NICK AND JOSH BREWER, THE AURICLE
Q. WHICH SHOWS HAVE YOU BEEN MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
A. We’ve had some big names here, but my favorites are the diamonds in the rough that seem cool enough, but then they come in and blow the roof off the place.
Q. HOW’S BUSINESS?
A. It’s been good. It’s constantly growing; we’ve been getting higher-caliber shows at a pretty steady pace. We’re definitely doing better than we planned on doing.
Q. YOUR FRIDAY LATE-NIGHT DANCE PARTIES HAVE BEEN VERY POPULAR.
A. I never guessed our big moneymaker would be dance night. We’ve had 250 to 300 people fairly often, and upwards of 450 on First Fridays, which is just crazy. It’s not where we pictured most of the money coming from, but we’re so thankful about it.
Q. WOULD YOU SAY THE AURICLE HAS PROVIDED A NICHE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND YOUNG BANDS?
A. Yeah, sure. We’ve definitely become the place to play for indie-rock, acoustic-rock and folk acts, which is what I think is popular in our market. We’ve done metal show after metal show and they just bomb, which sucks because Josh and I are big metalheads.
Q. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITH YOUR BROTHER?
A. We’re brothers, so we disagree a lot, but we always seem to find some happy medium. I run sound and lights and work with tour management, and he runs the bar.We complement each other very well.
Elec Simon has been leading lively drum circles at downtown Canton’s First Friday for five years, he does music education programs through ArtsinStark and his own company, Heartbeat Afrika—and he’s toured the world as a cast member of “Stomp.”
Q. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FIRST MEMORIES OF DRUMMING?
A. “The first was probably when I was 5 years old and I saw Shirley Caesar’s drummer at a gospel show. Then when I was 6 or 7, I used to bang on my cousin Andre’s drum set every time I went to visit. When I was 16, I got to see ‘Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk’ in New York City and that was the first time I saw guys playing on buckets.”
Q. DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A GOD-GIVEN ABILITY FOR PERCUSSION AND BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER?
A. “I think so. That’s my No. 1 thing in life, to bring people together through music and just give them a chance. I want to make it big — not to make tons of money, but to help people make their dreams come true through music, any way I can.”
Q. WHAT IS IT ABOUT DRUM CIRCLES THAT CAN UNITE SUCH DIFFERENT PEOPLE?
A. (Laughs) “There’s so many different answers to that question. The No. 1 thing is that everyone has their own heartbeat and their own rhythm in their head. My job is to coordinate and see that everything fits together as a song, which is a beautiful thing.”
Q. WHERE HAVE YOU TRAVELED WITH “STOMP”?
A. “Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Anchorage, Alaska; Honolulu, Hawaii — I’ve been to every state in the U.S. and I’ve been all over Canada.”
Q. DO YOU PLAN TO KEEP DOING IT INDEFINITELY?
A. “I do. Once you’re in ‘Stomp,’ unless you mess up, you’re in there for good.”
Q. SINCE 1980? THAT’S QUITE A WHILE.
A. “Yes, I got in there the same year that Gerhardt (Zimmermann, music director) did.”
Q. HAS THE ORCHESTRA EVOLVED A LOT IN THOSE YEARS?
A. “It’s always been a very good orchestra but it’s definitely gotten better. We’re able to do more sophisticated pieces. A lot of the people that play come down from the Cleveland Institute of Music.”
Q. NOT TOO MANY ORCHESTRA MEMBERS ACTUALLY LIVE IN THE CANTON AREA, DO THEY?
A. “No, there’s only a handful of us.”
Q. WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE WHEN YOU’RE ONSTAGE PERFORMING WITH CANTON SYMPHONY?
A. “It’s so enjoyable. You feed off the energy of the audience. The audiences here in Canton are really fine. I look out and catch smiles and smile back at them. I’ve never had a time when I walked off the stage after a concert and didn’t think, ‘Wow, that was really uplifting.’ ”
Q. TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AT ALLEN SCHOOL.
A. “I teach violin there a couple of days a week. I’m helping kids learn to play, but we’re also hoping to get kids excited about string playing and help build up our (Canton Symphony) youth symphony. I’ve had a blast working with these kids. They’re nice, they’re smart and they’re interested in music, period.”
