whatzup2nite • Saturday, April 25

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Things To Do

South Whitley Community Wide Garage Sale — Community wide sale, 8 a.m. Saturday, April 25, South Whitley, 229-5063

Unlock the Fretboard with the Pentatonic Scale — Guitarist Don Carr teaches the best ways to utilize the versatile pentatonic scale, 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 25, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, free, 432-8176 

National Shows

Temptations — Motown at Niswonger, Van Wert, Ohio, 7:30 p.m., $25-$50, 419-238-6722

Warren B Hall — Comedy at Snickerz, Fort Wayne, 7:30 & 9:45 p.m., $9.50, 486-0216

Music & Comedy

BackWater Country rock at Duff's, Columbia City, 10 p.m., no cover, 244-6978

Big Caddy Daddy Rock/variety at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., $5, 483-1311

Bling — Variety at Green Frog, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-1088

Cadillac Ranch — Classic rock at 4D's, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 490-6488

G-Money Band — Blues at Mad Anthony Brewing Company, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 426-2537

Kill the Rabbit Rock/cd release at Wooden Nickel Music, North Anthony, Fort Wayne, 2 p.m., free, 484-2451

Marshall Law Country rock at Beamer's, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 625-1002

Mr. Grumpy's Revenge Classic Rock/Blues at Alley Sports Bar, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 483-4421

Potty's Past Time — Variety at Mad Anthony Lakeview Ale House, Angola, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 833-2537

Tested on Animals — Rock at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., $5, 422-5055

Karaoke & DJs

American Idol Karaoke w/Scott — Karaoke at Latch String, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., no cover, 483-5526

DJ Trend — Variety at Wrigley Field, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038

Tiger Eye Sound w/Larry Schmitt — Karaoke/DJ at Curly's, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 747-9964

Stage & Dance

Around the World in 80 Days —   Mark Brown’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s slapstick comedy/adventure following Phileas Fogg’s international race against time to fulfill a wager and save his fortune, presented by all for One productions, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday May 1-2 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 3, ArtsLab, Auer Center, Fort Wayne, $10-$18, 745-4364

In the Mood — 1940s musical revue, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25 and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, $26-$46 thru Ticketmaster and Embassy box office, 424-5665

Merrily We Roll Along — A musical journey backwards in time tracing the lives of three friends through the best and worst milestones of life, presented by IPFW Department of Theatre, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 30-May 2, Williams Theatre, IPFW, $5-$17 thru IPFW box office 481-6555

The Stories of Scheherazade — Musical story about the greatest Arabian storyteller of the ancient world, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, April 25-26, Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts, Warsaw, $12, 574-267-8041


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Art & Artifacts

Alexander Solomon: Temporary Tragedy — Landscape photography with the implication of tragedy ahead, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 17, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

Emerging Spring — Mixed media pieces from Jody Hemphill Smith, Katy McMurray, Michael Poorman, Mike Kelly, Joey Frisillo, Diane Lyon, Doug Runyan, Susan Suraci, Terri Buchholz, Andrea Bojrab, Bill Inman, Terry Armstrong, Mark Daly, Dan Woodsman, Donna Shortt, Lori Putnam, Mark Burkett, CW Mundy, Rick Wilson, Fred Doloresco, Forrest Formsma, B. Eric Rhoads, Robert Eberle, Pamela C. Newell and Shelby Keefe, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 30 (opening reception, 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 1), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568

National Print Exhibition — 60 hand pulled prints by fifty-two artists from 17 states, Tuesday-Sunday, thru May 27 Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195

Steven Sorman: Only When — Paintings and prints, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 14, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467

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

Junior Rising Star Summer Camp — For grades K-2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 3-7, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, 422-6900

Rising Star Summer Camp — For grades 3 and up, June 16-26 and July 20-31, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, 422-6900

