Music

Shinyribs ready to take Black Swamp fest audience on a fantastic musical voyage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kevin Russell has a fertile imagination. Just ask him how the name Shinyribs originated. Sometimes it involves giving a homeless woman some ribs. Or maybe as he also says it was just a meaningless moniker given to him by a bunch of derelicts he used to hang out with in northern Louisiana. Or maybe it’s from his toddler running around declaring “It’s shiny time!” “It was his mantra,” Russell said. And about that time Russell was thinking a lot about the creation story involving Adam’s rib and thinking that the rib lives its life in darkness, and yet it’s close to the heart. Then Russell laughs. He’s laughter punctuated each of these creation stories. He’s a guy who likes to have a good time, and likes to encourage others to have a good time. That really is what Shinyribs stands for. The Austin-based octet will be the closer for Saturday night on the Main Stage of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Russell said he’s looking forward to the gig. “As soon as I saw the name, I said ‘I want to play the Black Swamp.’” Russell’s music is rooted in joy. Growing up in Beaumont, he said: “We heard of tons of 45s, everything, The Sylvers, Billy Preston, Glen Campbell, Ray Stevens, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Monkees, Jerry Reed, Waylon. That’s how we listened to music. We listened to everything. We didn’t care what kind of music it was. It was wide open. Me and my sisters would dance to that music. Great time.” That no-styles barred approach continues to be the Shinyribs mission statement. From the time Russell was a child, he’d tried to get his friends to form a band, but it wasn’t until he was 14 when his father asked if he wanted to learn to play the guitar that his career as a musician lifted off. At first he woodshedded behind closed doors. Then he played for his school friends and at talent shows. “I got the bug and kind of kept doing it.” That involved playing, but especially songwriting. Russell said his songs, “a flood of songs,” are his diary, his autobiography. Some have found their way into the repertoire of the bands he played with including The Gourds, which for 20 years was a staple of the bustling Austin, Texas music scene. Others he’s played solo, and now with Shinyribs. Some will never be heard. “I’ll never remember them all.” That fecundity is in part what led to the breakup of The Gourds. The band had four songwriters vying for a place on the set list. Russell started playing as a single to sing some of this surfeit of material and make a few extra dollars. He performed as Shinyribs. It was just him and his guitar and ukulele. Soon The Gourds went into hiatus. Russell enlisted keyboard wizard Winfield Cheeks, and then bassist Jeff Brown made it a trio. Gourds drummer Keith Langford wasn’t sure what direction he wanted to go after the band stopped performing. Eventually he joined Russell. Shinyribs got booked to do a wedding, and the host had a list of requests, and wanted horns. So Russell brought on the Tijuana Trainwreck Horns – Mark Wilson, saxophone and flute, and Daniel “Tiger”…


From Rolling Stones to Black Swamp fest, saxophonist Karl Denson is always ready to start a party

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Some nights saxophonist Karl Denson will play for 87,000 people. Another night he might play for 87. Some nights his meaty, soulful sound is blowing in the spotlight with the Rolling Stones. Other nights he’s “getting away with murder” playing jazz tunes in a rock club. On Saturday Sept. 8, at 8 p.m. Denson will present his amalgamation of funk and pop with a heart of jazz on the Main Stage of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. “It’s interesting to see how I’m perceived,” he said. Playing 150 shows a year, “you change the sound from time to time.” “Sometimes it’s more funk and sometimes gets a little jazzier,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “It’s a dance band. At the end of the day, whatever angle I’m taking, I really want people to be dancing and having fun.” This is in the spirit of those jazz players who came before him. “It was a party when Louis Armstrong played,” or for that matter, he added, when hip hop DJs started spinning turntables and scratching records. That’s the spirit he wants to bring to Bowling Green. Denson’s been playing for good times since he was a teen. Growing up in southern California, he started on saxophone in seventh grade. It was just something to do, he said. By high school he was working in funk bands and Mexican wedding bands. Denson went to Fullerton College with the intentions of being a veterinarian. In high school he’d worked in an animal clinic, including assisting in the operating room. But he found himself taking more music classes each semester, so he switched his major. He moved on to Cal State Long Beach. At that time he aspired to be an avant garde jazz saxophonist inspired by the likes of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cecil Taylor, and Anthony Braxton. This was a golden age of jazz with all its variety of styles, including early fusion, before it got smooth, he said. “I feel fortunate to have live through that,” he said. “Now I’m definitely using that as a reference. … I’m a jazz guy at heart. My stuff is going to lean back into that improvised kind of music. … It hangs in that sixties, seventies vein.” And younger players, notably fellow saxophonist Kamasi Washington, are also inspired by the styles of that time. Denson had a record deal with a German label playing straight-ahead jazz. But in the early 1990s, he went on the road with rock guitarist Lenny Kravitz. As much as he loved working with Kravitz and doing jazz on the side, Denson wanted to create something of his own. The emergence of acid jazz opened up that avenue for him. “I recognized all those samples,” he said. “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” The saxophonist hooked up with DJ Greyboy and cut some tracks that were hits on the dance circuit. That led to the formation of the Greyboy All Stars, an ensemble that lasted longer than its namesake’s participation in the group. “That was the most fun thing ever,” Denson said of the All Stars. Here he was bringing the jazz vibe that first inspired him as a teenager into dance clubs. When the All Stars had run…


