Scots & friends brave the storm to celebrate poet Robert Burns

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Scottish and their fellow travelers, even those with nary a tartan in their genetic code, are a hearty lot. Elliot MacFarlane recites an ode to the haggis. The storm that gripped the region was not enough to keep a couple dozen souls from venturing out to celebrate the memory of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns at Naslada Bistro in Bowling Green. Outside the weather may have been frightful, but inside we had poetry, food, whisky, and most of all fellowship to keep us warm. This was the fourth year the restaurant has teamed with Elliot MacFarlane (David Donley), a bon vivant and lover of  Scottish tradition, to present this celebration of the Scottish poet.   Boby Mitov chats with diners. We came out to eat traditional dishes, as reimagined by Bulgarian chef Boby Mitov and hear tales of Burns and others by MacFarlane, our host, for the evening. Outside the air was cold, and the atmosphere still flecked with the last remnants of the storm. When someone uttered the word a “blizzard,” Mitov was quick to respond. “Not a blizzard, just snow.” Inside Joe Spencer’s  bagpipes rang out. Linda Brown reads a Shakespeare sonnet. The weather did keep a couple of those scheduled to add to the festivities from attending. No singer, and only one set of pipes. So MacFarlane called on a little extra participation from the guests, handing out poems for them to read aloud. Some came prepared with their own selections. That included Karen Wood, the host’s wife. She offered one of two tributes to Mary Oliver, an American poet who died at 83 this week. But neither this remembrance, nor the recollection of some of the more unfortunate circumstances of Burns’ own life were enough to cast a pall over the affair. Waiter Cole Olmstead serves the Scottish Beef Collops with Whisky Sauce with Rumbledethumps. Not given the measured doses of fine Scotch whisky that were doled out throughout the evening. Each shot offered a distinctive taste of Scotland, whether the peat or the sea breezes allowed to waft through the warehouses where the whisky ages in oak barrels. For their part, the Burns Night celebrants were happy to taste that breeze, and not feel it — the contrast between the warmth inside and cold outside, adding to the festivities. Ending with a congregational singing of Burns’ greatest hit, “Auld Lang Syne.”

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Kofi Baker to bring Cream Experience to Howard’s Club H

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kofi Baker doesn’t play the music of Cream as a tribute to the 1960s super group. And he doesn’t play it because that’s what his father, Ginger Baker, the drummer with Cream and later Blind Faith, played it Baker, who’s been a drummer longer than he can remember, performs the music associated with Cream and Blind Faith because that’s the style that allows him to express who he is as a musician, freewheeling and genre defying. “The Cream stuff is all improvised,” Baker said in a recent telephone interview. “That’s why I like playing it.” Baker will bring his Cream Experience featuring guitarist Chris Shutters and bassist Frankie May to Howard’s Club H Friday, Aug. 24. The band starts a little after 9 p.m. “The music I play has nothing to do with my dad,” he said. “It’s a style I was brought up in, and I really like it.” (This interview was conducted in December before a Howard’s show that was cancelled.) The trio is not a “cover band” that listens to the records and tries to replicate them. They play the melodies of the songs, flipping their grooves as the mood suits them and then launch into their own exploration. “It’s been a challenge my whole life to play in a project that allows me the freedom to play differently every night.” Baker said. This band allows him to do just that. He launched the Cream Experience after hearing his father, Eric Clapton, and Jack Bruce, who died in 2014, during their 2005 reunion tour. This was the sound imbedded in his soul since infancy. His father was his primary teacher. Baker realized this was the sound that gave him the freedom he desired. “That’s why this is kind of the perfect thing. Why I’ve fallen into it and really enjoy it,” he said. “Every night it’s a completely different ball of wax. … It’s always different every night because we come to it with a different attitude.” Audience interaction can help shape those improvisations. If the band hits a groove, quotes the melody from another song, and the crowd cheers “then we may move into different things. It really depends on the vibe that night, how the stars align.” The guitar, bass, and drums trio provides the right balance, leaving plenty of room to roam. “When you start bringing more members of the band you have less freedom because you have to sit back and let other people do their thing.” Shutters, of Toledo, has been a regular with his band for two years. Shutters first joined earlier as an emergency sub for another guitarist who celebrated too hard on his birthday and ended up injuring himself when he fell down the stairs. Baker said he remembers heading to the gig making calls to try to…

