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, August 31, 2015


      Concerts For The Cause ended its 2015 Summer Season in Avenue A Park this past Saturday with a benefit for Reno County Head Start.  The event packed the park with families and children numbering in the hundreds, as all of the school districts in Reno County showed up to represent their schools.

      The lines formed early for hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and drinks.  There were tables set up for face painting, arts and crafts where you could make paper instruments from paper plates; chalk drawings graced the stage, the overflow ramp and the sidewalk surrounding the river, bubbles flew about in the air, the Hutchinson High School cheer squad was everywhere interacting with the kids and helping out with various activities. The cheer squad even lead the various area schools Head Start programs in a cheer, individually and together as a group.  There was even a roving Minion circulating throughout the crowd.


     And there was music.  Stevie Warren of Road 23 started off the evening with The Star Spangled Banner and she was spot on.  This is an incredibly hard song to sing and very few people can sing it well.  There was no hesitation in her voice and she hit every chord of the song.  It was amazing and the crowd chatter over across the river from the stage was all about how she had made everyone one so proud with her rendition of the song.  A lot of hooting and hollering after the song should have also showed her how much the crowd enjoyed her efforts.

     Up first was Hutchinson's own, Brody Baker.  Baker is one of the most requested performers from this season, and even though he was a bit congested, he was in fine voice.  He did a variety of covers, including one that has become a crowd favorite, his version of I'm Yours by Jason Mraz.  The song has a calypso beat to it which was perfect for a summer evening.  He finished up his set with an original song, Man Of The Hour.  Baker, unfortunately, doesn't have any other upcoming shows scheduled in the near future.  But I'm sure we haven't heard the last of him.  Many performers are winding down their schedules now as concert season is drawing to a close. 

     For the past couple of years, Concerts For The Cause has had a very dedicated volunteer who has shown up at every show to help set up before the show and tear down after the show.  His name is Charles and he plays guitar and sings.  He's been asked on more than one occasion to perform for the CFTC audience and finally, this past Saturday, Charles performed live on stage.  He did a couple of cover tunes, including Buy Me A Mercury by Alan Jackson which had the crowd singing along with the words.  Charles can be seen performing outside various business's on Third Thursday.

     Cosmo, the spray-paint artist who had the crowd entranced at last year's Kansas State Fair, and then returned to Hutchinson for The Comic Con and Smallville Festival this year, painted a large painting featuring a small boy and Superman symbol on it.  He donated that painting to Concerts For The Cause with the proceeds to be donated to a worthy organization. CFTC chose to donate that painting and its proceeds to Reno County Head Start who held a drawing to give it away during the concert.  And one lucky person in the audience won the painting.

     Finally it was time for Road 23.  This group performed on live TV on The Brett and Sierra Show the Thursday before the party in the park.  They quickly became the most shared video performance that The Brett and Sierra Show has ever had in its history.

     Stevie Warren is the lead singer for this group and she started off strong.  The evening was winding down, twilight was creeping in, everyone had eaten and participated in activities, and it was time to sit back, relax and just let the music wash over the gathered crowd.  In fact, more people joined the group in the park which was nearly bursting with folks at this point, to hear Road 23 perform.  They did an amazing job with favorite covers which covered the genre's of rock, folk, country and my favorite, music from The Eagles.  There was even a Sinatra tune in the mix called Fly Me To The Moon.  Road 23 performed on Sunday at The Block Party at Cornerstone in Winfield and they'll be at the Nehemiah Festival in Smithville, Missouri in September.

     All in all a perfect evening with a cool breeze, autumn like temperatures, food, folks, and fun.  Hutchinson really turned out for the final show of the Concerts For The Cause 2015 season.  An amazing time was had by all and even better, the community has gotten the word out about the Head Start program, what the program is all about, hopefully reaching even more potential students who could make use of Head Start's services.  


