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Jazzin' it Up

Madison’s Lancton to get into the spirit of Santana at February show

His tribute show will also feature a special Valentine dinner offer

(February 2016) – It is often said that Latin is the language of love, and anyone wishing to add a Latin twist to their St. Valentine’s adventures this year has a perfect opportunity in downtown Madison, Ind.
Indiana Jazz Hall of Fame guitarist Bill Lancton and his band, the Bill Lancton Coalition, will perform a tribute to Santana during a Feb. 13 St. Valentine’s Day Weekend show at the Red Bicycle Hall, 125 E. Main St., in Madison. Lancton, 64, is a well-known musician who has earned local fame after moving to Madison from Indianapolis several years ago. He is skilled in many styles of music and is mentor for several other regionally known performers.

Photo by John Sheckler

Madison, Ind., resident and jazz musician Bill Lancton will perform his tribute show to Santana on Feb. 13 at the Red Bicycle Hall on Madison’s Main Street.

“Bill Lancton is one of the most talented and modest guitarists I have ever known,” said RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival Coordinator Greg Ziesemer. “He is a true joy to watch perform.”
Regionally known rocker Rusty Bladen of Madison said he also admires Lancton’s guitar skills.
“Bill plays more chords in one song than I play in an entire show,” said Bladen. “His playing inspires me. – to go home and practice!”
Madison blues guitarist and singer Jimmy Davis, who has gigs with Lancton, also has a high opinion of his skills. “Bill is a player’s player,” said Davis. “He is an amazing musician and an even better person.”
Lancton’s father was a band leader in New York and Detroit in the 1930s and 1940s. He grew up listening to his parent’s extensive jazz record collection. Lancton began playing in 1973 and started touring in 1974, doing around 300 gigs a year.
Lancton and his band have been doing the Santana show for five years at the Jazz Kitchen in Broad Ripple in Indianapolis. They sell out two shows a night for two nights every time they do it.
“The Jazz Kitchen has been open 21 years, and I have been playing there since the first month it was open,” said Lancton. “Another popular show I do there is with the band Appalatin. I play Latin funk, then Appalatin plays, and we finish the show playing together.”
Lancton sticks to the arrangements faithfully during the Santana show but then expands on the tunes.

Photo by John Sheckler

Bill Lancton performs regularly in Madison and at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. He is pictured above performing at the Thomas Family Winery.

“During the course of the Santana show, I include a couple of songs I wrote in tribute to Santana and some music from Tito Puente,” said Lancton. “There are a few others in the same vein, but three quarters of the show is pure Santana.”
Lancton is skilled in a wide range of styles and is not limited to Latin music.
“In my lifetime, I have played rock and roll, country, hard core funk, bebop, and jazz,” he said. “My music has been all over the board.”
When Lancton was in Nashville, Tenn., he was on the Ernest Tubb Radio Hour and the Ralph Embry TV show.
At another time in his life, he was in a reggae party band called Dog Talk. He has several CDs, including a bluegrass-jazz-rock-Gospel mix called BlueGrazz Junction. One of his bands won a Critic’s Choice award for best small jazz group in Indianapolis.
“My personal style is Latin Jazz-Rock,” said Lancton. “I have been doing Santana tunes my entire career, so a few years ago, I thought, I am known for playing Santana, so why don’t I put a group together?”
His fellow bands members are as diverse as his music. 
His percussionist is Gerardo Beccrra from South America. On keyboard is Allen “Turk” Burke. On drums is Tony Medeiros. The bass is covered by Scott Pazera.
The Santana show at Red Bicycle Hall is a project of the Madison Cultural Continuum. The organization was formed in 2009 to promote quality cultural entertainment opportunities in the Madison area. The group has produced a number of events, including Wilderness Plots, Pure Prine, O’ Madison Where Art Thou and many others. Cultural Continuum also acts as the 501c3 not for profit umbrella organization for the annual production of Messiah at Hanover College.
Several of the Cultural Continuum members are also involved with Red Bicycle Hall, RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival and many other music events in the Madison area. Kevin Watkins is one of those people.
“Some people may want to go out for a fine dinner before coming to the Santana Tribute,” said Watkins. “Dinner reservations will be difficult to obtain on St. Valentine’s Day weekend, so we have found a way to help them. Cultural Continuum has reserved a block of seats at Crystal and Jules Restaurant to be set aside for reservation at a special seating time.”
Crystal and Jules is located at 709 W. Main St., Madison. The dinner option is a good example of what draws people like Lancton to Madison.
“Even before I moved here, I recognized the artistic potential of the town,” said Lancton. “The first person I met was John Walburn. He introduced me around and got me started. I knew right away Madison had a great music scene and potential. Everyone here has an interest in the arts.  Everyone is involved in music and the arts. They are knowledgeable and enthusiastic.”
The late Walburn was instrumental in getting the RiverRoots festival off the ground a decade ago and served as its first coordinator.

Tickets for the Santana show are $25 per person and available on-line at www.redbicyclehall.com. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8:30 p.m.

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