Music in Van Wert
By: Paul Hoverman
It’s hard to believe we are wrapping up another Niswonger season this Saturday night. The legendary Temptations will be in town this Saturday to light up The Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall to a sold-out crowd of nearly 1,200 people. This concert took off like a firecracker from day one of sales back last summer. We have been out of tickets for over three months. I’m not sure I remember a concert that drew so much attention so far in advance.
As we wrap up the season, it’s interesting to look back at what has occurred since October 4. There have been 29 professional performances on our stage as well as numerous school concerts, musical programs, and rental functions. Next month, we will add a couple dance recitals to round out the season.
Out of the 30 performances, 10 have sold out and over 26,000 people have witnessed our concerts this season. Some have been the same people, but over 1,500 were first time attenders this season. We now have a mailing list of nearly 17,000 concert enthusiasts who have come from as far away as Canada and the state of Delaware. We regularly see people from Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, and the Cleveland area.
Each year, we think it will be difficult to outdo the previous season. This year was one that had its skeptics, but we fail to give credit to some concerts that may initially fly “under the radar.” For instance, so many thoroughly enjoyed relatively unknown performers like the Annie Moses Band, Dallas Brass, Peter White, The Inspiration of Broadway with little known, Mark McVey, Home Free, and the Broadway show- Memphis. I so enjoy introducing people to new performers; at least new to them! This is where our mission of education is partially fulfilled.
We also fulfill our education and inspiration portions of our mission by involving youth with our performances. Who can forget all the high school musicians on stage with Dallas Brass back in November? Or the little dancers and singers who took part in the Nutcracker with the Ballet Theatre of Toledo? Or the darling young kids who performed on stage with Kenny Rogers at Christmas? It was magical! Inspiration at its finest. Some Lincolnview High School singers got the opportunity to sing for Home Free, a group that created more excitement with our audience than I have ever seen before. Some local pianists received world-class instruction from concert pianist, Leon Bates. The previous year, the Crestview High School Choir had the thrill of backing up Christian artists, Point of Grace. Last week, the Van Wert High School Select Choir entertained our lobby audience before the StepCrew concert.
We are constantly looking for opportunities to involve local talent from our schools with the professional performers who come to the Niswonger. As we plan our next season, we will once again be looking for ways to involve local people and hopefully inspire some young people to “reach for the stars.”
We can only accomplish these goals because of the support of you, our patrons and supporters. The dream was thought of, then created, and now you continue to perpetuate it. Thank you for your support of another exciting season at the Niswonger. The way it looks, next season is shaping up to be perhaps even better!
The Community Concert Series has been announced and is now selling to members. You can become a member right now and get an advanced seat selection. On April 29, the box office opens to anyone wishing to purchase the series. Then, get ready: we are only a month away (hopefully) from announcing the entire season — our Grand Series. Hold onto your hats!
And speaking of reaching for the stars, we want to wish the Van Wert High School Band and Lincolnview High School Choir good luck as they perform at state competition this weekend!
Following last night’s exciting concert to end this season’s Community Concert Series, now is the perfect time to share the brand new 2015-16 series with you. Nearly 900 people were entertained by the high-energy, step-dancing Celtic music ensemble, The StepCrew. It was a great way to segue into next season’s announcement.
Over the 62 years of Community Concerts in Van Wert, there have been many changes. Community Concerts do not remain stagnant. Since moving to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, we have continued to honor the tradition of packaging professional performances at an affordable price. Next season will be the same value, but will offer some new twists for the ticket buyer.
Last year, we gave the option of selecting desired seats in a scalable house. In other words, if you prefer seats up close and personal, they may cost a little more, but yet we offered many seats at the most affordable rate too. We also offered special memberships that offered early buying options, along with meet-and-greets with the performers, and other special features. Last night, those who were members were treated to a pre-concert dinner at Willow Bend Country Club, where we also gave the first announcement of next year’s performers.
