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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 18, 2017


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


As of today, many students are back in school. Parents are probably celebrating and children are sad that another summer has come and gone. But this also signals the start of school marching bands and a new football season. 

Van Wert High School is a unique school when it comes to band programs. Since its inception in 1927, there have been just five band directors leading the VWHS Band. The patriarch is Leonard Wolf, who was there from the beginning through the 1940s. In the decade of the ‘50s, it was Herb Jones who led the band and choir. Then in the ‘60s through 1976, Van Wert native Jay Hall returned to lead the band. My friend, Anthony Alessandrini, took over from Jay Hall and stayed at the helm from 1976 through the new millennium. Since 2002, Robert Sloan has been the director. That’s just five head directors in 90 years. That’s pretty incredible!

Stability, along with excellent teaching, is what establishes excellent music programs. It is quite an enviable record, given the turnover at many schools. Even football coaches don’t last that long anymore. Those who have are most often successful.

Mr. Sloan and the current Cougar Marching Band, along with alumni band member Matt Alessandrini (yes, Mr. A’s son), have organized a special 90-year Alumni Band this year. As of today, the day before registration deadline of August 15, there are over 70 registered alumni. If you are reading this today and don’t want to be left out, you might call or go to the band’s website: and register.

The alumni band will join the current VWHS Band on September 1 for pregame and/or halftime of the Van Wert Cougars football game in Eggerss Stadium. Bands always sound better in Eggerss Stadium because of its concrete design. Musical selections were made from the Jay Hall era — “MacArthur Park” — and the Alessandrini era — “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. I even believe Mr. A will be directing this one.

An attempt to invite Mrs. Hall’s widow to return for this celebration sadly went awry when Mrs. Hall passed away just last month. Herb Jones passed away several years ago, but I was honored to have met him and talk with him in some length about his Van Wert tenure. Leonard Wolf has been gone for some time. His grandson, Doug Wolf, lives in Utah and is a retired music professor, but still performs with the Utah Symphony.

Alumni from the Jay Hall, Anthony Alessandrini, and Robert Sloan eras will make up this alumni band and you can come to the game on September 1 to hear the old tooters one more time!  It should be a blast (no pun intended). Nearly 150 band members will be on the field making music. People of all ages, making music together; this is why music is such an enjoyable lifetime activity.

Kudos to Mr. Sloan and Mr. Matt Alessandrini for putting this special 90-year celebration together. Here’s to a great time once more in Eggerss Stadium. Let’s hope there are many, many more!

On another musical note, thank you to all who came to Fountain Park to enjoy the summer music concerts. This Friday, the Van Wert Area Community Concert Band will be in concert in Fountain Park. It starts at 7 p.m. and the band is filled with alumni and youngsters who still rehearse and toot their horns and plunk their drums. I encourage you to come to the park one last time and enjoy their concert.

On the Niswonger side of music, Wednesday, August 16, marks the early release for tickets for Michael W. Smith’s Christmas concert. It will be December 14 and features Michael W. Smith, “The Voice” winner Jordan Smith, and all backed up by the Lima Symphony Orchestra. I have a feeling this will be a very special Christmas concert. The earlier release date was moved up by Smith’s management and booking agency to align with a national release of the tour. If you don’t yet have a ticket, you can get one from the Niswonger box office beginning at noon.

Many other concerts are selling at a rapid pace and it appears we will once again have several sellouts before long. And don’t forget about the added matinee for The Texas Tenors on December 9. This will be a 3 p.m. concert and those tickets are on sale now.

Music is certainly alive and well in Van Wert, Ohio; in our schools, in the park, and inside at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center! 


POSTED: 08/17/17 at 6:01 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

It is always so hard to believe, but other than an August 18 Community Band concert, this Friday concludes our Van Wert County Foundation sponsored summer concerts in Fountain Park. I’m always reminded of Carol Burnett’s closing song lyrics to her TV show, “Seems we just get started and before you know it, comes the time we have to say so long.”

We have had some really fun times outdoors in the park and also in the Niswonger when the weather didn’t cooperate. Thank you once again for your support of the Fountain Park Summer Music Series.  We plan on getting to work immediately on a new line-up for summer 2018!

Our finale this Friday brings a band you may not be familiar with, but if you are looking for a good time to close out your summer, you won’t be disappointed. Southern Drawl is the name of the band and they hail from Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee. I discovered them through one of the thousands of emails I receive each year. They are a party band that plays Southern country rock featuring guitar, bass, drums, vocals, and fiddle. Some have compared them to the Charlie Daniels Band.

If you check them out, you will see they have been featured on PBS, University of Tennessee football games, and I even heard their music being played on Sunday Night Football when Peyton Manning was playing for the Denver Broncos. I wonder if Southern Drawl is a favorite of Peyton’s?

At any rate, plan on coming to Fountain Park this Friday night and having a good time as we conclude our Friday night concerts with a big party. The Humane Society is on tap for serving food. They have been doing great work in our community and here is an opportunity to show your gratitude and have a good time.

Here are a couple breaking news flashes regarding the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Due to the enormous response to the Texas Tenors Christmas concert on December 9, we have added a 3 p.m. matinee performance. Tickets will be released Thursday, August 10, beginning at noon. Our regular single ticket release date for the Texas Tenors concert was scheduled for September 7, but we have already sold this show out on the strength of Grand and Select Series sales.  Thus, because of this overwhelming response, we will start selling all seats for the 3 p.m. matinee this Thursday. I hope this allows many more to enjoy what we know will be a tremendously enjoyable concert.

If you somehow are not aware of the Texas Tenors, tune in to PBS-39 Fort Wayne TV this Thursday at 8 p.m. to catch their brand new (and second) PBS special. I’m sure you will enjoy it. WBGU in Bowling Green is expected to also broadcast it, but at this time it is TBA.

The second NPAC announcement involves another Christmas concert this year on December 14 featuring Michael W. Smith. The talent agency and management for Michael is making a big national announcement of his Christmas tour with 2015 winner of “The Voice” Jordan Smith on Wednesday, August 16. Our original release date was scheduled for single tickets was September 14. In accordance with Michael’s management, we will be releasing single tickets on August 16. This will be a spectacular Christmas concert with the memorable music of Michael W. Smith, the incredible new voice of Jordan Smith and all backed up by Michael’s band and the Lima Symphony Orchestra.

I’ll look forward to seeing you in Fountain Park this Friday night for Southern Drawl and then don’t forget to catch the Van Wert Area Community Band on August 18 as we draw the summer of 2017 to an end with one last blast of fun in Fountain Park!  It all begins at 7 p.m.


POSTED: 08/09/17 at 7:11 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

As we draw closer to the fall and look at attending indoor events at the Niswonger, I would like to mention a few of the lesser publicized events I think you will not want to miss.  The very first event we have scheduled is on Tuesday, August 29, beginning at 7 p.m. We are honored to be teaming with PBS 39 out of Fort Wayne to present a preview of Ken Burns’ latest documentary on the Vietnam War.

Ken Burns is an American filmmaker known especially for his documentary films with amazing archival footage and photographs. Most of his works have been monumental and award-winning, such as his Civil War documentary series and most recently his amazing film about the Roosevelts. If Ken Burns’ name is on the film, you can bet it is going to be extraordinary.

Burns has teamed with Lynn Novick on his latest film series: “The Vietnam War”. It will be a 10-part, 18-hour documentary film series and airs on PBS stations nationwide beginning September 17.  In advance of the premier, PBS 39 has selected two sites, in addition to Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theater, to preview the first film and raise awareness throughout the region. The Niswonger in Van Wert is honored to have been chosen as one of the other two.

On Tuesday, August 29, the public is invited to the Niswonger beginning at 7 p.m. to preview the film documentary. You obviously won’t be viewing the entire film series, but a preview of the film. Following will be a panel discussion about how the Vietnam War affected those soldiers who fought, family members who were left behind, and us as a nation and world.

It will be a fascinating event that you are invited to attend. There is no admission fee and you don’t need a ticket. Just come and be ready to be educated, inspired, and entertained. For those who lived through these times, it could be a very emotional time. Our panel will include Vietnam veterans, family members of vets, a minister, and possibly even some Vietnamese citizens.

