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.

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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William Trent Pancoast and his Triptych for the Working Class

 – A Review by Nick Gardner

When reading about work, and by work I mean hard manual labor, and by this I mean hacking in the coal mines, servicing cars, running a factory press, and by this I mean coming home dirty, sore, and growing older only to find that the work has left lasting damage, a permanent stoop or carpal tunnel, arthritis — when reading about this type of work, and especially the near feudal system of industrial economics, I often cringe and scowl. But I can’t give up reading.

William Trent Pancoast tells real stories of real work. They are grungy, wild, and often violent. They are something anyone can relate to, with love and hate and characters who live and breath… but these stories can also be relentless. They sucker-punch you, knock you to the ground, and kick you till you can’t feel the kicks anymore, till the pain is finally replaced by outrage.

I decided to read William Trent Pancoast’s oeuvre in a week. I had read Wildcat before and much of his short fiction so I knew they would be quick reads, all but Crashing taking only a 4-5 hour stint. I moved through the books in the order that Pancoast presented them to me over the last couple years: Wildcat, Crashing, and most recently, The Road To Matewan. I wanted to see if there was something deeper that tied these varied stories together. What emerged was a new understanding of this subject of work.wildcat

First, I reread Wildcat, a story featuring a General Motors stamping plant as its protagonist. It is set in fictional Cranston, Ohio and proceeds as a series of short biographies and vignettes about the characters that work at the plant. As the reader learns the history of the factory through the lives of the workers, through PTSD, amputations, alcoholism, and the general alienation and disassociation of industrialization, there is also a sense of the factory as a whole, the people being only members of the factory body. If the machines are muscle, the laborers are the vital organs, performing specific functions to urge the factory on. The union serves as ligaments holding the workers together with the management, and the building houses them all. Through this series of symbiotic beings, the factory struggles, overworked by its general managers, CEOs, and the capitalistic structure in general to always produce more, to win a race with no definite finish line. Finally the workers give up and the factory topples. In GM’s death throes, the owners survive, jeering at an empty cement slab. Continue reading

Crowd pleaser Acoustic Edge to play May’s Final Friday in the brickyard

AcousticEdgeIf you’re a fan of classic country, roots rock or strong male/female harmonies, you don’t want to miss Acoustic Edge at May’s Final Friday concert in downtown Mansfield.

Led by the vocal harmonies of Heidi Ball and Steve Baxter, this well-rounded band can cover everything from Johny Cash and June Carter to Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson. Mitchell Ball plays lead guitar along with Eric Frisch on drums and Baxter on the upright bass.

Fan favorites sung by Acoustic Edge include, Jackson, Mama’s Broken Heart, Seen it in Color and You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.

But you’ll really be blown away by their originals, including Gypsy Soul and Barstool, both of which are available on an upcoming CD to be released from the band. If you listen to a preview of Gypsy Soul below, you can learn the words and sing along in May.

Singer/songwriter Kelly Vaughn to play May’s Final Friday in the brickyard

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Who’s ready for summer weather and outdoor music in the brickyard downtown? To help put you in the mood for Final Fridays and to highlight more music in our featured artist Friday series, we’ll be introducing you to some of the artists who’ll be playing at downtown Mansfield’s Final Friday music events.

Kelly Vaughn, a singer/songwriter from Columbus is the first artist in the Final Friday lineup. She sings originals and cover songs, and plays guitar. She’s been kicking off the downtown summer music series for the past four years.

To preview Kelly’s smooth and soulful sound watch the video below, follow her on Facebook or check out her Website. See you in the brickyard soon!