While The Inquisition is known for hard-hitting, objective, fact-based – not to mention fair and balanced – news analysis, there have been one or two occasions where unabashed enthusiasm has somehow found its way into the mix.
This is potentially one of those times….
One of the best things about January is the annual appearance at Waverly Beach in Menasha of Vic Ferrari Symphony on The Rocks. It is possible that The Inquisition has previously mentioned that this might be the best live entertainment available in The Fox Cities.
The combination of one of the Fox Cities’ best rock bands with the Fox Valley Symphony has been growing in scope and popularity since 2005.
“The whole thing is growing,” said Mike Bailey, multi-instrumentalist and one of Vic Ferrari’s five stellar lead vocalists. “We have gotten a lot of support from the community and a lot of support from our corporate sponsors.”
Much of the growth is artistic as the band adds new songs each year.
“We’re trying to keep it fresh. We’re always asking ourselves, ‘how do we make it better for our audience,” Bailey said. “It has become a labor of love.”
The popularity and the sheer power of the live performances are attributable in large part to the brilliant orchestral arrangements written by Vic Ferrari keyboard player Aaron Zinsmeister.
This year’s shows – slated for January 28th, 29th and 30th – will include the debut of four new Zinsmeister arrangements including, “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” by Elton John, “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragon, “Foolin’ Yourself” by Styx and “for the ladies,” “Jive Talkin’ by the Bee Gees as well as the return of fan favorite, “The Air That I Breathe,” by The Hollies.
“Aaron has taken Elton John to a new level,” Bailey said. “We’re bringing back ‘The Air That I Breathe’ because we really like that way he arranged that song.”
This year’s growth includes “another brand of the band” as March 5th will see the debut of “Vic Ferrari and Stevie March-Torme Together Again for The First Time” at The Grand Opera House in Oshkosh.“I think it’s going to be a tremendously fun show,” March-Torme said. “I am looking forward to doing something I don’t normally do – it’s us doing a bunch of really great pop rock songs.”
The idea emanated from Bailey watching a video of March-Torme’s Beatles-McCartney tribute.
“We’re coming from pretty divergent places but we found common ground. We both like the Beatles,” March-Torme said. “We found more than enough to do together and there will be surprises throughout.”
In addition to opening the second set with “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes,” by Crosby, Stills and Nash, the show will also feature The HD Horns – Ken Skitch, Jack Naus and Chris Felts – on tunes like “Lady Madonna,” and “Let ‘Em In.”
That Beatles-McCartney tribute included vocals by Hillary Reynolds, whose album, “The Miles Before Us,” by The Hillary Reynolds Band, was one of the highlights of 2015.
She is moving forward with a renewed commitment to composing, and a new band, Peridot.
“Peridot is going to be a focused indie/folk experience featuring the voice and writing of (cellist) Trevor Jarvis and myself,” Reynolds said. “The peridot stone is the August birthstone. It is a healing stone, and also means, ‘to find what was once lost.’ The purpose behind the music is to find the love we’ve all lost, helping fans to become the love of their lives, and empowering others to be unconditional through a powerful listening and storytelling experience.”
Four years ago, her mom passed away.
“Seven months ago, I decided to go to therapy to talk about it,” Reynolds said. “I was finally ready to press play, and start living without past shadows haunting me. I sought guidance to coexist with the experiences that shaped my life rather than falling victim to them. During this time, Trevor began to speak more as a writer, crafting his own songs and finding his voice. The way we write is now even more collaborative, much more balanced, and far more focused. We are in a new space as individuals, and as creative counterparts. I’m on the other side of grief, with newfound passion and purpose drawn from the music I’ve been creating with Trevor.”
These life changes have changed their music.
“For me, it’s about owning my story and inspiring others to own theirs,” she said. “We’re no longer the Hillary Reynolds Band. We will now be known as Peridot (pear – i – doe). We’re partnering with 91.1 The Avenue to release a single, ‘Lonely Work,’ in January and an EP in April.”
Season VI of the Jazz at The Trout series has focused on providing insights into how jazz developed. The first two concerts focused on ragtime and the influence of the blues. The third will be both educational and entertaining as The Bob Levy Little Big Band will play “Swing,” on Thursday, January 21st.
In addition to professor emeritus at Lawrence University, Levy’s considerable resume includes founding and leading The Big Band Reunion for 22 years; The Little Big Band is the streamlined version, and will feature some of the best jazz players in the area including saxophonist/flutist Jose Encarnacion. trombonist Kenny Skitch, guitarist Scott Dercks, keyboardist Tom Fresetto, sax players Jerry Helsbeck and Don Carlson, bassist Jerry Sparkman and James Lefevre on drums.
Along with great knowledge of virtually all things jazz, Levy is known for generously letting great players play – this show will definitely swing.
It appears that, musically, 2016 is off to a fabulous start.