Friday, August 28, 2015

Rock For A Reason/CFTC-McPherson

     It was another first for Concerts For The Cause on Saturday night, as the organization had two concerts going on in two different towns in two different parks at approximately the same time.  And somehow, it all worked.

James Lowe, one of the organizers of the event, poses with Conquer The Pacific
      At 5:00 pm, Saturday, the McPherson concert kicked off the evening with Conquer The Pacific, a band created by students at Central Christian College.  This heavy metal band consisting of bandmates: Aaron Hoover, Alan Barker, Dereck Limones, and Victoria Rigel, and would seem to be a bit out of the realm of possibility coming from a Christian college school.  But the band assured me that the powers that be at the college are enthusiastic about music of all kinds and are solidly behind the bands efforts.  They've even recorded their EP at the college in the on campus studio.  The set that they played was a short one but all four of the bandmates were troupers to the end.  Conquer The Pacific had to contend with a blazing hot sun beating down on them as the band-shell in Lakeside Park faces west and they were the first band on the bill for the evening.  Their crowd was smaller, too, as folks fought for shady spots.  The crowd might have been small but they were enthusiastic, and solidly behind the band's music.  Check out their Facebook page for a listing of upcoming dates.

Trent Ferguson, one of the organizers of the event
     Then it was time for McPherson's hometown band, Inflection.  During sound check, one of the band members did some screaming into the mic and pronounced that he was pleased and the sound was awesome.  I wondered what we were in for at that point.  I was pleasantly surprised when the band began their set.  They did a few covers and a few original songs all laced together in a wonderful tapestry of thoughtful listening and songs that got the crowd dancing.  It would be hard to describe their sound.  All I know is that if you hear them, you'll find something within their set that you'll like.  One of the original songs was a two part song, The Purity and The Poison.  They played The Purity and it was like nothing I've ever heard.  I really enjoyed listening to it.  Rice County Rockfest is coming up September 26 and Inflection is one of the bands on the bill.  Check them out there and you might just get to hear The Purity and The Poison in its entirety.

     At this point in the evening, the shadows were getting longer, the shade was more readily available, the park began filling up.  A game of Frisbie broke out, crowds began to gather, people were sitting in their cars in the parking lot across from the waterpark, another group started a cookout at one of the shelters, and there were bicyclists in abundance riding on the paths through the park taking it all in.

     And of course, VOS, Victims of Spotlight, was there to take their turn on stage.  This group has just an awesome stage presence.  They show up in their every day walking around clothes and you'll see them mingle with the other bands, the crowd, each other.  Then at some point they'll disappear and when they return they're dressed in their stage clothes, there's this excitement in the air that it's just about showtime.  I've seen a rare few bands that do this and it sends electricity through the crowd.  You just know that something special is about to happen in just a few minutes.  One of the songs that has become a VOS staple is the song Twilight Zone, and the crowd always waits for that one moment in the song when Twinkie jumps off the stage.  It was discussed before VOS' set if Twinkie would jump off the edge of the band-shell.  He spent a lot of time up on the edge singing.  Scary stuff.  But he joked, before the band went on, that he wanted to give the crowd what they wanted and he thought they probably didn't want him to jump that far.  He walked out into the crowd instead.  VOS will also be playing at Rice County Rockfest, September 26, so if you missed their set on Saturday, there's still a chance to catch their show live.

     Last but not least, Soapbox Troubadors.  This band sounded so smooth, polished and professional.  They are truly amazing.  They've played quite a few dates in McPherson this past year and I never get tired of hearing their songs.  They have a unique way about them.  The band consists of: Frankie Shayne Pearman, DJ Chastain, Ryan Coon, Jason Pearman and Dakota Pearman.  They describe their music as Americana with a Christian influence.  And that's pretty accurate.  It's a type of music that you just don't hear much any more and when you do hear it, it calls your soul.  They ended their set with their original song Home.  I never get tired of listening to this song and no matter how many times I hear it, I tear up.  It was getting dark as they closed out their set in Lakeside Park, but I'm sure their were lots of tears on the faces of the crowd.  They've played this in Avenue A Park, in Hutchinson, and in other venues and it always seems to strike a chord, then the tears begin to flow.  It truly is a feel good song, especially with the tears.  If you'd like to share some happy tears with a crowd of folks, you can catch The Soapbox Troubadors, September 19, at Nehemiah Fest in Smithville Missouri and The Flag Theatre in Hutchinson, October 3.

