Carrying the torch

Published 9:32 am Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rashon Massey and Brendan Bowser can’t wait to invite the community down to Shadowland Pavilion for an evening of danceable music. (Leader photo/JILL McCAUGHAN)

Rashon Massey and Brendan Bowser can’t wait to invite the community down to Shadowland Pavilion for an evening of danceable music. (Leader photo/JILL McCAUGHAN)

ADURO Productions hopes to entertain community with new event

ST. JOSEPH — Hoping to provide Southwest Michigan with a new option for family-friendly, outdoor music events, a group of twenty-something locals have joined together to form the area’s newest event production company, ADURO Productions.

“I feel like we are a part of a new renaissance in the area—the younger generation getting involved in doing things,” explained Rashon Massey, marketing coordinator for ADURO. “There are so many young families and young people here. You really see the vitality, the return, the next generation coming back here. I’m excited just to be a part of that.”

Led by Massey, who has roots in Benton Harbor, and Brendan Bowser, a St. Joe native, team-members Michael Nelson, John Howland, Jr., Pat Kohn, and Matthew Sypian have planned an evening of good, danceable music for an all-ages event they are calling “Waves into the Night, ” on Aug. 9 at the Shadowland Pavilion.

“We want to create a new atmosphere that hasn’t been felt down there for a while,” explained Bowser. “Our goal in anything that we do is, we want to bring the energy. We want to make sure that everyone is having a good time and just feeling the energy we want to create.”

“Everyone likes to dance,” added Massey. “And that was the question — ‘How do we create something that will be more family-inclusive for this entire area that’s representative of many different demographics, that could bring folks together, and that’s something that we could easily do next year?’ We’d like for it to continue to grow with this community. That’s what this thing is really about.”

The event will feature the music of two Midwestern bands, The Chicago Afrobeat Project and the New Sound Underground.

“Chicago Afrobeat Project is a band from Chicago, and it’s just great world music,” explained Bowser. “We paired them with New Sound Underground. They’re just really young, funky guys from Minneapolis. A lot of them are college-trained musicians, so they’re all professional. There’s not a lot of lyrics—it’s just good, danceable music.”

Planning for the event began last November, and the production company’s name, “ADURO” speaks to the initial enthusiasm and the ambitions of the company’s founders.

“‘Aduro’ is Latin for ‘to start a fire’ or ‘to ignite,’” Bowser explained. “That was kind of what we felt we were doing. That was just the energy we had. We wanted to light this flame that would spark a bigger fire.”

“It was Brendan’s gusto that really started it,” Massey agreed. “ It was his catalyst—his initial interest.”

Originally, the group envisioned making the event a day-long festival for families, but since a number of other events are taking place in St. Joseph that weekend, the team decided to limit the event to an evening concert that would complement—rather than compete with—those other events.

“We want to do our part to promote what else is happening downtown,” Massey explained. “We don’t want to be distracting.”

In keeping with the community focus of the event, Bowser and Massey pointed out that attending Waves into the Night will help to support both Berrien County Parks and Recreation and LAYLA, a nonprofit organization based in Michigan City.

“The money goes back to the community with this event because ticket proceeds will be split between ADURO and Berrien County,” Massey said. “It’s a huge way to support County Parks and Recreation, and a percentage of our alcohol sales will go to County Parks, and the rest goes to the nonprofit LAYLA. That stands for ‘Life After Loving Your Animal.’”

More information about LAYLA can be found on their Facebook page at

Although Rashon, Brendan and their friends were excited to see the event succeed, they ran into some initial resistance to their ideas.

“A lot of people said, ‘Start smaller. Do a little show.’ And we said, ‘Why? We can do this,’” Bowser recalled. “That’s was the thing the whole time: ‘We can do this.’”

Soon, however, Massey, Bowser and their crew came across much more supportive folks.

“Everyone at the County and our sponsors have been so great, so welcoming,” Massey said. “Without our sponsors, this truly would not be happening, and that’s Silver Beach Pizza, MailMax, and Miller Lite and Alliance Beverage Distribution. They’ve been really great. When other people were saying, ‘Maybe next year,’ they said, ‘Sure, what do you need?’”

Now that all of the preparations have been made, the members of the ADURO Productions staff are looking forward to the big day.

“We’re just excited about it. Now, it’s just tying up loose ends. It’s really been remarkable. Everyone’s been so kind. Everyone’s been so open to seeing this happen,” Massey said.

Open to all ages, the event gates of the Shadowland Pavilion will open at 6 p.m. and ADURO Productions will host an onsite beer garden for those ages 21 and older. Both admission and beverage tickets will be sold “cash only” at the event gates on the day of the show. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, but coolers and other carry-ins will not be permitted.

Ticket prices range from $10 for general admission to $15 (limited seating), and children ages 5 and under will be admitted for free. More information can also be found at

“If anyone wants to know anything about this event, it’s about supporting a community-driven event. We’re local folks, we’re not going anywhere, we want to be able to do bigger, more engaging things next year,” Massey said. “That’s only possible if the community comes out and supports this event.”