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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jun. 25, 2017


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


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

I look at the calendar and can hardly believe we are less than two weeks from the start of Fountain Park Summer Music once again.  Actually, this Friday the Van Wert Area Community Concert Band will kick things off in Fountain Park with their first concert of the season.  Starting at 7 p.m. this Friday, bring your chairs and blankets to the park and enjoy some good band music presented by local music makers. I am sure director Richard Sherrick has the band primed for a great concert.

Then on Friday, June 2, the first of nine Fountain Park Summer Music concerts will help you celebrate the Peony Festival with a band from the Indianapolis area called Groove Essential. This band is comprised of some of the top musicians from that area’s music industry and has become one of the most in-demand bands for weddings and corporate functions.  Their playlist goes on forever and is filled with song after song you will enjoy listening and dancing to if you wish.

I wanted this first concert of the year, associated with the Peony Festival to be lively and help create a party atmosphere.  In Groove Essential, I believe we have found one of the most enjoyable bands in the Midwest to help us accomplish just that. The songs you will hear will include everything from the 60’s to current Pop hits and everything from Motown and Disco to Pop and Rock, including timeless ballads and classics. 

Of course, like all Peony Festivals, Fountain Park will be surrounded with food vendors and fun activities for you to enjoy. Then the live music with Groove Essential begins at 7 p.m., just like all our other summer concerts.  Get ready for summer; it’s right around the corner!

On the inside track of music at the Niswonger, we just finished our season with a high energy concert for a sold-out crowd with REO Speedwagon. It was quite a production with all the lighting and effects.  It was certainly one of, if not the finest light shows we ever had on our stage. The audience enjoyed classic rock hit songs as well as some new material from this timeless Rock Band. It has certainly been a year to remember at the Niswonger where you get everything from Mutts Gone Nuts to The Boston Pops Orchestra to REO Speedwagon.  One would be hard pressed to say there wasn’t something for most everyone.

We are now in the midst at the Niswonger in selling the new Enrich Community Concert Series. Nearly 500 seats have been sold in the past three weeks. This series of four concerts features The Five Browns, the Canton Symphony with our own Gerhardt Zimmermann, Christmas with the Texas Tenors, and Cirque Zuma Zuma — a very entertaining acrobatic and musical show featuring African acrobats and performers.  

Your best opportunity to reserve your seats for this affordable yet highly entertaining and “enriching” series of concerts is right now. Your best opportunity for seats for The Texas Tenors is within this series. Whatever seats remain unsold will go on sale individually later this summer.

To learn about the entire 2017-18 Niswonger Season, plan on attending our Unveiling on June 14 in the First Federal Lecture Hall at noon. The 11th season at the Niswonger is designed to knock you off your feet with featured artists and stars you won’t want to miss. Mark your calendars for June 14. It’s always an exciting event!


POSTED: 05/24/17 at 6:32 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The word is out: the Texas Tenors are coming back to Van Wert’s Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  This phenomenal trio of singing cowboys were here last year and thrilled a sold-out house. People were clamoring for them to return! They really were very good and very, very entertaining.  They said then they would like to return to our stage, so when the opportunity came around again we booked them for Christmas just to change things up a bit.

They gained enormous popularity with a sensational PBS show which went viral. They are three good looking cowboys who sing operatic, romantic and pop style music equally as well. Their charisma is infectious and people instantly fall in love with them. From a personal standpoint, the three guys are genuine and gentlemanly. Success has not seemingly gone to their heads. They were nice when they were here and just as nice when I ran into them last January in the lobby of the Hilton in Manhattan, N.Y.

It was interesting when a group of ladies from Van Wert went out of town to see the Texas Tenors a couple months ago. At the concert, the Texas Tenors were showing where they will be in the upcoming year to promote their future performances. And wouldn’t you know, they finally came all the way around to next December and there was Van Wert, Ohio, on December 9, 2017. Well I quickly got a message asking if I knew the Texas Tenors were coming back to Van Wert for Christmas. I just smiled! Well, now the word’s out.

We have packaged their performance with three others in our newly branded Enrich Community Concert Series. They can be purchased along with The Four Browns, the Canton Symphony Orchestra (of which I talked about in last week’s column), and Cirque Zuma Zuma. These three performances along with the Texas Tenors can be purchased together for as little as $75. That’s less than $20 a performance. That’s quite a deal!

We call it Enrich Community Concert Series now because we feel the concerts and shows we package are really enriching an audience member’s cultural appetite. This four-pack of concerts not only saves you money, but also exposes you to exciting entertainment that could be overlooked. Our mission at the Niswonger is to inspire, educate and entertain. It says so right on our outside walls of the building. I feel very confident that by buying into the all new Enrich Community Concert Series, you will experience all three of these senses: inspiration, education, and entertainment.

