By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times
With St. Patrick’s Day rapidly approaching, a great way to get into the spirit of the holiday that honors Ireland’s patron saint is to attend a concert of authentic Irish music.
It doesn’t get much more authentic than Caladh Nua, a band from southern Ireland that will be performing on March 11 at West Chester University’s Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall (700 South High Street, West Chester, http://www.wcupa.edu/oca/wcuLive).
Caladh Nua features Brian Mooney (Banjo and Bouzouki, Whistles), Lisa Butler (Lead Vocals and Fiddle), Paddy Tutty (Fiddle, Viola, Bodhran), Derek Morrissey (Button Accordion) and Caoimhín Ó Fearghail (Guitar, Flute, Vocals).
In the Gaelic language, “caladh” means “harbor” or “safe place” while “nua” translates to “new.” Ironically, the songs performed by Caladh Nua are anything but new.
“You’d think that after years of touring our music would change – but it hasn’t,” said Derek Morrissey, during a phone interview Thursday morning from a tour stop in North Jersey.
“There is a renaissance of old traditional Irish music and also new age Irish music with shows like ‘Riverdance.’ We’re more into the older style songs. We’re really rooted in that music.
“We just play the stuff that was written 400, 500, 600 years ago. That music was carried on by oral tradition. It’s interesting because the music would change as the travelling musicians moved around. With Irish folk songs, there is always a good story.”
The musicians in Caladh Nua hail from the southern counties of Ireland – especially Waterford and Kilkenny.
“We met when we were young and friendships formed from there,” said Morrissey. “We all played around in informal impromptu sessions. After a while, we decided to do it professionally.
“Our first gig was in October 2009 at the Copenhagen Irish Festival and then we did our first tour in 2010. We started with a tour of Austria. After that, we were touring all over Europe. We’ve even performed as far away as India. We played a festival in Mumbai, India.
“Our first album was ‘Happy Days,’ which we released in 2009. Then, we put out ‘Next Stop’ in 2011 and ‘Honest to Goodness’ in 2014. We just launched our fourth album right before last Christmas. It’s called ‘Free and Easy.’”
The band became immensely popular throughout Europe as well as at home on the Emerald Isle. Ireland’s President, Mary McAleese, invited the band to play at Áras an Uachtaráin for the Annual Presidential St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in March 2010.
Now, Caladh Nua is focusing on St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in North America, including the show on March 11 which is being presented by WCU Live!
Video link for Caladh Nua – https://youtu.be/lvgFzNb-eBs.
The show at West Chester University will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for orchestra and $17 balcony for adults and $15/$13 for seniors and students.
A concert on March 11 with an entirely different vibe and a distinct difference in sonic intensity will take place at Reverb (1402 North Ninth Street, Reading, 610-743-3069, www.reverbconcerts.com) when Cypher16 shares the bill with Amaranthe.
Cypher16 is a young, innovative rock band from London, England that combines metal music and a touch of industrial music to create a truly massive sound.
The band’s line-up includes Jack Doolan (Vocals/Guitars/Synths), Stuart Deards (Guitars), Carl Dawkins (Bass), and Chris Woollams (Drums/Percussion).
“This is our first full US/Canada tour,” said Doolan, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in New York City.
“We came over about four years ago for small tour. We played a festival in West Palm Beach, Florida and then did a few shows in Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas.”
Formed in 2007, the quartet began by playing London’s rock club circuit and then made its debut, self-released EP “The Man of The Black Abyss” late in 2008.
“We all came together in London,” said Doolan. “I went to school with the guitarist. We met the other two guys at musical college — The Institute of Contemporary Music Performances.
“We have a lot of common tastes in music. Metal, obviously, is number one. After that, we’ve actually got a pretty eclectic group of influences. I like classical and rock – and metal.
“But, there is a lot of metal that I’m not into. I like bands like Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Gojira and Meshuggah. I like bands that play music that can be simple. Having a sense of melody is super important.
“We can be a heavy rock band or a metal band. It’s all about the song and the melody.
