Happy birthday to guitar great John Scofield.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
The Peace Creeps return to the Stage
By Rob Nagy
A year has passed since psychedelic pop Philly rockers “The Peace Creeps” career came to an abrupt halt as a result of a severe hand injury that sidelined front man Richard Bush. Healed, rehearsed and ready to hit the road, the Peace Creeps are ready to make their triumphant return to the concert stage.
“We’re all chomping at the bit,” says Richard Bush from his South Philly home. “My hand is pretty much healed. It’s never going to be normal, but I can play. This is going to be our first show since my accident, and I can’t wait to get back out in front of our fans.”
“I'm very proud of the way the band held together during my rehab (over a year between gigs),” adds Bush, “and just very grateful to be able to make music with such great players and great people.”
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of their 2005 formation, the Peace Creeps (also featuring John Marchiano (guitar), Roy Fisher (bass) and Jeff Pancoast (drums)) is one of the region’s most dynamic and original bands.
The band uniquely captures the spirit of one of the most fertile periods in rock history.
“We’re definitely informed by the late 60’s, early 70’s, and we try to add modern elements,” says Bush. “I don’t want to be a classic rock band, which I don’t believe that we are. I think we sound fresh and new even though we’re referencing a lot of things from the past. We are not trying to disguise anything. We are who we are.”
“The first time we all played together, I knew we had something,” recalls Bush. “It’s a great band to be in. I couldn’t be happier. There are no conflicts or egos jockeying for position. It’s just, ‘let’s make the best music that we can and have a good time doing it.’”
With a pair of exceptional album releases under their belt (“Autumn of Love” (2006) and “Time Machine” (2011)), The Peace Creeps are currently recording in a South Jersey studio and expect their third album to be released in early 2016.
“We have 8 or 10 songs,” says Bush. “The music is going to be on the same trajectory as what we’ve done before. It’s melodic. It’s from the late 60’s/ early 70’s. It’s a bit more psychedelic. We’re trying to push that area. We’re taking more interesting sonic turns. We’re trying to make it a varied record as much as we can with two guitars, bass and drums and to make it sound like more than that.”
“I think it’s going to be really good,” adds Bush. “I’m really excited about the new material. We will be doing quite a bit of it at Steel City.”
While each of the members of the Peace Creeps are long time veterans of the Philly music scene, Bush enjoyed the most notoriety as the lead vocalist of the Philly rock group “The A’s.” Known for their hits “After Last Night” and “A Woman’s Got The Power,” the band signed a major record deal with Arista and enjoyed moderate national success before disbanding.
“I miss those guys,” reflects Bush. “I liked the us against the world mentality that we had.
I have my legacy with the A’s, whatever that is. They were very big in my world, but there is something more satisfying and pleasing to me about the Peace Creeps. I would really like to establish more of a place for the Peace Creeps. I really do believe that is my best work, and I would like to be remembered for it.”
As electrifying as the Peace Creeps are in the studio, it is the live show that symbolizes the energy of the band while spotlighting Bush’s talent as the consummate showman.
“When I’m on stage, that’s my world,” says Bush. “I don’t have total control. I don’t want total control. I like surprises on stage. But it feels like I know what I’m doing there. I try to be as prepared as I can, knowing lyrics and chords, and then just let it go. If I’m thinking about any move or performance thing then I’m not really in the moment and it isn’t true. It’s really not that hard for me. Once I can find that place, I’m there.”
“We know what we can do, what we’re good at and what’s going to work for us,” adds Bush. “I just love playing with these guys. They’re in it for all the right reasons. They give 100% all the time. I’ve been in bands since I was 13, and this is my favorite band ever that I’ve been in. It’s for the music!”
The Peace Creeps will perform at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460 on Saturday December 19, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-933-4043 or on line at www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Friday, December 11, 2015
Get your tickets for "The THE BAND Band" when they play Steel City Coffee House (Phoenixville, PA) Friday January 8, 2016
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Saturday, December 5, 2015
World Café Welcomes Rumer
Back to Philly
By Rob Nagy
The classic sound of the 70’s returned to Philadelphia recently, when U.K. artist Rumer (a/k/a Sarah Joyce) played the main stage at World Café Live.
In support of her latest album release, “Into Colour” (2014), Rumer performed a 75-minute set of some of the most melodic and upbeat music to emerge over the past decade.
