The Seitz and Sounds open stage series has become a fixture of the South Bend summer music scene. The series, which is now in its second year, has blossomed into a showcase for both young and established local talent. Seitz and Sounds is the brainchild of the Dietz family and was born out of their wish to provide a family friendly venue for aspiring artists. Their goal was to create an open stage concert series with a format similar to that of the open mic night at Fiddler’s Hearth in downtown South Bend. Don Dietz envisioned the series as a “jam session” which would feature a large variety of musical acts and also be a weekly social event.
It has become that plus much more. On any given Thursday during the summer, Seitz Park becomes a genre mixing melting pot of musical styles. This is by Dietz design. Their goal is to introduce the audience to new music while at the same time challenge the performers to reimagine their personal and sometimes entrenched definitions of music. This creates a refreshing environment that is reminiscent of variety shows of years past. The mood is light and inviting. Old and new friends sit on blankets eating pizza while others enjoy the beautiful St. Joseph River, ride bikes, or walk their dogs. Seitz and Sounds’ resident DJ Chuck Fry offers the perfect complement to live performances during set breaks. He brings to the table a brilliant offering that blends classic tunes and mind expanding new electronic music.
At the nucleus of this joyous happening is the family Dietz. This is truly a labor of love for Cathy and Don and they can often be seen looking over the event like proud parents of a flourishing child. Don manages the finances and also serves as the sound engineer. Kelly Dietz is a natural fit as the Seitz and Sounds’ MC. She also serves as the talent coordinator as well as the social media guru. Robin Dietz has graced the stage as a performer. She is a young and promising songwriter and perfectly embodies the very concept of Seitz and Sounds.
Seitz and Sounds is an unqualified success but there have been challenges. There is never a cover charge and the Dietz family shoulders the financial burden. It costs $2,500 each summer to rent the park. PA support and equipment is also provided by the Dietz family. Their goal is clearly not to make money from this venture. They have decided to invest a great deal of money, time, and effort into a community building event. Theirs is a shining example of how to see a vision through until it becomes reality. They have shown us what it means to create positive change in our community.
What does the future hold for Seitz and Sounds? Don is looking to expand the PA capabilities with some new equipment. Kelly would like to see more young people involved. Perhaps book teenage artists. I can’t think of another local venue that would be friendlier to a young performer who is taking the stage for the first time. Next Thursday (8/28) will be the last event for this summer’s Seitz and Sounds series. I am honored to say that my band, Phineas Gage, will be taking the stage along with the Paul Erdman Band, Damon Frick, and as always DJ Chuck Fry.
As this season comes to a close I hope you all get a chance to come to the show and thank the Dietz family for all they have done to promote our music community. I asked the Dietz clan what they wanted to convey to readers. They asked me to thank the community and to emphasize that every person in South Bend is capable of improving our city. Their story is not only inspiring but also serves as a blue print. So let’s get to it South Bend.
Photos by Khoa Huynh
Teters, LLC Audio Production