“People should be able to leave a show humming a melody they heard played that night. Having songs with good melodies is really important. The most successful bands in the world have the best songs.”
Doolan knows the importance of staying focused on the song and on melodies when he writes the band’s material.
“If you’re writing and you’re in a technical mode, you can get caught in a riff,” said Doolan. “Then, you have to realize that that is not the direction to take if you want to write a good song.
“I never sit down and force myself to write. My whole writing process is generally pretty organic. It’s a point in my life when I’m not trying to write a song.”
Cypher16’s sophomore release was “The Metaphysical Apocalypse” EP in 2011 followed by the “Determine” EP in 2013. The quartet’s latest effort is the recently-released album “The Great Surveyor.”
“We recorded ‘The Great Surveyor’ in 2015,” said Doolan. “Where we are at the moment – we can go out with a band like Amaranthe because some of our stuff is quite heavy. We can play heavy tracks or go with more pop-rock songs.
“Everybody loves the heavy music. Everyone is affected by heavy music. As long as we’re heavy, it doesn’t really matter what we do.”
Video link for Cypher16 — https://youtu.be/Q8CYYGB0md4.
The all-ages show at Reverb, which also features Failure Anthem, Citizen Zero and Smash Into Pieces along with headliner Amaranthe, will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 at the door.
It’s only been a few days since Within The Ruins released its new album “Halfway Human” on eOne Music/Good Fight Music and the band is already on tour to support the album.
On March 12, Within The Ruins will play at the Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) as part of “The New Reign Tour,” which also features Born Of Osiris, Volumes, Oceans Ate Alaska, and Fire From The Gods.
Within the Ruins is an American death metal band from Westfield, Massachusetts. The group, which includes Tim Goergen, vocals; Joe Cocchi, guitar; Paolo Galang, bass; and Kevin McGuill, drums, has released five albums and three EPs.
“We’ve been on the road for three weeks now,” said Cocchi, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon from a tour stop in Greensboro, North Carolina. “We’ll be out on this tour until the middle of May.
“We started putting songs together for ‘Halfway Human’ a while ago. We had been writing for two years and then started recording last April.
“We recorded the album in my studio in western Massachusetts and finished it in July. We did it all ourselves. I handled the production and engineering.”
Within The Ruins released its debut album “Creature” in 2009 and followed with “Invade” (2010), “Elite” (2013) and “Phenomena” (2014). “Halfway Human,” the band’s first album not featuring a one-word title, was just released on March 3.
Having developed a skillful self-reliance in the studio, the band has forged a progressive metal sound that expertly mines the most fertile grounds of their genre while shaking off the genre’s self-imposed limitations.
“The drummer and I started the band over 10 years ago,” said Cocchi. “The writing back then was done by the two of us together. Over the years, it changed. We started to write together less and less.
“Now, I just set aside 20-30 hours a week and write. That’s how we’ve been doing it for years. I write all of it on guitar but some songs do start on the drums. Generally, I just sit at my computer with my guitar and write.
“We recorded 11 songs for the album and one extra song. I had five more songs that were potential for the album but didn’t quite get the attention they needed. I also had another six songs that sounded too much like the songs from ‘Phenomena.’
“One of the big things was to keep it a little more real-sounding and not over-produced. We didn’t want to have everything perfect. Our goal is always to write better and make everything more comprehendible. There are a lot more spaces in the new songs.
“There was less focus on technicality and more focus on writing songs with verses – more focus on writing good songs. I think this was our most well-executed album. We all worked really hard on it.”
Video link for Within The Ruins — https://youtu.be/Dab7Or6_I48.
The show at Union Transfer, which also features Born Of Osiris as the headline act, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 and $20.
Imagine someone suggesting forming a country band that doesn’t write its own music. It’s a little bit of a tough sell but then Nashville is filled with writers whose whole occupation is composing songs for other artists.
Now, imagine that this band also plays no musical instruments. All the music by the group is supplied by backing musicians.
It’s hard to picture a band that doesn’t write its own songs or play its own instruments surviving for very long – unless the group is The Oak Ridge Boys.
