Island heat set in Kent Saturday

By Kelly Maile | Staff Writer Published:

Alex Bevan will bring the heat of the islands with the South Bass Social Club at 8 p.m. Saturday night at the Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St.

Bevan will take the stage with other South Bass Island guitarists and singers, Westside Steve and Bob Gatewood.

"I will be coming with my friends, who like myself, are Put-In-Bay entertainers," Bevan said. "The way this show came together, was Tom Simpson from the Kent Stage said, 'Why don't we do a Put-In-Bay cabin fever night?' and I said, 'Why haven't we thought of that before?' It seemed like a great idea, so we put it together. As we speak, Bob is driving back from Key West from playing at the World Famous Sloppy Joes this year."

Westside Steve will kick off the show and Gatewood will follow.

"Westside Steve, he's an Irish scalawag," Bevan said. "He happens to sing like an angel and talk like a devil, he's just wonderful. Bob also has another incarnation; he's the leader of a band called Calabash. We were figuring it out and between the three of us, we probably have about 75 years experience on Put-In-Bay, which is either frightening or miraculous."

Bevan's music ranges from the ridiculous, to the sublime to the serious.

"I got a little bit of that Irish heritage in me and it comes out sometimes and also classic rock," Bevan said. "I've been a songwriter just about my entire working life and a guitar player and a record producer. I don't work on cars very well, but I'm good if it has to do with guitars and a beer in your hand. Once upon a time, when I was younger, I was referred to as the skinny little boy from Cleveland, Ohio and I still carry that around. But what we're going to be doing is celebrating Put-In-Bay and talking about boats and talking about islands."

Bevan said anyone who has the slightest bit of cabin fever should be at the Kent Stage Saturday night.

"One of the things they don't really tell you in Ohio is that usually around three in the afternoon, the people in Key West, if they are sitting on a bar stool, their bar stool swivels to the north and they have an obligation under the threat of drinking a shot of chartreuse to toast Put-In-Bay because everyone knows that Put-In-Bay is Key West north and Key West has always been envious of Put-In-Bay's position. We will be toasting Put-In-Bay at the show."

Recently, Bevan has been working on two different projects, one called the "Lake Erie Legacy" and another with the working title "Foodie."

"'Lake Erie Legacy' is some fishing, boating and drinking songs," Bevan said. "It's always amazing because none of them sound like Jimmy Buffet or Kenny Chesney would touch them with a 10-foot pole. And 'Foodie' is just novelty songs about food. I was watching the food channel and I was like I think instead of watching TV I'm going to write songs about food, so I started with one about chickens, then I wrote one called 'Pasta Man', but we're talking about Put-In-Bay, so we should talk about 'Mayfly Stew'. If I ever quite playing music, I'm sure (celebrity chef) Emeril (Lagesse) would hire me so I can to make Mayfly stew down in New Orleans."

Over the years, Bevan has found ways to incorporate poetry in his music as well.

"It's kind of like the time honored folk process," Bevan said. "People have always taken parts of their daily life and put it into song to make them tolerable or inspirational, and it's fun. I have a new saying, if it's not fun or doesn't lead to fun, then I probably shouldn't be doing it and I should probably figure out something else because you know life is short. We know going into it how we get out of it, so why not just pack all the fun you can in between the book ends, you know."

Bevan said his music style has changed vastly since he was 20-years-old playing one of the early Kent State Folk Festivals.

"Back then I colored in side of the lines," Bevan said. "I made sure there were four beats in every measure and my guitar was always in tune. None of that's true anymore, now I just have fun. Over the years, I've developed enough skills in song writing and musicianship that I can break certain rules."

Bevan said he tries not to make his concerts boring.

"It's bad if I fall asleep at work," Bevan said. "For this Put-In-Bay show, what I like to do is start out having fun and we all have a little more fun as the night goes on, sometimes there's beer involved and even if there is no beer, we still have fun. I like to involved people and engage them. It's real important to me, since I don't have a band and I don't play a lot of electric guitar anymore, to maintain some real direct interaction with the audience. Sometimes I ask them to sing along, and if they don't sing along sometimes I throw on a godzilla suite and then I get a little brash, but hopefully I wont have to do that."

Bevan said he enjoys playing smaller venues the most.

"The interaction is immediate and direct," Bevan said. "You know what's going right and you know what's going not so right and you can make adjustments. For a number of years, I was working at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at the Environmental Education Center, and I read a bunch music curriculum for them. When working with the kids, you get to the point where you realize if you're connecting or not connecting. In a smaller venue, you're able to hone those skills. When you get into a larger venue, you better have those skills in place, otherwise you're flying blind."

Bevan grew up in Cleveland and he now lives in North Madison, near Geneva on the Lake, with his wife.

"It's nice little old Lake Erie community," Bevan said. "I feel very fortunate and blessed to live by a Great Lake and be in northern Ohio. I have the gift of family, friends and music.

Tom Simpson, the co-owner of the Kent Stage, said Bevans plays the Kent Stage a couple times a year.

"We were talking last time he played here about how to create something that would be unique and special and that's going to bring people out to have a good time in the winter time," Simpson said. "Seeing as Alex and these guys are all Put-In-Bay entertainers, we thought about putting together a Put-In-Bay social club. Alex rounded up the guys and here we are."

Simpson said the audience will see one part of Bevan during Saturday's show.

"There's two Alex Bevans," Simpson said. "There's the serious songwriter Alex Bevan who writes songs like the 'Grand River Lullaby' and songs that are serious, with meaning. Then there is the Put-In-Bay Alex who is all about having a good time. I think this show is going to be fun and light-hearted."

Simpson said he expects about 300 people at the special island show.

"It looks like the weather is going to be really nice, in the mid-40's and sunny," Simpson said. "It's like a heat wave. I'm hoping that transfers in people wanting to get out and have a good time. I think they will enjoy the feeling of summer time in February. People can come out and have a couple of cold beers and listen to the Put-In-Bay music without getting on a ferry."

Simpson said once the show is over, the audience will be in for a real treat.

"After the Put-In-Bay social club is over, then we come out with our Rocky Horror Picture show at midnight. That is going to be going on once a month in Kent now. We will also be selling the prop bags for the show."

For more information, call 330-677-5005 or visit www.thekentstage.com.

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  • I am a fat old man from Kent Ohio and I come to reminisce about beer and women