Performing songs from Into Colour (a set that included “Dangerous,” “You Just Don’t Know People,” “Baby Come Back to Bed,” “Play Your Guitar,” “Better Place,” “Pizza and Pinball” and “I Am Blessed”), Rumer also paid homage to hometown music heroes Hall & Oates and Todd Rundgren with renditions of “I Can’t Go For That” and “Love is the Answer.”
A predominantly middle-aged audience hung on every note as Rumer, often compared vocally to the late Karen Carpenter, transported her fans back to a time heralded by many as “the greatest decade in modern music.”
Seemingly touched by the welcome reception she received from the Philly fans, Rumer expressed her gratitude throughout the show to the faithful that didn’t let the stormy weather or an early in the week work night deter their attendance.
Flawless in her vocal delivery and backed by a band that nailed the evening’s selections, Rumer was engaging and genuine.
For fans of traditional vocalists, Rumer is a breath of fresh air. Undoubtedly poised for even greater success, it will be interesting to watch this new star rise.
To stay up to date with Rumer, visit www.rumer.co.uk
Israel Nash captivates a sold-out
By Rob Nagy
If you haven’t heard of Israel Nash, you will! A rising start among the fertile alternative/indie music scene, Nash, who has established a significant following outside the US, is turning heads in America.
During a recent swing through Philadelphia in support of his latest album release “Rain Plans,” Nash captured the hearts of music fans while performing an unforgettable double bill.
The first of two Philly appearances found Nash performing before an energized crowd as part of the weekly WXPN “Free at Noon” concert series. He and his band then crossed town for an evening show at Johnny Brenda’s.
Nash was greeted with rousing applause from a sold out audience that ignored the impending snowstorm, as fans packed the Northern liberties club to capacity.
Nash and his band (Joey McClellan (lead guitar/vocals), Aaron McClellan (bass/vocals), Eric Swanson (pedal steel/vocals) and Josh Fleischmann (drums)) inconspicuously took the stage and casually launched into a 90-minute set of intoxicating compositions.
A visually captivating presence, standing at over 6’ tall and sporting a head of wavy long brown hair, Nash exuded an energy that could only be compared to Neil Young, one of his greatest musical influences.
The 75 minute set included the songs “Myer Canyon,” “Just Like Water,” “Who in Time,” “Goodbye Ghost,” “Mansions,” “Parlor Song,” “Iron of the Mountain,” “Baltimore,” “He’s in the Woods Again,” “Woman at the Well” and “Rain Plans.” The band closed the show with a two-song encore including a crowd-pleasing cover of Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” as well as the Nash original composition “Rexanimarum.”
Minutes after departing the intimate JB stage, Nash was enthusiastically embraced by many in attendance as he made his way to the foyer to sign autographs, take photos and shake hands with his adoring fans.
Based on tonight’s performance, Nash is undoubtedly on a trajectory toward stardom.
Photos by Rob Nagy
Friday, December 4, 2015
Welcome this incredible band back to the stage at Steel City (Phoenixville, PA) on 12/19/15.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Beyond his personal success, Thorn recognizes the invaluable staff and musicians that solidify his organization.
The Paul Thorn Band
will bring its brand of Americana
By Rob Nagy
“Too Blessed To Be Stressed” is the latest release from Americana blues/rock singer-songwriter Paul Thorn.
“I’m proud of it,” says Thorn from his home in Tupelo, Mississippi. “It’s a record with a bunch of positive uplifting songs. Every song has some sort of a message of inspiration, and it’s real upbeat. In the past, I've told stories that were mostly inspired by my own life. This time, I've written 10 songs that express more universal truths, and I've done it with a purpose: to make people feel good.
It’s a happy record that is doing better than any record I’ve put out, which I’m very pleased about.”
“I’ve accumulated fans from touring and going all over the country and meeting people and doing shows,” adds Thorn. “When you have fans that like you, they’ll buy more records. It’s kind of like accumulating friends. When people love you, they’re with you for life. Anything you get real quick usually isn’t good. It takes time and a lot of work to build a quality fan base. There’s nothing that can replace hard work. Develop your craft and go out there and be among the people. That’s what I believe in.”
Two decades ago, Thorn was applying his driven work ethic to a professional boxing career. After winning most of his fights, which included time in the ring with Roberto Duran and a Mid-South Middleweight Championship, Thorn walked away.
