Black Swamp Arts Festival

Birds of Chicago come home to roost at Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News JT Nero seems to have his head in the clouds when it comes to bands. He used to lead a band called JT and the Clouds, and that has morphed into Birds of Chicago. The music that band produces, though, is firmly rooted on land, an earthy sound that emerges from the fertile soil of the American musical landscape, gospel, folk, country, and more. And his songs are given voice by Allison Russell, who possesses a voice more than equal to the task of inhabiting the songs’ varied terrains. They’ve dubbed their sound “secular gospel,” and the tag fits. The music is redolent of the spirit and the streets. It has its shadows and foreboding, lightened by moments of joy. Local music lovers will get a chance to experience the sound when the Birds of Chicago alight at the Black Swamp Arts Festival for two sets on Saturday, Sept. 9. The Chicago-based band will perform at 1:30 p.m. show on the Family Stage before moving over the Main Stage for a 4:30 p.m. set. Nero said the festival has been on his radar for a number of years. That’s not surprising. Raised in Toledo, he started playing at venues in Bowling Green in the 1990s with The Rivermen. He moved to San Francisco. That’s where he first met Russell, who was based in Vancouver, British Columbia, through mutual friends on the music scene. Russell was working with her band Po’ Girl. After Nero moved to Chicago, they remained in touch. JT and the Clouds would host them in the city hooking them up with venues and sharing the bill. Nero and Russell are now married, as well as being musical collaborators. “I really found myself writing more and more songs where I heard Allie’s voice. She’s a singer on a different level. There’s a thrill in writing for her voice,” Nero said. “We were making more and more excuses to do things together. It wasn’t until 2012 we really had to carve out space and time for our own thing.” The Birds of Chicago came together with Russell and the core of The Clouds. Nero said though Russell would like to work with Po’ Girl again at some point, “we’re all in on this Birds of Chicago project for the immediate future.” “From the first time we sang together, we both had a kind of buzzer go off in our brains,” Nero said. “There something particularly compelling about how our voices felt together.” There’s a mystery about what two…


The Hiders emerge from “batcave” to rock out at Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Hiders are really something of homebodies. When asked about the band’s touring, founder William Alletzhauser said “we haven’t been touring a lot lately.” Families, day jobs, businesses, and other musical commitments makes hitting the road problematic. “We temper our expectations in that department.” Instead they work their home scene in Cincinnati, and continue to produce recordings on their own studio, “the batcave,” that are heard around the world. “For us it’s more about the adventure of writing and recording. That’s what’s most exciting.” So getting a chance to see The Hiders at the Black Swamp Arts Festival should be a treat for music lovers. The Hiders will play on the Main Stage Friday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. before heading down to Howard’s Club H for an after-hours show. Alletzhauser said labeling the band has proved tricky, given it has elements of folk and psychedelia, mixed with country and classic rock, telling dark stories from the Americana underbelly. To Alletzhauser that all just means The Hiders is a rock band, true to what that meant in the 1970s, not that the band sees itself as a throwback. Rather it’s a contemporary amalgamation of Alletzhauser’s musical history. That goes back to getting a hand-me-down guitar that his older sister decided she didn’t want. As a teenager in the 1980s, Alletzhauser go involved in Cincy’s burgeoning hard core scene. “We liked the idea having a band,” he said. That meant writing their own songs. He continued writing as he moved from band to band, culminating with Ass Ponys, an alt country outfit that toured nationally. When the band broke up, Alletzhauser decided he wanted a band that played his music. He was a little late to the game, he said, being in his mid-30s. “I was always a side guy and I decided just finally I had to do it.” He’d always written and did the occasional solo show, now he wanted a band to bring that book to life. “Mainly I just wanted a broader sound.” The Hiders got started with informal jamming with musicians moving in and out. One key piece of the puzzle came with vocalist Beth Harris joining early on.  Alletzhauser met her during a local production of “Hedwig and the Angry Itch” in 2000. She played Yitzhak, and Alletzhauser was in the pit band. The musical has an authentic rock score, he said. So when he was setting out to form a band, Harris seemed a natural edition as a complementary voice. She grew up…


