Black Swamp Arts Festival

Arts beat: The year ends with a welcome & farewell

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The year ended on the arts beat Saturday evening with a hello and a goodbye. On one end of Main Street in downtown Bowling Green, friends and family gathered at Grounds for Thought to bid farewell to Tom McLaughlin Sr. who died Dec. 11. McLaughlin, a Bowling Green native who returned to his hometown to retire, then lived most of his last year in Ireland, soaking in the music and dance, and memorizing the poetry of William Butler Yeats.  In Bowing Green, he was an energetic promoter of the arts, and an artist himself. At the first Black Swamp Arts Festival he won second prize for one of his dollhouses. But as he explained in an interview before the 25th festival , he knew he couldn’t produce enough work to sell at an affordable price, so instead he demonstrated his craft launching the Artist at Work feature at the festival.  Then he worked with Kay Baglione and Jacquie Nathan to chair the visual arts committee. Together they made the decisions that established the festival as a premier show on the art fair circuit. They ended the non-juried show, but also created the Wood County Invitational to insure that local artists had a place at the event. He was a multidimensional character as explained by those who spoke at the memorial. He was presence around town. He walked everywhere, a habit he continued in Ireland. Down the street at Howard’s Club H, local music fans welcomed back Joe Baker to the scene.  He wryly noted he’d been on “vacation,” or as he told BG Independent on a tour of Northwest Ohio hospitals. He’s bounded back from his serious heart issues.  He and the band first played last summer in City Park, but there was something particularly poignant about being back in Howard’s where he’s played for so many years with so many different bands. On Saturday he had his electric guitar in hand. And the crowd was there to support him. Several couples split their attentions with one spouse attending the memorial while another came to cheer on Baker. That included the Bakers. Peg Baker came into her husband’s show late having been at Grounds. Baker’s long-time bandmate Bob Manley, who plays saxophones, flute, and keyboards, offered up a toast to Peg Baker who was there by her husband side throughout his illness and recovery.  Manley has been there for Baker as well. Manley has played with Baker dating back to the late 1970s with Hardy’s Live Band. The same could be said for a number of listeners in the crowd. Bob Manley The band that also included veterans Tim Stubbs, drums, Tim Berry, bass, and Denny Gwynne, lead guitar, delivered a solid set of rock, folk rock and country covers. Those included favorites including Lyle Lovett’s “She’s No Lady…

Read More

Festival cancels Sunday art show, youth arts, moves music inside

The organizers of the Black Swamp Arts Festival have announced that because of a forecast for severe weather on Sunday, that day’s art show and Youth Arts activities will be canceled. After 6 p.m. on Saturday, artists will pack up and clear he street. Main Street will be open on Sunday. The music acts, including headliner Samantha Fish, will be moved indoors. The Main Stage acts will perform at Howard’s Club H, while acts from the other stages will perform at Grounds for Thought and the Stone’s Throw. The festival will go on as scheduled Friday and Saturday with the full range of activities. Te Community Stage, however, will move indoors to the Four Corners Center. In a statement issued today (Friday, Sept. 7), festival chairman William Donnelly stated: “Threat of severe weather has led us to determine for the safety of the artists, we will cancel the art show and Youth Arts after Saturday. Music and Art as scheduled on Saturday. Sunday’s music has been moved to indoor venues. Thank you to the Brad Gilbert of the Emergency Management Agency for the detailed reports. Thank you to the City of Bowling Green for their rapid response and dedication to public service and safety.” The decision was made in consultation with Bowling Green City administration, public works, and public safety officials. Friday: 5 – 11:30 pm Music and concessions Saturday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Art, Youth Arts, Music, Chalk Walk, and Artists at Work Saturday: 11:00 am – 11:30 pm Live Music Sunday: Live music at indoor venues. Please note: The Community Stage has been moved inside the Four Corners all day Saturday. Volunteers who have signed up for Sunday shifts are encouraged to check in with the festival about picking up shifts on Saturday. This marks the first time in the festival’s 26-year history that the art show has been cancelled. This has been a difficult decision for the festival committee. The safety of festival patrons, participants and artists is paramount to the Black Swamp Arts Festival. The decision was made in consultation with Bowling Green city administration, public works and safety officials.     Please follow us on social media at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and the local news media for further updates. For more information, please visit www.blackswampfest.org.


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  www.blackswampfest.org


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…


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,…


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 &…


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…