“I realized I If I had stayed in boxing too long I could wind up with slurred speech and dementia,” recalls Thorn. “I had people in my inner circle that weren’t trying to squeeze every dollar they could get out of me. They actually pulled me to the side when it was the right time and said, “You shouldn’t do this anymore. You’ve taken it as far as you can take it, and we don’t want to see you get hurt. Let’s try something else.”
“Boxing helped me in the area of discipline,” adds Thorn. “I had to get up in the morning and run. I had to go to the gym. I had to eat right. It instilled discipline in me. It was great. Although I was pretty good, I wasn’t good enough to be a world champion.”
Exhibiting a passion and a talent for music, Thorn shifted his energies to where this new adventure would take him. Playing the local club scene while working a day job, Thorn gave music everything he had.
“I didn’t know what the future held,” recalls Thorn. “Everyday I’d get up and I’d say ‘what can I do to better my situation?’ Whether it would be writing a new song or going out and playing in front of a new crowd, I looked for new opportunities.”
“It’s a different time now,” adds Thorn. “A lot of the record companies have gone out of business. Part of my day is going on Facebook. I communicate with my fans. I make videos for them. I talk to them on Twitter. Everything is on the Internet now. So, I mix all that stuff in with my touring. It’s not any one thing that makes someone successful. It’s a bunch of little things going at once. I’m trying to keep all these balls in the air and not drop one.”
After signing a recording contract with A&M Records, Thorn released his debut album, “Hammer & Nail” in 1997. Never losing sight of his dream and determined to make a name for himself, Thorn ultimately made the Billboard charts with the albums “A Long Way From Tupelo” (2008), “Pimps and Preachers” (2010) and “What the Hell Is Going On” (2012), the latter of which debuted on Billboard’s Top 100 and was one of the most played albums of the year on the AMA Chart.
Having caught the attention of some of the biggest names in music, Thorn has shared the concert stage with Huey Lewis & the News, Sting, Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck and Bonnie Raitt, among others. Appearances on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” have given Thorn critical exposure to a National TV audience.
“The key to my longevity has been a team of people that have taken up my slack all these years,” says Thorn. “My manager, Billy Maddox, and I have been working together since I was 17. I have an incredible support group that knows my strengths and my weaknesses. When I step up and do my thing that I’m strong at, they step back and let me do my thing. When they see me running off the track, they step in. If you don’t have that in your life you can’t do anything. I also have an incredibly talented band that I have been working with for more than 20 years.”
“Music has saved my life,” adds Thorn. “It has given me something to do. I’m blessed with talent that has really served me well in my life. I actually get to do what I’m good at and what I enjoy and I get paid. What a blessing. That’s like heaven on earth!”
The Paul Thorn Band will perform at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, on Sunday November 15, 2015 at 7:30 P.M. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-257-5808 or on-line at www.st94.com.
To stay up to date with Paul Thorn visit www.paulthorn.com.
Photos by Rob Nagy
Monday, November 30, 2015
Former Genesis Guitarist Steve Hackett Rocks Scottish Rite Auditorium
By Rob Nagy
In what has evolved in recent years into an annual fall concert swing of the east coast, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steve Hackett recently returned to Collingswood, New Jersey’s Scottish Rite Auditorium.
Touring in support of his latest solo effort, “Wolflight,” as well as the 40th anniversary of his first solo album, “Voyage of the Acolyte,” Hackett and his band (Roger King (keyboards) Nad Sylvan (vocals), Gary O'Toole (drums), Roine Stolt (bass, twelve string and guitar) and Rob Townsend (saxes, flutes and keyboards)), played to a customary sellout crowd of die hard fans.
Approaching show time, an intense energy of anticipation filled the air and soon erupted into a standing ovation, whistles and cheers, as Hackett and his fellow musicians emerged from a dimly lit, fog-laden stage.
The nearly two and a half hour concert offered something for every Hackett and early Genesis fan. Showcasing a selection of solo compositions spanning his entire career, Hackett navigated through gripping renditions of “Spectral,” “Out of Body,” “Wolflight,” “Every Day,” “Love Song to a Vampire,” “The Wheel’s Turning,” “Loving Sea,” “Icarus Ascending,” “Ace of Wands,” “Tower Struck” and “Hierophant.”
Following a brief intermission, the evening’s closing set (including fan favorites “Get ‘Em Out By Friday,” “Can-Utility and the Coastliners,” “The Cinema Show,” “Aisle of Plenty,” “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and “The Musical Box”) paid tribute to the Genesis years leading up to Hackett’s 1977 departure.
