Sunday, February 22, 2015

Music Legend Jerry Douglas at the Colonial 3/7/15


Grammy Winning artist Jerry Douglas
Comes to the Colonial 

   
By Rob Nagy

 When Jerry Douglas embarked on his musical journey more than four decades ago, he could never have scripted the thriving career he would one day enjoy.

As one of music’s most highly touted studio and touring musicians, Douglas routinely works among music royalty in a variety of genres.

Douglas has spent years in countless recording sessions, offering his award winning talents on the resonator guitar and lap steel.  Music icons Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Dolly Parton, Ray Charles, Johnny Mathis and Phish, among many others, have enlisted the musical prowess of Douglas. It is estimated that he has appeared on more than 1,600 albums and counting.

A highly regarded solo artist in his own right, Douglas has been a member of such distinguished groups as “New South,” “The Whites,” “Strength in Numbers,” “The Country Gentleman” and Elvis Costello’s “Sugar Canes.”

As if Douglas’ talents as a musician aren’t enough, he has also successfully produced albums by Alison Krauss, (with whom he has toured extensively as a member of “Union Station”), Jesse Winchester, Del McCoury Band, Maura O’Connell and Nashville Bluegrass Band. He also serves as the music director, along with Aly Bain, for the successful BBC Television program “Transatlantic Session.”

I was pretty timid at first,” recalls Jerry Douglas, speaking from his Nashville, Tennessee home, when recalling the early days of his career. “I fell in with these great musicians. I’ve just been really lucky to be in some really good spots at some really good times. It’s been amazing. I’ve lived out my dream. Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed about being a musician, pretended to be one and, when it got down to taking up a vocation, there it was, and it just took me.”

“I didn’t have to do anything. I just played,” added Douglas. “I got better and better and learned more. There are people that I’ve played with,  (such as) James Taylor and Paul Simon - I can’t believe I’m doing it, but I don’t let it overwhelm me. I have such great respect for them at the same time. I’m gonna give them everything I’ve got. What I’ve got to give is a long history at this point of being a chameleon and adapting to situations.”

Re-signing with Rounder Records, the same label on which he made his original debut back in 1979, Douglas has released two new albums, “Three Bells” and “The Earls of Leicester.” 

“I released both records the same day, ‘Three Bells’ and ‘Earls of Leicester.’ Everybody thought I was crazy,” says Douglas. “‘You’re just pitting yourself against yourself.’ I didn’t care. I just wanted them to see daylight.”

For the ‘Earls of Leicester’ recording sessions, Douglas assembled an incredibly talented group of musicians that included, Shawn Camp (lead vocals/ guitar), Johnny Warren (fiddle/ bass vocal), Barry Bales (bass/ baritone vocals), Charlie Cushman (banjo/ lead guitar) and Tim O'Brien (mandolin/ tenor vocals). This same line-up will be joining Douglas on his current tour with guest appearances by Frank Solivan (mandolin/ tenor vocals) and Shawn Lane (mandolin/ tenor vocals). 

“I never dreamed that I’d find guys like this to do it with,” added Douglas. “It makes it feel like I’m playing with Flatt and Scruggs. This is as close as I could ever get. We all love Flat and Scruggs so much, and that’s what the whole record is about. We tried to be true to their arrangements and the whole feel and the instruments. Everything is down to the minutest detail, even trying to record the same way they did. I had five days to do it in, and we did it in four.”

“The Earls thing has just exploded,” says Douglas. “We have to figure out what to do about it, because we didn’t figure on being a travelling band. But here we are starting this tour, and we’re going to do a lot this summer. I’m sort of going against what I wanted to do with it, which was for it to be a special event every time we did I so it wouldn’t become a job. We didn’t plan on being a travelling band.  We’re just going to ride it and see what happens and have fun. When it’s not fun, then we’ll have to sit down and talk about it.  So far so good.”

While both albums were nominated for a Grammy, it was “The Earls of Leicester” that awarded Douglas his 14th career Grammy.

“I was sitting at the Grammies thinking, ‘It would be really great if we won, but if we don’t I understand. I’ve been here before,’” says Douglas. “You think you’re just going to take it in stride, and then they call your name. I thought my heart was going to jump right out of my chest. If you do that on your 14th Grammy, I don’t guess it gets any easier (laughs).”

