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November 2009

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07 For the Children 09 Chad’s McColumn 10 Finally Gettin’ It 11 Owensboro’s Indie Connection 12 Lighter Living 14 Carving Culture 16 Dun Dem Records 18 Coupons GET VENT DELIVERED TO YOUR HOME. Call (270) 314-0196 to find out how. Visit for article updates and to leave comments. Join Vent on Facebook

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By Kitty Kizer


We all know what poverty is. Either we have read about it, seen it with our own eyes, or even experienced it in our lifetime. We know that poverty is worldwide. But what we don’t know is how many people are affected by it in our own community. It is sad to say that poverty exists in the city of Owensboro. Statistics show that 17.4 percent of residents with income are below the poverty level in Owensboro. A majority of the residents have kids from the age of five years and under. And circumstances are only worsening due to the economy. What is a child of five years to do about clothing, food or housing? Organizations across the city such as homeless shelters and family resource centers cater to individuals in need. One organization that mainly focuses on children is the Alma Randolph Charitable Foundation, Inc. Alma Randolph, now Alma Randolph-Patton started that foundation for children. At a young age, Patton’s father died and left her mother raising four children on her own. From the age of six until she was 16, Patton and her family lived in poverty. Embarrassed and ashamed to go to school wearing old clothing and shoes, Patton was humiliated most of her childhood. Because she was made fun of for her appearance, it was hard for her to focus on her academics. But after living a hard life for ten years, things started to turn for the Randolph family. She always knew that things would get better and they did. She thought to herself, There is hope. God was always there and He helped me through it all. Patton then went shopping for the first time and she had never been so proud of herself. She felt dignity and was happy. She made a vow to herself: She pledged that she would find a way to help the less fortunate children. And that is how the ARCF was formed. The foundation was established in 1993 and has raised thousands of dollars to clothe over 11,400 children to date. The annual “Back to School” project is funded through donations and ARCF’s annual fundraising events. The foundation is non-profit and the staff is purely volunteer-driven. The mission is to clothe 1,000 children a year. Patton believes that the program enhances the child’s self-esteem and allows them to return to school with dignity, helping the child to focus on learning rather than appearance. Referrals are submitted by the area homeless shelters, youth centers and the city and county school systems. Each child that is selected to participate in the project is presented with a voucher to purchase new clothes and shoes for the school year. ARCF has joined hands with Kohls Department Store and Wal-Mart Super Centers for this program. In the past, donations have been outstanding. Due to economic reasons, donations have slumped and ARCF was not able to host their annual dinner this year. But don’t worry. The group is ready for next year. Usually each child receives $100, but even since funds are lower, ARCF believes the more the merrier. So each child will receive less money, but the same number of kids will still participate. ARCF is hosting a Christmas Concert at the RiverPark Center on Nov. 22 at 3 p.m., titled “Alma and Friends . . . For the Children.” Performers include Musick Studios, Sutton Elementary Choir, Foust Singers and many more. Our children are our future. It is our job to keep them safe and secure. “The foundation is special to my heart,” Patton said. “When I see a child smile and happy, I share the feeling with them. It is definitely warmth to the heart, when you know you have helped children in need. Thank you, God, for giving me the opportunity and ability to make this happen.” VENTMAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2009 | SOLUTION #11 07.

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By Chad McCollam The task seemed simple enough: jump off my left foot, spin 540 degrees in the air, and land on my right. I had definitely completed tougher physical tests, and I figured, considering the fact that I’m only 5’11 and I used to be able to dunk a girl’s basketball, I had the athleticism necessary to mark such a mission accomplished within a couple of attempts. What I neglected to consider was the amount of time that had passed since I’d been able to call myself an athlete. My nine-year-old daughter, Kennedy, and I were in the lobby of the new Edge Ice Center when I got the crazy idea. I was watching her make half-hearted attempts at landing her off-ice-axel, which is the name for the aforementioned jump, and I decided to add a little parental motivation to the mix. “Baby Bear,” I said, “I bet I can land that jump before you.” Kennedy wasn’t at all surprised that I’d issued such a challenge; she was used to my tactics. Crawling contests, knowing all the letters of the alphabet before her second birthday, and leaping over an obstacle half her size to retrieve her sippy cup were everyday occurrences and what she’d come to expect from a father who is a true believer in the power of healthy competition. “Dad, you’ve seen me land these before,” my princess reminded me. I was already up walking through the mechanics necessary to stick my landing, “You shouldn’t have much trouble beating your old man then,” I replied. I put my game face on and glared at my competitor, while wondering when she would realize that each gauntlet I place in her path is fueled by my perpetual belief in what she can accomplish. “We each get five tries, alternate jump, I’ll go first—no challenge,” I said. Several members of the Owensboro Figure Skating Club had overheard what I’d proposed and had gathered around to bear witness to the wager. One skater hollered, “Mom get over here, Mr. McCollam’s going to try an axel,” and every head in the lobby of the rink turned to get a glimpse of what was sure to be a grand spectacle. I didn’t mind. I got a full scholarship to play football in college. I’d played in front of 40,000 people in the Southern Heritage Classic at the Liberty Bowl in 1991 and won MVP. The bigger the audience the deeper I’d dig, the better I’d perform. This was my stage, my opportunity to seize ice skating glory. I took a deep breath and took one last look at my daughter before I implored my tunnel vision on a successful landing. She had a smirk on her face that was filled with confidence; a smirk that I’m sure was meant to tell me I had no shot. I was very familiar with that smirk. In fact, if I were to look in the mirror I’m sure that smirk would be staring back at me in my reflection. “Let’s battle,” I announced. Then I jumped. I exploded off the ground and tried to recall everything I’d learned from watching figure skating over the previous four years. I built my tent, turned my crab, and attempted to do a back scratch, even though I wasn’t certain that those bits of skating terminology applied to this particular plight, I mean flight. I came up just short on the necessary rotations and was figuring that I still had four more chances to get it done, when I landed and felt the force of over 200 pounds come crashing down on my unsuspecting right leg. My knee buckled, I crashed into the rubber floor, and almost hit my head against the neon painted walls. I heard the crowd in attendance gasp, but I was more worried about the sharp pain I felt in my landing leg than the embarrassment of falling on my behind. Kennedy was the first person at my side. Her confident smirk had been replaced by a concerned grin. I knew that she wanted to laugh, yet she felt that she should make sure the man that used to make her swim laps in the

swimming pool at the age of five and stretch every morning when she was watching cartoons was alright first. “Dad, are you ok?” I noticed that a few skating moms had their hands over their mouths as I struggled to get to my feet. I tried to play it off, pretend everything was cool, but truthfully I was hurt. “You win,” I mumbled, limping toward a chair. An ice pack and a few ibuprofen later, after I had assured a lot of people that I didn’t need medical attention, I sat out in the bleachers, with my wounded leg propped up, watching my daughter practice what she once called her passion. Her coach moved her to the center of the ice at the conclusion of the lesson. It was time for the real thing. This wasn’t tennis shoes and rubber, this was blades and ice as hard as concrete. My knee was already throbbing, but it twinged even more just thinking about it. My ice princess got into her entry position and I could see the determination in her eyes. I knew what she was thinking, because I had helped engrain the positive thoughts in her psyche. “You’re special and there’s nothing you can’t do,” I whispered to her from my spot in the stands, just like I always do every night before she closes her eyes to dream. I thought about closing my eyes before she jumped. I was pretty nervous and I could take a minute to fantasize that I was back in college, bench pressing 400 pounds, running wind sprints on knees that were young, strong, and a lot less likely to cave in under pressure. But, while I was trying to decide whether to watch or reminisce my baby girl jumped, held a tight rotation in the air, and glided to a convincing halt after sticking the landing. She nailed another one to prove it wasn’t a fluke, before skating toward me to celebrate. And when I wrapped my not-so-muscular-arms around her I realized two things: one was that my knee felt a little bit better and the second was that it didn’t really matter that my youth had passed me by. Because, as I dug through the memory banks of my younger years as an athlete I was sure that I had never experienced a single moment quite so satisfying.


Heath Eric started playing guitar and singing when he was six years old. His granddad bought him a guitar for Christmas and gave him a quarter for every song he learned. Needless to say, he learned many. Eric has lived an extraordinary life. As a child growing up in Kentucky, Eric battled poverty and abuse. His teenage and young adult years were immersed in rebellion and infinite experimentation. As he grew older, he tried to settle down and live a conventional life. But Eric just wasn’t made for conventional living. He wanted more. It simply doesn’t get more real and authentic than Eric. His life experiences could make up twenty lifetimes, and yet he keeps on going, overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the way. His new, all original album, finally gettin’ it, reflects on his life, love, pain, near self-destruction, happiness, love for his two sons, search for truth, and chasing dreams. He passionately shares his experiences with his own unique and original, homegrown blend of acoustic soul music. Eric is on a brave and exciting musical journey that began over thirty years ago and continues today in a small western Kentucky town. He has no intentions of turning around. He has a rich love for life, a passion for sharing and an overwhelming desire to touch as many lives as possible through words and music. He has been noticed and selected for artistic excellence to participate in the Performing Arts Directory, a program of the Kentucky Arts Council, the state art agency, which is supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. As if he is not busy enough touring across the states and performing, Eric is also involved in music production. He took all of his life savings and built his dream, a recording studio. It is located at his home in Rumsey, Ky. He gives private instructions in guitar, bass, voice and drums. Passionate about his music, Eric said, “I am a broke but happy musician. This is my dream and I love doing what I enjoy. My friends, Danny Erkman, Carla Gover, Randy Lanham, Jon Rochner, Molly Troutman, the McLean County Guitar Class, and my beloved son Jaxon Hopkins Eric, who have stuck by me and supported me through the years, are my family. It couldn’t have happened without them. Thank you.”


By Hidey

Laughter and learning are the key components to Owensboro’s Indie Connection’s growth and success. Sneaking onto the air waves in midFebruary, the show takes a local and independent look at bands and solo artists from in and around Owensboro. “It’s all about the bands and the music really,” co-creator Alex Clark said. “There weren’t any shows about music recorded locally, so we thought there was a need for one. We just want local music acts to be seen and heard, and we wanted to help.” When he said “we,” Clark was referring to himself and co-creators Steve Dean and John Coleman. They hatched the idea for the show while the three worked together at Time Warner Cable. Clark brought the subject up with Dean one day, asking about doing a local show on music. “I’d had a lot of people ask about it but Alex was the only person who actually filled out the paperwork,” Dean said. “Prior to that, Time Warner only had (local filmmaker) Keenan Powell and church groups submit their work to air on channel 72. Honestly, when I handed him the paperwork, I thought to myself ‘Well, that’s the last time I’ll see that.’” Instead, the first show aired soon after the ice storm in 2009 and featured Dashing Skull Club. The road to paving new territory started off with a few bumps but set goals for the future. The band was helpful with their appearance, taking Clark, Dean and Coleman to their practice space and recording the entire interview for them through their soundboard. At the end of taping, Dean said that the bassist asked them if they were running an experiment on the band. “I guess we really were,” Clark said. Clark said OIC is currently working on streamlining shows and prepping for the second season starting in the spring.

With their first season coming to a close, OIC isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Initially, the crew filmed the show on a monthly basis but soon changed to filming every two weeks, going on to feature artists and acts The Usual,The Hiding,Talking Liberties, Jessica Frech, and performers from the Strawberry Jam Festival and Kaotic Booking’s Metal Fest show. “The Crème and Innovative Audio have been really helpful,” Clark said. “The Crème lets us do live shows if the band is right for the atmosphere and Adam Kirby is helping out with the sound, so we’re growing.” Along the way, the crew has also expanded to include three more members, Kaleb Fulkerson, Steffen Greenwell and Brittany McKinney, joining after attending a few shows. He said that everyone did every job on the show from filming to interview and that it was a group effort. Clark went on to say that they would like to find a venue to book electric and “louder” acts. “There’s a difference between coffeehouse acts and bar acts. The Crème is amazing for smaller or acoustic acts but we’d like to expand the bands and artists we feature in the future to cover a bigger area of what’s going on locally.” Clark said that future acts include other performers in the local programming scene. “Right now, October Road is getting ready to bring their show The Basement,” he said. The Basement is an irreverent sketch comedy show. “It should be on the air in about a month. Joel Taylor is also working on a ghost show called Society of the Unknown, so we’re really excited that other people are getting in on the action.” Owensboro’s Indie Connection airs on Time Warner Cable channel 72 on Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at midnight and noon, and Tuesday at 9 p.m. To find out more or to have your band featured on the show, visit OIC’s MySpace at


lighter Living Our Power

By Matt Weafer Coal is one of the most powerful forms of energy, generating more than half of the electricity and 22 percent of the energy in the United States. But it’s dirty and dangerous. From the moment it’s mined from the earth to being shoveled into a furnace, coal is packed with harmful heavy metals and toxic particulates that are released into the air and water sources of the region. Coal contributes 40 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide pollution, the prime global warming pollutant. According to the Sierra Club, emissions from coal-fired power plants contribute to at least 24,000 premature deaths a year. Every kilowatt of electricity that flows through Owensboro is born from coal. Owensboro Municipal Utilities burns approximately 1.25 million tons of coal per year at its Elmer Smith Power Plant on U.S. Highway 60. The Elmer Smith coal-fired plant uses two vintage boilers to produce all of the energy for the area, but OMU complies with all regulations for emission control from the Clean Air Act of 1990. “We do maintain compliance with all laws and regulations with air emissions,” Sonya Dixon, OMU spokeswoman, said. “That’s no small feat.” According to the Clean Air Act, power plants must limit the amount of pollutants emitted into the air. If the power plants do not meet the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA can take over the implementation plans and enforce changes. In 1995, OMU took the initiative and invested $125 million into the plant to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). Again in 2003, the plant completed another $48 million project to further limit NOx emissions and reduce ozone emissions. “Those are some pretty high dollar commitments to make sure we do meet laws and regulations,” Dixon said. “We have state of the art systems in both of our units.” One of the primary causes of pollution in most coal-fired power plants are the byproducts produced from burning and cleaning the coal. At OMU, Kevin Frizzell, director of power production, said the plant has installed a flue gas desulfurization (FGD) system, or scrubber, which has resulted in a greater than 90 percent reduction of SO2 emissions. The scrubber uses limestone to remove the SO2, resulting in gypsum, or calcium sulfate, the primary ingredient to wall board or dry wall. “We have sold 95 percent plus of our gypsum to US Gypsum Company,” Frizzell said. “Gypsum is not a toxic material, not hazardous and not regulated as such.” But with the downturn in the housing market, Frizzell said, the market for wall board is severely depressed. “We are using what we call beneficial reuse,” he said. “We’re taking the gypsum and backfilling or using it as fill material for clay mines.” Other byproducts from burning coal are ash and boiler slag. OMU sells ash as an additive to make concrete. But again because the housing market has slumped, the market for concrete is also slow, so Frizzell said OMU uses the ash as backfill as well. “Boiler slag is very desirable,” Frizzell said. Boiler slag is a hard, glassy 12. VENTMAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2009 | SOLUTION #11

material used as roofing granules for roofing tile. “We sell basically 100 percent of that material,” he said. For a coal-fired power plant, OMU manages its potential pollutants to the best of its ability with the most state-of-the-art pollution-control equipment. “We have 1964 and 1975 vintage coal-fired units with the latest pollution control on them for SO2 and NOx,” Frizzell said. “We manage the byproducts. We monitor any discharges we have. We’re in good shape. We’ve got the good controls on our units and we feel pretty good moving forward.” Some of coal’s greatest dangers to the environment stem from mining the fuel. Coal is mined from the earth by two techniques, surface mining and underground mining. One of the most destructive techniques is a combination of the two, mountain top removal. In mountain top removal mining, a coal company blasts apart the tops of mountains to create access to thin streams of coal in the mountain. The company then fills in valleys with the debris from the blast, destroying natural habitats and filling streams and other water sources. Waste water created from coal mining pollutes local streams and water sources with the chemicals used to clean the coal and the acid drainage from rain water running through the mine and from piles of waste and coal cast aside during mining, according a report from the Sierra Club. Frizzell said OMU purchases coal from local mining companies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. OMU has no control over how the mining companies handle the coal prior to shipping. “They have to deal with their permits,” Frizzell said. “They collect the byproducts and they maintain those at the mines. It never makes it to the power plant.” The most important term in the coal industry at the moment is clean coal. New techniques for cleaning, processing and burning coal are being developed to minimize pollution levels. But according to the National Resource Defense Council, “If you listen to the ads, it sounds like ‘clean coal’ is already here. But it’s a fraud. The environmental and health costs necessary to mine it, transport it, burn it, and dispose of its waste make ‘clean coal’ the equivalent of ‘healthy cigarettes.’ They just don’t exist.” While there is no easy or inexpensive alternative to coal, especially for a town like Owensboro with an infrastructure entirely dependent on coal, there are steps individual residents can take to help limit the amount of coal the city burns. Increasing energy efficiency in homes and factories to decrease consumption of electricity is the first step. For any resident with a few spare thousand dollars, solar panels are becoming more affordable and more efficient. But for the other 99.9 percent of the residents, for which that investment is not an option, install ENERGY STAR appliances, use a digital thermostat in your home, turn off lights when you’re not using them, decrease phantom power and decrease overall energy consumption.

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John Schrecker

By Casey Aud


ut past Windy Hollow on a modest stretch of land, stands John Schrecker, Owensboro tree artist and carbon footprint guru. To say Schrecker is a man of the Earth is a vast understatement. His camp consists of the barn where he stores and creates his work, a bus for transport and acres of land. With a wood-burning stove, radio and his medium, Schrecker can survive just about anywhere. He’s quiet and modest, and can’t help but poke fun at life’s quirks. “I stayed out on New Hartford Road for a couple of months and I made pretty good money there,” he said. “It was just me and my art, burning the stove in the middle of town.” Standing in the middle of a massive sawdust spread, Schrecker demonstrated work that he’s been honing for only five years. He works exclusively with wood creating Native American, African and Tiki Totems, mythical and natural beings from cedar poles, planks and driftwood of all varieties. “I go down mainly to River Road across the bridge in Indiana for driftwood,” Schrecker said. 14. VENTMAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2009 | SOLUTION #11

Schrecker’s preferred wood is cedar because it’s easiest to carve and it possesses a great natural color, but has used oak and maple. One can’t help but feel the energy in the space with so many dead pieces of wood being brought back to life so imaginatively. Think an Indian camp meets Lord of the Rings and you still don’t have a grip on the surroundings. “I saw a guy doing it in Florida and realized that it was something I wanted to do,” Schrecker said. “I had to do something. I needed to create.” Schrecker spent time hitchhiking and ended up in the Pacific Northwest where, being overcome by the splendor of nature was inspired to pay homage with his creations. One of his first pieces, a silhouette of a mermaid, pales in comparison to the integrity of his mastery today. Using a variety of tools from a chainsaw to small hand tools, a typical piece takes a minimum of about eight hours with larger pieces taking up to twenty. With no formal artistic training, Schrecker is a trial and error creator with a deep determina-

Photos By Danny Beeler

tion to make his surroundings even more beautiful. He admits that there is not much of a market in town for his work. He’s had some pieces around town for months with no potential buys. “I did have my art in the Owensboro Area Museum of Science and History for awhile but then when it came close to Christmas time they took it down,” Schrecker said. Schrecker has managed to sell his work in and around town. “I sold this one piece to The Tin Fish in Newburgh, Ind.,” Schrecker said as he pulled an album out and showed the carving. The fish is carved, burned and sealed as his signature work is, but with a patterned burning, the fish sug-

gests a modern, less natural appearance. Schrecker has turned his aesthetic into utilitarian by developing his wood carving into chairs and tables for various clienteles. Not surprisingly, Schrecker has even experimented with Moses, Father Time, and Jesus with and without the cross.

showcase any of his work in the Museum of Fine Art, but hasn’t given up on the idea. During the summer, Schrecker displays his work at Friday After Five’s street fair. “It’s a wonderful place to show your work and one of the only places a street artist has in this town,” Schrecker said.

During the winter months Schrecker treks down to Florida where the market is greater, providing a plethora of seafood and nautically themed restaurants to showcase his work. “They all love this stuff down there and really appreciate it,” Schrecker said.

Schrecker is always creating and selling his work and is not opposed to doing custom work. He can be reached at (270) 683-5042. Visit the VENT’s Web site www. to view all the photos taken at Schrecker’s farm.

If you’re lucky you’ve seen some of his pieces around town in Pangea and other establishments. Schrecker has yet to


By Matt


eggae is not just a style of music. It’s an attitude, a lifestyle, a subculture promoting freedom and love and speaking out against social injustices. While the music is not as prevalent in the states, especially in Owensboro, Reggae thrives across the globe. And the music scene in Jamaica is constantly pumping new songs into the market. “The Jamaican music scene is just saturated with people,” Dennis Bryant said. “Pretty much everybody is doing music, and if you’re not one of these popular, well established artists, you normally never get out. Not even to the point we do here. In America, even small artists can go out and get shows.” Bryant, or “Selecta Sub,” founded Dun Dem Records in 2008 to give some of those smaller artists a chance. “Basically, Dun Dem is trying to focus more on that demographic,” Bryant said, “the younger, unestablished artists that are still on the small level but we can actually get their music out through the Internet onto the international level through networking.” With Web sites like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, any small, talented artist can unleash their creations into cyberspace and actually gain some recognition. “The music scene is so saturated with so many people trying to do something that if you’re not well-established through a studio or some kind of crew that’s already made their way,” Bryant said, “then normally you never get a shot.” Though Bryant has worked with several artists, Dun Dem currently has three artists on the label, Ful Klip, CJ Di Real DJ, and Jah Wiese. Jah Weise passed away recently, though. The reggae scene in Jamaica is different than the scene we’re familiar with in the states. The scene is centered on sound systems or crews that battle at parties and clubs. Each crew, which contains an emcee and a selector (the person who plays the records), takes turns playing dub plates and hyping up the crowd. A dub plate is a rhythm (an instrumental song) that several vocal artists (known as DJs) can record on. The DJs change the lyrics and the name of the song, but they use the same rhythm. Bryant said many rival crews buy dub plates with the same rhythm but different DJs. With Dun Dem, Bryant creates a rhythm and then sends it to each of his artists in Jamaica. The artists then record their vocal tracks in a Jamaican studio and send the vocals back to Bryant for final mixing, creating the dub plate. Bryant then promotes the artists from Owensboro via the Internet and 16. VENTMAGAZINE NOVEMBER 2009 | SOLUTION #11


sells the dub plates to sound systems across the globe. When he sells a dub plate, the sound system can request to change some lyrics to suit their style or to include the name of their crew or diss a rival crew. “The main thing with sound systems or crews is sound clash,” Bryant said, “which basically means you go out and battle it out with another sound system or crew. Who’s the best? Who can play the best songs? Who can play the best dub plates?” Since its inception more than a year ago, Dun Dem records has worked with about 10 artists and sold five or six dub plates. “Its’ not to say we’re making a lot of money on it,” Bryant said. “Jamaica’s music scene is strictly a promotion scene. Nobody in Jamaica really buys music anymore.” Bryant pays his artists to record the songs, which they use part of the money to cover studio time and keep the rest. Then when he sells a dub plate, Dun Dem retains a small percentage, but the rest of the money goes straight to the artist. The people who pay for reggae music and dub plates are the sound systems that compete in other countries. Reggae is especially popular in Europe, Bryant said, and is gaining popularity in Japan as well. “A lot of these countries have no idea what these people are saying in these songs,” Bryant said. “They don’t speak English and they definitely don’t speak Jamaican patois.” The Jamaican patios is a broken English littered with thick slang. “People in the crowd don’t understand a word they’re saying,” he said. “It’s the vibe of the music and timber of the voice. It was treating the vocals like another instrument. Just hearing a vocal that sounds good enough to where you wouldn’t have to understand it.” Bryant plays some of his dub plates in town when he DJs at the Sand Bar, 1108 W 9th St., for Ladies’ Night on Thirsty Thursdays. He has DJed in Cincinnati, Evansville and other local clubs as well. On Dec. 12, he will DJ in Nashville at the Koncrete Jungle’s Winter Whiteout at Avenue Nine. You must be 21 years old to attend. “Koncrete Jungle is a club night that they do all over the nation,” Bryant said. “Every city picks out a different night. And it’s all centered on Break Beat, from hip hop to jungle and dance hall.” Check out Dun Dem Records and some of Bryant’s music at myspace. com/selectasub.

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