Dining profile: Tymeout Sports Bar and Grill

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 20, 2014
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This salmon dish, known as a deconstructed spring roll, takes the ingredients of a spring roll and turns them inside out. (Photo: Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader)

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Ty Ngo. Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader

When Ty Ngo asked a business friend for advice on how to design a restaurant, he said, “Just build a place you want to have.”

For Ngo, that meant couches for relaxing with friends, a big bar, free pool and X-Box, and lots of commercial beers and craft beers. … And good food. …

Deconstructed spring roll: This salmon dish, an original by Cousins that will appear as a special, takes the ingredients of a spring roll and turns them inside out. Immediately, the aromas of salmon and sesame oil (from the bed of Asian slaw) had a transportive effect. Three sauces created a playground of flavors: soy-maple demi-glace, thick, rich and semi-sweet; wasabi aoli, mildly hot and pungent; and the sriracha honey sauce. A stand-up wonton completes the deconstruction.

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Hamburger Cows: There’s nothing we won’t try

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 15, 2014
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Steve Ames, Bo Brown and Jeff Sowards unite in the love of harmony and an anything-goes repertoire that stretches from Conway Twitty to Prince.

They’re the Hamburger Cows, and they like to stretch their skills, take a few chances, and have some fun.

When the band is having fun, the audience usually is, too. That was the case at a recent Lindbergs show in which they gave a folk song a booster shot of soul and carried aloft the sad yearning of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” in spine-tingling call-and-answer passages. …

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Skinny Improv Co. dissolved, new group to take its place

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 15, 2014
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The acting company that established improv theater in Springfield 12 years ago has dissolved, and a new group has assembled to keep improv alive in the city.

The new Springfield Improv of roughly 30 performers, mostly from the old Skinny Improv, will hold a free grand-opening show on Sept. 6 to introduce an array of new and revised shows, Springfield Improv Executive Director Seth White said. …

Cage Match

One Springfield Improv offering, “Main Stage Show Presents Cage Match,” pits two teams in short-form and long-form games. The audience votes on each game, and a winner is declared at the end of the show. Amber Jones and Seth White explain:

Amber Jones. Photo credit: Ed Peaco

Amber Jones. Photo credit: Ed Peaco

Seth White. Photo credit: Ed Peaco

Seth White. Photo credit: Ed Peaco

Jones: “They have a really funny scoring system. It’s a bunch of pictures, and the audience picks what picture they want to score them, and the number of points is listed on the back.”

White: “We randomly change the numbers every time. So we don’t know what it’s worth.”

Jones: “It’s interactive for the audience. It’s fun in itself that the scoring is random.”

White: “You might score it a lemon. This week it’s worth 2 points; next week it’s worth 5.”

Jones: “Or the audience thinks a lemon is a low score, but it’s a high score. ”

White: “You can score a team a lemon or a can of Spam or an ostrich or — ”

Jones: ” — Juicy Fruit.”

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Haden leaves city a jazz legacy with bright moments

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 8, 2014
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Charlie Haden / News-Leader file photo

Charlie Haden, the great bassist who died last month, made an impression in Springfield as part of his family’s band back in the 1950′s, but his recent contributions to the city’s jazz community promise long-lasting rewards.

Randy Hamm, director of the Missouri State University Jazz Studies Program, came to know Haden during the conceptual stages of the MSU program and the first Springfield Jazz Festival, during the end of the last decade. Hamm also had a mind-blowing musical experience playing with Haden at that time. …

In 2009, Haden appeared at an important fundraiser for scholarships and equipment for the new program. MSU jazz ensembles provided entertainment for the event at the Kentwood Ballroom on campus. In addition, Hamm on alto saxophone and faculty member Kyle Aho on piano played as a duo.

Haden wasn’t planning on playing. He didn’t have his bass, and he was uncomfortable using other people’s equipment, Hamm said. However, after a couple of tunes by the duo, Haden stepped forward and joined Hamm and Aho.

“We let him call the tunes he wanted to play,” Hamm said. “One of the tunes that he called, which he had recorded several times, was ‘Body and Soul.’ ”

“I tell you, playing with Charlie Haden in that intimate setting, without a drummer — that Steinway in that room, the acoustics — it was one of the most rewarding musical experiences I’ve ever had.”

The three musicians had never played together as a trio. It was a leap of faith. “Just to call a tune, there was immediate, deep trust all around,” Hamm said.