The Oak Ridge Boys — lead singer Duane Allen, bass singer Richard Sterban, tenor vocalist Joe Bonsall and baritone singer William Lee Golden — comprise one of country music’s truly legendary acts.
The veteran singing group will be in the area for two pairs of shows this weekend.
The Oak Ridge Boys will perform on March 11 at The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-0 648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) and March 12 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).
The Oak Ridge Boys are an American country and gospel vocal quartet. The group was founded in the 1940s as the Oak Ridge Quartet. Since then, the quartet has sold over 41 million units worldwide.
The band has won five GRAMMY® Awards and 11 GMA DOVE Awards as well as the Mainstream Artist of the Year Award at the ICM Awards. The four singers have earned prestigious membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame (2015 Inductees) and Grand Ole Opry.
In 2007, they received the “Cliffie Stone Pioneer of the Year Award” from the ACMs. They have charted singles and albums on a regular basis, including two double-platinum albums and more than 30 Top 10 hits — including No. 1 chart-toppers “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” “Thank God For Kids,” “American Made,” and “Y’All Come Back Saloon.”
The group’s most recent album is “Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites,” which was released in 205 by the Gaither Music Group.
“We’re scheduled to go into the studio in July to make a new album,” said Sterban, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Nashville.
“Right now, we’re heading out on another tour. We start tomorrow at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida. Then, we head north for the shows in Sellersville and Lancaster.”
This tour will continue until the end of May.
“Playing shows in your area is like coming home,” said Sterban. “Joe (Bonsall) is from Philadelphia originally and I’m from the Camden area. I went to Collingswood High and then went to college at Trenton State University. I even had property in Atlantic City for a while.
“As far as the new album goes, there’s no title yet. Actually, there aren’t any songs either. The only thing that is set is the recording deal.
“We have written very few of our songs over the years. Most of our hit songs have bene written by writers from Nashville. We try to take advantage of the songwriting talents here.
“A lot of our hits were written by Ron Chancey (a highly-respected Nashville record producer who is also one of the label heads at MCA Nashville). He had a knack for writing good songs but he’s retired now.
“We’ve started looking for writers for our new album. We just sent out an e-mail to Nashville writers and said – we’re making a new album and we’re looking for some good country songs.
“We’re going to be working with David Cobb, one of the hot new producers in town. He recently moved from L.A. to Nashville. He’s really more rock than country. We did one project with him and he took us down roads we had never been down before.”
As usual, The Oak Ridge Boys will be touring with their core back-up band of Nashville musicians.
“We have a six-piece band behind us – guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and a guitarist hop kays pedal steel and fiddle,” said Sterban.
“We pride ourselves on not doing the same show two nights in a row. We have enough hits and great album cuts to make it easy to have a different set list every night.
“We still have fun performing for our fans and we’re going to keep doing it as long as the good lord allows.”
Video link for The Oak Ridge Boys — https://youtu.be/WrdleRuXafA
The shows at the American Music Theatre on March 11 will start at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $43. The shows at the Sellersville Theater on March 12 will start at 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $50, $69.50.
If you’re in the mood for a show this weekend and aren’t enticed by Celtic, country or heavy metal music, you might want to check out a performance by the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Now through March 19, the Pennsylvania Ballet is presenting “Le Corsaire” at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, www.kimmelcenter.org).
Ballet fans will be in for a treat when Pennsylvania Ballet’s Artistic Director Angel Corella takes them away on a journey of love, betrayal, and adventure in his adaptation of “Le Corsaire.”
“This ballet is dear to my heart,” said Corella, during a phone interview Tuesday morning. “It’s a great ballet for the whole family. It’s not well-known but it’s one of the most iconic – especially for male dancers.
“There are moments of love, moments of betrayal, sword fights, ships, princesses, great energy and great dancing. There are three acts but it’s compact. It’s not that long.
“It’s one of the most fun ballets to watch. People get the story through the dancers – the way they portray their roles. There are nine principal dancers onstage at the same time.