Music is what matters to high school folk-rock trio

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The rock band Mindless Matters has now played on both sides of the street just north of the intersection of Main Street and Court Street in downtown Bowling Green. In the two years that Kameron Frankart, guitar and vocals, Joey Craig, drums, and Allan Landgraf, fretless electric bass, have been a working band, they’ve appeared on the iconic stage at Howard’s Club H. Wednesday night the trio of Bowling Green High School seniors, played across the street at the Wood County District Public Library, on the site where Howard’s was originally located. Mindless Matters did a set to support the Libraries Rock summer reading program. They performed a mix of classic rock tunes, a couple songs by Bob Dylan, and a number of originals. They also urged those in attendance to head out to the Civic Music Club at 135 S. Byrne in Toledo to cheer them on Friday night (July 20) when they compete in the finals of the venue’s Battle of the Bands. The show starts at 7, but the band isn’t sure when they’ll hit. The competition started weeks ago with 40 bands playing over the course of a number of nights. Now it’s down to eight bands that will appear Friday and Saturday. Mindless Matters stems from a time when Frankart and Craig jammed with another young musician they knew from school. When that trio didn’t work out, Craig suggested they recruit Landgraf whom he knew from the high school jazz band. The new combination clicked, but then Landgraf left town to spend a year in Austria with his family. As soon as he got back, though, Mindless Matters started playing shows. That was two years ago. They’ve made the rounds of venues, including Grounds for Thought where they launched their four-song EP, the Black Swamp Arts Festival, where they will play again this year, and the aforementioned Howard’s Club H. They also have a single making the rounds. “We all love playing music together,” Landgraf said. Recently they’ve been entertaining at friends’ graduation parties as an acoustic trio. That was the format at the library. Afterward, though, Frankart said the acoustic trio was a work in progress. They prefer plugging in. “It’s nice to have some power behind you,” the vocalist said. They all draw on their interests from the older music they’ve heard growing up. Craig noted his father was something of a Deadhead, and both he and Landgraf heard a lot of jazz. At Wednesday’s show, when Frankart stepped off stage to get some water, Craig slipped over to the library’s Steinway grand piano, and he and Landgraf launched into an impromptu version of “Take the A Train.” He also played piano on an original song he’d composed. He said he and Landgraf both consider themselves jazz musicians, and they work jazz-inspired syncopations into their rhythm work with Mindless Matters. Landgraf said they’re also juicing up the chords with some jazz harmony. Frankart does most of the songwriting. “I really like raw and meaningful songwriting, not just a few chords with easy lyrics.” That reflects his admiration for Dylan “the king of meaningful lyrics.” That’s not the case with the title, which he came up with because it sounded good. While Frankart gets credit for the songs, the band…


Toledo Opera casts Shawn Mathey in ‘Magic Flute’

Bowling Green native Shawn Mathey will perform of Tamino, the prince in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” with the Toledo Opera, Oct. 5 and 7 in the Valentine Theatre. Mathey, who has performed in lead roles with major companies around the world, has returned to Bowling Green. He earned his Master of Music from Bowling Green State University, where his wife Sujin Lee teaches, in December. He appeared in “Cavalleria Rusticana” in February, 2016 on campus. With the Toledo Opera he has performed lead roles in “Madama Butterfly” and “Faust.”  