     This was the very first Rock For A Reason event and it was hosted by Trent Ferguson, who is a member of the band Inflection and did double duty by taking care of the sound for all the bands on this evening.  Concert For A Cause was honored to be part of this event that benefited the McPherson County Food Bank.  


Friday, August 21, 2015


      Fall was in the air as The Theatre Guild started up the grill on Saturday night and bands began their sound checks on stage.  It was a beautiful night for a Concert For The Cause benefit concert in the park.

     Alex Cartwright began the evening by doing double duty, not only by singing The National Anthem but then opening the show.  Cartwright sounded amazing this past Saturday night.  She had just returned from a trip to Minnesota and landed on our stage with very little prep time.  Cartwright did an amazing job with a set that included original tunes and cover songs that she weaved together into a tapestry of words and song.  I love her voice, it's very rich and full.  One of her original songs, Nice Girls, had the line: nice girls don't punch people in the face, which got everyone's attention fully focused on the song, paying attention to the music and the lyrics.  She did a rendition of Bonnie Raitt's Angel From Montgomery that was just gold.  She followed both of these song's up with Little Grace by Jenn Bostich that was wonderful.

     I spoke with Alex after her set and asked about upcoming dates, right now there is nothing in the works as she is re-evaluating the direction she wants to take with her music and is working on some original tunes.  I'm sure we'll hear more from her once the spring/summer season of 2016 begins.

     Conner Eaves and a new vocal discovery of his, Taylor Engle took to the stage.  I've seen Eaves and his various bands: The Balkans, Earth to Matilda, and a few other incarnations but this was the first time I'd seen him sing with Engle.  He played acoustic guitar and he and Engle harmonized.  It had a very folk music feel to it.  The crowd enjoyed the brief set and I would really like to hear these two sing together again.  I'm not sure if that is the plan just yet, but Eaves and Engle have the sound and the look.  I hope they continue to sing together and develop this folk music style more fully because the two of them are amazing together.

     Then it was time for the headliner for the evening, Morgan Wilk.  Wilk was accompanied by one of the members of her new band, Sean Story.  Story is very busy in his own right as he is also the lead singer for VOS: Victims of Spotlight.   Wilk started her set with a well-known cover tune, Pontoon.  She gave it her own twist and I'll have to say that I liked her version a lot more than the original.  It had a smoothness to it that the original doesn't have.  Then it was a variety of different cover tunes that ranged from country to folk to classic rock.  Wilk and Story harmonized and accompanied themselves on guitar, throughout their set.  No one wanted the evening to end.

     Wilk doesn't have any upcoming shows that she could say were definite right now.  She is working on some original music, planning time for the new band to get together and gel, and deciding on the direction the band wants to take in the future.

     Next week the non-profit will be First Call For Help.  The musical acts for the evening will be Biscuit Miller and BTW-Beyond the Worship, a gospel group. 

Friday, August 14, 2015


     Another Saturday night in Avenue A Park and it's time for another Concert For The Cause event.  Tonight's event was a benefit for The Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Center.

Emma Lou
      The evenings entertainment began with a rousing rendition of The National Anthem sung by Emma Lou of Emma Lou and the Rednecks.  Both the ladies took to the stage after the anthem and the evening's entertainment began.  This group sang primarily country tunes and their set only lasted about 30 minutes which simply wasn't long enough.  After their set was over the ladies were off to Metropolitan Coffee to continue entertaining for the evening.