Whitehorse rides into arts fest for Sunday sets

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland started out as musical collaborators playing in bands together and working on each other’s projects. “Our relationship was strictly professional … for weeks,” Doucet quipped. “Our relationship was very close, very intimate early on. We found each other.” That was about 14 years ago, and now Doucet is talking on the telephone with their 3-year-old son in the background. He wants a boat ride, Doucet said. For years, Doucet and McClelland continued on their separate careers as solo artists and “hired guns,” though they worked together as much as they could. Then six years ago, tired of their schedules pulling them apart, they formed Whitehorse, a musical act informed both by their long musical and personal relationship Whitehorse will perform at the Black Swamp Arts Festival, Sunday Sept. 11, at 12:30 p.m. on the Main Stage and then at 2:45 as the penultimate act on the Family Stage. Reflecting on those early years, Doucet said “our musical lives were very confused.” They were including each other so much in their own bands that when their schedules didn’t allow them to play together, their fans would ask where the missing party was. They also toured together with fellow Canadian Sarah McLachlan. Doucet had been backing the star for a while. As McLachlan’s backup singers came and went, he suggested he knew someone. “She rolled her eyes and told me: ‘I’m not hiring your girlfriend,’” Doucet recalls. Then a backup singer left just as McLachlan was heading off on a short tour with Pete Seeger. She relented. McClelland joined the band for the tour. After the first show, Doucet said, McLachlan “came to me in tears. … ‘I never felt so supported by another singer,’ she said.” That was no surprise to Doucet. McClelland has “the ability to ghost another singer … to be sensitive and supporting … like nothing I’ve heard in another singer.” Those harmonies are central to Whitehorse. Though the band expands for some gigs, at the Black Swamp festival, they will perform as a duo. Just their voices, and Doucet’s electric guitar and McClelland’s acoustic. They’ve used loops in the past, he said, but now favor a sparer sound. Once they took the leap to create Whitehorse, they wondered why they hadn’t done this before. “For me personally, my music benefits so much for having her around.” Both being married and singing to each other, and about each other, are forms of intimacy. “It’s an interesting existence.” They’ve gotten to know each…


Black Swamp Arts Festival puts out call for volunteers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Arts Festival needs a village. That’s what it takes to stage the annual weekend event. It’s been that way for the festival’s 25 years. “It takes everybody,” said Wynn Perry, volunteer coordinator for the festival. The festival draws on a cross section of the community – professionals, retirees, service clubs, churches, school clubs, university students, and more. “They all volunteer.” The Black Swamp Arts Festival will be presented Friday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Sept. 10 this year, in downtown Bowling Green. None of the concerts, art show or youth activities happen without willing bodies. The festival uses about 1,000 volunteers on the weekend itself – the all-volunteer committee that organizes it works throughout the year. That’s the sweat equity that’s invested into putting on a community-wide party. With the festival less than a month away, organizers are in serious need of people to sign up, Perry said. Volunteers are needed throughout the festival from Friday morning to help set up the stage and beer garden area to helping get the downtown back to normal on late Sunday afternoon. On Saturday morning volunteers on the dawn patrol help transform Main Street into a vibrant art fair, as more than 150 artists, plus university students, set up booths. In between, help is needed selling tickets, merchandise, beverages, picking up trash, helping kids create art, and monitoring the stage and beer garden area. “Volunteers are a vital part of the Festival,” Todd Ahrens, who chairs the festival committee, wrote in a statement.  From set up Friday morning to take down on Sunday evening, about 1,000 volunteers support activities to make the Festival run smoothly. “We are still in need of volunteers this year in a number of areas and are hoping the community will rally to pick up one or more of the shifts available.” Most shifts last two to three hours. People can sign up at: www.blackswampfest.org. Clcik the Volunteer link at the top of the page. Volunteers are needed throughout, the weekend but Perry is particularly concerned with Youth Arts, which uses about 300 volunteers, and gate monitors. The gate monitors make sure that alcoholic beverages stay within the confines of the beer garden, and check that those carrying them have the bracelets indicating their IDs have been checked. This year, gate monitors will have a shaded seat to sit in while they perform their duties. Those duties are essential to make sure the festival is operating within the constraints of its liquor license. “Be part of…