An added incentive is that you have the earliest of opportunities to get the seats of your choice for those concerts, like the Texas Tenors, that you think you really want. It truly is a win-win-win situation. I hope you take advantage of it. We have been selling the series to those who can give a little extra support by becoming a Maestro, Principal, or Musician member. You also get recognized as an extra supporter of the arts in our playbill. Beginning the Friday, we open sales to all who want to buy the series. Balcony seats are $75, mezzanine $100, and orchestra $125. You can visit our friendly box office workers or call or buy on-line; whichever is easier for you. Any seats which remain will be sold separately approximately 90 days before the show date.

We have one remaining concert this season at the Niswonger. It is REO Speedwagon, a classic rock band and it is essentially sold out with rock enthusiasts. It will undoubtedly be a loud concert as that is what their fans expect, so buyer beware! A young musician named Tim Stop will be opening for that concert. He is doing an acoustic set for the first 20-30 minutes and will not be as loud as the headliner. His music online sounds very good!

There are a lot of spring school music programs going on this month. It’s always nice to support their performances. Good luck to all of them as well as those Middle School bands and choirs who will soon be competing in OMEA competition.

Summer is coming soon! We open up in Fountain Park on June 2 with Groove Essential. They are a really fun party band who plays popular songs you will recognize from the ‘60s to current times. Their music should hit many generations. 

I’ll be off next week visiting my daughter in California. Next week at this time, I will be in Yosemite National Park. Time for a little break, but I’ll catch up with you soon at a concert near you!


POSTED: 05/09/17 at 8:52 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Probably nothing gives me more pleasure than to connect celebrity musicians with their hometown, especially when their hometown is Van Wert, Ohio.  We hear often of how so many kids grow up in Van Wert, move away, and we rarely hear from them again.  Next year’s new Enrich Community Concert Series was just announced this past weekend and I am very pleased that we will be featuring one of these very people I have referred to.

Those of you who have been Van Wert residents for many years may recall the name Gary Zimmerman. He grew up on Crawford Street in Van Wert and graduated from VWHS in 1963. He was a young boy who eventually took to music, perhaps partially due to the fact that, as a young boy of around 5 or 6 years old, he was struck by polio. To this day, he still cannot bend his left knee. He has lived most of his life in this state, walking with a limp.

Polio, however, did not stop this young boy. He recently stopped by to have lunch with me and we drove by his homestead on Crawford Street. He was amazed at how the neighborhood has changed. “Where’s the junior high school?” he asked amazingly. “Hey, it’s nice to still see the football stadium,” he remarked.

He told me stories of how, even though he had polio, it really didn’t slow him down. He ran around the neighborhood and got into trouble just like every other boy. He told me of how, as a young boy, he would listen to the high school band march up and down Crawford Street. He fell in love with the beat of the drums and the music he heard. He would eventually go to college at Bowling Green, where he says he first heard a symphony orchestra and fell in love with this new sound. He knew then that he wanted to someday conduct a symphony orchestra. And that he did!

The rest is history in the world of music. His resume is impressive and reads like a who’s who among American orchestral conductors. Oh yes, and when you become a world renowned orchestral conductor, you change your name from Gary Zimmerman of Van Wert, Ohio, to Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann. Has a better ring to it, don’t you think?  The following gives you an idea of what he has been up to since graduating from Van Wert High School in 1963.

Gerhardt Zimmermann is in his third season as director of orchestral activities at the University of Texas at Austin, Butler School of Music. Maestro Zimmermann, is in his 33rd season as music director and conductor of the Canton (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra and, this summer, he will return to the Breckenridge Music Festival for his 16th season as music director and principal conductor. After 21 years as music director and conductor of the North Carolina Symphony (1982-2002), Zimmermann held the post of conductor laureate from 2002-2008.

Zimmermann’s energetic and vibrant performances have drawn invitations to appear on the podium with the Cleveland, Chicago, National, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, New Jersey, Syracuse, Rochester, and San Antonio orchestras. Other guest appearances include the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, the Toronto Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago’s Grant Park, Colorado Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Opera.

He still lives in North Carolina with his wife, Sharon, and they have two children. How would you like to have his schedule?  He lives in North Carolina, teaches in Texas, and conducts a professional symphony orchestra in Ohio!

The city of Canton thought enough of him to name their concert hall at McKinley High School Zimmermann Symphony Hall. Not bad for a boy from Van Wert, Ohio.

