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Roots At The Conservatory: 2017 Concert Series

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department is excited to release the lineup for its twelfth annual Botanical Roots outdoor concert series to take place at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in downtown Fort Wayne. This season brings six headliners and openers out onto the Terrace plaza every Friday night, July 28-September 1.Concerts feature nationally touring acts performing energizing, dance-inspiring styles that find their roots in American musical traditions.

July 28 The Kinsey Report (Blues)

August 4 Gizzae (Reggae)

August 11 C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band (Zydeco)

August 18 Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers (Zydeco)

August 25 The Soul Lounge Band (Soul/Funk)

September 1 Morry Sochat & the Special 20s (Blues)

July 28: The Kinsey Report


Surrounded by music when they were children, Donald, Ralph, and Kenneth began playing music when they were still youngsters. Big Daddy groomed his sons to be musicians from a very young age. Ralph the oldest of the three, received his first snare drum when he was five, and the younger Donald was the same age when he got his first guitar. By the time he was thirteen, Donald was gigging around Gary with his father, and in 1970 Big Daddy took his sons on the road, as Big Daddy Kinsey & His Fabulous Sons. The act disbanded in 1972, when Ralph went into the military, and Donald went on to play with legendary guitarist Albert King.

When Ralph got out of the service, he and Donald formed a heavy metal band called White Lightening. When that band imploded, Donald went on to have notable success in the reggae world, playing and recording with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. In 1984, he reunited with Big Daddy and Ralph, and Kenneth joined the band on bass, to form Big Daddy Kinsey and the Kinsey Report. And that is where the brothers stayed until Big Daddy’s death in 2001.

The album Standing (I’ll Be) is a welcome addition to the Kinsey Report’s rich musical landscape. Released on the band’s label, RDK, it is a powerful expression of redemption and renewed purpose. Words and music create a potent alchemist’s brew, as Donald sings on the title track, “Defeat is not an option/I’m standing on solid ground/I shall not be moved, till the Thrones come down.”

August 4: Gizzae


Hailing from the beautiful Caribbean island of Dominica, that Ancient and Holy Lands of Ethiopia, and the birthplace of humanity, Ghana, Africa comes the award winning reggae music of Gizzae.

Rocket, Ruphaeil, Clem and Evans have been playing for crowds for over 30 years! Their musical experiences have collectively earned them Grammy awards and Chicago Music Awards, and they have opened for some of the biggest names in Reggae. They have also recorded and played professionally with such acts as: Ziggy Marley, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Third World, Toots and Maytals, Burning Spear, Carly Simon, Talking Heads, Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Chachi, Michael Black, Moja Nya, Dallol, Rude Beat Society, The Mighty Baron of Trinidad, Bell Combo and many others. Working and playing with such a vast array of musical styles has enabled Gizzae to create a unique blend of Roots Reggae.

August 11: CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band


State-of-the-art Zydeco from a masterful musician and performer. Chenier flavors the Red Hot Louisiana Band’s bayou beats with elements of funk, blues and ballads, and puts the foot tapping, can’t stand still sounds throughout traditional Zydeco.

Clayton Joseph Chenier was born September 28, 1957 – the son of the great King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier. C.J.’s father was the first Creole musician to win a Grammy Award. C.J. spent his childhood in the tough tenement housing projects of Port Arthur, Texas. His earliest musical influences were an eclectic mix of funk, soul, jazz and Motown, and his first musical instruments were piano, tenor saxophone and flute. It wasn’t until his 21st birthday, after winning a scholarship and studying music at Texas Southern University, that C.J. first performed with his famous father and the legendary Red Hot Louisiana band.

August 18: Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers


“America’s Hottest Accordion” winner, Dwayne Dopsie plays a unique, high energy style of Zydeco. Dwayne hails from one of the most influential Zydeco families in the world. Although inspired by tradition, he has developed his own high energy style that defies existing stereotypes and blazes a refreshingly distinct path for 21st century Zydeco music. This accordionist and singer/songwriter has performed all over the world since debuting his band, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, at age 19.

Dwayne Dopsie and his Hellraisers have performed in 20 different countries and in hundreds of cities Because of the energy and power of the music they play, he was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007, and also nominated for the last 7 years for best accordion and artist from Off Beat Magazine Awards . September 2016, He was on "Louisiana Rising" with Harry Connick Jr and Randy Jackson, performing their song for the flood victims called "Rollercoaster" which is one of the songs on their new cd, soon to be released in 2017.

August 25: The Soul Lounge Band


The Soul Lounge, a band with its roots in good old Fort Wayne and its eyes on the stars, brings a unique mix of soulful Rhythm and Blues and old school Funk that never goes out of style. Band founder Brian Kelly and this group of talented musicians and singers meshed around the concept of a monthly Indianapolis jam night back in 2011. The Soul Lounge Band sets a high standard for razor sharp musical precision and pulse driving melodies, but it’s their showmanship that really sets them apart. Soul Lounge connects with their audience in an almost visceral way – concert goers can’t resist the urge to get up and dance. Featured solos and original material allow the distinctive talents and personalities of each band member to shine through. With the recently added horn section, the Soul Lounge is rising to new heights in musical expression; catch them on their way up. The band has grown into one of the top travelling bands in Indiana and Midwest and is now in production for their first album.

September 1: Morry Sochat & The Special 20s


Morry Sochat (pronounced Socket) and The Special 20s are bringing a fresh sound to the Chicago Blues scene. They mix classic Chicago Blues with Swing and Rock N’ Roll from the 1950s. The band is influenced by the best in blues history. Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Louis Jordan, Junior Wells, and all of the Chicago greats.

Originally hailing from Texas, Sochat played with The Shakes and Tongue & Groove before starting The Special 20s in 2005. Their first, self-titled release, recorded in 2006, was received with great reviews, taking the 20s from playing one or two nights a month to constant bookings all over the city. Morry has been learning from the greats in Chicago, playing with Dave Specter, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Billy Flynn, and Barrelhouse Chuck.

In 2008, they returned to the studio to record a new CD, Swingin’ Shufflin’ Smokin’, produced by Nick Moss. The CD was met with rave reviews and opened the doors for touring across the United States. The third CD, Eatin’ Dirt, was released in 2010. It was produced by Jimmy Sutton and features 10 original songs. The band has grown in both skill level and size, adding a horn section on a lot of the songs. The current lineup features Marty Binder, Doug Corcoran, Jim St. Marie, Shoji Naito, Chris Neal, and Ted Beranis. Other musicians who play regularly with the 20s are Jimmy Sutton, Beau Sample, Mark Fornick, Ariyo, Brother John Kattke, Chris Bernhardt, and Kenny Smith.

The Botanical Conservatory invites the community to grab a lawn chair, settle in, and enjoy music that’s fun and funky, creative, and upbeat. Bands are selected from regional and national touring acts with an emphasis on uniqueness, quality, and representation of a specific musical style.

Shows are Friday nights through September 1. Local bands will warm up the scene. Food and beverage will be available for purchase from Mad Anthony Brewing Company; no outside food or beverage allowed. Admission is $6 at the gate. Youth ages 12 and under are admitted free with a parent or guardian. Gates open at 7:30 p.m.; shows start at 8:30 and the events take place outdoors, rain or shine. The Conservatory is located in downtown Fort Wayne at 1100 S. Calhoun Street.

Botanical Roots is sponsored by The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department, 963 XKE Fort Wayne’s Classic Rock, Whatzup Magazine, PBS39, Fort Wayne Metals Research, Mad Anthony Brewing Company, The Holiday Inn at IPFW, and the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. For more details, call (260) 427-6440 or visit us on Facebook-Botanical Roots or