Howard’s set to get its Chicago blues mojo on

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News When Joseph Morganfield was a 12-year-old, he’d go hear his father play the blues in local Chicago clubs. His father always closed the show with the tune, “Got My Mojo Workin’” and knew that was Joseph’s favorite song. So he’d call the youngster on stage, and being a kid the son would inevitably snatch away the microphone and scurry away. “He had a look that would bring me back,” Morganfield recalled in a recent telephone interview. His father was McKinley Morganfield, better known to the world as Muddy Waters, the guitarist who plugged in the raw blues from the Mississippi Delta and helped shape Chicago blues, and later ignite the rock revolution. Joseph Morganfield has taken “Mojo” as his stage name, and is now carrying on his father’s tradition. “Mojo” Morganfield with special guest Maurice Vaughn will perform at Howard’s Club H, Friday, March 29. Doors open at 8 p.m. Cover is $5.  The show is presented by the club and Third Street Cigar Records. Morganfield, Muddy Water’s youngest child, said his father wanted him to go into music. He taught him guitar, though Morganfield said he doesn’t have much aptitude for the instrument, and singing, which he did take to. But aside from those impromptu appearances at the end of his father’s sets, he didn’t pursue music when he was young. Instead he played basketball, and even earned a college scholarship. “He was not happy with that,” Morganfield said. “He was preparing me for it (music).” His father died when Morganfield was a senior in high school. Morganfield, 53, went on to have a family of his own — seven kids. He worked trimming trees to keep them away from power lines. His only stage was the shower, he said. Then three years ago with his kids grown, he decided to return to music.  “That desire was always with me,” he said.  “I didn’t want any regrets. At least I could say I tried doing it.” So he took some vocal lessons and got together a band and started working. He does allow that every now and then he can hear some similarities to his father’s voice. “He had a voice like a southern preacher,” Morganfield said. Even if the listener couldn’t quite make out the words, “you knew what he meant.” One of the elements of the music scene now, compared to his father’s heyday, was that his father always fielded his own band. Now, Morganfield said, he sometimes gets booked for gigs as a single and…

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Safe Communities: Halloween is not occasion for making nightmares

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Safe Communities of Wood County has announced that the annual safe driving Halloween National Mobilization is October 3  to November 1, 2018. Each year, thousands of trick-or-treaters flock to the streets on Halloween night Thousands of others head to local bars and restaurants to also partake in the merry-making. Don’t put yourself and others at risk by choosing to drink and drive. To help spread the message that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, Safe Communities of Wood County is teaming up with the U.S Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind everyone of the dangers of drunk driving. Halloween poses a potentially dangerous threat to pedestrians, as more people are out at night on the hunt for candy. If your night involves alcohol, plan for a sober ride home. Remember: It’s never safe to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Between 2012 and 2016, there were 168 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. October 31 – 5:59 a.m. November 1). In 2016, there were 13 vehicle occupants killed in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night. According to NHTSA, 44 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night from 2012 to 2016 were in crashes involving a drunk driver. Children out trick-or-treating, and those who accompany them, are also at risk, as 14 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night (2012-2016) involved drunk drivers. Younger drivers are most at risk: The 21- to 34-year-old age group accounted for the most fatalities (46%) in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2016. Halloween is a time for making memories, not for causing nightmares. This Halloween, Safe Communities of Wood County would like to remind everyone to party responsibly and to be safe, while also keeping others safe by refraining from drunk driving.

Tricked-out Firefly Nights will offer plenty of treats for kids & grownups

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights is adding some new tricks to the downtown festival to provide more treats for kids and adults alike.  The Firefly Nights Fall Festival will be held Friday, Oct. 19 from 6 to 10 p.m. in downtown Bowling Green. The festival continues the series of events offered throughout the summer. Now it’ll change colors just a bit to fit the season. For kids that means a costume contest, trunk and treat, pumpkin decorating, and a kiddie tractor pull. For adults that means a farmers market, more music, free yoga classes, and beer gardens on both ends of Main Street. Adults are invited to come in costume as well. The fall festival took shape through parallel discussions by the Firefly organizers and the downtown merchants. Mary Hinkelman, former Downtown Bowling Green director and now Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the concerns about downtown trick or treat were raised by merchants. Downtown trick or treating had outgrown the streets. She estimated about 2,000 children trick-or-treated downtown last year. That many youngsters accompanied by adults jammed the sidewalks, causing safety concerns. The merchants wondered: What if they could block off the street as they do for Firefly Nights? Hinkelman took the idea to the board of directors and they approved. So did the Firefly Nights organizers who were already considering doing one more festival in fall. “I think it was the zeitgeist of the time,” said Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. “You know how small towns work — good ideas just grow.” A new partnership was born. Laura Wicks said the idea was: “Why not make it more of a family friendly activity instead of just filling up a bag of candy?” So the Fall Firefly Nights will be held instead of downtown trick or treat, which had typically been on the Thursday before Halloween. In place of children going to door to door to businesses, Thayer Family dealerships is bringing cars downtown, and treats will be doled out from the trunks. Trinity United Methodist, a couple blocks off Main Street, will also hold its trunk or treat event that night from 6 to 8 p.m. In the Firefly costume contest, judges roaming the crowd will select 40 kids — 20 from earlier in the night, 20 from later — based on the creativity and effort put into their outfi. Firefly Nights will also offer those attractions that brought people downtown on the third Fridays during the summer, even when the weather was wet. Bands have been booked for…

Eric Steckel puts the pedal to the metal when he plays the blues

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If you’re a fan of bluesman Eric Steckel, you can thank his Uncle Dave. Steckel, who grew up in Pennsylvania, didn’t have instruments around this house. He did hear the soundtrack of his parents’ vinyl collection. His mother and father bonded over their taste for Deep Purple and the Allman Brothers. Then on a trip to visit his uncle and aunt in Stowe, Vermont, the family visited music store. Young Steckel lit up. “I completely changed. I was at home,” the now 28-year-old said in a telephone interview this week. So his uncle suggested he and Steckel’s dad split the cost of a Stratocaster for the youngster, a guitar he’s only recently retired. Three years later Speckel recorded his first blues record, music influenced by the records his parents spun around the house. Steckel hasn’t stopped playing or developing since then. He now calls his style blues metal, a term coined in jest, that has stuck, became a hashtag, and serves as an apt description for what listeners hear in his performances. Steckel will appear tonight (Friday, Sept. 14) at 9:30 p.m. Howard’s Club H. Cover is $5. He explained blues metal as a style derived from “my heroes,” the Kings of the blues — Albert, Freddie, and B.B. — with “a big massive sound, almost a heavy metal sonically.” He said it took him years and years of playing to find his own voice within the tradition. “It’s this natural beautiful thing that happens. Every night you’re developing.” Everyone he encounters, everything he hears, everything that comes out of his guitar “comes  together into this big pot stew, and that becomes your recipe.” He said as a young musician he got a lot advice from people who wanted him to stay true to the traditional blues sound. “I had this sound, this vision, in my head that wasn’t translating. At a certain point, I said I was going to throw out the rule book and find what I heard in my head. It took a  lot of trial and error, and I found it.” That was about six years ago. Steckel is buoyed by the sales of his most recent album “Polyphonic Prayer,” which is outpacing any of his previous recordings. Like his other recordings, he financed this one himself. He’s rejected deals from record companies including Universal’s European wing. They offer “360” deals, which means they get a cut of everything he does and has done, regardless of their involvement in the project. Recordings still play a…

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…

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….

‘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