“There is a of dancing as well as elaborate sets and costumes, a lot of scenery changes. You feel like you’re in Istanbul many years ago. There is a lot happening on stage. Fans definitely get their money’s worth.”
Corella, who in his 17-year career with American Ballet Theatre established himself as one of the greatest male dancers of his time, has many reasons to hold this ballet close to his heart.
“When I first performed it, I was only 21 or 22,” said Corella, a veteran ballet dancer/choreographer from Spain who has danced for Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Sophia of Spain, and United States Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama. “With this ballet, I won a Grand Prix gold medal at a competition in Paris.”
According to Corella, “‘Le Corsaire’ is an extraordinary ballet that allows the male dancers to be showcased in ways that the Philadelphia audience has never seen before. It is a famous ballet that the majority of our company has never performed.
“Not only is it exciting for them to learn new choreography and roles, but it will also show the strength, endurance, and skills of all of our male dancers.”
Corella’s “Le Corsaire” is a rollicking production that features intricate choreography and elaborate costumes, bringing to life Marius Petipa’s original version from 1899. The ballet portrays the story of Conrad, a pirate, who in search of treasure, becomes enamored by a serf girl, Medora at a bazaar.
When Seyd, a rich Pasha, takes Medora, Conrad is forced to devise a plan and succeeds in rescuing her. However, to Conrad’s dismay, Seyd once again takes Medora with intentions to marry her.
After reuniting, Conrad and Medora’s love is tested a third time as storms attack Conrad’s ship during their escape. Conrad and Medora survive and true love endures.
“This was one of my favorite ballets to perform,” said Corella. “To be able to share this experience with our talented dancers is a pleasure. I am excited to see this ballet come to life at The Academy of Music knowing that our audience will enjoy it.”
Video link for Pennsylvania Ballet – https://youtu.be/poLntOwywVo.
The shows at the Academy of Music will be presented on March 11 at 2 and 8 p.m., March 12 at 2 p.m., March 17 at 7:30 p.m., March 18 at 2 at 2 and 8 p.m. and March 19 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $35-$135.
If it’s time for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the area, then it’s also time for a local concert by Enter the Haggis.
Enter The Haggis will return to Philly for a concert at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, philly.worldcafelive.com) on March 12.
Enter the Haggis has been one of North America’s premier Celtic Folk Rock bands for more than two decades — establishing a reputation for memorable performances, inspired songwriting, musical proficiency and high quality recordings.
The Toronto-based band has released eight acclaimed studio albums and a number of well-received EPs — including the recently-released “Broken Arms.”
The band’s original songs such as “One Last Drink,” “Down With The Ship” and “Gasoline” have become folk rock anthems and have been used in such films as “Goon,” “10mph” and “Addicted to Plastic.”
The band was formed in 1995 in Toronto by Craig Downie, the only remaining original member in the lineup. The band currently consists of Downie (highland bagpipes, vocals), Brian Buchanan (vocals, fiddle, guitar), Trevor Lewington (vocals, guitar), Mark Abraham (bass), and Bruce McCarthy (drums).
Enter the Haggis’ current tour is in support of the band’s new EP. This time last year, the band played the same venue when it was touring in support of its 20th Anniversary retrospective double album “Cheers and Echoes,” which features the band’s best-loved songs.
Their eighth and latest studio album “Penny Black” was released in 2014 under the Jubilee Riots name.
“Our music over the last 15 years went through a lot of evolution,” said Buchanan, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from Toronto. “With ‘Penny Black,’ we did an Enter the Haggis album but it didn’t have any of the Celtic Enter the Haggis elements.
“There was a bit of frustration after 15 years of Enter the Haggis. So, we changed the name so it wasn’t saddled with the Enter the Haggis legacy. Enter the Haggis was a name people recognize. It was a name that was appropriate for what we had been playing but it wasn’t appropriate for what we were doing. So, Jubilee Riots was an experiment with a non-descript name.”
Jubilee Riots didn’t last long.
“A while after we did the ‘Penny Black’ album, we started working on new music and the Celtic influence was back,” said Buchanan. “We didn’t regret what we did but we did go back to being Enter the Haggis.”
