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Manes: The power of music and a sunny outlook

Greg Guzman (from left) Danielle Barnett Tim VanderlKate VanderlRiver Vanderlare pictured with rescued pit bulls SkyRyder.  |  Jeff

Greg Guzman (from left), Danielle Barnett, Tim Vanderlin, Kate Vanderlin and River Vanderlin are pictured with rescued pit bulls Skya and Ryder. | Jeff Manes/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 9, 2014 6:09AM



“I’d put my money on solar energy ... I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

— Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone (March, 1931)

Tim Vanderlin is the brother of Nate Vanderlin, who along with his wife, Kate, recently were featured in this column. My interview with Tim took place at Nate and Kate’s place near the Kankakee River south of Hebron.

Vanderlin, 38, lives in Valparaiso and graduated from Chesterton High School. His special companion, Danielle Barnett, is expecting a baby in September. Vanderlin and Barnett have decided the child will be born at home.

Like his younger brother, Vanderlin is a member of the band Chester Brown, a band that is an integral part of Brown Town 5, an annual concert-festival that helps raise money for the Michigan City chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America.

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“I like long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners,” Vanderlin began.

Come on, I’m tryin’ to make a livin’ here.

“We lived in Lake Station until I was 13. My whole family is from Lake Station. My uncle, Jim Vanderlin, ran for mayor once and was president of the school board for years.”

Do you have a 9-to-5 job?

“I work for a sound company called Technotrix. They do audio, lighting, staging and rigging. Technotrix has a contract with the city of Chicago. They do anything at Grant Park — Gospel Fest, Blues Fest, Jazz Fest. They set up the stage and sound for Lollapalooza.

“I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades. I know how to set up some lights and sound gear. But mostly I do staging. It’s like a big, giant erector set. The only problem with it is it isn’t steady. In the summer, I’m super busy. In the wintertime, I’m lucky to get 20 hours a week.”

Like the late, great Langston Hughes once said: “Money and art — far apart.”

“I’m actually trying to become a lineman for (Northern Indiana Public Service Co.) right now. I’m enrolled in a program at Ivy Tech called energy technology.

“I worked at what was once known as Bethlehem Steel for a little over six years. They offered a buyout and I was wanting to quit anyway. Working shiftwork at the mill, you can’t play music. I was 27 at the time. I thought to myself: ‘If not now, when?’ I took the buyout money and a one-year unemployment package. I basically just played music for like two years.”

You were doing what you love to do.

“We’d go to this basement space and practice like it was a job every Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.”

Have you been musically inclined since you were a child?

“I wasn’t into music until I had a creative writing class my senior year at Chesterton. As an assignment, my friend Tim Dishman and I wrote a song together for that class.

“Tim showed me some chords and I borrowed a guitar from a friend of mine. I recorded the song and played it for the class. Everybody liked it. From then on, it was like: ‘I want to learn to play guitar.’ Tim taught me all the rudimentary stuff. Today, Tim plays upright bass for country singer Alan Jackson.”

One of your all-time favorite bands?

“The Grateful Dead. They’re my idols. They did everything how they wanted to do it. And they still provided for themselves and their families while doing it. It was their way or no way. It wasn’t about the money. It was about doing the art the way they wanted to do it. The money came later.”

Brown Town 5.

“I had never heard of the Izaak Walton League until Sam Strupek from Shoreline Breweries tipped me off about the organization. Sam’s a member of the Ikes.

“All the proceeds from food sales at our festival will go to the Michigan City chapter of Ikes. Sam sells his beer to the chapter for cost; any money they make on the beer also goes to the Michigan City chapter.”

It’s a two-day affair.

“Yes, June 13 and 14. It starts on a Friday night and then all day Saturday and Saturday night. Hopefully, it won’t rain. Chester Brown is notorious for having it rain when we play outside. So much so, we’ve said that we should go to drought-stricken states and play there because we know it will rain.”

How much does it cost to get in?

“It’s $50 for a weekend pass. Some people camp out. It’s $30 for one day. Kids 12 and under get in free.”

Besides Chester Brown, name some of the bands that will be performing.

“Mr. Blotto, The Diggity, New Old Cavalry, Freek Johnson, Hurricane Reggae Band ...

“The entertainment will probably kick off around 7 p.m. Friday and go on until about 12:30 a.m. Then we’ll have a late-night thing on a smaller stage that will go to about 3 a.m. On Saturday — late night — New Old Cavalry will play around a big campfire near the stage. They’re an acoustic bluegrass band comprised of some young guys from Bloomington who really jam.”

Sounds like a great time and it benefits the Ikes, to boot.

“There will be various arts and crafts vendors there; Jason Neyhart will be selling tie-dye T-shirts and there will be an angel card reader as well.”

Groovy. Let’s switch gears. This often-abused third rock from the sun?

“It wasn’t until I got out of high school that I started thinking about things like pesticides and (genetically modified organisms). In high school, I thought everyone was A-OK. You kind of think everyone thinks like you. Then you get out there and you realize there are some really bad people. And it’s all about money. You can’t eat money.

“What are we going to do after we’ve polluted all the lakes, rivers and farmland? What happens when the oil runs out and the farmers can’t use the tractors in the fields? I think the human race will survive, but there will be some birthing pains in the next 20 to 30 years.”

One of my twin daughters is going to have her first child about a month before your and Danielle’s child will be born.I sometimes wonder what’s in store for that soon-to-be precious newborn in the next 50 years.

“I’m studying how they make power right now. It seems so archaic to me. If the energy source in the sky that we all share goes away, we’re goners anyway. We might as well take advantage of the sun.

“The solar thing is really where it’s at; battery powers, too. I’m hoping that in the next 50 years or so — hopefully not that long — power plants will be a thing of the past. There won’t be a NIPSCO or ComEd. I envision everyone being self-sufficient, having wind turbines and living in battery houses.”

***

And you may say they are dreamers, but Kate, Nate and Tim Vanderlin aren’t the only ones.

For tickets for Brown Town 5, visit www.chesterbrown.org.



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