Canadian Fiddle and Step Dancing Family Comes to Tecumseh
Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) is welcoming Canadian Fiddle and Step Dancing Champions – The Fitzgeralds to the TCA stage on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
The group consists of three fiddling and step dancing siblings – Tom, Kerry & Julie Fitzgerald. Hailing from just outside one of Canada’s renowned fiddling regions, they have come a long way from their small-town roots. Featuring 3-time Canadian Grandmaster Fiddle Champions and Ontario Open Step Dance Champions, this unique act features high-energy fiddling and mind-blowing step dancing. It is the rare combination of exceptional musicianship, audience interaction, an evident love of performing, and a genuine family connection that resonates with audiences of all ages and sets this group apart.
The Fitzgeralds were raised in a musical household and toured internationally with their relatives in the band “Everything Fitz.” Growing up on the outskirts of the Ottawa Valley, they were immersed in the rich tradition of Canadian Old Time fiddling and step dancing that evolved with the arrival of Irish, Scottish and French immigrants. Over time, they have developed their art form to include various styles of fiddle music including Celtic, jazz, bluegrass, French-Canadian, and pop. They have also explored other dance forms including tap and Irish. This trio continue to push boundaries by fusing traditional and modern styles of fiddle and dance to create their own unique sound and style.
Despite their young age, these musicians have some notable musical experiences under their belts. Highlights include both group and solo performances with: Nathan Carter, Leahy, Natalie MacMaster, Cherish the Ladies, Tommy Hunter, Bowfire, Sharon Shannon, Liz Carroll, and We Banjo 3. They’ve also performed at World-Fest, Silver Dollar City, and in Branson MO. As members of The StepCrew, they have had the opportunity to perform with Carlos Nunez, Solas, and Eileen Ivers. They were guest performers on the prestigious Nathan Carter TV Christmas Special in 2017. A video of their high-energy dance performance has gone viral with over 3 million views! Their show is a hit at festivals including Milwaukee Irish Fest (US), Dayton Irish Fest (US), Cleveland Irish Fest (US), Iowa Irish Fest (US), Shrewsbury Folk Fest (UK), Mariposa Folk Fest (CA), Stan Rogers Folk Fest (CA), among others. The Fitzgeralds are some of the most talented, energetic, animated, and genuine performers you will come across.
The Fitzgeralds perform at Tecumseh Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and $23 for seniors, youth and military members. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Both concessions and the TCA bar will begin serving at 6:30 pm.
The Fitzgeralds are sponsored by Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation, Visit Lenawee and 3 Dudes and Dinner. Tickets can be purchased through the TCA website at www.TheTCA.org or through the TCA Box Office located in Tecumseh, Michigan. You can also purchase tickets by calling 517.423.6617 Tuesday-Friday from noon until 5 pm.
Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) has a proud tradition of bringing high caliber shows to the Tecumseh community. However, we could not do it without the support of our business sponsors, foundations, patrons, individual donors, the City of Tecumseh, and the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation.
This year, Tecumseh Center for the Arts was blessed to receive two grant awards from the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation. Without their support this season we would not have had the opportunity to host two very talented groups: River Raisin Ragtime Revue and The Fitzgeralds.
River Raisin Ragtime Revue
The Veterans Day Concert has been an annual tradition at Tecumseh Center for the Arts for many years. The TCA is proud to host the event as a way to recognize and salute our local veterans and encourage a sense of community with a free concert.
Upon revisiting the concert in 2015, the TCA gained much support and gratitude from the community and local veterans and we strive to include the free Veterans Day concert each year in our lineup. We strongly believe that patriotic music, guest speakers, unifying the community, and celebrating veterans are requirements for our mission moving forward. By providing music from US Army bands, community/volunteer bands, and touring groups such as the River Raisin Ragtime Revue, the Veterans Day Concert greatly benefits the community. We look forward to thanking our veterans each year through a memorable performance as they have served our nation and provided us, as Americans, with a wealth of freedoms.
Thanks to the support of the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation, we were able to welcome the River Raisin Ragtime Revue (R4) to the TCA stage in November 2018. R4 is a professional theater orchestra from Tecumseh, Michigan, with the mission of restoring, educating, and entertaining attendees with America’s original popular style of music: ragtime. R4 has performed at high caliber venues such as The Henry Ford Museum, Detroit Institute of Art, and Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater. Furthermore, R4 has 4 outstanding CD recordings titled The Red Black Book: Standard High Class Rags, Ragtime Detroit! Raggin’ at Greenfield Village (collaboration with Greenfield Village), and Animal Fair: Ragtime Music for Children and the Youth At Heart. Recordings of these CDs have been reviewed locally, nationally, and internationally and aired on radio stations around the world.
Each year, Tecumseh Center for the Arts hosts a National Touring Season where we bring in shows from across the state of Michigan, throughout the United States and even around the World. This year was no different as we unveiled a five show touring season featuring May Erlewine, Lawn and Disorder, The Cat's Pajamas, The Fitzgeralds and The Britins.
This season, Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation awarded us with the monies to bring the Canadian fiddle and step dancing champions, The Fitzgeralds, to the TCA stage on March 23. The group consists of fiddling and step dancing siblings – Tom, Kerry & Julie Fitzgerald. Hailing from just outside one of Canada’s renowned fiddling regions, they have come a long way from their small-town roots. Featuring 3-time Canadian Grandmaster Fiddle Champions and Ontario Open Step Dance Champions, this unique act features high-energy fiddling and mind-blowing step dancing. It is the rare combination of exceptional musicianship, audience interaction, an evident love of performing, and a genuine family connection that resonates with audiences of all ages and sets this group apart.
The Fitzgeralds were raised in a musical household and toured internationally with their relatives in the band “Everything Fitz”. Growing up on the outskirts of the Ottawa Valley, they were immersed in the rich tradition of Canadian Old Time fiddling and step dancing that evolved with the arrival of Irish, Scottish and French immigrants. Over time, they have developed their art form to include various styles of fiddle music including Celtic, jazz, bluegrass, French-Canadian, and pop. They have also explored other dance forms including tap and Irish. This trio continue to push boundaries by fusing traditional and modern styles of fiddle and dance to create their own unique sound and style.
Despite their young age, these musicians have some notable musical experiences under their belts. Highlights include both group and solo performances with: Nathan Carter, Leahy, Natalie MacMaster, Cherish the Ladies, Tommy Hunter, Bowfire, Sharon Shannon, Liz Carroll, and We Banjo 3. They’ve also performed at World-Fest, Silver Dollar City, and in Branson MO. As members of The StepCrew, they have had the opportunity to perform with Carlos Nunez, Solas, and Eileen Ivers. They were guest performers on the prestigious Nathan Carter TV Christmas Special in 2017. A video of their high-energy dance performance has gone viral, with over 3 million views! Their show is a hit at festivals including Milwaukee Irish Fest (US), Dayton Irish Fest (US), Cleveland Irish Fest (US), Iowa Irish Fest (US) Shrewsbury Folk Fest (UK), Mariposa Folk Fest (CA), and the Stan Rogers Folk Fest (CA), among others. The Fitzgeralds are some of the most talented, energetic, animated, and genuine performers you will come across.
To learn more about The Fitzgeralds or to purchase tickets to their show, visit our website.
For roughly the last 35 years of her life, Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson was a steady participant, friend and supporter of the Arts in Tecumseh. Although born in Willis, Michigan, Elizabeth spent part of her childhood in Tecumseh before her parents Charles S. Ruthruff and Lulu Pulver Ruthruff moved to Jackson in 1908. There, Elizabeth had her first violin lesson at 13. She graduated from high school in 1923 and spent a year each at Albion College and the Toledo Conservatory of Music. She had a lifelong love for music. While her career was not in music, her heart always was. Her career was spent working with Dr. Henry H. Kessler, founder of the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey. After she retired in 1968, she moved back to Tecumseh and shared a family home with her sister Dorothy. In retirement, Elizabeth finally had time to pursue her love of music full time both through her own participation and in her support of musical events and music education activities.
Elizabeth particularly believed in furthering the music education for local youth and taught violin lessons until well into her eighties. She was instrumental in the founding of the Tecumseh Pops Orchestra and the building of the Civic Auditorium; she was on the board of directors of both organizations until her death. Always looking to the future, in 1997 (at age 92), Elizabeth established the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting Music and the Performing Arts. Since her death in 2001, the Foundation has continued to carry out her wishes. It established the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation Scholarship for Excellence in Music and/or Performing Arts in 2002. This program targets graduates from Lenawee County high schools interested in pursuing a post-secondary degree in Music or Performing Arts. In 2003, the Foundation initiated the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Camp Scholarship program to provide tuition support for Lenawee County children wishing to attend Music or Performing Arts summer camps.
One of Elizabeth’s brightest dreams was to see a string program established in the Tecumseh Public School system. After many years of hard work, in 2003, the Foundation and the Tecumseh Public Schools started the new program in the schools. Many other regional organizations have also benefited from Elizabeth’s generosity through the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation. Through her foresight and her enduring gift to the community, she has helped fulfill the dreams of many in Lenawee County.
The Elizabeth Wilson Foundation funds only projects that involve music and the performing arts. You can learn more about the foundation at www.elizabethwilsonfoundation.org.
Since its inception in 2012, the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show has piqued the curiosity and creativity of our community. There have been 6 Junk to Funk! events featuring 75 unique fashion looks that were created by 68 different artists and presented by 53 different models on the TCA stage. Participants have fully embraced the event, using it as a creative outlet to convey their vision. Imaginations are unleashed, with two participants unveiling “alter egos” live on the TCA stage - that of “Silvino Barrazon III” and “Z.” For others, maybe even you, the event is a little hard to grasp. This raises a few questions. What is the Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show? What elements are needed to create an eco fashion garment? How do you create a successful eco fashion show fundraising event? Or, as the 2015 Junk to Funk! t-shirt design succinctly asked, “What the Funk?”
Junk to Funk! is a fashion show live on the TCA stage, featuring wearable art from recycled items and repurposed materials. Artists create submissions and enlist the help of family and friends to model their creations, or model the outfit themselves. Judges are on hand to dub some special entries with titles such as “Most Innovative,” “Best Use of Recycled materials,” “Most Likely to Appear on the Cover of In Style Magazine,” and “Judges Choice.” Audience members can show their admiration as well, voting on the coveted “People’s Choice” award. Before the show and at intermission, attendees can also bid on silent auction items, including some of the fashion garments themselves. All funds collected by ticket sales and silent auction bids helps the TCA bring high quality entertainers to the TCA stage and help keep costs low for local renter organizations, such as Tecumseh Youth Theatre, Tecumseh Pops Orchestra & Community Chorus, Tecumseh Public Schools, and dance studios from Tecumseh, Adrian, and Brooklyn. We like to have fun while we fundraise and what better way to do that than through creativity.
Eco fashion looks start with a solid foundation from which to cultivate the design. World renowned French fashion designer Christian Dior once stated, "Without proper foundations there can be no fashion." In the history of Junk to Funk!, approximately 80 pieces of repurposed clothing was used as a foundation for some of the creations. Hundreds of pieces of paper materials were utilized, including ticket stock, tissue paper, sheet music, placemats, crepe paper, magazines, newspaper, and Lev’s Bakery Take-A-Number tickets. We’ve seen bags in every shape, size, material, color, and classification - grocery bags, garbage bags, Walmart canvas totes, popcorn bags, Lev’s Bakery carry out bags, Tuckey’s Big Boy carry out bags, and even Friskies cat treat bags. Many alternative materials, such as canvas, burlap, foam, weed barrier landscaping fabric, and a parachute have been used as well. With the groundwork of the design in place, the second element comes into play – materials.
A myriad of repurposed, reused, and recycled materials are an essential element of eco fashion. Almost anything you can think of can be re-imagined and incorporated into a garment, including the curtains from your windows. This is not in jest. To be specific, the TCA stage has seen 25 curtains, drapes, bed sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths, shower curtains, and umbrellas used as garment materials. Office supplies also make for great constructing materials, with 6,000 computer keys, 90 cell phone cases and accessories, and over 1,000 rubber bands flaunted on the runway. Where does it end? No one could possibly make kitchen items fashionable, right? Well, think again! Artists have pieced together 200 cups, spoons, paper plates, 300 pop tabs and bottle caps, 70 Capri Sun pouches, 50 chopsticks, 200 wine corks, and an impressive 3,500 coffee filters and tea bags. Throw in some feathers, flowers, vinyl records, clock parts, audio tape, and bind it all together with 3 rolls of duct tape and an immeasurable quantity of staples, tape, glue and we’re on our way to some amazing eco fashion entries!
After creation, each unique runway look begs for an intriguing title. Inspiration for the name often comes directly from the materials in use. Remember the curtains mentioned earlier? They were used to produce works with titles like “Gone With the Wind 2012,” “Gone With the Wind 2013,” “Went With the Wind,” and “Curtain Princess Hero.” Similarly, “Queen of Spoons” featured plastic spoons, “Uncorked” was created with wine corks, and “Duck, Duct, Goose!” made use of duct tape. Tin foil was featured in “Curses, Foiled Again” and audio tape was re-imagined into a garment titled “The 18 ½ Missing Minutes.” The materials used for some garments are slightly more mysterious, with titles like, “Magical Night In Rio,” “The Yellow Explosion,” “Protect Your Assets,” “Stained by the Sea,” and “Morgan’s Mahalo.” Any ideas as to what materials were used? We would love to hear your ideas!
A successful Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show isn’t complete without support from the community. This support comes from local businesses and individual creators. Several local businesses, including Skydive Tecumseh, Tuckey’s Big Boy, Lev’s Bakery, British Tea Garden & Rooftop Café, and Pentamere Winery have all entered submissions for the fashion show or donated materials for their construction by local creators. Many local businesses have donated items for the event’s silent auction and food for the event has been generously provided by Evans Street Station, Boulevard Market, British Tea Garden & Rooftop Café, Danley’s Country House, Tuckey’s Big Boy, Basil Boys, Muk’s Sports Pub, JR’s Hometown Grill & Pub, and Sal’s Italian Restaurant. This event has also been sponsored in the past by Avery Oil & Propane, Promedica Women’s Health Center at Herrick Hospital, and First Federal Bank of the Midwest of Tecumseh, who has sponsored the event all six years.
Creators and models are the heart and soul of the fashion show. The TCA has had submissions by local Tecumseh High School Students, teachers, TCA staff, and TCA volunteer ushers. Of these fantastic artists and models, fourteen of them have participated twice, five have participated three times, one has participated four times, and two individuals have participated in Junk to Funk! a commendable five times. Without the support and participation of these amazing artists, the eco fashion show would not be possible.
Tecumseh Center for the Arts and the eco fashion show are sustained not only by business sponsors, artists, and models, but also by the patrons that attend the event and community members. Attendees of the fashion show support the theater by purchasing tickets and bidding on silent auction items. They also support the creators by cheering for the creations, voting for their favorite submission, and bidding on the garments. Community members who are unable to attend the event can show their support spreading the word about the event – through personal conversation and on social media.
So, “What the Funk” are we doing this for? The success of individual events such as the Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show leads to the success of Tecumseh Center for the Arts and our community. Famous designer Ralph Lauren once said, "I don't design clothes. I design dreams." We believe those who work in theater or the arts inherently possess a similar outlook. We are not in the business of selling tickets. We are in the business of fostering creativity, providing an outlet for free expression, introducing patrons to new ideas, different worldviews, and being a home for acceptance and community. Together, we can all succeed.
This year’s Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show fundraiser will take place on Friday, May 3 at 6:00 pm. Deadline for submissions in Friday, April 26 at 5:00 pm. Anyone interested in creating an outfit can click the link below to see photos from past shows and download the call for entries and submission forms. Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased in person at 400 N. Maumee St. in Tecumseh, MI and by phone at 517.423.6617 during Box Office hours Tuesday through Friday from Noon to 5:00 pm. Tickets can also be purchased online anytime at www.TheTCA.org. See you at the theater!
Behind the scenes of Tecumseh Center for the Arts.