Nightlife

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.  

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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 in backrooms, homes, and, well, unheated garages, was the avenue to success. “There’s a sense of community around it.,” Mohan said. “People are excited because the shows are special. … You get to build your own audience of people who…


Two Foxes mixologist Hilary Packard in the mix for whiskey cocktail honors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hilary Packard worked her way through Southern Illinois University Carbondale as bartender. Once she graduated with a degree in math and physics she thought she’d work in an office or a lab putting her knowledge to use. Instead she found, she drawn back to bartending. So now Packard puts her calculating abilities to work as a mixologist. She’s the general manager of Two Foxes, a gastropub in downtown Bowling Green. She’s been concocting seasonal cocktails for the bar since early June. “I’m still using the same skill set,” she said, “logic and problem solving and critical thinking.” Now she’s decided to put her skills to the test against some of her peers from top markets in the country. On Monday she’ll travel to Columbus to take part in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience. She’s one of 10 mixologists from the region selected to compete. At stake for the regional winners is an “immersive three-day experience” to the Woodford distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, and beyond that a trip to New York to compete with about 40 other winning mixologists from the United States and Canada. And, of course, there’s the “street cred” that comes with matching her skills with large market mixologists. Packard learned about the event through liquor.com. “It seemed like a really good opportunity to showcase my skills with whiskey,” she said. She had to submit her recipes for her ideal version of the classic Manhattan and a cocktail of her own creation. Each had to use a Woodford bourbon, at least one, the basic Woodford Reserve. Packard used that in the Manhattan. For her custom drink, she used Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. This was not a matter of just pulling stuff off the shelves and mixing it.  One of the advantages mixologists in cities have is greater access to ingredients. In creating these blends, Packard made her own ingredients from scratch. That meant for her The Tokyo Throwback Manhattan blending her own vermouth. The drink is a tribute to Japan and more broadly Asia. While the increase in consumption of whiskey has been modest in the States, about 2 to 3 percent, the demand in Japan has skyrocketed. This has meant growth in the amount distilled. So all whiskey aficionados like herself benefit. So for her vermouth, she started with plum wine. Then she infused the wine with wormwood, lavender, cardamom, and other aromatic herbs. She used a blackstrap molasses, and then a blend of brandy and sherry to bring it up to proof. She had homemade…


CD relives memorable night that bluesman Luther Allison put Howard’s on the map

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Back before Howard’s was Howard’s Club H. Back when it was on the west side of North Main Street. Back when it served liquor, beer, wine, and sandwiches prepared upstairs, and it also served a lot of colorful characters, some of whom lived in the rooms out back. What it didn’t offer was live music. That is except for when a college professor assembled friends and guitars for an impromptu hootenanny singing folk songs, some with decidedly blue lyrics. When the Wood County District Public Library bought the property in the late 1960s as a site for its new facility, the bar was displaced across the street to the former Modern Heating storefront, and then to the room next door. For Charlie Davis the long-time manager this was an opportunity. Yes, the place that opened Feb. 14, 1973, was nicer. The floors were level for one thing. “It was supposed to be more of a club atmosphere instead of just a watering hole,” remembers Tom Lambert, who had worked at the bar since returning home from the Army. It also had room for live music. Davis had been wanting to host bands, especially blues bands, for a while, and now he had his chance. He started booking acts including J.B. Hutto, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Dawkins, as well as locals including Diamond Reo (not the 1980s national act with a slightly different spelling). The music drew decent crowds until about 18 months later when Chicago bluesman Luther Allison came to town for a September weekend in 1974. Lambert was manning the sound booth. He brought along his reel-to-reel tape recorder and jerry-rigged a connection. He caught local history on tape. The first night’s crowd was modest, Lambert remembers. Allison came to party, and the room could hardly contain his energy. Davis remembers Allison getting up on the bar and walking down in true blues fashion, jangling the lights as he went. When he got to the end he didn’t stop. Trailing a long cord to keep his guitar plugged in, Allison headed out the door and ended up playing in the middle of Main Street. A night to remember. Lambert said that once word got out about Friday’s show, the bar was packed the next night. In the early morning hours of Sunday, Lambert played the tapes from the shows back to Allison and his band. They enjoyed reliving the nights. Then the tapes were set aside. Lambert made a cassette for his brother in Oregon. A footnote. Howard’s…


Eddie Shaw, favorite of BG blues fans, dies at 80

Bluesman Eddie Shaw, who made frequent appearances in Bowling Green, died Monday (Jan. 29, 2018). His passing was confirmed by his booking agent Jay Reil. Shaw, vocalist, saxophonist, and band leader, played many shows over the past several decades in Bowling Green. Those included shows at Howard’s Cub H, and later Grounds for Thought, and the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Grounds proprietor Kelly Wicks, who booked him in his shop and at the festival, said Shaw was like Bowling Green’s resident bluesman. The feeling was mutual. Before a 2013 at Grounds, Shaw said Bowling Green was like a home away from home for him. He had a lot of friends in the area, he said. Shaw, 80, started playing the blues as a teenager in Mississippi. In 1972 he joined blues legend Howlin’ Wolf’s band, the Wolf Pack, and when the leader died in 1976, Shaw took the helm and continued to lead the group until his death. Shaw most recently performed in Bowling Green as the closing act of the 2014 Black Swamp Arts Festival.


