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"Live On Stage" kicks off second season
Local music show brings Fort Wayne’s best original bands to your living room
By Jim Fester
Fort Wayne Reader
The second season of Fort Wayne Reader presents Live On Stage kicks off February 11 at 1 a.m. with a performance from Fort Wayne’s top party band, The Freak Brothers.
A collaboration between the Fort Wayne Reader, Diversity Media Group (publisher of INK), and the Fort Wayne Media Group, and recorded at Come2Go ministries downtown on Baker Street, The Fort Wayne Reader presents Live On Stage is a half-hour television show that spotlights original local bands performing live and exclusive interview segments with the featured artists. You can catch it on WISE 33, Fort Wayne’s local NBC affiliate (channel 13 on your Comcast), every Saturday night/Sunday morning at 1 a.m. right after Saturday Night Live.
Since Live On Stage debuted last October with an exclusive performance by the Legendary Trainhoppers, the show has played host to a wide range of Fort Wayne’s original music talent. Definitely Gary, Left Lane Cruiser, lo.automatic, Sankofa, Unlikely Alibi, and hard rockers I, Wombat all delivered fantastic performances, while local folk favorite Sunny Taylor, hip-hop trio Sub-Surface, and Possum Trot Orchestra used their appearances on Live On Stage to unveil brand new or recently released material. “It’s a great showcase for local music,” says Lee Miles of lo.automatic. “We did it because we knew that some of Fort Wayne's best bands were doing it and we were glad to be a part of that group. And Sean Smith gives a keen interview every time! But what I liked most about it was getting to kick ass on broadcast television.”
RhymeWise of Sub-Surface thought it would be excellent exposure for the group, who had recently released a long-awaited new album. The hip-hop trio was just a little nervous about performing for the show; they’re used to taking the stage in front of a very enthusiastic crowd, and they weren’t sure what a recording session for television would be like. To their credit, however, they performed like they were in front of a packed house. “The FWR/LOS staff was eager to help out,” RhymeWise says.
“Every local artist appreciates exposure like that,” echoes Sunny Taylor. “It was done very professionally, but in a laid back manner. The crew were a lot of fun to work with. Not to mention, it was shot at one of my favorite performance venues, Come2Go. It's always a privilege to perform on the stage there.”
Live On Stage is an excellent way for music fans who, for whatever reason, can’t make it out to the venues the artists usually perform in. High school student Matt Jackson is a huge fan of local music (he ranks lo.automatic as his favorite). He says the show is a great way from him to check out and keep up with local talent, the kind of stuff he rarely sees outside the odd all-ages show. “I think for someone my age, who wouldn’t be able to get in to the show, it’s a great way to see (the bands). And Sean’s interviews are pretty cool,” he says, adding that he “discovered” I, Wombat via Live On Stage, and went to see them perform at an all-ages show shortly after the episode aired.
The second season of Live On Stage offers another glimpse in to the diverse range of talent in the area. Favorite Fort Wayne Party band The Freak Brothers launch the second season on February 11, performing some of their original material. “This is the first time (that I'm aware of) that anyone has really attempted a Ft. Wayne music TV show with a professional crew, quality equipment and facilities, and with network and media support,” says Freak Brother Brandon Rentfrow. “It was a good opportunity to debut some of our new original material, the facilities at C2G are top notch, and Nolan and his crew take their jobs seriously. Though the band makes fun our first priority, the music business isn't a game to us, and we enjoy working with serious people.”
Guests on upcoming shows include Brit-pop flavored trio The Orange Opera, R&B singer Ty Causey, and punk rockers Riverbottom Nitemare Band. “The great thing about Live On Stage is that you can see all the different things that are going on in Fort Wayne,” says Fatima Washington, one of the show’s hosts. “We’ve had hip-hop on, we’ve had folk, we’ve had different rock bands… Just look at a sample of what we have coming up the second season. There’s Ty Causey, who does this really smooth, stylish R&B thing, and then the next episode there’s Riverbottom Nitemare Band, who are these loud punk rockers. The show gives you the chance to see it all.”
There will also be a few changes on the show. The basic format remains the same — each episode showcases an original local band or musician performing a handful of songs and then sitting down for an exclusive interview with FWR’s music columnist Sean Smith. But hosting duties are now handled solely by Smith and Fatima Washington. Most importantly, in addition to the featured artist, viewers can also look forward to one or two previously unseen performances by former guests on the show. “We usually record about half-a-dozen songs for each artist,” says Smith. “For the second season, people can see some of those great performances we didn’t use the first time around. It also adds a little diversity to each episode. You can tune in, and if you’re not in to whatever our featured artist is performing, you can stick around and see something you might like.”
15 episodes are planned for the second season. After that… “We’ll see,” says Sean Smith. “There are a lot of things we want to do with the show, so it would be great to see where we could go with a third season. One thing is for sure: we’re hardly running out of good bands.”