While the rest of the band is based in Canada, Buchanan lives in Chestnut Hill with his girlfriend Rose Baldino, fiddle player for the Philadelphia -based Celtic band Burning Bridget Cleary.
“Living with a fiddle player, I rediscovered my love for the instrument,” said Buchanan. “There is a lot more fiddle in the songs I’ve been writing lately. We went to Dublin for a few weeks and I really got back into Celtic music. Rosie also introduced me to the music of a lot of good new Celtic rock bands.
“We just released the EP ‘Broken Arms.’ We recorded it last year and released it one song at a time along with a music video for each song. We put out 10 studio albums so we wanted to do something different – give our fans the music song-by-song. It’s like a listening party once a month.
“We had Jonathan Wyman as the producer – the same producer we used with Jubilee riots. We recorded it in our drummer’s basement. Then, it was mixed in Portland, Maine and mastered in Sydney, Australia.
“With the new EP, we went with more of our Celtic roots. So, we became Enter The Haggis again. We’re now in the process of writing another album and it’s definitely Enter The Haggis. The Celtic influence has taken the forefront. We’re focusing on the music that our fans love.”
Video link for Enter the Haggis — https://youtu.be/YgHQZGHzEIs.
The show at the World Café Live, which has Justin Trawick as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 SRO and $27 seated.
Another band with international vibes in its DNA will also be playing a show on March 12 at the World Café Live. Andy Suzuki and The Method will be headlining the show at the venue’s Upstairs Stage.
“I’m Jewish and Japanese,” said Suzuki, during a phone interview Monday afternoon from his home in New York City. “My dad was born and raised in Japan. I can speak Japanese – and a little Hebrew.”
Olatunji-Babumba, who also lives in New York, comes from a Nigerian family and is of Yoruba lineage. His grandfather was world-famous Nigerian drummer Babtunde Olatunji, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 75.
“I can’t really speak Yoruba but I can understand a little,” said Olatunji-Babumba. “I did a lot of travelling with Babtunde – especially in the summers when I was off from school. That was my summer camp. He is the one who taught me how to drum.”
But, there is nothing international about the music of Andy Suzuki and the Moment – no Japanese Taiko drumming, no Hebrew phrasing, no Nigerian juju rhythms.
The music made by Suzuki and Olatunji-Babumba is All American. It has its roots in American R&B and soul and its delivery in contemporary styling.
“Andy and I met through a mutual friend when we were at Brown University,” said Olatunji-Babumba. “It was very organic. I was a percussionist – but it was more of a hobby. It was just something I did.”
The two musicians formed their own band and released their first EP, “300 Pianos,” in 2009. They followed with their second EP “The Ghost Stories” in 2012. Two years later, the band released its debut full-length “Born Out Of Mischief” and then put out their second LP “The Glass Hour” a month ago.
“Why was there a four-year gap between albums is a question our manager asked us a lot,” said Suzuki. “We loved ‘Born Out Of Mischief’ and we were able to tour successfully off the album for a while. It still felt fresh and it was still gaining new fans.
“When we recorded the new album, it was a two-year process. We spent a long time writing melodies and lyrics. We had stripped-down demos and then built them up with our producer Juny Mag at his studio in L.A.
“We did the lead vocals in a studio in Brooklyn. We also revisited some of the demos from L.A. in the Brooklyn studio to put a shine on it. Everything took much longer than expected.”
It may have been a long wait for the album to see the light of day – but it was worth the wait.
“‘The Glass Hour’ is our most ambitious album to date,” said Suzuki. “We knew it was going to be a beast – a very serious endeavour. So, we wanted to take our time. It’s definitely better than our previous recordings.
“I grew up with R&B – singers like Dru Hill and Usher. It’s always been a part of my voice. ‘Born Out Of Mischief’ was the folky-pop thing. After that, we said let’s go with more R&B/pop. I’m never staying away from R&B.
“We never set out to make a certain kind of music. We have varied tastes so it’s pretty eclectic. We like to call it future pop with an R&B edge.”
