Columnists

Music Returns in Summer StringTime on the Square

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Alec Hurtubise (middle) joined Bahler’s Golden Age Band (which features Brad Bahler (left) on mandolin and John Bahler (right) on guitar and will perform with the group at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the StringTime on the Square in downtown Noblesville.

Grab your lawn chairs and blankets and get ready to tap your toes for the return of the Legacy Keepers Music StringTime on the Square summer music series.

The concert series debuted in July 2017 in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Legacy Keepers Music, an educational charity that Noblesville’s Janet Gilray started in 2007 to offer musical family programming.

Gilray, musician and vocalist herself, loves bringing string music, particularly bluegrass, to the Square or our community. 

The first concert of the 2022 summer music series will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on the northwest corner of the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn in downtown Noblesville.

“Look for us on the West lawn across from Syd’s this year. We changed sides since that big shade tree on the east lawn came down in a nasty storm last fall,” Gilray said. The east lawn is currently being reseeded and is blocked off.

The season kicks off with Bahler’s Golden Age Band on Saturday.

“The Bahler‘s are one of Central Indiana‘s favorite family husband-and-wife teams,” Gilray said. “As a couple, along with son, John, who is also an entertainer in his own right, they have entertained so many times over the years. Bahler’s Golden Age Band has such a unique repertoire they’re consistently invited to play at the Indiana State Fair Pioneer Village.”

Janet Gilray

The Bahler’s Golden Age Band has added a new generation of players. Banjo player Alec Hurtubise, 27, joined Bahler’s in 2019. Hurtubise also leads his own band, the Eagle Creek Boys. His group appeared in the 2020 series of String-Time on the Square and is featured annually at the Winding Creek Bluegrass Folk Festival in Russiaville, west of Kokomo. Hurtubise was the newest and youngest member until he was joined last year by Gracie Mae Grossman, 18, a fiddler of much promise who just graduated Huntington North High School and is heading to East Tennessee State University to study in the college’s bluegrass program this fall. She is also a 2019 Indiana state champion fiddle player.

There was a time in the early 1930s and 40s, when the entire family would gather around a dimly lit radio dial to listen to music so heart-rending and delightful that this era became known as the Golden Age of Radio. These days, those timeless tunes are offered by Bahler’s Golden Age Band. They play their impressive blend of bluegrass, swing and country music with a small difference; these treasured melodies are reinvigorated with the fresh spirit of modern times.

Founding members, from the Kokomo area, include family members: Brad Bahler on mandolin, Karen Bahler on bass and John Bahler on guitar. Saturday’s opener is Brad McCord, 43, Noblesville. “I have played around on guitars since high school but really started learning and playing more in the last 10 years. It started when I discovered lessons on YouTube. When the pianist at church left, I decided to learn traditional hymns, and this is where I first started playing in front of people,” he said.

McCord plays six-string acoustic guitar and 12-string acoustic guitar. “I’ve never taken a structured lesson,” he said. “I learned from a Hal Leonard book my cousin gave me years ago, and then learned from YouTube videos.” His firsts during the past two years have included singing in public, writing and performing his own music and having the opportunities to share his talents with others.  He said, “I never imagined myself singing to a crowd. I love playing guitar, and that is all I have ever wanted to do.” He said, “I struggle with nerves every time I play but have quickly learned to get comfortable being uncomfortable (a phrase he learned in Toastmasters). Playing for an audience is great. The more engaged they are, the better I perform.”

(Photo courtesy of Sally Wolf)
Cornfields & Crossroads — Dan Wethington of Noblesville (left), Joe Flowers of Lebanon, Eric Hardy of Martinsville and Darrell Duety of Indianapolis — will perform July 16 at the StringTime on the Square in downtown Noblesville.

So McCord invites everyone to come out and enjoy the show on Saturday night on the Square in downtown Noblesville.

On July 16, Cornfields and Crossroads Bluegrass Band will perform in the String-Time on the Square series.

This Central Indiana band has been together since 2005. Throughout these years, Cornfields and Crossroads consistently thrilled audiences with energetic, wholesome entertainment. The group showcases traditional fan favorites, hard-driving instrumentals, and ballads from the softer side of bluegrass. As a perennial favorite at “StringTime on the Square,” and a founding band, Cornfields & Crossroads features Dan Wethington of Noblesville on banjo, Darrell Duety of Indianapolis on mandolin, Eric Hardy of Martinsville on guitar and Joe Flowers of Lebanon on bass.  The band has been showcased nationally at the Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association/SPGMA, recorded four CDs, shared the stage with bluegrass icons such as Rhonda Vincent and earned significant radio airplay.

(Photo courtesy of Rock Bottom Boys of Madison County)
Rock Bottom Boys of Madison County — Trent Palmer (from left) , Jason Varner, and Mike Snyder — will perform Aug. 20 on the northwest corner of the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn.

Openers on July 16 will be Jean Roberts & Leslie Selden. Arcadia’s Jean Roberts and her folk band, Blackberry Jam, are sometimes found performing at the Indiana State Fair, on a stage in the Pioneer Village that resembles an old cabin’s front porch with seating in church pews. Seldon plays fiddle in the band and will perform together with Roberts on Saturday.

On Aug. 20, Rock Bottom Boys of Madison County — a band that prides itself in bringing joy and cheer to folks of all ages with their rollicking fusion of Americana, folk, blues and bluegrass music — will perform on the Square. Based out of Anderson, Trent Palmer, Jason Varner, and Mike Snyder created their unique blend of acoustic music by mixing guitar, mandolin, and banjo, alongside crisp, three part harmonies and humor appropriate for the whole family. What is the ultimate goal of the Rock Bottom Boys? “To have fun with their audience and send everyone home smiling and completely delighted,”

Addie McMillan, 16, who’ll be a junior in the fall at Noblesville High School, is the opener. She sometimes sings the National Anthem during the summer concert series. She sang in the New Dimension all-female show choir during her sophomore year and has been selected to join the NHS Singers mixed show choir this coming school year.

Photo courtesy of Stones Crossing Band
Stones Crossing Family Band, made up Shalynn Adams (from left), Amanda Graham, Mark Graham and Billy Adams, will perform Sept. 17 on the northwest corner of the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn..

The final band of the season, on Sept. 17, is Stones Crossing Family Band. Mark Graham has been singing with daughters, Shalynn and Amanda for their whole lives, in church and at home. For 30 years, he’s played with various bands, and then one day got a chance to perform with his son-in-law, Billy Adams. Not long after that, Mark Graham quit his other groups to focus on the family band, exclusively. Stones Crossing will be playing a variety of gospel, bluegrass, country and soft rock.  And Girlray said, don’t be surprised if the band adds a little bit of Elvis.

Openers are Alec Bohuk and Eric Reel, of Booze Hands Bluegrass. They perform traditional bluegrass with a fresh take on songs we know and love.

Featured band plays 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. with brief intermission for raffle drawing. Openers begin at 6:30 p.m.

Series benefactor is Noblesville Township Trustee Tom Kenley.

Band sponsors include: Chuck Goodrich, Mark Heirbrandt, George Kristo, and Jean Roberts.

Since its inception, Legacy Keepers Music has presented more than 100 public music programs.

Gilray has been mixing business, music and special events ever since her college days in Fresno, Calif. Gilray got her start as a business and marketing major when she landed an internship with the president of the town’s convention and visitors bureau. With that experience, she went on to preside over a non-profit cultural arts auxiliary affiliated with the city parks and rec and then established her own marketing firm to manage promotional events,” she said. “I have always enjoyed gatherings in a public square. All my life it seems, I’ve been organizing art and music festivals, rodeo events, promotions where people come for a good time. I even organized a pet show, once. Now I’ve simplified my life by encouraging live music — finding and hiring the musicians — they play, and I kick back and smile”

This series sounds like some amazing talent not to miss. Thanks for bringing another season of bluegrass music, Janet Gilray.

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Want TO GO?

What: Legacy Keepers Music’s sixth annual StringTime on the Square summer music series.

When: 6:30 p.m. the third Saturday, June, July, August and September.

Where: Northwest corner of the Hamilton County Courthouse lawn, downtown Noblesville. Featured acts perform 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

How much: Free.

Good to know: Lawn chairs, blankets, picnicking and toe-tapping invited.

Bands: June 18, Bahler’s Golden Age Band, opener Brad McCord; July 16, Cornfieldss & Crossroads Bluegrass Band, opener Jean Roberts & Leslie Selden; Aug. 20, Rock Bottom Boys of Madison County, opener Addie McMillan; and Sept 17, Stones Crossing Family Band, opener Alec Bohuk & Eric Reel.