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…

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Firefly Nights set to begin a summer of fun in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights, a new series of street festivals in downtown Bowling Green, got off to a running start Friday night. About 200 runners and walkers toed the starting line on North Church Street near the library and at the signal marked what organizers hope will be a summer of fun in the business district. The 5K race and one mile walk started at 9 p.m. The participants in fluorescent shirts and glow bracelets. The evening start was meant to set it apart from all the other charity runs, said Stacie Banfield, one the organizers. “We wanted to make it a fun event for kids.” The after-dark start was also fitting given it promoted and raised funds for evening events Banfield, owner of Mode Elle, was one of a quartet of women business proprietors – Kati Thompson, of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought – who organized Firefly Nights. Thompson said to get 200 registrants for a first time race was a great response. “A hundred is considered a success.” Banfield said it was exciting to watch the registrations increased as race time approached, Banfield said. That included folks who signed up on Friday night. She and Thompson are optimistic that this is a sign of the enthusiasm for the three scheduled street festivals. The race will help fund three nights of downtown activities set for the third Friday of each month – June 15, July 20, and Aug. 17 – from 6 to 10 p.m. Main Street will be blocked off from the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington with music stages at each end. Four bands will play alternating sets each night. All the bands have been booked, Banfield said. The lineup of talent from Northwest Ohio will be announced on June 1. Thompson said that 30 downtown businesses have signed up to participate and be sponsors. They will have sidewalk sales, a farmers market, and artisans will sell their wares. They are still talking with restaurants about how they will take part. Several will set tables out on the sidewalk. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown Bowling Green, was on hand as a participant in the walk. She’s excited by the prospects for Firefly Nights and…

Rock show at Alehouse to benefit The Cocoon

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Debbie De Steno never met Cat Lambert face to face. They were Facebook friends who shared an interest in the local music scene. Then Cat was off social media, and Steno learned just a few days after they’d last been in contact that Lambert had been beaten to death by her husband. De Steno and others on the music scene wanted to do something. So De Steno pulled a benefit together at the Alehouse in the Woodland Mall. Music Against Domestic Violence was born with the proceeds going to help Lambert’s family. De Steno decided to make the benefit an annual affair.  So this Saturday (April 21) the fourth benefit will be held at the Alehouse from noon to midnight. The proceeds now benefit The Cocoon Shelter. The benefit is also to raise awareness about domestic violence, an issue people hesitate to talk about. For De Steno seeing the movie “The Burning Bed” was her first exposure to the physical and emotional realities of domestic abuse. The benefit will include a raffle and 50/50 drawing   with kids karaoke from noon to 2 p.m. The kids will turn the mic over to a lineup of local bands. Starting with Bliss at 2, each band will play about a 90-minute set. Other bands in order of appearance will be: Blue Ticks; 16-year-old guitar phenom Brad Tober and the Outsiders; BG high rockers Mindless Matters; Midnight Moses; and closers, AmpWagon. The first year De Steno played with the band Second Wynd, but she finds it too much to run the show and also be part of it. Still her love of music is at the heart of the event. As a kid growing up in New Jersey she picked up the guitar her older sister abandoned. She dreamed of being the next Pat Benatar. She’s been playing music ever since. Just picking up her guitar and picking a few notes helps her recharge. Music takes you away from everyday troubles, she said. “It gives you hope.” And that’s why it so fitting as a way to raise money so “The Cocoon can get resources to help people.”  

Firefly Nights to light up downtown BG this summer (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A group of businesswomen want to light up downtown Bowling Green this summer. After conversations of what can be done to bring visitors to the downtown during the summer doldrums, Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, Stacie Banfield, of Mode Elle Boutique, Kati Thompson, Eden Fashion Boutique, and Gayle Walterbach, of Coyote Beads, banded together to launch Firefly Nights. The summer time series will get off to a running start with a run/walk through downtown on May 18 at 9 p.m. Firefly Nights will continue with evenings full of music, food, shopping and kids activities on the third Friday of each summer month – June 15, July 20, and Aug. 17 – from 6 to 10 p.m. “We want to foster a diverse, neighborly and lively atmosphere in downtown BG,” Thompson said. “That’s the intent and sole focus.” Main Street will be blocked off from the intersection of Court Street to the intersection of Washington. There’ll be music stages at each end featuring area music acts. Banfield said they plan to feature four to six acts each night. The organizers hope to attract some craft booths, and possibly a farmers market. Downtown stores would remain open and could have sidewalk sales. “We’re hoping to get restaurants to provide some kind of dining experience,” Banfield said. “We’re coming off the success of the Chocolate Crawl,” Thompson said. “So many people said they loved being downtown at night and experiencing so many places they didn’t know were here.” That event held in conjunction with Winterfest to benefit United Way of Wood County sold 400 tickets. People cruised through 18 stops to sample sweet goodies. Walterbach said they hope to attract two to three times that many people. “People who are always looking for fun things to do in the summer, so we’re hoping it attracts people not just from Bowling Green but from surrounding communities,” Thompson said. So far the response from downtown merchants has been good, as had the response from the city and Downtown Bowling Green. The Black Swamp Arts Festival has pioneered the way for such events, Walterbach said. The organizers are still looking for sponsors, with sponsorships ranging from $500 to $5000 for a presenting sponsor. Registration for the Firefly run/walk has begun. Click to register ….