Video link for Andy Suzuki and the Method – https://youtu.be/aQcMLU5dBxo.
The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.
There will be a genuine international flavour at the World Café Live on March 15 when the venue hosts the legendary South African a capella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Very few music acts from Africa have become popular around the world rather than just in their home countries. One of the exceptions is Ladysmith Black Mambazo – South Africa’s high-stepping, globe-trotting vocal group that sings in the vocal styles of isicathamiya and mbube. The group’s name comes from the singers’ hometown (Ladysmith), the ox (Black) and the ax (Mambazo) because of the way LBM cut down its opposition in singing competitions.
“Joseph Shabalala started the group in 1960 and I’ve been with them ever since 1969,” said LBM singer Albert Mazibuko, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from his hotel room in Secaucus, New Jersey.
“We grew up in the same family. His grandfather was married to my grandfather’s sister. We were all born in Ladysmith, which is 200 miles from Johannesburg and 200 miles from Durban.
“In his family, there were eight and in my family six. We all lived in one place and the music was always there. My grandparents were ifingoma – fortune tellers. My grandmother would sing every night to the spirits that possessed her – traditional singing with drums and dance.”
Shabalala and Mazibuko still are the foundation of the group as well as the musical directors.
“Joseph is 76 now so he has been staying home,” said Mazibuko, who still lives in Ladysmith. “In two years, it will be the group’s 50th anniversary.
“I’m 69 and I’m still dancing. I’m surprised that my body is still the same as it was when I was in my 40s. Our body is something that is amazing. With what I do, if I stretch and prepare properly, I have no problems singing and dancing like I always have.”
Ladysmith Mambazo took a real look at its past with one its most recent albums “Songs from a Zulu Farm.”
“Joseph and I had been talking about all the time we were visiting places when we were growing up. We realized it would be nice if we could record the songs we sang as children. So, that’s what we did on ‘Songs from a Zulu Farm’.
“It came out really well. We sang the songs, expanded them and added more music. Then, when we went into the recording studio, other songs came up. The only song that was new to my ears was ‘Old McDonald’. Some of Joseph’s grandsons and relatives knew the traditional songs so we invited them to join us in the studio.
“It was so enjoyable doing all those old songs. Selecting which songs to sing and record was a collective effort. Everyone contributed. And, we talked a lot about the songs and what order to put them in for the album.
“I knew all the songs from when I was young. My favorite is ‘Leliyafu” which is about clouds in the sky. It means ‘Clouds, Move Away!’. When I was a child, it would be cold so we’d sing to the clouds — telling them to go away so the sun would be out.”
While an accurate total of albums released by Ladysmith Black Mambazo is almost impossible to determine, it’s safe to say that the band’s latest album “Walking in the Footsteps of Our Fathers” is somewhere between the 60th and the 70th.
The band’s patriarch Joseph Shabalala may have left the touring band but his influence is still strong. And, the mantle is being carried by his four sons – Joseph Shabalala, Thamsanqa Shabalala, Sibongiseni Shabalala and Thulani Shabalala.
“We recorded the new album last year,” said Mazibuko. “It was a very exciting project because it was the first time that the Shabalala boys went to the studio without their father’s guidance. Everything was up to them.
“Our aim is that, if possible, Ladysmith Black Mambazo will be around for a long time – even though we are threatened by the modern way of music.”
The lively singing group has achieved a status as South Africa’s cultural emissaries at home and around the world.
“When I was nine, I formed my own group – Isicathamiya, which is a Zulu word meaning tiptoe dancing,” said Mazibuko. “You lift the leg up and then stomp it hard when you bring it down.”
The music style known as Isicathamiya was born in the mines of South Africa. Black workers were taken by rail to work far away from their homes and their families.
Poorly housed and poorly paid, they would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours every Sunday morning. When miners returned to the homelands, the tradition returned with them.
Mazibuko said, “We feel that if Ladysmith Black Mambazo can continue singing isicathamiya, younger people will realize that if you do your own thing and work hard, you can be a success.”
