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Sat, Oct 07


Merrimans' Playhouse

Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour @ Merrimans' Playhouse !

Special collaborative event with Wild Rose Moon and WVPE! The Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour will perform and record its first ever, “off-campus,” show at Merrimans’ Playhouse, with musical guests, The Merrimans' Play-House Players.

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Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour @ Merrimans' Playhouse !
Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour @ Merrimans' Playhouse !

Time & Location

Oct 07, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, Suite 135, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $15 

This is part of our Home Grown Series - Special Collaborative Event!

In partnership with Merrimans’ Playhouse and WVPE Public Radio, the Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour will perform and record its first ever, “off-campus,” show in South Bend, at Merrimans’ Playhouse on Saturday, October 7th, at 7:30 p.m. The show will feature The Merrimans’ Play-House Players as musical guests. The band consists of Stephen Merriman on drums, Mary Merriman on upright bass, Stefan Hess on piano, Todd Neuenschwander on tenor saxophone, and Maximilian Wilfinger on trumpet. Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour is a theatrical radio show that airs on WVPE Public Radio on the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. The show features Derek Jensen as the announcer, John Bahler as the music producer, and Nate Butler as the audio producer. Produced like an old-fashioned variety show, the show features a sing-along theme song, interviews, performances by guest artists, the “Shoot the Moon,” game show, and lots of audience participation. The show is usually recorded at Wild Rose Moon Performing Arts Center in Historic Plymouth, Indiana – “Where the Lincoln Highway and the Michigan Road cross the beautiful Yellow River!”. George Schricker, director of the center and host of the show, remarked: “Stephen and Mary Merriman have worked tirelessly to create a wonderful scene for live jazz in our region. Their passion for the music can be seen and felt in the venue’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere – they’ve created a wonderful listening room with a great soundstage, and an open-hearted vibe. It’s no wonder that it's such a magnet for jazz musicians from around the region, the country, and the world. South Bend is fortunate to have such a fine venue and we feel great about doing our show there.” All 70 episodes of the Wild Rose Moon Radio Hour are chronicled at, under the programs tab. This particular episode will be broadcast at a relatively early time to be announced after the show.  

Wild Rose Moon: 

George Schricker - host

Derek Jensen - announcer

John Bahler - music

Nate Butler - audio producer

Merrimans’ Play-House Players:

Stephen Merriman – drums

Mary Merriman - bass

Stefan Hess – piano

Todd Neuenschwander – tenor saxophone

Maximilian Wilfinger – trumpet

Special Guests:

Tony Krabil

Willow Wetherall

Patti Shaffner

This performance will highlight the musician's enjoyment of one of jazz's most valued traditions - the open session. This format nurtures not only the active player but also the active listener. The open session gives listeners insight into the "method behind the madness" by putting into practice collectively what they've been practicing individually. The sessions emphasize how to work democratically as a musical collective.

Drummer Stephen Merriman is Co-Founder of Merrimans’ Playhouse, with his wife and bassist, Mary Merriman. Together they act as Executive Directors for Merrimans’ Playhouse, a non-profit Jazz Performance Venue located in South Bend. Stephen and Mary manage all the creative endeavors of this company. The organization’s mission is to promote the art and education of jazz in our community. Merrimans' Playhouse hosts a Jazz Performance Series, which is set up for the artists to present their work as a concert performance in an intimate room conducive to deep listening. They bring regional, national, and international professional touring jazz artists in, from straight-ahead to avant-garde. The venue acts as a bridge between the artists (their art), and the patrons. They also host a weekly Jazz Open Session for local musicians.

Stephen Merriman, a native of South Bend, playing professionally since 1978, has worked in a variety of musical genres from reggae to rock to jazz, in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, New York City, San Diego, and Boulder, Colorado. Some of his credits include the Boulder Jazz Improvisation Group, Chiaroscuro, and the piano and drum duo, The Great Leap, based in New York City. Since returning to South Bend, Stephen has focused solely on jazz, and has played with the jazz groups, Random Elements, Apogeebop, and currently The Merrimans. Stephen is also a piano technician and tuner. Together, Stephen and Mary own and operate their other business, Merrimuse Enterprises, LLC (DBA Merrimans’ Complete Piano Service), which includes a piano service business.

