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Mourning the King of Comedy.

In Entertainment, history, Media, Movies, Opinion, television, Theatre, Uncategorized on August 21, 2017 at 9:05 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The world lost a veritable comic genius this week as we mourn the passing of Jerry Lewis. From his early beginnings as a stage comic, to the magical fundraising power of his telethons to raise money in the search for a cure for Muscular Dystrophy, Lewis was many things to many people.

Lewis had his faults. He was said to be difficult to work with at times, a bit of a control freak, probably from the desperation he felt as an upstart comic in the 1940s. But the fact is he was a writer, director, producer and a technical innovator in film as well. He invented something called the video assist, which allowed a director to instantly watch what they’ve just shot.

Of course, it’s the French who are fabled to have loved Lewis’s movies and considered him a genius. But, like with so many tales of the famous, much of that is exaggerated or taken out of context. According to some reports, if you ask a French person to name a Lewis movie, they usually have a tough time coming up with an answer. Seriously? I mean, who doesn’t know, “The Nutty Professor?” (No, not that terrible Eddie Murphy remake. Don’t get me started.)

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were a comedy team for just 10 years.

You can probably find countless tributes and retrospectives on the King of Comedy, so I’m not going to lay out another laundry list here of his successes and failures. But I wanted to share my thoughts as somewhat of a student of his craft and fellow writer and performer.

If you follow my work regularly, or Google my name, know that I’ve led a dual life in the professional and stage worlds for most of my time on this earth. Beginning at the age of 5, as a budding ventriloquist, I have won awards for my talents, written comedy scripts and produced all manner of shows, from the musical stage to Vaudevillian-style variety shows.

Not much in my repertoire could even begin to compare to a giant like Lewis, but comedy was always the foundation for a great deal of my work. I’ve always believed that if you could make people laugh, no matter what you were doing, singing, dancing, writing, juggling, whatever, they would be entertained.

For me, Jerry Lewis was a one-of-a-kind, a true struggling artist, always trying to get people to take him seriously through laughter. You read that correctly. It’s tough to get people to take notice when your entire goal is to make them laugh. It’s even more difficult when your whole self-worth is wrapped up in that laughter and thunderous applause.

Gery Deer and Jim Karns in Whips and Wands …

Lewis’s physical comedy, funny vocalizations and incredible timing is what I enjoyed and what I have always emulated. I’m a one-liner, storytelling kind of comedian on stage. I do a little physical comedy, but it’s generally centered around hand gestures or other smaller movements. Jerry Lewis could leave an audience in stitches with a simple facial expression – that’s talent (and a rubbery face helped too.)

For nearly two decades, my dear friend Jim Karns and I have worked together on stage much like Martin and Lewis in their early years. Our timing and banter is very similar, as was that of Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy (after the silent days), and so many other comedy teams. The dynamic duo of Jerry’s goof to Dean’s straight man, which kicked off in Atlantic City in 1946, became a national phenomenon lasting a mere 10 years, though to many fan it’s unimaginable it was such a short time. Regardless, the pair was unstoppable during their run, and watching anything they did is still a pleasure.

I ignore the public negativity surrounding most celebrities I admire, whether they brought it on themselves or not. After all, they’re only human, good people trying to entertain people in an unforgiving and sadistic industry. I left the big stage behind many years ao in favor of smaller one with kinder audiences.

But no matter how large the stage, Jerry Lewis’s influence will be there, for me and for many generations to come. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” – Jerry Lewis.

Gery L. Deer is a writer, producer and performer with “The Brothers & Co Variety Show.” More at thebrothersvarietyshow.com.

 

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Young Xenia actress selected as MC for variety show

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Education, Entertainment, Local News, Media, Theatre, Uncategorized on June 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Actress, dancer, Amanda Bass

Xenia, Ohio – Amanda Bass, (12) of Xenia, has been selected to serve as the emcee for an exclusive, one-night-only, performance of “The Brothers & Co. Variety Show,” at 8:00 PM on Saturday, July 1 at the historic Plaza Theatre in Miamisburg, Ohio. The show is free of charge for all ages and ticket reservations can be made online at myplazatheatre.org.

The Brothers & Co. Variety Show is a 90-minute, live stage performance featuring four-part harmonies, instrumentation, Wild West stunts, award-winning classic magic and original comedy routines. Tickets are free for all ages.