Please plan on making this event part of your plans. I truly think this latest Ken Burns/Lynn Novick film series could change the views of many, as well as inform a whole new generation that had no knowledge of this integral part of our nation and world’s history. It was in many ways a cultural change. As with other documentaries by Ken Burns, you will undoubtedly see film no one has ever seen. Once again, no ticket is required; just show up and be informed — and possibly transformed

Another important event of our educational Speaker Series is actually a stage production featuring one of TV’s most famous icons, Jamie Farr, aka Corporal Max Klinger of M*A*S*H*, the record setting television show from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Tuesdays with Morrie is a book written by popular author Mitch Albom. Jamie Farr portrays Morrie Schwartz, an old college professor who is dying from ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This life changing book will come to life on our Niswonger stage when Mitch is reunited with Morrie; and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life.

To add even more impact and meaning to this event, our Niswonger Speaker Series Committee has arranged a community book read that will culminate with a panel discussion in the First Federal Lecture Hall on Monday, September 11, at 7 p.m.  The Brumback Library of Van Wert is teaming with us by having several copies of Tuesdays with Morrie for you to check out. A panel of several interested and professional individuals will lead a discussion of this topic that could affect anyone. Another inspirational book of Mitch Albom’s, Have a Little Faith, will also be part of this book read and is also available at the Brumback Library.

Once again, this book read event on September 11 is free to anyone. No ticket is required. It will be an excellent precursor to the stage show starring Jamie Farr on October 8.

Tickets for the stage production are on sale now online and through the Niswonger Box Office.

These are two very inspirational and intriguing events I felt you may not be aware of, but should be. We have a great lineup of entertainment this season at the Niswonger, but these two events will certainly affect your emotions and senses in an entirely different way. Come and be inspired and educated this fall as well as entertained!

Fountain Park Summer Music takes a week off this Friday so you may enjoy the Van Wert Rib Fest at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. We will return the following Friday, August 11, with Southern Drawl, a Southern Rockin’ country band from Tennessee. I’ll look forward to seeing you then!


POSTED: 08/02/17 at 7:12 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

It seems only recently the music of the famous brother and sister duo, The Carpenters, has become so popular that tribute bands have begun. About two years ago, I saw three different Carpenter tribute bands. Nearly everyone remembers, and most adore, the music of Richard and Karen Carpenter. During the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, their music took the nation by storm. It was an easy style and very singable. This may be what captured our attention. Many of the songs were about love and the simple things of life; a feel-good type of music.

Compare The Carpenters music of the ‘70s and ‘80s to some of what we hear today and it will make you long for those simpler days of life. Well, this is what we are bringing to Fountain Park this Friday night. The tribute band we have coming is called We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered. As I said, I have heard three different tribute bands to The Carpenters, and, in my opinion, this one captures the Carpenters music the best. It stars Michelle Berting Brett as the voice of Karen Carpenter. When I play their recording, it is hard to distinguish Michelle’s voice from Karen Carpenter’s.

I think you will enjoy the concert and show. You will know and love nearly every song you hear. It will be the next best thing to actually attending a Carpenters concert like what you could have experienced 30-plus years ago. Unfortunately, we lost Karen Carpenter at the way-too-early age of 32 to the devastating disease of anorexia nervosa. A golden voice was silenced on February 4, 1983, but, thankfully, through Michelle Berting Brett, we can once again enjoy that great music we all still love.

Let’s all hope and pray for nice weather this Friday night, but if we need to move inside, catch us in the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  The Crestview Band Parents are scheduled to serve food this Friday night if we are in the park. One way or the other, it will all begin at 7 p.m.

Speaking of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, last Friday kicked off our big sales day of selling Select Series for the 2017-18 season. We surpassed last year’s sales already on a same day comparison. Tickets are being bought for many different shows and concerts. There are several leading the pack (or should I say PAC). The first sales alert I will put out is for the Texas Tenors. As presumed, they are already reaching sellout status. As part of the new Enrich Community Concert Series, nearly 600 seats were taken by those buyers. Now, with the Select Series, another 400 have purchased Texas Tenors tickets and we are closing in on a sellout. I doubt if it will reach single ticket availability.

You can still purchase the Enrich Community Concert Series or a Select Series and yet ensure a ticket to the Texas Tenors if you wish. Several others are selling strongly too. Remember, you can purchase online at or call 419.238.NPAC (6722) or visit the box office Tuesday through Friday, noon-4 p.m.  


POSTED: 07/19/17 at 5:31 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Friday is a day many have been looking forward to. It is the day we open Select Series sales at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  

The unveiling of the season occurred on June 14 and a few groups of buyers have reserved their seats, but the big wave of buyers is about to hit the shores of the Niswonger!

Starting at noon this Friday, July 14, the doors will open to the Grand Lobby and we will be welcoming many of you with a smile, a number, cookies, coffee, and other drinks, and a chance to view the season video to help you decide which shows you would like to select. Choose three or more and receive 10 percent off your purchase; choose six or more and receive a 15-percent discount. Want to choose one or two? Wait until about 90 days before the concert and take a chance there are still some tickets remaining.

When you arrive, you will be given a single sheet with all 2017-18 events listed. You just need to fill it out with your choices and wait your turn to hand it to one of our attendants to reserve your seats for some of the coolest concerts this upcoming season in the area!  

If you would like, we will go live with online sales too, beginning at noon this Friday. Much of the fun, however, if time allows, is to talk with others about what they are excited to see and compare choices. Plus, you may watch the video and want to add or change your choices. It all amounts to a fun and exciting day at the Niswonger. We look forward to seeing you and answering any questions we can to help you make your best choices.

People always ask me what my favorites are. I always say it’s so difficult to choose because I booked them all, along with some committee help. I want to see them all, or I wouldn’t book them. If you feel the same way and are able to purchase a Grand Series, you can get the jump on Friday’s crowd by purchasing your Grand Series right now. And don’t forget the Enrich Community Concert Series, which features four entertaining and musically enriching concerts, all for one low price.

I wouldn’t doubt but some concerts could nearly sell out soon after opening Select Series sales this Friday. It is always interesting to observe patron buying appetites. Country music seems to be popular, and we have some outstanding country artists this season. Whatever your tastes are, we look forward to fulfilling your entertainment desires at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

This Friday is looking much more promising for the concert in Fountain Park. It features The Stranger: Billy Joel Tribute. I recently saw Billy Joel on a TV special honoring him and his music. I sometimes forget what great music he wrote and sang. Joel is a master musician and has written and performed some of the biggest hit songs over the past 40 plus years.  

Let’s all hope for nice weather this Friday night so we can enjoy it outdoors in Fountain Park.  The Van Wert Band Parents will be serving the same delicious food many of us have enjoyed at the fair for many, many years. Bring your lawn chairs and appetites and enjoy some well-deserved sunshine in the park (I hope!) to go with some good music.

I am sure you will be done at the Niswonger well in advance of our 7 p.m. concert this Friday night. Our box office workers’ heads may still be spinning, but you can enjoy Billy Joel’s music in the evening.


POSTED: 07/11/17 at 7:40 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Believe it or not, we are coming up on the weekend before the July 4 holiday.  With the Fourth falling on a Tuesday this year, our typical Friday night concerts fall squarely on either side of the holiday.  We will celebrate our Independence Day on each Friday before and after the Fourth.

This Friday, as has been tradition for many years, the Lima Symphony Pops Orchestra will be in Fountain Park presenting a concert of American music. It will include American Pop tunes, Broadway show selections, jazz, rock, Classical, and several patriotic selections and marches. This concert is always well received and I am sure this year will be the same. Maestro Crafton Beck has made our concert fit in his busy conducting schedule and will be on the podium.  He says Van Wert is always one of his favorite places to play.

There will be a group of citizens handing out American flags for a $1 donation which will be refunded if you return it to them following the concert. Otherwise, keep it and you just bought a $1 flag you can use again and again! This effort is headed by Linda Hartman. We thank her for her patriotic service.

The following Friday, July 7, features the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors. The musicians of the U.S. Army are outstanding players who play some of the best Big Band jazz music and patriotic tunes. They consist of professionally trained musicians from some of the finest schools of music and then audition for a place as a U.S. soldier. They travel the world over entertaining our troops, dignitaries, and citizens of America.

We are fortunate the Jazz Ambassadors were passing through the Midwest and I have always made it clear that Van Wert welcomes our military ensembles. They happened to have a Friday open and it worked out that July 7 was going to be an open date for us. Rather than take a Friday night off, I immediately said yes to them. It is an honor and a pleasure to host them in Fountain Park. You will enjoy these exceptional musicians and their exciting music!

We seem to be in a pattern of rainy weekends — just what a concert coordinator doesn’t want. Last week, I was monitoring the weather closely, with the help of Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy. Everyone was saying the rain would move out by mid- to late afternoon. I stuck to my guns and it ended up being a beautiful night for a concert with the Travelin’ McCourys. They gave us an exceptional Bluegrass concert in Fountain Park.

This week, with a symphony orchestra in the park, the set-up will be a bit more involved. With over 50 chairs, stands, percussion equipment, and a more intricate sound system, the decision will be a little trickier to deal with if we have rain. We will need to make the call as to being outside in Fountain Park or inside at the Niswonger PAC by 2 p.m.  News outlets, websites of The Van Wert County Foundation, the Van Wert City Parks Department, and social media will all be alerted if we need to move inside to the Niswonger. When in doubt, drive by the park after 2 p.m. and if you don’t see action of people working on stage, then it has been moved indoors.

At any rate, we hope you join us for an American celebration this Friday night with the Lima Pops Orchestra.  It will be a tremendously enjoyable evening of music.  If we are still outdoors, the Boy Scouts Troop 35 will be serving the food.  If we are forced to move indoors, then they will need to try again next year. This is another reason why I always try to keep concerts outdoors if possible.

Hey! Big sales days are coming soon to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Those who wish to buy the Grand Series can begin reserving their seats this Friday, June 30, starting at noon. Then, for those of you who wish to select your own concerts, you can start doing so on Select Series day: July 14. This is always a big day and we look forward to it at the Niswonger. 

The excitement for the 2017-18 season is building. You should have received your catalogs in the mail last week if you are on our mailing list. We have a tremendous line-up for 2017-18 and I look for the over 18,000 people on our mailing list to show up for tickets quickly. Don’t be left out! Make your plans now.


POSTED: 06/28/17 at 7:17 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Friday night in Fountain Park, The Travelin’ McCourys will be playing some of the best Bluegrass music ever played.  Last week, the Doo-Wah Riders played some country music with a Cajun twist to it.  This week, The Travelin’ McCourys bring a mix of traditional and progressive Bluegrass to the park.

Two of the members are sons of the legendary Bluegrass picker and singer Del McCoury. The sons have taken their dad’s traditional Bluegrass and have spiced it up a bit to attract a more diverse audience.

The Travelin’ McCourys, led by Ronnie and Rod McCoury on mandolin and banjo, are joined by fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram, and guitarist Cody Kilby. Looking at their website, they seem to be some of the busiest Bluegrass performers in America today. Following our Van Wert performance, they will be on to California, Texas, Oregon, and New York. That pretty much covers the country.

I know there are some Bluegrass aficionados in our area and I am sure you are aware of how terrific The Travelin’ McCourys are.  Let’s fill the park this Friday night for one big pickin’ time in Fountain Park. In the case of inclement weather, the concert would move into the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, 10700 Ohio 118 on the south edge of Van Wert. It would need to be a continuous rainy day for us to move inside, but we are covered just in case. Last Friday, we ran into a quick moving rain storm, but were able to get most of the concert in.

The Amvets of Van Wert County are serving food this Friday night, so be prepared to support their efforts and bring a hearty appetite with you to the park!  I am sure they will be ready for you by 5:30 p.m. in advance of the 7 p.m. concert.

Speaking of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, the 2017-18 season was just released and I hope you are as excited as I am about the line-up.  We are starting a brand new decade of presenting concerts and events and I think we have a blockbuster season.

I always hate to highlight certain performances because I always think each one will be good. That being said, I am sure many will be excited to see such popular artists as Jamie Farr in Tuesdays with Morrie, Little River Band, Olivia Newton-John, Kellie Pickler and Phil Vassar, The Texas Tenors, Michael W. Smith, Lonestar, and Kenny G.

