July 16 • 06:46 PM

Gifted people giving amazing gifts

December 15, 2010
I'm thinking of starting a new reality show but it probably wouldn't work because nothing bad would happen, nothing mean would be said and no one would get kicked off. An obvious failure in today's culture...

...Except if you're looking for culture. Right here. Right around the corner. And by culture I mean enjoying a little fine music played by some truly outstanding musicians who live and play locally. Their love and passion for music ends up being a gift to people who enjoy great music and appreciate truly great talent.

Among those truly great talents is longtime area resident and businessman Don Capman. Put Don behind the ivories and magic happens. It's as if he was born to play the piano. It's as natural as breathing but come to find out, he started out playing bass. And he still has the bass he started out playing. Which is still being played by fellow longtime area musician and businessman and baseball buff and sports card shop owner Harry Schemer.

The two light-hearted, easy going musicians are still playing together, even though the drummer of their former 'Nice 'N Easy' trio Kurt Kramer had to relocate to California for a job.

Kurt is also one of those highly talented, music major types who can play any instrument that's put in front of him. And while he's outstanding on the drums, he has a N'Awlins-style-knock-your-socks-off-style of bluesy jazz or jazzy blues when he's on the keyboards.

Harry Schemer on bass, Kurt Kramer on drums and Don Capman at the keyboards give their gift of talent to venues around the area.

I'm reminded of all this awesomeness and more last Wednesday when after a long, long journey into a dark, dark tunnel I go out again and listen to all three of them play.

Every Wednesday, Don and Harry play at Side Tracks Bar & Grill on Lake Nepessing Road, just off the I-69 exit.

Recently completely refurbished, Side Tracks is a comfortable, retro-hip place with a depot-like motif and urban decor that rivals anything you'd come across in Royal Oak or Rochester. One of the coolest things is the large, lit up model train that runs along a track up on a shelf near the warehouse-style ceiling.

On a raised stage in the corner amid twinkling Christmas lights and huge pots of burgundy red poinsettias Don and Harry do their thing and it's magic.

Along the way, Don's wife Joyce (Nolin) gives me yet another surprise gift. Most Imlay City folks know Joyce from her years at Tri-County Bank before her retirement a few years ago. They also know Joyce for her charitable work with the Rotary Club; for the exotic and even a little scary trips she took to third-world countries to help bring health and hope to children in oppressed villages and communities. I don't know, however, how many know Joyce for her singing talent. When she stood up and took the microphone, I was blown away. She sounded smooth as silk and looked and acted like a pro, like she'd been doing it her whole life.

After Joyce returns to the table I quiz her about what I just heard. I had no idea she had such talent. She mentions that she took voice lessons for a little while when she was in high school. She tells me it was Don's gentle encouragement that nudged her in the direction of singing again. No wonder. She's really, really good. What a treat.

I am continually amazed—but shouldn't be—at the wealth of talent in various mediums that I've encountered over the years out here. I'm talking people with true, amazing gifts that continue to fill them with enough passion to keep sharing those gifts with the world. For me, it's totally worth supporting and hooking into. Maybe hoping some of that spark will even wear off on me...

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Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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