Bass recently finished work on several episodes of the ThinkTV / PBS program, “I Can Be Anything I Want to Be A to Z.” The show is set in a “career lab,” where Bass’s character, “Charley,” is one of three kids investigating various career options, from A to Z. The show is slated for a statewide run this fall. This will be the young actress’s first time hosting a stage performance, but she is no stranger to live entertainment.

In addition to her appearances in several student films and as a dancer in the Dayton Ballet’s annual presentation of, “The Nutcracker,” Bass also participates in her family show. Her parents, Kirk and Melodee, are Wild West arts performers known as, “Bass Blades,” a knife throwing act based in Xenia. The younger Bass has performed with her parents and alongside

The younger Bass has performed with her parents and alongside family friend, writer and entrepreneur, Gery L. Deer, who is the director, pianist, bullwhip artist, and executive producer of “The Brothers & Co. Variety Show.” Deer also pointed out that he decided to include young Amanda to host the July 1st show because of her performance on the PBS series.

Amanda Bass with Brothers & Co. producer, Gery L. Deer, at the premier of her TV debut for PBS / ThinkTV

The Brothers & Co. started in 1995 and are best known locally for covers of The Statler Brothers music. Their repertoire stretches across country and oldies genres including music by The Monkees, John Denver, and George Jones as well as many original pieces. Each performer is involved in creating original content for the show and the group’s fourth voice, Ed Jones, cousin of the Deer brothers, is their acoustic guitarist.

The show also marks the return of Gary Deer, Jr., vocalist and percussionist of the group, after almost two years of recovery from a serious illness. “Ours is a kind of show you don’t see anymore and it’s fun for anyone,” he said.

“We are offering this free show to both give people a look at the beautiful Plaza Theatre and give families a financial break for one night,” said Gery Deer about the July show. “All you need to buy is the popcorn!”

Of course, shows still run on money. Limited commercial sponsorships for the performance are still available ranging from $100 to $250 through June 30. The first five, $250 sponsors will receive a live, 30-second commercial during the show presented by one of The Brothers & Co. performers. A signed 18×14-inch poster of the show will be raffled as well with proceeds going to The Plaza Theatre Association. Doors open at 7:30 PM and refreshments will be on sale in the lobby. For show times and venue information please call The Plaza Theatre at (937) 247-5980.

Dare to Defy Productions Presents Children of Eden Thanksgiving Weekend

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Holiday, Local News, Music, Religion, Theatre, Uncategorized on November 2, 2016 at 8:19 am

Dayton, OH – Dare to Defy Productions is bringing the captivating musical Children of Eden to the beautiful Victoria Theatre for a limited 3 performance run Thanksgiving weekend.

photo2Featuring one of the most beautiful scores in contemporary musical theatre from the composer of GodspellPippin and WickedChildren of Eden is a heartfelt and humorous musical about the unique family bond. Inspired by the Book of Genesis, it tells the timeless story of what it means to be a parent.

From the moment you bring a child into the world everything changes; you learn to protect, cherish, and love unconditionally. But as they grow you have to learn one more thing, to finally let them go one day.

The Dare to Defy production of Children of Eden stars John Benjamin, Alan Ruddy, Esther Hyland and is directed by Mackensie King with music direction by Lorri Topping and choreographed by Lisa Glover.

“This is the perfect show for families over the Thanksgiving weekend,” said Dare to Defy Productions photo1Executive Director, Becki Norgaard. “It has great music and a wonderful, family story that can be enjoyed by all ages and backgrounds.”

Show times are November 25 at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 26th. Tickets are available at the Ticket Center Stage Box Office located in the Schuster Center, by calling (937) 228-3630 or online at ticketcenterstage.com Senior, military and student discounts available at the box office. For more information visit the Dare to Defy website at d2defy.com.

Dare to Defy Productions Presents 35MM: A Musical Expedition

In Entertainment, Local News, Music, News Media, Theatre on September 26, 2016 at 7:09 am

Dayton, OH.Dare to Defy Productions will present 35MM: A Musical Expedition on September 30th and October 7th at 8 p.m. and October 1st and October 8th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Mathile Black Box Theatre in the Schuster Center.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-7-08-29-amA picture is worth 1,000 words — what about a song? Can a picture inspire a song or fifteen? In “35MM,” each photo creates a unique song, moments frozen in time; a glimmer of a life unfolding, a glimpse of something happening. A stunning new multimedia musical which explores a groundbreaking new concept in musical theatre.