Video link for Ladysmith Black Mambazo – https://youtu.be/FclwRECHoWc.
The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $37.50 for the floor and $45 for the mezzanine.
The international vibe will continue on March 15 when the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents a show with a headliner who was born in Scotland, grew up in Australia and now lives in America.
Colin Hay, a talented singer/songwriter/guitarist, was born in North Ayrshire, Scotland and emigrated to Australia with his family when he was 14. Then, Hay moved to America and settled in Los Angeles 22 years later.
Casual music fans might not recognize Hay by name but they most likely are familiar with his music.
Almost any music fan over 30 and most fans of classic rock under 30 know that a “land down under” is “where women glow and men plunder.” They know because Colin Hay told them so. Hay was the lead singer of the Australian band Men at Work.
In the early 1980s, the band had major worldwide hits with a trio of songs — “Who Can It Be Now?,” “Overkill,” and “Down Under.”
“I’ve been on the road since January,” said Hay, during a phone interview Tuesday morning from a tour stop in Nashville, Tennessee. “I tour a lot. I’ve been staying very busy. I’ve been very busy for a while now – the last 25 years.”
When Hay played the World Café Live last summer, he said, “I’ve been writing tunes with a friend of mine — Michael Georgiades. We seemed to hit a vein of things. We wrote about nine songs. I’ve been in the studio or on the road playing gigs non-stop. We will be making an album — probably in March.”
That’s pretty much what transpired and the result was a new album titled “Fierce Mercy.” The album was just released on March 3 on Compass Records.
“Fierce Mercy,” the singer’s 13th solo release, is an epic, cinematic step forward for Hay, who is known for being a dynamic frontman and beloved for his intimate, confessional live shows.
Recorded in both Los Angeles and Nashville and mixed by Vance Powell (Chris Stapleton, Jack White) and Gordon Hammond (Buddy Miller, Don Williams), “Fierce Mercy” explores themes of love and loss, aging and mortality.
“I recorded the album last year starting in April,” said Hay. “Most of it was dome at my home studio. The strings and some odd overdubs were done in Nashville. It was Annice combination of cities — Nashville and L.A.
“The studio is in the basement of my home in Topanga canyon. Not a lot of the homes in this part of the world have basements. It’s a good size room. The ceiling is a little low but, as far as a home studio, it’s pretty deluxe. I use ProTools and have nice microphones.
“I’ve been writing with Michael for the last three albums. Most of the songs on ‘Fierce Mercy’ were co-writes. We get together, sit in the same room and write. We have a wonderful time.
“With this record, I had a lot of ideas that I put on my iPhone. I listen to them and thn sit down and start to work on something. Other times, Michael will call and say – I’ve got something – and then he’d come over.
“He’d have most of the music and just one line of lyrics. He’d keep playing the music and I’d come up with the lyrics. In the end, we’d pick the best of what each other had. All the songs are pretty new.”
Hay knows that survival in the music business these days involves taking the music to the people — and that means a lot of touring.
“There are three things you do as a musician — write songs, record them and play them live,” said Hay. “I still do two Men At Work songs in all my shows — ‘Overkill’ and ‘Down Under.’ Obviously, they’ll be a little different from how they did originally.”
Some of Hay’s new songs deal with the precarious state of the world today and the biggest threats to the planet’s well-being.
“It’s almost like the things you fretted about in the 70s when you first became aware of climate change, authoritarianism, nuclear build-up and the threat of nuclear war,” said Hay.
“You hope that the people in charge will realize it and do something about it. Climate change is real. Nuclear build-up is not good. The free market system is a better system with socialism built in so that people can get hospital treatment.
“But, somewhere inside you, you have the nagging feeling that this isn’t going to happen. This album is a way to musically express those feelings. I think it’s safe to say that the record is a combination of things.
“There is hopefulness there but you can’t expect anything to change without action. Honestly, I think we’re in for some rough times.”
Video link for Colin Hay — https://youtu.be/R36YgaOALSc.
The show at the Keswick Theater, which is an evening of entirely Colin Hay, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $2.50 and $39.50.