Monday, May 30, 2016
Friday, May 27, 2016
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Sunday, May 22, 2016
The Zombies invade the Colonial
By Rob Nagy
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers “The Zombies” recently played at Phoenixville’s Colonial Theater. Making their debut at this historic venue, well known for succumbing to the Blob in the 1959 sci-fi classic film, the Zombies put on an unforgettable performance for a sold out crowd.
The band is fronted by founding members Rod Argent (keyboards/vocals) and Colin Blumstone (lead vocals). Also featuring Jim Rodford (bass), Steve Rodford (drums) and Tom Toomey (guitar), The Zombies navigated flawlessly through a nostalgic 90-minute set including the classics “She’s Not There,” “Time of the Season” and “Tell Her No.” They also performed a number of selections off their latest studio album release, “Still Got That Hunger.”
Sharing personal anecdotes about the history of the band and its music, as well as fond memories of playing America for the first time while still in their teens, Argent and Blumstone were engaging throughout the evening.
Late in the show Argent, who founded the band “Argent” in the 70’s, took center stage on keyboards to perform an electrifying, extended rendition of “Hold Your Head Up.”
Seemingly honored to be performing before an audience of exuberant fans, Argent and Blumstone grinned from ear to ear as they took numerous bows throughout the concert.
Soon after exiting to an eruptive standing ovation, the Zombies returned to the stage to close out the night with the appropriately titled, “God Gave Rock and Roll To You.” The audience exuberantly clapped and sang along to the classic anthem.
Don’t look for the Zombies to call it quits anytime soon. These guys can still write a great song and rock with the best of them!
Photos by Rob Nagy 2016
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Denny Laine will perform “Band on the Run” at the Sellersville Theater
By Rob Nagy
A co-founding member of the Moody Blues in the early 60’s and Paul McCartney’s Wings the following decade, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Denny Laine has had a front row seat during pop music’s most fertile period.
Laine experienced his first taste of success in 1964, singing lead vocals on the Moody Blues’ first hit “Go Now.” Following the release of a handful of moderately received follow-up singles, Laine departed the group in 1966 to pursue a solo career.
“I was happy with the Moody Blues, but it turned into just work on the road and not enough studio time,” recalls Laine from his east coast base in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “I thought we should just write and stay off the road until we had an album. They didn’t want to do that. So I said, ‘I’ll stay here and I’m going to do that.’”
After forming his “Electric String Band,” Laine remembers opening for Jimi Hendrix at London’s Saville Theatre in 1967, where he crossed paths with friend and fellow musician Paul McCartney.
“I hadn’t seen Paul for quite a few years,” recalls Laine. “He, John Lennon and Peter Asher came to the show at the Saville Theater, which Brian Epstein owned at the time, and they put me on to close the first half for Jimi Hendrix. It went really well, so I think that gave Paul some kind of an idea that I was trying to do something different beyond the Moody Blues stuff.”
Armed with a pair of successful solo albums, “McCartney” (1970) and “Ram” (1971), McCartney, wife Linda, Denny Laine and session drummer Denny Seiwell formed “Wings.” Laine instantly became an invaluable member of the band, providing lead and rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals, keyboards, bass guitar and woodwinds.
“Paul and I knew each other from way back when,” says Laine. “We both grew up with the same musical influences and we just had a good musical feel together. He knew he could go out there and do Beatles songs and that’s what his problem was. He didn’t know what to do with himself. He was going through a lot of business problems at the time and was looking for musicians that were friends that he could work with, and that’s why he called me.”
“We consciously decided not to do Beatles or Moody Blues songs,” adds Laine. “We didn’t want to record anything that we had already done, so we experimented. We were just trying to stick to original material and deal with the press as it came, ‘cause obviously there was a lot of criticism to start with. It takes a band a couple of years to get good and you really have to tour a lot to get good, so we were at that stage. I wasn’t writing so much then. He got me into writing a little bit later. Paul was the writer. At the same time, I knew his approach to writing and it just came pretty easy to me.”