Mary Merriman began playing bass in orchestra alongside playing alto saxophone during her early school years and played electric bass in jazz band during middle school. She then discovered jazz at Central Michigan University sitting in with an improvisational jazz studio class, Studio Twelve, directed by Dr. Robert Hays during high school and has been in love with it since. She focused on the upright bass performing with orchestras and various jazz ensembles during high school, college, and her professional year. Although she pursued other degrees and careers in the sciences, the bass remained a vital part of her life. Mary continues to explore the art of jazz and perform as a jazz bassist.

Stefan Hess is a pianist born and raised in Valparaiso, Indiana. Though classically trained and having experience is a vast array of musical genres, he primarily works in the jazz idiom, largely due to his preference of spontaneity over rigid structure. His influences span the entire history of jazz music, and he recognizes jazz as a timeless art form, being just as relevant today as it ever was. Stefan currently resides in South Bend.

Born and raised in Marion, Indiana, Todd Neuenschwander developed a passion for jazz at the young age of 13 after being invited to play with the high school jazz band. Since tenor saxophone is predominately featured in jazz music, his early musical influences were greats like Branford Marsalis, John Coltrane, and even comically, Bleeding Gums Murphy. In his more than 30 years of playing, Todd earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State University in Music Education while studying under Dr. George Wolfe. He taught band and music at all grade levels, offers private lessons, and continued his studies with Melissa Aldana. Todd has also had the privilege to perform at various venues throughout the U.S. and Europe. Todd has been proud to call South Bend home since 2009, spending his time with his roller derby superstar wife, Micah, and their blues-singing poodle, Monsieur Fluffypants.

Maximilian Wilfinger is a relatively new face to the music scene of Michiana. Growing up in Connecticut, he was exposed to a variety of music through his parents. While not instrumentalists themselves, they were very encouraging figures for when he decided to pick up the horn in grade school. His first exposure to America’s music, jazz, was in his high school’s big band which played arrangements from likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Thad Jones. He continued cultivating his interest in the music as he went on into his undergraduate studies at Central Connecticut State University. While his focus was in the sciences, he didn’t let that distract him from learning more about the music. At this time, he was exposed to a plethora of jazz musicians that had a significant influence on his development by artists such as Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, and Horace Silver. Around then he started freelancing outside of school, and eventually became part of the University of Hartford family, going to jam sessions and volunteering to help with the big band. After he finished his undergraduate studies, he decided to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Notre Dame. One of the strong deciding factors of selecting Notre Dame, was the presence that Merrimans’ Playhouse had on the city of South Bend. He wanted to make sure that he would be able to keep his chops fresh whilst completely his graduate studies and found a perfect place that fit that description. Playing at Merrimans’ Playhouse’s Tuesday night open sessions have been very intellectually stimulating and constructive for communicating what he is trying to communicate through this wonderful art form. While occasionally he misses his old musical family in Connecticut, he is grateful towards Stephen and Mary Merriman for putting together what they have done here in this city. Furthermore, he invigorated by the aspect of all the people he will meet and all the things he will learn during his time in South Bend Indiana – The Jazz Underground of the Midwest!

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services Private Trust Foundations, which include grants from the Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation (2020-2021; 2022-2023 seasons), the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation (2021-2022; 2022-2023 seasons), and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust (2021-2022; 2022-2023 season). Special concert event support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season). Activities are made possible in part by the Arts Organization Support (AOS), Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency (2023-2024 season).

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation (2020-2023 seasons). The Student and Home Grown Series concerts made possible, in part, with support from the ArtsEverywhere Grant from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the Arts Project Support Grant and the Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission.


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