, a local 14-piece big band that Surack started. Karin Martin, the bundle of energy from the Queens, New York, sang with The Answer for eight years before coming over to help form Prime Time.
Because of their versatility, Prime Time are comfortable performing in what seems to be every musical style except the exotic aliens lounge band in Star Wars and you probably shouldnt put that past them, either.
Prime Time came together only in April of this year. Already they have established themselves as the jack-of-all-trades in the local music scene, playing in venues from local clubs to private parties. On August 10, they appeared at the grand opening of Jefferson Pointe in Fort Wayne and were such a hit they were invited back on the spot to play a second set in the evening. They are available to play everything from concerts to weddings to corporate parties.
The years we played in the Stardust band led to Chuck and me getting together, said Kelsey, who plays trumpet, fluegalhorn, trombone and keyboards.
I had been playing with The Answer for about eight years and these guys approached me to play with them. They tried to break my arm, added Martin, with only a touch of overstatement.
The band plays what they call all the fun songs, the songs people love to hear.
Our variety is way bigger than other bands you see in this area. We do big band tunes and we do jazz, county and rock classic standards to things you hear on the radio today, said Surack, who plays saxophones, flute and keyboards. Were not really musicians, were entertainers.
From a singers perspective, Im glad Im not stuck in one little thing. This band gives me a chance to be very versatile, Martin said. She uses a wireless microphone to work the crowd, often getting them involved in the songs.
Older people in the audience at a Prime Time show sit alongside younger people. Each comes away happy, band members say, because Prime Time have a repertoire of some 350 songs. And they are willing to play them at the drop of a hat.
Lets let the players speak for themselves, as if they were taking turns to solo in one of their shows.
Surack is the founder and president of Sweetwater Sound. He grew up in Fort Wayne and graduated from Wayne High School. He claims that the only time he was ever punished in school was for playing Heart and Soul on the piano after the teacher told the class to remain quiet.
After high school, he went on the road to play in various bands, touring the country as a very young but professional musician on the club and Holiday Inn circuits.
After several years, I decided to return home and get a real job. I started Sweetwater in 1979 as a recording studio. We worked with a lot of the local bands and did a lot of corporate work, he said.
The company grew from a recording studio to where it is today, which is a major recording studio and a supplier of recording and other musical equipment.
The fortuitous purchase by Sweetwater of a new kind of synthesizer, the first one which allowed the digital recreation of actual recorded sounds and voices, brought Surack into close contact with many major stars who wanted advice and assistance on the instruments use in their own recordings. Think Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and more recently Paul Simon and Matchbox 20.
All of a sudden all these people were calling us for technical help. I got album credits from Rogers and Stevie Wonder, Surack said. The retail side of Sweetwater started in this support of Suracks friends around the country.
Sweetwater even found a way to make B. B. Kings famed guitar Lucille digital.
Surack is self-taught on the instruments he plays, having taken exactly one saxophone lesson in his life. The technical/recording studio/computer side of his work came just as naturally.
Kelsey is a 1974 graduate of Elmhurst High School. He started playing guitar as a youngster but thought his fingers too short to play it properly so he switched to the trumpet. He began hanging around local jazz musicians such as Dick Quigley and absorbed as much as he could about the music and its mystique.
After he graduated from high school and attended IPFW for a year, he joined the Marine Corps to play in its various bands, spending three years of tough duty in Hawaii earning his stripes as a trumpet player.
In addition to playing in Marine Bands, I sat in as a trumpet player in a lot of other bands, Kelsey said.
Playing in a group as small as Prime Time has been a new experience for Kelsey, who cut his chops in larger bands, such as the local ITT Band.
I think it makes you play better. Weve gotten along very well, he said.
He now lives in Warsaw with his wife and niece and works at Bhar Associates in Fort Wayne, a local manufacturer of injection-molded plastic parts mainly for the auto industry. He probably hears rhythms in that work that no one else does.
If I had my druthers Id play full-time, but thats a hard way to make a living. I like the atmosphere in Warsaw and Fort Wayne. I dont think I could thrive in Los Angeles or New York, he said.
Martin did thrive in New York before moving to Fort Wayne in 1992. She was born and grew up in Queens on Long Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City.
Ive been singing since I was a little kid and my mother was my accompanist on the piano. I used to use a wooden spoon as my guitar and perform at family parties, she said.
Martin lived in a German immigrant neighborhood and much of her childhood was spent singing in church and other local choirs, sometimes in neighboring Brooklyn. She played piano for a while, then learned to play a real guitar.
I did some community theater and in high school I focused on musical theater. That was where I learned to dance. I also had my own little singing group in high school, kind of a barber shop group, Martin said.
