Author returns to Springfield with new novel

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, March 24, 2015
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Springfield native Steve Yates, the award-winning writer of historical fiction about the Ozarks, will make three appearances in Springfield to promote his new novel, “The Teeth of the Souls.”

The book spans the four decades from the end of the Civil War to the 1906 Easter lynchings in Springfield. “The Teeth of the Souls” is a sequel to “Morkan’s Quarry,” set mainly in Springfield during the Civil War.

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Big tent of blues includes willing jazz musicians

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, March 20, 2015
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“It’s a universal language,” Bryce said. “If you can play the blues, you can play the blues with anybody.”

This big-tent aspect is what Mezzelo enjoys about blues, in contrast to the current trend in much of jazz, which has become more of an academic pursuit, he said. Mezzelo pursues his inviting brand of jazz at a jam Wednesdays at the Dugout, and with his jazz group, the Triptet, which has been invited to perform in July at the ARC Jazz Festival at the Blue Room of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City.

“Pretty much everything I play has some blues, somewhere,” Mezzelo said. “This is how I explain jazz, the way I play it: I play it like blues with more chords.”

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LUX: Building a small empire of drums, synth, songs

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, March 13, 2015
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Ivy Schulte and Jake Wesley Rogers.

Ivy Schulte and Jake Wesley Rogers.

“At first it’s terrifying using a computer onstage. Everyone can relate to how computers cannot be reliable sometimes,” (Jake) Rogers said, adding that operator error also can cause unpleasant surprises. It’s just a matter of learning from experience, he said.

“Now I think a computer is one of the most powerful musical instruments there is. You can do anything,” he said.

Looking ahead, Rogers and (Ivy) Schulte have a few goals for their music: Make an EP, play festivals, keep writing songs and play music full time.

“I think it’s attainable for us,” Schulte said, putting on a little grin. “We just have to keep building our small empire.”

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Temple Israel celebrates new rabbi

Rabbi Barbara Block reviews a section of the Torah. “We have the Torah, but the beauty of Torah is the interpretation. Whether you’re Orthodox or Reform, there’s always interpretation.” Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader

Rabbi Barbara Block reviews a section of the Torah. “We have the Torah, but the beauty of Torah is the interpretation. Whether you’re Orthodox or Reform, there’s always interpretation.” Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, March 7, 2015
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Rabbi Block said she’s mindful of the fact that Temple Israel is the only synagogue in the Springfield area; it must accommodate worshipers from many perspectives and cultures of Judaism — including Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements. While this practice of “big-tent Judaism” may seem challenging, for Rabbi Block, it’s an enriching experience.

The longstanding tradition of interpreting the Torah, the foundational text of Judaism, encourages a diversity of views, and it fosters deeper relationships among worshipers, she said. This dialogue takes place among congregants in variously scheduled study sessions.

“One of the beautiful things is you get to know the other people in your community through this discussion in a way that you never do sitting in a service or chatting after the service,” she said. “You get to know people in a deep way, who they are, where they’re coming from. We don’t have to enforce any kind of uniformity.”

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New band: Everybody shines without getting in the way

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, March 6, 2015
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Second Time Around, from left: Ernie Bedell, Angelia King, Adam Buker and Richard Allen. Photo credit: Marty Jones

Second Time Around, from left: Ernie Bedell, Angelia King, Adam Buker and Richard Allen. Photo credit: Marty Jones

The songs became vehicles for (Angelia) King’s expressive voice tinged with gospel, (Ernie) Bedell’s fluid guitar-like lines, and (Adam) Buker’s knotty, blues-spiced phrases. To make room for everyone, (Richard) Allen stepped back from his active, driving funk style, instead laying down spare patterns but maintaining a heavy beat.

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Out of Eden goes social, eating fruit of the tree of rock

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Feb. 27, 2015
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Tiffany René Ellis of Out of Eden. Photo credit: Chet Smith

Tiffany René Ellis of Out of Eden. Photo credit: Chet Smith

Last Friday, as forecasts proclaimed a descent into an icy hell, Out of Eden made an offer on Facebook: The first 10 people through the door at Cody’s South would receive a free can of de-icer.

This kind of timely, quirky engagement with fans is part of the plan for the omnivorous cover band, guitarist Rus Weatherby said.

“We’re looking for ways, like the de-icer, as crazy as that was, to get one-on-one with our fans,” he said. On March 7 at Cartoons, they plan to pause in the middle of a set to ask listeners to take an instant poll on Facebook to determine the next song. They also hand out free tickets with perks for any show, and they want to try a flash mob if they can find the right place and clear legal hurdles, he said.

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‘Pinocchio Jr.’ retells classic Disney tale

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Feb. 26, 2015
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Maceo Cortezz as Geppetto, left, and Ella Mauzey as Pinocchio in “My Son Pinocchio Jr.” at Springfield Little Theatre.Photo credit: Gerry Averett)

Maceo Cortezz as Geppetto, left, and Ella Mauzey as Pinocchio in “My Son Pinocchio Jr.” at Springfield Little Theatre.Photo credit: Gerry Averett)

… Director Jessica Palmer noted that Geppetto is a wholesome character, and Pinocchio’s lying is not a willful thing. Even so, when Geppetto gets his wish to have a real boy, he’s bewildered that he can’t have a perfect boy, setting up a father-son failure to communicate.

“Sometimes situations are misunderstood, and we immediately decide that’s the person to blame, instead of really listening,” she said. “That’s the conflict between Geppetto and Pinocchio: basically, not listening.”

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Rare convergence empowers Mahler’s Symphony No. 2

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Feb. 20, 2015
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Classical music fans know about the greatness of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, the Resurrection Symphony, and what a rare treat it is to hear it live.

Not just greatness in the historical sense or the sheer mass of the undertaking, but especially the wide-ranging emotional intensity of the work. This power on a large scale elevates the work to the level of a life-changing experience, a once-in-a-generation opportunity, said Kyle Wiley Pickett, Springfield Symphony music director.

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Music makes its mark on magic of ‘The Tempest’

Rehearsal of “The Tempest” at Springfield Contemporary Theatre. From left: Todd Osbern, Jeff Gouge and Jonna Kae Volz, who plays Ariel, “an airy spirit.”Photo: Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader

Rehearsal of “The Tempest” at Springfield Contemporary Theatre. From left: Todd Osbern, Jeff Gouge and Jonna Kae Volz, who plays Ariel, “an airy spirit.”Photo: Ed Peaco/For the News-Leader

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Feb. 13, 2015
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When Shakespeare placed songs in his plays, he wrote words but no notes.

That means every time a Shakespeare production encounters a song, somebody gets to write music, potentially anything that fits the moment, as long as the director likes it.

The folks at Springfield Contemporary Theatre are having a great time collectively developing music and movement for songs, effects and incidental passages of “The Tempest.” …

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Todd Osbern of the acoustic rock band Canto 17 has been leading the musical efforts of the production. As he described his process, it sounded much like the way many rock bands build a song, Osbern starting the ball rolling, then with input from everybody, nudging the piece toward a satisfying result.

“It’s all organically developed,” Osbern said. “We came in, and we had this thing, and it just started growing. Really in the last couple run-throughs is when it started clicking. We were watching the actors, basically just playing off the emotions we saw on the stage.”

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Mardi Gras pub crawl adds venues, transport

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Feb. 12, 2015
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For a pub crawl, more pubs make for a better crawl, as long as crawlers can get around in a safe and efficient way.

This year, proprietors on Commercial Street and downtown have achieved this ideal of movable revelry for the Queen City Mardi Gras Pub Crawl.

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