Douglas is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including The Country Music Association's “Musician of the Year” 2002, 2005 and 2007, The National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship (2004), Artist in Residence for the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and The Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

Douglas was honored at the 36th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado for his 25th consecutive year playing at the festival. He also appeared with Vince Gill at Eric Clapton's “Crossroads Guitar Festival” (2004).

“I do this for a living.  So, every time I get to pick up the guitar and play, that’s the pay off,” says Douglas. “I work with so many nice people.  I want to keep it that way. I have a good reputation, I think, around town. The reason is because I’m just a musician, and I love to play. I think I’ve got something to offer. I’m a team player. It’s fun when it all happens and comes together.”

Measuring success as a musician and at home is a balancing act that Douglas does not take lightly.

“It’s easier to figure out what defines the musician and the artist,” added Douglas. “What defines you is what kind of person you are, your morals. What you believe in. What excites you. What your legacy is. It becomes a little more challenging all the time as this career thing gets in the way of me being just me. It’s a battle that we go through. Are you a musician, or are you a husband and a father? What is more important to you? When you figure that out, everything else falls into place.”

Jerry Douglas and the Earls of Leicester, with special guest Gretchen Peters, perform at the Colonial Theatre; located at 227 Bridge Street in Phoenixville, PA Saturday March 7, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets are available at the Colonial Theatre Box Office by calling 610-917-1228 or on-line at www.thecolonialtheatre.com. All ages are welcome at the Colonial.

To stay up to date with Jerry Douglas visit www.jerrydouglas.com.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Post Show with Sharon Jones in Philly



Catching up with the incredible Sharon Jones following her show at the Merriam Theater in Philly on 2/13/15. She is awesome on stage and off!



Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jorma Kaukonen at the Colonial 3/6/15


Jorma Kaukonen, Living on his own Terms

By Rob Nagy


American blues, rock and folk legend Jorma Kaukonen has nothing to prove.  Immortalized by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the greatest rock/acoustic guitarists of all-time, Kaukonen gained international prominence as a co-founding member of “The Jefferson Airplane.”

Following a highly successful seven years with the Airplane (a 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee), Kaukonen is prospering.  Currently touring with “Hot Tuna,” his sideline gig while a member of the Airplane, he is also flourishing as a solo artist.



His latest release, “Ain’t In No Hurry,” exemplifies what has endeared Kaukonen to his fans for decades. Offering a collection of some of his favorite old and new compositions, Kaukonen celebrates his life’s journey through song - where he has been and where he finds himself today at 74 years young.

Working alongside some of his most treasured fellow musicians, a list including former Jefferson Airplane and current Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady, Larry Campbell, Justin Guip, Myron Hart, Barry Mitterhoff and Teresa Williams, Kaukonen’s signature acoustic guitar work and soothing vocal will hook you from the opening song.

“It’s sort of a cohesive album for me,” says Jorma Kaukonen, while on tour in Phoenix, Arizona. “I’ve been so fortunate, because I’ve gotten to wear a lot of hats in my career. The electric guitar to me is not as sociable. The acoustic guitar has always been a campfire thing to me. That’s how I started out - literally playing at campfires. I think that’s where I tend to go given my druthers. I think I’d rather do that. Don’t get me wrong. I love playing electric guitar. It’s a lot of fun, but the dialog is not as personal to me as it is with the acoustic guitar.
With an acoustic guitar, we could be sitting around a campfire.”

“Look at the guys I get to play with,” added Kaukonen. “It’s so much fun to me, to be able to play music with people that I like, which isn’t to say that I don’t like a lot of the other people that I’ve played with.  We’re close friends at this time, and that’s a great thing.”

“When it was all said and done, just because of the way that I think and I write, I think it’s sort of a narrative about what I feel about where I was and life today - ” added Kaukonen, “looking back 50 years to the dawn of my guitar playing and stuff in general.”

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Kaukonen eventually found himself in San Francisco, California at age 22, where he enrolled at Santa Clara University. Having played in bands back east, the self-proclaimed blues purist never intended to enter into the world of rock and roll.

By 1965, Kaukonen was earning a living giving guitar lessons and soloing in coffee houses.

An invitation by fellow guitarist Paul Kantner to attend a Jefferson Airplane rehearsal led to Kaukonen becoming a co-founding member of the band.  His unique electric guitar work and picking style complimented the musical direction of the Jefferson Airplane and solidified his standing as an integral part of group.

