Local music — at warp speedWritten by Jason Mack | | email@example.com
The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo (ACGT) is highlighting the local music scene July 22 with Downtown SoundTrek, an event featuring more than 30 bands at 13 venues in Downtown Toledo.
SoundTrek is a new take on the former Toledo Jazz Festival. The cost of admission provides access to all 13 locations and bus rides between venues. The shows are split between the Warehouse District and the Uptown District.
“We were looking for ideas and ways to expand our services to the performing arts community,” said Ryan Bunch, performing and literary arts coordinator at the ACGT. “We wanted to present Toledo’s music scene in a new way. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we took the model we had from the Jazz loop. We made it a tighter bus loop and more multigenre. It’s representative of what’s going on in venues Downtown.”
According to Bunch, the main goal of SoundTrek is to showcase musicians in Toledo. There are only three bands performing from outside the Toledo area.
“These are Toledo musicians in venues that are working to present live music in the community,” Bunch said. “It’s about elevating and highlighting that. It’s getting people to come down and see the wealth of venues, how close they are, how walkable they are and what a diverse range of music there is. It gives the community a chance to get a broad sampling of everything going on in one night.”
One of the artists the community can see is Kyle White as the acoustic rocker kicks things off at PizzaPapalis at 519 Monroe St. White is releasing her second CD “On With the Show” on July 24.
“Toledo is full of extremely talented people,” White said. “The music scene in Toledo would rival any big city. I was in a suburb of Chicago in April, and on a Tuesday night there wasn’t anything going on anywhere. In Toledo, you can go out any night of the week to numerous places and find live music.”
Old State Line guitarist Thomas Barden is excited about the promotion SoundTrek provides for local venues. His band is opening at the Glass City Cafe.
“It gets more people out in the neighborhood going to things,” Barden said. “Glass City Cafe is great, but it’s hard because people don’t know about it. It’s a great place. The management is wonderful. After Friday night, a lot more people will know about it.”
While Bunch is excited about the music around Toledo today, he’s also proud of the city’s musical past.
“Toledo has a remarkably long and rich history in music,” he said. “It’s the birthplace of Art Tatum and John Hendricks. You have the kind of garage blues renaissance that started here and worked its way up to Detroit. There’s a wide-reaching, broad range of music that’s happened here. It’s always been here. We haven’t quite gotten our dues as the next hip explosion, but it’s really rich. There’s a lot of talent here. I’m constantly astounded by how many people are not just talented at what they do but can work across genres. The music community is really well connected and supportive.”
With such a diverse history, Bunch wanted SoundTrek to represent as many genres as possible.
“If we were going to do this, it needed to be representative of the broad range of styles happening in the area,” he said. “As time goes on and digital music becomes more prevalent, the idea of genres is melting away anyway. If you took a sampling from most peoples’ iPods, there’s a broad range of stuff on there.”
Because of the wide array of musicians and venues in Toledo, the ACGT formed a committee to select the artists and where they would play.
“We were feeling our way through the dark to figure out how it was going to look and work,” Bunch said. “The committee put their heads together and tried to come up with something that is broad in scope. Since we’re working with a lot of established venues that present music, we wanted to make sure they were comfortable with the music they would be presenting. It was a collaboration between the committee and the venue owners to figure out how we could stretch the borders but not go too far with it. It’s been really fun getting to know a handful of venues and working with them. They’ve all really picked up the ball and been excited about it.”
One venue Bunch is particularly excited for is Bozarts Fine Art and Music Gallery.
“[Owner] Jerry Gray put together a killer lineup,” Bunch said. “He was already putting together a show when we contacted him, so it worked out. He has The Staving Chain, which is kind of a traditional Delta blues group. They have Dooley Wilson, who for my money is the best guitar player in the tri-state area. He’s a killer guitar player. Danny Kroha is playing with them, and he’s kind of a Detroit music legend. That should be an awesome lineup.”
The lineup also includes Boom Chick, a rock ‘n’ roll duo from Brooklyn with Moselle Spiller on drums and Frank Hoier on guitar and vocals.
