Opera house revival

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (10.30.2016)

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Delphi Opera House PDF

After almost a century of slow, steady decay, a determined group revitalized the Delphi Opera House to become a charming, memorable performance space once again. With a longterm plan to make the venue an economic development tool in Delphi, Indiana, I looked at the way the opera house positioned itself for success and the challenges it might face as time goes on.

Answers after show canceled

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.30.2016)

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Styx cancelation print version

Shortly before Styx — one of the biggest rock bands to visit Lafayette — was set to play Lafayette Theater, I learned that the show was on the road to being canceled. After confirming that and obtaining the initial release from the band’s PR liaison, I followed up to answer readers’ questions and find out what happened.

My PR contact set me up with the band’s manager, and the story that resulted was widely read.

Marching band is no breeze

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.20.2015)

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Purdue band tryouts print PDF

Purdue band tryouts print PDF

The subjects of back-to-school stories often center on sports tryouts and curriculum. What can be left out are students’ activities in the arts. The dedication of band members at Purdue University — which does not offer a music major — was worth exploring.

I came at the story from the eyes of a freshman, explaining the difficulties of auditions and the challenges of combining new marching techniques with musical skill and athleticism. In doing so, I hoped to tap into a readership with ties to the “AllAmerican” Marching Band who are proud of its tradition and their memories. As it ended up, this has been one of my most shared features at the Journal & Courier.

Isbell’s relatable songwriting

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (07.09.2015)

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Jason Isbell print PDF

Jason Isbell print PDF

When Jason Isbell’s publicist sent me the details before my interview with the rising Americana singer-songwriter, she told me I’d have eight minutes to talk with him because he had so many media requests. Eight minutes.

So I found out everything I could about Isbell and dissected his music and lyrics so that I could make my time count. My research paid off with a great interview, and he actually ended up talking to me a bit longer than eight minutes.

Talks with fans and venue owners where Isbell was set to play rounded out the story and unpacked why his songwriting — which tackles the gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable along with the joys of life — has grabbed so many people.

Story through opera & dance

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (03.31.2016)

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"Dido and Aeneas" print PDF

“Dido and Aeneas” print PDF

Choreographer Mark Morris’ production of “Dido and Aeneas” offered incredibly rich material for me to dive into. His version, which sets dance to Henry Purcell’s famous opera with the singers and orchestra just off stage, premiered in 1989.

So suffice it to say that “Dido and Aeneas” has been covered many times by the press. The freshest angle I could take was to write about Morris’ vision and how the current performers interpreted it and fused their performances into one point of view — even though they can’t see one another.

Chemistry & chamber music

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (03.19.2015)

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Academy and Denk print PDF

Academy and Denk print PDF

As a cellist who has listened to the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields since I was a child, I could barely contain my excitement when I saw they were part of Purdue Convocations’ season.

Add to that pianist Jeremy Denk as soloist, and you have a recipe for a brilliant evening.

While the chamber music group has existed for decades, however, I knew not everyone would have had the same experience as I did. So for my preview, I set out to peel back some of the lesser-known details of performances in the genre, which included the group’s singular chemistry, sections passed back and forth between soloist and orchestra, and the flexibility and listening skills required from world-class performers.

Concert location questioned

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (07.07.2015)

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JC- (w) July4

July 4 concert location PDF

The annual Stars and Stripes Concert on July 4 is an enormous draw for Greater Lafayette and the surrounding area. For years, it has bounced between two places, dodging construction in both.

After 2015’s event, my editor asked me to take a look at the two areas and figure out how they stacked up against one another. What emerged was a constructive dialogue between stakeholders that weighed the costs of the event — one location costs double what the other does — along with comfort and acoustics.

Guns N’ Roses reunites

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (12.31.2015)

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JC- (w) GunsNRoses

Guns N’ Roses print version

When Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose — one of Lafayette’s own — mended his rift with Slash, the Internet went nuts. So I decided to put something together that outlined the reported situation and tour dates. Our readers rewarded the Journal & Courier with plenty of clicks and shares.

The story also offered the opportunity for one of our producers to publish a photo gallery from our archives.

Answering a hot-button column

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (12.06.2015)

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JC- (w) Exponent column

Exponent column PDF

The then-opinions editor at The Purdue Exponent — an independent mostly student-run newspaper that covers Purdue University — unleashed a biting column about the school’s performing arts and culture presenting organization.

Purdue Convocations, he said, catered more to families, jazz fans and young children more than it did its own students. His piece drew a fierce backlash from the community not only because of its premise but also because he degraded downtown Lafayette.

I pitched to my editors an idea for answering column that contextualized the situation and pointed out some faulty premises without calling out the student. While this piece shows just 85 Facebook shares, it garnered many comments across a few social media platforms and still comes up in personal conversations.

Venue stages a comeback

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.23.2015)

Online version | Print PDF | June 2016 follow-up

Lafayette Theater print PDF

Lafayette Theater print PDF

On my third day as a reporter in Lafayette, I met with two entrepreneurs who had recently assumed management at Lafayette Theater, a cornerstone downtown venue. They told me their plans to lift the national profile of what has long been an underrated and, at times, beleaguered music scene in a town known for engineering and agriculture. What they related to me in that initial meeting felt like a story, but I didn’t know the town well enough to write anything about it immediately.

Six months later, I did. The entrepreneurs were bringing in major musicians, and through historical research, interviews and casual conversations, I contextualized their aim to boost the arts economy and become a regional draw.

Almost a year later, the managers told me the theater had hit a rough patch. Several concerts didn’t sell tickets as they’d thought, and the two scrambled to put together short-term solutions to keep the doors open and book a strong fall slate. That prompted this in-depth follow-up: “After some bumps, Lafayette Theater looks to future.”