This intricately woven collection of stories told through song re-imagines what the modern American musical can be.” (quote from 35mmmusical.com) The show was written by Ryan Scott Oliver inspired by Matthew Murphy’s photos. “We are excited to bring this thrilling and innovative collision of artistic mediums to the Mathile,” says Dare 2 Defy Executive Director, Becki Norgaard.

The incredibly talented cast of professional includes Alan Ruddy, Danielle Kubasky, Natalie Sanders, Skyler McNeely and Zach King. The creative team includes direction by A.J. Breslin, music direction by David McKibben and stage management by Mackensie King.

Dare 2 Defy Productions is a Dayton-based, not-for-profit, professional theater company under the guidance of executive director, Becki Norgaard. The company specializes in musical theater, hiring local, professional actors and production crew.

The show, 35MM, runs 80 minutes and is recommended for ages 13 and up. Tickets are available at the Ticket Center Stage Box Office located in the Schuster Center, by calling (937) 228-3630 or at www.ticketcenterstage.com. Senior, military and student discounts available at the box office.

 

 

Old Haunts Beatnik Cafe celebrates original Halloween stories by local authors

In Books, Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Holiday, Local News, Theatre, Uncategorized on September 11, 2015 at 8:37 am
Artwork by Michael Martin, WOWA Editorial Committee

Artwork by Michael Martin, WOWA Editorial Committee

Beavercreek, OH – Beginning at 7pm on Friday, October 16, author members of the Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) will take the microphone at Books & Co. to present the 2015 Halloween addition of their popular, “Beatnik Café” event. Writers from all genres will regale visitors with original works of poetry and prose to the theme, “Old Haunts.” The event is free and open to the public.

The live reading pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Reading aloud from original work, each writer will take the stage for 10 to 12 minutes, dazzling audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what. This is the 6th year for the quarterly event.

Barbara Deer is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says.

Barbara Deer, WOWA co-founder.

Click to watch the video!

“Annual workshops are held all around the country, with two of the most well-known right here in the Miami Valley. But for most writers to thrive that type of support needs to come on a more regular basis,” Deer says. “Our group consists of professional writers and editors, college professors and everyone is ready and willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

 

Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

WOWA Logo 2Now in its seventh year, this talented group of scribes definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Handcar Press (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly, free, public presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Western Arts Showcase offers historic entertainment at Annie Oakley Festival

In Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, history, Holiday, Local News, Media, Theatre on July 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm

AOF_3_GLD Greenville, OH – Jamestown Whip Artist Gery L. Deer and Xenia Thrown Weapons Expert, Kirk Bass, will lead a full troupe of whip artists, trick ropers, knife throwers and other Wild West arts experts during the 2015 Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase during Annie Oakley Festival at York Woods, 6129 Reed Road, Ansonia, OH 45303. The event is free and open to the public.

Presented in the spirit of the stage-style Wild West shows of the late 19th Century, each production will include some detailed history about how these arts came to be and who still practices them today. Champion knife thrower Kirk Bass, of Xenia, Ohio, and his daring wife Melodee are among the performers to take the open-air stage for two shows on Saturday, July 26 beginning at 1 p.m. with a series of western arts perform the suspenseful Bass Blades impalement show, and much more.

Whip marksmanship competitions headline the afternoon show beginning with the National Whip Speed and Accuracy Exhibition Competition, the world’s only Bullwhip Fast Draw contest. Plus, there is a brand new contest taken straight from the big screen.

In 1981, a fedora-wearing, leather-clad archaeologist threw the crack heard round the world when he “whipped” a pistol from the hand of a jungle guide. At the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones demonstrated his skills with the holstered fast-draw of a 10-foot bullwhip, all while having to spin around to take aim first.

In the spirit of Dr. Jones’ proficiency, this year’s Showcase competition will include a special “blind fast draw,” where whip artists must mimic the move used in the film to turn, draw their holstered whip and shoot at a target with speed and accuracy. The first contest of its kind, the feat has never been attempted in a public event like this, even by the showcase’s producer, whip performer Gery L. Deer.

