Jazzin’ It Up

Lancton Coalition to hold
concert in new performance hall

‘This is Jazz’ makes genre
accessible for all music lovers

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

(April 2011) – Jazz guitarist Bill Lancton says Madison, Ind., is developing into a real music town. “We just dig the whole Madison thing – the diversity of music and all the things going on. It really is a very vibrant scene.”
Lancton, however, wants to make sure that his favorite genre isn’t left out of Madison’s music scene. For that reason, he has assembled an all-star group of musicians to perform a live concert, “This is Jazz,” on April 8-9 in Madison, Ind.

Aaron Fry

Photo by Laura Hodges

Aaron Fry owns and
has remodeled the
former Wallace
Antiques building
at 125-127 E. Main St.,
Madison, Ind., into a
performance hall.

The Bill Lancton Coalition includes Rich Dole, trombone; Allen Burke, keyboards and vocals; Gene Markiewicz, drums; Jeff Conrad, trumpet; and Lancton on guitar.
Presented by the non-profit organization Cultural Continuum of Madison, “This is Jazz” will take place in the recently renovated performance space at 125-127 E. Main Street.
The Bill Lancton Coalition has created “This is Jazz” as a review of jazz music from the Roaring ‘20s through the present. The evening will illustrate the intricacies of this original American art form.
Although some people say they don’t like jazz, Lancton thinks it’s more likely they’ve just not yet heard the type of jazz they will like. “This is Jazz” will cover many eras and styles of jazz to give audiences a wide range of music to enjoy.
“People are going to get a nice feel for various types of jazz. It will be very accessible,” said Lancton. “We’re not going to hit anybody over the head with real avant garde stuff.”
Lancton is a resident of Indianapolis, however, he discovered Madison several years ago when he and his wife, LuAnn, passed through on their way to Belterra Casino Resort. “We just got out and walked around. It’s such a cool place,” he said.
Soon the couple bought a home outside Madison. They now spend about a third of their time in Jefferson County.
Lancton wasted no time in getting acquainted with Madison’s musicians. He is good friends with singer-songwriters Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett, who also migrated from Indianapolis. The late John Walburn also became a close, guitar-playing friend. “There are some great players down there,” he said, mentioning brass musicians Dave Butler and Brook Reindollar.
Lancton is recognized as one of the top guitarists in the Midwest. He was the first inductee of the Indianapolis Jazz Hall of Fame. He has released two jazz CDs with the Coalition. Since 1994 he has been a member of the award-winning world beat band, Dog Talk, releasing three CDs with this group. In 1998 his group Les Chat due Swing won critic’s choice for best small jazz group in Indianapolis.
The accomplished jazz guitarist often plays Madison’s Thomas Family Winery – which he describes as his Friday night hangout. Occasionally, Lancton pairs up with Madison musician Rob Houze, owner of Crawdaddy Music, to play for corporate functions and fundraising events.
For the Bill Lancton Coalition, Lancton draws on the talents of four other Indianapolis musicians.

Bill Lancton

Photo provided

Bill Lancton is
considered one of the
top guitarists in the
Midwest and has been
inducted into the
Indiana Jazz Hall of
Fame. He performs
April 8-9 in Madison.

Dole, the trombone player, has an Indiana University master’s degree in jazz studies. He has performed or toured with The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Slide Hampton and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Burke, the keyboardist, has been working his magic on the Hammond organ, piano and vocals for 40 years. He has toured with Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye and The Spinners, for which he served as musical director for more than 25 years. He is a 2011 inductee into the Indiana Jazz Hall of Fame.
Markiewicz, the drummer, was also inducted into the Indiana Jazz Hall of Fame in 2011. He is a graduate of Marian College and has performed with many of central Indiana’s finest musicians, such as Jim Edison, Al Cobine, The Buselli-Wallarab jazz Orchestra, Steve Robinette, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He co-led the award-winning Carter-Markiewicz Jazz Quartet with the late jazz legend Chuck Carter.
Conrad, the trumpeter, began his professional music career at the age of 19, touring internationally with Ray Charles and his orchestra. He toured full-time until 1991. He has also played with the Harry James Orchestra and the Maynard Ferguson Big Band, as well as 10 years of touring as trumpet and assistant conductor with Broadway shows.
Aside from the Bill Lancton Coalition, Lancton has other music interests. On April 16, the guitarist will turn his back on jazz for one night to appear with another group he organized, BlueGrazz Junction, as part of the Folk Festival Pub Crawl. They’ll be on stage at the Thomas Family Winery from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
BlueGrazz Junction has also lead off the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival’s Sunday lineup at 1 p.m. on May 22.
Like the Cultural Continuum production of “Pure Prine: The Music of John Prine” last November, “This is Jazz” will utilize the new performance space. The first floor of this building has undergone a transformation through the work of owner Aaron Fry. For “This is Jazz,” it will take on the look of a 1940s jazz club.
The spacious building, which most recently housed Wallace’s Antiques, features a 3,000- square-foot unobstructed performance space. The floors are original hardwood and the 12-foot-high ceiling is made of pressed tin painted in rich hues of red, blue and gold. Fry has installed new lighting and is in the process of installing bathrooms.
Cleverly designed stage components can be arranged to suit the show. They are small enough to fit inside the building’s elevator for storage upstairs when the space is needed for another use.
Fry and wife, Rachel, who bought the building three years ago, say they are proud of their flexible, multi-use hall. “It’s a great old building. We didn’t want it to be an empty storefront,” said Fry.
They decided to move their family from Raleigh, N.C., to Madison because of the architectural restoration opportunities for Fry, a professional carpenter. Their children, ages 17, 13, 10 and 6, have adjusted well to small town life, he said.
The Frys make their building available for performances by such groups as the Cultural Continuum and Riverrun Theatre. It is also available to rent for wedding receptions, parties and community events. “I want it to be a part of Main Street,” said Fry.
This will be the fourth production by the Cultural Continuum, which offered “Wilderness Plots” in 2009 and “Hoosier Hank and Johnny” and “Pure Prine” in 2010.
“With each successive show we’ve tried to continue to up the ante on quality,” said Kevin Watkins, a member of the Cultural Continuum board. Other board members are Gary Duckworth, David Loehr, Jim Stark, Steve Thomas, Margo Watkins, Luckett and Ziesemer.
Cultural Continuum has two more shows planned for 2011. There will be a reprise of “Wilderness Plots,” at the request of the Rivers Institute of Hanover College, and a Hoosier Christmas concert featuring local artists. Three or four productions are being planned for 2012, as well.
“Our goal is to fill a niche in Madison,” said Watkins. “Economic Development Partners has identified ‘cultural destination’ as a goal for the community, as has the (Madison Area) Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city of Madison is also looking to develop an arts center. We feel we have laid the groundwork for some of that happening. Our long-term goal would be to establish a community arts center with art galleries, practice space and performance space.”

• Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be available at 6:30 p.m. Show time is 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. They can be purchased at Village Lights Bookstore or online at www.CulturalContinuum.com.

Back to April 2011 Articles.



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