Rising blues star Samantha Fish ready to connect with Black Swamp Arts Festival audiences

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When the Main Stage acts for the 2018 Black Swamp Arts Festival were first posted, a number of music fans lit up social media at the sight of Samantha Fish’s name as the festival closer. Two months from now, on Sunday afternoon, rising blues star Fish will take the Main Stage to round out the weekend’s performances. The 26th Black Swamp Arts Festival runs from Sept. 7 through 9 in downtown Bowling Green. Since the Kansas City, Missouri -based artist emerged on the blues scene about 10 years ago, she’s caught the eye and ear of blues lovers. Last year she released her fifth solo album on Ruf Records. Those records are important, she said in a recent telephone interview, even in today’s changing music business landscape. “An album is a marker of growth. It’s a legacy …. People need something to take home to listen to.” But a recording can only capture so much. The real connection between listener and performer comes in person. “There’s something about seeing someone live,” Fish said. “You see the passion. These guys sweating it out, really living in the moment, and delivering a song that connects to your life. You don’t get that from listening to a record.” Hearing live shows, whether at a festival in Arkansas where she first heard the rawer version of Delta blues or a Kansas City club, where she heard the legends of the music, is what hooked Fish on the music. That was when she was in her late teens. “I was looking for something real, and I found it there.” Fish said she’d also had her eye on doing something in the entertainment business since she was a child. To those around her dancing and theater were “pipe dreams.” She started playing drums at 13, and then picked up guitar at 15. Later she started going to jam sessions to hone her craft. “I didn’t know how to go from wanting to do something to making it happen,” Fish said. “In those clubs, I saw that music was happening all over, not only Los Angeles. … It just gave me some hope I could write my songs and sing and play guitar and make a decent living out of it.” She got a band together, and started making calls. It was like being “a telemarketer,” she said. The band landed some gigs, and that earned her some fans. It got her recognized as the Best New Artist at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. A self-produced live album got her a record deal with Ruf Records. “I got lucky,” Fish said. “We’ve connected with people and built an amazing fan base in such a short period of time. Fifteen-year-old Samantha is really shocked that this kind of stuff can happen.” But a lot of hard work goes into capitalizing on that luck.  “It’s been a long road.” That road has passed through venues around the world. The live show is what drives her popularity. “That’s what we have the most practice doing since all those little gigs in Kansas City. “The combination of being a strong woman playing guitar, singing and writing and putting together a really dynamic band with a lot of personality – that’s what connects with people.”…


Farewell to “The Chief” – BGSU community celebrates life of long-time band director Mark Kelly

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If a stranger happened into the memorial for Mark Kelly Saturday morning in Kobacker Hall not knowing anything about the person’s whose life was being celebrated, that person would have been enlightened about the late Bowling Green State University band director, and why he was called the Chief. It would be clear why more than 100 musicians were assembled on stage to play some of Kelly’s favorite music, and why several hundred more gathered in the hall, where The Chief had directed so many concerts, to hear the music and words honoring him. That stranger would come away with a clear picture of a man who valued tradition, integrity and excellence. Kelly thought of himself as “just a band director from Iowa” yet left a legacy that has touched untold thousands, both directly and through the ripple effect of the students of his students. A Celebration of Mark S. Kelly was held Saturday morning on campus. Kelly, band director at BGSU from 1966-1994, died at age 91 on Nov. 20. Those gathered for the celebration of life included a Pulitzer Prize winning composer and just as important people whose lives have taken them away from music yet still remember lessons learned from The Chief. Mark Zimmerman, a 1979 BGSU graduate, was drum major for the Falcon Marching Band under Kelly. He said that Kelly’s voice resonates with them as they stand at the kitchen sink, or walk down Wall Street or through a slum in Kenya. It doesn’t matter if they had careers in music or not. “I’ve heard that voice in my mind for 43 years and it’s never going to leave me,” he said. That voice resounded in the words of the speakers. It was heard in the pet sayings – “plan your work then work your plan,” recalled John Deal, his assistant from1975-1979. And in the stories told. Jay Jackson, as a newly hired assistant director in 1986, recalled questioning whether he needed to wear a uniform. Maybe a sport coat, he suggested, during an increasingly chilly discussion. That’s what the grad assistants wear, Kelly told him. So when Jackson made his debut on the sidelines, he was sporting the “Funky Winkerbean” look. Kelly had his say about what transpired during the memorial. His daughter Karen Kelly, who organized the celebration with her sisters Martha Jewell and Barb Hayden, said she would have conversations in later years with her father about what kind of service he wanted. He told her: “I would be nice if we could have some band members play a little something. So we started thinking and soon grew beyond the size of the church.” Planning for the memorial started in December. She looked back at all his programs to see what pieces he played the most, and what kind of pieces he liked. That meant marches including Everett Maxwell’s “Sounding Brass” and “The Pathfinder of Panama” by John Philip Sousa and Broadway medleys, “My Fair Lady,” on Saturday. Karen Kelly said the response to the call for musicians was “tremendous.” The musicians included 1967 graduates, the first graduating class after her father’s arrival, to current students. Linda Jones, who played the piano for Felix Mendelssohn’s Concert Piece No. 2 for two clarinets and piano, was a high…