Firefly Nights announces a Halloween-themed encore festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even after a wet start to the evening, the more than 200 people who were around at the end for Friday’s Firefly Night festival, still wanted more music from the closing act Freight Street. So the local folk-rock quintet, fronted by Boo Lee Crosser with singer Flannery Murnen, drummer JP Stebal, bassist Devonte Stovall, and violinist Kathleen Schnerer, obliged. This was to have been end of the three-event community festivals for the season. But organizers also have an encore planned. The businesswomen who spearheaded and organized Firefly Nights in downtown Bowling Green announced at the end of the night that there will be one more festival this year on Oct. 19. The October event will feature the same mix of music, food, kid activities, and shopping, only with a Halloween theme. Working with Downtown Bowling Green, the Firefly Night fest will take the place of downtown treat or treating. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown BG, said that the festival was a way to continue the trick or treating while adding more activities both for youngsters and the whole family. Kati Thompson, one of the Firefly founders, said the idea came up through discussions by the organizers. Hinkelman responded favorably to the possibility, and suggested using it to replace downtown trick or treating. With about 2,000 kids taking part last year, the event is becoming unmanageable, she said, with kids having to wait in long lines to get their treats. They then approached the city about the possibilities of staging another festival, which requires closing Main Street in downtown off to traffic. City officials approved. In announcing the event, Thompson said: “Don’t worry we’ll still have plenty of treats for the children, but we’ll combine that with fun for the entire community.” What Halloween activities will be offered and how the treat or treating will be handled is still being discussed. Possibilities include hayrides, a kiddie parade, Halloween and fall themed activities, doughnuts and cider, and even a costume contest for children and adults. Thompson said details will be forthcoming. The Oct. 19 Firefly Nights festival will be held 6-10 p.m., same as the summer events. Friday’s event got off to a soggy start with a downpour shortly after it began. Festivalgoers sought shelter under awnings, and in shops and restaurants. Laura Wicks and Gayle Walterbach, two of the founders, said they expected restaurants did well. Boosting local business is part of the mission of Firefly Nights, they said. But the food trucks that stayed had lines by closing time. Other vendors, however, probably suffered. That’s the nature of an outdoor festival, Wicks said. Both were upbeat at how the summer events had gone, and enthusiastic about the encore to come.  

‘Clue’ murder mystery night to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House

From RED SHOE SOCIETY BG AND BEYOND Become a detective for the night as a mystery unfolds at the Wood County Historical Museum. A Murder Mystery fundraising event for the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Ohio makes you a detective in this live game of “Clue” at the ultimate setting of the museum. You will enjoy an evening of mystery, culinary delights and a chance to win prizes. The Red Shoe Society BG and Beyond, the group organizing the fundraiser, has collaborated with many talented people to present their first ever Murder Mystery. The script is an original piece written by Tyler Severino, a Bowling Green aspiring playwright. Jo Beth Gonzales, BGHS drama teacher is helping to incorporate the drama students as suspects in the mystery. The whole idea of kids helping kids was the intent and was certainly achieved. The event date is Saturday, Sept. 22, 7-9 pm at the WC Historical Museum at 13660 County Home Road, Bowling Green, OH 43402. Tickets for the event are $40 and will include heavy hors d’oeuvres, participation in the event as a detective (costumes optional, but highly encouraged) and the chance for your team to win prizes for solving the mystery. Ticket sales are limited, so be sure to purchase yours early online at or at J & M Carryout, 10015 S Dixie Hwy., Portage, OH. Any questions you have can be directed to the Red Shoe Society BG and Beyond by calling 567-694-5172. The Ronald McDonald House, Toledo’s home-away-from-home, offers families who travel to Toledo for their children’s specialized medical care a warm, safe, clean, and friendly environment. The newly constructed Ronald McDonald House has 22 private bedrooms and bathrooms, a spacious kitchen with well-stocked pantries, family-friendly dining and living rooms, children’s play area, laundry facilities, playground, and secure parking. We serve over 500 families each year, with the average length of stay being eight days. The Ronald McDonald House represents our community’s concern for those among us who battle the devastating effects of a child’s serious illness or injury. We have over 200 regular volunteers that help us help others. For more information about this incredible charity, visit

Firefly Night ready to take flight on Friday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Let the dancing in the streets in downtown Bowling Green begin. After months of planning, the Firefly Nights street festivals are ready to make their debut Friday, June 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Main Street. The initiative’s first official event was a 5K run and walk in May to help raise funds for the festivals. Friday Main Street will be closed with stages for music on either ends, a beer garden, vendors and food trucks, kid’s activities, and downtown businesses ready for customers. This will be the first of three one-night festivals planned for the summer. Firefly Nights was the brainchild of a group of downtown women business owners – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. They’ve been joined by others including Amy Craft-Ahrens, who used her expertise from years with the Black Swamp Arts Festival to help with vendors, and Michelle Elson, who booked the bands. Now the effort is ready to go, abetted by a favorable weather forecast. “I am very excited and a little bit nervous,” said Wicks, “but mostly I am really looking forward to celebrating summer with everyone in downtown BG. I think it is going to be a wonderful party!” Earlier this year when the event was announced Thompson stated the goal: “We want to foster a diverse, neighborly and lively atmosphere in downtown BG. That’s the intent and sole focus.” Main Street will be blocked at the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington. East-west traffic will continue to flow along Wooster Street. Bandstands will be located on either end with altering acts. Performers booked for Friday are, in order of appearance: Boo Lee Crosser, Sam Dell, Chris & Shellby, and Amelia Airharts. Downtown shops are staying open until 10 p.m. Sam B’s, Flatlands, and Qdoba will be serving patrons on the sidewalk and others are encouraging take-out orders. Several food trucks will also be on hand: Eric’s Ice Cream; Poppin George’s Kettle Corn; Roe’s Concessions; and Weenie Dogs Vendors signed up are: All Things Beautiful Bath & Body; Black Sheep Shack; Blanquility; Charming Oak; Exhale and Create; Happy Place Felt Boutique; Gilead Candle Company; Jamber’s House of Color; Krueger Sew Crafty; Michelle Adler; Portrait Art; PreshGoods/WoodStout; Staeble Studio A Photography; The Upstitch; and The Wicked Wire. Firefly Nights will continue July 20 and Aug. 17.  

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…