“I’m super excited about the lineup we have,” Gray said. “It’s going to be mostly blues-oriented rock. Boom Chick contacted me online, and the date worked out. It’s their first time in Toledo. They are excellent.”
Bunch said the ACGT plans to use SoundTrek as an annual fundraising event. Proceeds will fund programs such as Artomatic 419!, the art walks and the gallery loops, all of which are presented free to the community. The event also serves as part of an effort to integrate the performing arts into the ACGT.
“The arts commission has always typically been visual arts heavy,” Bunch said. “There used to be a specific performing arts council in Toledo until about 10 years ago. Since then, the slack has not been picked up. It’s been interesting to go through and see what a really broad and diverse array of individuals and organizations there are that are working and haven’t been brought together yet.”
SoundTrek partnered with the first annual Toledo Music Expo, which is July 23 at the Erie Street Market. The event features live performances and provides networking opportunities for artists, venues and vendors.
“That was kind of a serendipitous aspect of the event,” Bunch said. “When we were brainstorming, we thought it would be cool to have a little expo of people who weren’t going to be on this loop. There are so many music related businesses and companies, so we thought we could have people come down and promote their business and show there is a wide network that reaches across the state. It seemed too daunting to take on for the first time. We just wanted to get the bus loop part right.”
“No sooner did we scrap that idea, and put it on the back burner for future years, than we were contacted. They pitched us an idea similar to what we were thinking. It made a lot of sense to cross promote each other’s events and show that over this one weekend there is a broad range of getting a sampling of the music scene. They very generously agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds back to the arts commission. We are incredibly grateful for it.”
The Toledo Music Expo is donating a portion of profits to ACGT and is offering a $5 discount to those who attend SoundTrek.
SoundTrek runs from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wristbands for the event are $15 in advance and $20 on July 22, and admission to individual venues is available for $5. Visit www.ACGT.org for more information.
“If you’re a music fan at all, I think it’s a pretty easy sell,” Bunch said. “If you have any interest in getting to know your city or getting to know like-minded people, it’s all right here. You get to ride around on a bus Downtown and go bar hopping, which is not something you get to do every day.”
Sound Trek Spotlight: Kyle White reaches for the stars
Kyle White put her autobiography to music with her second album “On With the Show,” which she is debuting at a CD release party July 24.
The album is heavily influenced by White’s family. It features a variety of instruments such as violin, trumpet, dobro and mandolin. White’s father Don plays the banjo on three songs.
“He’s been a huge influence on me musically,” she said. “I’ve been surrounded by live music my entire life. My dad’s friends are all musicians. My grandfather [Robert White] is on the wall at the SeaGate Centre for the Lake Erie West Hall of Fame. My dad is an exceptional banjo player and a great bass player, guitar player and singer. It was great to have him on the CD. It’s something I’ll always have.”
The album was also heavily influenced by White’s sister Tamara. White wrote the song “Forever Friend” for her sister when she was sick.
“The album would have been done a lot sooner, but all of 2009 my sister was really sick,” White said. “We didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. I was sad and just wanted to write a tribute to her. She had to have a bone marrow transplant. There’s only a 20 percent chance a sibling will be a match, but luckily I was, so I was her donor. Out of the entire bone marrow floor at the Cleveland Clinic, only her and one other person made it. All of that was going on when I was planning on recording. I was driving to Cleveland every few days.”
Tamara made a full recovery.
“You would never even know anything was wrong with her now,” White said. “They said they’ve never seen anybody’s stem cells graft as fast as mine. I blamed it on all the Guinness I drink because it’s full of iron.”
The title track, “On With the Show,” was written as a not-so-subtle hint to her fiancé before they got engaged.
“We didn’t get engaged until we were together for five years,” White said. “I wrote that about a year and a half ago. It was kind of a message to him. It worked.”
Every song on the album comes from experiences in White’s life.
“I wrote a song about the river and sitting on my boat,” she said. “There’s a song called ‘August in Ohio’ about just hanging out on the front porch. I only write about my personal experiences. I’ve been writing for the past couple of years. I write sporadically. When a song comes to me, I just write it.”
Writing is still a relatively new experience for White. Her first album “Blue Holes in a Gray Sky” was released in 2009.
“I played covers for eight years before I ever wrote a song,” White said. “Singing so many different kinds of music hones you in to what’s going to come out of you.”
White might have never started a career in music if she hadn’t participated in a karaoke contest years ago.
“When I was 19, I worked at Primetime and they had karaoke on Sundays,” White said. “I used to sing ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ and win the contest. The prize was $50 to the bar, so I would get pizza and pop for my friends. When the cover band Tito Slack was starting out, my friend said, ‘My boyfriend has a band. Why don’t you come sing with them in the basement?’ I sang a couple of songs and I was in the band.”
After joining the band, White decided to take up an instrument.
“I didn’t just want to be a singer, so I started teaching myself guitar,” she said. “I played for a couple years before I played guitar at a show.”
White graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in psychology. If she hadn’t participated in the karaoke contest, she might have been a school psychologist today.
“I was going to go back and get my masters in school psychology,” White said. “I decided to play music for a couple years and see how it goes. It never slowed down. I’m playing more and more. I’m lucky to be able to do something I love for a living.”
Along with her solo career, White also plays in a cover band called Johnny Rocker and the Hitmen. The band’s biggest claim to fame is playing at a John McCain rally.
“It’s a complete 180 from my solo gigs,” White said. “It’s so much fun. We play ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and we do costume changes for each era. Sometimes people don’t even know it’s me because I’m in a big blonde afro and a disco costume. They are really fun to play with.”
She also plays covers in her solo act and is happy to take requests. She learns two or three covers every week and has built a catalog of between 200 and 300 songs.
“I’ve always had the kind of memory where if I took notes in school, I never had to look at them again,” White said. “I just kind of remember things. I have a really good memory, especially for music.”
White has been playing in Toledo for 14 years and plans on sticking around, but she does love to travel. She has been to all but four of the 50 states and has traveled across Europe several times. The last time she went to Europe, she caught a surprise performance.
“We were jamming with these people at a bar in Amsterdam and Sublime showed up,” White said. “We didn’t know it, but they were playing at a place right next door to our hotel. They showed up to this open jam with only about 30 or 40 people and played a half hour set. I was jamming with the house band right before Sublime took the stage, so that was pretty cool.”
White’s CD release party starts at 7 p.m. July 24 at Mulvaney’s Bunker located at 4945 Dorr St. There is no cover, and the show features 17-year-old Claire Cooper as the opening act.
“I like giving younger people experience playing in front of people,” White said. “She’s a natural. It’s crazy. She is never the least bit nervous.”
White is also the opening act at PizzaPapalis on July 22 as part of Downtown SoundTrek. The event features more than 30 bands at 13 venues downtown from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wristbands for SoundTrek are $15 in advance and $20 on July 22, and admission to individual venues is available for $5. Visit www.ACGT.org for more information.
Sound Trek Spotlight: Veteran pilots band to new heights
Mild-mannered college dean by day, guitar hero by night, Thomas Barden plays with Old State Line alongside his wife and a few of their friends.
Barden, dean of the Honors College at the University of Toledo, has performed for more than 40 years after starting in music at 16 in Virginia.
“It was the folk revival,” Barden said. “Everyone was playing. Peter, Paul & Mary and Bob Dylan were big. Their songs were simple. I got an old cheap guitar to start with and had a group in high school. When I got to college, there was an old-time music scene with fiddlers and all those old guys. It was great. I hung out in a coffeehouse instead of a fraternity. It was just the time it was.”
He stuck with the guitar for years, but Barden’s folk background eventually led him to pick up a mandolin.
“I avoided anything but guitar until I was around 50, thinking it might confuse me,” he said. “One of the old guys at a jam in Toledo told me, ‘it doesn’t confuse you, it just helps you get better. The chords are upside down and backwards.’ As soon as he told me that, I got one from Durdel’s Music and just started trying it. He was right. It makes your guitar playing better.”
Barden figured out the mandolin then took up another instrument called a dobro.
“The dobro was a Christmas gift from my wife and kids,” Barden said. “They said, ‘Okay, you’re so smart, figure this one out.’ That one is open tuned with a slide. It is tough. I only do a few tunes with it, only three or four, but it’s such a great country sound.”
After years of watching her husband play, Rayna Zacharias said she decided to learn to play bass guitar.
“She was looking for a way to relax,” Barden said. “She’s been around the band for as long as we’ve been married. She figures it’s easier to be in it than to be a roadie. She’s really good, that’s the thing. We weren’t sure. That was going to be a little tense in the family if she was crappy. We won’t have to have that conversation.”
Zacharias has brought new ideas to the band from her lessons at Durdel’s Music.
“We’re partners in everything else, and being music partners is great, too,” Barden said. “She has such a great teacher now in Jason Gahler. She brings home stuff that’s a real stretch, and I get to practice with her before we take it to the band.”
Old State Line also features Cindy Lipman on fiddle and vocals, Larry Meyer on drums and Ramsey Abu-Absi on guitar, mandolin and vocals.
“I’m married to the bass player and I’ve been playing with the fiddler for decades,” Barden said. “Everybody knew everybody anyhow. It was just an occasion for this jam to go public. Me, Cindy and my wife just did jams on Sunday afternoons. We talked to Larry about trying to drum, then Ramsey came in. He’s an incredible guitar player and a really good mandolin player, too. We just would do afternoon jams in our house, and it got so good we had to take it out.”
Before forming Old State Line, Barden and Lipman played together in other groups, such as Midnight on the Water and Ten Mile Creek.
“She started playing because she found her grandfather’s fiddle,” Barden said. “I was a guitar player so I backed her up while she got started with it. We’ve been in band after band for 20 years. Ten Mile Creek was more blue-grassy than we are now, because there was no drummer. What’s nice about Old State Line is we have Larry Meyer who is a drummer. It takes us into more of a rockabilly and Johnny Cash area than we were with Ten Mile Creek. It’s really fun.”
Old State Line is without Lipman for the summer while she vacations in Maine, so Abu-Absi’s co-worker Ted Whalen is sitting in with the band.
“He’s a really good fiddler, but he also plays the harmonica,” Barden said. “We’ll probably move more into the Bob Dylan direction since we have a harmonica player. We added more Dylan to the set list because we can hear Ted play that harmonica. It’s such a Bob sound.”
The band plays mostly old fiddle tunes and folk songs, and Barden described their sound as Americana.
“Our style can be really wide-ranging,” Barden said. “Kansas City is a style my wife’s bass instructor taught her. She came home playing the licks to ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ so we threw that in, too. Right now it’s anything we can do that sounds decent.”
Old State Line is the opening act at Glass City Café or July 22 as part of Downtown SoundTrek. The event features more than 30 bands at 13 venues Downtown from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wristbands for SoundTrek are $15 in advance and $20 on July 22, and admission to individual venues is available for $5. Visit www.ACGT.org for more information.
July 22 Sound Trek schedule:
UPTOWN ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT
1. Bretz Bar 2012 Adams St.
(419) 243-1900 www.myspace.com/bretzthebar
DJs and Drag Show featuring:
11 p.m.: Charlie Slick (electro-pop/dance from Ann Arbor)
12 a.m.: Feleciana Thuderpussy (drag show)
All night: DJ Rob Sample (DJ/dance)
2. Ottawa Tavern 1817 Adams St.
(419) 725-5483 www.otavern.com
7 p.m.: Balloon Messenger (indie)
8 p.m.: Microdot (shoegaze)
9 p.m.: Great Uncle (rock/pop)
10 p.m.: Great Lakes Crew (hip-hop)
11 p.m.: GoLab (electro-pop/rock)
12 a.m.: Matt Truman Ego Trip (glam rock)
1 a.m.: Frank & Jesse (rock n’ roll)
3. Truth Art Gallery 1811 Adams St.
(419) 460-1343 www.thetruthtoledo.com/gallery
8 – 11 p.m.: 4 Deep (jazz/blues/soul)
4. The Attic on Adams 1701 Adams St.
(419) 243-5350 www.theatticonadams.com
7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.: Leyla & Raq the Casbah
10 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.: Big Blues Bob (Chicago-style blues)
Plus live magic and more!