Former students to gather to honor legacy of late BGSU band director Mark Kelly

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATION They called him “The Chief,” and at 10:30 a.m. June 23, 101 of his former students will play at Bowling Green State University’s Kobacker Hall in his memory. Mark Kelly, who directed the BGSU bands from 1966 to 1994, died in November 2017 at the age of 91. The BGSU College of Musical Arts will host the memorial service Saturday. His daughter, Karen Kelly, brought together dozens of alumni and former students of her father to perform together as a band at the service. Capt. Ryan Nowlin, assistant director of the “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, will conduct the band during its performance. Karen Kelly ’75, ’82 is touched that so many alumni are coming back to the University to pay their respects to her father. “It speaks to the interest Dad maintained in the life and careers of the students, whether they continued in music, or completely different careers, away from music,” said Kelly, who was the band director at Van Wert (Ohio) High School for 34 years. “Outside of music, the careers included Air Force pilots, business entrepreneurs and scientists. His leadership was not music education specific.” Before Mark Kelly came to BGSU, he taught high school band at his alma mater in Centerville, Iowa, for several years. Three of his students from that time period will play in the memorial concert. Others are traveling from Washington D.C., Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Texas. Alumni performing Saturday include Lisa Welling Baker ’84, flute, a retired Shelby (Ohio) High School band director whose daughter is a twirler with the Falcon Marching Band; George Edge ’79, oboe, retired Grove City (Ohio) band director; Roger Kantner ’88, bassoon retired member of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band; Patty Ruckman ’90, clarinet, New Bremen (Ohio) choirs; Stan George ’80, alto sax, Perrysburg (Ohio) Schools; Ray Novak ’83, trumpet, retired (Toledo) Whitmer High School band director; Amy Horn ’89, French horn, retired member of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band; Dale Laukhuf ’67, trombone, retired Bath (Ohio) Local Schools; and Jeff Macomber ’75, euphonium, Missouri State Southern University. “To say that Mark Kelly made a meaningful contribution to BGSU as director of bands is an understatement,” said William B. Mathis, College of Musical Arts dean. “His influence and legacy is felt in the College of Musical Arts every day as students rehearse in Kelly Hall, through the Mark S. Kelly Band Scholarship and through lives and careers of the hundreds of students that he taught and mentored. “Anyone who knew Mr. Kelly knows of his caring personality, high standards and incredible passion for bands, music education and, most of all, students.” Kelly also will play bass clarinet with the band as it performs some of her father’s favorite songs. “It reflects the mutual respect between Dad and the students,” she said. “He emphasized citizenship and camaraderie of the students in the ensembles, and was always aiming for the ‘individual group,’ not a group of ‘individuals.’  Integrity, respect of the individual, honorable character and discipline are words frequently associated with Dad. “As a musician, his goal was for the sonority, blend, balance and the color of the ensemble, whether outdoor marching band, or indoor concert band. It shows the care, concern, and the attention…


Toledo Zoo to host symphony & swing concerts

From TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA The Mercy Health Music Under the Stars at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater will begin Sunday, July 8. Unwind on a warm Sunday evening and enjoy great music performed by the Toledo Symphony Concert Band, Toledo Symphony Chamber Players, Toledo Jazz Orchestra, and more. This year, each show will feature a fun musical theme aimed at family enjoyment. Each performance will be held at the Toledo Zoo’s Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. July 8 – Stars, Stripes, and Sousa with the Toledo Symphony Concert Band July 15 – Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars: The Music of John Williams with the Toledo Symphony Concert Band July 22 – Christmas in July with the Toledo Symphony Chamber Players July 29 – Swing, Swing, Swing: Music of the Big Band Stars with the Toledo Jazz Orchestra. The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) will be offering its Music Under the Stars Shuttle once again for those wishing to participate in the Park-N-Ride Service. Music Under the Stars Shuttle Park-N-Ride locations are: Maumee – St. Luke’s Hospital (5901 Monclova Road) Sylvania – Centennial Terrace (main parking lot, 5773 Centennial Road) Toledo – Franklin Park Mall (parking lot behind Old Navy; pick up at shelters on Royer Road) Toledo – Miracle Mile Shopping Center (near the shelter, 1727 West Laskey Road) Waterville – Kroger (8730 Waterville Swanton Road) Patrons are to arrive at any TARTA Music Under the Stars Shuttle Park-N-Ride location at 6:30 PM for a direct round trip ride to the Toledo Zoo’s Broadway entrance. Bus fare is $1.25 per person each way (60 cents for Seniors 65+ and Medicare cardholders) and is payable before each trip from the Toledo Zoo’s Amphitheatre aboard shuttle. Return trips will leave 20 minutes after the end of each concert.


