Back to the Garden Returns to the Columbus Commons for One Night Only

May 9th, 2013

For the fourth year in a row, Shadowbox Live, in partnership with the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, brings its original smash hit musical documentary, Back to the Garden to the Columbus Commons for a free performance for the whole community on Sunday, May 26th at 8:30 PM.

“We’re so pleased the community has latched on to this production the way it has,” says Stev Guyer, Executive Producer and CEO of Shadowbox Live.  “Not a week goes by that our patrons don’t ask if we’ll be performing it again.”

Back to the Garden premiered at Shadowbox Live in the fall of 2009.  Audiences immediately connected with its message of peace, love and music, making it one of the most successful shows in Shadowbox Live’s history and prompting what has become an annual outdoor performance.

“We’re extremely proud that we’ve created this original work, based on an historic event, that can evoke these very special feelings of brotherhood and fellowship,” says Guyer.  “Every year we enjoy bringing a little piece of that feeling to our city.”

The event has been heavily attended in the past three years, with attendance numbers growing with every performance.  The first outdoor show in 2010 brought 4,500 people to SchillerPark.  In anticipation of an even larger crowd, the event was moved to the Columbus Commons in 2011, when 7,000 came to enjoy the show.  Then last year, again at the Commons, saw a slightly bigger audience with an estimated 8,000 spectators.

“Even with 8,000 people, the Commons didn’t feel full,” says Guyer.  “It would be amazing to get 10,000 people out for this year’s performance.”

Back to the Garden tells the story of Rodney Benton, a reporter for the New York Times sent to cover the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969.  While Benton is a fictitious character, he’s loosely based on Barnard Collier, who really was sent to write about Woodstock.  And like Collier, Benton is met with resistance from his editors when he tries to publish articles about peace and love.

“They didn’t want to hear it,” says Jimmy Mak, Shadowbox Live’s Head Writer and author of Back to the Garden.  “People were afraid of these kids and what they represented.  So instead the New York Times chose to report on things like the traffic; tangible, safe stories rather than how incredible it was that 500,000 kids came together for three days of peace and music.”

As the music was at the heart of Woodstock, so it is with Back to the Garden, which features songs and artists heard at the festival itself, including Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Jimi Hendrix’s now legendary version of the National Anthem.

And on Sunday, May 26th to help set the tone for evening, free live music will begin at 3:30 PM and continue until the beginning of Back to the Garden.  The bar at the Commons will be open and food trucks are scheduled to arrive at that time as well, giving even more reason to show up early!  The day’s lineup features:

3:30 PM – Soulshine – Soulshine is a Columbus based acoustic style band with a wide range of musical interests.  Playing music from the 60′s through the early 2000′s, they include Blues, Rock, Country, and Pop.  From their site: “Soulshine brings the vibe of sittin’ around a campfire with your best friends, singing along to every song while sippin’ on a cold one, right into your favorite neighborhood watering hole.  The music will make you tap your feet, buy a stranger a drink, and sing along.  So smile … and let your ‘soulshine’.”

4:45 PM – Donna Mogavero – Donna Mogavero has been a staple of the Columbus music scene for over twenty years.  She is a competent rhythm guitar player heavily influenced by Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell and the music of the 70’s.  In 1992, the Columbus Edge Readers Poll voted Donna #1 singer/songwriter and #1 favorite vocalist, female.  In 1994, she was the recipient of four honors in The Greater Columbus Music Awards: Outstanding Acoustic Solo Performance, Outstanding Folk Singer Vocalist, Outstanding Rock Singer Vocalist, and Talent Deserving Wider Recognition.

6:00 PM – Joe Peppercorn - Joe Peppercorn is a classically trained pianist from Columbus, Ohio who has been writing songs for close to twenty years.  His band, The Whiles, has released three albums on Anyway Records.  He is also known for his Beatles show, in which he and an ensemble of Columbus musicians play every Beatles song in chronological order in a single 12 hour performance.  His composition, Song For Jerry, was featured in an Academy Award nominated film (Murderball, 2005).

7:15 PM – Dr. Simple – Dr. Simple is an acoustic rock duo from Mansfield, OH. They play “what we consider to be the best songs of the past 40 years.”  Their repertoire spans a wide range of musicians that includes (but is certainly not limited to) America, The Who, Led Zepplin, Tears for Fears, Don Henley, The Steve Miller Band, and many others.  Their motto is “Trying to make the world a happier place, one song at a time.”

Aside from rockin’ tunes and a very important message of peace and love, Back to the Garden has become an event not only for the community, but involving the community.

“Because we need lots and lots of bodies to populate a stage as large as the one at the Commons, this is a show where we can utilize our volunteers, interns, and the students from our Academy,” says Stacie Boord, Community Relations Director for Shadowbox Live.  “Even the children of our performers can be seen on stage with us!”

Shadowbox Live volunteers and extra performers will join the main cast as festival goers, dressing up in costume and, for some, even participating in select musical numbers.

“The idea is to have camps of people all around the stage and spilling off of the stage into the audience.  In effect, everyone in the crowd becomes a festival goer in our production,” says Boord.  “We encourage everyone to dress up in their best ‘60’s gear to feel like an even bigger part of the experience.”

“But however you choose to dress,” warns Boord, “just remember the best spots fill up fast.  Get your seat early!”

Shadowbox Live presents Back to the Garden at the Columbus Commons on Sunday, May 26th at 8:30 PM.  Admission is free!

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