Carillon Park Heritage Fest

Carillon Park History FestivalOn the south side of Dayton, Ohio, there is what amounts to a small Greenfield Village. It’s now called Carillon Historical Park and is part of the Dayton History organization. Just as Henry Ford was behind the collection of historic buildings that is Greenfield Village, Dayton industrialist Edward Deeds was behind the collection here. I believe the place was actually called Deeds Park once upon a time. In fact, I didn’t realize that Deeds was not part of the official name until I started doing research to write this. At least the carillon that gives the park its name is still called the Deeds Carillon. It was built in 1942 and, at 151 feet tall, is the largest in Ohio.

Carillon Park Heritage FestivalCarillon Park Heritage FestivalToday was the day of the Heritage Festival which meant admission was free (just pay for parking), all the buildings were open and staffed, and there were plenty of food vendors. There was also entertainment scheduled throughout the day with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra preceding event ending fireworks.

Carillon Park Heritage FestivalCarillon Park Heritage FestivalQuite a few bicycle manufacturers called Dayton home and that included the Wright Brothers. Two of the five surviving Van Cleves (the Wright’s  , brand name) are in the park but are not part of this display. Both are in a building devoted to the brothers. Huffy originated in Dayton and introduced the Radio Bike in 1955. The three tube radio was built into the “tank” with batteries and antenna on the rear fender. Only a few more years separate the 1890s high-wheels in the first picture from the Radio Bike than separate the Radio Bike from today.

Carillon Park Heritage FestivalCarillon Park Heritage FestivalThere’s some big stuff, like rail cars and buses, in the transportation building. The 1835 B & O engine is the oldest existing locomotive built in the United States. Because of the way the vertical pistons and connecting rods looked when in motion, locomotives of this type got the nickname “grasshoppers”. The horse-drawn steam-powered pumper was built in Cincinnati in 1883 and used in Sidney, Ohio, until 1916.

Carillon Park Heritage FestivalI remember this clock standing beside I-75 just south of Dayton. It marked the Reynolds and Reynolds Company headquarters and I guess I thought it always had. Nope. It started out in downtown Dayton on the Callahan Building. That building was demolished in 1978 and the clock moved to Reynolds and Reynolds. It has been patiently waiting here since 2006.

Carillon Park Heritage FestivalI’m not sure what this fellow’s real name is but he calls himself Wilbur
“…because I can’t grow a mustache”. He is standing in a replica of the Wright’s work shop since Henry Ford took the original to Greenfield Village at the Ford Museum. After doing a wonderful job of telling about the wind tunnel and other experiments that both preceded and followed that first flight in 1903, he tells us that there is a real airplane just down the hall that “…I’ll be flying this afternoon about 3:00.”

Carillon Park Heritage FestivalCarillon Park Heritage FestivalThis is the plane. It is the Wright Flyer III from 1905. With the 1903 flyer, they got off of the ground more or less when they wanted but they returned the the ground when the plane “wanted” and the flight path was essentially straight. With this plane, they learned to fly where they wanted and land on their own, rather than the plane’s, schedule. When Orville gave the pieces of this plane (it’s about 80% original) to Deeds in 1948, he insisted that it be displayed in a pit so that visitors could look down on the plane and see what was involved it operating it. The pilot’s right hand works a horizontal lever that controls the rudder. The left hand works a vertical lever that controls the elevators at the front of the plane. By moving his hips from side to side, the pilot controls the twisting of the wings which the Wrights called “wing warping”. Orville died before the park opened.

I didn’t make it to the fireworks or even to the Philharmonic but, as always, I very much enjoyed a visit to my favorite neighborhood historical village.


Music Review
Just Like Honey
Lisa Biales

Just Like Honey CD coverI read somewhere that Alannah Myles recorded her 1989 hit Black Velvet in a hot un-air-conditioned room to make it feel, and therefore sound, like “Mississippi in the middle of a dry spell”. The result was something that could be described in a single word and which fit that word, sultry, in every dimension. Lisa Biales didn’t forego climate control to record Just Like Honey but she did get some help from the south and she did nail SULTRY — dead center and in capital letters.

The title track comes from Nashville song writers Cameron-Beck-Kahan.There are a couple Biales originals, a couple from the CD’s producer, EG Kight, and a Biales-Kight collaboration. Most of the remaining material comes from some of Biales’ musical influences and that was a conscience decision by her and Kight.