“I’ve actually been asked to write a book about those days, because I’m one of the few people, I think, that was in town at that time,” says Laine. “I would go and see all these different artists that came from America with Paul a lot. We saw Hendrix for the first time. We went to see Dylan together. We’d hang around the music scene in London. That’s really why I think I qualify as a person that could write a book about that period - just as an observer of the people I met and grew up with. It was a really good time all around and you develop friendships that you keep.”
Enjoying the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed period of his career, Laine’s tenure with Wings lasted a decade. He appeared on the albums “Wildlife” (1971), “Red Rose Speedway” (1973, “Band on the Run” (1973), “Venus and Mars” (1975), “Wings at the Speed of Sound” (1976), “Wings Over America” (Live album) (1976), “London Town” (1978), “Back to the Egg” (1979) and “Concerts for the People of Kampuchea” (1981). Laine co-wrote and sang lead vocals on the songs "No Words" and "Picasso's Last Words." He co-wrote the UK's number one single at the time, "Mull of Kintyre."
Following McCartney’s 1980 arrest in Japan for marijuana possession, touring was indefinitely halted. Fueling McCartney’s decision was the assassination of John Lennon the same year. Wing’s permanently disbanded in 1981.
“When Wings ran it’s course and Paul had the problem in Japan, we couldn’t go out and tour so much, it was an opposite thing,” recalls Laine. “This time I didn’t want to spend anymore time in the studio. I had an album of my own to promote, and suddenly we couldn’t tour for a couple of years. We didn’t have a falling out. These are people that I grew-up with. There are no hard feelings there. You just go off and do it.”
Amassing a deep history as a solo artist dating back to his 1973 debut album “Ahh…..Laine,” Laine continued to release his own records as well as collaborative efforts with a variety of artists.
A couple of years back, he launched a live concert tribute to the classic Paul McCartney and Wings biggest selling album “Band on the Run,” which continues to be a fan favorite. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the historic “Wings Over America” concert tour, which brought the group to Philadelphia’s Spectrum for a pair of shows.
“I was asked to do two night’s at one venue and, instead of doing the same show both nights, I decided I wanted to do the “Band on the Run” album,” recalls Laine. “It went well so we kept doing it. We start the show off with it and then continue the second half with my other material.”
“I think people love the album because it was just very basic and easy to understand,” adds Laine. “We weren’t trying to be clever. It had a flow like a lot of concept albums, but it had story line to it. It’s as good as anything out there, and it deserves its place. To this day, it’s very significant for me as an album.”
Laine, who turns 72 later this year, is putting the finishing touches on his first studio release in years.
“I still like to put new music out for sure, but I don’t like living off the past,” says Laine. “I’ve got an album in the can called “Body of Dreams,” which is going to be released as soon as I can get everything ready.”
“I don’t like the idea of retiring. I don’t think that’s an option,” adds Laine. “What would I do? I love to play music, and I’m playing with great players. I love playing music live. I’ve always been in the entertainment business. You do it ‘til you drop, that’s what I say!”
Denny Laine performs at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, Wednesday May 25, 2016 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 Denny Laine, visit www.dennylaine.com.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Kiefer Sutherland makes his Sellersville Theater Debut
By Rob Nagy
Kiefer Sutherland is the latest actor to crossover into the world of music. After decades of starring in feature films and TV, (“Stand By Me,” ‘”The Lost Boys,” “Young Guns,” “Flatliners,” “A Few Good Men,” “A Time to Kill” “Dark City,” “Melancholia,” “Forsaken” and the popular TV series “24”) and now in music, Sutherland is proving to be a man of many talents.
Sutherland’s debut album, “Down In A Hole,” is slated for a summer 2016 release. The recording features an edgy Americana country sound and is lyrically rich.
Exhibiting a life long passion for music, Sutherland reflects on the trials and tribulations of the human experience and, at mid life, what that means to him on a very personal level.
“It’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a journal or diary,” says Sutherland, while on his concert tour in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “All of these songs are pulled from my own personal experiences. There is something very satisfying about being able to look back on my own life, good times and bad, and express those sentiments in music.”