Molsky’s Mountain Drifters to take the sound of the Appalachians to new heights at Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Bruce Molsky first dug into old-time mountain music, he was a college dropout. He’d gone off to Cornell to be an architect and instead he ended up washing dishes in the bar and grille that hosted old-time music sessions. Having started playing folk music in his native New York, he joined in. “The old-time music really resonated with me,” Molsky said in a recent telephone interview. “It still does.” Some 40 years later, the 62-year-old fiddler, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist has formed Molsky’s Mountain Drifters with two musicians half his age, but with the same devotion to that evocative mountain sound. Alisson de Groot, who plays claw hammer banjo, and Stash Wyslouch, guitar, are college graduates. Both attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where Molsky, describes himself as “primarily an ear player,” teaches in the Roots Music Department. Now it’s Molsky’s turn to pass on all he learned from the old-timers he jammed with. Molsky’s Mountain Drifters will play two sets at the Black Swamp Arts Festival, Sunday, Sept.10. They’ll perform on the Main Stage at 2 p.m. followed by a 4 p.m. show on the acoustic stage. Molsky said he’s looking forward to coming to Bowling Green. “I like those kind of festivals that have the public walking around going from place to place and enjoying the town.” The social aspect of the music is part of what attracted him. “As a folk musician you better be the kind of person who enjoys meeting new people,” he said. Growing up in the Bronx, he listened to the radio since he was “in single digits.” When he was 12 his sister gave him a Doc Watson record and a book of Beatles music. “The Doc Watson record just hit a nerve,” he said. While the music was “virtuosic and very complex,” there was also something “simple and accessible about it. I could do that.” When he was in his teens, he got caught up in the social scene. “A lot of people were strumming guitars and singing songs.” When he went Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, he discovered a circle of musicians who loved southern Appalachian music. They included some of his earliest mentors. After a time back in New York where he participated in large scale jams with the Red Clay Ramblers from North Carolina. Then Molsky moved to the Shenandoah Valley where he stayed for five years. He moved to Atlanta, and then in the Washington D.C. area, “shooting distance from all the mountain communities…


Antibalas to bring surging rhythms of Afrobeat to the Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Martin Perna, founder of the Afro-beat ensemble Antibalas, likes company. “Community is really important to me,” he said in a recent telephone interview. Whether it’s “connecting people as a leader, a facilitator, or just a participant, what we’re able to achieve together is way bigger than any individual could do.” That holds especially true for Afrobeat, an amalgamation of jazz, soul, psychedelic rock, African highlife, and traditional chants and rhythms. The cast of a dozen musicians allows the songs to expand to 20 to 30 minutes. “It allows for the development of a complex story,” Perna said. A pop song may be a tweet, but an Antibalas song with its surging cross-rhythms and jubilant horns is “an in-depth article,” even a novel. That’s evident on the group’s forthcoming album “Where the Gods Are in Peace,” a throbbing exploration of myths for our time. Antibalas will mark the release of the album, which hits the streets Sept. 15, with a show at the Black Swamp Arts Festival, Saturday, Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. Percussionist and charter member Duke Amayo said he’s excited about the show and the tour because the album speaks about solutions to some of the problems the world is facing rather than just talking about the problems. The band’s publicity says of the album: “Through its battle cry of resistance against exploitation and displacement, Antibalas’ long-form compositions investigate oppression in 1800s America that eerily mirror the current state of the country. Three explosive original arrangements cultivate an urgent call to heal a broken system.” “What we try to do in the music is imagine solutions,” Perna said. “Talking about the same problems in the same way is not going to get us anywhere.” Perna said that meeting Amayo was one of the catalysts for bringing Antibalas together 20 years ago in Brooklyn. Perna, who plays saxophones and flute, had tight circle of friends from his career in music that included a stint with the Dap Kings, the band that accompanied Sharon Jones. When Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti died in 1997, Perna was concerned the music would die with him. Perna had first heard the sound through samples used in hip hop. He connected both with the music’s groove and its call for social justice. He drew on his connections to enlist musicians interested in exploring the Afrobeat as well as some who had years of experience playing it. Pulling that many musicians together who had the skill to carry it off was not easy, but worth it….


Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers ready to plug into the energy at the Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News To celebrate the 25th year of the Black Swamp Arts Festival, the performance arts committee wanted to bring back some favorite performers from years past. Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers certainly fill that bill. The band played town several times including sets at the 2010 and 2011 festivals that had listeners buzzing. That feeling is mutual. “I love Bowling Green,” Dopsie said in a telephone interview. “The people, the town, the atmosphere, I mean it’s like New Orleans part 2. It’s awesome.” That’s high praise coming from zydeco royalty. Dopsie is the younger son of zydeco legend Alton Rubin, who performed as Rockin’ Dopsie. His sons have adopted the “Dopsie” moniker as their own. Dwayne Dopsie’s other brothers also perform keeping their father’s old band alive. Dwayne Dopsie literally learned accordion and zydeco at his father’s feet. His father would be at home, having gotten off the road, and would be cleaning his instrument getting ready for the next show. “He always taught me,” Dopsie said. “‘I want you to play it the right way.’ … One thing he always showed me is zydeco is not what you hear, it’s what you feel.” This set him up on his future course.  “This is what I want to do. I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps because I always heard it.” But he doesn’t replicate his father’s music. “I probably have a little more aggressive style.” The young Dopsie had the advantage of hearing not just his father’s music, but that of Clifton Chenier as well as the sounds his own contemporaries are making. The elder Dopsie had his own father’s traditional style to build on. “I incorporate that love and passion for the music.” Those sources all play out in a Hellraisers’ set. There are originals, traditional tunes, and covers of music by the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Dopsie said he remembers the Black Swamp Arts Festival really getting into his band’s rendition of a Jerry Lee Lewis classic. The tune was familiar but had the Hellraisers’ distinct twist and energy. That’s part of the enduring appeal of live performance. “More people are gravitating toward people actually playing music,” he said. A listener can go to a club and listen to a DJ spinning discs, but “you will never get the real effect of watching a musician playing. Showmanship, he said, is “engaging with the crowd and making them feel like they’re part of the show, making them feel like this is where they need to be.”…


Isaac Smith returns to hometown festival as reigning Best of Show winner

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When he was growing up in Bowling Green, Isaac Smith created his share of macaroni masterpieces in the Youth Arts area of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. He also liked wandering through the crowd and visiting the art booths. It didn’t occur to him that the day would come that he’d be one of those artists. That he would be displaying and selling his own highly detailed and realistic pen and ink drawings, and his artwork would named Best of Show. Smith, a 2011 graduate of Bowling Green High School, returns next month to the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s juried art show to be held Sept. 9 and 10 on Main Street in downtown Bowling Green. The festival begins with music on the Main Stage Friday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. Last year was Smith’s second at the festival. He had exhibited in 2015 in the Wood County Invitational Show. In awarding him Best of Show honors, festival juror Brandon Briggs praised the artist’s “penetrating vision” Smith, Briggs said, was able to pick up on subtle details in his subject matter that most other observers would miss. “That takes not only time and patience, but a certain amount of heart. … Most people are willing to go as far as good enough. You’re a real artist if you’re willing to go ‘good enough is not good enough. I’m going to take it farther.’” Smith said f drawing: “I enjoy the long process, and the patience it takes.” Even as a child he spend more time on drawing than other kids. “At the beginning of high school, it just clicked, and I realized this is what I want to do,” Smith said during a recent interview. He took the four year sequence at the high school culminating in the senior project. Then he attended the Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University in Michigan, graduating in 2016. He remembers visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan, during ArtPrize and deciding he wanted to go there because here was a place that appreciated art. The art school was also a manageable size, about as many people as BG high. In both high school and college, he was encouraged to branch out to try other forms, and each has lessons to teach, he said. In particular at Kendall, he did some abstract paintings. That forced him to rely on the composition, and the interrelationship between elements to create a successful piece, concepts he applies to drawing. Smith always returns to his pencils…