After moving to Fort Wayne, she began singing with The Answer.
We were very successful and had quite a good following. I started working in radio advertising and doing free-lance voice-overs. Ive been at Sweetwater for three years, where I sell time in the recording studios and, if I have to, do voice-overs, Martin said.
According to Surack, Martins strength as a performer is her ability to emulate the styles and abilities of the singers who originally did the songs that Prime Time performs. That means she can evoke everyone from Bonnie Raitt to James Brown.
I love performing and I love involving the audience. I like all kinds of music and that helps. I think my theater experience comes across in our shows because I love to get out there and sell a song and help people enjoy themselves, Martin said.
If you want to find out for yourself what all this is like, you can find video and audio examples of Prime Times work at www.PTBand.com.
Prime Time is seeking a comfortable level of work in the area. They make themselves available to play at almost any kind of event, but each member has a day job and family responsibilities. We dont want to play every night and every weekend, Surack said.
Prime Time already have spent prime time as a house band at Club Soda and played at Curlys Village Inn, two Fort Wayne watering holes that represent opposite extremes in entertainment. Other recent gigs have included the Mangy Moose at Paulas Seafood Restaurant, DID Fest on August 29, the recent Capn Cork Beer Tasting at Headwaters Park, Bananas Steak House and Harveys. They also played at a lake house party near Churubusco. That should give you some idea of their ability to play almost anywhere anyone wants them.
Look for Prime Time to play Friday nights during September at Jimmys of Covington Bar and Grill beginning at 8:30 p.m. If you want to book Prime Time, call Martin at Sweetwater Sound, 219-432-8176, or e-mail Info@PTBand.com.
Click on the headings below for full calendars
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Career Fair —Job and internship fair with more than 50 companies recruiting for over 1,000 positions, 12-3 p.m. Thursday, March 23, Walb Classic Ballroom, IPFW, Fort Wayne, free, 481-0689
Guided History Tour and Lunch — Tour of Allen County Courthouse and Swinney Homestead with lunch at the Homestead, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, March 23, tour begins at Allen Co. Courthouse, Fort Wayne, $25, 747-1501
Lizzie Shea — Premier of the Italian Friend ArtRuckus web-series featuring local actors and businesses, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, free, 424-7195
Click header for complete On the Road calendar
Cloud Catcher w/Bison Machine, Big Money & The Spare Change — Rock/metal at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., $5, 267-5303
Crowder w/Britt Nicole, Tenth Avenue North, Andy Mineo, Colton Dixon, NewSong, Thousand Foot Krutch, OBB, Sarah Reeves, Steven Malcolm — Contemporary Christian at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., $10, 483-1111
Marcus King Band — Blues at C2G Music Hall, Fort Wayne , 8 p.m., $15-$30, 426-6434
Styx — Pop at Honeywell Center, Wabash, 7:30 p.m., $49-$125, 563-1102
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Columbia Street West Unplugged feat. George Gardner and Mitch Frazier — Acoustic at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 422-5055
Fort Wayne Karaoke & DJ's — Karaoke at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 482-6425
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Variety at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Hubie Ashcraft — Acoustic at Checkerz Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8-10 p.m., no cover, 489-0286
IPFW Music Faculty and Friends Showcase Concert — Classical at Rhinehart Recital Hall, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Jeff McDonald — Folk at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 489-2524
Jessica Brita-Segyde — Acoustic at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 625-1002
Lee Lewis All Stars — Blues/R&B at The Supper Club & Lounge, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 451-8223
Open Mic — Hosted by Mike Conley at Mad Anthony Brewing Co., Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 426-2537
Open Stage Jam — Hosted by Pop 'n' Fresh at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., no cover, 478-5827
Outta Hand — Rock at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8-10 p.m., cover, 483-1311
Tronic — EDM at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 422-5896
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Bucca Karaoke w/Bucca — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 432-8966
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Variety at The Venue, Angola, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 665-3922
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Variety at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Jay — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 557-1563
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Rack and Helen's, New Haven, 10 p.m., no cover, 749-5396
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at By: Belle Haven, South Whitley, 8 p.m., no cover, 866-716-9213
Karaoke — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 -.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Live DJ — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Double Down, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 435-4567
Shotgun Prod. Karaoke — Variety at Paul's Pub, Kendallville, 10 p.m., no cover, 340-1318
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ w/Ben — Karaoke at Spudz Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 493-7292
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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
An Exploration of Perspective — Multimedia works by Deborah Robinson Miller, Tuesday-Sunday thru March 24, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday, March 24-June 24 (artist reception 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 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
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
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
Wabash County Schools Exhibition — Works by high school art students, daily thru April 16, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102