Young Composer Featured at Academy

A concert preview by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

The music of the brilliant young area musician Wyatt Boggs will be featured in a concert Thursday Evening at the Richland Academy of the Arts in downtown Mansfield. At 17, Boggs is navigating just as packed a schedule as the editors of this blog, so we’re postponing a full interview until later this summer (early August is our target), but this event is too good to not preview. Boggs channels his restless energy into music of an often brooding intensity, often cut by jazzy wit. No question about it: he’s the real thing.

Wyatt Boggs 1I had the brief opportunity to pause in my schedule of work, writing workshops, poetry readings, and concert reviews to hear part of a rehearsal for the upcoming show. The Richland Academy of the Arts is hosting this week an honors band made up of student musicians from around the area, and they are working on premiering a set of original works by Boggs. And based on what I heard (and saw in the other scores the composer showed me), we’re witnessing the emergence of a vital new voice in the arts.

Wyatt Boggs 2The works being premiered are Galactic Fanfare, which arises from a questioning gesture into a glorious blaze; Pets, a playful suite of mischievous portraits; Pandora’s Box, a fascinating conceptual piece that unleashes extended instrumental techniques and strange dissonances; Prometheus, commissioned for the concert, which combines rich chords and otherwise sparse textures; and Rage, a dark, hypnotic work that adds synthesizer to the full band.

The concert will take place Thursday at 6:00 pm at the Richland Academy of the Arts, 75 N Walnut St, Mansfield, but will be preceded by music from the Euterpe Jazz Band, in which Boggs also performs.

Jimmy Warner Band Headlines Final Friday Concert Tonight

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No stranger to the Brickyard, the Jimmy Warner Band returns tonight to headline June’s Final Friday event in Mansfield. Last year, Warner roamed the brickyard with a Go Pro camera attached to his guitar while his band continued to jam in the background. Video courtesy of Downtown Mansfield, Inc. is below.

Even if he doesn’t pull off a similar stunt this year, the band’s bluesy rock will be memorable and fun. Learn more about their sound and their history in this Mid Ohio Rock Show interview with Tommy Barnes, also recorded last year in the Brickyard.

Add some flavor to your summer with Gringo Stew in the brickyard

Blending Tex mex, swing and southern rock, Gringo Stew mixes of all types of bar room and honky tonk music for northern Ohio crowds. Their bio includes a dash of this and a little of that – plus experience playing around Boston, Nashville, Austin and other cities of musical renown.

You can hear them on June 30 at Mansfield’s final Friday show in the brickyard, or check them out in the video below.

Mansfield: We Are Creating

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From an alley, Mansfield, Ohio

I visited New York City last weekend and spent enough hours wandering through the boroughs that I began to compare it to our town. We are not New York and we know this. We are not New York and are yet happy for that. We are not New York, we are Mansfield, Ohio, and we are creating.

There are parts of New York City where each breath I drew was art. It was not merely a painted canvas, a vibrating string, or an astute analogy, but a sense of ecstatic freshness. The world as I knew it was new again, shimmering. I could feel my own creativity roiling just beneath the surface of my composure, and my mind, surprised with new agility. In the presence of others’ imaginations, mine ran giddy and wild. And the people standing around me, they were ready to experience everything I had to give, absorb my offerings and further the cycle of ideas.

In Mansfield, we artists breathe rust. We breathe poverty and establishment and someone else’s idea of what our town should be. When we experience the moment of collaborative elation, we have worked damn hard to get there. We work in factories and gas stations and chain retail stores where we lock our art in the break room and keep it to ourselves until we clock out. Art is not an employer, but not a hobby either — it is an unstoppable drive we have, the one that reminds us we’re alive, the one we must have to stay alive. Continue reading

Self-harmony artist Ricky Mitchell to sing solo at June’s Final Friday in the Brickyard

I watch a show called Orphan Black on BBC America in which Tatiana Maslany plays at least 10 different characters, all of whom are clones of the main character named Sarah. There’s Beth, Allison, Cosima, Helena and many others.  Despite each characters’ unique looks and personality traits, Maslany convincingly plays them all and sometimes even shares scenes with herself.