Blind Boys of Alabama brings sound rooted deep in the American soul to Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Blind Boys of Alabama are ready to pull listeners up by their roots at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. The festival has always celebrated American roots music in its 25 years. But no other act can match the depth of the roots of the Blind Boys of Alabama. The band got its start as the Happy Land Jubilee Singers in 1938 at the Talladega Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind in Alabama, and has been sharing the uplift of gospel music ever since. They quit school to tour and later were renamed the Five Blind Boys of Alabama as a way to gin up competition with a similar group that was dubbed the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. The band scored its first hit with “I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine” in 1948. Starting when he was 9, lead singer Jimmy Carter has been along on the entire journey. (Another founder Clarence Fountain records with the ensemble but is unable to tour.) The Blind Boys of Alabama will perform on the Main Stage of the Black Swamp Arts Festival, Saturday, Sept.9, at 8 p.m. Over the years, the rhythms underneath those tight five-part harmonies have evolved, integrating funk, soul, blues, even rap. The vocals, though, have remained true to the band’s roots, said long-time member Ricky McKinnie. “Our voices are what make us the Blind Boys,” he said. “The Blind Boys believe in good harmony. As long as we can keep the harmony as tight as it is, the better off we are.” McKinnie, who sings second tenor and occasionally plays drums, started working with the band about 40 years ago and has been a member for 29 years. Other members of the group are Ben Moore, baritone, Paul Beasley, tenor, and music director Joey Williams, guitar and vocals. “He’s the only sighted member of the group,” McKinnie noted. The Blind Boys first broke into the mainstream when they performed in the musical “The Gospel at Colonus” in the 1980s. That exposed them to a wider audience and new collaborators from a variety of genres. “We found out that what’s from the heart, reaches the heart,” McKinnie said. “So we try to reach the soul of a person. We don’t come to preach to people, we come to sing. We hope that our singing can make them feel good. We sing feel good music.” While “we learn to change with the times,” he said, “The only thing that has changed is the style. … The words are…


Black Swamp Arts Festival’s juried art show celebrates continued excellence in its 25th year

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s juried art show the 25th year celebration is pretty much business as usual. That means working to maintain its standing in the Sunshine Artist magazine’s listing of top art shows. Last year the festival was ranked 70th on the journal’s Top 100 Classic and Contemporary Show list. That’s about where the festival has ranked in the 15 years or so that, it has broken onto the list. Those rankings are based on artists’ average sales which are something shy of $3,000. The 25th Black Swamp Arts Festival will be presented Friday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Sept.10, with the art shows presents Saturday and Sunday. For more details, visit: http://www.blackswampfest.org/. Brenda Baker, who chairs the festival’s visual arts committee, said she would like to think the milestone year has attracted a few more artists to apply. As it was the jurors Kathy Buszkiewicz and Brandon Briggs reviewed 222 applications to fill the 112 booth spaces on Main Street in downtown Bowling Green. Six award winners from last year have committed to returning. That includes best of show winner Isaac Smith. Baker said that 18, or 12.5 percent, of the artists are in their first Black Swamp Arts Festival. “That’s pretty high.” Another 15 percent have been regulars for at least that past five years. The rest are in or out depending on the judgement of the jurors. Buszkiewicz wrote in an email: “Having judged this show in the past, this time I have seen some good returning artists’ applications. There also seems to be some new applicants to the show this year which have helped to add to the diversity of types of artwork present.” One gauge of heightened excitement around the festival, Baker said, is that more of those who were placed on the waiting list have reached out to make sure they’ll get a spot if one becomes available. However, accepted artists have confirmed they will attend earlier and at a higher rate, Baker said. The juried art show will feature “a broader range of styles, from very somber realism to whimsical multimedia pieces,” Baker said. “There’s something that would appeal to anyone no matter what their tastes are. That seems even more the case this year.” “It did seem that the entries for good glass work and painting were more limited than in the past and that of jewelry, ceramics, and photography and digital arts were abundant,” Buszkiewicz said. This year the jurors had another element to consider when making their…