“With the popularity of Indiana Jones among western performers, particularly whip artists, it’s odd this hasn’t been done before,” says Deer, who holds multiple, national whip speed and accuracy titles and is the director of The Whip Artistry Studio, the only permanent whip training facility in America. Contests begin at 1 p.m., followed immediately by a matinee performance at 2:30.

At 5:00p.m., visitors to the festival will see the Grand Wild West Showcase hosted by the music and comedy of Greene AOF_6_GLDCounty’s own, The Brothers & Co. Variety Show. “We pull out all the stops on Saturday evening,” says Deer. “The Brothers & Co. Variety Show is a one-of-a-kind musical variety show from a by-gone era, full of comedy, magic, and some of the best four-part music on stage today. There will be nothing else like this anywhere at the festival!”

“Last year breathed new life into this long-running event,” Deer says. “Our goal is to provide a featured event for Saturday that will help draw more people on what is typically the busiest day of the festival.” For more information or to participate in the whip contests, contact the production office of GLD Enterprises at (937) 902-4857 or email, gdeer@gldenterprises.net.

“We have some of the best Wild West arts entertainment anywhere in the Midwest with real practitioners of each skill,” says Deer, who started the event in Jamestown, Ohio, back in 2002 as a Midwestern convention of Wild West arts practitioners. “These are talented performers with genuine ability, no fakery, no tricks. Everything you see in our show is real Plus all of our shows are in 3-D and high definition!”

The event is sponsored by GLD Enterprises Communications, The Brothers & Co. Variety Show, and the Annie Oakley Festival Committee. All performances are family friendly and presented on the grounds of the Annie Oakley Festival. For links to the festival and sneak previews of the performers plus more information go online to www.ohiowesternarts.org.

 

Jamestown variety group to headline Tipp City 175th

In Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, history, Local News, News Media, Senior Lifestyle, Theatre, Uncategorized on June 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm

tipp logoTipp City, Ohio – The City of Tipp City will be commemorating its 175th Anniversary this year with a two-day celebration, Friday July 3 and Saturday July 4. The festivities will be held at Tipp City Park and include live entertainment, food, vendors and family activities.

“This is an exciting time for Tipp City, as we will be commemorating the 175th Anniversary of our wonderful city.” said Tipp City Mayor, Pat Hale. “The Planning Committee is working hard to put together a great event for the entire family. We are inviting the entire community to join in on the celebration.”

Friday evening will kick off the weekend with live entertainment, horse and buggy rides and guest speakers in the historical district. On Saturday afternoon, things get started with a parade celebrating Tipp City’s heritage. At Tipp City Park, visitors will enjoy food vendors, family activities and live entertainment headlined at 5:00 p.m. by The Brothers & Co. Music and Variety Show followed by an ‘80s band leading up to the evening fireworks display.

DSC_1589“We’re glad to be a part of such an historic event,” noted Gery L. Deer, of Jamestown, who serves tripple duty as performer, publicist and manager of The Brothers & Co. show. “That area of Miami County is rich in events that shaped the Miami Valley and Dayton’s outlying regions. We are going to give the visitors there a fun, family-friendly taste of old-style Americana entertainment.”

City Councilmen Matt Owen is chair of the 175th Planning Committee.“We are encouraging the entire community to get involved with the celebration.” he said.  “Throughout the year Tipp City has many events and activities and we are encouraging them to create their own celebration or activity within each of those events.”

More information can be found on the event Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/events/686370538176430/  The Brothers & Co. Show is presented courtesy of Gibson Law Offices and GLD Enterprises Communications.

 

Remembering “Spock,” actor Leonard Nimoy

In Entertainment, Movies, National News, Opinion, television, Theatre, Uncategorized, World News on March 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

DIH LOGO

In 1982, fans of the science fiction franchise, “Star Trek,” more commonly referred to as “Trekkies,” or the more accepted, “Trekkors,” took a kidney punch when Leonard Nimoy’s character of Mr. Spock died at the end of the film “Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan.” But, thanks to the miracle of science fiction, Spock was resurrected and the Starship Enterprise continued to boldly go where no man had gone before.