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


The Mersey Beatles

Recreating the Fab Four

The phenomenon of tribute bands has continued to grow over the years, providing fans of hard-to-see bands the opportunity for a vicarious, and often uncanny, thrill that might rival the real thing. No band has inspired more tributes than The Beatles, however, making it clear that more than 50 years after they first burst onto the scene in 1964, the Fab Four are as popular and beloved as ever. But not all Beatles bands are created equal, and The Mersey Beatles, who visit C2G next week, are decidedly a cut above. The only Beatles tribute featuring an all-Liverpudlian cast of musicians – and the one described as the best by John Lennon’s sister, Julia – The Mersey Beatles served as the house band at the famed Cavern Club in Liverpool for a decade, making it clear that they’ve filled a void felt by Beatles fans for years. The group came together much as their predecessors did: school chums getting together to play music. Steven Howard (Paul), Mark Bloor (Ringo) and Brian Ambrose (John) were classmates and were eventually joined by David Howard (George), Steve’s cousin. The four were able to recreate the sound of the early Beatles catalog, but were stymied when it came time to include more elaborate orchestrations. Unwilling to settle for pre-recorded music, the group added “fifth Beatle” Tony Cook, a keyboardist who was able to infuse the songs with the lush element which became more prevalent in the Beatles’ latter years. “We got to know Tony through playing at Liverpool venues where he would DJ,” says Steven Howard. “At the time we only played the early songs. When it came time to branch out into Pepper [Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band] and beyond, we knew we wanted to keep it live. Tracks were never an option for us, but a big orchestra was also out. We wanted to keep it 100 percent live, so Tony is our very own ‘Wix’ Wickens.” The name of the group reflects the Liverpool origins of both groups, paying tribute to a river that runs through the town. Howard says it “says who we are, what we do and where we come from.” The original focus on those beginning years not only reflects the Liverpool connection, but also Howard’s own introduction to The Beatles. “My older brother brought Please Please Me home around October 1980. I was eight, going on nine. This was two months before John was killed. I didn’t listen to it until they showed Help! on TV as a tribute to John on the night he was shot. I had not heard much about them before that point, but I remember I was so amazed and proud that these cool guys were from my city. I wore out that Please Please Me album all that year, and I got Beatles albums for birthdays and Christmas from that point on. It’s fair to say I have been fascinated by them ever since. I’ve seen Paul 11 times and Ringo twice.” Although that showing of Help! introduced him to the humor of Ringo, Howard admits to being a bigger John fan at the onset. As he got older, he came to appreciate Paul more, but there were more practical reasons he ultimately adopted the Paul persona in The Mersey Beatles, though he does play bass with one significant difference. “My favorite Beatle changes on an almost daily basis. I go through phases. Paul’s vocal came more naturally to me because I have a high range, plus I could play bass and sing. But we’re at our best when we harmonize. I am not left handed. We always concentrated on the music more than anything, and we took inspiration from The Bootleg Beatles [another Beatles tribute band] who had a righty Paul. I saw them on TV when I was a kid in the 80s. It’s nice if you have a lefty Paul, but it’s not essential. The music is all that matters in the end. “I’d love to try the John role for a laugh one day, but I don’t play drums very well so Ringo’s out, and I know I could never do George. He was like a secret ingredient in the band. Deceptively difficult third harmonies and tasty solos and riffs. All a bit too technical for me.” Of course, as Liverpool natives and Beatles fans, the opportunity to have a musical residency at the famed Cavern Club where the originals played all those years ago was a treat for The Mersey Beatles. Howard calls the experience “a real thrill for any Beatles tribute. It still feels good. The club was a little different back then. Sweaty and hot, really hot, just like in the 60s. It’s a bit more tourist-friendly these days, but it’s still got a unique vibe.” As with many tributes, The Mersey Beatles cover all eras of the band’s amazingly brief era. Though only on the charts and together for a little over six years, there are many musical and costume changes required to fully capture their full catalog. Howard remains devoted to the album which first introduced him to the group while finding other music to satisfy his cravings. “I’m really into the Please Please Me album at the moment. So raw and joyful. The “White Album” is my go-to album. It was one of the last Beatles albums I heard when I was 14. It just blew me away. It sounded like a different band. ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is my favorite song, and ‘Penny Lane’ is not far behind. John and Paul were untouchable at that point in songwriting terms. ‘Oh Darling’ is one of my favorites to perform. I’m not saying I always nail it because we do our set in the recorded key, so I have to be really on form to take that one on, but it’s always fun. I have one or two testers like ‘I’m Down’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’ to rough the voice up, and then I give it my best shot.” Being from Liverpool and even playing at the Cavern Club gives The Mersey Beatles an added shot of credibility, but it’s the endorsement from Lennon’s sister that really suggests their superiority among other tributes. “Julia has been a friend of ours since we toured Australia together with a Liverpool delegation from The Cavern Club,” says Howard. “She has a good sense of humor and was immediately one of the gang. There’s no side to her, and she speaks her mind. We got on great. We played a charity event for Julia back in England soon after our trip. On that night Julia told the audience that she had heard a lot of Beatles tribute bands, but we were the best she had heard. Once we got backstage I asked her if she had meant that and she said, ‘Yes.’ I was so proud. She said we could quote her on it. I’ve never asked outright about The Beatles or John. Not really our place. If you want to know about that you will have to read her book I guess. There’s a plug for ya, Julia!” When Fort Wayne gets its first glimpse of The Mersey Beatles, Howard feels certain that the audience will see what sets them apart from other Beatles tribute bands. “We’re from Liverpool, and we’re a band, not a brand. We try to strike a balance somewhere between ‘suits-and-boots precision’ and ‘in the moment live concert.’ I’m not saying that’s the best way; that’s just the way we do it. We respect all Beatles tribute bands from all over the world, from those that try to get the very precise look of the band to those who do not dress up at all, those who drop the key or play fast and loud, or those who do their own versions. We’re all trying to do the same thing: pay tribute to the world’s greatest ever band.”