Broadway stage shows will feature The Wizard of Oz, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Carol, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. We also feature a number of fun kids shows this season!  Perhaps the ones you should be the most excited about I haven’t even mentioned, but I’ll let you make your choice.

Ticket sales for NPAC Members begin today, June 21. Check out our website or watch your mailbox for your own personal catalog mailed directly to you.  We are mailing out thousands of catalogs to those on our mailing list.  They go out bulk mail, so as soon as the post office gets them out, yours should arrive.

We take a lot of pride in providing an interesting, informative, and creative publication for you to enjoy. Make sure you share one with someone who has never been to the Niswonger before. They will thank you! We have extra copies in the box office and at The Van Wert County Foundation office in downtown Van Wert.

The NPAC website, NPACVW.ORG, has all the information along with some very interesting video clips of the performers to help aid you in your choices.

It will undoubtedly be another huge year at the Niswonger. I thank our Programming Committee in helping make some wonderful choices. We also thank our season sponsors, Statewide Ford, Van Wert Federal, and Chuck and Karen Koch, along with many other event sponsors you will hear about and see as we draw closer to each event.

We look forward to welcoming you to a new decade of entertainment at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.


POSTED: 06/21/17 at 12:00 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The Doo-Wah Riders from Southern California are returning to Fountain Park in Van Wert this Friday night.  The first time they were here was in 2012. I heard them again last year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when they were showcasing at the Arts Midwest Conference. It was there that I was reminded why I liked these guys so much. They not only are talented and entertaining, but they are real game performers and gentlemanly cowboys.

During their showcase in Milwaukee last September, the power went out on the sound system. They were left with no amplification and a crowd of people waiting to hear them. They had 20 minutes to play for those waiting to hear their music.

A decision had to be made quickly on their part. I am sure some performers would have stomped off the stage with rage and disappointment. Not the Doo-Wah Riders, though! They brought their guitar, bass, drums, accordion, and fiddle down to the audience and said, “Let’s make the best of this. We hope you enjoy!” And away they went making music the best they could, making lemonade out of lemons. The audience loved them, not only for their music, but for their gamesmanship.

The Doo-Wah Riders gained even more respect in my eyes. I knew they were respectful and talented musicians, but they just grew in stature because of how they handled a very difficult situation.

They have been defined as “high-energy country with a Cajun twist.” Founder and band leader Kenny Lee Benson plays mostly accordion, but also doubles on keyboards when needed. The accordion lends the Cajun twist into the country music. You will hear many cover songs you will recognize, along with some really cool original tunes they have written.

The Doo-Wah Riders have actually been making music for over 35 years and have performed with a list of country music stars from Garth Brooks to Loretta Lynn and just about anyone else you can imagine. They appeared in the movie Basic Instinct, starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone, where they were featured doing one of their songs, “Glowing in the Ashes.” In addition to their seven albums, they have also recorded with Byron Berline on his Grammy-nominated CD, Fiddle and a Song.

We will have seven Friday nights in a row with concerts in Fountain Park before taking a week off and finishing on August 11. Check out the Van Wert County Foundation, the Van Wert City Parks & Recreation, or the Niswonger Performing Arts Center websites for more information. We also have fliers at each of these locations and throughout the city at various locations.

Kingsley United Methodist Church will be serving food in the park this Friday night. Plan on supporting their efforts beginning at 5:30 p.m. and be ready for The Doo-Wah Riders to take the stage at 7 p.m.

Today (Wednesday, June 14) is a big day at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. We will be announcing our complete 2017-18 season at noon in the First Federal Lecture Hall at the Niswonger. News releases will be sent out and the media will be covering our unveiling, so you can find out quickly. We will also be mailing season catalogs to all on our mailing list. We invite you to join us at noon in the Lecture Hall for all the exciting information. It’s a very special day each year when we release our season.

I am sure you will find some outstanding concerts, shows and events this season.  Each year just seems to get better and better. I think we have outdone ourselves once more.  I wish I could tell you now, but you will find out very soon. We will also announce when you can start getting tickets for your favorite events … or all of them! It’s like a buffet line of tasty delights.