Sadly, fans must now face a more painful and permanent fact of life as they mourn the passing of the actor who, for nearly a half century, portrayed their favorite pointy-eared alien. Leonard Nimoy passed away on February 27th at the age of 83 at his home in Los Angeles following a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

As a lifelong fan there is no way to adequately convey the sadness of losing such a talented performer whose on-screen character inspired so many. Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, and the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew, were great sources, not only of entertainment, but incredible inspiration for individual achievement and social change.

spockNetwork executives originally told Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to, “get rid of the guy with the ears.” But, thanks to Mr. Nimoy’s talented development of the character,  Mr. Spock became a quintessential part of “Star Trek’s” hopeful future in which everyone worked together to eliminate hunger, pettiness and poverty.

Such a vision is still somewhat unique – and often poked fun at – in the science fiction genre, which more often paints a dark, pessimistic outlook for man and a holocaust-ravaged world of tomorrow.  But with Spock’s presence, a bright future for mankind seemed more plausible. In Spock, Mr. Nimoy created the embodiment of chaos with focus, logic with feeling, and understanding with wonder.

I have been incredibly fortunate on a couple of occasions to have had the chance to meet and speak to Mr. Nimoy, as well as see him perform. At one Star Trek anniversary convention I attended, he invited questions from the audience. He chose my raised hand from several dozen other hopefuls seated nearby and I didn’t waste the opportunity.

A bit stunned at having been selected, I stood up and managed to ask something from the original “Star Trek” pilot episode that I’d been wondering about for years. With a genuinely amused laugh, he thought for a moment and informed us that he’d never before been asked about it.

Then, he answered with a detailed, behind the scenes story and directly thanked me when he finished. I will never forget that. Naturally it was cool even to be picked out of hundreds, but I was far more privileged to have given Leonard Nimoy even a tiny moment of entertainment in return for all he’d given us.

Mr. Nimoy played Spock for the last time in the most recent “Star Trek” film, “Into Darkness,” and, although he will be most remembered for his logical alter-ego, he also performed in dozens of other movies and television programs over the years. Besides “Star Trek,” he’s probably most remembered for his time on “Mission Impossible” and, more recently, in the TV drama, “Fringe.”

Besides being a gifted actor, Mr. Nimoy was a director, poet, photographer and activist. In the “Star Trek” animated series Spock is quoted to have said, “Loss of life is to be mourned. But only if that life was wasted.” Clearly, his was certainly not wasted.

Any of us should be so lucky as to have touched even a fraction of the lives Mr. Nimoy did, and in so many positive ways. To all those mourning a loss, remember the burden will ease over time and those we lose really aren’t gone, as long as we remember them. Live long and prosper.

If you would like to know Gery’s convention question to Mr. Nimoy and what answer he gave, read the BONUS MATERIAL at the end of this article.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

  

BONUS MATERIAL:
Question from Gery Deer to Leonard Nimoy in a talk at the Star Trek 35th Anniversary Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gery L. Deer: Mr. Nimoy, in the Star Trek pilot episode, “The Cage,” you beam down to the surface of planet Talos IV with Captain Pike and a landing party. As you walk around the planet set, you appear to be limping and I wanted to know if you could tell us why? I’ve heard people say it had something to do with your boots, or the set floor, whatever. I just wondered what the real reason was.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer in one of the uniforms designed for Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer in one of the uniforms designed for Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan

Leonard Nimoy: (Laughing) You’ve been worried about that all of these years, why I was limping? Well, I have to say I have never been asked about that before.

(The crowd of about 1,200 in the room was really laughing at this point and applauding.)

Leonard Nimoy: Well, I’ll tell you because I really don’t want you to be troubled by this any longer. (More laughter). If you remember in the story there was some discussion about a fight that had taken place on a planet several weeks prior.

As the story goes, the Enterprise crew was ambushed and there was a battle in which crew members were killed or injured. Spock was supposed to have hurt his leg in that fight. In television and movies, you often shoot scenes and story lines out of sequence and the scenes where the fight takes place would have been in another episode to go before the events in The Cage had Star Trek had been picked up without any changes. Then you’d see Spock get hurt and know why he’s limping later. (Crowd applauds.)

Leonard Nimoy: (Nimoy, looking back again at Gery) That’s why I was limping and now you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Thank you for that question, that was really the first time anyone has ever asked me that. (Mr. Nimoy gives Gery the Vulcan salute and the crowd applauds again.)

