Wheeling Woman On NY’s Bryant Park Stage

Wheeling native Chelsey Keding, who’s making her mark as a singer and actress in the Big Apple, is participating in “Broadway in Bryant Park” in New York City this summer.

The performances are set to take place in the park at lunchtime on Thursdays from July 7 through Aug. 11. Each week, the series will showcase numbers from Broadway and Off-Broadway in concerts offered free of charge.

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Meanwhile, Wheeling native Olga Watkins’ band in Pittsburgh has released a new digital-only single, “Trouble.” The Olga Watkins Band is best known for a Steelers fight song released during the 2010 NFL post-season; however, we can’t repeat the title of that tune in a family newspaper.

Watkins, a vocalist, songwriter and chef, now resides in Pittsburgh’s Highland Park section. She described ”Trouble” as “a funky, New Orleans-style shuffle with some rock and Latin nuances.”

The new single was slated to be available for download Friday, June 10, when the band was to perform at Allegheny County’s South Park Concert Series as the opening act for Billy Price. Other upcoming appearances will include a set at the Pittsburgh Blues Festival at Hartwood Acres, a show at the Rivers Casino, several dates at NOLA on the Square in Pittsburgh’s Market Square and an anniversary show at Hollywood Gardens in Rochester, Pa.

The band has recorded another original blues, “Tell the Truth,” and a funky cover of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” with Watkins singing the original Irvin Mills lyrics. Both songs will be released as singles in the late summer or early fall, Watkins said. The band’s next compact disc is slated for completion in late spring of 2012.

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On another musical note, the Jazz at the Library group is taking a summer break. Sessions resume at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling in September; the group meets on the first Thursday of each month.

At the season-ending program Thursday, June 2, participants were joined by Wheeling musicians Robin and Ed Mahonen and her mother, Maxine Knepper, widow of famed jazz trombonist Jimmy Knepper. Maxine Knepper, who also played the trumpet in an all-girls’ band, showed pictures and newspaper clippings about her career.

Jazz at the Library organizer Stan Barkin related, “Whenever I’d played a rendition of ‘Stardust,’ the vocalist has left out the equally beautiful introduction to the main theme. It is said the reason being it is difficult to sing.”

“I brought the words to the introduction hoping I could entice someone to render it for us. Without looking at the lyrics, Maxine (Knepper) sang it beautifully, bringing applause from the audience,” Barkin said.

Barkin added that, in the fall, he plans to play some Jimmy Knepper recordings for Jazz at the Library sessions.

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If you’re in the mood to hear live music for a good cause, don’t forget the tornado relief concert taking place at Grand Vue Park’s amphitheater in Moundsville from 1-6 p.m. today, June 12.

Concert organizer Matt Smith said all of the proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross for tornado relief efforts. Smith appeared at the Lunch With Books program at the Ohio County Public Library Tuesday, June 7, to spur interest in the benefit performance and to accept donations for the cause. Author Matthew Algeo, the featured presenter for Lunch With Books, also agreed to donate $10 from every copy of his new book, “The President Is a Sick Man,” that he sold Tuesday afternoon.

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When author Matthew Algeo appeared at the Lunch With Books program, he amused the library audience with an account of his career.

Algeo related that he attended college in Philadelphia and earned a degree in folklore. After graduation, “I looked for a job in folklore,” he said, with deadpan delivery. “Folklore was right between florist and forklift operator. I ended up going to the public radio.”

He worked as a journalist for public radio stations in several areas before working in Los Angeles from 2003-05. His reports have aired on a number of National Public Radio programs.

After his wife accepted a position as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State, they moved to Washington, D.C. That, Algeo quipped, gave him the opportunity to launch an ”extremely non-lucrative career as a non-bestselling author.” He added that his new career also gives him “time to find these offbeat little stories,” that have inspired his books about Harry Truman’s road trip and Grover Cleveland’s secret cancer surgery.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net