Featuring a line-up of Jorma Kaukonen (guitar), Paul Kantner (guitar), Jack Casady (bass), Grace Slick (vocals), Marty Balin (vocals) and Spencer Dryden (drums), the Jefferson Airplane experienced unforeseen success as one of the decade’s prominent acts.

A poster child for the psychedelic era’s counter culture, “The Airplane,” as they were fondly referred to, performed at three of the decade’s most visible music festivals  (“Monterey” (1967), “Woodstock and “Altamont” (both in 1969)), and headlined the first “Isle of Wight Festival”(1968). The band’s 1967 album “Surrealistic Pillow” spawned two of rock’s all-time greatest singles, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” 

By 1972, the Jefferson Airplane’s tenure among the rock and roll elite had come to an end. 

“In my opinion, we were ready to quit, and that’s OK,” recalls Kaukonen. “Getting a chance to play with that group of incredibly talented people - we were such an idiosyncratic band - it was fresh. We couldn’t have been luckier as young musicians. We got successful early in our career. We had a great seven years.“

Seeking to expand their artistic freedom, Kaukonen and Casady formed the first incarnation of “Hot Tuna” in 1969. Offering varied line-ups of musicians over the years, the duo has remained at the helm, releasing a collection of live and studio albums while performing all over the world.

Kaukonen continued with Hot Tuna while launching a solo career with his critically acclaimed 1974 debut album “Quah.” With more than a dozen solo efforts to his credit, Kaukonen earned a Grammy nomination for his 2002 “Blue Country Heart” album.

“I’m sort of amazed by the success that I’ve had,” says Kaukonen. “I don’t know if I’m right about this, but I think whether it is me solo or me with my Jorma’s guys or me with Jack Casady, what you see is what you get. Perhaps that honesty is what it is.  Other than that, I really couldn’t say, except that I’m sure grateful for it.”

In an effort to give back to aspiring musicians, Kaukonen and his wife Vanessa founded and still operate the 119 acre “Fur Peace Ranch” in the town of Pomeroy, situated in the hills of southeast Ohio.

“The Fur Peace Ranch is in its 18th year,” says Kaukonen proudly. “It has turned out in a way that neither myself nor Vanessa could possibly imagine. We just have some wonderful people - both teachers and students - that come through the camp. The musical community that has grown out of that is just really cool. You meet all of these really like-minded spirits.  It’s just a really comfortable place to be. How good does it have to get?!”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Jefferson Airplane, and, while it is unlikely there will be a reunion, Kaukonen acknowledges the role that “The Airplane” played in his career and his life.

“Maybe one of the reasons why we are having this conversation today is my exposure to the Airplane,” says Kaukonen. “I owe a huge debt of gratitude to that. But that was then, and this is now.”

In spite of his success, Kaukonen remains humble and grateful for his craft and the family that has supported his journey. 

  
“I’d like to think I am a pretty regular guy at this point. I’ve got a great gig, but at the end of the day, a gig is a gig. The fact that people enjoy listening to what I do is just frosting on the cake.”

“One of the things that is important to me is trying to keep myself right sized. My wife and daughter make it really easy for me to do that. They are not buying into this superstar stuff at all, and that’s the way it ought to be.”


Jorma Kaukonen performs at the Colonial Theatre; located at 227 Bridge Street in Phoenixville, PA Friday March 6, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets are available at the Colonial Theatre Box Office by calling 610-917-1228 or on-line at www.thecolonialtheatre.com. All ages are welcome at the Colonial.
To stay up to date with Jorma Kaukonen visit www.jormakaukonen.com

Photos by Scotty Hall

Jazz Guitarist Mike Kennedy at Chris Jazz Cafe in Philly

Mike Kennedy and his trio wowing a near capacity crowd at Chris' Jazz Cafe last night. Stay tuned for my review. Photo by Rob Nagy 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Sizzle at the Merriam in Philly 2/13/15

The always amazing Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings electrifying the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia, PA 2/13/15. Photos by Rob Nagy



Don't Miss Jazz Guitarist Mike Kennedy at Philly's Chris' Jazz Cafe TONIGHT!

Join jazz guitarist Mike Kennedy this Friday February 20, 2015 at Philly's Chris' Jazz Cafe, for the official release party of his masterpiece album "Insulation." This will undoubtedly be a memorable evening with a fantastic artist!



Chris's Jazz Cafe is located at 1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 10102. Show time is 8:00 P.M. Tickets are available by calling 215-568-3131 or on-line at www.chrisjazzcafe.com

To stay up to date with Mike Kennedy visit www.kennedymusic.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jazz Guitarist Mike Kennedy at Philly's Chris Jazz Cafe This Friday!

Join jazz guitarist Mike Kennedy this Friday February 20, 2015 at Philly's Chris' Jazz Cafe, for the official release party of his masterpiece album "Insulation." This will undoubtedly be a memorable evening with a fantastic artist!



Chris's Jazz Cafe is located at 1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 10102. Show time is 8:00 P.M. Tickets are available by calling 215-568-3131 or on-line at www.chrisjazzcafe.com

To stay up to date with Mike Kennedy visit www.kennedymusic.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

JORMA KAUKONEN RELEASES ANOTHER GEM!

Had a great interview today with American music icon Jorma Kaukonen.  Guitarist for "The Jefferson Airplane" and later "Hot Tuna, Jorma continues to enjoy a solo career that is packing theaters and clubs throughout the U.S. and beyond. Always memorable on stage, he is a great conversationalist and one of my favorite interviews, of which we have done many. Look for my feature on Jorma coming soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

LESLEY GORE DIES AT 68


The passing of another music legend. I  had a great interview with Lesley Gore following the release of her last album"Ever Since" (2005). I saw her perform on that tour at the very intimate setting of the Tin Angel in Philadelphia. I remember her being really nice with a lot of personality and still belting out a song! My deepest sympathy to her family and friends.

DON'T MISS JAZZ GUITARIST MIKE KENNEDY THIS FRIDAY AT CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE IN PHILLY


Join jazz guitarist Mike Kennedy this Friday February 20, 2015 at Philly's Chris' Jazz Cafe, for the official release party of his masterpiece album "Insulation." This will undoubtedly be a memorable evening with a fantastic artist!



 Chris's Jazz Cafe is located at 1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 10102. Show time is 8:00 P.M. Tickets are available by calling 215-568-3131 or on-line at www.chrisjazzcafe.com

To stay up to date with Mike Kennedy visit www.kennedymusic.com

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GREAT PEGGY KING!

Happy 85th Birthday to music legend and my friend Peggy King. A class act on stage and off!




Sunday, February 15, 2015

DON'T MISS THE BRITISH INVASION CONCERT IN LANCASTER 2/27/15


The British Invasion comes to Lancaster

By Rob Nagy



An integral member of the British Invasion, pop duo “Peter and Gordon” attained international prominence in 1964 with their million-selling number one single “A World Without Love.”

“I was a student at a University, reading philosophy, and suddenly we come up with a number one record all over the world,” recalls Peter Asher, of Peter and Gordon, from his home in Connecticut. “I got a one year absence from the university to pursue this aim that we assumed would be short term, and, of course, I’m still on that one year leave of absence.  I never went back and got my degree.”

Between 1966 and 1967, Peter and Gordon released eleven albums yielding an impressive string of hit records, including “Nobody I Know” (1964), “I Don’t Want To See You Again” (1964), “I Go To Pieces” (1964), Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways” (1965), “To Know You Is To Love You” (1965), “Baby I’m Yours” (1965), “Woman” (1965) and “Lady Godiva” (1966), their last charting song in Britain.

Their success spilled over into America in 1967 with the singles "Knight in Rusty Armor" and "Sunday for Tea," which both made Billboard’s Hot 100.


“What was exciting for us was getting to go to America for the first time,” recalls Asher. “The key thing people forget now is that Britain and America were really far apart then. Nobody had been to America until the Beatles. You never got to go. That was the land of dreams. That was the land where the music we loved came from, so to get to go there was thrilling.”

“Being greeted by screaming girls trying to tear your clothes off was even better,” added Asher. “It was just a whirlwind of fun. We just had a great time.”

Following his days as a member of Peter and Gordon, Asher became head of A&R for the Beatles’ Apple Records.

“I was in charge of who we signed and what records they did,” recalls Asher. “I had my weekly A&R meeting with the Beatles. We signed a few very good acts, and then I found a very good act myself that I brought in and I signed.  That was James Taylor. That began the next leg of my career when we left Apple. “

Asher ended up in California as a record producer and manager for James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s he added Joni Mitchell and Carole King to his stable of stars.

“When I met James, I started producing his records,” recalls Asher. “I’d always wanted to be a record producer. I loved the process in the studio. So, given the opportunity, that was something that I knew that I wanted to do. By then I was his manager and there was no one else attracted to do it. We gradually moved to America, and once that took off, that made me a genuine manager.”
.
“Before we knew it, a year or two later I was managing Lind Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell and Carole King. I was delighted to do that. Management became my prime occupation. We’ve survived and made out very well.”

In 2005, Peter and Gordon reunited for the first time in decades as a part of a pair of tribute concerts for “The Dave Clark Five’s” Mike Smith in New York City. Appearances at Beatle conventions transpired the following year.

Peter and Gordon performed at the Love-In: A Musical Celebration, a tribute to the music of the 1960s, and Disney’s “Flower Power” concert series at Disney’s EPCOT in Florida, both in 2007.

Their last performance was at the “50 Winters Later celebration” in February 2009, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. This was held in Clear Lake, Iowa, at the Surf Ballroom. Months later, Gordon Waller died of a heart attack at the age of 64.

“I knew he wasn’t very well,” recalls Asher. “It was very sad. I miss him, of course. He was a wonderful musician and a good friend.  He was someone I really admired and really liked, so I was profoundly sad when he died.”


Recently, Asher, who continues to work tirelessly in the music business, has been given the opportunity to participate both as MC and a performer in this year’s “British Invasion” concert tour. Featuring Billy J. Kramer, “Chad and Jeremy,” “The Searchers,” Denny Laine, Terry Sylvester and, of course, Peter Asher, the concert delves back into one of the most profound periods in rock history.

“This is a show that’s a combination of various surviving British Invasion leftovers, like me,” says Asher. “It’s the old songs done by the real people who were in those bands. We just have a real good time.“

“I don’t think anyone is officially the headliner,” added Asher. “There have been no arguments about who opens or closes. It’s just not that kind of venture. It’s very collaborative by nature, and that’s what makes it fun. It’s a walk down memory lane. It’s a joyful one. We were all very happy that we were part of that. If you are of a certain age, then that era, as it does for me, reminds us of all kinds of great stuff - the songs of your life and how much fun you were having. That’s why I think there is a certain appeal to just hearing these songs again and doing them by the people who were actually there and the bands that sang them. People are re-living their youth through the music.”

Reflecting back on more than fifty years in the music business, Asher takes nothing for granted while continuing to work toward what may be his crowning achievement.

“I’ve enjoyed so much of what I’ve experienced,” reflects Asher. “I couldn’t pick a favorite. So many moments! My greatest excitement may be in my future, who knows? I try to grab every opportunity that comes my way and do my best. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been successful at it.”

The British Invasion concert tour comes to the American Music Theatre, 2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA 17605, on Friday February 27, 2015 at 7:30 P.M. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.amtshows.com or by calling
(800) 648-4102 - (717) 397-7700.







PHILLY JAZZ LEGEND CHRISTIAN McBRIDE IS COMING TO PHILLY!


Philly Jazz Legend Christian McBride
at Chris’ Jazz Café.

By Rob Nagy




For as long as Christian McBride can remember, music has been a dominating presence in his life. Following in the footsteps of his father, Lee Smith, and his great uncle, Howard Cooper, both highly regarded Philadelphia bassists, McBride was destined to pick-up the instrument.

“I got my love for music naturally,” recalls Christian McBride, speaking from his Montclair, NJ home. “I was surrounded by greatness, so it only made sense that I would somehow gravitate toward the bass.  I was very fortunate that when I started picking it up, I started playing the electric bass guitar when I was 9. I settled up with the instrument, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I believe it was destiny.”

Heralded as a teenage prodigy with the musical chops to back it up, McBride, who would go on to study at the prestigious Julliard School of Music, was playing alongside legendary saxophonist Bobby Watson and his group at age seventeen.

“My biggest problem throughout high school was my mother getting me to stop practicing so I would do my homework. Of course my grades suffered greatly,” recalls McBride. “At least I was able to play my instrument. It’s all worked out. So far, so good.”

Routinely pushing his creativity, McBride expanded his instrumentation from the electric bass to the double bass. By his early twenties, he was working with Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, J.J. Johnson, Milt Jackson, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman and Benny Green.

Evolving into a master of the electric and upright bass, accented by his diverse musically creative background, McBride’s services were routinely in demand.

McBride has performed and/or recorded with some of the biggest names in music, including McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Bruce Hornsby, Paul McCartney and his music idol, James Brown.  McBride has rapidly built a resume of album credits that have found him appearing on over three hundred songs.

“I thought after playing with James Brown, I was going to be in store for a major depression,” recalls McBride. “I thought, ‘It’s all down hill from here.  This was the man who I’ve loved so much more than anyone else, and I finally got to play with him - now what?’ There was nothing else to look forward to.  Fortunately, that did not happen, and not too much time passed between the gig with James Brown and my next gig, which was three days later. So, I didn’t have time to get depressed.”

Upon signing with Verve Records, McBride released his debut album, “Gettin’ To It,” in 1995. He has since recorded nearly a dozen albums with a handful of releases in the works for 2015.

In 2000, McBride formed “The Christian McBride Band,” an acoustic/electric jazz, fusion and funk ensemble featuring McBride (bass), Ron Blake (saxophone), Geoffrey Keezer (piano/ Keyboards) and Terreon Gully (drums). The band released two albums, “Vertical Vision” (2003) and “Live at Tonic” (2006), before ending their eight-year run.




In 2008, McBride joined the jazz-fusion super group “Five Peace Band,” featuring Chick Corea, Vinnie Colaiuta, John McLaughlin and Kenny Garrett.

A three time Grammy Award winning artist, McBride recently earned his fourth honor as bassist on Chick Corea’s 2014 live album “Trilogy.”

“I feel very fortunate about the amazing experiences that I’ve had up to this point,” says McBride. “I look forward to having more. Some of my top ten moments in my career - I do wonder sometimes if they really happened?”

“Anytime I even think about getting cocky or having an ego, I know there is always someone who is better than me,” added McBride. “When you hear somebody that’s really blowing the roof off the place, you know that person is better (laughs). Somewhere in the world there is someone that we don’t know about that is kicking my behind. It’s just a matter of time before he comes up and blows the place up. That’s what keeps me in check.”

McBride remains busier than ever fronting a variety of groups. "Inside Straight" features Steve Wilson (saxophone), Warren Wolf (vibraphone), Peter Martin (piano) and Carl Allen (drums).
A jazz trio features Christian Sands (piano) and Ulysses Owens, Jr. (drums).  He also plays with an 18-piece big band as well as an experimental group, “A Christian McBride Situation,” featuring Patrice Rushen (piano/ keyboards), DJ Logic (turn-tablist), Jahi Sundance (saxophone), Ron Blake (saxophone) and Alyson Williams (vocals).

“I really think I tend to lean more toward what I call ‘meat and potatoes hard clean jazz,’” says McBride. “I really love doing that. Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Count Basie Orchestra - that’s sort of my wheelhouse. My bone marrow is James Brown, Motown, Isaac Hayes, and Gladys Knight. You need to know a lot about a lot of things in order to play jazz.”

“I’m just trying to be the best musician I can possibly be,” added McBride. “Whatever situation I’m in, I want to be able to do the best job that I can do. I just want to be able to fit in any and every situation.”

McBride returns to Philly later this month to perform two nights in the intimate setting of Chris’ Jazz Café.

I’m glad to be back in Philly,” says McBride. “I’m excited to be there with my trio. It’s always better when you’re right up on the audience. The audience can feel the music. A small room is great. The energy is right there, right in front.”

“I’m very proud to come from the great city of Philadelphia and to be part of the lineage of great musicians across genres,” added McBride. “Philadelphia has a rich and storied legacy, not just in jazz but also in blues, soul, classical, rock. I wear my Philly stripes with pride.”

Christian McBride Trio, featuring Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens, performs at Chris’s Jazz Cafe, located at 1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102 on February 27 and 28, 2015. Show time for both nights is 8:00 P.M. Tickets are available by calling 215-568-3131 or on-line at www.chrisjazzcafe.com.

To stay up to date with Christian McBride visit www.christianmcbride.com

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

Today I had an inspiring interview with the legendary Herb Alpert and his wife of more than forty years, Lani Hall. Lani was the vocalist with the highly successful "Brasil 66."  The creative success they continue to experience is staggering. You will not meet more kind and down to earth people.  They perform at the American Music Theater in Lancaster, PA on March 29th. Look for my feature on this dynamic duo soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bill Haley and The Beatles

Music Legend Bill Haley died at the age of 55 on this date ion 1981. The Beatles, also on this date, made their historic 1964 Ed Sullivan Show debut.

The Passing of Another Music Legend

I was saddened to hear of the passing of "The Crickets" bassist Joe B. Mauldin. He was an integral  member of one of the most influential rock acts of all time! I had the pleasure of being in Joe's  company for a week long concert tour in England right after 9/11. I last saw him around 2005 when The Crickets played the Wildwood Convention Center in Wildwood, N.J. Rest in peace. You made music that matters! Rob

Friday, February 6, 2015

Peggy King and the All-Star Jazz Trio Shine


Peggy King and the All-Star Jazz Trio Shine

By Rob Nagy

This past Super Bowl Sunday, the Sellersville Theater welcomed the legendary Peggy King and the All-Star Jazz Trio to the stage for their inaugural visit to the historic venue.


 Arriving for a matinee show, fans endured the cold and impending bad weather to witness an American icon celebrate her storied career.

The All-Star Jazz Trio (Andy Kahn (piano), Bruce Kaminsky (bass) and Bruce Klauber (drums)) opened the concert with “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” leading into an Andy Kahn solo on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and “Caravan.” 


 Vintage TV footage of Steve Allen introducing King on one of his 1958 TV shows preceded the treasured vocalist’s entrance on stage. Immediately launching into a flawless set of American standards, King, who turns 85 this month, hasn’t lost a step.

Delivering soothing and often bubbly vocals accented by her magnetic personality, King and the trio were engaging from the opening note.

Over a full 75 minutes, the quartet performed a memorable set of classics, including “While We’re Young,” “Born To Be Blue,” “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” “The Boy Next Door,” “You Took Advantage of Me,” “Cry Me A River,” “Any Questions,” “As Time Goes By,” “How About You,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “With A Song In My Heart.”

Between songs, King shared fond memories from her days in the limelight. Comical banter between King and the trio added some zest to a very special afternoon.

As the show came to a close, King sang the final notes of their encore, “What Is There To Say.” The trio performed an instrumental, “They All Laughed,” while King, beaming with gratitude, walked along the front of the stage shaking hands with fans to a standing ovation.


 Based on tonight’s performance, one can only hope that American treasure Peggy King and the All-Star Trio will return to the Sellersville Theater in the not too distant future. 

Photos by Rob Nagy

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Israel Nash Leaves Philly Fans Screaming For More


Israel Nash captivates a sold-out
Johnny Brenda’s

By Rob Nagy


If you haven’t heard of Israel Nash, you will! A rising star 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. 

To stay up to date with Israel Nash visit www.israelnash.com
 

Photos by Rob Nagy

Monday, February 2, 2015

Julie Slick and Marco Machera, with special guests Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) and Tim Motzer, performed an incredible show at the Hard Rock Café in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, January 30, 2015. 





I caught up with Julie after the show to wish her a happy birthday!






Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the Merriam Theater in Philly


Sharon Jones the New Queen of Soul

By Rob Nagy

Decades after soul and funk music dominated the American music scene, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are at the helm of a revivalist movement recapturing the magic of the late 60’s and 70’s. 



Following in the footsteps of funk legends James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ike & Tina Turner and Otis Redding, all personal influences, Jones and the Dap Kings are making their presence known.

“We’ve been around a while.  This is what you work for,” says Sharon Jones from her New York City hotel room. “Now is the time. We are getting heard. I’ve worked hard to have people recognize and hear the music that we’re doing. What I’ve done over the last ten years is paying off now. People are finally hearing me.”

Their 2014 Daptone Records release, ”Give The People What They Want,” has earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album of the Year. 

“I knew if I worked hard enough, good things would come my way.  Just be patient,” says Jones. “When God has blessed you and you ask for something, he may not come when you want him, but he’s right on time.”

Initially inspired and commercialized by the African American community, the rebirth of the funk and soul movement has shifted to a predominantly white audience.