Arts beat: A night of song benefits La Conexion

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When singer-songwriter Richard Shindell moved to Argentina, his wife’s homeland, he did what you’d expect a singer-songwriter to do: he wrote a song about it … in Spanish. That was one of the songs he sang Monday night at a house concert hosted by Greg and Linda Rich as a benefit for La Conexion. He acknowledged that “Que Hago Ahora” was written in elementary Spanish to an audience that included a number of native Spanish speakers, such as Beatriz Maya, a native of Argentina and executive director of La Conexion. Shindell said he realized just how elementary his Spanish was as he penned the song, so he wove his deficiencies in grammar into the lyrics, one of the few songs ever written that refers to the subjunctive case. It seemed appropriate to have an American living abroad help raise money for La Conexion, which helps immigrants to this area. That coincidence was not the reason he was there. He was there because he’s an expert enough to write a song, in a language foreign to him, and refer to the subjective case. He’s a strong enough writer to pick up an image of a bird flying off in the horizon while a wave crushes a sand castle and turn it into a ballad. He’s a strong enough musician to back his voice with atmospheric strings that provide fills, strums, bell-like resonances, and percussive accents. And Shindell is a good enough storyteller to weave these pieces together into an engaging evening of entertainment When his host Greg Rich, himself a songwriter, referenced the country song “Good Year for the Roses” in one of the three songs in his introductory set,  Shindell opened his set with the song itself. Rich’s song was about how he had mistakenly included this classic breakup tune in the playlist for his and Linda’s wedding reception. “Good Year for the Roses” was playing as they entered. Shindell quipped looking at his own setlist that the theme could very well be songs inappropriate for wedding receptions. He didn’t stint on the heartbreak. Not with “Are You Happy Now?” set on Halloween, when his lover has abandoned him for another man taking the trick-or-treat candy with her. The heartbreak wasn’t only about romantic love. “All Wide Open” tells…

Luck of the Irish won’t help drunk drivers

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s most popular times to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol, making this holiday also one of the most dangerous. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on the road our nation’s roads. During the 2012-2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 269 lives were lost due in drunk- driving crashes. In 2016, drunk driving killed more than 10,000 people in our country, and every single one of those deaths was preventable. To keep the roads safer, Wood County Safe Communities is reaching out with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to celebrate with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safer:  Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.  If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. If you’ve been out drinking and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of causing a crash or getting arrested for a DUI.  Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.  If someone you know is drinking, do not let him or her get behind the wheel.  If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, pull over to a safe location and call the police. Your actions could help save a life. Remember this St. Patrick’s Day: Plan Before You Party! Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

Comedian Krish Mohan aims to pop the bubbles that divide us

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Standup comedian Krish Mohan wants people break out of their bubbles. That means leaving his own bubble, and venturing far into the countryside. Mohan travels 40 weeks a year to deliver his laughter- inducing message. That meant that Saturday night, he joined a small audience in The Summit Shack, an unheated garage on the east side of Bowling Green.  That the venue was unheated was acknowledged by just about everyone except the young woman dressed in a short, tight black dress to work the late shift as a bartender in a downtown establishment. Despite the concern for her comfort expressed by others, she insisted she was fine despite a considerable amount of exposed flesh. Mohan, for his part, bundled up in a coat and gloves for his set. This was comedy at its most basic. A stage, and a mic, and a few listeners with fellow comedians to serve as warm up acts. So before he hit the stage, Ryan Chernock held forth with a set that concluded with a story about pancakes and blasphemy on the streets on Bowling Green. Mark Philipp spun wild tales, including creating a sordid back story for a guy who tried to pay for a three-pack of beer with a credit card that had his daughter’s photo on it. The card was rejected. Philipp took the tale from there. Michael Cohen, who’s been traveling with Mohan, told wild confessional tales of life on the road, including getting a ride from a surprisingly hospitable crackhead. Mohan has been practicing his craft since he was 16 and his mother would drive him to a suburban venue outside of Pittsburgh so he could do a 10-minute set at an open mic. He continued doing standup throughout his college years at La Roche College in Pennsylvania, opening for his friends’ bands as well as performing at open mics. When he graduated he knew what he wanted to do. So he hit the road. Terrible gigs, he said. A few people, and fewer dollars, and a long ride home so he could get up and get to work the next morning. Mohan, 29, trained as a graphic designer, but he grew disenchanted with that. After those first couple years in comedy he decided the more DYI scene, shows…