Manchester University
Oak Leaves

May 11, 2018


Dr. Katharine Ings (English), Professor Jena Oke (Art) and Dr. Kate Crell (Philosophy and Religious Studies) showcase their dance skills.

new band

Dr. Greg Clark channels his inner 1985 self as he provides the licks for Simple Minds' classic "Don't You Forget about Me," from the movie "The Breakfast Club," as performed here by two complex minds, Dr. Ings and Dr. Case. 

Otho Winger Experience Sings out Hearts at 2018 Concert 

Oak Leaves Staff

The Otho Winger Experience—the legendary rock band composed of faculty and staff—rocked the house and minds with its biennial concert May 8 in Cordier Auditorium. Called “Othopalooza: What the Planet Is Asking For,” the concert responded in the affirmative.

Dr. Judd Case (Communication Studies) performed for his fifth time as a lead singer and guitarist. He fronted numbers like “Maggie May” and took the guitar solo on Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name,” introducing the song with a genial shoutout to somebody’s mother.

Dr. Greg Clark (Physics) is a founding member of the Otho Winger Experience; this was his seventh show. Affectionately known as the band’s “mad scientist,” he plays every instrument known to humankind and some that are not yet invented. “I like to make noise on about anything I can get my hands on,” he said.

Clark showcased his artistic skills on guitar, drums and even the accordion. He also played what was perhaps the longest, most mesmerizing song of the set, Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” while the disco ball twirled above the audience.

Case hopes that students felt optimistic about this year’s show. “A lot of the juniors and seniors have seen us perform,” he said. “But I think many students assumed that since we are professors and this is an on-campus concert, we were gonna be slow.”

Slow—or “nice and easy” they were not, as Dr. Katharine Ings (English) forecasted in her introduction to the show opener, “Proud Mary.” Together with MU’s Ikettes, the awesome dancers also known as Professor Jena Oke (Art) and Dr. Kate Crell (Philosophy and Religious Studies), the trio performed an explosive version of the Tina and Ike Turner classic, swimming and shimmying their way across the stage in their breakout dance. Clad in pleather, leather, and twirly tiers, Ings and the Ikettes set the sartorial mood for the show.

Indeed, the Otho Winger Experience band is known for its image. First and foremost is its namesake, Manchester University President Emeritus Otho Winger, whose visage emblazons posters and banners across campus. His slicked-back, early-hipster-length locks and collarless jacket stand out against the groovy stripes and font.

The poster was designed and created by director of Marketing Dan Chudzynski, also a member of the band, and known for his smooth stylings ranging from Ike Turner’s deep bass to John Mellencamp’s Heartland rasp. He also showcased—or shoecased—his footwear by donning snazzy clown shoes while crooning “New Shoes.”

New solo performer Michael Dixon (Intercultural Services) added his own new shoes—’70s-style platforms in a visual homage to the Commodores, whose hit “Sail On” he sang—with Clark and Case providing harmonies.

The rest of the band dressed to trill as well: Case sourced his XXXL long pleather trousers some six weeks in advance; Dr. Jonathan Watson (English), found his Michael Collins-style bowler in Cork, Ireland; Dr. Mark Bryant (Chemistry) donned a smart fedora; and Dr. Dave Hicks (Biology), just happened to be wearing a jazzy beret in Pantone’s Color of the Year: ultra violet.

Other musicians were their regular cool-cat selves—Dr. Tim Reed on drums (Music), Dr. Debra Lynn on background vocals, (Music); the two brass players—Dr. Mark Angelos (History) and Scott Humphries (Music); Dr. Arturo Yanez on congas (Modern Languages); and guest fiddler Christy Thomson.

The music was equally eclectic. Ranging from late ’70s punk—Blondie’s “One Way or Another” to the pleasing harmonies of the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” and “My Guitar Gently Weeps” to Bob Dylan’s folky “Tom Thumb,” it covered all genres. Hicks and Watson pulled out their mandolins; the students in the brass section added punctuation to a variety of tunes.  Chudyzinski turned Cordier into a gleeful detention hall with his keyboard on “Don’t You Forget about Me” from 1985’s movie “The Breakfast Club”; Bryant gave it depth with his bass.

As the band knows how challenging it is to put on this concert—it takes one year to plan, then another one to recover—they pay tribute to the excellent facilities and staff who helped them mount the show. “Our band is most grateful for the staff in the Cordier Auditorium,” Case said. “They have really been a huge help and have worked so hard. The custodial staff and campus safety also have a lot to do with assisting in the production such as cleaning up. I am just honored to be a small portion in this community event.”