High schoolers who conjure up dreams of musical stardom are hardly a unique occurrence, nor has it been for years. Whether it be aspirations of the being the next boy band overnight craze with thousands of pre-pubescent girls shrieking their hearts out at you, or being the lead guitarist for the next Pearl Jam and enjoying critical and commercial success, millions of teenagers in this world every day are captivated by the dream of becoming a musician to an almost extreme extent.
In some regards, Kevin Hiatt was no different during his formative teen years. Hiatt, an accomplished and learned musician whose mastery of just about everything guitar has earned him a reputation as one of the whatzup area's most intelligent, talented and versatile musicians, was similarly drawn to a dream of becoming a musician at a fairly early age.
That's about where the similarities stop, however. Instead of being consumed with visions of busting out choreographed dance routines in front of swooning teens or noodling out guitar solos in plaid shirts in front of throngs of headbangers, Hiatt's earliest musical inspirations were drawn from an entirely different and unique source.
"I was bitten by the classical guitar bug early in high school", Hiatt explains. "I really didn't have success in finding a strong teacher for something like that, so I taught myself to play. That opened a lot of things up for me. I realized I wanted to write music pretty early on, too."
From that early yearning to learn classical guitar, coupled with the desire to learn the craft of writing and composing his own music, Hiatt has continuously expanded as a musician. Hiatt is one of the musicians who is always pushing themselves, trying new things out and looking at music as a constant state of learning and educating.
"I try and be careful to not do things I can't do as a musician, whether it's in terms of songwriting or performing," Hiatt says. "But I always seem to be trying new things out and pushing myself in different directions as well."
For someone who got his start as a musician by teaching himself to play the classical guitar, Hiatt is one of the most formally trained mainstream musicians you'll come across in the area. He has earned three degrees in music composition, including a doctorate from Miami (Ohio) University he earned in the late 80s.
During and immediately after his formal musical education, Hiatt worked extensively in classical music as a performer and composer. He has written over 90 separate pieces of chamber music and performed extensively in classical settings.
He soon felt limited, however, and the other musical side of him that had found influences in artists like Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges and Preston Reed began to weigh more heavily on his vision of the future. He soon found himself writing more pop/folk style music for six-, seven- and 12-string guitars (all three of which he is proficient at playing) and pretty much inventing an entirely new musical persona and audience for himself.
Since that time, Hiatts stylings, coupled with his classical training and extensive experience in composition, have matured to the point that actually trying to categorize his unique sound becomes a tad difficult to do.
"My stuff tends to be a little more different than straight-forward folk music," he explains. "But I'm not alone; there's a whole subculture of people who do what I do musically speaking and people who seek it out as an audience."
The whatzup-area musical website fortwaynemusic.com describes Hiatt's musical stylings as American fingerstyle guitar somewhere between Fahey/Kottke and Hedges/Preston Reed guitar stylings.
Extended instrumentals, two-hand tapping, percussive attacks, wall-of-sound approach to acoustic guitar, it continues. Lyrics on vocal tunes range from neurotic confessional themes to satirically humorous. Tasty covers for bar gigs.
"What I go for in my music is something, some sort of experience that will really draw the listener in," Hiatt says. "I am in a constant state of refining the artistic product I put out there for the audience."
After bouncing around large portions of the continental U.S., working as a performer and a teacher in places like Baltimore, Hiatt returned to Fort Wayne a few years back and got right down to business. His debut album, Another Look at the Sunrise, recorded at Ozone Studios in Fort Wayne, was released about a year ago. The album of all original material from Hiatt featured a healthy balance of both vocal and instrumental pieces, and use of six-, seven- and 12-string guitars.
He is also consistently trying to make himself more of a, as he puts it, regional act, taking his act farther out to environs outside northeast Indiana. Gigs in places like Indianapolis and Muncie are increasing in frequency on his schedule, and a recent show he did in Columbus, Ohio was particularly encouraging for him.
"People sat down, were very civil, they listened intensively and clapped," he says. "And most importantly, I didn't have any request for Jimmy Buffett tunes the entire time."
"A second album is already under way as well," Hiatt says, with a projected completion date sometime in late summer. He says he has a projected total length for the album of about 50 to 60 minutes of more original material, with about 25 minutes of stuff already completed. Tentatively titled Chasing Horses, Hiatt says the album will hopefully convey an even stronger range of instrumentation than Another Look at the Sunrise did. When you counter one song he performed for the album with Joe Kalisman, a Fort Wayne Philharmonic cello player, with "Goodbye to Ranger Doug," a song he says is dedicated to Pee Wee Herman, a range of instrumentation may be a bit of an understatement.
"I am going for more variety with this album; its that simple," he says.