If you ask Lisa to name her influences, you best not be in a hurry. The list of female singers she admires and draws from is a long one and includes many who are no strangers to sultry themselves. She doesn’t get to all of them here but she does cover some biggies. There are tunes by Memphis Minnie, Bonnie Raitt, and Candye Kane plus songs written by others but firmly associated with the likes of Ma Rainey, Etta James, and Odetta. And by “cover” I don’t mean “copy”. I mean celebrate and interpret.

A goodly chunk of that “help from the south” I mentioned comes, of course, from Kight, a.k.a, “The Georgia Songbird”. There’s a big dose from Paul Hornsby and his Muscaline Recording Studios in Macon, Georgia, and Capricorn veterans Tommy Talton, Marshall Coats, and Bill Stewart (guitar, bass, drums) contribute their share, too. In fact Talton, supplies a song, Watch Out Baby Don’t Cry, that quickly became a favorite of mine. Talton, Coats, and Stewart form the core group for this CD but others, including Hornsby on keys and Ken Wynn on guitar, show up here and there.

So we have some highly talented musicians, an accomplished producer and engineer, some original material, some material “borrowed” from the best, and maybe even a little of that “slow southern style”. That’s a mighty fine foundation for Lisa’s clear and powerful… and sultry… vocals. Just Like Honey is the name of the CD and of a song that’s on it. It’s also a pretty good description.

The CD is here and Lisa’s website here.

I’ve mentioned a few of Lisa’s live performances in this blog including a couple in April where she and Ronstadt Generations traded “guest appearances”. Ronstadt Generations have just launched a Kickstarter project looking for help with their second studio CD. Check it out here.

Signs of Summer

Fountain at Cincinnati Museum CenterThe fountain in front of Union Terminal, a.k.a., Cincinnati Museum Center, runs all summer and is turned off all winter. Therefore, one sure sign of summer in Cincinnati is the turning on of the fountain. That happened Friday at 10:30 AM. I had kind of hoped to see the stepped pools below the fountain go from bare concrete to a series of waterfalls right before our eyes but it wasn’t quite that dramatic. Whether the pools were primed in the interest of time or whether the standing water was simply left over from some secret testing I cannot say, but they started the day ready to overflow at the slightest provocation.

Fountain at Cincinnati Museum CenterFountain at Cincinnati Museum CenterFountain at Cincinnati Museum Center




I still think bare concrete morphing to cascading waterfalls would have been cooler but watching the fountain go from zilch to a spurt to a full spray wasn’t bad.

Day in Pompeii CharacterDay in Pompeii CharactersAll the kids, and there were plenty, were properly wowed and they also enjoyed the characters on hand to promote the ongoing A Day in Pompeii exhibit. I’ve seen the exhibit and it’s a duesy. University of Cincinnati Professor Steven Ellis, along with several UC students, has been instrumental in the current excavations in Pompeii and that was instrumental in making Cincinnati one of only four US cities hosting the exhibit. As you can see, security was tight.

The weather was obviously quite nice for the events at the fountain but Friday was just one of several consecutive near perfect days. Perfect not only for fountains of water but for fountains — or taps — of root beer. I made it to three different root beer stands on three of those near perfect days.

Jolly's Drive In, Hamilton, OhioJolly's Drive In, Hamilton, OhioOn Thursday it was the Jolly’s on the west side of Hamilton, Ohio. Back in 1938, Vinny Jolivette opened an A&W Root Beer franchise in Hamilton. He built this place in 1967 and, casting off the A&W identity, used the family name to inspire a new one for the restaurant. It’s west of the Great Miami River on Brookwood. Somewhere along the line, they added another on the east side of town on Erie. That one has a cooler sign but this one still makes its own root beer and that trumps the sign. The two remain officially connected (The car side signs carry both telephone numbers.) but are managed somewhat separately by two brothers. There is a third Jolly’s in Tiffin, Ohio, that was started, also as an A&W, in 1947 by Vinny’s brother, Roy, and it seems there was a fourth somewhere in Indiana (possibly Bloomington) but I know very little about it.

The Root Beer Stand, Sharonville, OhioThe Root Beer Stand, Sharonville, OhioI stopped by The Root Beer Stand in Sharonville, Ohio, on Friday afternoon. It started life in1957 as an A&W then went independent in 1982. It stopped using carhops in 1972. Originally built and operated by the Rideour family, it moved on to its second and current owners, Scott & Jackie Donley, in 1990. The Donleys have kept everything pretty much the same and that definitely includes making the root beer using water from their 280 foot well. Claims that “it’s something in the water” may very well be true here.

Neil's A&W, Union City, OhioNeil's A&W, Union City, OhioI got my Saturday root beer fix at the A&W in Union City, Ohio. Despite this being a place I frequented as a teenager, I know few details of its history. I do recall that is was owned by a fellow named Smith in the 1960s and that he operated a used car lot right next door. I have vivid memories of sipping root beer and drooling over a black 1956 Thunderbird that sat in that lot when I was about seventeen. At some point, it became Neil’s A&W Drive In and so it remains today. Curiously, this place doesn’t show up on a the official A&W website nor does it have its own site but it does have a FaceBook page.

All three of these places make their own root beer using at least some of the original A&W equipment. Guess that stuff was made to last. All of them taste great and I’m guessing that the recipes are all the same or similar. The Root Beer Stand has its special water and both it and Jolly’s serve their brew in chilled glass mugs. I love ’em both and I do tend to dislike chains but “real” A&Ws (Not stuffed-into-a-corner-of-a-gas-station A&Ws.) are pretty cool and it’s hard to beat an ice covered mug.

Neil's A&W, Union City, OhioJolly's Drive In, Hamilton, OhioI’m guessing that some noticed the slightly red convertible in the center of the Root Beer Stand photo. That’s my 1963 Valiant and plans to drive it to Darke County and the A&W at the border led to the warm up visits to Hamilton and Sharonville. The 200 mile round trip was the cars longest outing since the cold drive home from Cambridge in early 2011. She done good. These pictures show her at Jolly’s and Neil’s.

Flipdaddys: Burgers & Beers... & BrunchI recently learned that the neighborhood Flipdaddy’s does brunch on Sundays so I walked over this morning to check it out. It was quite good. I’m always dismayed but rarely surprised to find myself alone on a restaurant’s patio. But, with the thermometer at 74 degrees, I was a little bit surprised today. Lots of people just don’t like any temperature I guess. To be fair, one couple and their home from college daughter did venture outside to eat. That was it. The restaurant was fairly busy inside but just one other outside table was ever used all the while I leisurely worked through my bacon & eggs and slowly sipped my Magic Hat dessert.

Parisians at Play

Ricky Nye and the Paris Blues BandThough far removed from their natural habitat, these Parisians appear to be well acclimated and enjoying themselves. And so is everybody else. Local boogie woogie master Ricky Nye makes at least one trip to France each year and, for the last three years, these fellows have been returning the favor. Using the name Ricky Nye and the Paris Blues Band, they do a few shows in and around Cincinnati and I’ve managed to catch one of them on each of the visits. The first two years, it was at Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, where they performed Friday night. This year I missed the Rabbit Hash show but saw the group on Saturday at the Big Song Music House. This is the remarkable venue that Marc & Lisa Biales have created near Oxford, Ohio, and which I visited for the first time just about a month ago.

Paris Blues BandThe Paris Blues Band, which doesn’t really exist without Ricky, consists of Simon Boyer on drums, Thibaut Chopin on bass, and Anthony Stelmaszack on guitar. Chopin and Stelmaszack both sing and, as you can see, both play harmonica. Ever hear twin harmonica powered locomotives steam across a stage? Killer!


Paris Blues Band with Lisa Biales and Doug HamiltonThe excellent Ville Du Bois, recorded in Paris, is the group’s only studio offering to date. (Wrong! See note below.)
I apologize for being unfamiliar with a collection of live recordings that is also available. They are doing quite a bit of recording while in the States and that includes some with Biales. The songs they recorded together were used as openers for both sets and violinist Doug Hamilton even joined in for a couple of tunes. There will definitely be a new Ricky Nye and the Paris Blues Band studio CD available before too long and I’m sure those tracks with Lisa will appear somewhere somehow someday.

Simon BoyerThibaut ChopinAnthony Stelmaszack




Ricky NyeIt’s a good thing when Ricky pushes himself back from the piano in a move that looks a little like something Jerry Lee Lewis might do. It’s an unintentional signal that some extra hot keyboard action is about to take place and it’s kind of rare. Maybe it was the band or maybe it was the acoustic (rather than electronic) piano but there were three or four of those moments tonight and one that ended with Ricky standing as he joyously worked the keys. Fortunately for those seated just a few feet away, he stopped short of sending the bench sailing as Jerry Lee often does. There’s a little better view of the 1930ish Wurlitzer Butterfly Baby Grand here.

Paris Blues BandI left my camera in the car until intermission so all of the preceding pictures are from the second set. But it was during the first set that Lisa surprised everyone, including Thibaut, by filling in on bass while he played harmonica. In another “If you want a picture really bad, I’ve got a really bad picture” moment, I tried capturing that with my phone.

CORRECTION: I somehow missed a second studio CD but Ricky very politely filled me in. The CD is here and the cover actually looks familiar though some track samples don’t. It shows up at CDBaby with a search for Paris Blues Band though not with a search for Ricky Nye. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it but I’m still sorry and embarrassed.

Ohio’s Revolutionary War Battle

Bill Smith at George Rogers Clark monumentOhio did not, of course, exist in any official form during the American Revolution and there were no British troops at the Battle of Picawey, but the conflict that occurred a few miles west of present day Springfield, Ohio, was between American rebels and British allies and definitely part of the American War of Independence. I knew a little about the battle but today I learned a whole lot more about it from a fellow wearing a tricorn hat and sitting on a stump.

George Rogers Clark Park is where the “New Boston Fair”, which I attended in 2010, is held and the group responsible for that, George Rogers Clark Heritage Association, also conducts a “Spring at New Boston” event. It is a two day, Saturday & Sunday, affair that seems to be promoted as a plant sale. That didn’t interest me very much, but a “History Walk”, which did, was also mentioned. Today, Sunday, I turned out to be the only participant and, when historian Bill Smith explained that the walk wouldn’t reveal anything he couldn’t point to, it didn’t take long for two men of a certain age to talk each other into finding a pair of comfortable stumps. He and a couple of similarly aged gentlemen had done the same thing yesterday. Of course, if some youngsters show up for one of these, Bill will gladly lead them across the road and just might have a few reenactors pop out of the shadows along the way.

George Rogers Clark MonumentBill handed me a sheet with a few paragraphs on one side and a map on the other. Neither of us ever looked at the text but the map was a great help in understanding the battle. Before detailing the battle itself, Bill described some of what led to it and I believe I found that even more interesting. In June of 1780, Captain Henry Bird led a group of Indians and British soldiers into Kentucky where both Ruddle’s Station and Martin’s Station were overpowered. Both stations surrendered, but Bird could not keep some portion of the Indians from killing a number of what were essentially his prisoners. Although Bird then returned to Detroit with his prisoners, he had certainly frightened the Kentuckians and got the attention of Colonel George Rogers Clark who raised an army and headed north. Although a British built stockade stood nearby, there were no British forces at the Indian village of Peckuwe when Clark attacked on August 8, 1780. The Indians were driven from the village and the battle was a victory for Clark. There were no more raids into Kentucky for the duration of the Revolutionary War.

George Rogers Clark Monument  - TecumsehClark is on the front of the 35 foot tall monument. Tecumseh is on the back. He was at the battle — sort of. He was about twelve years old and was among the women and children who fled the village in advance of the attack. The marker identifies this as his birthplace. It is one of at least three locations identified as such by someone. One of the claims for it being near this marker comes from Thomas Worthington, the future governor of the future Ohio, who is one of two men who say Tecumseh himself identified the nearby river as his birthplace as he passed it in their company.

1812 encampment1812 encampmentThe history lesson on a stump was certainly fun but there was even more fun to be had. There was a small War of 1812 encampment across the way in the field that is filled by the fair on Labor Day weekend. Bill had pointed to it a few times when talking about the 6-pounder cannon that Clark had used at the battle.

1812 encampment1812 encampmentThe cannoneers were clearly enjoying themselves but were nearly as polished as the brass barrel of the big gun. There was no grapeshot or heavy balls loaded into that barrel but black powder is not something to be sloppy with. They weren’t. They knew their duties and performed them on command.

Cannon shot #4I learned later that the cannon, though present, had not been fired on Saturday. That might explain why the crew seemed to really be enjoying themselves today and why they fired the gun multiple times. Timing is not precise. There might be a second or two between the touching of the match and the actual blast. That’s my excuse for jumping at every boom even after I knew exactly what to expect. The picture above is of the fourth and final shot but there are also pictures of the first three: Shot #1, Shot #2, Shot #3.