manchester otho winger experience 2023
Manchester faculty and staff play on stage as the Otho Winger Experience.
Photo provided by MU

Otho Winger Experience Rocks Again in Cordier

Tristen Bronaugh 

Manchester University’s faculty and staff band, The Otho Winger Experience, showed they still got it as they returned to the stage on May 1, after a five-year hiatus.

As the rain poured, students rushed to Cordier Auditorium Monday morning to attend the weekly VIA session. This VIA, however, presented a different experience than anything previous; this session was the final musical performance from The Otho Winger Experience.

The Otho Winger Experience (OWE) is a band that was formed in 2005 by Manchester University faculty and staff. Over 17 years the band has performed every other year, collaborating with students, North Manchester residents, and other staff and faculty. The current members of OWE are MU faculty and staff––both current and retired––Mark Bryant, Greg Clark, Judd Case, Dan Chudzynski, Dave Hicks, Deb Hustin, Katharine Ings, Arturo Yáñez, Jonathan Watson and friend of the band Toby Tobias.

After their last planned performance got delayed by the pandemic, it was finally OWE’s time to return for their final show.

Students, faculty, staff and North Manchester residents shuffled into the auditorium, quickly filling the seats, some wearing their new OWE t-shirts that were being handed out at the entrance.

When the clock hit 11, the crowd started to chant, “Otho, Otho, Otho!” The lights dimmed and the band’s introduction video played: the experience commenced.

Silhouettes of people walked onto the stage and grabbed their instruments. The notes of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” started. The lights burst on and the OWE was glistening on the stage.

With the sounds of guitar and drums projecting out into the audience, Clark started to sing, “It’s all the same, only the names will change.” The audience erupted.

The deeper the OWE got through their set, the more involved the crowd got; Each song got its own special treatment.

It started with the crowd clapping along to the beat of “Proud Mary,” Tina Turner’s version. Ings was the lead vocalist and one of the dancers, alongside professors Pam Haynes and Kate Eisenbise Crell.

The trio had one dance rehearsal together the week before and one run-through the morning of the performance. But that tight timeframe didn’t limit them. “Their dancing was amazing; it made me get up and dance,” said Que’shaun Julius, a senior.

As the OWE continued with their performance the audience started the wave during the “Dreams” by Van Halen.

When Ings returned to the stage in her beautiful red-and-leopard-print five-inch platform booties, she sang “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. This got the majority of the auditorium to take out their phones and turn on their flashlights, all waving them in the air.

As the band continued down their set of cult classics, the cheers after each song were getting longer. Clark dazzled with his version of Pink Floyd’ “Time”; Ings wailed her way through the Cranberries’ “Zombie,” on which Watson took the guitar solo; Case brought a dance beat with “The Middle.” Hicks and Hustin paired up on “Wall of Death” by the legendary folk singers Richard and Linda Thompson; Bryant sang “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and Tobias blazed through lead vocals from his drum kit on “Long Train Runnin.’” That was only appropriate, as his speaker started to smoke during sound check and the band scrambled to move it away from Cordier’s curtain.

Toward the end Case and Ings paired up for the vocals of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” When the audience heard the opening chords of the song, they became ecstatic. They stayed that way for the entire song and got louder when Clark performed the guitar solo.

OWE ended their set with The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” led by the deeply talented Chudzynski. Before he started the first verse, Chudzynski gave a special thanks to the sound crew and everyone that helped set things up. The show ended with a standing ovation and the crowd cheering “Encore! Encore! Encore!” (“Hey Jude” was the encore.)

How did students feel about the performance? Brooke Bouwens, senior, felt her time at Manchester was finally complete. “I always wanted to see them perform,” she said. “I had always heard great things about the band, and now that I got to see them perform it feels like I have seen it all.” Bouwens’s favorite track that was performed was “Proud Mary.”

Lainey Bosner, senior, was thrilled she got to witness OWE on stage. “As soon as I heard that they were performing I knew I had to be there,” she said. “We only see our professors in a classroom setting so it was cool to see a different side of some of them.” Bosner’s favorite track that was performed was “All-Star,” sung by Clark.

As for OWE, they thought the concert was a success. “It went as well as it possibly could have,” Ings said. “It felt great; we really appreciated the students in the audience.”

Clark agreed. “It was a total blast and very rewarding to play music with such talented folks and appreciative students,” he said. “I think it was the best we have ever sounded. The crowd was amazing; you get energized when you’re up there, especially when the audience gives you feedback.”

During the Otho Winger Experience, each member got their moment in the spotlight, from impressive solos to funny monologues. Not only was the passion of each member visible throughout the entire show but it was also clear that the audience felt the same.

There is a lot of speculation if this was their final show, as it’s rumored that every show is their “last” one; however, if this was OWE’s final performance, it was an honor and a privilege to be in attendance.