Given all this, I think it is about time to bring Gary back home to show us what he has done since 1963.  This is exactly what we are going to do on November 5 of this year. Gerhardt will bring his Canton Symphony Orchestra to the Niswonger in a triumphant return to the Niswonger PAC with the music of Tchaikovsky. And triumphant is exactly right! It will be very appropriate as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 is as triumphant music as was ever written, filled with fanfares and soaring melody lines. Also on the program with be one of the most grandiose and lush piano concertos ever written — Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. You know it and will instantly recognize it once you hear it.

I am so pleased to bring Gerhardt back home and I know he is very excited to be able to conduct this program. He saw the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and said, “My hometown now has an appropriate hall for my orchestra. I am thrilled to finally return to where it all began for me as a child.”

This concert is just one of the four part Enrich Community Concert Series that is on sale now. Zimmermann’s Canton Symphony is joined on the series by the wildly famous Texas Tenors, the amazing Five Browns, and Cirque Zuma Zuma. You can get the series right now by becoming a member.  Check with the box office for details. General sales will start May 12.

I hope we pack the house for the return of one of Van Wert’s finest: Gerhardt Zimmermann!


POSTED: 05/02/17 at 8:33 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Sunday will be nuts with mutts all over the stage at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  The actual name of the show is “Mutts Gone Nuts”, and it should be a hoot!  Everyone loves dogs doing funny and cute things on stage.  I actually think people watch and think, “Why doesn’t my dog do this?”  I hope you are one of those already with a ticket because we are technically sold-out.  On Sunday, the box office will open at 2 p.m. for this 3 p.m. show, and you might be able to get a seat if the show releases a few seats. It all depends on how many of the dogs want to come out and watch their friends on stage. Just kidding!

As we at the Niswonger like to do, we have once again enhanced this show by adding comedian Robert Post and his Comedy Theater.  When you have laughed enough at the dogs, Post will come out and entertain us with his zany wit and comedy.  Anyone who has met Robert Post knows that he doesn’t think like the rest of us.  He is a unique character who will have you in stitches.

These two shows usually work entirely on their own, but I just thought you might enjoy a double dose of laughter on a Sunday afternoon.  This is just another way we at the Niswonger make your experience like none other!

Add on top of all this laughter, our unveiling of the 2017-18 Enrich Community Concert Series. We have rebranded the name to include “enrich” because we particularly chose the concerts on this series, which will enrich your lives in so many ways. Once you see our line-up for next year, you will fully understand.

Dark Horse Productions, along with the golden voice of Chris Roberts, has put together a four-minute video clip of this series that will be presented by Unverferth Dentistry and Roger and Kay Okuley.  So plan on being in your seats by about 2:55 Sunday afternoon if you can to enjoy the announcement of this exciting and enriching series of concerts for next year.

I would love to tell you about each concert now, but we must wait for Sunday’s unveiling. I will just say that there will be some very entertaining, amazing, and musical events, including a surprise for the hometown patrons to share with our many visitors. Information about how and when you can purchase the series will be shared on Sunday. You will also receive the brand new Enrich Community Concert Series pamphlet with all the information you will need.

Once again, this all happens this Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m.  Doors to the lobby open at 2 p.m.  Be prepared to laugh and be entertained!

The Hit Men are coming the following Saturday, May 6.  Each day we draw closer to a full house, but a few good seats remain.  This is also a reminder that the REO Speedwagon concert originally scheduled for April 29 was moved this past January to May 21. Check your calendars to make sure you have this change.

The rest of May will be filled with dance recitals by Kristina’s Dance Escape and Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks. We are pleased to have a beautiful facility that meets the needs of these dance studios. 

We are then ready to head to Fountain Park for the 16th annual Fountain Park Summer Music Series. Information about the summer concerts can be obtained at The Van Wert County Foundation office, as well as the lobby of the Niswonger.  You can also visit the websites of The Van Wert County Foundation, the Niswonger PAC, and Van Wert City Parks & Recreation Department.

POSTED: 04/26/17 at 5:46 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

We are inching our way to the summer, and that means concerts in Fountain Park in downtown Van Wert.  For sixteen years, I’ve looked over to Fountain Park from my church job at First UM in the winter and thought, summer will be a way off.  Now, for the sixteenth season, concerts will return to Fountain Park, compliments of The Van Wert County Foundation.  We are just six weeks away from our first concert on June 2.