Black Swamp Festival ready to party with a cornucopia of musical acts

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For a touring musician like JT Nero festivals offer a benefit beyond a paying gig. Nero and his band, Birds of Chicago ,will be returning to the Black Swamp Arts Festival this year, and he remembers his 2017 visit fondly. “We had a hell of a time, an amazing time. They really curate interesting and eclectic slate of bands,” Nero, who grew up in Toledo, said. “It’s fun not just to come and play but to hang out and hear the other music. From what I’ve been able to tell, they’ve always done that.” Touring musicians often miss out on hearing what other performers are up to. At a festival like Black Swamp “we plug in and see where our peers are at and see as much music as we can.” The Black Swamp Arts Festival aims to please, musicians and listeners alike, so a mix of performers in a cornucopia of styles will again grace the Main Stage this year, Friday, Sept. 7 through Sunday, Sept. 9. Schedules for the festival’s other two stages will be forthcoming later this summer with some Main Stage acts playing second shows at those venues. Headliners include Karl Denson, the saxophonist from the Rolling Stones’ touring band, and a New York funk band with a beat that matches its eye-catching name, Pimps of Joytime. The focus, said Cole Christensen, who co-chairs the festival’s performing arts committee, is fun. Last year with high expectations as the festival celebrated its 25th year, the committee rolled out some heavy-hitters, including the Blind Boys of Alabama. This year, Christensen and co-chair Tim Concannon, wondered: “How could we have a more fun party atmosphere? How could we have a combination of really enjoyable acts that would appeal to a lot of people and would have a really good fan base?” Drawing on some recommendations from friends near and far, Christensen thinks they’ve achieved that goal. Friday’s headliners feature bluegrass performer Billy Strings. “He’ll bring it fast, hot and furious,” Christensen said of the guitar picker from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Setting the stage for him will be the San Antonio, Texas-based rockabilly band Two Tons of Steel. Alex Hann, who chairs the festival’s site and logistics committee, recommended booking the band. Closing Friday will be Pimps of Joytime. The band describes its sound as being at the “intersection of Brooklyn’s indie music scene, New Orleans funk and San Francisco soul.” “Party music,” is Christensen’s assessment. Saturday’s show brings back Birds of Chicago, a crowd favorite. Fronted by Nero and his wife Allison Russell, the band performs thoughtful, evocative original songs with ingratiating harmonies. Another band founded by Birds’ guitarist Dan Abu-Absi, Radio Free Honduras, features the songs and vocals of Honduran musician Charlie Baran. They will perform earlier on Saturday. Cordovas, named as a band to watch by “Rolling Stone,” will also be o the Saturday bill. The country-rockers from Nashville feature four-voice harmonies that will have some thinking of Crosby Stills, Nash & Young. Christensen expects Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe to provide a blast of high energy jazz funk. “They have quite a following on the jam scene,” he said. Closing out the night be Shinyribs, another Austin band. The band was suggested by a fan of the festival, Christensen said. Kevin Russell,…