Until then and until Friday night, I look forward to seeing you soon.

POSTED: 06/13/17 at 8:15 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I am writing you today from beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee. My younger son, Jacob, will be attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and we are here looking for housing — successfully I’m glad to say.

You know you hear about “southern hospitality”; well, they are exactly right. We have found people to be courteous, kind, and charming.
I didn’t want to miss the opportunity however, to write you in this week’s Music in Van Wert, because a week from today, June 14,  is going to be a very big day at the Niswonger.

While here in Chattanooga, we were proofing our Season 11 Niswonger catalog. I always get excited reading about the concerts we have coming.  Now this is actually odd, because I’m the one who booked them! But seeing them in print piques a new excitement. I try to look at the season from a totally non-biased opinion, but even I am impressed!

Wednesday, June 14, beginning at noon, we will unveil the season to the media and special supporters. A light lunch will be served at 11:30 that morning and then the unveiling begins at noon. Our special promo video will be shown and I will make some special comments, while my staff will also be sharing important information. We hope to have our season catalog available, while others will be mailed to our ever-increasing base of 18,000 patrons.

Season 11 will soon be a secret no more. Months and months of work by numerous people will soon come to fruition.  I’m sure you will be excited with the many concerts, shows and other events we have lined up. I can’t wait to share them with you.
It will be a whole new decade of entertainment at the Niswonger and we can’t wait for you to share in it!

I hope you enjoyed Groove Essential in the park last Friday night. A sinus infection made me miss it, but I look forward to bringing the Doo-Wah Riders to you on Friday, June 16. They are a terrific bunch of guys who put a Cajun twist into Country. I know you’ll love them, and I look forward to seeing you then!


POSTED: 06/07/17 at 6:41 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I hope many of you took time this past Memorial weekend to honor those who gave their lives for us.  One of the things I enjoy the most about Memorial Day is the celebration from our nation’s capital. PBS has been organizing and airing a Memorial Day concert featuring stories of soldiers who gave so much of their lives, many of them the ultimate, to defend the home of the brave and the ideal of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The stories are woven into musical performances from some of the leading performers in our nation.

This year, I was very pleased to see and hear two singers who we have selected to perform at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center over the past few years. Country Music star Scotty McCreery sang a moving tribute to our soldiers. We opened our season about three years ago with Scotty and I can tell you he is very sincere when it comes to honoring our vets. He is the real deal.

Next in line was the phenomenal tenor Ronan Tynan. Ronan helped us celebrate our fifth anniversary at the NPAC. This is not the first time for Ronan, as I remember him singing a year or two ago on the D.C. stage.  Although he is Irish and grew up in Ireland, he came to America and fell in love with our country, to the point he became an American citizen — the right way — legally! There are many things heroic about Ronan Tynan and I would encourage you to read about this amazing man and singer. It was good to see him on the stage again. He is one of the Three Irish Tenors and perhaps the most iconic.

Each year, I also recognize numerous singers who have performed on our Niswonger stage who are part of the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters and the U.S. Army Field Band Chorus. They offer valuable back up to many of the soloists who appear on the PBS program. It is always an honor to welcome these military music ensembles to perform on our stage. They are musical soldiers and very good ones at that.

I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed Memorial Day, but also took time out to thank, remember and celebrate the real purpose for this holiday.

The Van Wert County Foundation sponsored Fountain Park Summer Music Series starts this Friday with a fun band from Indianapolis, Groove Essential.  I think you will enjoy their music, energy and fun they will bring to Friday night of this year’s Peony Festival.  It starts at 7 p.m. in Fountain Park.  And then after one week off, we are back for every Friday night throughout the summer. It will be fun, fun, fun in sunny (we hope) Fountain Park the entire summer. Free concerts, lots of fellowship, and good food to eat — what could be better?

Mark June 14 down on your calendars. That’s when we announce the rest of our exciting 2017-18 Niswonger season. It’s a great lineup filled with performers you will definitely want to see and hear! Find out on June 14 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

See you soon!


POSTED: 05/31/17 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert