WELCOME! Check out the latest in arts and entertainment---right here.
If it's hip and happening in Central Kansas, you'll see it here first.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Concert For The Cause

 Concert For The Cause:
Featuring cKenzi and Duffy McGee
Avenue A Park
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

      A word to the wise, keep your commitments.  It's never good to cancel a show at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning when you're suppose to play at 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday night.  Why?  Well, if you turn down a chance to play, there is always another band waiting in the wings who would love a chance to perform and would love to be the one who saved the day.  Case in point, cKenzi Millermon.  She returned to Concert For The Cause as the opening act for Duffy McGee on Saturday, replacing Raging Sea.

     cKenzi's voice is so pure and just rings out through the park.  I love to hear her sing outdoors in a festival setting.  She brought good news with her, too.  She has found a producer for her next CD and is currently at work writing the songs for that CD and raising money to pay the new producer, (who happens to be Justin Bieber's producer).  What exciting news.
     Even with the threat of rain, the crowds still turned out in the park and they were a hardy bunch.  They brought lawn chairs, blankets and jackets braving the chilly winds that occasionally made their presence known.  There were plenty of hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill, plenty of pop and water available.  Unfortunately, no Mel Hambelton ice cream van on this night but with the chilly temps, I don't think the crowd was to upset.  

     Duffy McGee took the stage just as the rain was beginning to mist.  They brought banjos with them and played a rousing Blue Grass tune for their sound check.  The crowd burst into applause and after that, even with rain imminent, not a person got up to leave.  A person in the crowd likened the group to a barbershop quartet with a Blue Grass sound track.  I think that's close to the truth.  They harmonized and completed the songs with banjos, guitar and drums.  Truly a treat.  I'd love to hear them play again.  If you missed this performance, you missed one of the great performances of this Concert For The Cause season. 

     Next week, Concert For The Cause has a special treat planned.  It's a benefit for the Hutchinson Zoo.  The concerts, yes concerts, will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 10 p.m.  They'll be music in two locations on two separate stages.  So, check out DCI Park and Avenue A Park.  There will be food and drinks at both parks as well as some other surprises.  Feel free to come and go as the day progresses and enjoy some great live music, outdoors.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Concert For The Cause

Concert For The Cause:
Featuring Bottom Feeder and VOS (Victims of Spotlight)
Avenue A Park
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

    We've all heard the phrase, "the show must go on".  Concert For The Cause took this phrase to heart and instead of a second rained out show, the show went on in spite of the rain.  Two of the bands arrived, on time, in the rain, and ready to play.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the McPherson Bag Pipe Band was not in attendance.

      Bottom Feeder and VOS (Victims of Spotlight) decided to go ahead and play rain or shine.  As they began to set up for the concert,  a crowd of hearty die-hard concert goers, fans and some new folks arrived for the show, ready to stay to hear the music.  After all, a concert was planned and they had come to hear it.  Mel Hambleton showed up with the free ice cream van, too.
     The concert was reassembled and everything took place entirely under the gazebo.  The bands sang and played, the concert goers got an up close and personal show.  Even though there was no hot food or drinks this evening, everyone enjoyed the free ice cream.  

     If you attended on Saturday night, you also got to see a couple of other interesting things.  There was a fire breather on hand.  This got the crowd energized.  One of the band members performed a feat of daring with his wife, a couple of roses and a whip.  This very trusting lady placed a rose in her mouth and held a rose behind her back while her husband, one of the band members, took a whip and in one crack of that whip removed both roses from their stems.  The crowd ooh'd and awe'd over that one.

     Saturday's concert at Avenue A park had it all.  There was rock music, food, and a carnival atmosphere for all to enjoy on a rainy night in the middle of summer.  Once again, if you miss a week, you miss a lot. 

     Next weeks featured bands will be: Duffy Magee and Raging Sea.  The non-profit will be: The Boys and Girls Clubs.  Come out to Avenue A Park on Saturday night for music, food, drinks, ice cream, and fun!  It's all to support a great local cause.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"That's Entertainment" in Oakdale Park

  "That's Entertainment" in Oakdale Park:
Featuring Samantha Fish Band
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

     The final concert for the season wrapped up on Thursday, July 18 with the Samantha Fish Band.  I didn't know a lot about this band before I headed to the park to check them out, but I want to hear more.  This concert did not last long enough.

     Billed as a blues band, I thought that's all I'd hear.  But this band is so well rounded.  I like Blues tunes but when it's one song after another in the Blues style, it can get to be a bit much.  The Samantha Fish Band is so much more than strictly the Blues.  True, the concert was primarily Blues but Samantha changed it up to rock occasionally as well as some other styles of music.  She never let the audience get into a funk and stuck on just one endless Blues beat after another.  

     Samantha read her audience well.  She'd change up the tempo and song style to keep the audience guessing and engaged.  The band did a a version of the Rolling Stones "Wild Horses" that was truly exceptional.  This is not to say that the band did only cover tunes.  This band also sang their own original songs, as well, and they have a new CD to be released soon.

     If you missed them in Oakdale Park but get a chance to hear them sing in another venue, be sure and check them out.  I don't know what it would be like to hear them in a auditorium or theatre setting but they play very well in the open air of a festival setting.  What a terrific way to end "That's Entertainment" for the 2013 season.  It doesn't get any better than this!


Saturday, July 20, 2013


 Limited Edition 11x17 Autographed Poster
 The Stiefel Theatre:
Featuring Reza-The Illusionist
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

     I'm not much for magicians but I decided I was going to go and check out the Reza show at The Stiefel Theatre this past Thursday.  There had been a lot of hype around town for this show, even though it was a last minute booking.  It was to benefit a good cause, funding schools in Haiti.  So these seemed like good reasons to check out the show.

     From the moment I entered the theatre I entered a different world.  The lights were turned down to a lower level than usual and the stage was dark with the shadows of black equipment on stage.  There were several people at the entrance to the theatre to greet me and they were telling everyone in the door that this was an interactive show so it was very important to sit as far to the front as possible.  This scared a few people who purposely sat off to the side and farther away from the front seats.  But there were those who embraced this and crowded close to the front.

     Then the show began and the lights went completely out.  Now we were all in strange and unknown territory which threw all of us out of the familiar and into a space where we didn't feel completely comfortable.  I think that was the point.  Everything that happened from this point on was totally foreign to the audience.  

     The illusions presented on stage were stunning.  Reluctant audience members were pulled onto the stage for various support roles within the illusion being presented.  The kids that went on stage adapted quickly and easily while the older folks (18 and over) were a bit more skeptical.

     The best illusion by far was the illusion at the end.  I have no idea how Reza pulled this off.  Quite a complicated stunt that had his assistant and him changing places out of thin air.  It began with Reza having his hands bound, being placed in a bag with a drawstring at the top that was pulled tight, he was then stuffed into a box that was locked on all four sides with padlocks.  His assistant than stood on the box dropping a black curtain in front of herself, as the curtain hit the stage in front of the box, Reza appeared.  His assistant was now in the locked box, in the bag pulled tight at the top with her hands bound. Truly amazing.  It all happened within the blink of an eye.  Amazing!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Concert For The Cause

 Concert For The Cause:
Featuring John Rowdy and Simone du Garfunk
Avenue A Park
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

      It was a hot night in Avenue A Park on Saturday night: hot temperatures, hot music, a hot crowd, and hot food, but the tunes were cool and so was the free ice cream and popsicles.  And what a crowd. . . the evening started out with highs at 100 degrees, but as the concert began a cool breeze swept through the park and brought increasing crowds.  The non-profit on this night was The Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Center Inc. and they sold out of hotdogs and hamburgers.  

     The evening began with some Southern Rock courtesy of John Rowdy.  He sang some cover tunes and original material.  One of his new songs, Alley Sun, was quite the hit with the crowd.  Where I was sitting everyone was tapping their feet and dancing in their seats while Rowdy sang.  So even through the song was new and the lyrics not yet familiar, the crowd support for this song was huge.  

     Sean Story returned for an impromptu appearance and sang a few songs of his own.  He spotted Morgan Wilk in the crowd and had her come up on stage for a duet.  I love that song!  The crowd did too and I found out that the two of them are recording it in September for an upcoming CD.

     Then it was time for Simone du Garfunk to take the stage.  This band is composed of Tammy and Bob Colladay.  I've seen Bob around Hutchinson playing his ukulele and having a lot of fun.  So I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw Bob and Tammy play together.  They were really incredible.  Bob played the bass and showed the crowd the versatility of his talent.  If an instrument has strings, he has me convinced that he can play it, and play it well.
       At the end of the evening the entire group hit the stage for a jam session.  Wilk sang while Colladay and Story accompanied her.  It was amazing!  You never know what will happen at a Concert for the Cause show.  If you miss one week, you miss a lot.

     Next weeks show will feature three bands: Victims of Spotlight, the McPherson Bag Pipe Band, and Bottom Feeder.  The featured non-profit will be First Call for Help.   


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Concert For The Cause

Check out the Pepsi display in Wal-Mart in Hutchinson, KS.

Concert For The Cause is everywhere, this summer!
Check it out at Avenue A Park, Hutchinson KS on Saturday evenings 
throughout the summer.
Don't miss the big spectacular to benefit the Hutchinson Zoo on 
August 3rd from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass

Monday Night Book Discussions
(written by Lewis Carroll)
Salina Public Library
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  7/08/2013

     I read this book when I was a child and I can honestly say that I didn't really appreciate it.  Perhaps it's because of my age when I read this book.  I was always reading books that were for older children.  So I'm so glad that I had a chance to re-read this book now.

     The situations, the incredible word play, and it's all packed into a fast paced read that doesn't disappoint.  There is a certain logic to what happens to Alice and the beings around her.  The reader is clued into this from the start.  So as you read you do buy into the story and enter this fantastical land which resembles our society and yet doesn't.  I think there has to be a set of similar circumstances that mirror our world in order to understand this other world.  As you read, you understand what will happen when she drinks things or eats things, or a myriad of other possibilities that occur when she meets various beings along the way. At the end of this story all the lose ends seem to be tied up and the reader wonders how there could possibly be another world for Alice to travel too.  But there is . . .

     Alice enters her mirror and finds another world that mirrors her own reality.  Nothing operates there like it should but once again the reader is clued into the logic early on, so once again the insanity makes sense.  One of my favorite parts of this story is when Alice becomes a queen and hangs out with the red queen and white queen.  The illustration in the book is priceless.  I felt like I was hanging out with the girls on the square.

     I think readers of all ages will enjoy this book.  My only caution would be that for younger children, it would be best to read this to them, so that a discussion can take place about what might be going on in the story to give them a better grasp of what the book is about.  I know that would have helped me understand the story and appreciate it more when I read it as a child.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Concert For The Cause

Concert For The Cause:
Featuring Carla Ayala and Jonathan Fleig
Avenue A Park
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

       Saturday's concert took an interesting turn with a variety of different musical styles represented.  There was hip-hop and rap provided by Skyylow, who had all ages on their feet and dancing in their seats.  His tunes were irresistible and whether you had rhythm or not, on Saturday night it was hard to sit still.

     Next up was The Guthrie Brothers Band.  Primarily a Christian band, their style was a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll.  A couple of their songs were familiar and some were not, but their music was a crowd pleaser.  I'm sure they will be performing at a lot more locations around Hutchinson in the upcoming months.  The crowd seemed to enjoy the constant change up of musical styles.

     Back for a second week and after a grueling mini tour, The Soapbox Troubadors returned to the stage at Avenue A Park.  Last Saturday, there was a song "Washed By The Water" that they played during their sound check that got lots of crowd pop, they played it during the concert and it got pop again.  Saturday they played it once more and once again, crowd pop. This is an amazing song.  I imagine it may be their signature song at some point because no concert featuring them should end before they play it.  The Guthrie Brothers Band sang this very same song during their set.  It was interesting to hear two different versions.

     Then it was time for Carla Ayala to step on stage.  Carla owned the stage.  She sang soulful ballads while seated at the side of the stage, connecting intimately with the audience and then jumped up on stage for faster paced songs.  She had incredible energy and range to her vocals.  Her lyrics and music were spot on.  The crowd had really settled in at this point and were very tuned in to the music, the overall stage performance, the whole experience of the evening.

     Jonathan Fleig wore two hats on Saturday.  He performed as the sound engineer and the headliner.  He made everyone's music sound great.  So, of course, when Fleig started his performance it was fitting that off in the distance there were the booms of fireworks.  (By the way, I believe this was planned in advance.)  Fleig's music is just what it is.  Jonathan puts it out there and the audience gets what it gets out of it.  I've heard Fleig play several different places and I'm always amazed at the comments afterwards.  One of his songs can mean so many different things to different people.  That's a gift very few performers have.

     Salvation Army was the featured non-profit this week.  Last week they raised close to $300.  I was a little concerned this week that with a rival music event across town that the crowds might be smaller and that the charity featured might not raise much money.  But there was no need to worry.  The crowds were bigger this week than in weeks past and the Salvation Army did very well in their fund raising efforts.