The Iguanas deeply rooted music connects with pro-migrant cause

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When it comes to music, the fundamental things still apply. “The thing that’s always compelling is bands playing music together,” said Rene Coman, of the New Orleans-based roots band The Iguanas. “That’s the human part. That’s the exciting part that’s not dictated by a machine.” The Iguanas, who played the Black Swamp Arts Festival back in 2001, will play a benefit show for La Conexion de Wood County, Monday, June 18, at 7 p.m., at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Suggested donation is $10. The cause of supporting immigrants is one the band can get behind, Coman said.  The band’s lead singers, Joe Cabral and Rod Hodges, have grandparents who came to the United States from Mexico. “We definitely see ourselves as kindred spirits in that line of migration,” he said. “People are trying to improve their lives and find opportunities for their children. How can you fault anyone for that?” That’s not surprising for a band that embraces its American roots including those that extend south of the border or into the Louisiana swamp homes of the French Arcadians. “One of the things that makes the band work and that contributes to our longevity is we’re all into different kinds of music with a lot of intersections,” Coman said in a recent telephone interview. Cabral, saxophone and bajo sexton, and Hodges, guitar and accordion, were drawn to New Orleans by the city’s tradition of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s where they formed The Iguanas in 1989. Early on they had a shifting team of rhythm players. Coman joined on bass and keyboards in 1990. A year later he enlisted Doug Harrison, a former bandmate with Alex Chilton’s group, to take over the drum chair. The band has been a quintet at times, with another horn, but they’ve settle in as a quartet. “We’re perfectly comfortable swimming in that big open space.” Coman, who is from New Orleans, said the city sees itself linked culturally to the Caribbean. That musical tradition resonates throughout the sounds that took shape in the Big Easy. So much of it has “that rolling clave feel,” he said. “At the same time we’re all fans of country music, and of course, rock ‘n’ roll. We’re huge fans of all these different touchstones that we’re able to draw from and comingle into a true American music.” The songs take shape in a variety of ways, Coman said. Three band members write songs. Sometimes these are delivered as completed works. Other times, someone will come in with lyrics and “the band will collectively finish it off. … There’s no set rule to it.” The band also likes to include some offbeat covers, often the B-sides from their musical heroes, he said. Overtime the music tends to grow and slowly change, like watching a child grow. “It’s a pretty organic process,” Coman said. The musical center is a constant but the sound is always moving and always changing slightly over time. “After playing together for so long the telepathic communication is undeniable,” Coman said. “You see a band that has that much experience together. It’s not like someone who practices a lot. You can’t replace the years of repetition and the millions of variations. We have such huge common…


Art in the Park shines even under cloudy skies

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the fourth Art in the Park Friday at Simpson Garden Park. It did deter some, but not all, plein air artists. But others came out in force to entertain the attendees, who grew in number as the two-hour event progressed. The rain that arrived mid-afternoon was receding just as folks arrived. So a trio of musicians were heading out to the gazebo. Alice Calderonello, of the BG Arts Council which staged the event with the city Parks and Recreation Department, said the performers took the changes necessitated by the weather in good spirits, even if it meant they were playing in odd corners, and for a shorter period of time. Still by the time the event was wrapping up, musicians had ventured outdoors, and some visitors had wandered off into the garden to admire the garden’s blooms, which are delayed a bit by the cool, wet spring. Phil Hollenbaugh, the volunteer who tends the extensive hosta garden, was on hand checking the plants. Mayor Dick Edwards said that Bowling Green is second only to Dubuque, Iowa, in the number of hosta varieties in its municipal garden. Hollenbaugh said he has 50 more varieties to plant. But he laughed off any competition between the two cities. He’s always happy when people come into the garden to enjoy the plants. Painter Kim Sockman, one of the three artists to arrive to paint outside in the garden, was as close to the outside as she could be while still being inside. The retired art teacher was near the doorway to the Children’s Discovery Garden. With an eye on the weather Thursday, she came out and snapped a photo of the wooden arch in the area. She worked from that image as well as glancing out at the scene. It was good she got a head start on her work because so many people, including her former art students, stopped to chat she wasn’t get a lot of work done. “This is Bowling Green,” she said. “It’s a blast.” That sense of community also attracted newer arrivals to town. Rachel and Phil Beskid were there with their daughters Sylvia and Lucy, who were busy working on a craft project. The family moved to BG about a year ago, and Art in the Park was a way to connect with the community and feel at home, Phil Beskid said. Holli and Jeremy Luring and their children also moved here in the past year. Holi Luring said they came because of the art and music, and the activities for the kids was a bonus. A variety of art activities were provided by the parks department, the Montessori School of Bowling Green, and Jules Webster, owner of Art Supply Depo. They live nearby, she said. “These are beautiful gardens.” Jeremy Luring said the event with its small town feel was a good way to meet people. Flutist Hong-Da Chin returned to have a chance to improvise music with some friends before he moves out of Bowling Green.  He graduated with his doctorate in contemporary music in December and has a teaching position at Western Illinois University. “I just wanted to improvise with them one last time for a long time.” He was joined in the…


