News Column

Main Street welcomes two bands Friday night

June 4, 2014

By James Draper, Kilgore News Herald, Texas

June 04--Melida Heien is looking forward to Fridays After 5 -- as Kilgore Main Street Manager, certainly, but also as Melida Heien: concert-goer.

Two young, but veteran, sets of performers are set for an 8 p.m. show on the Winter Elder Stage of the World's Richest Acre Park Friday night, the second free performance in the Main Street program's annual series featuring Tyler-area band Dazed and Kilgore's own Ally Venable Band.

A few weeks into her job as the city's downtown development chief, "This is probably the easiest event I've ever done. I'm just going to walk into it and experience it," Heien said. "It's been something that's been going on for a long time. It's obviously been very successful for downtown Kilgore, so they've continued it.

"I'm just excited to be there and enjoy it; it gives me something to do on Friday night. That's why everybody should come -- it's something to do on Friday night."

Heien credits Kilgore News Herald Co-Publisher Jessica

Woodall for arranging the four Friday night shows of summer 2014, monthly performances from May to August.

In a way, it's a new experience for Heien -- moving to Kilgore from a similar Main Street post in Pekin, Illinois, she's used to events that carry numerous demands from street closures and temporary permits for alcohol sales to logistical issues like carting in ice for drinks.

In Pekin, "There was just so much that went into something like a concert," she said. Organizers could simply flip a switch and point a band toward the stage. For Fridays After 5, though, with Woodall's volunteer support in scheduling the concerts and avoid complications that take away from the music and fun, "A lot of the things that gave me such event anxiety I don't even have to worry about."

This week's music will be heavy on the classic rock and blues -- despite the relative youth of the various performers, they've embraced earlier styles and hits to carve out their niche in East Texas.

First on stage, the young men of Dazed have been called the band with "Young Hearts and Old Souls," finding success with covers of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Ted Nugent in addition to original songs.

Based in Tyler, each of the three band members contribute to the vocals while Lance Hampton plays guitar, Drew Theiring handles the drum set and Caleb Cannon performs on bass guitar.

Other inspirations for the group -- "The showmanship and preciseness of their music makes them stand apart from the rest and grab attention." -- include Black Sabbath, Robert Johnson, Bonzo, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bad Company, Van Halen and Steel Heart. Learn more about the band at Facebook. com/dazedband.

Heading into her second Fridays After 5 performance, 15-year-old Kilgore High Student Ally Venable says she's excited to share the stage with the Tyler musicians and eager to debut some new songs for the local crowd.

Coming off a year of performances at venues like The Back Porch, Fast Freddy's in Longview or The House of Blues in Dallas, "I like playing in Kilgore because it's my hometown," Venable said. "It's always fun playing anywhere. Of course, it's cool to play at big festivals, stuff like that, but (at Fridays After 5) I can be intimate with the crowd. I'm closer to the crowd with stuff like this."

With Venable on lead guitar and vocals, her band also includes Bobby Wallace (lead guitar), Elijah Owing (bass guitar) and Brett Engle (drums).

The current roster has been performing together for a few months after adding Owing to the lineup.

"My band is starting to sing backup. They do really, really good and I'm proud of them for it," Venable said. "We've progressed from playing rock, traditional old blues and stuff like that to stuff that you can dance to. We've started to play like Jonny Lang. We've written some cool progressive stuff too."

Since her Fridays After 5 performance in summe 2013, Venable has released an album -- "Wise Man," available on iTunes, Spotify, and Friday night at the Acre -- and the title track along with a cover of "Trouble With a Capital T" have earned some radioplay on KYYK 98.3 FM.

"When I heard it I was so excited," Venable said, "Yay They're playing my stuff!"

For more information on Venable, log on to or visit

As always, the Main Street's free Fridays After 5 concerts are bring-yourown chair events on the World's Richest Acre at 100 N. Commerce Street. For more information, follow "Kilgore Main Street" on Facebook or call Heien at 903-984-5081.

"I am excited," Heien said. "I don't know what to expect."


(c)2014 the Kilgore News Herald (Kilgore, Texas)

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Source: Kilgore News Herald (TX)

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