Black Swamp Arts Festival

Northview team the star of BSAF’s Chalk Walk

From BLACK SWAMP ARTS FESTIVAL The Northview team has won top honors in the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s Chalk Walk competition. Though the 16 teams could not draw their designs during the festival because of rain, the competition went on. Each team had the option of creating its design at its home school, and then providing time and date stamped photos, as well as photos of their process. The entries from 14 schools were judged earlier this week. The Northview team of Dominic Ciucci, Brookelyn Duhamel, Lindsey Ingle, and Courtney Kross won the top award.  The team from Eastwood placed second, and Otsego 2 placed third. Winning teams receive cash awards that go to support their schools’ art programs. Awards are $500 for first place, $250 for second, and $100 for third This year’s theme was Outer Space and the Solar System. The Northview teams wrote: “We decided to create this composition because we wanted to convey the message that people are so much more complex than what meets the eye.” The Eastwood team wrote: “For our piece, we decided to portray two different kind of space, with the paint cans representing an artistic space and the other being outer space.” The Otsego team wrote: “Animals live in the moment, quite unlike people. They trust the universe; they don’t question it. We should be like animals and take more time to stop and reflect on the wonderful miracles of creation right outside our windows.” The contest is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bowling Green.

Read More

Sunday’s forecast has Black Swamp Festival organizers considering options

The Black Swamp Arts Festival committee has issued the following statement. Black Swamp Arts Festival and inclement weather Given the current forecast for major storms on Sunday, the Black Swamp Arts Festival Committee is considering its options with the hope of maintaining as many activities as possible while making sure our artists, vendors, and visitors are safe. A decision about changes to Sunday activities will be made later this afternoon (Sept. 7, 2018). Rest assured the festival will present a full bill of music and concessions tonight (Friday, Sept. 7) starting at 5 p.m. and continuing until 11:30 p.m. continuing with the full schedule of events including art show, youth activities, and music on Saturday. Please follow us on social media at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and the local news media for further updates.   The safety of festival patrons is paramount to the Black Swamp Arts Festival. For more information, please visit

Tree No Leaves has plenty to celebrate with multiple shows at Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tree No Leaves has lots to celebrate at the Black Swamp Arts Festival, and the Bowling Green band will have plenty of opportunities to celebrate. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the planting of the seed that’s sprouted into a band that’s a staple of the local music scene. Saturday at noon on the Main Stage they’ll unveil a new session “Prophet Holographic,” a vinyl record issued by the Grounds for Thought Records. “It’s really a milestone for us,” said Dustin Galish, the band’s founder. “Just seeing our name on the same poster as those other (festival) artists is an honor.” The spotlight gig comes at a time when Tree No Leaves is now looking to extend its reach beyond the Black Swamp into some of the nation’s musical hot beds Brooklyn, Detroit, New Orleans, and Austin, Texas. He describes the band’s style as hard psychedelic soul. “That’s an undercurrent of what I brought to it, the soul element,” he said. For him psychedelic involves the “dissolving of genres.” That sound has evolved in the band’s decade of existence. The seed was planted in early 2008 with sound experiments conducted by Galish and his then girlfriend and now wife Sarah Smith. She is a trained musician, who sings, writes, and plays keyboards and performed as Aquatic Fox. For his part, Galish was a self-taught. He grew up in a home without instruments in the house. A baseball player in high school, he came to Bowling Green State University to study graphic design in the Visual Communications Technology program. He always loved music, and collaborating with musicians as a graphic designer. So he tried his hand on keyboards and guitar. Those early experiments led to live gigs with shifting personnel, including Smith. Those first few years the music was an expansion on the abstract explorations, moody pieces in minor keys. But in the last five years the style has evolved. “The last four records have some pop sensibilities,” he said. The songs have shifted into verse and chorus structures, though there’s still elements of improvisation. “There’s a lot more funk, soul and dance. It’s more upbeat,” Galish said of the band’s brighter sound. Before the shows were “more intense.” “You almost had to take a break after you heard us.” Now he said :“It’s a more positive experience. It’s a dance party. And it’s taken us to another level.”  The self-taught Galish has enlisted several well-schooled musicians from BGSU. The current band includes drummer JP Stebal and percussionist Billy Gruber, who have worked together in various College of Musical Arts groups, including the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble. Devonte Stovall is taking over bass responsibilities from Benji Katz, with both players making appearances over the weekend. The most recent addition is saxophonist Garrett Tanner, also from the College of Musical Arts. Rock scene stalwart Calvin Cordy is the band’s lead guitarist. Concentrating on piano has helped Galish develop his musicianship, as has working with his bandmates. “They’re really good listeners.” Over festival weekend, Tree No Leaves will play five times. In addition to the Main Stage hit, they’ll perform Friday night at Howard’s Club H at about 9 before Two Tons of Steel makes it way over the from the Main Stage. On Saturday, they’ll also appear…

Local favorite Tim Tegge stepping up to the Main Stage at Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When singer-songwriter Tim Tegge first played the Black Swamp Arts Festival 10 years ago, he was so nervous that the day before he went to check out the stage. He looked at the atrium at the former Huntington Bank (now the Four Corners Center) and noticed how the pillars went up and formed two Ts, as in his initials. That was a good omen. That show, he said recently, was the first time he’d played an hour-long set. Before then he’d just played a few songs at a time at open mic sessions. He’s been back to perform at the festival since then. This year will mark another first. Tim Tegge and the Black Swamp Boys will perform on the Main Stage Sunday at 11 a.m. “I still can’t believe I’m on the Main Stage.” Tegge’s been writing songs in earnest for 15 years now, though his first one, “Fishing Hole,” was written 25 years ago. After that initial effort, marriage to his wife, Jayne, and parenthood, and the usual ebb and flow of life intervened.  It was the death his friend Lloyd Shelton that helped steer him back to songwriting. In preparing Shelton’s eulogy, he realized it’d been a long time since he’d played his guitar. There was a song he was meaning to write, so he picked up the instrument again. “It’s just like the dam broke open,” he said. He now felt like he wasn’t imitating his heroes such as John Denver and James Taylor. “Something came alive.” For the last 15 years he’s been dedicated to writing songs.  Now playing a three-hour gig at a winery doesn’t faze him, not with 130 songs in his book. Those songs touch on familiar, every day concerns, of a 50-something guy. “Why Can’t We Go Back?” is a comic lament about the gentrification of the simple cup of coffee. The song has been turned into a video produced by Jack O’Hare featuring a cast of characters as former tough guys who now drink sugary lattes.  He’s also penned a tribute to the mothers and other women who end up spending “Christmas in the Kitchen.”  He also penned “Showdown in Pull Town” for the Natoal Tractor Pulling Championships. He draws from life, jotting down phrases he hears, remembering stories he’s been told. When he started writing, his music was drawn from his own life. Now he draws on other people’s experiences. “It’s interesting how many people say: ‘Here’s a good song idea.’ And sometimes it is.” He often writes for other people. He’ll sometimes offer to write a song for someone as a charity auction item. “What I really like are the parameters of the three-and-half-minute song. How do you tell that story in three and a half minutes and make every word count?” Some songs come together quickly, others linger, 90 percent done, until he finds just the right phrase, “like a puzzle piece,” that rounds it out. That may take a couple years. Tegge shares those stories and tunes as a regular on the area music scene. Tegge, 54, first came to Bowling Green from Fairfield just north of Cincinnati to attend Bowling Green State University in 1982. After graduating having studied biological sciences, he went back to Fairfield. But he wanted…

Friends, old & new, grace Black Swamp fest’s Main Stage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Birds of Chicago feel at home It’s always nice to come home. That’s the way JT Nero feels about the Birds of Chicago’s return to the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Nero, who grew up in Toledo, was certainly at home during last year’s show. The Birds even played a set on the Family Stage, just a few feet from Howard’s Club H. Some of his first live shows as a musician were at Howard’s. And it was fun to share it with his wife and musical collaborator Allison Russell. “She had a blast.” He was quick to credit the festival volunteer personnel for their hospitality. “They take care of you.” The Birds of Chicago are back to play a primetime Main Stage set at 6:15 p.m., Saturday, followed by a late night set at Stone’s Throw. Since last year the Americana quintet has released both an EP, “American Flowers,” and a full-length album “Love in Wartime.” The EP, Nero said, was inspired from growing up in Toledo. The Islamic Center of Toledo serves as a central image in the title track. “That image is as American as it gets for me,” Nero said. The album strives to better reflect the Birds of Chicago live show. “We wanted to make a little bit more of a rock ‘n’ roll album. … With all the malaise hanging over the country, we wanted to make something that felt like a joyous document of life on earth. For me a rock ‘n’ roll album is the best way to do that.” The band will be selling that album in both CD and vinyl. That’s still part of the business model, though, as streaming takes a toll on sales of physical recordings. “I’m OK streaming as long as people go out and support the band, buying tickets to the show, buying t-shirts. Find a way to support the music.” Nero added: “We have to keep fighting the good fight and taking care that streaming services are more responsible in what they’re paying.” Still the Birds of Chicago are essentially a live act. Performing at festivals has a particular allure, especially if they get to settle in for a couple days. “Music festivals are where we plug in and see where our peers are at and see as much music as we can.” The Black Swamp Arts Festival certainly filled that bill. “We had a hell of a time, an amazing time,” he said. “They really curate an interesting slate of bands.” That’s why he wanted to do what he could to return this year. “Not all festivals are created equal. It takes people who are passionate music fans, but who also have their act together. That’s a somewhat of a rare combination. It is a real gem of a festival.”   Kittel & Co. celebrate string music’s global appeal The musician who calls himself both a fiddler and a violinist performed at Bowling Green State University in 2011 during his five-year stint with the genre-defying Turtle Island String Quartet. The ensemble was a good fit for a musician who since childhood has been captivated by the range of musical communities in which his instrument had found a home. “That’s what I was fascinated with early on,” he said…