For those who like to make an evening of their Niswonger concert experiences, we have teamed with Willow Bend to offer a dinner and a show. Each of the five Community Concerts next season will be teamed with a themed dinner at Willow Bend. It’s a fun and classy way to enjoy the entire concert experience and enjoy it with friends and fellow patrons. And with the increasing number of out-of-towners attending our concerts, it’s a great way to meet new friends and talk about what great offerings our community has to offer.
Just announced at last night’s concert with The StepCrew were the five outstanding performances one can purchase for as little as $60. The 2015-16 season features two big PBS performances that many have probably seen on WBGU (PBS 27) in Bowling Green or WFWA (PBS 39) in Fort Wayne. Child prodigy, pianist, singer, composer and entertainer Ethan Bortnick is returning to Van Wert. Now age 14, Ethan continues to wow audiences with an entertaining show of jazz, classical, pop and much more. This spring, expect his second PBS special to be aired on local stations and throughout the country.
Christmas will go “Grassical” this year with the DePue Brothers Band. The four DePue brothers hail from Bowling Green, but now live all over the country. Music is the one thing that keeps this family together. That’s quite understandable as their father, Dr. Wallace DePue, was music professor for many years at Bowling Green State University. “Grassical” is the term these brothers have coined for their violin and fiddling styles, which contain elements of both classical and bluegrass. It is a very entertaining night and they have some beautiful Christmas arrangements you will fall in love with.
Everyone’s favorite singing cowboys, Riders in the Sky, recently received permission to use clips of the old Roy Rogers movies and they have put together a show saluting the “King of the Cowboys.” It is a brand new show and you will be among the first to see it as part of our Community Concert Series.
The fourth concert of the series will be something totally different, but very fun. The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra comes to us from Wellington, New Zealand. Fourteen ukuleles and a bass will create a fun-filled night of music, comedy and who knows what else. This band is comprised of a bunch of young kids who make music an experience for the entire audience.
We finish the series with a group that has been mentioned to me by several people lately: The Texas Tenors. Once again, a huge Emmy Award-winning PBS special and performers on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” propelled these three tenors to Billboard’s top 10 list of classical artists in the world! Their show displays a “Country roots Classical sound” that has them in great demand all over the world. Now you can see them on the Niswonger stage as part of the 2015-16 Community Concert Series.
Now that you are appropriately teased and excited about this upcoming season, watch for more information about how and when you can be a part of this in news releases throughout the area and with our local media friends.
Before I have the chance to communicate with you again in this column, we will have enjoyed a high-energy Celtic dance and music show with the dynamic StepCrew. This concert is Tuesday, April 14, at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. About four years ago, I had the opportunity to witness one of their first public performances at the Dublin (Ohio) Irish Festival. It was a relatively hot day in the early summer as I recall, but it was about to get even hotter! Six dancers, backed up by an exciting upbeat Irish band, took the stage and raised the temperature.
This new band and dance troop, who also could fiddle up a storm while dancing, was the latest musical group to come to the U.S. out of Canada. An agent friend of mine invited my wife, daughter and me to come see them at the famed Dublin Irish Fest. We were so entertained and impressed that I immediately wanted to bring their show to Van Wert. Now, some four years later, we finally get to share this magnificent show with all of you.
As the finale to our 2014-15 Community Concert Series, we are selling what single tickets remain. You can still get in to see this exciting concert by purchasing online at NPACVW.ORG or in advance or at the door next Tuesday at the box office. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m., but if you arrive early, you can hear the Van Wert High School Select Choir entertain in the lobbies before the concert. They are scheduled to sing from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. This new vocal ensemble is under the direction of Ms. Melissa Bloomfield.
Also, since this is the last concert of the Community Concert Series, we are planning to announce our brand new 2015-16 Community Concert Series. All I can tell you is that it features five outstanding concerts with tremendous talent, notoriety, and value. You will want to be in your seat for the video preview at 7:25 p.m., just before the start of the StepCrew concert. Each year, I think we can’t outdo the previous, but I think our programming committee has done an outstanding job and I can’t wait to share it with you.
