The Fraze – Kettering’s Outdoor Oasis

Fraze Pavilion organizers have seemingly perfected the art of scheduling a lineup with a balanced mix of music and entertainment that cuts a swath across all demographics and musical genres. The 2010 season particularly sets the bar higher, including a variety of music we have come to expect from the venue such as jazz (Dave Koz and Jonathan Butler, Saturday, July 31), rock (Gregg Allman, Saturday, May 15, and Bachman & Turner, Friday, June 25), country (Vince Gill, Friday, June 4, and McGuffey Lane, Friday, July 9) and soul (Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson and Freddie Jackson, Saturday, July 10). Even so, there is a broadened spectrum thanks to shock rock (Alice Cooper, Sunday, July 18), comedy (Capitol Steps, Thursday, July 1, and Weird Al Yankovic, Friday, July 2) and homespun variety (Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion “Summer Love” Tour,  Thursday,  August 12).

Karen Durham, Fraze general manager, recently revealed some of the acts she particularly looks forward to as the season dawns.

“I think the high point for me would be the Goo Goo Dolls (Friday,  May 14) even though they are the first show out of the gate,” she said. “It’s a different audience than we typically program for and that’s a wonderful thing for us. Again, it’s always nice to have first timers on the stage, like Billy Idol (Friday, September 3). Bachman-Turner is going to be cool because it’s a reunion with those guys.”

Toward the end of our conversation, I told Durham I was planning to accent this story with  some trivia about a few acts that will be appearing at the Fraze this year, and she added one little tidbit of her own.

“Our season magazine will hit the streets in the next week or so and we have 10 questions with Weird Al Yankovic. One of the questions we asked was, ‘Did you know that Ohio’s (official Rock) Song is “Hang On Sloopy”?’ and he responded, ‘Did you know that Rick Derringer, who is singing on “Hang on Sloopy” as the lead singer of The McCoys, produced my first six albums?’”

“I wish I would have invented sex.”

~Deborah Harry

While Deborah Harry began her musical career inauspiciously enough by waiting tables at the infamous Max’s Kansas City, it was enough for her to go from being a waitress to becoming the peroxide blonde pin-up of the post-punk pop movement. Her first band was a folk outfit called Wind in the Willows, and her second attempt at forming a group, called the Stilettos, while not successful, planted the seeds from which Blondie would grow. Another member of the Stilettos was Chris Stein, who would eventually become Deborah’s boyfriend as well as Blondie’s lead guitarist. The early influence of the Ramones, The New York Dolls, CBGBs and other New York underground music venues gave the burgeoning Blondie a harder edge, more reflective of the blank generation’s punk persona. Blondie’s first two albums only enjoyed moderate success outside of the U.S., but the merging of mainstream pop and edgier strains of punk helped propel their breakout 1978 album Parallel Lines. In turn, Blondie rode this new wave of music to new heights and across the videodrome of the fledgling MTV. With a string of hits such as “Rapture,” “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me,” Blondie remains one of the most influential and often emulated groups. They will perform at the Fraze on Saturday, August 28.

“Every one of us is sort of a figment of our own imaginations.”

~Kris Kristofferson

While Kris Kristofferson’s first stint in the music industry was sweeping and mopping floors at Columbia Records, it was all he needed to be heard. While performing his second job as a helicopter pilot for the petroleum industry in Louisiana, he would write such hits as “Help Me Make It through the Night” and “Me and Bobby McGee” and pitch these songs when he returned to his janitorial duties in Nashville. He managed to get some of his songs recorded and they became hits for such artists as Dave Dudley (“Viet Nam Blues”), Billy Walker and the Tennessee Walkers (“From the Bottle to the Bottom”), Ray Stevens (“Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Once More with Feeling”) and Roger Miller (“Me and Bobby McGee,” “Best Of All Possible Worlds,” “Darby’s Castle”). Kristofferson also managed to gain the attention of Johnny Cash albeit in a more unconventional manner: he landed his helicopter on Cash’s front lawn to give him some demo tapes. In addition, Janis Joplin recorded “Me and Bobby McGee” for her album Pearl mere days before she died. Kristofferson, who had been a long time lover and friend of Joplin, did not even know she was planning on recording it, and only heard it the day after she had died. He will perform at the Fraze on Thursday, June 10.

“I’m a little nuts. I’m a lot nuts. All I know is that in the midst of the madness of this world it’s my therapy. The music touches my heartstrings.”

~Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot began his musical journey at a very young age. His mother recognized his talents and he was schooled to be a child performer. His first performance was little more than a recitation of the Irish lullaby “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral” over his elementary school’s PA system. He grew and his voice began to change. He taught himself piano and percussive instruments, performing at a local resort area “for a couple of beers.” He began to be influenced by Steven Foster’s music, which propelled him to learn how to play folk guitar. Later influences would be such folk singers as Pete Seeger, Bob Gibson and The Weavers not to mention the jazz compositions he was learning while attending Hollywood’s Westlake College of Music. His early career was a flurry of random tours, songwriting and even hosting a country and western show in the United Kingdom for a year. After he gained popularity once his music was recorded by such artists as Judy Collins and Marty Robbins, his career followed the peaks and valleys that are all too familiar within the entertainment industry: success, infidelity, divorce and addiction. Lightfoot dealt with all of these issues as they came, and with a banner of hit songs waving high above him, he has constantly maintained a touring schedule, playing such hits as “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” One of the more interesting recent developments in his career pertains to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Apparently, a diving team located the actual wreck and found that the hatches of the vessel were intact, nullifying Lightfoot’s lyric, “At seven p.m. a main hatchway caved in.” Lightfoot, prompted by the discovery and staying true to his art, has since changed the lyric. He will perform at the Fraze on Thursday, June 17.

“(Marilyn Manson) has a woman’s name and wears makeup. How original.”

~Alice Cooper

Although born Vincent Damon Furnier, Alice Cooper will forever be known as simply Alice. All of the apocryphal stories about Cooper are well known, including how his stage name was chosen by using a Ouija board (or just to “spit in the face of society,” whichever version you believe) or that, in 1969, he killed a live chicken at the Toronto Peace Festival (untrue, but the story lives on). While having Ozzy Osbourne featured on Hey Stoopid or Jon Bon Jovi singing backup on Trash isn’t exactly a stretch, it is hard to comprehend Donavan singing on Billion Dollar Babies or Liza Minnelli lending her voice on the Muscle of Love album. Well, the latter should come as no surprise, as Minnelli has been quoted as saying that her “good friend, Alice Cooper,” told her “his whole career was based on the movie Cabaret.” In addition, one of Cooper’s more philanthropic acts that doesn’t get too much press was his drive to raise money to remodel the then-deteriorating Hollywood sign, donating $27,000 himself and dedicating the “O” to his friend and favorite comedian Groucho Marx. Marx, along with Mae West, both reflected that Cooper’s early shows were just a form of a vaudeville revue. Another intriguing fan of Cooper was artist Salvador Dalí, who was so moved by Alice’s surreal lifestyle that he  made a hologram titled First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper’s Brain.

You can find the complete 2010 Fraze lineup on the back page of the Dayton City Paper throughout the season. For more information, call (937) 296-3300 or visit www.fraze.com. The Fraze Pavilion is located at 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering.

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