Botanical Roots – Cool Tunes, Hot Times!

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News release from Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation:

Botanical Roots – Cool Tunes, Hot Times!

(June 29, 2012) – Today Al Moll, Director of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department and Mitch Sheppard, Manager of the Botanical Conservatory, announced the summer concert series at the Botanical Conservatory. This season the music takes an unusual twist featuring phycho-billy satire, and Cajun music along with the traditional fare of blues, reggae, ska, and rockabilly.

The Botanical Roots concerts are scheduled for six consecutive Friday nights beginning July 27 and continuing through August 31. Alfresco and upbeat, the series represents diverse populations, showcases creativity and originality, and honors a variety of musical heritages. Headline talent was recruited from regional and national artists not normally available to the Fort Wayne audience. Local bands will be invited to perform as opening acts for each concert.


The line-up for this season includes:

Friday July 27th Kenny Neal, Blues, With the Todd Harrold Band

(From Kenny Neal was born on October 14, 1957 in New Orleans, exposed to the swamp blues sound from day one. His dad, harpist Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay, whose pals included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo (the latter handed three-year-old Kenny an old harp one day as a toy, and that was it). At age 13, Neal was playing in his father’s band, and he picked up a bass at 17 for Buddy Guy.

Neal’s sizzling guitar work, sturdy harp, and gravelly, aged-beyond-his-years vocals have served him well ever since. An acclaimed 1991 stint on Broadway in a production of Mule Bone found him performing acoustic versions of Langston Hughes’ poetry set to music by Taj Mahal. His 1994 Alligator set Hoodoo Moon rates as one of his most satisfying outings for that label; it was also his last for Alligator.


Friday, August 3rd Unknown Hinson, Rockabilly (Satire, not recommended for young audiences), With the Kenny Taylor Trio

Looking somewhat like Dracula’s nasty little brother at a second-rate freak show, Unknown Hinson translates that vibe to his style of country and western-tinged psychobilly. The band is now touring nationwide, wowing audiences with outrageous and campy, persona and freewheeling tone.

Hinson’s most recent CD release, “Live and Undead”, melds weepy twang, searing guitar riffs and lyrics that speak of love-gone-bad. Recorded at a sold-out show, an enthusiastic honky tonk crowd sings along with the King on every song.

Unknown is gaining notoriety in the 18-34 demographic as the voice of lead character “Early Cuyler” in the popular show from Cartoon Network – “The Squidbillies”. The first four seasons were so well-received that an immediate green light was given to future seasons.


Friday, August 10th The Aggrolites, Reggae/Ska, With Black Cat Mambo

The Aggrolites are more than a band; they are a movement unto themselves. They carry a banner – one created with their own hands. This banner reads, “Dirty Reggae,” and represents their signature fusion of reggae, soul, grit and determination. Out of the Los Angeles school of hard knocks, The Aggrolites have earned a PhD in “feel good music.” On the road they educate with the thunder and punch of the reggae drums and bass, the ripping, soulful melodies of the organ and guitars, and Jesse Wagner’s voice – a gift from the heavens, a perfectly intact gift from Otis, Sam, Ray and Wilson.

The Aggrolites have a specific way of making music. They don’t over think it, they don’t obsess over pop culture demands, they walk onto a stage or into a recording studio and let “it” happen – a culmination of inspiration – from the road, from playing alongside legends, and from the energy and motivation of their die hard fans.

The Aggrolites are Jesse Wagner (vocals, lead guitar), Roger Rivas (organ), Jeff Roffredo (bass), Ricky Chacon (guitar) and Alex Mckenzie (Drums).


Friday, August 17th The Honeybees, Rockabilly, With Scratch ‘n Sniff

Formed more than nine years ago by Barbara Clifford (vocals) and Theresa Drda (drums), the Honeybees were created with the idea that female vocals can be reinvented to make an important impact on today’s music scene. The two core members worked with various personnel over the years. Today, the Honeybees’ rock-solid line up includes Megan Hassinger (vocals), Manny Guevara (guitar) and Michael Hogeorges (bass). With the tight, expressive harmonies of Barbee and Megan, and with Theresa as the driving force behind the drums, these three women represent the feminine strength behind the name. The band’s musical influences range from rockabilly and roots legends such as Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, Brenda Lee, Chuck Berry, The Sonics, Ricky Nelson, and T-Bone Walker to modern artists such as Rosie Flores and the Paladins.


Friday, August 24th Gizzae, Reggae, With Dan Dickerson

Hailing from the beautiful Caribbean island of Dominica, the Ancient and Holy Lands of Ethiopia, and the Birthplace of Humanity, Ghana, Africa, comes the award winning reggae music of Gizzae.

Rocket, Ruphael, Clem, and Evans have been playing for crowds for over 30 years! Their musical experiences have collectively earned them Grammy® awards, Chicago Music Awards and they have opened for some of the biggest names in Reggae. They have also recorded and played professionally with such acts as: Ziggy Marley, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Third World, Toots and Maytals, Burning Spear, Carly Simon, The Talking Heads, Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Chachi, Michael Black, Moja Nya, Dallol, Rude Beat Society, The Mighty Baron of Trinidad, Bell Combo and many others.

Formed in 1992 after the breakup of Dallol (Ziggy Marley’s Touring Band) and Moja Nya (New York), Gizzae soon became a fan favorite in the Chicago and Midwest reggae scene. A Sunday night staple at the fledgling Wild Hare, fans started to come out to hear this new reggae band in force and 19 years later, they still rock the house.


Friday, August 31st The Lost Bayou Ramblers, Cajun, With Old and Dirty

Lost Bayou Ramblers was born deep in South Louisiana performing old style, predominantly acoustic Cajun music at clubs and festivals across the US, Europe, and Canada. After years of playing traditional style, the Lost Bayou Ramblers found themselves needing to grow–to create a new sound that combined not just the sounds of their heritage, but all the musical influences they grew up loving. It began with the recording of their new album Mammoth Waltz at Dockside Studios in Maurice, La. The idea was to incorporate more influences, sounds, technology, and stylings with the traditional Cajun instrumentation.

By chance and by friendship, a number of talented special guests inspired Lost Bayou Ramblers by bringing their own unique backgrounds to the recordings. The band began experimenting more in their live shows, and their new sound was born. It has developed into a mammoth style that evokes the power of it’s predecessors while reaching for the future; when Lost Bayou Ramblers is at full fervor, even the traditional accordion and fiddle take on new modern dynamics.


Improvements have been made at the Botanical Conservatory to enhance the visitor experience in 2012. A newly constructed restroom and concessions building will provide convenient comfort for concert goers on the south side of the main terrace. The main terrace is now a non-smoking area, while the (south) exploration garden will be designated for smoking. Smokers are encouraged to use extra caution while smoking outdoors during extremely dry conditions that are expected to continue through the concert season.

The doors open for each concert at 7:30 p.m., opening acts will begin at 8:30 p.m., and headliners will play from 9:15 to approximately 11:00 pm. All events are held on the outdoor terrace on the west side of the Conservatory. Food and beverages, including beer, wine, and limited bar service, will be available for sale throughout the event. Admission is $6 per person; children age 12 and under will be admitted free with a parent or guardian. The concerts are open to all ages. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to the event.

Botanical Roots is sponsored by The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department, Rock 104, The Home of Rock and Roll, Whatzup, PBS39, Fort Wayne Metals Research, the Downtown Improvement District, and Mad Anthony Brewing Company. For more information contact Mitch Sheppard 260/427-6441.

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