Divas dive into downtown scene to bring opera & art song to new listeners

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News An ensemble of young vocalists wants listeners to belly up to the bar and drink in the beauty of song. The Black Swamp Opera Ensemble will perform Cocktails & Cadenzas, a variety of operatic arias, art songs, and musical theater pieces, on Friday, January 12, at 9 p.m. at Two Foxes Gastropub. All six singers recently earned Masters of Music in vocal performance from Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts. Now on the cusp of careers, they are taking their art to the places they like to hang out, according to sopranos Kate Pomrenke and Kyle Schreiber. Pomrenke said she got the idea for the ensemble after performing at Toledo on Tap, an event celebrating beer brewing. “Why can’t we do something like that here? There are so many singers here that have graduated,” she said. “We’re all young singers looking for whatever opportunities we can to perform, and this is a good way bring our art to the community.” “We’re just a group of friends,” Schreiber said. “We graduated, and we’re all in the area.” Other members are Jarrod Davis, tenor, John Mink, baritone, Savanah Stricklin, soprano, and Brett Pond, baritone. They are accompanied by a pianist. Schreiber said that while they were still in school, they talked about doing a Halloween show. So the ensemble made its debut in October with a Halloween performance, complete with costumes, at Grounds for Thought. They followed that up with a Christmas concert, also at Grounds, mixing carols in with their usual repertoire. “It’s very casual,” Schreiber said. “We don’t want it to be super fancy. We want to go to bars and coffee shops. We want it to be accessible.” That means singing for the folks who come specifically to listen to them as well as entertaining those who just happen to be in the venue. People can listen to a song or two, or the whole concert, Pomrenke said. The performances are presented round-robin style. Each singer will perform one piece, and then the next singer will perform. Each performs five or six pieces. The program is not firmly set. Every performer has a number of pieces prepared, and what actually is presented depends on what the others sing and the performers’ sense of what the audience may appreciate. Pomrenke said they’d like to perform monthly, in coffee shops, bars, libraries or wherever they’re wanted. She said she hopes other singers can join over time. Also, they plan to incorporate duets, and possibly scenes, to the solo…


Guitarist Mike Bryce grooves in many styles on new album

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Mike Bryce graduated from Bowling Green State University he already had experience producing two albums. Bryce, a jazz guitar performance major, had founded the Roots Music Club on campus, and took the lead in producing the club’s annual compilations. Now he’s releasing his own CD, “Eclectic Guitar,” featuring 10 originals that cover the gamut of styles he’s explored over the years. Bryce will celebrate the new album with a show Saturday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. More information is available at www.mikebrycemusic.com. While some of the tunes date back to his senior recital, Bryce said he didn’t really get started in earnest on the project until the beginning of this year. Part of the delay was working it in with his teaching schedule. He has about 40 private students at his own studio, Studio Connection, and in Bluffton. True to the title, “Eclectic Guitar” reflects a variety of styles. Those styles are in part driven by the singers and instrumentalists Bryce recruited to join him. At the core is the rhythm section of Devonte Stovall, on bass, electric bass, and cello, and JP Stebal on drums. He’s worked with them dating back to his time at BGSU, and in the band The Barncats. “It’s comfortable,” he said of collaborating with his bandmates. They are joined by vocalists and violinists on the rest of the tracks, some are folks he knew from the Roots Music Club, or jazz classes, or are friends. He said he tailored the songs to fit the approaches of the various singers. “A lot of it is not jazz,” he said. He said there’s a spontaneity to how he composes. Beau Hamann sings both on the rocking opener, “Barn Fire” and the swing ballad “First Love.” Amy Hewitt is an old friend, who works construction, with a fine singing voice, reminiscent of Nora Jones. She’s featured on “Good Enough” and “Promise,” both have a folk meets jazz feel. Flannery Murnen comes from the Roots Music Club. She adds just the right amount of grit for “Middle-Class Moonshiner,” a reflection of post-college years with its uncertainties and college debt. She returns later for the reflective “Staring at the Sun.” Jared Lucas steps in to sing the country-tinged “Only for You” and Emily Hunt performs the atmospheric “Blue Mist.” Adding color and solos to the mix are violinists Davis West and Kathleen Schnerer. Bryce’s guitar lines, both on electric and acoustic, shape shift throughout to fit the style,…