Haven Alexandra
      Next up was Haven Alexandra.  This is a new act for Concert For The Cause and I wasn't sure what to expect from her.  Turns out her sound is a mix of country, folk and indie styles.  Haven writes a lot of her own material which she combines with a few cover tunes throughout her set.  Her voice is crisp and clear and sounds amazing out in the open air.  She'd sound great anywhere but after hearing her in the open air, I'd say outdoors festivals are where she shines.  Haven's voice attracted passersby to the park as folks drifted into the park from nearby restaurants and bars. Haven performed at Smedley's Tavern after she finished her set in the park.

Carcinogen Racehorse
      And this leads us to the headliner and final band for the evening, Carcinogen Racehorse.  This is also a new band for Concert For The Cause.  Once again I wasn't sure what to expect from this group.  To say that their sound is unique is an understatement.  I'm not sure how you'd classify it.  Take rock, folk, country, and punk, throw it in a blender and Carcinogen Racehorse is what you'll get.  I'm not a big fan of punk but if you were to take that influence out of their music, you'd lose something truly special.  The crowd seemed to grow as this group played and once their set had come to a close, the crowd was slow to leave.

Goofing off before the show
      The evenings non-profit, the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center, did a brisk business throughout the evening.  The crowd seemed small sitting in the grass at the park at the beginning of the evening but that was due to the fact that so much of the crowd was at the concession stand purchasing food and drinks. As the evening wore on the crowd transitioned to the grassy area across from the gazebo to focus more fully on the evening's entertainment.

     If you missed the concert on Saturday, you can still hear these performers in other venues across Kansas.  Haven Alexandra will perform at Wazup Coffee Shop in Derby on August 29 and at No. 7 Coffeehouse in Wellington on September 5.  Don't miss Carcinogen Racehorse when they play Kirby's Beer Store on August 20 and the Potwin Car Show on August 22.

     Next week Concert For The Cause will be collecting donations to benefit The Hutchinson Theatre Guild.  The evening's entertainment will feature Alex Cartwright, Morgan Wilke with her new band, and The Balkans will also perform.  If you haven't attended a CFTC event yet this summer, time is running out as there are only three more shows left in the summer season.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015


     This past Thursday, in McPherson, Concert For The Cause held a special impromptu show at Hopp's SnoShack on the corner of Elm and Euclid.  It proved to be a terrific venue where neighbors from around town gathered together to support the Girl Scouts and enjoy some unusual music provided by Chris Arpad.

     Burgess Martin and Josh Keeling opened the evening's festivities with a twist on Martin's two instruments at once technique and his guitar tap method.  Tonight was a debut of sorts, as Keeling also played two instruments at one time.  Martin has long played two guitars at the same time and has even played guitar with a bow string, or using his special guitar tap method; however, tonight Keeling played bass guitar and acoustic guitar at the same time as Martin accompanied him by playing two guitars at the same time as recorded drum beats rounded out the musical set.  What a great way to kick off the evening.

Burgess Martin
Josh Keeling
     Then it was time for Chris Arpad to take the stage.  Arpad played a couple of unusual silver kettle style drums. He single handedly transformed a small landlocked town in Kansas into a beach front community where summer never ends, as he entertained the crowd with a variety of summer styled vacation songs.  Think anything Jimmy Buffet.  Every song he played had a smooth Calypso Island beat to it, including some not so typical tunes such as Smooth by Santana and Just my Imagination by The Temptations.  At one point a conga line broke out and snaked its way throughout the crowd.  Near the end of the evening the space in front of the stage filled up with various crowd members who just couldn't contain themselves any longer and had to groove to the beat.

