Arts in the Park opens June 5-6

2013-05-23T10:30:00Z 2013-05-23T11:00:06Z Arts in the Park opens June 5-6Contributed by Mary F. Allen
May 23, 2013 10:30 am  • 

LAPORTE | A new summer season of Arts in the Park will open at the Dennis F. Smith Amphitheater in Fox Park. Since 2000, Arts in the Park has offered evenings of entertainment free to the public through the generous donations and volunteer efforts of many individuals, professional firms, businesses, service organizations, and the City of La Porte.

Children are welcome in this relaxed atmosphere by Clear Lake where they can enjoy a large range of music with their parents or climb on the park equipment on the top of the hill. A wide walkway provides ample wheelchair access. This makes Arts in the Park a perfect choice for family members of any age.

The free, outdoor concert series begins Wednesday, June 5 with the fresh sound of “Nickel and Dime con Ritmo” playing crowd favorites. On Thursday, June 6, the popular “Elwood Splinters Blues Band” performs, brought to you through the sponsorship of General Insurance Service. Dorothy Konieczny’s artwork will be displayed both evenings.

As in the previous years, pre-concert entertainment is by Patrick Watterson on the keyboard starting at 6:30 pm. Poetry readings will be at 6:45. Reigning Poet Laureate, Julie Kessler will read her poetry on Wednesday and three time Poet Laureate runner-up, Scott Simerlein, will read on Thursday. Popcorn and pop or water will be on sale courtesy of Tri Kappa Associates. The concerts will start promptly at 7:00 pm.

For more information or to sponsor or donate using Pay Pal visit or contact co-directors Kitty Wolf and Lisa Smithson at 219-362-2558 or 219-363-9317.

Meet Nanda Danitschek of Nickel & Dime con Ritmo

Danitschek is a native of La Porte attending PNC with a psychology major and minors in sociology and gender issues. Her father was a music teacher and she always loved music.

She overcame stage fright as she grew by performing in musical theater and competing in Hoosier Star in 2005, going on to win that competition in 2011.

Acoustic guitarist Norm Daisy formed Nickel & Dime and has been a staple of the old school country and also of the rock music scenes in this area for years with his own band and in other bands such as Aftermath where he played bass. He also emcees at open jam session at Friend’s Nightclub. Daisy is happily retired from his construction business so he can focus on his music.

Danitschek knew Daisy, a relative of a longtime childhood friend. When his first female vocalist moved on to other ventures, Danitschek was quick to accept his invitation to join the duet. She brought a love of songs with an emphasis on lyrics to the mix. This duet plays the first Friday of every month at Mickey’s. They also perform the second Friday of the month with percussionist Jorge Leal as Nickel & Dime con Ritmo. (Ritmo means Rhythm) The group will perform at Casey’s Lanes twice. On May 24 from 9-12 pm and then for the "Music for Food Fest" to benefit the Backpack for Lunch June 8 from 8-9 pm.

Jorge Leal is based in Chicago. He graduated from Columbia University with a major in jazz studies. He is an after school Latin percussion instructor at Rosario Cattellanos/Enlace in Chicago Community Schools and a private music instructor. Danitscheck knew him as the drummer from Vinal Echoes, a band she had once sung with. He agreed to help out Nickel & Dime as adjunct singer, but they flowed so well together he became a part of the group merging their three distinctive styles.

Danitscheck, who has no major musical aspirations, is happy to be where she is and wants to continue to touch people with music. She finds the Latin beat Leal brings to the group adds spice to everything from Patsy Cline to Maroon5, everything from pop, country, and classic rock. Danitscheck said, “We like to know we can go into a place and please whoever is there. We cater to different ages and different styles.”

Nickel & Dime con Ritmo looks forward to opening the Arts in the Park 2013 Summer Season on Wednesday, June 5.

The group scheduled to perform on Thursday, June 6 is long-time favorite Elwood Splinters Blues Band. Paul Thode is the band’s manager and the only original member. Thode said, “Over twenty-four years members have come and gone depending on family and other commitments. What has always fit new members into the band is shared interest and dedication to music. We play mainly in La Porte, South Bend, Mishawaka, and Granger.”

Thode, a machinist for Diedrich Drilling Products, has been involved with music since he was drumming Beatle songs with his pencil while doing homework. The pencil was exchanged for real drumsticks and lessons from Tom Milo. Later he took up bass guitar. “Playing is a great way to have fun and meet nice people,” he said.

Thode does compose his own music, but most of what he writes is for his wife, Gloria. He also performs with PT Cruisers Band and Born Again Blues at church, La Porte Hospital, and the La Porte County Home. He said, “We like to get people involved in the show and have a good time clapping and singing.”

The frontman for Elwood Splinters Blues Band is Harv Stauffer, producer and host of “The Blues Review” on WVPE radio 88.1 FM. Where he won the prestigious award Best Format of Shows given in Memphis. David Lee plays the different saxophones and flute. He is a printer in Mishawaka. Percussionist Rob Hunter, majored in music in college, and also does backup vocals. His day job is with Best Buy. Tommy Barrett on guitar has been playing for forty years and also manages to work in a daytime trucking job. KJ Hammerstein who plays with several area bands sits in with drums and at times plays piano, organ, or sax, and does backup vocals.

Elwood Splinters Blues Band warmed up for Jimmy Vaughn last year at the Ribs & Blues Fest at the Coveleski Stadium and for The Temptations when they performed in South Bend. This award winning band has a busy summer scheduled at restaurants, bars, and festivals like the La Porte County Blues Fest. They bring their Chicago Style “Electric” Blues to Arts in the Park June 6.


June 5: Nickel & Dime con Ritmo

June 6: Elwood Splinters

sponsored by General Insurance Service

June 12: La Porte City Band

June 13: Middle of the Road

sponsored by Roxy Music/Kabelin Ace Hardware

June 19: La Porte City Band

June 20: Jim Barkow Sax & Rhythm

sponsored by Dr. Ed Mueller

June 26: La Porte City Band

June 27: Laura Whidden

July 3: La Porte City Band

July 10: La Porte City Band

July 11: Henhouse Prowlers

Sponsored by Tri Kappa Associates

July 17: La Porte City Band

July 18: Cripple Creek

Compliments of Cripple Creek

July 24: La Porte City Band

July 25: HiFi2WiFi

July 31: La Porte City Band

August 1: Hobart Concert Band

August 7: La Porte City Band

August 8: String of Pearls

August 14: Dr Groovy

Sponsored by Best Western

August 15: Windiana

Our Tribute and Memorial Concert

August 21: LPHS Marching Band & Color Guard

August 22: Me & the Boys

Co-sponsored by JNR Senior Care Management and Arts in the Park

August 28: Junior & the Igniters

August 29: Tom Milo Big Band

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