Q. YOUR HUSBAND, RICHARD, IS ALSO A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN, CORRECT?
A. “He’s a professional drummer and vibraphone player who plays all over Northeast Ohio. Any band anywhere, he’s there. He’s a retired band director who is having a blast. He always walks around with a big smile on his face.”
Q. HOW DID YOU GET INTO DEEJAYING?
A. “Jeff Turk, who’s been deejaying at The Pub and elsewhere forever, was my eighth-grade football coach at Lehman. I did my first wedding with him freshman year, and by 1991, the summer after I graduated, I did my first wedding on my own.”
Q. WEDDING RECEPTIONS HAVE GOT TO BE TRICKY, WITH SUCH A MIX OF PEOPLE AND MUSICAL TASTES.
A. “You’ve got to make it truly young and old. The mom always wants one thing and the bride wants something else. You’ve really got to listen when you meet with the wedding party beforehand. There’s so many factors and every wedding is different.”
Q. WHICH SONGS ALWAYS WORK?
A. “ ‘Cha Cha Slide,’ ‘Cupid Shuffle’ and ‘Electric Slide,’ which are easy line dances that everyone can do. I take the groomsmen into another room, have them dress as the Village People, I get everyone on the dance floor in a big circle, then I introduce the Village People, play ‘YMCA’ and the whole dance floor is up and ready to go.”
Q. WHICH SONGS DO YOU NOT LIKE TO PLAY?
A. “Meatloaf, ‘Paradise By the Dashboard Light.’ It’s miserable, but some people like it. ‘Old-Time Rock ’n’ Roll’ by Bob Seger. ‘Stairway to Heaven’ … Metallica or Pantera. There’s always one person who wants to hear a song that will screw up the whole dance floor, and they’ll bug you about it all night.”
Q. WILDEST THING YOU EVER SAW AT A RECEPTION?
A. “I was getting ready to introduce the bridal party when a bridesmaid tripped on her way in and fell on her face. It knocked her out and they had to call an ambulance.”
THE BRIGHTER SIDE BAND
One of Stark County’s most popular bands is a teenage blues combo called The Brighter Side, whose musical chops and stage presence belie the guys’ youth. Members are guitarist Fuad Farah, bassist Anthony Lumpp, drummer Steve Neal and vocalist, harmonica player and born frontman Jake Friel, interviewed here.
Q. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING THE BLUES?
A. “I was just a small child when I started. (Chuckles.) I’m 16 now, so it’s been about six years. I’ve only been singing the last three years.”
Q. ARE YOU AS CONFIDENT AS YOU COME ACROSS ONSTAGE?
A. “Before shows I’m always nervous, but once you’re onstage you have to convert that being nervous into being excited. I’m always, always having fun onstage.We try to be as professional as we can be. We try to make it as real as we can.”
Q. YOU GUYS HAVE PLAYED TONS OF SHOWS. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ONE EVER?
A. “My favorite was the Wheeling Heritage Blues Festival in August. It was amazing.We were supposed to be on this little side stage and as soon as we started playing, at least 2,000 people walked up. We weren’t expecting it at all. Winning the Battle of the Bands (in 2011 at the Palace Theatre) will always be huge for us. That’s the one that sealed the deal for The Brighter Side.”
Q. WHEN ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO RELEASE AN ALBUM?
A. “We have a live CD out now called ‘Broke Down and Busted’ that we recorded at Blues for a Cure in Cadiz. It sounds amazing. It’s got three of our original songs on it. We really want to put a studio album out soon, probably after we get back from playing the Blues Challenge Memphis, probably next spring.”
Q. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO FOR A CAREER?
A. “I know for 100 percent that I want to play music forever or be doing some type of performing. I like being in front of people and Fuad is the same way.”
TASHA ADDESSI, VIA LOTUS
Q. WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING IN A BAND WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND (GUITARIST JEFF KLEMM, PICTURED HERE)?
A. Being in a band with Jeff is great. We are best friends, and to be able to create with him puts our relationship on a different level, a spiritual level.
Q. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE MUSIC OF VIA LOTUS?
A. This question is a hard one, but here’s a pretty accurate description: ’90s alternative-rock meets an acoustic old soul from outer space.
Q. WHEN DID YOU START SINGING?
A. I started singing when I became old enough to talk. It’s just been part of me since I can remember.
Q. WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE WHEN YOU’RE ONSTAGE WITH THE BAND?
A. I feel so excited to share the music with the audience. Every show feels different, but it is always home onstage.
Q. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE IN AN INDIE-ROCK BAND IN CANTON, OHIO?
A. It’s hard to be in an indie-rock band in the entire world today. I believe that what we are doing is worth hearing and we won’t ever stop. I will never stop writing songs and touring.
Q. YOUR DAY JOB IS ANOTHER CREATIVE OUTLET, RIGHT?
A. Doing hair is a perfect thing for an artist because it’s instant gratification.
Q. HOW FAR WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO WITH YOUR MUSIC?
A. As long as I am physically able to create music I will be doing so. It’s in my soul. I have to get it out and share it. I want to travel the world with our sound. One place I do dream of playing, among other places, is the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS MUSIC DIRECTOR?
A. “I’m in on the auditions for musicals, and I help cast the show. I teach all of the vocal parts to the actors, and I am accompanist at rehearsals where we continue to polish the vocal music. I also assemble the orchestra personnel, and I either write new musical arrangements or tweak the existing arrangements for the number of musicians we hire. Once we get to (final) rehearsals and beyond, I conduct the orchestra and the actors in the pit. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that people never see.”
Q. WHAT’S IT LIKE IN THE ORCHESTRA PIT DURING A PLAYERS GUILD PERFORMANCE?
A. “It’s a little hectic because I’m responsible for holding everything together musically. I’ll have anywhere from eight to 14 musicians looking at me and as many as 30 people onstage looking at me and I have to meld it all together. Sometimes, in shows like ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘Hairspray,’ I play keyboards and conduct at the same time, which is even more hectic.”
Q. WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED DURING A PERFORMANCE?
A. “During ‘Beauty & the Beast’ we had the sorceress at the beginning shooting flames with flashpots, and fire shot out over the lip of the pit and ended up bouncing off the percussion equipment and setting the tympani on fire. So you had the percussionist trying to put out the fire while trying to play. Fortunately, that’s rare.” (Laughs)
Q. DO YOU EVER WISH YOU WERE UP ONSTAGE SINGING AND ACTING?
A. “I’ve actually been onstage but it’s been awhile. Way back in 1999, I was Simon Stinson in ‘Our Town’ on the Mainstage. And when we did ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,’ I got to narrate and sing the opening number. I take care of the acting bug that way.”
Lauren Mascitti is a country singer-songwriter who has performed frequently in Nashville, Tenn., and Branson, Mo., and is finishing her seventh album while attending nursing school at Stark State College.
Q. WHAT DREW YOU TO COUNTRY MUSIC?
A. I was raised on it. I used to sit and watch the Statler Brothers and Crystal Gayle. She was my idol. Country music talks about real life and you can write about pretty much anything.
Q. IS IT HARD TO BALANCE YOUR MUSICAL PURSUITS WITH NURSING SCHOOL?
A. It kind of is, because nursing school is such a rigorous schedule, but it hasn’t stopped me. I’ve been playing out a lot on weekends and I’ve made trips to Nashville and Branson on my breaks. I do a lot of songwriter showcases in Nashville.
Q. WHEN DID YOU START SINGING?
A. I started singing at 7 at my church (Trinity Gospel Temple) and different churches. My big passion is songwriting, and when I was really little I had a toy tape recorder and I’d make up rhymes and songs and jingles and record them. I guess it’s in my blood.
Q. DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE A NATURAL PERFORMER?
A. I just like having fun with the audience, when the energy bounces from me to them.
Q. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HAVE RELEASED SEVEN ALBUMS ALREADY.
A. I’m almost done with the next one, and I’m really excited because it’s going to be all original songs.
Q. COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: “IN FIVE YEARS I’D LIKE TO BE …”
A. … in Nashville as a professional singer-songwriter. And successful!