“In the 90’s when we started out,” says Jones, “with all the college radio stations, NPR and the college students - people would say, ‘why do you think the black people didn’t take to your music?’ A lot of these young kids, when soul music was coming around, they weren’t even born. They didn’t think about it, and they go underground and they hear some of it.  They’re saying, ‘Wow! We like that.’ It took all of that time from the 90’s ‘til now.”

In the decades leading up to the mid-90’s formation of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Jones worked as a back-up singer while performing a variety of jobs, including as a corrections officer at Rikers Island, an armored car guard and a wedding band singer.

“I was doing something that wasn’t me,” recalls Jones. “I was doing something I wasn’t comfortable with. I left the wedding band because
I was doing covers. Nothing was me. I was singing and trying to sound like other people, and I did a great job when I did it, but it was time for a change.”

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings released their debut record (“Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings) in 2002 to rave reviews.


Credited for capturing the authenticity of vintage soul, the band spearheaded the burgeoning soul and funk movement and released three more albums, (“Naturally” (2005), “100 Days, 100 Nights” (2007) and “I Learned the Hard Way” (2010) as well as a UK Compilation (”Soul Time” (2011).

In April 2013, Jones was forced to postpone the release of “Give The People What They Want” after being diagnosed with bile duct cancer, which was later changed to stage two pancreatic cancer. Surgery and chemo treatments followed, the last of which was on New Years Eve 2013. One month earlier, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings appeared on a float in the 87th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Determined to pick-up her career where she had left off, Jones and the Dap-Kings wasted no time.  They appeared on the Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, Queen Latifah and Ellen TV shows just days into the New Year.

Jones recalls her return to the concert stage on February 6, 2014 at New York City’s Beacon Theater.

“When I walked on that stage, it was almost like I never left,” recalls Jones. “The audience screamed. I didn’t have all my energy. I always try to give 110%. That first gig I was maybe able to give 75%, and people didn’t know it. It was therapeutic for me.  It strengthened me.  My fans were my inspiration. They would come up to me and tell me how I inspired them. They’re my inspiration, and that’s the only reason I’m back so fast. The show must go on.”

Following a year of sold-out concerts throughout the U.S., Jones faced a new health challenge when a small tumor was discovered on her liver following a CT scan. A successful surgery was performed in early January to remove the tumor.

“I'm feeling great and staying positive.  I’ve got to keep on fighting,” says Jones. “Nobody knows the nights I’ve been up there in pain or really forced myself to put on that smile. I’ve literally come off the stage and everybody’s going, ‘That was great!’ Those are the times that I go out of body. I go into a trance - out of body, out of mind. I hit the notes. That’s what the audience does for me. The louder they scream, the more they cheer me on, the more I look in their face and they smile - that gets me.  That’s my high.”

Fronting a line-up featuring Brian Wolfe (drums), Gabriel Roth (bass), Binky Griptite (guitar), Neal Sugarman (tenor sax), Cochemea Gastelum (bari sax), Dave Guy (trumpet), Joey Crispiano (guitar), Fernando Velez (congas, bongos, misc percussion), Starr Duncan-Lowe (backing vocals), and Saundra Williams (backing vocals), Jones and the Dap-Kings have returned to the road, which will include a date at Philadelphia’s Merriam Theater on February 13th.

To experience Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings on stage is so much more than a concert.  It’s a revival, and you’re the guest of honor.  The band’s energy and the audience participation is an intoxicating blend of good vibrations.

Everyone feels like I’m singing to them, and that’s what I want,” says Jones. “I want you to feel that. I want that connection. That’s why I do this. I like to see my fans’ faces when I perform. The eye contact is what makes them think, ‘She’s singing to me,’ and I make sure I do that as much as I can. You make them become part of you. That’s how I feed off the energy of my fans, and they feed off of me, and the band feeds off that.”

“Being out there and being compared to some of the great singers and watching my audience grow, now that’s a blessing,” added Jones. “If I can make joy and happiness through my singing and my music and that’s what God blessed me with, then that’s what I do. All I know is that the audiences are getting bigger, and I love it!”

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings perform at the Merriam Theater, 250 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102, on Friday February 13, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. For tickets call 215-731-3333 or visit www.kimmelcenter.org

To stay up to date with Sharon Jones visit www.sharonjonesandthedapkimgs.com

Photos by Kyle Dean Reinford