Together with his best friend and music collaborator Jude Cole, Sutherland launched the Ironworks Record label in 2002 as an avenue for local artists who were being overlooked by the music industry. In an effort to refocus his creative direction, Sutherland left the label in 2009 and then approached Cole in 2015 with the idea of recording and distributing some of his original songs to established artists.
“I had no intention of making an album,” says Sutherland. “I had about 25 to 30 songs that I’d written that I liked, and I wanted to see if I could get another artist interested in doing one of the songs. So I went to my oldest friend, Jude Cole, and asked him to record a couple songs and then I could send them out. We finished the two songs and he said, ‘I really like these songs. You should do these for yourself,’ and I laughed at him. I said, ‘Not a chance,’ because I’m acutely aware of the stigma of an actor doing music and I certainly didn’t want to be that guy. So, we made a deal that we would do a couple more songs and we did. “
“I started to like the way they were sounding. So we just recorded a song at a time, and if we were gonna hate it, we would put it in the drawer. Around the fifth or sixth song, I had my ‘come to Jesus’ moment and I thought, ‘I really do like this and I would like to go play these out and confront all of the fears that I had.’”
Armed with an arsenal of material, Sutherland, who co-wrote with the project’s producer Cole, recorded what he considered his best 11 tracks. The end result was “Down In A Hole,” featuring the single “Not Enough Whiskey.”
“Two songs became four and four grew into six until Cole suggested that we make a record,” says Sutherland. “If I was going to try and define myself as a musician, I like the telling of a story. I think one of the reasons why I’ve gravitated in writing in the form of country music is because of Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings or the recently late Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson or Kris Kristofferson. They all tell amazing stories and they tell them in the first person narrative, which I think is really interesting because I’m almost positive that Johnny Cash didn’t shoot a man in Reno. You have it outside of country music as well - Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seeger - those guys wrote amazing stories in their lyrics. I think that’s the thing that I gravitate to first as a writer and a musician, and it’s the thing that I gravitate to as a listener as well.”
“The songs actually weren’t difficult to write,” adds Sutherland. “In a very weird way they’ve become cathartic and they’re written about some very sad things in my life. I enjoyed the writing and recording process. My desire to be an actor was always to tell a story, and my desire to play music is very much the same thing. I started to realize that was the real similarity between music and my history as an actor. It’s all actually rooted in the same place, which is the enjoyment of telling a story and communicating that to a group of people.”
Currently on a 30-city nationwide concert tour in support of “Down In A Hole,” Sutherland is finding tremendous satisfaction in sharing some his deepest thoughts on the concert stage.
“I am experiencing great joy now in being able to play these songs to a live audience, which was something I hadn’t counted on,” says Sutherland. “One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about doing these shows is that I get to explain to an audience this is where I was in my life when I wrote this song and this is my perspective on it now. So, it’s not a character, it’s actually me. Inherently, they are quite different.”
“I want an audience to realize that we’re not that different,” adds Sutherland. “I’ve an incredibly fortunate life, but we all kind of go through similar things, and I think when you get to have that kind of a conversation people actually come together in a really nice way. That’s certainly what I’ve been experiencing so far on the road. That’s been something that has been really nice for me.”
Kiefer Sutherland performs a sold-out show at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, Thursday May 26, 2016 at 8:00 P.M.
To stay up to date with Kiefer Sutherland, visit www.kiefersutherlandmusic.com.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Friday, May 13, 2016
Joan Osborne and Jim Boggia wowing the crowd at the Colonial Theater (Phoenixville, PA) Wednesday night. Photos by Rob Nagy 2016
Catching up with Joan after the show.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Celebrates a Milestone at the Colonial
By Rob Nagy
Instrumental in the birth of the California country rock movement of the late 60’s, “The Nitty Gritty
Dirt Band” has amassed record sales in the millions, numerous industry awards (Gold, Platinum, Grammy and CMA honors) along with a non-stop concert-touring schedule. Revered for the classic song “Mr. Bojangles,” they are celebrating their 50th year as a band.
“We’re really grateful,” says Jeff Hanna, from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. “It’s hard to keep a band together five years much less fifty. We went through most of our growing pains thirty years ago. It’s really been a pretty smooth ride for the past couple of decades, and we’re very grateful for that.”