Michele DeVinney

Merrily We Roll Along

Rolling Back the Layers

To create a memorable 50th anniversary season, the IPFW Department of Theatre has brought back classics from every decade of its existence. This spring, IPFW is presenting yet another classic show of days gone by, Merrily We Roll Along. The Stephen Sondheim classic is one of his lesser known works, having only run a few short weeks on Broadway in 1981 when it first opened. Since that time, though, it has seen numerous revivals that have breathed life over and over into this worthy and charismatic story. Director Craig Humphrey, a fan of Sondheim, has not only directed a number of his musicals, but also directed this very show 10 years ago here in Fort Wayne. “I think [Sondheim’s] actually the most important writer in musical theater in the last half of the 20th and now the beginning of the 21st century,” Humphrey said. “He was the unofficially adopted son of Oscar Hammerstein, so he grew up learning at one of the great master’s knees, basically. He found, in the last half of the 20th century, the way to take the work that Rodgers and Hammerstein were doing and move it forward in new ways. I think that it’s the combination of serious music and really thought-provoking lyrics and subject matter that make his work special.” The IPFW Dept. of Theater has taken on many Sondheim classics over the years like Into the Woods and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum over the years. This particular show, though it has its comedic moments, is a more sober look at life and the ways that we go astray in our search for fulfillment. Merrily We Roll Along is a story told in reverse, beginning with successful but embittered friends and ending with the hope and optimisms of youth. Set over the course of 20 years between the 1950s and 70s, the story peels back the years a few at a time to reveal the origins of the successful producer Franklin Sheppard and what became of the friends who helped him find success, Mary Flynn and Charlie Kringas. The show begins with Frank, surrounded by cloying Hollywood friends, all too happy to lavish praise on him. But beneath the shiny exterior, Frank’s marriage is falling apart as well as his friendship with his last true friend, Mary. His old friend and partner Charlie is long gone on a much more respected career path. Scene by scene, the show takes audiences back in time and exposes the choices that led the friends to where they are now. “What’s interesting to me is watching audiences have those ‘Oh,’ moments, when something is mentioned in an early scene and then we see it play out in a later scene,” Humphrey said. “Because it’s backwards, there are always those ‘oh, I see now’ moments.” Each of the main characters seem to take different paths along the road to success. You see loyalty, integrity and the devolution of standards from beginning to end as the friends work their way back towards the high-minded ideals of youth who haven’t yet faced hard choices. “It’s very much a cautionary tale. I think the central theme of the show is the importance of friendship, and how we’re willing to compromise those relationships for individual success,” Humphrey said. “We have to look at what matters in life rather than what ultimately doesn’t.” Humphrey takes much of his design inspiration from his production of this show 10 years ago. The main difference is that this time he will be able to cast the show entirely with IPFW students. The roles of Frank and Mary are played by stars of the IPFW stage Brady Schrock and Darby LeClear. Charlie will be played by Evan Hart, most recently seen starring in Civic Theatre’s Cabaret. The show is set in New York City and covered all in black. From the sleek, black steel of the set, to the black costumes, the show has a dark, urban feel. In contrast to the mysterious and modern feel of the show’s design is the music. The sound is that of big, old fashioned Broadway. Though you might recognize some of the music from the award-wining score, for the most part the songs are intimate, with the characters expressing inner thoughts or their commentary on what we’re seeing. As each scene moves back in time the ensemble bridges the gaps with versions of the title song. Merrily We Roll Along comes at the ideal time and to the perfect place. It is a show about looking back, timed well with IPFW’s 50th anniversary. It’s also a show about the hopefulness of youth, like the cast that will play out the lives of people not so different from them at the end. “The show, I think, really speaks to the idea of young people starting out with great dreams and aspirations and life throwing them challenges along the way,” Humphrey said. “Because we see the show backwards, we see it in reverse order. We meet these characters when they are successful but miserable and we’re left at the end of the show, which is the beginning of their experiences together, with great hope and energy.”

Kathleen Christian-Harmeyer

Fort Wayne Philharmonic Pops

Tunes for These Times

Every generation has its favorite television shows, its favorite music, its favorite films. One thing that really distinguishes younger audiences has been the ability to rewatch their favorites at will, thanks to video technology. Gone are the days when one had to wait for the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz or hope for an airing of that favorite animated classic on The Wonderful World of Disney. That difference alone has certainly cemented the adoration that many feel for the Disney Pixar films which have been a ubiquitous part of childhood for the last couple decades. Some of the most memorable and cherished of all shared experiences revolve around growing up alongside the young hero of Toy Story (the first Pixar film, released in 1995) or rooting for the plucky fish in Finding Nemo (which will have a sequel, Finding Dory, released in 2016). Music has been an integral part of those films, and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic is showcasing those beloved songs and scores in their upcoming Pops performance. Helmed by Chia-Hsuan Lin, the concert will also further introduce the Philharmonic’s new assistant conductor who has already been seen by audiences of not only the orchestra but also by ballet fans who caught the spring production of Don Quixote. Chia-Hsuan comes after the departure of popular associate conductor Sameer Patel, but Chia-Hsuan has a laudable resumé of her own. First beginning her musical studies as a small child in Taiwan, Chia-Hsuan earned her undergraduate degree from National Taiwan Normal University before continuing her studies in the United States at Bard College. She eventually earned her graduate degree from College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati before beginning her doctoral studies at Northwestern. She recently conducted the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra as one of three young talents chosen for the Emerging Conductor Program, and she was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Jeunesses Musicales International Conducting Competition in Bucharest, Romania.  Chia-Hsuan will take the podium to conduct some very iconic music with this particular Pops performance, and Melysa Rogen, assistant director of marketing and public relations for Fort Wayne Philharmonic, says they were aware of how important this music is when choosing it and understand how popular it will be for years to come. “We feel this show crosses generational boundaries and is a treat for young and old,” she says. “Pixar movies have been a part of American culture for a decade, and with their strong musical scores, they have become the millennial generation’s classics. These movies will be the movies they remember when they are 70 years old. Beyond that, parents and grandparents of this age group remember the joy these films brought to their children and grandchildren, and now they have the chance to share those memories with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, continuing the cycle for years to come. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic wanted to give this great opportunity to Fort Wayne, for the entire family to come out and spend quality time together to create memories that will last a lifetime.” This particular performance is part of a touring production which has been visiting cities around the country through their own local orchestras, and film clips will further enhance the experience of hearing the music played by a live symphony. “The audio-visual experience of movie clips enhanced by the addition of a live orchestra will be something the audience will never forget,” says Rogen. “Fan-favorite music from movies including the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and more will be featured.” Rogen also points out that the 14 Pixar movies have been scored by only four composers: Randy Newman, Michael Giacchino, Thomas Newman and Patrick Doyle. To date this music has won three Academy Awards, a total of 13 Oscar nominations and 10 Grammys. Randy Newman’s contributions alone, with his catchy fare bringing a happy added dimension to the Toy Story films, have added to an already distinguished career and provided him a second career. Since the Pixar music is so recognizable, it’s a pretty easy bet that certain songs are a mortal lock. Rogen says many factors are involved when a production like this is assembled. “With touring productions like this show, the show has been designed with a combination of things taken into account. One of the distinguishing aspects of the Pixar films is serious and respectful attention to music and its role in that storytelling. That attention to the music was used to create an energetic and entertaining package using music from all 14 Pixar films.”

Michele DeVinney

Around the World in 80 Days

Prepare for One Amazing Journey

“Friends, are you tired of being stuck indoors? Are you still feeling the effects of the winter doldrums? Are you ready to get out there and travel the world? “Have we got an offer for you! Come see exotic, far away lands, rich with beautiful scenery and diverse cultures. Attend a tea party on top of an elephant, foil a human sacrifice, save an Indian princess, battle a raging typhoon, fight off the natives as they attack your speeding locomotive. Race around the world in high energy, non-stop action as you try to beat the clock and return home in 80 days. “Sounds too easy, you say? Looking for more of a challenge, you say? Well, how about adding to the journey a relentless detective trying to derail your every plan because she’s convinced you are a wanted criminal? Can it be done? Do you have the courage and the will to attempt the amazing feat? If so, then join us for an adventure you’ll never forget.” I imagine that is how the sales pitch would go, from any travel agent offering a vacation based on Jules Verne’s story, Around The World In 80 Days. Admit it: Whether you’re an adventuresome soul or timid of heart, wouldn’t you be the slightest bit curious to experience a trip like that? Eighty days may not seem like a big deal to us today as a timeline for a trip around the world. Surely, given a day and a half (well, maybe a week, depending on layovers) any good airline could carry one around the world with no problem. But imagine trekking around the world in 1872, when there were no cars, no planes and everything was still steam-powered and gas-lit. The great railways that we have now were just being laid and weren’t always finished (even though the newspapers said they were). What kind of a man would dare to set out on such a venture? Phileas Fogg (Gabe Schneider), a rigidly-structured, wealthy eccentric, takes a wager that the world can be traversed in 80 days. He leaves his meticulous daily routine behind and sets out with his servant Passepartout (Evan Fritz). Along the way they are joined by the lovely Indian princess, Aouda (Bridget Bogdon) and the tenacious, overzealous Detective Fix (Rachel Maibach) who is bent on capturing Fogg. They encounter the oddest of characters and the wildest of circumstances, all while struggling to make it back to London in time. This high-flying comedy also includes a cast of 35 other hilarious characters played by five actors (Nate Chen, Dennis Nichols, Eli Ramsour, Corrie Taylor and Michael Wilhelm). Join us on a whirlwind trip across four continents, and bring the whole family.

Jeff Salisbury

Foellinger Summer Concert Series

Foellinger's Summer is Huge

Although the Foellinger Theatre has been hosting a variety of concerts for years now, the last few summers have seen them step up their game in a big way. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I eagerly anticipate the announced lineup from the time we turn the calendar each new year. Once again, there is much to look forward to in the months ahead. Al Moll, executive director of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation, tells me that even more seats will be available this season, with nearly 2,800 seats ready to be filled. Bands told Moll that they rarely used the secondary stage near the pit area and preferred to have fans up close to the performance. That change allowed for additional seating – and it’s likely to be necessary for a few of the bands they’ve booked. The top two headliners this year are probably the bands coming in July: the Doobie Brothers (July 1) and the Steve Miller Band (July 12). Both bands continue to receive heavy airplay on a variety of radio formats, proving that they are as hot now, 40 years after they first struck gold, as they ever were. But the fun doesn’t stop there; nor does it even start there. By the time the Doobies usher in July, the Foellinger stage will already have hosted Willie Nelson (May 19), a rescheduled date from last season. (Moll says they hope to reschedule last year’s ZZ Top concert, as well.) Particularly fun should also be something a little different from previous years. Three of this year’s shows include at least two headline-worthy bands. May 29 the stage will host both Tommy James & the Shondells and Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone. Noone has visited the Foellinger in the past, most recently stepping in when Davy Jones’s death forced a change in the lineup. Noone is a remarkably energetic performer, and I must confess that I’m more than a little excited to see Tommy James live too. Another interesting pairing visits on August 2 when – get this – the Beach Boys and the Temptations arrive on one bill. One bill! Either band provides some of the best music ever recorded, but seeing both together in one night is an embarrassment of riches. Ditto the Happy Together tour which visits on August 23 and includes, of course, the Turtles (featuring Flo & Eddie) as well as the Buckinghams, the Association, the Grass Roots, the Cowsills (squeeeeaaaaal!) and Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere & the Raiders. A trio of tribute bands add to the fun, as the uber-popular Hotel California, now regulars at the Foellinger, return for a night of Eagles music on June 6, and Stayin’ Alive, a Bee Gees tribute band, open the summer schedule on May 15. The Sounds of Touch also visit (July 25) for a show of old school Motown, a perfect warm-up for the Temptations visit just a week later. And if you like your tribute bands to include some original band members, circle the calendar for August 7 when the Hit Men return to the Foellinger with former members of iconic bands like Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Jim Croce, Carly Simon and Tommy James. You’ll never hear such an eclectic setlist as you will with the Hit Men. The Foellinger also has local bands like Soft N’ Heavy (June 13) and some free concerts by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Youth Symphony, the Fort Wayne Community Band and others. It’s a jam-packed lineup, and tickets will be available starting April 14. Purchase them at foellingertheatre.org, by phone at 427-6000 or in person at the Fort Wayne Parks & Rec office, 705 E. State Blvd. michele.whatzup@gmail.com

Michele DeVinney

Mark Penicie

Observer, Collector, Artist

Mark Phenicie is a collector of all things old. He’s a man who can look at an object, add a flash of creative thought and turn that object into something new, unusual and sometimes interstellar. Step into his lair, and the spaghetti circuits that swarm in his brain become evident. His mind isn’t a knotted string of chaos, but rather a conglomeration of life experience mixed with a vast collection of interesting objects, each observed and noted to memory with magnified attention to detail. A mastermind who looks at the world in his own way and through his perspective, Phenicie creates art that few artists would have the energy or innovative spark to achieve. Just as Batman lives a second life as a billionaire philanthropist, Phenicie, the creator of a thriving universe, also works as a furniture restoration expert at his Huntertown workshop. Entering his office, one immediatedly senses that something a bit more unusual than reupholstering is going on behind the inner walls of his workshop. The first hint is his handcrafted lamp made from welded metal. Large insects crawl over and under the substantial lampshade that sits beside the massive metal throne he uses as a desk chair. There’s also a five-foot diameter saw blade on the floor which, of course, serves as a rug. These are not the things that blow his cover, however; those things are yet to come. Entering the restoration room, one sees that Phenicie works hard. Dozens of stripped chair legs and chair arms hang by S-hooks from a metal pipe. A row of well-used handsaws lines the wall above a serious collection of clamps, wrenches and an impressive assembly of empty, glass coke bottles – all typical things found in a woodshop. When one steps deeper into the maze of trunks, abandoned pianos, tables, countless chairs lined up in rows on shelves overhead, all waiting to be brought back to life, it feels safe to assume this guy is a collector. “I’m a very visual person, which makes it very hard to say no to some things,” says Phenicie. “I have 12 of those chairs; six are in my dining room. These bed frames all came from the General Lee Paddle Boat that sank in the early 1900s.” Phenicie gestures with sweeping arms and goes on, “All these things came from that boat.” He talks as he walks. He describes plans to refinish, reconstruct and repurpose the old furniture and then leads me into the room beyond the furniture. This is the Bat Cave, the room that blows his cover. This is the room where Phenicie’s rapid-fire brain is exposed. Working in the Steampunk aesthetic, Phenicie combines futuristic, dystopian ideas with old world objects. His punkish, menacing pieces are an amalgamation of both what has passed and what is yet to come. Before my toes cross the threshold, Phenicie is sharing the elaborate story that adds an imaginative layer of narrative to his welded, metal sculptures. “In the year 2012 we were told by the Aztecs that the end of the world was going to happen. These pieces represent what could have become of the human race,” he says, pointing to a piece he calls “The Probe,” a sculpture constructed of a repurposed oxygen tank and hundreds of other metal objects. “I found this tank at a friend’s house and had to have it,” he explains. The next piece, “Saturn,” is “kind of the tow truck of the fleet,” he says. “If one ship breaks down, this one will tow them into space to make repairs.” Initially, “Saturn” appears just as Phenicie describes. It’s plausible that this thing could serve as an intergalactic tow truck. Look closer and an observant viewer will notice a potato masher, rake head and a drill bit all working together to “protect the antennas from birds.” A wild idea, yes, but the craftsmanship required to pull a piece like this together boggles the mind. He takes a breath to pause, then picks up the story again. “The humans are near the planet Kludon which is so named because they don’t have a clue what they’ve done to us. They have captured our people and held some of us prisoner ...” In addition to crafting a detailed and elaborate story to describe his pieces, Phenicie also has the capability to remember exactly where each metal object came from and the purpose it once served. “These missiles are made from piano tuning pins. There is a bicycle chain, a radio, and this piece came off a ceiling light in a kitchen. This piece came from an old stove…” He goes on, sharing a limitless stream of information. Phenicie’s work is not only a reflection of his collections, but also his experiences traveling the world. As a Marine, he spent time in Syria, Nigeria and Vietnam, among other locales. As he moved through the world, he paid close attention to customs and cultures. He did his best to blend in by wearing similar clothing and even making sure to bend down to shrink his large frame when talking to men of other nationalities who might be intimidated by his size. Always the observer, always the collector, he picked up and remembered tiny jewels of the cultures he experienced and sent home objects that reminded him of his travels. Phenicie speaks admirably of the craftsman who used small, primitive tools to carve the ebony piece that sits on a shelf among other collected objects. He analyzes how long it must have taken the artisan to create the piece and points out that, according to the price he purchased the piece, the artist must have made only fifty-cents a day. “Do you want to hear the music?” he asks. Heck yeah, I do! The lights go down, and the glowing bulbs attached to each piece flicker and glow. With the push of a button the soundtrack he has chosen to highlight his works begins to play, and he plays it loud. It is heavy, menacing music full of power and mystery, a reflection of his work. Trying to continue our conversation over the music, Phenicie turns the volume down and says, “You have to touch base with all the elements of texture, the storyline and all these parts. It’s hard to put these elements together in any other place but here.” After seven years of building his body of work, Phenicie is looking for a venue to hold his creations on permanent display. He dreams of a restaurant placing his work in its lobby, music and all, so people can experience his work daily, not just by invitation to his workshop. He wants to share his story and his work with the world. The elements needed to create these works are those that can only be put together by this man. His unique bent on life, his world travels and his keen eye for both collecting and repurposing are things that can’t be cloned.

Heather Miller

The Union Project

Schooled on the Classics

Austin Marsh, 19, is the oldest member of the band The Union Project. The other four members are still in high school. But don’t let that fool you. Though they’ve only been a band for a couple years, The Union Project have amassed an impressive resume of gigs and appearances on the strength of a repertoire that might cause lesser bands to give it up. For their recent date with WBOI’s Meet the Music, Marsh and his bandmates opened with Deep Purple’s “Lazy,” then went on to play a selection of covers and originals are equally complex. But The Union Project made them sound nearly effortless. Marsh plays guitar and sings. His bandmates include Sam Byus on guitar and vocals, Jake Allen on keyboards, Lance Roberts on bass and Colton Conrad on drums. Classic rock has never really gone away. In fact it seems more prevalent than ever. It’s nothing to wander the aisles of your local grocery and find yourself humming along with “Stairway to Heaven” as it wafts over bins of broccoli. So maybe it’s not a surprise that a group of young musicians might take to the format. What is surprising is the skill with which they play it. Jon Lord and the rest of Deep Purple were in their late 20s when they recorded “Lazy,” a seven-minute hard blues epic with enough Hammond organ to fill a shopping cart. Not exactly the stuff of your average teenage garage band. But then The Union Project aren’t your average teenage garage band. “All of us have different influences,” Marsh said in a phone interview. “Deep Purple [are] a big one. Cream, Eric Clapton, R & B and other stuff from the 60s. We’re open to that kind of music.” Marsh said his dad was a big REO Speedwagon fan and would have that and other music of the period playing around the house. Marsh liked it. “I eventually found my own niche, which was Eric Clapton and Cream, the blues, stuff like that,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to play. I listened to a ton of blues, a ton of psychedelic rock, stuff like that. Rock 104 is what really got me to want to play.” The guys in The Union Project met through Sweetwater Sound’s Build-a-Band program. Marsh was in one band while Byus, Roberts and Colton had a trio going. Though they all came into the program at different times, they all got to know each other through it. “Sam and Lance called me one day and said their trip was getting more complex than they wanted it to be.” The solution was to add members and The Union Project was born. From the start the band embraced the more complex aspects of blues/rock and jam band compositions. Marsh said while simplicity is nice, the real meat for him and the others is found in music that requires more thought, more effort to wrap your head around and play. “There’s beauty in simplicity, but not in every case,” he said. “A lot of interesting things can happen when you sit down and write a really good progression.” In addition to Deep Purple and Clapton, The Union Project cover songs such as Cream’s rendition of “Outside Woman Blues,” “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers, “Rockin’ Horse” by Gov’t Mule and several Hendrix tunes, among others. Marsh said the band has a solid two hours worth of material and more songs coming all the time. Marsh said they plan to add the Doors song “Riders on the Storm” to their list. Their setlist has certainly struck a chord with area festival planners. Last year the band played Ribfest, the Three Rivers Festival, Taste of the Arts and the Chain O’Lakes Festival, which they’ll be headlining this year. “We’re playing at Wooden Nickel for Record Store Day on April 18, and we’re hoping to get back in with Ribfest and the Three Rivers Festival,” he said. Songwriting is becoming more of a focus for the band. Though it’s always been a goal, with half a dozen originals thus far, they are getting close to having enough material for an EP. Marsh said they are so close in fact that they will be heading to the studio soon to start laying down some tracks. One original composition, “Can’t Take It,” is reminiscent of “Purple Haze” and “After Midnight,” a nice intersection to be in. Marsh said songwriting is proving to be one of the bigger challenges facing the band. Learning the balancing act of promoting your own ideas while keeping an open ear to differing opinions is tough to achieve with any group endeavor. “We already have a lot of common ground with the band,” he said. “The hardest thing for us is finding that natural give and take when it comes to writing music because it’s easy for someone to get carried away and take the lead in it and not ask for input. It’s really about being considerate and making sure everyone is really cool with it. It’s not about ego. Whenever you have multiple opinions on something, you have to work at it. It’s like a relationship with a girl or something. You can’t have it one way all the time.” An even bigger challenge is coming just around the corner, after high school graduation when plans for college come into play. Long-distance relationships are tough to maintain, no matter what form they take. But Marsh said they’ve talked about it and everyone is committed to keeping the band together no matter what. “We have two seniors getting ready to graduate,” he said. “We’re all trying to plan ahead to the future but we still want to make this work. We don’t want to let that go. We all worked really hard to get where we are. We’re not just going to give it up like it’s nothing because it’s not. I know we’re going to make it work. We’re all committed to the idea of this band.”

Mark Hunter

Brady Shrock

Tomorrowland in His Sights

IPFW theatre major Brady Schrock grew up in the tiny town of LaGrange, in a family of nurses and engineers. “This made my theatrical career choice a little jarring,” he jokes, “but they are all wonderfully supportive and have never missed a performance.” As a youngster, Schrock spent a lot of time outdoors and engaged in sports. “And I mean all of the sports,” he says. “Baseball, basketball, soccer, football, and golf.” In addition to sports, he honed his performance skills showing rabbits, goats and calves at the county’s 4-H fair. But he found his true calling at the age of eight when the Missoula Children’s Theatre of Montana made its first visit to his elementary school. The organization sends a troupe of actors and directors throughout the country to involve local schoolchildren in theater productions. He participated every year they came to his school. “This was my first real acting experience,” Schrock says, “and I was hooked.” As a fifth grader, he saw Lakeland High School’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. “I was simply astounded by the production,” he says. “I saw every single one of their shows. Little did I know that in a few years I would be up on the same stage doing the same thing.” As a freshmen at LHS he nailed his first audition and was cast as Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. “I loved every second of it,” he remembers. “I could not wait to do another show.” Seventeen productions later, he is starring as Franklin Shepard in the Stephen Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along with the IPFW Department of Theatre. IPFW was an easy choice of schools for Schrock. Much like a high school baseball or basketball player, he was “scouted.” IPFW’s theater chair John O’Connell and technical director Mark DeLancey attended the two productions he starred in during his senior year in high school. After his performance in Oklahoma!, O’Connell offered him a theater scholarship. “That was essentially the equivalent of my audition for the department,” Schrock says. Now a junior, he says he considers IPFW as a second home. “The smaller, close-knit nature of the department allows for this connection,” he says. “Everyone is willing to work with all types of people. It’s like ‘the melting pot’ of college degrees.” Schrock recognizes the importance of being able to work with diverse groups of people even outside the theatre. “Employers are learning that theater breeds this kind of acceptance as well,” he says. “More and more, theater majors are being hired in different fields because of their willingness to get things done and their ability to work really solidly as a team.” This spirit of teamwork and a family atmosphere have been fostered by the IPFW theaterstaff. “Our professors here are all essentially parent figures for all of us,” Schrock says. “It gives me more of an incentive to do my best in all of my academic ventures because disappointing one of the professors feels like letting down a parent. If that doesn’t explain how integral our professors are in our lives, I don’t know what will.” Schrock also appreciates the professional background and experiences the teaching staff brings to their classrooms. “Wonderful professors are the ones who teach from real life experiences,” he says. “That is exactly what we have at IPFW: wonderful professors.” The most valuable acting tool Schrock has learned at IPFW has been the concept of “scoring” a script. “Scoring scenes and monologues is where you break down the intentions behind each line of text. It makes your performance much more interesting and evocative,” he says. “Any time I’m having difficulty grasping a character in a particular scene, I turn to scoring, and it really does a nice job of clearing everything up.” Schrock values his backstage work just as much as his acting performances. “Working backstage is equally as important as actually being on stage,” he says. “It gives you a very deep appreciation for all the technical elements of theater.” The IPFW Department of Theatre professors instill a strong work ethic in its students, Schrock says. “For my role in Merrily We Roll Along, I spent probably the most time preparing than I have for any previous role,” he says. “This show is a fairly large undertaking. The songs are all so wonderfully written and are such a pleasure to sing. This show’s message is extremely important, and I can’t wait to share it with our audiences.” He also has high praise for his fellow performers. “Every single cast member is amazing at what they do, truly,” he says. “Everyone has a good balance of having fun but knowing when to work. It also helps that we are all really good friends, a result of the tightly-knit family that is the IPFW theater department.” This production marks his third under the direction of Craig Humphrey, Mindy Cox and Holly Knott. “I would do a hundred more shows with Craig,” Schrock says. “His direction is so fun, yet extremely efficient. He knows what he has to do and he gets it done. And it’s always a pleasure to be under the musical direction of Mindy Cox and Holly Knott. I learn so much from their expert musicianship every time I do a show with them.” Although the bulk of his theatrical experience has been at IPFW, he has also worked at the Elkhart Civic Theatre and plans to do more productions at other venues as his schedule permits. “I developed a lot of professional relationships and friendships at the Elkhart Civic Theatre that mean a lot to me,” he says, “This industry is all about networking, so developing all of those relationships is really integral to being successful.” He will graduate in the spring of 2016 with a BA in theater with an emphasis in acting. After that, his ultimate goal is to be a cast member at a Disney theme park – preferably as Aladdin. “To say that I’m obsessed with Disney is a ridiculous understatement,” he says. “My theater degree would blend pretty seamlessly into life as a Disney cast member, and I couldn’t be more excited about the possibility.” As a backup plan, he also plans on earning a minor in hospitality management. “Working at a luxury resort in the Caribbean wouldn’t be all that bad,” he notes. In the meantime, Schrock is enjoying his life and his prospects for the future. “If I’m not having fun, I’m doing something wrong,” he says. “I couldn’t be more pleased with myself for picking a profession that allows me to play for a living with other people who love theater just as much as I do.”

Jen Poiry-Prough

Peter Kernan

Making Shows Happen

Many go to college with dreams of glamorous careers, but by the time Peter Kernan had left his home in Michigan to attend the University of Notre Dame, he had already launched his career as a concert promoter. But even he couldn’t have realized how far that would take him. As president of his high school class in Gross Pointe, Kernan was in charge of booking bands to play at school functions. Naturally he turned to local talent to fill those bills, but in Michigan that talent was just a bit better than the average garage bands. Groups like Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, the Bob Seger System, Brownsville Station and the MC 5 were among those he booked, which provided a pretty deep list of contacts when he served on Notre Dame’s concert committee. Having rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in music, it’s not a surprise that Kernan stayed in the business after graduating Notre Dame – and remains in that business to this day. His efforts are still felt throughout Indiana and Michigan, with many of the shows booked in Kalamazoo, South Bend and Fort Wayne going through Kernan’s Pacific Coast Concerts. But from the beginning, Kernan also diversified, handling not only concert promotions, but ticket sales, merchandising and record sales via his chain of stores, River City Records. The 1970s and 80s were a good era for a music entrepreneur before larger corporate entities took over those areas. “It was the pre-Ticketmaster era, so I would sell tickets at various locations, dropping them off for sale. That was before online sales, so getting those tickets out helped get them to people.” In a 2007 interview (also for whatzup), Kernan told the story of when he first met Mick Jagger following a South Bend concert, an encounter that would have far-reaching implications in Kernan’s career. “It was Mick’s 32nd birthday, which tells you how long ago that was,” recalled Kernan. “He walked up to where I was standing, and I wished him a happy birthday and told him the next time they were on tour, he should come to South Bend. He didn’t know where South Bend was, so I told him it was where Notre Dame was. He said, ‘I’ve heard of Notre Dame, but I’ve never heard of South Bend. But don’t mind me, I thought Bloomington was a department store.’” Eventually Kernan began handling merchandise sales at Rolling Stones concerts, a role he also served with the Allman Brothers some years later. But nearly a decade ago Kernan, who had moved to the West Coast to be closer to the hub of activity in the music business, was ready to settle down a bit. “I had been on the road for 40 to 45 weeks a year representing bands interests with merchandising and such, but I had hit 50 and didn’t want to be on the road anymore. I was tired of all the driving and flying and crazy hours. I still wanted to do something related to music, but I didn’t want to still travel like I did before. I was also tired of all the ridiculous traffic problems in L.A. It would take two hours to get to Dodger Stadium, and life’s too short to deal with all of that.” Kernan found a way out of that rat trap by returning to South Bend and focusing on the areas he had before in Michigan and Indiana to establish a way to bring music to his own backyard. Locally, Kernan was able to bring bands to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum as well as the Embassy Theatre, making the most of two very different venues to bring in a variety of talent to the area. In the last couple years, he has been particularly helpful in stepping up the efforts of the Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department as they plan their annual Summer Concert Series at the Foellinger Theatre. He says his contacts with bands that had already appeared at the Foellinger helped him realize what potential the stage had. “A couple years ago they had booked Kansas and Chicago, and I know some of those guys and asked them what they thought of the Foellinger, and they said that they liked what they saw. It’s a nice venue, and the artists really like it. So last year I worked with them to book some of the bands that appeared. “Mike Love of the Beach Boys said it was like playing inside the Spruce Goose, which was Howard Hughes’s plane. But he said great things about it, and Styx, REO Speedwagon and Foreigner all thought it was a great place. I took a lot of pride in having those shows at the Foellinger last year, and the people at Fort Wayne Parks are great to work with.” The outdoor aspect has been especially appealing to not only the performers, but concertgoers who get to enjoy summer weather while being protected from the elements. Kernan is involved in the lineup just announced for this year’s Foellinger series, including a return by the Beach Boys who will share the bill with the Temptations, a remarkable blend of historic musical talent. He’s also working with Wooden Nickel to sell bus and ticket packages for the upcoming Rolling Stones show at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Fourth of July. Having parlayed a gig booking shows for his high school into a career which allowed him to hang out with some of the biggest names in music history, Kernan still clearly enjoys what he does and is grateful for the experiences the job has afforded him. “I’ve had the opportunity to see the world,” he says. “I’ve been to China, I’ve been to Europe eight times, I’ve been to Australia, not to mention all over the United States and Canada. It’s also been rewarding to have artists that I’ve worked with go out of their way to make note of the work I’ve done. I worked with Steely Dan, and both Donald [Fagan] and Walter [Becker] called me to thank me for a job well done. When performers who are at the top of their game take the time to recognize you for your efforts, to tell me that the work that I’ve done has been good, that’s very rewarding. It’s not an easy job, but it has definitely had its rewards.”

Michele DeVinney


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