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whatzup2nite • Thursday, July 31

Things To Do

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National Shows

John Evans w/Nate Weatherup — Comedy at Snickerz, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $8, 486-0216


Music & Comedy

Battle of the Bands XI — Feat. Desert Train, Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra, Plaxton and the Void, James and the Drifters at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., $5, 422-5055

Elephants in Mud — Ska/variety at Phoenix, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 387-6571

Hubie Ashcraft — Acoustic at Checkerz, Fort Wayne, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 489-0286

Joe Justice — Variety at Georgetown Farmer's Market, Fort Wayne, 4-7 p.m., free, 749-0461

John Evans w/Nate Weatherup — Comedy at Snickerz, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $8, 486-0216

Open Mic Night — Hosted by Mike Conley at Mad Anthony Brewing Company, Fort Wayne, 8:30-11 p.m., no cover, 426-2537


Karaoke & DJs

Fort Wayne

Deer Park — Bucca Karaoke w/Bucca, 10 p.m.

Latch String — American Idol Karaoke, 10:30 p.m.

North Star — Karaoke w/Michael Campbell, 8 p.m.


Stage & Dance

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Movies

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Art & Artifacts

America’s Spirit: Evolution of a National Style — Collection drawn from FWMoA’s permanent collection chronicling American art from 1765-1900, Tuesday-Sunday thru Jan. 25, 2015, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Beyond the Classroom — Works by regional members of the Art Education Association of Indiana, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 2, Betty Fishman Gallery, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Donald Martiny: Freeing the Gesture — Abstract expressionism, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 25, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

F.A.M.E. Exhibition — Works by young northeast Indiana children, daily thru Sept. 1, First Presbyterian Art Gallery, First Presbyterian Church, Fort Wayne, 426-7421

Members Show — Works from over 200 artist members, Tuesday-Sunday thru Sept. 2, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Summer of Glass — Glass works by Peter Bremers and International Glass Invitational winners, Tuesday-Sunday thru Aug. 31, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Ventures in Creativity — Various works of art presented by The Fort Wayne Artists Guild and University of Saint Francis School of Creative Arts, Monday-Saturday thru August 15, John P. Weatherhead Gallery, Rolland Arts Center, University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999

Wabash Art Guild — Works by Wabash County artists, daily thru Aug. 25, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102


Featured Events

Fort Wayne Dance Collective — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574

IPFW Community Arts AcademyArt, dance, music and theatre classes for grades pre-K through 12 offered by IPFW College of Visual and Performing Arts, fees vary, 481-6977, www.ipfw.edu/caa

Sweetwater Academy of Music — Private lessons for a variety of instruments available from professional instructors, ongoing weekly lessons, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, $100 per month, 432-8176 ext. 1961, academy.sweetwater.com



Features


Botanical Roots feat. Zion Lion

w/U.R.B
8:30 p.m. Friday, August 1
1100 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne
Tix: $6 d.o.s., children under 12 free with adult, 260-427-6440

Botanical Roots feat. Zion Lion

Happily Making Reggae Roar

When it comes to roots music, few genre’s roots go quite as deep as reggae’s, and when it comes to reggae, few bands have the history, cred and passion as Kalamazoo’s Zion Lion.

This six-piece reggae/calypso/zouk band will be performing as part of the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory Botanical Roots series Friday, August 1 with local show openers U.R.B. 

Formed 13 years ago, Zion Lion – Preston Moore (drums), “Sista” Myra D. Atkinson (lead vocals and steel pan), Dennis “Bassey” McCurine (bass), Antonio Santos (lead guitar) and Preston Junior Kizer-Moore (keys and lead and background vocals) – play a tasty and diverse stew of Caribbean-based music. In addition to reggae, calypso and zouk, you’ll hear mucosa and a few Afro-Latin strains for good measure. 

The band’s influences include Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Roberta Flack, Youssif N’dor and Baaba Maal. Their setlist is a mixture of originals and covers, and you’re almost guaranteed to hear Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song” and classic Caribbean favorite “Yellow Bird.” According Atkinson, the members of Zion Lion are expert at getting the kids in the audience up on their feet.

“We want our audiences to walk away feeling happy,” she told me in a recent phone interview. “We always get a lot of participation from the audience, particularly the children. They find a lot of joy in what we do.”

As fun as a Zion Lion show might be, attendees won’t just leave with a smile on their faces. Chances are good they’ll also have learned something, too.

“We take the time to explain what kind of music we’re playing and to give our audiences a little background about that music’s importance in the region where it started,” Atkinson said. “We play a bit of everything, so usually fans come up to us and say, ‘Wow, that was kind of a whirlwind world tour.’ We’re here to entertain but also to educate.”

Atkinson, whose musical journey began with a few piano lessons when she was three years old, has traveled to Jamaica a number of times as well as to Trinidad in order to educate herself about the music she most loves to play. She said her time in both countries was invaluable.

“It was so great getting in and mingling with the musicians in both countries. Absorbing what they were about, learning from them, watching and listening and sometimes sitting in on jam sessions in someone’s yard or on someone’s porch – it was all wonderful and important in teaching me about the people who served as the originators of the music.” 

Reggae often blends the personal with the political. Songs that to the untrained ear might sound like tropical paradise dance numbers are often protest tunes about the injustices suffered by those forced by a powerful and corrupt elite to live lives of devastating poverty. Zion Lion specialize in roots reggae, which dares to ask the big questions about economic inequality, slavery and the role of the divine in human existence.

“We’re a band with a purpose,” said Atkinson. “A lot of people think reggae is just a bunch of marijuana smoking folks playing a catchy beat, but we like to explore the spiritual aspect of the music and the political side as well. It’s music that should make you think.”

This band with a purpose is currently working on its second CD, the as of yet untitled followup to their debut, Irie Feelin’. It’s taken them a number of years to get new material together, partially because they lost a member – Nathan Ndjhirane – to a tragic drowning accident in 2008. But Atkinson said they’re determined to finish the album before the end of the year.

“I’ve told the guys that we’re just going to have to lock ourselves in the studio for an entire weekend or however long it takes and not come out until we’re finished. It’s time. We’re ready.”

Debbie Kennedy







Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Fort Wayne Civic Theatre
8 p.m. Saturday, July 26 &
Friday-Saturday, Aug. 1-2 & 8-9
2 p.m. Sunday, July 27, Aug. 3 & 10
Arts United Center
303 E. Main St. • Fort Wayne
Tix.: $17-$26 thru box office,
260-424-5220

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Director's Notes

Almost immediately prior to starting work on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, I had just finished a production of the musical Into the Woods, one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my career as a director. But because of its complexity, dark tone and heavily theme-centered nature, it was also pretty exhausting. When that show closed, I felt as if I really needed a vacation. And did I ever get one – courtesy of the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre! 

I got to spend my summer at an exclusive hotel on the French Riviera with some very charming and terribly funny individuals. Sure, it was something of a busman’s holiday, and the people and places were fictitious, but it was one of the most enjoyable vacations I’ve had in a long time. 

Working on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has been an exercise in good, old fashioned fun.  I have gotten to work with a terrifically gifted group of actors and collaborators on a show that is all about having a good time. The book has plenty of humor. It is witty, irreverent, sometimes sophisticated, sometimes a little coarse and often a little cheesy. The songs are clever and catchy as they poke fun at a wide range of Broadway and pop music styles. The plot takes some wonderfully unexpected turns, and the characters are identifiable and lovable, even if, as the title tells us, they’re not exactly the most upstanding citizens. 

Although it is only 10 years old, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has a great deal in common with shows written during the “Golden Age of Musical Comedy.” It is a show that reminds us that there is nothing at all wrong with entertainment for entertainment’s sake. It never takes itself seriously; in fact, it regularly reminds us that we are in a theatre watching a musical. It makes no pretense of offering anything other than an enjoyable two hours’ romp with some delightful rogues. 

So, in the longstanding tradition of sharing vacation pictures and souvenirs, I get to share mine live on stage at the Arts United Center. I hope you will enjoy my vacation memories as much as I enjoyed making them.

Graig A. Humphrey









WXKE

Walking the Rock Down the Dial

In this day of satellite radio and digital music options, those of us who grew up listening to the radio can be made to feel like dinosaurs. But at the heart of the love for the AM or FM dial was a love for the voices who brought music to life for us, personalities who became part of our daily lives. That aspect of radio remains a strong pull and ultimately explains why radio refuses to die.

Locally, few stations can tout the strong and loyal fan base of WXKE, and no deejay on that station has a more devoted following than Doc West, consistently named as Fort Wayne favorite radio personality. When the recent acquisition of WXKE, along with several other area radio stations, by Adams Radio Group was announced, there were immediate concerns. Notably, WXKE would move to a different spot on the dial, 96.3 and would no longer be Rock 104.

In the days that followed, epitaphs were shared on social media, and it became clear that the ties that bind people to their favorite station and disc jockey were still strong. Nearly everyone had a story to share. I have my own. When I moved here in late June 1979, I struggled to find my niche in this city. I had moved here from western New York and music had been my obsession, so it seemed clear that I needed to find a source which would take the place of my beloved WCMF in Rochester. After a couple of months of experimentation, I stumbled upon WXKE one afternoon and heard a guy named Rick West – or, as he was also known, “Doc” West. I had no idea at the time that he was also new in town, having just arrived the August after I did. But what I did know was that I had found a new home. If Fort Wayne didn’t feel like it yet, Doc’s show sure felt like it.

The good news is that, unlike previous radio wars, WXKE did not go away, nor has Doc West. In fact, the upshot of the new ownership is that now more people can enjoy Rock 104 – er, 96.3 – than ever before, thanks to a much stronger signal. While it’s true that Rock 104 is now a thing of the past, WXKE is in a better position now. There are notable changes, with J.J. Fabini now program director and Doc manning the midday shift, 9-3, instead of his iconic early morning show. But both men, veterans of the media world, are philosophical about those changes and optimistic about the future.

“This is the fourth ownership change I’ve been through, so going through changes is something I’ve become quite accustomed to,” says Fabini. “Everyone has a different way of doing things, and the future of WXKE is the brightest it’s ever been. The ability to reach such a large portion of northeast Indiana is truly an honor and an honor we take very seriously. 

“As far as changes to my job description, I had previously acted as co-GM/operations manager/music director for WXKE and program director/music director for the oldies station, so now being put in charge of three stations in our cluster isn’t really a shock to the system at all, just a new set of challenges that I look forward to.”

For West, the biggest change has been to his system, requiring him to rewire his internal clock after years of early mornings.

“I think this is good for me, but my body clock is definitely upside down. It changes everything – when I eat, when I sleep – and I’m still getting used to it. It’s funny because when I first came here, no one wanted mornings, but that eventually became the most important time. Now, apparently, midday is the most important time, at least that’s what the Nielsens say.”

Having fought successfully for WXKE’s return just a few years ago, West does admit that the new spot on the dial is a hard adjustment, but whatever trepidation he may have felt when the changes began a few months ago slipped away when he met Adams CEO Ron Stone.

“When I talked to him over dinner a few weeks ago, I realized we had a lot of the same attitudes about life. These are good people, and they exude a positive energy.”

West has already been part of many radio changes over the years, and he has faced much bigger challenges. Aside from the uncertainty a few years ago when he was bounced around to different stations after WXKE’s demise, he was part of a much bigger upheaval when he was still a rookie in Columbus, Ohio.

“When I was starting out, I worked at a progressive rock station in 1977, and all of us were pretty much fresh out of school, some of us from Ohio State, some from Dayton. And we were all really passionate about the music, but the station decided to switch to a Top 40 format. I was used to playing everything from Miles Davis to Pink Floyd, a lot of cool music. I went from playing a lot of great stuff to introducing people to ‘Stayin’ Alive’ and Donna Summer. I came out of college very idealistic, and I learned a hard lesson. When I came to Fort Wayne, that’s why I worked so hard to get WXKE going.”

Stations included in the Adams Radio Group purchase include WXKE, WNHT, WGL AM and FM, WJFX, WBTU and WHPP. Fans of WGL are also experiencing a big change, with Fox Sports taking over what had been an oldies format. But it has been the change at WXKE which has generated the most buzz, and Dave Riethmiller, sales manager for the Adams Radio Group, says that the changes will all be for the better.

“This has been a long time coming. WXKE has always been power-challenged, and we’d hear all the time that the workers in the GM plant couldn’t receive the signal and that people in Angola and Warsaw couldn’t listen because the signal didn’t reach them. People liked the station but couldn’t listen to it. Adams came in and realized that this is a heritage rock station and should be on the strongest signal.”

The takeover will also lead to a new transmitter, a new state-of-the-art facility and better sound quality for all of the stations. And while the numbers may have changed, the way WXKE goes about its business of bringing classic rock to the masses won’t. And in the end, that’s West’s greatest victory.

“This is a second miracle for XKE. It’s a good thing,” he says. “It’s a challenge adjusting, but the Adams Radio Group has been analyzing the Fort Wayne market for months now and saw holes in the market. They saw us as the biggest stick and thought we should have the most powerful signal. We’re going to take this bigger signal and run with it.”

Michele DeVinney







Plaxton and the Void

Forever into Space

Back in late 2012 Warsaw, Indiana’s Plaxton and the Void made their music debut with the great Ides. That album was filled with expansive, cavernous songs written with their Midwest roots in mind and proudly displayed. No trends or fad-filled songs; just songs written with heart-on-sleeve and ready to sing along to.

Plaxton and the Void have now returned to the album fold with the six song EP, Still Alive. They’ve stuck to the Plaxton formula they did so well two years ago, only tweaking things a bit to create an even more focused and sublime listening experience.

Singer and guitarist Joel Squires writes earnest lyrics and simple, strummed songs that allow the rest of the band fill in between the words with lush instrumentation. 

“It’s You” is the kind of song that would sound great on an open mic night with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a vocal or with a full band blasting through a PA system. “Drive” is a song with emotional momentum and music that builds into a big chorus. “Drowning” has a country rock tinge to it in the jangly riff as Squires sings, “He’s been sniffing too much coke / Yet another line is on the drawer / And he’s been chasing down a high / Yet another low is just behind,” later stating “He’s been drowning way too long.” It’s a song about hitting rock bottom and maybe or maybe not getting things right. 

There does seem to be a little more darkness in the lyrics this time around. Things seem more personal on Still Alive, with the song “Bitter and Frail” telling a tale of loss and loneliness. “Coraline” is lilting and gentle while “Winter Waltz” ends the album on a more raucous note with a belted out chorus and some great guitar noodling. Keyboardist John Faulkner adds some great otherworldliness with some wobbly synth at the end.

Plaxton and the Void continue to put out solid tunes that are part coffeehouse strum and part arena-ready rock. Still Alive is a great chunk of dusty Midwest indie rock. You can grab Still Alive at the band’s Bandcamp page.

John Hubner








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DINING & NIGHTLIFE

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After Dark
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PERFORMERS

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Big Money and the Spare Change
Dan Dickerson's Harp Condition
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Dirty Comp'ny
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Elephants in Mud
FM90
For Play
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James and the Drifters
Joe Justice
Joel Young Band, The
Juke Joint Jive
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KillNancy
Little Orphan Andy
Marshall Law
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Tim Harrington Band
Todd Harrold
Spirit & Truth
Valhalla
Walkin' Papers
What About Joe

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