This week, we had representatives from eight non-profit organizations gather to select their concert they will serve food for.  They are as follows:

  • June 2 — Groove Essential, Peony Festival Committee
  • June 16 — The Doo Wah Riders, Kingsley United Methodist Church
  • June 23 — Travelin’ McCourys, Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary 54
  • June 30 — Lima Pops Orchestra, Boy Scout Troop 35
  • July 7 — U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, The Salvation Army
  • July 14 — The Stranger: Billy Joel Tribute, Van Wert Band Parents
  • July 21 — We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Tribute, Crestview Band Parents
  • July 28 — Hotel California (Eagles tribute), Buckeye Y
  • August 11 — Southern Drawl, Van Wert County Humane Society

You might notice a new concert in the lineup from our initial press release.  The U.S. Army contacted me recently and said they could make a stop in Van Wert on July 7.  The Van Wert Area Community Concert Band graciously gave up that date to the Army. (Can’t fight the U.S. Army and win, you know!)  Thanks to the Community Band and their director Richard Sherrick.  I imagine many of them will attend the Jazz Ambassadors concert.  By the way, you can still catch the Community Band in Fountain Park on May 26 and August 18 as well as other events this summer throughout the area.

The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors are known as America’s Big Band and provide big band jazz music for American citizens to enjoy as well as those serving in the military.  Each musician is a soldier of the United States Army, but also expert musicians, many of whom have degrees and master degrees from prestigious schools of music. Getting accepted into the top musical organizations of the military is very competitive.  An audition process eliminates many and accepts only the very best.

Any time the U.S. military calls, I am very quick to oblige and have them perform for you.  I think it is a distinct honor to have them in our community and I know you will enjoy and show your appreciation to them.

There is one concert left at the Niswonger this season that still has some seats available.  That is The Hitmen on Saturday, May 6.  It is also quickly filling up, so don’t delay on getting your tickets for this one.  The band is comprised of musicians who helped make the music everyone has enjoyed over the years from the likes of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Tommy James and the Shondells, Carly Simon, Jim Croce, Barry Manilow, and Elton John, just to name a few.  

I’ve heard them on a couple occasions and didn’t want them to stop playing and singing.  Visit the box office or go online soon.  May 6 will be here soon!

With that being said, I am getting very excited with the progress of next year’s season at the Niswonger.  It is just about finished and I just got confirmation on a big name artist I’ve been after for some time.  Stay tuned!


POSTED: 04/18/17 at 4:15 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I recently heard a TV announcer proclaim that Holy Week and Easter are the most important holidays on the Christian calendar. It seems of late that Easter does not get the same recognition I just stated. I understand that Easter is not celebrated by all, but for America being predominantly a Christian nation, I believe it is still a very popular event on the calendar.

As a child, I used to look forward to Easter because of the Easter basket I would receive filled with all kinds of sweet goodies. Of course, we would all dress up and even occasionally get a new suit for Easter. Back then, we used to think dressing up was important when going to God’s house. Some of us still feel that way.

Remember all the fun songs we would sing about the Easter bunny; songs like “The Easter Parade,” and “Here Comes Peter Cottontail?” And then we would always color eggs and mark them up with crayons or whatever marker we could find. Pickled eggs were and still are my favorite

As one gets older, you realize the real celebration surrounding Easter and the meaning of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter take on poignant and joyful meaning for those of us who are Christian.

I was very honored and pleased when I received a phone call from an agent who said that David Phelps wanted to return to the Niswonger to do a special Good Friday concert. We had just presented him for Christmas last year and the whole audience really enjoyed his wonderful voice. It was not at all difficult to tell him yes, we would love to have him give a Good Friday concert.

Well, that time is just about here. This Friday is Good Friday and I can’t imagine anyone I would rather hear sing about the Holy Week and Easter celebration. David Phelps, or “DP” as my friend and David Phelps enthusiast, JoAnne Wolford, refers to him as, is one of the most gifted tenors in the world. His power, control, and emotion he can put into a song are unmeasured.

This Good Friday concert at our Niswonger Performing Arts Center, I believe, will have even more passion and emotion than any other concert on his current tour he entitles “A Journey of Faith through Hymns.” Singing about Jesus and God, the Father on Good Friday will certainly stir the soul of audience members. Add to the timeframe of this concert, the added fact that this phenomenal tenor loves to sing in the acoustic friendly Saltzgaber Music Hall and those in attendance will be in for a very special night.

As I look now, there are 37 seats yet available. Don’t miss this one if possible. You will find out that Easter is much better than “The Easter Parade,” “Peter Cottontail,” peeps, chocolate bunnies, and yes, even better than pickled eggs!

Happy Easter to all! I look forward to sharing David Phelps concert with you this Friday night, and may you be blessed as you journey through this Holy Week and celebrate Easter in the church of your choice this Sunday.


POSTED: 04/11/17 at 9:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert