Conservatory rustles up great summer music
Huge diversity of styles coming to Fort Wayne
Nikki Hill, Zion Lion, Mississippi Heat, & Dwayne 'Dopsie' Rubin
July 28, 2021
With the memory of COVID still rooted in our minds, the Fort Wayne Botanical Conservatory is sowing the seeds of fun with the return of a beloved, late summer concert series: Botanical Roots.
With a name that is a pun-filled nod toward the horticultural venue, the Botanical Roots concert series strives to uphold the Botanical Conservatory’s focus on community, education, and entertainment by hosting regional and national performers that are unique, creative, and funky.
Welcoming of all ages, concert goers can enjoy food and beverages provided by another local favorite, Mad Anthony Brewing.
With 15 years under its belt, Botanical Roots has invited performers for this year that promise Fort Wayne the opportunity to kick back and enjoy the same quality performances, food, and drink that has kept the groove going each summer.
Botanical Roots is focused on more than just an entertaining experience. Musicians and performers are selected not just on musical quality but also to expose Fort Wayne community members to a wide range of cultural heritages and backgrounds. While each year brings back classics of the roots genre, the concert series also is intentional in incorporating genres that may be less well known, such as rockabilly, zydeco, and even combinations of bluegrass and rap, as demonstrated in 2018 with Gangstergrass.
This year, Fort Wayne will welcome Nikki Hill on Aug. 6, Zion Lion on Aug. 13, Mississippi Heat on Aug. 20, and Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers on Aug. 27.
The conservatory brings back Nikki Hill as the first concert of the season. Her soulful sound and voice were earned naturally from growing up in North Carolina.
A childhood filled with singing in gospel choirs at church and exposure to new genres helped contribute to Hill’s unique sound that is a striking combination of soul, R&B, gospel, and rock n’ roll.
Partnered with her guitar-playing husband, Matt Hill, the couple have created foot-tapping reputation for themselves in the music community.
With band members hailing from around the Kalamazoo area, Zion Lion focuses on creating the “right” reggae experience through the use of the African zouk, mucosa, zoukous, and Afro-latin influences.
While trying to maintain the authentic sound that reggae is known for, the band also incorporates modern day flair by covering pop tunes to help provide a new perspective on the multi-faceted sound of reggae.
Consisting of seven unique musicians, Mississippi Heat has become famous for their traditional bluesy sound that easily transports listeners to the Mississippi’s blues culture.
Among their top songs are “Hattiesburg Blues,” “Calypso in Blue,” and “Tiger Man.”
While the band members have fluctuated over the years, this has not impeded their ability to tour the country and overseas. From performing at festivals to winning the No. 1 spot on Living Blues Magazine’s radio charts, Mississippi Heat provides a unique twist on a classic blues experience.
Dwayne “Dopsie” Rubin has created a name for himself in the zydeco community.
With an upbringing in an influential zydeco family and nearly a lifetime of touring, the Louisiana native has developed a unique blend of traditional zydeco aspects and modern, fast-paced flair that has helped him to receive two Grammy nominations. He has also won the OffBeat Magazine best accordion title 13 times.
With a sound that is unique, a stage persona that is engaging and entertaining, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers promise to bring audiences into “Dopsie Mania.”
Concerts will be hosted every Friday night this August at 1100 S. Calhoun St., rain or shine. Concert goers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. Tickets are $6 and children under 12 are admitted free.