Volunteers’ sweat equity makes Black Swamp Arts Festival possible

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Thousands of people enjoy all that the Black Swamp Arts Festival has to offer — the food and beverages, the music, the art, the youth activities. Hundreds more turn their love of the festival into action. The Black Swamp Arts Festival, Sept. 7-9 in downtown Bowling Green, relies on the sweat equity of those 900 volunteers. Just like neighbors getting together to raise a barn, these people help bring the festival to life. They help with setting up stages, serving beer, monitoring where the beer goes to keep the festival on the right side of the liquor regulations. They help kids create their own art. They deliver needed snacks to artists, and sell merchandise. “The whole festival relies on volunteers,” said Wynn Perry, who chairs the volunteer committee. The board that stages the festival is made up of volunteers. They meet throughout the year raising the $180,000 it costs to put on the festival. They book musical acts and enlist visual artists from near and far. They design posters and make sure people know about the event.  And come festival weekend, they may even pick up trash and plug in other holes as they occur. Why join this effort? Perry said “because it does make them part of the community. It’s a real strong community, and we have a strong community because people take that action.” That applies to the festival and Bowling Green as a whole. And, she added, “it’s fun.” Working as a beer garden monitor people get to greet their friends as well as meet new people.This year the monitors will have umbrella covered chairs to sit on. At this point, about a week before the festival begins, just over 50 percent of the volunteer spots are full. Those interested can sign up on the festival’s website. Areas of particular need are people to monitor the beer garden to make sure people don’t carry beer or wine out of the designated areas. Also people to check identifications for people wanting to buy alcoholic beverages and to sell the tickets needed to buy those beverages. There’s an special need for those wanting to work the late shifts. Also needed are people to work on the Dawn Patrol. That’s the crew that shows up before the break of dawn Saturday to transform Main Street and the Huntington parking lot into an outdoor art gallery. About half the volunteers work in the Kiwanis Youth Arts Village. “We’re very proud we offer those experience to kids and for them to learn the value of the art process,” Perry said. That takes a lot of willing hands, about 250 more than have signed up so far. While most of the festival volunteers are locals, including many university students, some travel from greater distances. Mira Gratrix, who lives in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario, has enjoyed attending the festival almost since its beginning when she was attending Bowling Green State University. Then about 10 years ago, she decided she wanted to do more, so she started volunteering. Helping out in any way she could. “I just love being a part of it,” Gratrix said. “It makes me feel closer to the festival. I want to help.” 

Friday night acts to light up Black Swamp festival stage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Arts Festival has prided itself on its eclectic musical offerings. While the wide Americana music umbrella covers many of the performers, there have been plenty who reside outside that catch-all term. Think of the European, Caribbean, and African bands that have graced the festival’s stages. While the festival may have a global reach, the performing arts committee has also consistently tapped into the roots of American music. That’s certainly the case on Friday, Sept. 7. Ohio rocker Drew Joseph opens at 5 p.m. The acts that follow tap into the reverberations from Brooklyn, New Orleans, Austin, Nashville, and Michigan. Here’s what’s in store under the Friday night lights on the Main Stage Two Tons of Steel: Revving up the rockabilly sound Named for a 1956 Coupe de Ville that served as the band’s “van,” Two Tons of Steel hails from San Antonio, Texas. We can thank a local connection, though, for their appearance. Alex Hann, the long-time site and logistic chair for the festival, has been a fan since first hearing Two Tons at one of their regular gigs in the iconic Austin venues the Gruene Music Hall. He was impressed by the band’s energy which had the dance floor packed from the first note, and their combination of styles. Two Tons of Steel has its roots in rockabilly and Texas swing. Perfect for the festival. Conversations ensued, and Two Tons of Steel is now motoring into Ohio, virgin territory for the band. “It’s like being on a first date,” said leader Kevin Geil, in a recent telephone interview. He grew up in Austin listening to rockabilly. “You could play those three chords and play a song. … It was simple and smooth, just great music. That’s where we started and that’s the foundation of how our songs are still written and performed.” In 1992 in San Antonio, Geil started the band as a traditional three-piece rockabilly outfit with acoustic upright bass and guitars backing the vocals. Back then the music was a novelty, and Two Tons of Steel took off. Billboard magazine wrote about them. The band appeared on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. A few of their songs were heard on “B” movie soundtracks. As Geil started featuring songs he’d written, he decided to expand by adding a drummer. Later came along steel guitar, though that musician won’t be making the Midwest swing with the band. Geil’s songs mostly get their start on his phone. He records licks and pieces of lyrics. “The majority of these songs were written on my phone.” Geil learned his songwriting lessons well from pioneers of the genre. “I always start with the hook. … It’s all about the hook, the melody.” But the song also has to say something. Now, that’s a mature look at love and heartbreak. In the early days, it was about cars and drinking. Those songs as well as tributes to some of the band’s musical heroes, have been captured on a dozen recordings with another due out about the time of the festival. Even in the age of streaming, people still like “to have something to walk away with.” Two Tons of Steel works with a producer who should be familiar to festivalgoers. Lloyd…