Chris Arpad
       The Girl Scouts were selling freshly popped buttered popcorn and had tickets for sale to win a variety of donated prizes.  Of course snocones were available in abundance from Hopps SnoShack.  At the end of the evening, names were drawn for the prizes.  Arpad was chosen by the Girl Scouts to draw the names of the prize winners and he had a large family following in attendance at the event.  The first name her drew was his mother, Elaine.  Her name was pulled out and he drew another, which turned out to be his sister, Lisa.  The crowd began to laugh.  Her name was pulled out and he drew another which turned out to be his aunt, Alberta, to which the crowd began to chant "it's rigged" and the laughter continued.  So Arpad tried it one more time and drew out the name of another family member, Gina.  He laughed and turned the duties over to one of the event organizer's, James Lowe, and one of the Girl Scout members to continue on with the duties of picking winners for the prizes.

      It was a lovely evening of food, fun, music, community and families.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, money was raised to continue the work of the Girl Scouts, and what a treat to hear Chris Arpad's unusual musical stylings.

     Arpad, a McPherson native who now lives in California, was in town for the annual high school reunion weekend.  While in town, he was scheduled to play a private party on Saturday night at The McPherson Country Club for reunion weekend and also for the annual back to school ice cream social at St. Joseph's Catholic School on Sunday.  On his way back home to California, Arpad has an engagement in Palm Springs and is looking forward to the possibility of playing at The Goodwill Games in 2016.

     Concert For The Cause will be helping to host a show in McPherson at the band shell in Lakeside Park on Saturday, August 22 as a benefit for The McPherson Food Bank.

Friday, August 7, 2015


     The CFTC season is winding down for the summer while the crowds seem to be growing.  Saturday night's crowd proved to be one of the bigger one's this season and the non-profit for the evening, Cat Snip Society, collected a record sum in donations.

     While the evening was warm and humid, after all it's summertime, there was a nice breeze and the temperatures were bearable.  Hutchinson turned out in force to pack Avenue A Park, sip cold drinks, relax and eat some amazing food while listening to some great music.

     The evening's line-up began with Bob Colladay performing selected tunes from his new CD, Bobulele.  Colladay always brings his crowd with him simply because they never know what he's going to do and they don't want to miss out.  Nothing's worse than hearing about his antics second hand.  On this night Colladay didn't disappoint.  He opened his set with a tribute to recently departed wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper.  He even wore a kilt in Piper's honor.  After his set, he remarked to those in attendance up by the visitors center that he has a variety of kilt's at home and he wore the one he wore as it was more somber and respectful of his tribute to Piper.

     Then it was time for Simone Du Garfunk.  Tammy and Bob Colladay team up as this group and Tammy's voice rang out over the park. Tammy's voice was in fine form on Saturday.  She never sounded better. All eyes were riveted to the stage throughout the groups set.  It's art for your ears when Simone Du Garfunk perform on stage.

     Then it was time for the long anticipated debut of Rice County Line.  This group did not disappoint.  They were in fine form as they played a variety of older country tunes that had a bluesy, rock, folk quality to them.  Eagles tunes were a popular favorite on Saturday night.  I know the band played for quite a while, but really no one wanted them to stop. When they finally announced that the end of the show was near, a collective sigh and the words "oh, no" could be heard around the park.  When the band heard the collective sigh they immediately announced that the party would continue at The Rusty Needle as an after party.  The crowd seemed satisfied with that announcement and began packing up to head to The Rusty Needle.

     The Cat Snip Society continued selling food even though the evening's music had ended as the crowd was still hungry.  They had the usual hamburgers and hotdogs, also cookies and other sweets, as well as a Mexican food treat.  All of this translated into dollars for the organization.

     This coming Saturday music returns to Avenue A Park to benefit The Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Center.  The line-up includes Emma Lou and the Rednex, Haven Alexandra, and Carcinogen Racehorse, a Wichita band.  While Emma Lou and the Rednex has played CFTC before, the other two bands are new to the CFTC line-up.  This should prove to be quite interesting as I'm not sure what style of music either band plays.  It's a mystery, so come out to the park and see the case solved.