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Arts & Culture

Philharmonic Players & Moser Woods ready to rock the Embassy

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players’ Association will be performing a special concert with Moser Woods at the Embassy Theatre this Saturday, featuring the band’s original instrumental progressive rock compositions.

Originally the brainchild of band member and Philharmonic supporter, Rick Kinney, this project actually began to take shape during the pandemic, when performers were idled by COVID restrictions.

Kinney next enlisted the help of the Association’s principal bassist Adrian Mann, who would go on to work out brand new arrangements of the band’s original work for full orchestra.

Proceeds from this performance will benefit the Players’ Association.

WBOI’s Julia Meek talked with Kinney and the band’s guitarist Shaun Bryan about the scope of the collaboration and what it holds in store for musicians and concert goers alike.

The conversation is followed by "The Jangley Song," from the band's album, Moser Woods Live, Clyde Theatre.
Event Information:

Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players’ Association & Moser Woods in Concert
@ The Historic Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne
Saturday, May 21st, 2022 8:00 p.m.

For tickets & more information visit the Moser Woods Facebook page.

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Courtesy/Moser Woods
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Album Art: Moser Woods Live, Clyde Theatre by Shawn Bryan

Julia Meek: Rick Kinney, Shaun Bryan, welcome.

Rick Kinney: Thank you, Julia. Thanks for having us.

Shaun Bryan: Hello.

Julia Meek: So a new musical collaboration is ready to drop. Rick, in a word. What's it like when eclectic pop rock and cool classical collide?

Rick Kinney: Well, it's all different genres mixed together into one. I would say it's heavy, and it's mellow. And it's rock. And it's instrumental. And it's groovy.

Julia Meek: Exciting?

Rick Kinney: Really exciting...Explosion!

Julia Meek: Fantastic. Now, how long have y'all been together, Shaun?

Shaun Bryan: We did the math a little bit earlier. It sounds like about 19 years going on 20. So we've known each other since we were kids.

Julia Meek: Oh, my goodness. And how would you to describe your own signature Moser Woods sound?

Shaun Bryan: I think what makes us unique is we are truly a mix of about every musical genre, you can think of lots of different influences coming together.

Rick Kinney: Progressive instrumental rock music.

Julia Meek: Yeah, that's fair and square and it says it all. You do your originals, you've stuck with it, you've really, really got a fan base. What kind of challenge has that been over these 20 ish years that you have enjoyed really making a name for yourself?

Shaun Bryan: Yeah, I think one of the challenges is, you know, we create original music and just keeping up with that to keep things interesting and staying inspired. That's a challenge,

Julia Meek: Yes, but attracting the fans as well then?

Rick Kinney: When you don't have a vocalist, some people don't really relate to the music at first. And then a lot of times, what we see is our fans say, Oh, wow, that's really interesting. Your music kind of tells a story. So even though there are no English words, per se, our language is spoken a different way with sounds.

Julia Meek: Then of course, music really is probably the strongest language in the world and certainly it's universal. How have you use the whole being eclectic to your advantage? Is it easier to promote something that far out and to the left sometimes?

Rick Kinney: Well, I would say it opens up a really, really wide diverse group of fans. So people that like metal, rock, classical music, hip hop, classic rock, jazz, funk, tribal music, the fans tend to find a way to relate and enjoy your music no matter what they like.

Julia Meek: Does that go the opposite direction, too? And that kind of multi use of genres, you can find a way to connect with them.

Shaun Bryan: Yeah, I think our musical style sort of acts as a filter in a good way, really, because the people that do like it, they really like it. The people that don't or don't have the attention span for it, I totally understand, but it's not for them. So what we tend to find is the people that do show up over and over again, and come to listen, they are really listening. They're not just there.

Julia Meek: And I think they told their friends, of course, that's going to be a big plus for you, too!

Shaun Bryan: We hope so. (chuckles)

Julia Meek: So what inspired this collaboration you have on your drawing board right now?

Rick Kinney: Well, Shaun and I have been friends and playing music since back in seventh grade, we have always loved all different types of music. So our keyboard player, Lance is also one of our good friends from back in the day. And I think it's something that we talked about when we were younger, wouldn't it be super cool if we had an orchestra backing us up or we can play with an orchestra? And then eventually, I think Metallica did it? And then we saw that and were, Well, that's pretty cool. But you know, during the pandemic, I saw an opportunity, to be honest. I knew that the musicians of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Players Association, they were furloughed. Nobody was working, things were tough for everyone and I thought maybe this is a good time to keep busy and do something creative and positive. And that's when I decided to pursue this show--this fundraiser.

Julia Meek: Okay, then, Shaun, after you got used to this kind of wild and crazy brainstorm, how did it hit you? And where did you have to go with it to take it the next step?

Shaun Bryan: So for me, part of my background education is in classical music. I studied classical guitar for years. So this was a pretty easy transition for me. Most of the time, you know, when we're working on new pieces or writing it, there's always some idea for a score that's kind of in the background anyway. So for the style of music we play and write, it really makes sense, it's just the ability to sort of tap into different emotions with different instruments at the same time.

Julia Meek: So you were ready for it? It was a natural progression?

Shaun Bryan: It felt very natural. Yeah.

Julia Meek: And you're working with the beloved Adrian Mann on this project. What is that like? And where is it taking this concert?

Rick Kinney: Well, for me, it's an honor because Adrian, like Sean is just a really well rounded musician. And as a drummer, I don't really get to tap into a lot of the stuff I think that other musicians do that play other instruments. So I've learned a lot. It's been an educational experience for me, most of all, and Adrian's just like one of the most passionate and level headed smart, just really cool individuals I've ever met. It's been a blast working with him.

Julia Meek: Okay, once that absolutely massive light bulb went off and you quit being blinded (chuckles) What was the very first thing you did?

Rick Kinney: We played a show with the Clyde theater. That show was recorded. And Shaun and Lance invited their good friend Ed Stevens to join us on stage and he's a cello player. And Shaun actually wrote the cello parts. So we had the cello parts, andnd then we took that entire show, front to back. and we took all the songs and worked with our friend, Hope Arthur, and she scored out the guitar, the piano and the bass guitar for Adrian. So with that, coupled with the cello parts that Shaun wrote for Ed, Adrian took all of that, and then just started going to work and he wrote out the music for 60 musicians.

Shaun Bryan: It was essentially like adding another band member, but that band member is actually 60 band members. (laughing) We got we got a pretty good deal on that.

Julia Meek: I'd say so. All totalled then, how many musicians will be assembled here?

Rick Kinney: Right now it looks like there's going to be a total of 60 musicians on stage, approximately 56 orchestral musicians and then the four of us.

Julia Meek: And the four of you. (chuckles) That's quite a gathering.

Rick Kinney: Yeah.

Julia Meek: Biggest one that you two have ever partaken of?

Shaun Bryan: Absolutely. I've performed with a couple of orchestras before, but it's never been my music. So this is obviously special.

Julia Meek: Oh my goodness. Yes, indeed. So what can concert goers expect?

Rick Kinney: I would say an explosion of rock, jazz, classical music, lots of highs, lots of lows, ups and downs all over the place. It's almost like if you will, seeing a film with no video. It's a very auditory experience, people are going to witness something that I don't really think has ever quite happened on stage before. I mean, I know it hasn't because this musics never been performed with an orchestra. But it'll be something that pretty much any music lover of any genre can relate to and enjoy. It's really just going to be all over the place.

Julia Meek: It is in fact, the music from your own album.

Rick Kinney: That's right.

Julia Meek: And as I've heard it described: Lights! Camera! Action! People are going to almost think that they are seeing it as it goes on. You'll also be filming the event, right?

Rick Kinney: Yeah, that's right, South 40 Video Productions is a video production company out of Indianapolis, they're going to be coming up to film the whole show. And we're going to be multi tracking it. We're going to do audio multitrack recording with silverbirch recording studios.

Julia Meek: Very nice. You're involving so many organizations in an already collaborative event. That has to be another meaningful part for you Moser Woods fellows, because it seems all about collaboration for you. Is that safe to say?

Shaun Bryan: Yeah, yeah. I think all of the local musicians have that sense of community where we want to help each other out. That's what is so nice about this, from my perspective, is we're taking these two sort of musical identities that would typically never share a stage together and cramming everybody up there and putting a ton of work into it, and just seeing what happens with it.

Julia Meek: That's so exciting. And this is also a benefit for the Philharmonic Players Association. So besides being a very worthy cause, why is that particular connection important to our community and the well being of local music?

Rick Kinney: Well, let's face it, a lot of these people have moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and invested their time and their money in their lives and our community. And they enrich our lives by working really hard and rehearsing every day to get up on stage and play music for us. And I think it's important that we show them respect by honoring that hard work and that dedication by treating them well. We talk about how we want to attract and retain talent. It's a big key word for economic development, but attracting it is one thing but retaining it. I think this is a good example of retaining it.

Julia Meek: Indeed, Rick, and now the Fort Wayne music scene has exploded in the last decade with all genres benefiting. So Shaun, how would you describe the freedom and new opportunities this affords as everybody goes forward now?

Shaun Bryan: Well hopefully, it serves as an inspiration for other local musicians to just try something different. When I think about the things I'm most proud of are the collaborative spirit behind it. And also the sense of just really going for something that's pretty big, and trying something that could completely fail and hoping for the best and just putting as much work as we possibly can into it to try and see it succeed, I think that sort of encapsulates, you know, music in general, and especially original music, like you're putting things out there that are potentially, you know, you never know how it's going to be received. But, you know, those are the things that usually are the most memorable, are those moments where you kind of jump out and it's like, let's try this and see what happens.

Julia Meek: The great big deal.

Shaun Bryan: Yeah.

Julia Meek: Now, this whole project is a longtime dream of you wild and crazy Moser Woods band, I know. What must it feel like now that it is coming to fruition? Can you believe it yet?

Rick Kinney: Well, you know, time flies when you're having fun. (laughs) So, you know, we've been rehearsing alot in our studio, Adrian was cool enough to work with Sean and they put together basically an album of the music that the orchestra is going to be playing, but synthesized. So we've been rehearsing to that in the studio, and then just rehearsing amongst ourselves as a band like normal. You know, this is the biggest show I've ever been a part of. And it's one of the biggest productions that I've ever been a team member of. And so it's a little bit terrifying, but at the same time, it's super exciting. We only live once. There's no better time than now. And some day you know, we may not have the energy to do this. And so it's like why not? It's just one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, kind of a bucket list dream.

Julia Meek: Were there any surprises along the way?

Shaun Bryan: Not so many surprises in that I kind of knew that it was going to take a lot of work to get everything dialed in. So I can't say that that was a surprise. Yeah, not too many surprises. So far, it's actually gone really, really smooth and really well, and I'm also extremely scared, but super excited about it. I just hope we make the orchestra sound good.

Rick Kinney: Yeah, we have a lot to live up to. I would say that one of the biggest surprises is the amount of outpouring support that we've seen from other members of the community, like the Embassy Theatre, Lupke Rice Insurance Company, Silverbirch Studios, South 40 Productions, all of the musicians and Adrian and everybody that's put so much time in this and of course, the Moser Woods guys, like everybody's just really come together. So it was a surprise to me, it really made me feel good to see that everyone else kind of believed in this dream.

Julia Meek: It makes all of us happy to be in such a musical, inclusive musical environment too--that's a huge part of it. And a word on that venue itself, the historic Embassy Theatre. how is that special?

Shaun Bryan: I think any local Fort Wayne musician wants to play there. That's THE stage right? Like it's the the most beautiful theater in the city and that's where you're trying to get to at some point. So yeah, I mean, I would suggest anybody that likes to play music live needs that opportunity to potentially get up on the Embassy and play for an audience.

Julia Meek: You've both had occasion to be on the stage. Is it true, the vibes? Do you feel the spirit of that space?

Rick Kinney: Absolutely. We played there in 2007, we played Down the Line Number Two, and we performed the music of Pink Floyd. And that was still one of the best experiences of my life, the energy in that space is amazing. And, you know, it should be noted that a group of musicians and volunteers saved that theater back in the day from the wrecking ball. And this, this whole community organization that's come together to make this show happen? The whole show just kind of underscores that collaborative effort to do something good and positive.

Julia Meek: Speaking of adventure, then, what is next for Moser Woods, guys, more collaborations on the horizon that we can talk about?

Rick Kinney: Yeah, we hope so. One of the big dreams for this show is to take this on the road, maybe approach other orchestras around the country and discuss performing with them. And hopefully they're interested in buying into that idea. Maybe it's for a fundraiser for an orchestra, maybe it's a fundraiser for a group of musicians, or maybe it's simply just adding the Moser Woods show to their yearly schedule in their calendar. That's a huge dream for us. And I guess you can't make it happen if you don't try.

Julia Meek: That's a great point. And also you have the right show to put out there an d market. How much is that being done right now? Do you have a measure?

Rick Kinney: Well, I don't think there's enough of it happening. I think that classical music is part of what inspired all music that we hear today. But I think that there could be some new life being brought into the classical music world, and maybe getting younger people excited about classical music and where the history comes from, I think there needs to be more of this type of music being brought into the classical world, you know, progressive rock instrumental, I would almost call it abstract in some ways.

Julia Meek: That's fair.

Rick Kinney: You know, it's rock music, really, it's going to be a big rock show with an orchestra.

Julia Meek: And the more music that people have ready access to--seemingly being bombarded with all of the time--are you feeling the space for this really showing itself to you for this kind of a sound, and a feeling to really take off?

Shaun Bryan: Yeah, I hope so. I think anybody that comes with an open mind is gonna get something out of it. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised, potentially people are going to show up that maybe they don't think they'll like it. And will leave totally different. But I think what's important is doing everything we can to foster these musical genres that if we don't do everything we can to support it. it fizzles out. One of my biggest concerns is taking something like the Philharmonic for granted and it goes away. I think we all sort of have this responsibility to continue that tradition of going to see live performances and investing ourselves in classical music and things like that. So you know, I have three young daughters, I bring them to the Embassy to go see the Philharmonic, any chance I get in hopes that when they have young children, they're going to do the same. And if we don't do that, suddenly, it's going to go away. And I hope it's not a situation where we miss it, but we didn't do enough to keep it going while it was here.

Julia Meek: Well, people like you and spirits like yours...It sounds like we are ready for a revival? We can't wait to hear it. And last question, guys: What do you hope everyone takes away with them when they leave that unique experience? The musicians and concert goers alike?

Rick Kinney: Be inspired to try something new and scary that might seem impossible.

Shaun Bryan: I would like everyone to get hit with every possible emotion you can possibly have in the entire spectrum of emotions.

Julia Meek: Rick Kinney and Sean Bryan are members of Moser Woods and they are getting ready to perform a fantastic concert with the Philharmonic Players' Association. Guys, thank you for this sneak preview, what a great project! Congratulations on it and nail it, now.

Rick Kinney: Julia, thanks for having us.

Shaun Bryan: Yeah Thank you Julia.