Black Swamp Arts Festival 2018

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…


Black Swamp Arts Festival’s juried art show takes shape

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Marissa Saneholtz was a kid she’d squirrel away her allowance in anticipation of the Black Swamp Arts Festival. She could always find a ring or print that she wanted to buy, she said. “I’ve been interested in art forever. This year Saneholtz, who teaches metalsmithing at the Bowling Green State University School of Art, is one of the jurors who selected the artists and artisans who will exhibit in the juried show. The Black Swamp Arts Festival will be Sept. 7. 8, and 9 in downtown Bowling Green, starting with music, food vendors, and beer garden on Friday, Sept. 7, and continuing with art, music, youth activities, food vendors, and beer garden, Saturday Sept. 8 and Sunday, Sept. 9. “It was really amazing to be asked to jury it,” Saneholtz said. She joined Dan Chudzinski, curator for the Mazza Museum, and painter Jessica Summers on the panel. Saneholtz doesn’t think people will have difficulty finding something that catches their fancy. “Overall there’s such a wide variety of artists that apply.” Knowing the community helped inform her work as a juror. “I know what price points people will buy at, from the kid saving their allowance to the professional.” She has her taste, she said, but must look beyond that. “I’m also trying to think: Would my family members want to buy this?” High quality is first and foremost for the jurors, she said. “I mean there’s always the people who just blow your socks off.” Artists apply through the online service Zapplication. They must submit slides of their work, their display, and their process. The jurors then review those slides individually before coming together as a panel to make final decisions. Just over 200 artists and artisans applied this year. Stacy and Josh Poca, are chairing the festival’s visual arts committee this year. They said a few artists got the highest marks in the first round, and immediately made it into the show. Also the winners from last year’s show automatically get a spot, and all but one are coming back. There were also a few whom jurors agree didn’t make the cut before the jurying session, Stacy Poca said. But most fell somewhere in between. The jurors look for the best work as well as a balance of media. Jewelry always accounts for the greatest number of applications. That’s why about 10 years ago, the festival decided to increase the jurying panel to three, so they always have a metalsmith looking at the work. That’s Saneholtz, who…


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…