Friday, December 18, 2015

RadioVizions by John Dersham

Talk about some great entertainment in Fort Payne, this is the tops. I am talking about RadioVizions at the Coal and Iron Building every first and third Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m. Here is the concept; RadioVizions is a revival of a series from 1991-1993 that Russell Gulley (Director Big Wills Arts Council) produced at the Fort Payne Opera House. Back then they were supported by grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the Lyndhurst Foundation. They chose to start a bit smaller this time, The Coal and Iron Building for a couple reasons. One is to showcase that building as a venue for cultural activities/programs and two is to keep costs down  using the old concept of "packing" a small venue spreads word of mouth and excitement rather than a half empty, large venue. Fort Payne has a reputation of being a walk up town with small crowds. Eventually, cultural tourism will play a role similar to examples like, The Sucarnochee Revue in Livingston, Al. and Meridian Miss., also The "Rendezvous of the Cajuns" in Eunice La., a French Language Radio. The concept is successful in several communities and seems to be starting off well here.
The recordings will be edited into 30 min. programs for syndication to radio for broadcasts. Local stations, WFPA, WZOB, a sister Cullman Station, and a couple of others are slated to broadcast the finished programs. Also, we have through Stephen Foster, of Global Music Promotions and his program, Direct from Muscle Shoals, access to a network of over 500 internet and FM stations nationally and abroad. Alabama Arts Radio Network is also interested in broadcasting selected programs focused on Alabama Artists. The Recordings are also slated to be placed in the Alabama State Archives in Montgomery and The Alabama Music Hall of Fame for preservation and documentation of our musical heritage.
 The basic concept is to present live musical performances, recorded before an audience as an enhancement of downtown activity and revitalization, promotion of cultural heritage and artistic contributions from our region, to raise awareness of our musical and traditional heritage, and use radio, possibly TV, as a tool to promote Fort Payne and DeKalb County.
I attended the Liz Wood Project with Joe Karacher, and plan to attend Peirce Pettis which will have transpired by the time you are reading this column. I love the whole setting in the Coal and Iron Building. It is comfortable, the sound is good and there is this certain cozy, warm ambiance in the room that makes         you want to relax and enjoy. It just feels good and sounds good. I am so happy Russell and Dennis Gulley have gotten this great format started again. It is good for our community and it provides entertainment that is top quality and permanently recorded for radio and for the historical record. The Liz Wood Project played jazz with vintage standards at its best with the added treat of Joe Karacher, who is 98 years old and still played his clarinet like a young man. I was amazed.
As tourism director in DeKalb and as a board member for Fort Payne Main Street, I look forward to these RadioVizion sessions. They nicely fit into the re-development plans for Fort Payne and like most Main Street communities re-developing they become tourist’s attractions with lots of music, restaurants/bars, boutique shopping, museums and parks. Fort Payne is perfect for this and RadioVizions is a perfect fit for Main Street and for the Coal and Iron Building.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Joy to the world and Peace on Earth by John Dersham

I absolutely love this time of year. I begin looking forward to this whole fall and winter holiday season, beginning with Halloween; which happens to be my birthday. By the time Halloween comes, our fall color season is nearing its peak, the weather has gotten cooler, football season is well on its way, the school year is well established and for me those sentimental feelings of all the great stuff that comes along in the fall and early winter makes me feel good inside and out. I am a very sentimental person who loves to recall all those wonderful times in the past with family and friends enjoying this time of year together. Many of my family from the “Greatest Generation” are gone but I can still see them clearly with me during my growing up years and all the years at Thanksgiving and Christmas all throughout the years. Some people complain about the holiday’s as being contrived to sell products and services and some say the real meaning has been lost for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I disagree with that premise because those two holidays serve as the glue that holds families together and the motivator to get them together. For many families who have spread out across the country (like mine) and the world, Thanksgiving or Christmas may be the only time they get together during the year. It is these holidays that serve as the annual motivation to be with family regardless of how far away and it is the motivation that brings us those sentimental recollections of the fun family times together in the past. It may be the only time of the year that many people get into the reminiscent state of mind and heart. I know there are many people who struggle this time of year for a number of reasons. Some people are stressed about not having money to afford the holidays or they are in jobs where they cannot be with their family, even if they want to and for some there is no family to share the holidays with. For some people the holidays bring sadness and depression. No matter how you feel about the holidays, I wish for you this season brings you joy and fellowship with those you most want to spend it with.
If you like parades then now is a great time for those. We always watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as the cooking is happening and family is arriving. It was the 89th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade last week.  For those of us that live here in DeKalb County we have some choices for parades too. Here is a schedule of Christmas related events and parades:
December 4 - 5 Spirit of Christmas Community Nativity Pageant and Concert Featuring NACC Chorus and Concert Band. The first Christmas will be told in action, song and narration.  This event will be held at the Tom Bevill Lyceum at 7 p.m. Cost is $5 per person. Contact NACC at 256-638-4418 ext 2248.
December 5 Henagar Christmas Parade begins at 10 a.m. 256-657-6282
December 5 Valley Head Christmas Parade begins at 10 a.m. 256-635-6814
December 5 Ider Christmas Parade begins at 1 p.m. 256-657-5717
December 5 A Cheery Canyon Christmas An enchanting day full of holiday programs such as winter wildlife feeding, sustainable giving, Christmas arts & crafts, secret Santa gift shop, photos made with SANTA, storytelling and more!! Little River Canyon Center. 256-782-5697
December 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Come and be a part of this remembrance program presented by the DeKalb County VFW. Members of Fort Payne VFW will give a short narrative about taps and read the names of the sailors that were killed aboard the USS Arizona, approximately thirty Navy servicemen. The program will take place in the Exhibit Hall of the Little River Canyon Center at noon and then culminate at the bridge, where each year, Traci’s donates a wreath that is dropped from the bridge and carried downstream in tribute to those who gave their lives in the line of duty at Pearl Harbor. 256-845-8192
December 11 Fort Payne Christmas Parade and Christmas in the Park Join in the festivities in Fort Payne City Park. Free soft drinks, hot chocolate, refreshments, caroling, then there will be a huge parade to make this annual event tons of fun!  Festivities start at 4 p.m.  Parade starts at 6 p.m. 256-845-2741
December 12 Fyffe Christmas Parade begins at 12 p.m. 256-623-2222
December 12 Collinsville Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. 256-524-2135
December 12 Sylvania Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. 256-638-2604
December 12 Geraldine Christmas Parade  begins at 2 p.m. 256-659-2122
December 12 Annual Rainsville Christmas At the Crossroads and Parade Come and enjoy a celebration of the season with this fun festive annual event.   Parade begins at 4 p.m. 256-638-7800
December 12 Crossville Christmas Parade begins at 5 p.m. 256-528-7121