5. Manhattan’s 1516 Adams St.
(419) 243-6675 www.manhattanstoledo.com
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. :DFR (funk/R&B)
10 p.m. – 1 a.m.: Tom Turner & Slow Burn (blues/rock)
6. Toledo School for the Arts 333 14th St.
(419) 246-8732 www.ts4arts.com
Enter on 15th St., across from Manhattan’s
7 – 9 p.m.: Glass City Steel (steel drum ensemble)
9 – 11 p.m.: Benny and the Bricks (rock)
11 p.m. – 1 a.m.: The Groove Associates (groovy)
7. Wesley’s Bar 1201 Adams St.
(419) 255-3333 www.wesleysbar.com
7:30 p.m.: Lance Hulsey (of Kentucky Chrome) (rockabilly)
8:30 – 10 p.m. – Mighthaveben (The Band) (jazz/folk/funk)
10:30 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.: Old School Fridays featuring DJs Todd Perrine, N.Matimoe and Folk (DJs/old school funk, soul, & hip-hop)
8. Toledo City Paper Offices 1120 Adams St.
(419) 244-9859 www.toledocitypaper.com
7 p.m.: Raine Wilder (hip-hop)
7:55 p.m.: Ben Barefoot and the Handshakes (indie rock)
8:50 p.m.: Decent Folk (folk/indie)
9:45 p.m.: Stonehouse (jam rock)
10:40 p.m.: Shit Dang Monstertrucks! (alt-country)
11:30 p.m.: Thirty Three & 1/3 (blues/indie rock)
12:20 a.m.: Gold (funk/rock)
9. Glass City Café 1107 Jackson St.
(419) 241-4519 www.glasscitycafe.com
7:30 – 10 p.m.: Old State Line (Americana)
10 p.m. – 12 a.m. Black Swamp String Band (bluegrass)
10. The Blarney Bullpen/Toledo Free Press Star 601 Monroe St.
(419) 418-2339 www.theblarneyirishpub.com
Enter on Huron Street.
7:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.: Hepcat Revival (swing/jazz)
11. Table Forty4 610 Monroe St.
(419) 725-0044 www.tableforty4.com
7 – 9:30 p.m.: Bobby May & John Barile (rock/blues)
10 p.m. – 1 a.m.: The Chris Shutters Band (rock/blues)
12. PizzaPapalis 519 Monroe St.
(419) 244-7722 www.pizzapapalis.com
7:15 p.m.: Kyle White (acoustic/folk)
8:15 p.m.: The Faux Paus (indie rock)
9:45 p.m.: Chavar Dontae (electronic/soul/rock)
11:30 p.m.: The Quickness (rock/blues/jazz)
13. Bozarts Fine Art & Music Gallery
151 N. St. Clair St. (419) 464-5785
7:30 p.m.: The ‘Leles (ukulele/folk)
8:30 p.m.: Thirty Three & 1/3 (blues rock/indie)
9:30 p.m.: Danny Kroha (formerly of The Gories) (acoustic blues from Detroit)
10:30 p.m.: The Staving Chain (featuring
Dooley Wilson) (traditional Delta-style slide blues)
12 a.m. – Boom Chick (blues-surf-rock from Brooklyn)
Partner Event: The First Toledo Music Expo!
The following day, Saturday, July 23, J&L Entertainment Services will host Toledo’s first Toledo Music Expo. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. Save $5 at the door with your SoundTrek wristband. The First Toledo Music Expo will take place at the Erie Street Market in Downtown Toledo. This event is for local musicians, singers, songwriters, engineers, recording studios, videographers, and more. For more information visit them on the web at ToledoMusicExpo.com.
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