Elder Mountain man Corky Laing at a new stage in long career

Last December 23 music fans at Howard’s Club H helped Corky Laing celebrate his 70th birthday. What they were also witnessing, the veteran rock drummer said, was something more. “Basically I was born again.’ Magic happened on that stage. Laing was playing the music made famous by his former band Mountain. He was playing with a couple new musical collaborators, Chris Shutters on guitar and flute, and Mark Mikel, a multi-instrumentalist playing bass, on a stage that evokes everything a rock club should be. Laing felt revitalized. Corky Laing Plays Mountain returns to Howard’s Club H in downtown Bowling Green tonight (Saturday, June 9) at 9 p.m. The show comes as Laing is pulling together touring for 2018 through 2019 for the trio, which he said doesn’t really have a name yet. Corky Laing Plays Mountain is a place holder moniker. The trio has also kicked around the idea of calling itself Pompeii. That name is pulled from a little known release that Laing and singer Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople recorded back in 1976-1978 with a rotating all-star cast. The recording was little known, subtitled “The Secret Sessions,” but when it was released on vinyl by Rouge Records it sold out both pressings. Even though harking back to the old days, Laing wanted it to reflect the present. So the vinyl included a computer card that allowed the purchaser to download four songs by Laing’s Toledo band, including the original “Knock Me Over.”. The trio started when Corky Laing needed a guitar player for a tour. Fellow drummer Kofi Baker recommended Shutters. Laing who has played with “the best of the best” – Eric Clapton and Dickey Betts appear on “Pompeii” – heard a “first division” musician in Shutters. Last year Shutters invited Laing to come visit him in Toledo, and Laing loved what he discovered – a vibrant music scene that had clubs rocking with music. Laing felt he needed a new bass player, so Shutters introduced him to the multitalented Mikel, formerly of the Pillbugs. The drummer was “blown away” by Mikel’s playing. Laing had his trio, and they made their debut in December at Howard’s. But that’s not all that’s occupying the veteran. He’s working with his manager Toija Takala on a memoir, He already has one book out, “Stick It” that chronicles the raucous and raunchy back stage stories fans love. He referred to it as “something of a joke.” This one is different. “It’s the story of a young guy trying to keep in touch with his family.” Laing grew up in Montreal, the youngest of six, including a set of triplets. The household included an aunt and uncle. He played drums to get attention. Starting back when he was 11 and played with the Ink Spots, he wrote letters to his mother. His mother saved all those letters, and he and Takala discovered them in a box. That’s the basis for the book-in-progress, “Letters to Sara.” “Parts in there are confessional,” he said. “It’s a real sincere look at being on the road.” Laing traveled that road for more than 50 years. He likes where it’s taken him. He’s not “dirt napping” like so many of his peers. He has a band that he loves playing with, and music he still loves…


Airing out the arts in Simpson Garden Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Art in the Park allows the arts to blossom right along with the flowers in Simpson Garden. For the fourth year, the festival of arts will take place at the garden, at the intersection of Conneaut and Wintergarden, Friday, June 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event packs in a lot of activity into a two-hour span. It features plein air art – artists working in the open air, as well as strolling musicians, theater, at every turn, and children’s activities in the Simpson Building. That’s where performances will happen if the rain comes. But Alice Calderonello, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, urged people not to give up on the weather. Last year the rain threatened all afternoon, but then the skies cleared just in time for art walk. “For some reason heaven smiles on us,” she said. This year, said her husband, John Calderonello, there are more performers than ever. They will be spread from the upper healing garden where strolling performers from the university’s doctorate in contemporary music will do their musical version of plein air art, improvising to suit the mood. Also, new to the event will by the vocal ensemble Inside Voices, also near the healing garden. Down the way in the peace garden the Kaze No Daichi Taiko drum ensemble will perform. In stages closer to the building singer Tom Gorman, the old time ensemble Root Cellar Band, Irish tunes by Toraigh an Sonas, and the Black Swamp Drum Circle will entertain. In the amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theater will stage a preview of its summer musical, “Dorothy in Wonderland,” at 5:15 and 6:30 and in between the Black Swamp Players will read a section of Scott Regan’s original play “Peanuts and Crackerjacks.” The play will be part of the Players’ 51st season. Spread throughout the garden will be artists at work, though not so intently that they won’t take a time to chat with guests. Last year eight artists took part, but organizers are always hoping for more. Jules Webster of Art Supply Depo is again sponsoring a $100 gift certificate to go to one artist voted the favorite by those attending. While artists can sign up on the day of the event, Alice Calderonello encouraged them to register in advance to make sure the council can get their names on the ballot and has contact information should they win. Artists should contact Craig Blair at blair@surrealogic.com. Art Depo is also giving young artist a chance to do plein air painting just like their elders. That will be offered in the children’s garden. The Bowling Green Montessori School and BG Parks and Recreation will have children’s activities inside the Simpson Building. Arts council member Nancy Stonerock is busy baking cookies for the event. Alice Calderonello said that this year the council has trimmed Art in the Park down to two hours. Most people come after work and before supper, so the 5 to 7 time frame fits well. Prudence Brott of Sunset Bistro is offering 15 percent for the arts council that evening for those who want to catch supper after the event. Putting on such a festival takes many hands. Art in the Park involves a collaboration. Calderonello praised the help that Ivan Kovacevic and the…


Operatic ‘Big Bad Wolf’ starts summer reading program on a high note

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maria Simon, the children’s librarian at the Wood County District Public Library, wanted to get the musically inclined summer reading program off on a high note. So, of course, she brought in a soprano. And the soprano rolled in with a mezzo-soprano, a pianist, and a bass to play the bad guy. Libraries Rock! The summer reading program got under way with a visit by Toledo Opera on Wheels. The four-member troupe had enough scenery and hand puppets, not mention musical talent, to bring to life a couple of classic fairy tales. “Who’s Afraid of the Big Band Wolf?” blends the stories of Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. The original script was set to music from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.” This is what the public library is all about, said Joy Torres, who was there with her four children age 3 to 10. “It introduces us to a lot of new things, we wouldn’t have a chance to experience if it wasn’t here. They always seem to bring in something new and exciting.” One year it was a magician, she said, and this year the opera. Later this year a local rock band, Mindless Matters, will play a show in the library on June 27 at 7 p.m. Crystal Swaisgood, a mother of three who like Torres home schools her kids, said she’s at the library all the time taking advantage of the diversity of activities offered. This summer Lubrizol will present a STEM Sound Lab and young local musicians will come in play what they’ve been practicing and serve as reading buddies. The full schedule of activities is available in the library’s Connect Family Magazine. Click for more details. “It helps keep the excitement of learning alive,” Torres said of the summer reading program. The young musicians in the Opera on Wheels program hope that their 30-minute opera will spawn future opera listeners and maybe performers. Janani Sridhar, the soprano who sang the part of Little Red Riding Hood, said with the arts being cut in so many schools, programs like this are all the more important. She believes very strongly in bringing opera to these young listeners as a way of cultivating an audience. This was the last day for the troupe, all resident artists at the Toledo Opera. After 85 performances, they had one more show, and then they would be off pursuing their professional careers. Carolyn Aquirre who plays the third little pig, that is the one who builds her house from brick, said she loves the question and answer session and seeing how involved the young listeners get. The audience Thursday was pre-schoolers through second graders from St Aloysius School with a coupl dozen more kids with their parents. They wanted to know why the wolf was so bad. Bass Michael Colman said that he tried to make him not all bad. He used his character to show something about bullying. In the end, he comes around to apologizing and gets a cookie for his contrition. The musicians were also asked why they like opera. Pianist Josh Wang, who got his master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and is music director at First Presbyterian Church, said he loves how opera uses music to tell…


BG Community Bands perform Cabaret Pops Concert May 24

From BOWLING GREEN AREA COMMUNITY BANDS The Bowling Green Area Community Bands present the annual Cabaret Pops Concert, featuring the Concert Band, the Jazz Band and guest musicians. After the traditional opening playing of the National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner,  the Concert Band will draw from a rich tradition of orchestral transcriptions and band repertoire.   Light Cavalry Overture, Boys of the Old Brigade, and John Philip Sousa’s Gallant Seventh March are among the audience favorites. The Thursday evening concert, May 24, begins at 7:30pm in the Bowling Green Area Schools’ Performing Arts Center.  Located adjacent to Bowling Green High School at 530 West Poe Road, the PAC offers plenty of parking and is fully accessible for its patrons. A novelty tune set to the poem Casey at the Bat, narrated by Jeff Shellhammer of Gahanna, OH and Saxsational, a feature for entire sax section add a touch a humor to the program. Mr. Shellhammer, an alumnus of the BGSU College of Musical Arts, will also guest conduct the Gallant Seventh, as the BGACB pays tribute to the late Mark S. Kelly, professor emeritus of the CMA. The BiG Band BG, directed by Bill Lake, has programmed several feature tunes.   Henry Mancini’s Mr. Lucky features local resident Dan VanVorhis on soprano saxophone.   As Time Goes By will highlight the trumpet artistry of Brian Bushong, a long-time member of Bowling Green’s Tower Brass Quintet. Many band members will stand out on the Stevie Wonder hit Sir Duke. The Bowling Green Area Community Band Concert and Jazz Bands are comprised of nearly 80 adults from Bowling Green and the greater northwest Ohio area. Several were members of various Wood County high school band programs and many were involved with the band department at Bowling Green State University.  Among the bands’ conductors, two are BGSU College of Musical Arts alumni and one is retired faculty from the CMA. The concert is free of charge, with donations greatly appreciated. The BGACB is a non-profit, 501(c)3, entirely volunteer organization.