     New acts are added to the card every week, so if you miss a week, you miss a lot.  In the next few weeks, I have it on good authority that a 14 year old singing sensation will make her debut on the Avenue A Park stage.  You'll want to be there for that one. 

     On Saturday, the lineup will be Simone du Garfunk and John Rowdy.  The featured non-profit will be Boys and Girls Club.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Bradley Fair Summer Jazz Concert Series

 Bradley Fair Summer Jazz Concert Series:
Featuring Joseph Vincelli
Wichita, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

     The final concert of the Bradley Fair summer jazz concert series ended with a bang on July 4th.   Joseph Vincelli and his band took the stage at 7:30 p.m. and immediately got the crowd up and on their feet.  Vincelli played a variety of selections from his previous CD's as well as tunes from his new flute only CD.  People were tapping their toes, dancing in their seats and clapping their hands along with the music.  Many even took to the dance floor, down in front of the stage, to swing to the music.

     As always, a Joseph Vincelli concert brings out huge crowds and this evening did not disappoint.  I heard from the manager at Jason's Deli, three doors down from the plaza, that people began arriving at 5:30 a.m. to set up their chairs and stake out their places for the concert.  Several table were set up along the sidewalk next to the parking lot where people could sign up for prizes and pickup free flavored waters and fresh watermelon for the asking.

     Vincelli spent time mingling with the crowd before, during the intermission, and after the show by signing autographs and taking pictures.  He'd also had CD's available for purchase.  He always makes every person who comes to one of his concerts feel like he appreciates them and that every fan is important to him.  Vincelli played for two hours and played a rousing selection of patriotic songs, just as it turned dark, to end his show.

     Then it was time for the fireworks display.  The crowd had swelled at this point out into the parking lot and was intermingled with the cars, reaching half way around the lake to the north and south.  The fireworks display was amazing and lasted about a half hour.  A public display is always top notch, but this one I thought was exceptional.  While the fireworks were going off various songs were being played over the loudspeaker to coincide with the display.  One I thought was  appropriate was Neil Diamond's, "Coming to America".

     It was truly an exceptional evening of live music, food, friends, family, and fun.           

Monday, July 1, 2013

Concert For The Cause

Concert For The Cause:
Featuring Soapbox Trubadores and Ryan Coon
Avenue A Park
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

     Back by popular demand, Morgan Wilk and Sean Story showed up for a surprise visit to open Saturday's party in the park.  These two performers really got the park rockin' and rollin'.  The crowds of people in attendance must have known they were going to be there, or were hoping because crowd attendance was at an all time high.  The duo performed for about an hour and closed their set with a duet that they sang together and it was truly a highlight.  Lots of applause at the end of this song with people on their feet.

      Then it was time for the Soapbox Trubadores to take the stage.  When this group was performing their sound check they played through an entire song.  The crowd had begun to gather by then and folks were setting you their spots in the park.  The group got a standing ovation when they finished.  I thought this might be due to the fact that everyone was up and down getting settled in for the evening, although it was a pretty spectacular sound check.  Talk in the park was that everyone thought the show might have started early and then they realized it was the sound check.  Funny thing though,when they played the song during their set, it happened again.  No one was ready to leave at this point, this song, as well as all the others before it, were just that good. 

    As day turned to night, it was time for Ryan Coon to take the stage.  Ryan never disappoints.  He played all the favorites that we've come to know and love from Radio Kansas "Nightcrossings".  Ryan's music is just so full of feeling, the rhythms just wash over you and right into your soul.  And it wouldn't be a complete Ryan Coon experience without some new music and experiments with sound and technology.  Truly an amazing evening.

     The featured non-profit was The Salvation Army.  Morgan Wilk donated half of the proceeds from the sales of  her CD's Saturday night to The Salvation Army.  It was a banner night for food sales, The Salvation Army sold out of food which Wal Mart graciously provided and nearly all of the Pepsi products and water.  The Mel Hambleton van ran out of ice cream and popsicles.  

     Next week, the featured performers will be Carla Ayala and Jonathan Flieg and The Salvation Army will once again be the featured non-profit.  Who knows what surprises will be in store next week.  Bring the family or a group of friends, enjoy cold drinks or water along with supper and there's even dessert.  Add in some fantastic music and a chance to see friends and neighbors.  You don't want to miss it.  If you miss a week of Concert For The Cause, you miss a lot!