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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Live in the House: “The best entertainment you never heard of”

The perception for many is that there isn’t anything to do in Northwest Ohio. The reality is there is too much to do.

Take this past weekend, for example. You could have attended the Greek-American Festival in Toledo; the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green or the Grub-N-Suds Motorcycle Festival in Elmore. My wife and I chose Peter Navarre Day at Noon, dinner at the Hollywood Casino and listening to the Belle of the Blues, Lisa Biales at the restored Pemberville Opera House built in 1891.

There were many other choices for a day trip or a night out in T-town and its burbs last Saturday and our tastes run a little more esoteric than most—local history and the blues being two of them. Neither event disappointed. The East Toledo Historical Society and the Oregon Jerusalem Historical Society joined together to honor this area’s most famous historical figure on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, the pivotal victory against the British Naval forces in the War of 1812. The legendary scout Peter Navarre delivered messages through the Black Swamp for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and General William Henry Harrison.

Dale Redd, a Navarre descendent, formally presented his family’s heirloom, an 1837 pistol owned by Peter Navarre, to the Oregon Jerusalem Society to display at its Brandville School museum.

After dinner at the casino, we drove 16 miles to Pemberville to hear Lisa Biales, an accomplished blues-folk-country singer from Oxford Ohio. Biales has a clear, confident voice, a crucial attribute for a story-telling musician whose lyrics are the show, not the guitar. She sang her own creations from her seven cds, old blues songs by Mississippi John Hurt and Sippy Wallace, classic country from Patsy Cline, John Prine and Linda Ronstadt and folk-rock numbers from Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Biales played guitar and was accompanied by Doug Hamilton on violin. Hamilton has toured with Reba McEntire and Barbara Mandrell.

The opera house is an intimate setting with great acoustics. This show was the first of 10 in the Live in the House Concert Series co-sponsored by the Pemberville Freedom Area Historical Society and the Grand Rapids Arts Council and funded by the Ohio Arts Council.

The schedule features accomplished musicians with Ohio ties and national reputations who specialize in “old timey music.” Biales kicked off the series and coming up are a string band, a bluegrass band, a couple of piano players, and two folk music and comedy teams, one of them reminiscent of the Smothers Brothers. Here’s a brief look to whet your appetite:

Oct 5: The Back Porch Swing Band featuring three-time Ohio State fiddle champion Adam Jackson;

Nov 2: The Dodworth Saxhorn Band, a 19th century brass band that uses antique instruments to play songs popular during the Civil War Era. You may have heard their music played during Baseball, the mini-series on PBS by Ken Burns;

Nov 9: Andes Manta, a South American band of four brothers who celebrate the traditional folk music of the Andes Mountains from Columbia to Tierra Del Fuego;

Dec 7: Jason Farnham, a Los Angeles composer, performer and record producer who is best-known for composing the music heard on the Dr. Oz show;

Jan 4: Silent Movie Night, a night of cowboys and Indians with a live pianist;

Feb 1: The Boogie-Woogie Kid, an attorney who left his career after attending a boogie-woogie jazz festival to concentrate on playing this traditional blues and jazz piano style. He has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition;

Mar 1: Bob Ford and the Ragamuffins, a folk-lore group from Cedarville, Ohio specializing in story-telling, Celtic music and fireside songs of the Old West;

Apr 5: Spittin’ Image, identical twins from Darke County, Ohio, these brothers combine a variety of pop, classic country and classic rock tunes with fine-tuned comedy;

May 3: The Muleskinner Band from Shelby County combines vocal harmonies with guitars, banjos and mandolins to hark back to early Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, The Drifters, The Doobie Brothers and Crosby, Stills & Nash. An eclectic blend.

Carol Bailey, programming director for the Opera House Guild, told the audience during the Biales intermission that this is “the best entertainment you never heard of.” Now, you have. Tickets for any show are $10. For more information or to reserve tickets call Carol Bailey at 419-287-4848 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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