He paused for a moment, looking for words:

“Playing with Charlie Haden must be what it feels like to ride on a magic carpet. His time, his intonation, his note choices, his rhythmic feel. It was gorgeous. I didn’t want to stop.”

The Jazz Studies Program has graduated its first group of musicians. The fifth annual Springfield Jazz Festival is Oct. 3.

Ed Peaco writes about locally grown Ozarks music for the News-Leader. Contact him at 417-413-9029 or EdPeaco@gmail.com.

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Production reveals highs, lows of Lady Day

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 7, 2014
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Angelia King

Somehow squeezing your own big voice into the less-is-more style of Billie Holiday to embody on stage this icon of American song. No pressure, of course.

How about making your acting debut at the same time?

Angelia King says she’s up to it.

She’s been memorizing lines and bringing out the voice of the central figure of “Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill,” which opens Friday at Springfield Contemporary Theatre. The show, directed by Rick Dines, continues through this weekend and the next two, finishing on Aug. 24.

“This has been a very straining, very draining experience, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. I’m looking forward to my first night,” King says.

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Dining profile: St. Michael’s

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 11, 2014
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The Russo family (from left): Austin, Joseph, Nick, Michael and Jenny. (Photo: Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader)

Amid the downtown bustle, the Russo family provides a place to unwind and eat well. The menu at St. Michael’s is simple and widely varied — burgers, sandwiches, wraps, pasta and salads — and the focus is on flavor.

Jenny Russo runs the day-to-day operation while her husband, Nick Russo, has a supporting role behind the scenes. Two of their three children contribute to the family business. Joseph, 17, works in the kitchen and 13-year-old Austin busses tables. Michael, 11, does not have a role as yet. …

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Backpacking for neophytes

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 7, 2014
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… Alyson Lumos, the cost-conscious backpacker who lives in Springfield, went to the school of hard knocks with the purchase of her first pack.

“I bought that pack and filled it to the brim and went for a backpacking adventure with some friends — and I almost died,” she said with a laugh. The pack, which she bought at a big-box outlet, cost $80, discounted from $160. It didn’t fit, and she was carrying about 60 pounds.

Later, she looked for a used pack. After a long search, she bought a Mountain Hardware pack, Harrier model. It cost $60 used (about $200 listed new). She has been using the pack for two years and is pleased with her purchase.

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Dining profile: Nicola’s

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 4, 2014
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Lamb shank with soft yellow-cornmeal polenta and spinach. Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader

Lamb shank with soft yellow-cornmeal polenta and spinach. Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader

Lamb shank: This dish had a firm and sturdy consistency. The challenge is to cook the lamb so it’s properly done but not to the point where the meat falls off the bone, Gilardi said. The sauce is made with the meat’s juices, red wine, garlic, onion, carrot and celery, seasoned with oregano and thyme. Alone, the sauce had an intense flavor. On the lamb, it was just right. The dish came with soft yellow-cornmeal polenta with parmesan cheese, accompanied by a slice of carrot along with spinach with olive oil and slices of garlic.

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For Randall Shreve, vaudeville is a state of mind

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 1, 2014
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Randall Shreve. Photo credit: Jade Howard

… While vaudeville suggests song, dance, variety and comedy acts, Shreve’s approach brings a jolt of stage presence, vocal power and dynamic arrangements, along with a shadow of mystery. Some listeners say his songs are creepy, he said.

“If it’s screaming, or the loud, intense moments, it’s just that intensity that I always sing with, just feeling the music, feeling the song,” Shreve said. “So, I think the music is definitely intense, and then there’s the creepy element. That’s something that I don’t think I can explain.”

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Riff Raff: Band has fun, and so does the crowd

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, July 25, 2014
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Riff Raff (from left): Kirk Easley, Ed Jesson, Brent Easley, Steve Call, Jason O’Dell and Bill Penninger. Photo credit: Marty Jones)

Sad songs became a theme in a recent show at Misty’s, with four morose numbers in the first two sets — two of them requests.

One of those requests was Lynryd Skynyrd’s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” lamenting a man’s hard life and lonely death and celebrating his talent for playing the blues. Easley sang it with just his own guitar as accompaniment, and Ed Jesson lent his voice for an emotional finish. At that point, most of the eyes in the bar, including those of the pool players, were fixed on the bandstand.

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