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Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Allison, Helena and Cosima

The acting is so realistic that when I watch interviews with the cast of Orphan Black, I often – for just a second – think, “I wonder why they didn’t include the actor who plays Cosima in this interview. Or Allison.” But she’s sitting right there. It’s Maslany. They’re all Maslany.

Where am I going with this Orphan Black story? And why am I writing about it here on this local culture blog?

After spending an hour on Ricky Mitchell’s YouTube channel, I imagine I’ll have a similar split-second moment of confusion when I see him on stage at June’s Final Friday Brickyard concert in Downtown Mansfield.

Mitchell makes these one-man, self-harmony cover song videos where he self-records every individual track of well-known songs from bands like Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Blue Oyster Cult. Then he combines all the tracks, and the song sounds just like the original.

In the videos, you see split screen clips of Mitchell singing, playing the drums, playing the bass, playing the guitar, and then another guitar, and so on until you end up with as many as a dozen Mitchells on the screen all playing individual instruments and filling out the full sound of the song.

So when I see him on stage, don’t be surprised if – for just a second – I say, “Where’s the Mitchell who plays bass? Or where’s the Mitchell who sings harmony?”

You’ll look at me like I’m crazy and I’ll remember: That’s right. It’s Mitchell.  They’re all Mitchell.

Watch what I mean in the video below, and come down to the Brickyard in June to see (the one and only) Ricky Mitchell play live.

Monica Robins and the Ninja Cowboys to Close May’s Final Friday at the Brickyard

May’s final Friday concert lineup offers plenty to love for fans of folk, rock and country music. But there’s also a special draw for fans of WKYC news out of Cleveland. The closing act, Ninja Cowboys is led by Monica Robins, an Emmy award winning broadcast journalist for the NBC affiliate out of Cleveland.

You’ve likely seen her covering local and national news for years, and now you can see Robins on stage singing classic tunes in downtown Mansfield.

With Ninja Cowboys, Robins is accompanied by Sid Solomon on guitar,  Jim Bacha on bass, Jim McShane on keys, and Deke Kumler on the drums. The group is known for rocking venues around the Cleveland area all year long.

Watch a sneak peak of the band below and plan to come for the party in May.

Steps in the Journey: “Strangers on the Earth” at the Cleveland International Film Festival

A film review by Mark Sebastian Jordan.

Life is onward.

As I drove from my home in rural Lucas, Ohio, to the Cleveland International Film Festival to see Strangers on the Earth, Tuesday, April 4th, I received a text that I had just become an uncle (well, actually, great-uncle) again. My niece Michelle, the closest thing this crusty bachelor will ever have to a daughter, had just given birth to her first baby, a son named Javier. A new life beginning a journey.

On the return trip a few hours later, I received another message: My beloved friend Kimberly Orsborn had passed away in hospice care. She steered me to the newspaper job that gave me a port in the storm in 2007 when I was transitioning out of the corporate world and into the creative world. In 2009, Kim left that small-town rag and began life as a free-lance writer. That same year, she was diagnosed with a malignant, fast-moving breast cancer. The doctors gave her months. She made it eight years.

Kim beat the odds to live many more seasons because she kept moving, kept doing, kept finding ways around the fog of “chemo-brain.” Before she was done, she said that cancer had ended up being one of the great gifts of her life, something that made her stop and relish every moment of her existence, before continuing on, more aware of her surroundings than before. It deepened her journey.

SOTE the way

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the pilgrimage path featured in the documentary “Strangers on the Earth,” presented this month at the Cleveland International Film Festival. (Photos by Kayla Arend courtesy of Fisterra Productions.)

So, a film about a journey is a good forum for savoring the life in us and around us. But how many feet can walk a road before it becomes a stampede? Strangers on the Earth is a film by Tristan Cook about the ancient pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region of northern Spain. Dedicated to the Christian Saint James (who is said to be buried in Compostela), the way actually co-opted an older Celtic sacred pathway and Roman trading route running from the Pyrenees Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
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