Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Groovyus


Gloria Diaz

Whatzup Features Writer

Published May 20, 2004

Heads Up! This article is 18 years old.

I’ve known Dan Dickerson for a number of years,

but I can’t recall ever seeing him with an

electric guitar in his hands. But that was before

a few weeks ago.

During the first set with his band Groovyus at

Skybox in Decatur, his harp sat covered in a

corner, and Dickerson was rocking out with an

electric guitar. I was surprised and impressed.

The barefoot, wine-sipping harpist I remember

from years past can actually rock!

Dickerson wasn’t alone. With him was Sandra

Hatfield, on bass, and Scott Schwan, on drums.

Formerly, it was just Hatfield and Dickerson

doing acoustic things, but Schwan had seen the

duo play and filled in on drums a couple times.

He enjoyed it so much he became a part of the

group.

Groovyus started about six months ago. And

they’ve pretty much played gigs from the start.

“As soon as we started, we were playing,” says

Dickerson, who also sings and plays guitar and

harp. (He’s also the band’s guru/witch doctor,

but he didn’t elaborate). “We just went here and

there and started getting decent gigs relatively

quick.”

Dickerson makes it sound like it was easy going

from the beginning, but it hasn’t been “It was

hard, and it’s still hard, and we still don’t

have a good promotional tool, as far as a good

videotape,” he admits. “We did the Foellinger

Theater last summer, and it was really cool; it

wasn’t this band as it is, but Sandra and I were

there … [we] had a different drummer, had a

bass player, and then we had members of Too Many

People, a group I was in, and Billy Goat Gruff.

We videotaped that; and it was really good. It’s

on channel 57 a lot, still.”

Part of Dickerson’s frustration with not having

a videotape to send out to prospective talent

bookers comes with his inability to deal with

videotape recorders. He has bigger problems than

trying to get the clock light to stop

flashing.

“I can’t seem to get a friggin’ VCR to record to

another VCR,” he says. “I’ve tried a good seven

or eight of them. I went out and bought

two brand new VCRs,, brand new, to

record from one to the other.” (Videophiles take

note: this could be a new business venture).

Another problem facing new bands, Dickerson

says, is finding the time to talk to club owners

and promoters. Full-time employment and kids take

up a lot of time, and younger bands who don’t

have these responsibilities have the advantage,

says Dickerson.

However, with age comes experience, and getting

with the right people right off the bat can save

lots of time. Dickerson credits having good

chemistry with Hatfield, and then with Schwan

when he was added to the mix. Dickerson met

Schwan through gigs at Ernie’s Hideaway. They

started jamming, and it worked.

“I don’t even think we practiced before a gig

… we just practiced at the gig, which is kinda

cool in it’s own way,” recalls Dickerson. “I

don’t mind, because Scott is an awesome enough

impromptu drummer that we can go on something,

and begin to feel … I mean, I barely know

Scott, but we still have a chemistry, you know,

as far as looking at somebody and you know when

you’re going to do a hit. Or two hits, or we’re

going to go into a different timing.

“That’s … wow! And Sandra is good at it too,

luckily. We’re lucky to have the chemistry that

we have.”

“We have fun,” says Hatfield, of the band’s

performances. “And Dan … he hardly ever gets

the lyrics right,” she adds, as the band members

dissolve into laughter. “He’ll sing the same

verse three times.”

“Or,” says Dickerson, “Sandra’s favorite

alternative, it’s like a different language, if I

can’t find the lyrics.” (Here, Dickerson sings

gibberish to demonstrate his ability to do so.

More laughs ensue.) At this gig, Dickerson and

his bandmates manage to get through a set of

songs which included “Jane,” “The Lion Sleeps

Tonight,’ “Helter Skelter, “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Signs,”

and “Ain’t That A Shame,” (yes, the Cheap Trick

version), just to name a few. The effort got

people out onto the dance floor, something I

haven’t seen happen with quite a few bands in a

long time.

Despite not being together for a huge length of

time, the group has had some important gigs and

favorite places to play, such as Skybox (“we’re

well received,” says Dickerson) and a couple of

locations in Fort Wayne.

“Sandra and I went to Columbia Street West,”

recalls Dickerson, “for this open jam, trying to

talk to Richard Reprogle … ’cause it’s

something,, and right now we’re looking for gigs.

So we talked to him a little bit and we stayed,

and it got later and later and after 11 before

they started doing anything. Matt Sturm was

playing, and he was pretty good, and he heard us

talking, and he said, ‘you guys wanna play

somethin’?’ And I was like, ‘no.’ Sandra wanted

to, and then she didn’t want to. Well, later on,

Sandra said ‘you know what? We should.'”

After a bit of arm twisting, and Hatfield

questioning Dickerson about his testicular

fortitude, they went up and played. “I borrowed

Matt’s guitar, she took the guy’s bass,” says

Dickerson. “There was a lead player and drummer;

we did ‘Stranglehold,’ ‘Helter Skelter,’ and it

was like, ‘whoa.’ And Matt Sturm said ‘you guys

are … do another song! Do it! Do it!’ So we did

another. If Scott would have been with us, we

would have rocked the joint. It was a good

night.”

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