Throughout the evening, Hackett shared the spotlight by showcasing the individual and collective talents of his stellar band.
At the close of “The Musical Box,” an extended standing ovation shook the building. Hackett and his band cordially returned to the stage to close out the night with riveting renditions of “Clocks” and the Genesis classic “Firth of Fifth.”
After another mesmerizing performance, Hackett’s loyal fans are surely anticipating the return of this musical genius.
Photo by Rob Nagy
John Scofield to join Jon Cleary
for a Taste of the Blues
By Rob Nagy
A master at bebop, jazz-fusion, funk, blues and rock, guitar legend and composer John Scofield continues to expand his creative reach.
His latest project, a live duo effort with New Orleans based British musician Jon Cleary, delves into the rich history of deep Southern blues.
“I met Jon in the 80’s,” recalls Scofield from his home in Katonah, N.Y. “I’ve been a fan of his for years. We made a record in 2009 called “Piety Street,” which was all gospel music. Jon is a great pianist and singer. He’s actually a Brit from New Orleans, one of the great keepers of the flame in New Orleans piano tradition. He is a real fountain of knowledge and one of the great R&B singers of our time.“
“This is a special project,” adds Scofield. “It’s just the two of us. You’ve probably heard of Dr. John. Well, that tradition is coming back as well as the earlier days with Professor Long Hair and people like that. We play a lot of R&B classic music from the 50’s, where a lot of these songs came from. So it’s stuff by Willie Johns, Professor Long Hair, Johnny “Guitar” Watson - songs that we both love, and we do a little music from ‘Piety.’”
“I hope people are attentive,” says Scofield. “I hope we hold their attention and they get in the groove and love the music. That’s all I can ever hope for - that what we play will speak to them somehow, and people that love music will love us. It’s nothing more than that.”
Scofield cites Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino and George Benson as his greatest jazz influences. He fondly recalls his fascination and desire to make music his life calling as a teenager in the late 60’s.
“When I decided to be a musician, in my head it was this unbelievable alternative world that existed and was so strong with youth culture that it was so attractive and overwhelming,” recalls Scofield. “It was this incredible thing that seemed to me to be the only alternative to being a businessman like my dad, which I knew I didn’t want to do. I wanted to be an artist, and the music scene was there and people could make a living at it.”
“When I started out, the greats of jazz were not really influenced so much by rock and roll, but my generation grew-up playing both,” adds Scofield. “I wanted even more of that soulful guitar sound. I wanted blues guys. That’s where Clapton and Hendrix were coming from. B.B. King - he wrote the book on it. Albert King, Otis Rush, Freddy King - I really loved those guys too. It’s all the techniques of blues guitar playing that went into rock and roll, and all that stuff was available to us. We brought that back into the jazz arena.”
After enrolling at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music in 1970, Scofield left three years into his studies to pursue a career in music. Decades later, in the late 90s, he received an honorary Doctorate from Berklee.
Scofield signed a recording contract with Enja Records and released his self-titled debut in 1977. With the decade coming to a close, he formed a trio with mentor Steve Swallow (bass) and Adam Nussbaum (drums), later replaced by Bill Stewart. This formation would become Scofield’s signature group.
“The great thing about jazz music, I think, is it really accents the individual,” says Scofield. “Everybody is allowed to be their own person and to do it their way when taking a jazz improvised solo. We were just able to do it a little bit differently than our predecessors. Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall, as great as they were, we just did it a little different. Even though we copied them, there were other aspects too. It’s great to be a part of this chain that keeps going.”
Scofield joined Miles Davis in 1982 and contributed to the albums “Star People” (1983), “Decoy” (1984) and “You’re Under Arrest” (1985).
Throughout his career, Scofield has released nearly fifty solo and collaborative albums and worked in a variety of music genres with numerous notable artists, including Pat Martino, Herbie Hancock, Jaco Pastorious, Pat Metheny and John Mayer.
“I think there are a lot of things that I can’t do (laughs),” says Scofield. “I’ve made a zillion records and been around for a long time. Guitar works in all these different kinds of music. Just the fact that guitar was an element in country-western, blues, jazz, rock and roll and folk music has really exposed me to so many areas of music by being interested in the guitar ever since I was 12 years old. I really like it, because it allows me to express different parts of my musical interests and I’ve learned from each one of these situations.”
“People want to see you in a different context,” adds Scofield. “They’re always saying, ‘Oh, what’s the new project you are doing?’ I go back and forth between these different areas, maybe more so than a lot of people. I really like playing in all these different situations.”
Humbled by the critical acclaim and fan adulation that surrounds him, Scofield cherishes his success as well as his creative opportunities.
“I’ve been lucky,” says Scofield. “I’m proud that I’ve been on the scene and around these great players like Jaco and Miles and all the great guys that I’ve played with over the years. I’m so proud that I’ve been able to develop my playing, my composing and being a musician. Because I keep playing with these guys that are so good, they inspire me and, hopefully, I inspire them. When that happens, then the audience gets inspired.”
John Scofield and Jon Cleary will perform at the Ardmore Music Hall, 23 E. Lancaster Avenue Ardmore, PA 19003, on Saturday December 5, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. For tickets, go to www.ardmoremusichall.com.
To stay up to date with John Scofield, visit www.johnscofield.com and with Jon Cleary, www.joncleary.com.
Met up with John at the Berks Jazz Fest (Reading, PA) in 2013.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
The Security Project, keeping the Musical Legacy of Peter Gabriel Alive
By Rob Nagy
Founded by former Peter Gabriel drummer Jerry Marotta, “The Security Project” brings to life the early works of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Peter Gabriel.
Featuring Marotta (drums & percussion), Trey Gunn (guitar and backing vocals), Brian Cummins (lead vocals), Michael Cozzi (guitars and backing vocals) and David Jameson (keyboards and Eigenharp), the Security Project delivers flawless performances of Gabriel’s first five albums leading up to his “So” release.
Initially concerned about being labeled as a mere Gabriel Tribute band, Marotta (who played with Gabriel from 1977 through 1986) experienced a renewed enthusiasm after revisiting Gabriel’s early self-titled releases as well as the “Security” album.
“Once we got into it,” recalls Marotta, “I started listening to this music I hadn’t listened to in many, many years. A lot of the stuff that was on “The Security” record is remarkable and it’s so unusual. I just started realizing, ‘I don’t care what you call this. You can call it what you want.’ The band is so good, and everybody in the band is so good at what they do and the music is phenomenal.”
“When you go see Peter now, he isn’t really doing much of this material,” adds Marotta. “He became famous for the record “So” and the album’s hits “Sledgehammer,” “Big Time” and “Don’t Give Up.” That stuff for me and for many fans isn’t really his best work. His earlier music really deserves to be played more. The fans that come to the shows, you can just see and feel it. In talking to them, that’s how they learned about Peter Gabriel and they want to hear those songs.”
Committed to the rich musical legacy of Peter Gabriel, Marotta and his band mates emphasize the roll the Security Project plays in keeping with the original Gabriel sound.
“The real success of the Security Project is going to be based on people who come to see the band,” says Marotta. “We are very true to the sound. How do you reinvent “Rhythm of the Heat? How do you reinvent some of these songs? They are classic. How different can you make them? We do what we can, but we also don’t want to make it sound goofy.”
The live shows have included such Gabriel gems as “The Rhythm of the Heat,” “On The Air,” “San Jacinto,” “Here Comes the Flood,” “D.I.Y.,” “No Self Control,” “I Have the Touch,” “Intruder,” “The Family & The Fishing Net” and “Wallflower,” along with the occasional classic from “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.”
“We didn’t want anybody to think we were just trying to ride on Peter’s coattails,” says Marotta. “We’re no cover band; that’s for sure! We are out there playing this music and doing it really well. There are times where I would sit down and look at “Rhythm of the Heat” and I would listen to the way we were doing it and I would listen to a live version when I was touring with Peter in the 70’s and 80’s and I would listen to a version of Peter playing it now. The Security Project plays that as well as we ever did in any version of Peter Gabriel. We will eventually incorporate more music from “So” and afterwards. I continue to hope and push for the time that we integrate original material into the show so that the Peter Gabriel things are part of what we do.”
“I would love for the Gabriel fans to go away hearing a song they didn’t know off an album that they didn’t own and realizing how great it is and maybe going out and buying another Peter Gabriel record,” adds Marotta. “I want people to walk away inspired, motivated, invigorated and encouraged about what they’ve heard.”
The Security Project will perform at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, on Saturday December 5, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-257-5808 or on-line at www.st94.com.
To stay up to date with The Security Project visit www.securityprojectband.com.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Get your tickets for Jeffrey Gaines at Steel City Coffee House (Phoenixville, PA) Friday November 27, 2015. Look for my feature coming soon!