For all you parents and grandparents of young children, don’t forget about our show this Sunday afternoon, April 12, at 3 p.m. featuring “The Berenstain Bears Live!” Most everyone who has been a parent or grandparent is familiar with these beloved children’s books. They promote such good lessons for children and this live production will bring the books to life in a stage show entitled “Family Matters the musical.” You can still get tickets for this one if you hurry. Jeffery-Mohr Dentistry is helping us bring this wonderful show to all children in our area. Because of their generosity, tickets begin at just $10.
Good things continue to happen in the arts of Van Wert. This weekend, Van Wert High School Drama Department presents the musical, “Grease.” There are three shows beginning this Thursday, and continuing on Friday and Saturday. They all begin at 8 p.m. and tickets are available through the Niswonger box office. Lots to do, lots to see. Enjoy!
I have said many times in this column that I believe live music is always better. I still hold to that premise, but I also realize that television has become an even bigger influence on live music today.
In the early days of television, variety shows were very prominent. Some of the more mature readers may recall shows in the 1950s through 1970s like Red Skelton, with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra; “The Jackie Gleason Show”, with the June Taylor Dancers; and many other early pioneers of TV with guest or house performers. Television then went through a time in the ‘80s and ‘90s where variety shows disappeared. Our friend, Tony Orlando, was one of the last real variety shows to successfully run on TV and it lasted until 1976. The Carol Burnett Show lasted two more years, finishing its run in 1978. All these variety shows incorporated live music and performers on TV.
Over two decades of television passed before a new type of “reality” TV show appeared such as “American Idol”, followed by “Dancing with the Stars”, “The Voice”, and others. These shows presented “common” people performing in hopes of becoming “uncommon.” These shows have launched new careers for singers, dancers and other performers.
Another voice for music on TV is PBS. At least twice a year, PBS airs their fund raising telethons and in my opinion, airs some of their finest programs during that time. PBS specials became a huge opportunity for not-so popular performers to be recognized as tremendous entertainers. It also gave a stage to performers from the past to be recognized by a new generation and re-appreciated by an older audience.
These “reality” TV shows and PBS specials have launched tours for many performers, giving them the opportunity to perform for live and very appreciative audiences. I hear quite often from people who would love to see us bring “so and so” to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center to perform. Many of these performers would not have been recognized if it were not for these popular TV shows.
I happen to think this is a good thing, because like I have said, “live is always better!” It also gives performers the opportunity to keep performing for an appreciative audience willing to pay to hear them. That’s called job security.
As we prepare for a new season in 2015-16 at the Niswonger, I can tell you that, if all goes as planned, you will see some of these performers you have seen on television on our stage in Van Wert. Since November, our programming committee and I have been working diligently on another inspiring season of performances for you to enjoy. In just two weeks, on April 14, at the StepCrew concert, we plan on announcing the new Community Concert Series for 2015-16. It will be filled with new and familiar performers, some you have seen and heard on TV.
As soon as we can get a confirmed season completed and approved, we will announce the rest of the season. Our goal is to have it ready to unveil early in June. You will be amazed with some of the talent we (hopefully) have lined up for next season. Once again, even more performers you may have seen as a result of these recent TV shows. Television and performing arts centers are teaming up to bring music into your lives. It seems to be a working combination that has become successful.
Music is also a very important aspect of this Easter season. Celebrate Easter in a church of your choice and may music fill your soul in a good way as you celebrate the triumphal resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Happy Easter, everyone!
If you have ever visited Memphis, Tennessee, you no doubt have been to Beale Street and took the opportunity to immerse yourself into the musical heritage of Memphis. Memphis is known for early rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, country, and numerous other popular music genres that really came onto the scene in the early 1950s. Names like Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and eventually Elvis Presley, all got their start at Sun Records in Memphis. Until these performers came along, the radio stations were playing old country and big band style music (not that there is anything wrong with these types of music,) but there was a new wave of music coming on shore.
There was a young radio DJ named Dewey Phillips who was spinning records late night on WHBQ Radio in Memphis. He had become familiar with this new style of music called rockabilly and took a bold step one night to play music of a young singer named Elvis Presley. The radio management went ballistic, imagining people would complain. What they found out was that people loved this new sound. The radio station became even more popular, as did Dewey Phillips. Memphis was literally turned upside down in the 1950s because of this new music that was taking the city and country by storm.