Bobby G brings taste of Delta blues to Howard’s

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Robert Gray first got hooked on the blues listening to sound standing outside the juke joint in his native Winterville, Mississippi. He and his friends didn’t have the money to get in so they absorbed the sounds that wafted from the homespun club. “We just loved what was going on,” he said, “so we would try to sing, just walking down the road singing. That’s when I first got it.” That was years before Robert Gray began Bobby G, the blues singer. Bobby G, now 73, will perform Saturday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at Howard’s Club H in downtown Bowling Green with Curtis Grant Jr. and the Midnight Rockers. Cover charge is $5. Bobby G will also perform Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. The performance celebrates the release of “Still Sanding” on Third Street Cigar Records. This is the bluesman’s first full-length album, and it’s giving the world – it’s charting in Italy, Australia, and elsewhere – its first taste of Bobby G. John Henry, a local blues impesario said, the bluesman is “a treasure.” Because Gray stayed around home, raised two children with his wife, and didn’t go out on the road and experience the hardships and bad habits that so often entails, “he’s well preserved.” His voice is clear, with a sweet high range, though he can growl when the tune demands it. That’s all on display on “Still Standing,” a set of originals written by Johnny Rawls. Before all this could transpire and he could take that love of the blues to the stage, he needed a change of location. Growing up in Mississippi, Gray said, it was like time stood still. You did what your parents did who were doing what their parents did. “I remember being a young guy, about 13 or 14, and I was out in the cotton fields and as far as I could look was cotton,” he said. “Looked like the cotton went up to the sky, and the sky came down to the cotton, and I was thinking: ‘Lord, is there anything else for me?’” He’d been in those fields since he was 6 and putting cotton into his mother’s bag. Then his uncle came visiting from up north, from Toledo. Gray didn’t know anything about Toledo except it wasn’t Mississippi. He asked his uncle if he could go back with him. He waited that day, until his uncle’s car arrived, kicking up a cloud of dust on the way. He was 15. Not…


Musical energy comes in lots of flavors at the 2017 Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Black Swamp Arts Festival will bring back some favorites to the Main Stage to help celebrate its 25th year. Those are favorites from previous festivals including the darlings of 2016 the all-female mariachi ensemble Flor de Toloache and zydeco rabble-rouser Dwayne Dopsie and his Hellraisers. The festival runs from Friday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 10 in downtown Bowling Green. Performing Arts Committee chairs Cole Christensen and Tim Concannon also are confident some of the newcomers, such as Birds of Chicago and Afrobeat veterans Antibalas from the Broadway show “Fela!” are destined to become festivalgoers new favorite bands. The festival has now posted its full Main Stage lineup on http://www.blackswampfest.org/music-1/ with links to the bands’ websites. The schedules for the Community Stage and the Family Stage are still being put together, though as in the past several Main Stage performers will play second sets elsewhere. The lineups include two acts considered the best in their genres. The Irish band Lunasa, called “the hottest Irish band on the planet,” will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and the legendary gospel quintet Blind Boys of Alabama, who date back to 1944, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday. “They’ve done their thing for 70 years,” Christensen said. The Blind Boys represent the roots of the kaleidoscopic sound now called Americana. “We’re just trying to bring high energy acts from every genre of music,” Christensen said. Those acts can come from across the ocean, or they can come from across the street. Each day of the festival is opening with a local band on the Main Stage. Kicking off the festival and reviving the practice of having a top local act as openers will be the Matt Truman Ego Trip. The band has a psychedelic punk rock mix. Truman will return later for an acoustic show. On Saturday the BiG Band BG, the Bowling Green Area Community Bands’ swing group, will open the show. Concannon said he liked what he heard during a recent concert at the Pemberville Opera House. Following them will be Bobby G with Curtis Grant and the Midnight Rockers. The Toledo singer absorbed the sound of the blues will growing up in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. As a teenager he moved to Toledo and brought his love of the blues with him. He was performing in Toledo clubs in the 1970s before taking time off to raise his family. He came back on the scene about a decade ago after retiring. John Henry, a local blues…


Black Swamp Arts Festival thanks Kroger for donation

To the Editor: The Black Swamp Arts Festival Committee would like to express its appreciation for the $2,000 donated to the festival by Kroger during its grand opening of the Kroger Marketplace in Bowling Green. We are honored to be included along with Wood County Humane Society and The Cocoon. The Kroger donation will help us continue to present high quality entertainment and art to the community. On Sept. 8. 9 and 10 the festival will mark its 25th year with a weekend full of art, music, activities for kids, beverages, and food.   Black Swamp Arts Festival committee


Black Swamp Arts Festival poster is a winner for creativity

From BLACK SWAMPS ARTS FESTIVAL The 2016 Black Swamp Arts Festival poster has been honored as Most Creative in Sunshine Artist magazine’s annual competition. The 2016 Black Swamp Arts Festival poster has been honored as Most Creative in Sunshine Artist magazine’s annual competition.The poster, featuring wildflowers found in the Black Swamp, was designed by Erin Holmberg, of Bowling Green. Holmberg said she was inspired by her local upbringing. Her mother was an avid gardener. “Living here in Bowling Green throughout my childhood, I really started to appreciate the natural beauty around here.”Holmberg noted the past two posters, her own design in 2015 and Will Santino’s poster in 2014, both focused on the downtown scene. “It’s not just an arts festival, it’s the Black Swamp Arts Festival,” Holmberg said. “I wanted to try to tie it back to the local community, the namesake of the festival.”So she decided to focus on the swamp. The colored front has an artful profusion of plant life found in the Black Swamp. Though some of the plants she learned in the process of creating the poster are not native to the area.The back side of the program challenges the viewer to identify the 21 flowers depicted on the front and to identify those not native to the Black Swamp. It also includes factoids about the swamp.Holmberg consulted local naturalists, and even got permission to collect a few samples from Wintergarden Park. The goal is to create “a thoughtful design that really is a homage to the people and places” the festival’s audience knows. “You get much better response. People want to participate and want to be there.” The festivals’ posters have received numerous awards from Sunshine Artist, the leading journal for the art fair scene. “It’s an art festival,” Holmberg said. “It makes perfect sense to make a well-designed, thoughtful piece of promotional material at the forefront.”This year’s poster for the festival’s 25th year is being designed by Amy Karlovec, who designed the festival postersmwith her husband, Matt, for about a decade before taking a break the past three years.


Tom McLaughlin returning to the land of his ancestors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tom McLaughlin was walking in the rain recently. When a driver stopped and asked if he wanted a ride, McLaughlin declined. He was getting ready for Ireland. The 82-year-old native of Bowling Green, who made his career elsewhere before returning to his hometown 25 years ago, is on the move again. At the end of July he’ll begin a long journey, first by train and then by plane, to his new home in Cornamona in Ireland’s County Galway. There he’ll continue his studies in the Irish language, memorize the poetry of William Butler Yeats and soak in the music and dancing. “Wherever they have traditional music, I’ll be there,” he said. For McLaughlin, it’s a return to a land his family left several generations ago. His late wife Kathleen, who had a keen interest in genealogy, located records of a great grandparent in Pennsylvania. McLaughlin’s own grandparents lived in Bowling Green where he was born. When he was just about ready to enter high school his parents moved north to Oregon. (He still gets together for lunch with members of the Bowling Green High Class of 1953.) In September, 2015, McLaughlin, traveled to Ireland with his five grown children. His eldest son, Tom Jr., was suffering from the cancer that would claim him in June, 2016. Tom Jr .had a deep love of Irish music and dancing, and as a naturalist a fascination with the cliffs and the birds that swirled about them. They located the ancestral plot in Northern Ireland. They explored the culture and the nature. And they hatched an idea. Why not buy a place in Ireland, with everyone having a stake, where they could visit? A second home in the ancestral homeland. They even considered opening a bed and breakfast. When McLaughlin returned home, he had more immediate concerns. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer, and his time was occupied caring for Tom Jr. The idea of the Irish homestead seemed to fade. Then came the November election, McLaughlin said his son, Bill, a fire chief in Colorado, and McLaughlin’s three daughters, Colleen, Maureen, and Pegeen, came home for Thanksgiving. Bill, McLaughlin said, “couldn’t understand how Trump got elected.” Now was the time to realize the dream. So McLaughlin and his son flew over in March and found a place, and Tom Sr. negotiated to buy it with the furnishings for no extra costs. McLaughlin needed to get a visa as “a retired person of independent means.” That meant passing a health assessment. “They…