END.

 

 

WOWA’s Beatnik Cafe, “Here Be Dragons,” Jan 16 at Books & Co.

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, State News, Theatre, Uncategorized on January 5, 2015 at 9:50 am
Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Beavercreek, OH – Once upon a time, sailors threatened to hang their captains from the yard arm if they ventured beyond a certain point in the sea. Venturing out into the unknown is something about which writers are far too familiar. At 7PM on Friday January 16, authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association will perform their own original tales of uncharted territory at their Winter 2015 Beatnik Cafe event at Books & Co. at The Greene. This quarter’s theme is, “Here be dragons, stories of adventure, exploration and uncharted territory.”

The WOWA Beatnik Cafe reading is a quarterly presentation that pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Performing original work, each writer will take the mic to dazzle audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what. The event is free and open to the public.

Jamestown writer, Barbara Deer, is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says. “The Beatnik Café offers the public a chance for a glimpse at some of the most talented writers in the region as they showcase their work, in person, to entertain and enlighten.”

“Our group consists of professional and hobbyist writers, all of whom check their egos at the door,” Deer continues. “All are willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

600_376854182Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly workshops, critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

About to embark on its seventh year, WOWA members definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Loconeal Publishing (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to http://www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Watch the Video Interview from October’s Beatnik with co-founder Barbara Deer on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

WOWA-LD_MASKS_SCREENSHOT

 

Jamestown Opera House Show celebrates 20 years of a local family’s musical history

In Children and Family, Entertainment, history, Local News, Media, News Media, Senior Lifestyle, Theatre, Uncategorized on November 17, 2014 at 11:51 am
Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

JAMESTOWN, OH – On a cold, winter night, a couple of weeks after a family Christmas party in 1994, something historic took place. William Sutton, his brother Gary “Tuff” Sutton, Sr., and their nephews, Gery Deer and Gary Deer, Jr., did something they’d never done before. They all met up on a Friday night at the Deer family farm in Jamestown, Ohio and collected their musical talents into what would become a lifelong undertaking. While you may never have heard of “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers,” their history is one of a unique brotherhood derived from a family whose musical talent goes back several generations.

While William and Tuff had played together many times over the years, the Deer brothers had never made the attempt. Tuff had helped Gery develop his natural piano skills and Gary Jr. hadn’t played his drums much after graduating high school in Fairborn in the early 1970s. But when they sat down, something really amazing happened, they just “worked.”

Tuff took on the lead and rhythm guitar duties. William was initially the group’s bass player, but picked up his dusty bow and took over the fiddle spot once family friend Jess W. Young, of Fairborn, signed on, and then there were five.

Originally called simply, “The Brothers,” the band went through a lot of changes in its first year or two, adding and subtracting musicians, but always maintaining the two sets of brothers as the foundation. By 1996, a decision was made to change the group’s name, adding, “& Co.” (and company), allowing them to add and subtract whomever they wanted without much of a branding problem, so long as Gery and Gary Jr. at least remained. Somewhere along the way, Gery and Gary Jr. decided that the group was made up more of “entertainers” than trained musicians, so that was tagged onto the name too – “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers.”

SONY DSCBy 1996, Ed Jones had joined up on banjo and acoustic guitar. A cousin to the Deer brothers and another nephew of the Suttons, he also had never played together with his family before in this way. Sadly, the family lost Uncle Tuff Sutton to cancer in 2005, and William stayed with the group only a short time after and also passed away a few years later. Jess Young also retired from the group due to health reasons and passed away shortly after.

“None of who we are now would have happened without each of them,” Gery remembers of his family members who have passed on, including his mother, Lois, who died in 2011 after suffering for several years from Alzheimer’s disease. “We are who we are because of them and my mother was, essentially, the anchor. It was because of her that my brother and I are here and that the others came together with us. We couldn’t have done this without them.” But the changes weren’t over yet.

From inception until about 2004, the boys had maintained an instrumental bluegrass persona. But one Saturday night, shortly after a family friend, Jim Karns of Fairborn, joined the group, something odd happened. As Gery puts it, “We opened our mouths and a terrible, awful, nails on the chalkboard noise hit the air, as if four birds had flown headlong into a window while screeching at the top of their lungs.”

