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‘Hillbilly Scientists’ bring explosive entertainment

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Canons fire paper cups, exploding chicken and wrangling of ketchup bottles, this and more will happen in Artesia's Ocotillo Performing Arts Center when the Hillbilly Scientists take over.

The Hillbilly Scientists to perform at Artesia’s Ocotillo Performing Arts Center

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Gone are the days of children falling asleep when they hear the word science. With shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” and festivals that include science, technology, engineering and mathematics, adding a little art to it, science is again interesting and it goes from STEM to STEAM.

There will be plenty of steam and explosions coming to the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center, 310 W. Main St., Artesia, on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.

The Hillbilly Silly Science Spectacular Show promises a multitude of amazing experiments which are geared toward the entire family.

We’ve all seen scientist shows and we have seen comedy shows, but the scientists in this new show go beyond and — according to their fans — it is insanely unique and hilarious.

The “chemistry” Dr. Beaker — played by Curt Strutz — had with the audience in his previous shows is amazing and he is planning to create hilarious banter and spontaneous comedy tidbits with the Artesia audience.

Asked what influenced Strutz to start this show and why he picked the name, he said, “I was a children’s performer for many years — performing on the fair and festival market. I had a fishing-themed comedy show that I toured my summers away. I was at a fair in Iowa one year and shared a stage with a bluegrass band and a science show. I was watching as the science guy wrapped up his show and bluegrass music started playing from the band members. I thought, ‘What a strange combination: Science and the bluegrass music.’  It was then that a light went off in my head. I chuckled as I thought of the concept of a hillbilly performing science shows and it sounded so unique and bizarre — I had to explore the idea. By the time that county fair was over, I had already created a show outline, researched the experiments I wanted to do, began a script for the show and started the wheels turning on the origin of the Hillbilly Silly Science Spectacular.”

The love for science continued during Strutz’ formative school years, which influenced his show as well.

“I recall one specific teacher in middle school growing up,” Strutz said. “He was crazy — in a good way. This guy would bring in dead crows to demonstrate how muscles worked — reaching his hands inside the bird and pulling muscles to expand wings. He would bring in the lungs from the deer he shot during hunting season to show us how they inflated and deflated — yes, he blew into them with a hose. It was these bizarre non-traditional experiments and demonstrations that stuck in my mind all through my schooling years. It is memories like that I recall when I do my shows — with the hopes of bringing odd-ball demonstrations of science to the minds of the kids. Give them something they will not soon forget.

“We travel with the show coast-to-coast. In the bottom half of 2018, we had the show in Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, New York and California. If you look at that, it’s a coast-to-coast run in less than six months. Our audiences are typically young student crowds, but also are often families. Either way, we have fun with the crowd and teach them about science along the way.

Asked what Strutz is bringing to the Ocotillo PAC, he said, “Our Backyard Boom Tour show is working its way to New Mexico this January — and there is a lot to expect. We will have optical illusions, homemade canons, volcanoes, fun with dry ice and more. Oh, yeah — and an exploding bucket of chicken. You have to see that to fully appreciate the concept. We will tie in fun, but our focus will be reviewing different chemistry and physics experiments, covering STEM and science theories that parents and teachers like. We also cover important science safety information and touch on the importance of fire safety with the kids. It’s a win-win show for everyone.

“Come to the show, be prepared to laugh and learn,” Strutz said. See science as it has never been presented before.”

For more information, visit artesiaartscouncil.com or call 575-746-4212.