“It’s insane being on the road for 50 years (laughs),” adds Hanna. “We love this, but it’s a heck of a lifestyle to be leaving your home for half of the year. It helps when you are in relationships with people that understand the paradigm. We’re darn lucky, and we’re fortunate that we’ve found ourselves playing music and that we collectively get along really well. We all have a good sense of humor. We take our music very seriously, but we try not to take ourselves too seriously.”
Formed in California in 1966, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s current line-up features founding members Jeff Hanna (guitars and vocals) and Jimmie Fadden (drums/harmonica/vocals) and veteran band mates John McEuen (banjo/fiddle/guitar/mandolin) and Bob Carpenter (keyboards/accordion/vocals). Along with contemporaries “The Byrds,” “Poco” and “The Flying Burrito Brothers,” the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band helped lay the foundation for the burgeoning country rock movement that would dominate the 70’s.
“Our take on country rock was a little different and it was clearly California country rock,” recalls Hanna. “We grew-up on the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. Those were our heroes. (There was) just such great music when we were kids. Doc Watson and Flatt and Scruggs - all that music formed what we did. We took all these influences we had as kids and added a little taste of blue grass and Cajun and we were writing stuff to fit that. We were fortunate to find some great songs like “Mr. Bojangles” by a guy who was a fairly unknown singer named Jerry Jeff Walker.”
The band’s 1972 “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” album, heralded as a critically acclaimed American treasure, assembled a host of living music legends, including Mother Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Roy Acuff. A 40th anniversary edition has been released, featuring renditions of Black Mountain Rag, Nine Pound Hammer, Honky Tonkin', The Precious Jewel and Wabash Cannonball from the world of country, bluegrass and mountain music.
In honor of their upcoming 50th anniversary, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band performed an all-star concert at Nashville’ s Ryman Auditorium in the fall of 2015. Filmed for PBS and released on CD/ DVD, the concert featured guest appearances by Jackson Browne, John Prine, Sam Bush, Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Douglas, Jerry Jeff Walker, Alison Krauss and Byson House and Jimmy Ibbotson.
“It really captured a very cool night,” says Hanna. “All the places we’ve been and all the faces we’ve seen. Some of the great things are the personal and musical relationships you develop doing this. We’ve been really fortunate to have an amazing fan base that has stuck with us. I’m really proud of that.”
Navigating through decades of a rapidly changing music landscape, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has remained true to the art of songwriting and live performance, thriving as a country rock, country and American roots music band.
“I think what has changed are the formats that have embraced us,” says Hanna. “Right now what we are - American Roots or Americana - is not remarkably different in a general sense than what was going on in the late 60’s.”
“We’ve always been huge fans of songs that told a story,” adds Hanna. “A lot of music that’s made today is sort of track driven, and it’s about the groove and not necessarily about the lyric. In that sense, I guess we represent something a little different.”
"Will The Circle Be Unbroken" has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame. "Mr. Bojangles" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010. Most recently, the Nitty Gritty Dirty Band was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, class of 2015.
“It has been a great ride,” says Hanna. “We’re really proud of all the music we’ve made. I think our music has been consistently good and sometimes great over the 50 years. We’ve always brought it live. That’s something we take particular pride in. We want to give folks a couple of hours away from whatever they are doing and have them walk out of that room with a smile on their faces. That’s the greatest gift you can give folks when you’re doing what we’re doing. We’re super proud of that. Thank you to our fans for hanging in there with us. It’s great to be surrounded by so many folks as we’re leaning over that birthday cake. It’s a really sweet feeling.”
“I think that this big birthday celebration that we’re in the midst of it feels different in a good way,” adds Hanna. Folks say, ‘How can you keep singing “Mr. Bojangles?” You must have sung it a thousand times, more than a thousand. The energy that we get back from the crowd is what gives it that collective aura. The energy in the room between the band and the crowd becomes another beautiful thing. We’re lucky. We get to do something we love to do.”
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, with special guest the Hackensaw Boys, will perform at the Colonial Theater, located at 227 Bridge Street in Phoenixville, PA Saturday May 21, 2016 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 The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, visit www.nittygritty.com.