A country boy at heart describes Billy Jacobs, a man with a great variety of creative skills. Today he is best known for his rural scene paintings, which can be found around the world and at his studio, Billy Jacobs Gallery, in Navarre, Ohio. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
When dreams come true, a person’s life becomes more meaningful. Each day has a purpose. Chris Jones never wanted to do anything other than make movies. He wasn’t sure what his role might be in those early years, but he loved movies. His journey from New Concord to Hollywood has been a great adventure.
About the age of nine, Chris saw “Jaws”, which stirred his imagination. A little later, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made him wonder, “The things are not real, but look real. How did that work? How can make-believe be so real?”
It wasn’t long before Chris had his dad’s camera on his shoulder and began filming. He and a friend might use gasoline to have a model car explode on their driveway. Fog was created using a humidifier and of course, blood was really ketchup. But Chris liked being in control of the action of the film. At one point in his early years, he had three cameras he could use.
He credits a lot of the reason for his success to his parents, Robert and Carol Jones. “They never for a second steered me away from the process of filming. Thanks to Mom and Dad for all their help.”
Another person that always encouraged him was a high school teacher, Mary Ann DeVolld. “She was super supportive and willing to let me do things that fueled my passion for movies.” Chris made a movie instead of giving his book report, even though he said he received a B for not following directions.
Mrs. DeVolld remembers Chris in her Media class, where he filmed and edited a video about the senior class. It allowed Chris to do what he loved as he was always talking about making films with his friends. In Mrs. DeVolld’s opinion, “I really believed that if Chris could make the right connections, he could become a serious filmmaker.”
After high school, Chris attended Muskingum College for a couple of years but then headed to a film school at North Carolina School of Arts, one of the tops in the world for film making. Here he was able to make practical application of techniques learned instead of just studying about them. Chris wanted the freedom to do his own thing.
Even the simplest scene takes a lot of craftsmanship and design by the writers. It takes so much work and control to make each scene come alive.
While at film school, Chris wrote and did the cinematography for his own film, “Roadside Convenience”, which was selected to represent the school at the Tribeca Film Festival. Putting a film together in Chris’s eyes is pure magic, “It’s an artistic miracle.”
When asked what he does in his spare time, Chris smiled, “Watch movies!” But once in a while he also takes to the ski slopes, does a little white water rafting and has begun working on the engines of motorcycles. Even the things he does for relaxation seem exciting.
Recently he was in Cleveland shooting a thriller, “I See You”, which stars Helen Hunt. This film was released on December 6 in a streaming platform. His role this time was the first assistant cameraman, where he had to make certain he captured just the right feeling for the scene.
It’s especially exciting for Chris to be working just up the road from where he grew up. He’s been working on other films in Ohio, such as “10 Minutes Gone” with Bruce Willis in Cincinnati for prime video and “All the Bright Places” with Elle Fanning in Cleveland to be released on Netflix.
He feels so lucky to be working in an industry that he had dreams of working in as a child. Currently, Chris is working as a cinematographer/1st Assistant Camera on Grey’s Anatomy and his first episode has already been televised. Even though he spends many twelve-hour days, he loves the process. Plain and simple, Chris glows when he says, “I love movies.”
He’s definitely living his childhood dream. His hope for the future would be in the role of producer. Wouldn’t he be a great asset to a film with all his background knowledge? “Being on set is very exciting. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I never want to do anything else.”
Keep living your dream, Chris!
Walking into Twin City Opera House is like walking back in history. On May 28, 1892, the formal opening was held for the performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado” by the Arion Opera Company. All 800 seats were sold!
Railroad excursion trains brought people from neighboring towns. While many were not patrons of the opera, all were curious to see this newly proclaimed “light of the day” as it was one of the first buildings in the county to be lit by electric light. The opening was not as grand as expected due to failure at the local generating plant, which caused the theater to be plunged into darkness.
Building the Town Hall and Opera House was a politically charged issue in McConnelsville at that time. Before the GOP adopted the elephant as its symbol in the twentieth century, the party had sometimes used the owl of its ancestral “Whig” party as its mascot. That owl still adorns the keystone in the archway over the Opera House entrance.
Today, The Ohio Valley Opry founded by Marvin and Deana Clark in 2000 provides monthly entertainment at the old Opera House. They toured the United States for nearly twenty years as the Marvin & Deana Clark Family then returned to the area where Marvin grew up in southeastern Ohio.
During this time on the road, they played at churches, fairs, and festivals with their four daughters. Most of the time they have played Country, Country Gospel, and Bluegrass. Marvin actually writes most of the songs that the family sings. They provide music and laughter throughout their performances.
A large variety of performers and celebrities have appeared at the Opera House over the years. Evangelist Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan, and Senator Albert Beveridge spoke there. The most spectacular of all were the traveling shows that would arrive by train and provide lavish productions. The tradition continues today with local, regional, and national artists now performing.
Back in 1913, a system for showing silent films was installed. The best seats in the house were those in the “Parquet Circle,” which would be the front rows of the center section on the ground floor. Those premium seats could coast as much as twenty cents, while those in the “peanut gallery” were a nickel.
The first sound pictures using a “Vitaphone” system arrived at the Opera House in 1930. True “talkies” arrived in 1936. The theater still continues to screen recently released films, as it has done nearly every week since 1936. Price for viewing all films is a reasonable $4 per person.
No building this old would be without some resident spirits. Ghost stories have been around at the Opera House for over forty years with paranormal investigators spending many nights there with their special equipment. Often it is listed as one of the most haunted buildings in Ohio.
Some say that Everett Miller, an usher there for thirty years, watches over the Opera House and has been contacted by the investigators. Or you might see ten-year-old Elizabeth peeking from the catwalk. Deep in the basement, Dark Shadow Masses have been observed by many. Spirits seem to thrive here. Come for a ghost hunt to find out more.
It’s a beautiful drive down the Muskingum River to McConnelsville any season of the year. Check out their schedule at www.operahouseinc.com for dates and times of musical performances, film screenings, and ghost tours.
On September 21st, there will be two shows featuring country music legend, Doug Stone. Movies change each week so check out the schedule before heading to McConnelsville. The next scheduled public Ghost Hunt is December 7 and pre-registration is required.
As you can see, the Twin City Opera House adds excitement to the McConnelsville area in many different ways. Make your choice – music, films or ghosts – and join in the fun.
Twin City Opera House is located in downtown McConnelsville along the scenic Muskingum River on Ohio Route 60-S.
When people join in song, their hearts and voices verify they love music. In Licking County, those who love to sing join together in a group called Vintage Voices. This mixed chorus of approximately 70 members has a special characteristic that makes them unique.
To participate you have to have a ‘vintage voice’ – one that is at least 50 years old. They have a great sense of humor and all will tell you they are “older than dirt”. Voices from all over central Ohio join in song.
The group began twenty years ago in 1999 under the direction of Teddy Westlake, who loved music. Those in the group liked her methods as she let them use music so they didn’t have to memorize every song. Her plan was to sing a wide variety of types of music.
At a recent performance at the retirement community of Kendal at Granville, the room was filled with an eager audience to listen to their rousing performance. Each season they do a concert at Kendal as well as SharonBrooke, and Chapel Grove. Teddy now lives at this retirement community, so she was an additional reason for their performance.
When directing, Teddy said she always danced a little jig to keep time with the music. Today she is in her 90s and still danced in the audience when the group was singing. Her feet were moving as well as her body. The evening with old friends brought a smile to her face.
Another one of their members, Rosemary Hoyt, had a stroke two weeks ago and is staying at Kendal now also. It warmed my heart to see how caring they were to this member. One of the ladies took off her scarf and put it around Rosemary’s neck. Then they brought her upfront in her wheelchair at the edge of the group and let her be part of the choir for the evening. How special!
Chuck Beck serves as their new director and knows how to make everyone feel welcome. It’s a special group where you can see the caring they have for each other. After twenty years together, they have become a second family.
Marcia Brannon, the pianist, has been with them from the beginning. Teddy said that Marcia plays so well that she could have been a concert pianist. Sometimes they add percussion, violinists, flutists, or whatever background music is needed.
The evening’s program contained songs about our freedom – something we cherish. Rivers have always had a great impact on spiritual growth so the song “River of Freedom” was the perfect way to begin the evening.
River songs continued with “Beautiful Ohio”, which fifty years ago became our state song. “Jordan River” symbolized life in this world moving on to a better place.
Patriotic songs recognized all branches of the service that were present by having members stand. The show concluded with “God Bless America”, a favorite of many.
This evening was a celebration of their 20th Anniversary of entertaining and inspiring audiences all over Licking County. May they continue to bless others with their messages in song.
Vintage Voices is always looking for new members who love to sing in Central Ohio. No auditions are required, just a love of music and a willingness to practice weekly to attain the best vocal performance possible. For more information, contact Chuck Beck (email@example.com).
Artists, Entertainers, and lovers of the arts have been attending the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival for 50 years. It’s come a long way from that preliminary festival, which was held on the courthouse lawn.
The one-day downtown Salt Fork Arts Festival was sponsored by the Greater Cambridge Arts Council with Dr. Milton Thompson the president and Don Mercer serving as coordinator. Its goal was to promote all the arts including acting, music, literature, and art. The Best of Show that year went to Nancy Lewis of New Concord for a still life. The evening was spent dancing in the First National Bank parking lot.
August 14-17, 1969, the festival moved to the Cambridge City Park as a four-day event. It was advertised as the First Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. That year the newspaper stated there were four tents and 65 artists. Entertainment varied from YMCA Gymnasts and Bexley Puppet Theater to Cambridge Barbershoppers and Sweet Adelines.
Arthur Marr served as chairman of that first official festival with assistance from Bob and Hannah Amos and Mrs. Lois Craig. Mrs. Claude Nickerson and her committee were in charge of the artists while Bill Coffey handled the performing arts. The Cambridge CB React Club took charge of parking and patrolling. Pavlov Music provided background organ and piano music and Scott Funeral Home provided seating. It was a real community effort.
The Cambridge National Honor Society and members of the Key Club helped by setting up chairs, tables and snow fences. In those early festival days, pictures by artists and student artists were hung on snow fences for display. Young artists have always been a popular and important feature of the festival.
It was in 1969 that Newcomerstown native, Shannon Rodgers, renowned dress designer for Hollywood stars, gave a donation to the festival and in 1971 began sponsoring the Shannon Rodgers Award. This award was open to all artists at the festival and was voted on by the public. When this endowment ended, the award became the People’s Choice Award.
Craftsmen demonstrating their crafts at those early festivals included basket weavers, blacksmiths, ceramic artists, woodcarvers, ironworkers, gem cutters, leather workers and many more. This was to be only the beginning of many years of outstanding juried art at the festival with only hand-made pieces of art being accepted.
Crafts were a popular addition at those early festivals as well. In 1971, classes in macrame, woodcarving, leaded glass and apple dolls were popular. Adults enjoyed making quilted potholders and stained glass hangings. Everyone felt a sense of accomplishment.
In those early years, the Pilot Club, an international service club of women, served as volunteers to give artisans a break while selling their wares. Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary provided refreshments on the midway selling hot dogs, ice cream, sno-cones, and cotton candy. Church groups, YMCA, and the hospital auxiliary had food stands available in the big pavilion for hungry visitors.
Entertainment included many musical groups as well as a performing arts group from Salt Fork Barn Theatre performing excerpts from “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”. Cambridge Community Theater also did several children’s presentations. Even the Cleveland Opera Theater came several years and performed “Barber of Seville”.
A performance that many remember was that of Frankie Yankovic, America’s Polka King. Frankie played the accordion and had two gold records – “Blue Skirt Waltz” and “Just Because”. The crowd for this performance was the largest ever remembered at the festival.
Back in 1986, Bob and Carol Jones presented a musical program at the festival. Today Carol is the Festival Director and Bob is Entertainment Coordinator. Their enthusiasm for the 50th Anniversary has led to a memorial “Pedestrian Gateway” being constructed at the park at a point where most visitors enter.
While it has been great fun to look back at those early years of the festival, it’s also pleasing to know that it still has the same basic roots. The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival continues to be a juried festival with several artists from those early days still displaying their art.
Entertainment continues every hour in the Performing Arts Tent or the Big Pavilion. Craft classes for students and adults are held in the small pavilion throughout the weekend. Admission and parking are still free.
Set aside some time to join the 50th Anniversary celebration this August 9 -11. Wander through the artist displays in beautiful Cambridge City Park. Have lunch or pick up a snack as you sit and listen to some fine entertainment provided by talented vocalists and bands. Don’t forget to find a special treasure to take home with you to remember this special anniversary.
50 years is cause for celebration! Make plans to attend this memorable occasion.
The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival is held annually the second weekend of August in the Cambridge City Park in Cambridge, Ohio. Cambridge is located at the crossroads of I-70 and I-77. There are several exits so watch for signs leading to the festival or the city park.
Small towns love their heroes, especially when they’re a big star like Perry Como. Canonsburg, PA has never forgotten Perry Como, although the younger generation might not be familiar with his name.
At the center of town in front of their City Hall, you’ll find a statue of Perry Como. When it was placed there it sang 24/7 but now it just sings sporadically. Como is dressed casually in his traditional style with slacks and sweater. Just down the street, you’ll find a two million dollar McDonald’s packed with memorabilia from locals who went on to stardom.
Coming from a large family of ten children, Como was the first to be born in America to his immigrant parents, Pietro and Lucia Como. He never spoke English until he was in first grade because his parents only spoke their native Italian at home.
Italians love music so his father purchased an organ for $3 for their home. By the time Perry was three years old, he could play songs on the organ by ear. Pietro had all of his ten children take music lessons even if he could barely afford them since he made a living by working in the mill.
By the age of ten, young Perry tried to help his family by working after school at Steve Fragapane’s barbershop for fifty cents a week. By thirteen, he had his own chair at the barbershop even though he had to stand on a box to cut people’s hair.
At the same time, Perry played trombone in the town’s brass band, played guitar, sang at weddings and was an organist at church. He also was a member of the Canonsburg Italian Band. Throughout his career, “Ava Maria” was his most requested song.
When he was fourteen, his father had a severe heart condition, and Perry opened his own barbershop. His goal was to be the best barber in Canonsburg. When customers would marry, they would use every treatment Perry had available in his shop while he sang romantic songs to entertain them.
By the time he was twenty, he moved to work in his uncle’s barbershop at Meadville, PA, which was not too far from Cleveland. He went with friends to the Silver Slipper Ballroom, where they asked if anyone would like to come up on stage and perform. His friends urged him to try and director Freddy Carlone offered Perry a contract on the spot.
But he wanted to talk it over with his father first. Since his father was an amateur baritone, he told Perry to take the chance or he would never know if he could be a professional singer or not. Financially, this was not a good move as his barbershop earned him $125 a week while the singing contract was for $28 a week.
He received his big break in the 1930s on a popular radio show, Beat the Band. His first recording with Ted Weem’s Orchestra on this show was the song, “You Can’t Pull the Wool Over My Eyes”.
In 1943, he signed with RCA Victor and remained with them throughout his career. While in Canonsburg, a stop at McDonald’s is also a ‘star’ event. Here you will find memories of local stars including Perry Como, Bobby Vinton, and The Four Coins. When you pass by Mr. C’s bust, “Catch a Falling Star” will automatically start playing.
Perry Como loved the game of golf and in 1955 was Golfing Champion of the Garden City Golfing Club in New York. MacGregor even has a Perry Como Putter. When he wasn’t with his family or working, Perry was on the golf course enjoying his favorite hobby and passion.
Mr. C, as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records and had his own television show. Canonsburg keeps his memory alive through the statue erected in 1999 and McDonald’s memorabilia. If you’re ever in the area and enjoy hearing about the stars, Canonsburg is the place!