First-ever Nerd-vana convention takes music, magic, science to Powerhouse

Posted on Sep 15 2017 - 8:00am by Abby Perez

Comic, anime and gaming enthusiasts will pack the Powerhouse on Saturday for an afternoon of cosplay, live music and panels with authors at the first-ever Nerd-vana convention.

The convention will feature panel discussions with Stephanie Osborn and Alexander Stephen Brown, live music with Japan-based rock band Kazha and a cosplay concert to wrap up the evening.

“If all goes well this year, we plan to have the event yearly,” event organizer Stacy Irby said.

Irby said the event will feature around 10 speakers and entertainers, and outside the Powerhouse there will also be some special guests, such as the Mystery Machine and two Jurassic Park Jeeps.

Aunt B’s Soul Food Restaurant will be selling its barbecue, and the A Little Taste of Chicago food truck will be hand-serving Chicago-style hot dogs.

Darrell “The Doctor” Osborn, a magician/comedian known for performing at conventions and festivals across the South, will be performing a magic show. Osborn has been involved in magic since he was 6 years old.

“I was a very small shy child and not very good at normal sporting activities,” Darrell said. “Magic was something I could work on by myself and later gave me an avenue to express myself. It also really annoyed all the adults.”

But magic is not the only trick up Darrell’s sleeve. He grew up practicing ventriloquism, juggling, balloon twisting, fire eating and other arts.

“I spent my college years studying theater and art,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have spent my adult life making a living in art and entertainment.”

One of Darrell’s favorite tricks is the “stupid arm trick.”

“[The trick] works well as an impromptu effect because I usually have my arms with me,” Darrell said. “I try to create an interactive experience based on the people I’m entertaining. Each effect I do has its own pros and cons.”

This is the first time he has come to Oxford.

“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone,” he said. “I’ve appeared often in Memphis, Tennessee, but not as much in Mississippi.”

Retired rocket scientist Stephanie Osborn (no relation to Darrell) will also be at Nerd-vana. She has worked for more than 20 years in both civilian and military space programs as a mission flight controller, astronaut trainer, crew procedures developer and numerous other positions.

Stephanie has had more than 30 books published. The first book of her series, “Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse,” became a pulp eBook bestseller, and it also won a 2016 Silver Falchion Award. She also has a short film script in the works.

For more acoustic-styled music fans, Kazuha Oda will is bringing rock band Kazha to play an acoustic set – an unusual move for a band known for its rock ‘n’ roll sound.

Oda said it doesn’t matter what people feel when listening to the band play, as long as they feel something.

“Every person has a different personality and experience in their lives,” Oda said. “It means a lot to me if they can feel anything. Sadness, happiness, regrets, hope, excitement or remembering any memories through my performance.”

The event will be at the Powerhouse from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 16. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 in advance. Tickets are available online at