The Brothers & Co Variety Show will perform a 45 minute set at the Schuster December 4. Photo by Jen Copas

The Brothers & Co Variety Show will perform a 45 minute set at the Schuster December 4. Photo by Jen Copas

Brothers_Co-Whip_Gery_JimIn truth, the experiment had landed them in uncharted waters. Although Ed had done some singing, and Jim, as the most experienced, having performed in theater productions while in school at Kettering Fairmont, Gery and Gary Jr. had virtually no singing experience. But there were some golden nuggets amidst the muddy waters of their four-part vocalization.

Working hard to find their respective parts, eventually everything finally fell into place and they had become singers as well as naturally talented musicians. But with change comes growing pains.

An expanded repertoire and wider variety of music required instrument and key changes and since they guys play their own instruments, staging issues caused shows to come to a dead crawl. But a solution for that problem quickly presented itself, and, as is the norm with this group, Mother Necessity birthed yet another Brothers & Co. innovation – one they like to call, “comagic.

In addition to having a great set of bass singing pipes, Jim Karns is also an award-winning, classical stage magician. In addition, Gery was an accomplished stage bullwhip artist, having performed all over the country and on national television shows like America’s Got Talent and The Bonnie Hunt Show. He and Gery had met while working for an engineering center in Dayton and found they had many common interests, the least of which was a somewhat Vaudevillian sense of humor, one that fit in perfectly with an almost Grand Ole Opry styled stage show.

The Brothers & Co. Bus, NOAH'S ARK

The Brothers & Co. Bus

The new family-friendly routines, originally designed to give time for stage and instrument changes, soon added a whole new dimension to the show. It wasn’t long until “The Brothers & Co. Entertainers” became, “The Brothers & Co. Music and Variety Show.”

After two decades of constant evolution, weekly rehearsals in a specially built room at the Deer family farm, and shows that spanned everything from coffee shops to casinos, The Brothers & Co. have more to offer than just four guys standing around singing. They are a full, family-friendly, stage variety show that can perform virtually anywhere. Their signature black, western outfits designed by Gary, Jr. and Gery’s mother, Lois, are a tribute to their family’s country music heritage.

The group has performed at the Schuster Performing Arts Center, the Victoria Theatre and the casino resorts of French Lick, Indiana, but their home is in Jamestown, and that’s where they want this 20th anniversary to tour to start. Gary Deer, Jr. is the percussionist of the group and sees to most of their technical requirements. “Mostly, we want to entertain people and give them a show like most haven’t seen since the 60’s,” he says.

“We put a modern spin on an old kind of entertainment that’s nostalgic and originally presented all at the same time,” says Jim Karns. “If you’ve never seen a live variety show, this is something the whole family will really enjoy.” To celebrate their 20th anniversary, The Brothers & Co. will present a pre-holiday performance beginning at 7PM, Saturday, November 22nd at the Jamestown Opera House, 19 N. Limestone St., Jamestown, Oh 45335, to benefit the Jamestown Area Historical Society.

The Brothers & Co. with Gary Deer Sr. and their late mother Lois Deer at the Wheeling Jamboree Radio Show, 2010

The Brothers & Co. with Gary Deer Sr. and their late mother Lois Deer at the Wheeling Jamboree Radio Show, 2010

Gery says the show has something for everyone, and it comes from a place of deep meaning for the family. “This show is hard work, just like anything else of value. It honors our mother’s memory, it gives testimony to the fact that a family can do something together besides watch TV or play a video game. There is a family commitment to The Brothers & Co. that gives other families the chance to bring the kids and enjoy genuine, dare I say it, ‘wholesome’ entertainment that’s just plain fun. It almost doesn’t exist anymore and we rarely get a chance to show it here at home.”

Tickets at the door are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free. Tickets are available at the door the night of the show and for presale at Ted’s Barber Shop, 3 W. Washington St. in Jamestown. Sponsorships are also still available for businesses in the area starting at $100. Proceeds from this performance benefit the Jamestown Area Historical Society. More information is available from The Brothers & Co. website, thebrothersandcompany.com, and from their Facebook page. Watch for The Brothers & Co on the WDTN-TV2 program, Living Dayton, 12 noon, Tuesday November 18.