But even as he works to expand his presence in areas outside of northeast Indiana, Hiatt is still working to expand his presence locally as well.
"There's some talented musicians here, and I think Fort Wayne can be fertile ground for a strong musical scene," he contends. From my experiences alone, I have seen a growing, certain intelligentsia-type audience looking for this type of music, for these types of performers."
by Kevin Erb
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Fantasy of Lights — Drive-thru Christmas lighting displays, 6-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 7-8; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10; 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, Dec. 11-15; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 16-17; 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, Dec. 18-22; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 23-24; 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, Dec. 25-29; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 30-31,Franke Park, Fort Wayne, $5-$10 per carload, $10-$15 per 15-passenger van, $25-$30 per bus or trolley, 755-1900
Festival of Gingerbread — Gingerbread creations made by preschoolers through professional baking artists on display, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 7-8; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10; 12-5 p.m Sunday, Dec. 11, History Center, Fort Wayne, $4-$6, 426-2882
Drowning Pool w/Gemini Syndrome, Red Tide Rising — at Rusty Spur Saloon, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., $18-$50, 755-3465
Natalie Grant w/Danny Gokey — Country at Honeywell Center, Wabash, 7:30 p.m., $20-$50, 563-1102
Fort Wayne Comedy Connection — Comedy at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Open Jam — Hosted by G-Money at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, (260) 482-6425
Open Mic — Variety at Pedal City, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 415-6167
Open Mic — Hosted by Chilly Addams at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 625-1002
Shelly Dixon & Jeff McRae — Variety at Riverview Tavern, Decatur, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 724-3500
American Idol Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, 8 p.m., 434-1980 , no cover
SureShot Karaoke w/David — Variety at Bar 145, 8 p.m.-12 a.m., 209-2117 , no cover
American Idol Karaoke w/TJ — Chevvy's, 9 p.m.,
American Idol Karaoke w/Josh — Karaoke at Columbia Street West, 9:30 p.m., 422-5055 , no cover
Three Rivers Karaoke — Dupont Bar & Grill, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., 483-1311 , no cover
WiseGuy Entertainment w/Josh — Variety at Martin's Tavern, 10 p.m., 357-4290 , no cover
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Office Tavern, 8 p.m., 478-5827 , no cover
Karaoke — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, 10 p.m., 485-1038 , no cover
Great Russian Nutcracker — Holiday performance by Moscow Ballet, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, $32-$178 thru Ticketmaster and Embassy box office, 424-5665
Click header for complete Movie times
Alexandra Hall — Whimsical painting, giclee print and ink drawings, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 31, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Alumni/Faculty Exhibition — Works from alumni and current and retired faculty from the School of Creative Arts, Monday-Friday thru Dec. 18 , Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Art for the Holidays — Handmade ornaments and Nativities from local artists, Monday-Saturday thru Dec. 31, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Decatur Sculpture Tour — 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, Decatur, free, 724-2605
Festival of Wreaths — Holiday exhibition of Christmas wreathes, daily thru Dec. 30, Creative Arts Council, Bluffton, 824-5222.
Fort Wayne, American Monologue — A new body of Fort Wayne-based works by Oakland, California-based artist Brett Armory, Tuesday-Sunday thru Feb. 26, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
John Baeder Takes Wing on a Higher Road — Hyper-realist art from one of the 20th century’s most important artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru Jan 22 , Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Master Prints — Diverse collection of prints acquired by the university over the past 15 years, Monday-Friday thru Dec. 22, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Nature’s Thread — Works by Nancy Fritz and Lizabeth Yager, daily thru Jan. 16, 2017, The Gallery at Pranayoga School, Fort Wayne, 423-9642
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Regional Art Educators’ Exhibition — Works from educators in secondary school art education, daily thru Dec. 8, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6977
Robert Kipniss: The Whispering Light — Recent painted and printed works by American artist, Tuesday-Sunday thru Jan. 22, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Student Highlights Exhibition: Animation — Works from students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts’ animation program, Monday-Friday thru 18 , John P. Weatherhead Gallery and Goldfish Gallery, Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
SOCA Student Postcard Show — Small works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts, Monday-Friday thru Dec. 18 , Spotlight Gallery, Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Women in Art: A Celebration — Works by Gwen Gutwein, Barbara Nohinek, Patricia Weiss, Cara Lee Wade, Elizabeth Wamsley, Marcy Neiditz, Suzanne Galazka, Diane Groenert and more, Tuesday-Saturday thru Jan. 15 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Artlink Educational Programs — Art classes offered by Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, dates and times vary, Artlink, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-7195
Fort Wayne Dance Collective Workshops — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, dates and times vary, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574
IPFW Community Arts Academy— Art, dance, music and theater 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, call for pricing, 432-8176, academy.sweetwater.com