The story continues as Phillips meets, and falls in love with, a young African American blues singer in Memphis. Now you have the influence of blues (can you say B. B. King?) with the rockabilly style of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, among others. Add to this the atmosphere of racial tensions in the South — and particularly in Memphis — and you have the making of quite a story.
This story was taken by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, who added some wonderful and exciting music to create the Broadway musical Memphis. The story was so wonderfully told that Memphis became the Tony Award winner for “Musical of the Year” in 2010. My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing it in New York and immediately knew we wanted to bring it to Van Wert for the region to enjoy as much as we did.
Well, we’ve done it! This Saturday and Sunday, Memphis, the Musical! will be set up to perform at the Niswonger for a 7:30 p.m. show on Saturday and a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee. I encourage you to come out and experience the music, the passion, the dancing, the history and entertainment of Memphis this weekend. With two shows, we still have tickets remaining for either one. One show would have already been sold-out, but with two, you can get tickets even at the door.
The rest of the Niswonger season includes “The Berenstain Bears in Family Matters”, The Stepcrew, Church Basement Ladies in The Last (Potluck) Supper, and The Temptations (sold out). It’s then time to think about summer (dread these late snowstorms). Remember: any non-profit organizations wanting to serve food during the Fountain Park Summer Music Series concerts, must get their names to The Van Wert County Foundation office before April 1.
The last concert pianist we presented at the Niswonger was two years ago. Thomas Pandolfi, a Washington, D.C., pianist, just wowed our audience and, in my opinion, far exceeded most expectations for a piano concert. After his brilliant performance, Pandolfi took a brief breather and returned to the stage to conduct a master class with some local talented piano students. Many of the audience stuck around to observe and were entertained and enlightened.
Nearly two years later, we have decided to bring back one of my all-time favorite concert pianists, Leon Bates. I remember him shaking the stage with his powerful selections on the 7’ Steinway Grand at the Marsh Auditorium years ago. Then, in 2009, Bates returned to perform on the Niswonger stage with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra with his magnificent rendition of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”.
Now, in 2015, we bring Leon back to Van Wert to not only perform a solo concert, but also to speak and conduct a master class. Here’s what’s happening with Leon Bates at the Niswonger this weekend. This Saturday at 2 p.m., he will give a free talk on the many contributions of African American composers of American music. Bates travels all over the world speaking on subjects such as this as well as how body building, one of his other passions, can benefit artistry. All you need to do is show up this Saturday by 2 p.m. and you can enjoy this event, sponsored by our Speaker/Lecture Committee of the Niswonger.
Following the speaking engagement, Bates will work with four local pianists in a master class on the Central Insurance Stage of the Niswonger. These fortunate students will be learning from a master teacher and performer who has a wealth of knowledge in piano music and music in general. The public is welcome to stay after the speaking event and observe Mr. Bates as he works with these students. It is really amazing to see how a student can bring a piece of prepared music into a master class and have it be transformed by someone like Leon Bates.
These two events, beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday are free of charge. Our speaker series sponsors and Community Concert supporters help make opportunities like this available for you to enjoy. They are Midwest Electric, Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative, Vancrest Health Care Centers, Slusher’s Jewelry, Van Wert County Hospitals, Delphos Hearing Aid Center, Central Insurance Companies, and Taylor Auto Sales of Van Wert. And, of course, StateWide Ford Lincoln and Van Wert Federal Savings Bank bring our entire season to you.
Then on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., Leon Bates will top off his Van Wert stay with a magnificent piano concert on our Baldwin SD10 concert grand piano, which was donated by the Community Concert Association at the opening of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in 2007. This wonderful instrument has been used on our stage many, many times; from pop pianists to jazz to country and rock. But it is now that the instrument gets to really shine and “show off” for you under the powerful and virtuosic hands and fingers of a concert pianist like Leon Bates. His repertoire on Sunday afternoon’s performance will highlight the grandness of a concert grand piano and test it to its fullest extent.
As a pianist, Leon Bates has performed all over the world and with nearly all of the finest symphony orchestras in America, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York and even in Carnegie Hall, just to name a very few.
Because of our very fine sponsors, the Sunday afternoon concert has tickets available from just $10 to $20. You can get them at the door on Sunday or in advance at the box office or on-line at NPACVW.ORG.
Don’t forget, now that the Fountain Park Summer Music Series has been announced, The Van Wert County Foundation is accepting names of non-profit organizations wishing to be considered to sell food at the concerts. Contact us at 419.238.1743 or stop by our office on Main Street. Names will be selected on April 1 — no joke!
With the upcoming 2010 Tony Award-winning and “Best Musical” Memphis coming to the Niswonger later this month for two big shows, I thought it might be interesting for you to see exactly what it takes to present a touring Broadway show on our stage.
It is by far the most labor-intensive days of the year for our technical director and his crew. Many times, a show will have three to four semi-trucks filled with set designs, costumes, sound, lighting and other essentials. In the case of Memphis, we have a Saturday night show, so the semi drivers and the show crew will arrive early in the morning, around 7 a.m. We need to provide a crew of 32 people to load in and set the show up on our stage. It will require 36 people to load the show out following our Sunday afternoon matinee. This is in addition to the 13 technical crewmembers traveling with Memphis.
Memphis has two 53-foot trailers and two tour buses carrying the cast and musicians, as well as some crew. You will see them parked in the loading dock and in the parking lot on the south side of the Niswonger on show day. It will take our crew 6-8 hours of work to load the show in and have it set up in time for a 1½-hour sound check and necessary pre-set work. It can be a hectic and harrowing day, but with our veteran group of volunteers, aided by some union labor workers, we normally come through in flying colors by the time you sit down to enjoy a 2½-hour Broadway show.
In the meantime, while the show is being loaded in and set up on stage, there are company members, show staff and local workers who are preparing the dressing rooms, storage rooms, and the Green Room, hair dressers, clothing steamers and pressers, communication staff and command control people making themselves at home in our friendly backstage confines.
Most often, we need to commandeer space from the schools to meet all the space requirements for such huge shows. We are so grateful to Mr. Sloan, Mrs. Decker and Mrs. Reichert — all music staff at Van Wert High and Middle Schools — for giving up their space so our audiences can enjoy the show. Thankfully, our building was designed to accommodate this kind of usage and cooperation or we could never present such big shows like Memphis!
In addition to all this, we are working to provide food and beverage to everyone during the day, so they can continue to work on the tight schedule they must adhere to. I can’t say enough about the amount of work and effort that so many put forth so that we can do Broadway shows. We have some volunteers who give up so much time for the pure experience of doing it. They are angels in my book! Some have been with us from the beginning and we can’t begin to thank them enough.
Of course, the whole production couldn’t happen without the excellent organization and skill of Tech Director Hugh Saunier. During the show and afterwards, he gets little, if any, recognition, but I am here to tell you it wouldn’t happen without his direction. Facility Coordinator Mark Hartman also puts in long hours to make sure everyone is heading to the right place and has all their needs met. This just really scratches the surface of what it takes to put a show on at the Niswonger, but I must stop at some point.
As far as Memphis goes, here is what the website says and those of us who have been fortunate to see it would wholeheartedly agree:
“Winner of four Tony Awards® in 2010, including Best Musical, Memphis has truly exploded into the West end and is now London’s hottest new destination! Inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis follows the fame and forbidden love of a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break. Join them on their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves – filled with laughter, soul and rock ‘n’ roll!”
So, the next time you buy your ticket for a Broadway Show at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, and as you sit back in your comfortable chair to enjoy what will be an absolutely thrilling and entertaining show like Memphis, you can now appreciate what your ticket just paid for.
With the winter weather not giving up yet, I feel Pat Boone may feel more like singing “Love Letters in the Snow” rather than “Love Letters in the Sand.” Of course the latter is one of Pat Boone’s biggest hit songs and one of the top love songs of all time.
Pat Boone will whisk into Van Wert this Sunday for a 3 p.m. concert of “Music & Memories” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. A few tickets remain if you want to share in a couple hours of music and memories with one of America’s legendary singers, actors, and TV men. I am told we will share in memories from the past as we get a glimpse and first-hand account of the famous Boone family and the many famous singers and entertainers who crossed paths with them. Video and, of course, songs Pat will sing, will certainly take the audience back to the days of its youth. The younger audience members will learn and experience entertainment and gain a grand historical perspective.
When Pat Boone’s daughter, Debby, visited Van Wert in 2013 as part of our Community Concert Series too, she mentioned to her father how much she enjoyed our town and performing in the Niswonger for an appreciative and enjoyable audience. So, when we asked her father to perform, he was happy to oblige. I’m sure we will show him as much love and appreciation as we did his daughter.
The following week brings a contrasting concert to the Niswonger. On Saturday, March 14, the contemporary Christian band Newsboys will be in town to rock the house. Many are familiar with them from last year’s hit movie, God is Not Dead, which is one of their famous hit songs, too. The house will be filled with young kids who are loyal Newsboys fans and everyone should expect a “high volume” concert at times! So beware!
There are many fans still wanting tickets for this sold-out concert at the Niswonger, so it shouldn’t be any problem selling your ticket if you think this isn’t “your bag.” Appearing with the Newsboys will also be special guests Finding Favour, Audio Adrenaline and newcomer John Tibbs.
Looking much ahead, we will be announcing the Fountain Park Summer Music Series line-up real soon. It will feature seven concerts and all but one will be new to the park. Six new bands coming from all over the country will be filling the outdoors with fun music this summer. Remember, non-profit organizations, contact The Van Wert County Foundation office at 419.238.1743 if you are interested in being considered to serve food with one of these concerts this summer. We need the name of your organization, a contact person, phone number and email address. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the summer!
As you read this article, we will have just experienced the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors on Tuesday night. We thank Times Bulletin Media for helping sponsor this free event at the Niswonger for many to enjoy. All of the printed tickets were distributed and if the weather cooperated, there should be a full house. Your tax dollars at work … in a good way, I might say!
In thinking of what to share with you this week, one thing was in common. Pat, piano, and park all start with the letter “P”. I know it’s a stretch, but hang in there with me. Two upcoming concerts at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center feature Pat Boone and pianist Leon Bates. I’ll speak to the third “P” in a moment.
After taking a week off of Niswonger concerts, where we allow “Ohio Has Talent!” to take the stage in an entertaining and very worthwhile cause this Saturday, we return with “The Music & Memories of Pat Boone” on March 8. Boone is a singer, actor, TV man and legendary performer whom we are honored to present on our Central Insurance Stage at the Niswonger. Some may say he is past his prime, but it is his prime that earns him the opportunity to perform for us. Not only that, according to his daughter, Debby, who stole our hearts in concert two years ago, “Dad still sounds good and has a very entertaining show you will really enjoy!”
Pat Boone is still very active and just released a new album entitled Legacy with 17 new recordings. He does TV commercials and two radio shows currently. Not bad for a man of 81 years!
I am told he will sing and tell stories like how he once did a concert and had an opening act take the stage before him — a little known male singer by the name of Elvis. Pat says, “Thank goodness, I had a couple hit songs at the time because I had to follow Elvis Presley!” Pat’s show will also consist of video of his career and the many performers he has shared the stage with as well as family and film clips.
“Music & Memories” — come share them with Pat Boone at the Niswonger on Sunday afternoon, March 8 for a 3 p.m. show. You’ll be glad you did.
Pianist Leon Bates then comes to town for a weekend of activities, culminating in a piano concert on Sunday, March 22, also at 3 p.m. On Saturday, March 21, Mr. Bates will present a talk on the contributions of African-American composers of music. This will begin at 2 p.m. in the Music Hall and then will be followed by a master class where select piano students from the area and region will perform pieces for Mr. Bates. All are welcome to stay after the talk and see how a master pianist transforms these young budding pianists. Both of these events are free and open to the public as part of our Speaker/Lecture Series and educational outreach.
The following afternoon, Sunday, March 22, at 3 p.m., Leon Bates will take the stage in a formal piano concert, demonstrating his power, finesse, and virtuosity on our Baldwin SD 10 concert grand piano. Tickets for this concert range from $10 to $20 and are available at the box office or online at npacvw.org.
My final “P” is park! What has turned out to be another rough winter needs a shot of hope. That will come soon as The Van Wert County Foundation reveals the Fountain Park Summer Music line-up in the near future. Just think, in about three months you’ll be planting your lawn chairs on the green grass of Fountain Park under blue skies and take in some of the finest summer music you’ll ever hear.
This is the first notice to VW County non-profit organizations: you may start submitting requests to The Foundation office (419.238.1743) for consideration of selling food in the park. If you were not selected last year, you are eligible for this year. We will take names throughout the month of March and make selections on April 1. Now if this doesn’t warm you up, nothing will. Hope springs eternal — especially when you are talking music!
So, remember your three “P’s”- Pat (Boone), Pianist, Leon Bates, and Park Music. I will see you at one or all three.
Perhaps I should have titled this “and all that Jazz!” after the hit song from the musical Chicago. But, what I wanted to communicate to you is that there are all kinds of music and they all loosely get categorized under “Jazz.” The music idiom of Jazz has been attached to so many styles that it is almost confusing. It is certainly confusing to someone trying to determine whether they actually like it or not.
Early Jazz originated from the Blues and Spirituals created by African slaves in the 1800s. Since then, it has taken the form of Ragtime, Blues, Gospel, Big Band, Be-Bop, Swing, and even what we now call Smooth Jazz; and probably many other forms between.
In the next two weeks, we have two types of Jazz coming to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert. This Saturday night, February 21, will feature a group called Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Some might call them a Jazz Band, and certainly they have elements of Jazz in their music. More accurately however, they would be defined as a Swing Band. They will have a hard-hitting rhythmic feel to the music created by horns, drums and vocals. This is not exactly the Benny Goodman Swing some may be thinking of, although it will certainly be toe tapping and a dancing in the aisles feel much like young people enjoyed in the 1940s to Goodman’s music.
I was told that the people of the Greenville, Tennessee, Niswonger Performing Arts Center enjoyed Big Bad Voodoo Daddy more than almost any show they have ever had. It will certainly be a fun and lively night. Tickets remain for this 7:30 p.m. concert. If you are looking for a fun evening, this is one you won’t want to miss! I have to tell you that when I mentioned this concert from the stage this past Sunday before “Anything Goes,” the musicians in the pit were giving me high five gestures. They are all Big Bad fans!
Then on Tuesday, March 3, the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors come to town to present a free concert at the Niswonger. Of course, the price can’t be beaten! What I will also guarantee is that the enjoyment also may not be beaten. We have had the privilege of presenting the U.S. Army Field Band’s Concert Band and Soldier’s Chorus, as well as the Navy Sea Chanters and the Wright Patterson Air Force Band of Flight. They have all presented exceptional shows — as a matter of fact, some of my all-time favorites.
The Jazz Ambassadors will perform a diverse program of Jazz tunes. Those who enjoy Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman will certainly be pleased, but so will others looking for their fill of more current songs and, of course, patriotic songs done in a Jazz style, but still poignantly patriotic! I have heard a number of their arrangements and they are exceptional, especially the patriotic tunes. They will have vocals along with their Big Band sounds.
Free tickets have been distributed at the Times-Bulletin Media office on Fox Road as well as the Niswonger box office. After a deluge of ticket distribution following “Anything Goes,” we are just about out. If you don’t yet have a ticket, get yours immediately before they are all gone. We thank the Times-Bulletin Media for helping sponsor this free concert.
Memphis, the musical, is coming to town on March 28-29. It is an exceptional Broadway musical that will have other elements of Jazz in it, along with the Blues and early Rock ‘n’ Roll. We finish the season on April 25 with The Temptations and some might call it a type of Jazz, although they are more commonly referred to as an R&B (rhythm and blues) group. They’ve been sold out for over a month!
All kinds of Jazz at the Niswonger. Make your choice and see what you like the most. You may like them all!