On Stage: Ann Wilson keeps on rockin’ with (or without) Heart

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Ann Wilson

The heart, which is the muscle that keeps a body alive by pumping blood, consists of two ventricles. If one or the other shuts down, everything stops working and life usually screeches to a halt.

Heart, a band from the Pacific Northwest that has been around for more than four decades, consists of two sisters – Ann and Nancy Wilson. Fortunately, the two halves work well with each other and without each other. Either way – life goes on and the music continues.

Proof of this will be on display on April 6 when the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents the “Ann Wilson of Heart” tour.

“I’m going to be touring all year,” said Wilson, during a phone interview last week. “It’s pretty much what Heart does every year except that this is my solo tour. Heart has been touring constantly for the last 10 years or so.

“At the end of last year, I reached a point where I had to do something new. It was becoming mechanical for me. I just kind of walked out of that machine. It became obvious that it was just replicating.”

The condition wasn’t serious enough that Heart shut down for good.

“Heart is on hiatus,” said Wilson, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend. “Both Nancy and I needed a break. With regard to Heart, there is no breakup. But, there is also no deadline on starting up again.”

In a press release for the tour, Wilson said, “The stage is a magical place where I can be beautifully in and out of control, where I can build a fire and then jump into it.

“The stage is where I have always lived; where I’ve expressed my deepest emotions and supreme joys. I suppose I am addicted to it. I’ve never been much good at talking, but I can sing, and when I sing I connect with people in a much deeper, higher way.”

Wilson has assembled a top-flight touring band featuring bassist Andy Stoller (a member of the Ann Wilson Thing), Heart guitarist Craig Bartock, and former Heart drummer Denny Fongheiser.

“We are doing some Heart songs – ‘Barracuda,’ ‘What About Love?,’ ‘Crazy On You,’ ‘Alone’ – but we’ve reinvented them. There are also some new songs. Being on the road makes it hard to write but we do it.”

Wilson’s shows promise to deliver a lot of variety.

“We also do some covers – Peter Gabriel, the Who, the Kinks, the Animals – songs that have a message,” said Wilson. “We’re also doing four new songs.

“They all have different flavors but, at the same time, they’re all recognizably me. One is a blues tune and another is a swampy song. There is also an acoustic coffeehouse song.

“We play a real wide range of stuff. People can expect the unexpected. They’re all just different flavors. There is no specific genre – just all good stuff that makes me feel that all-time thrill.

For me, performing live has always been the best.”

Wilson and her players are giving the fans their money’s worth every night.

“We’re playing smaller venues and people do like the freshness of it,” said Wilson. “And, they like the excitement of it. We do a two-hour show with a 10-minute intermission. It’s been working great.

“We’re recording the shows every night. I don’t know if it will result in an album or not. I’m more inclined for video projects and YouTube – maybe a DVD or a documentary.”

Video link for the “Ann Wilson of Heart” tour – https://youtu.be/_cW7mLtgQps.

The show at the Keswick will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45, $59, $75 and $89.

The Keswick will also host “One Night of Queen” on April 7, Air Supply on April 9 and Welcome to Night Vale with special guest Erin McKeown on April 12.

In The Mood

It’s been just over 75 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor — a surprise military strike on the U.S. Navy base in Hawaii by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service.

That was when World War II hit America. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 697,806 American veterans from the war were still alive in 2016.

Obviously, those veterans and their sacrifices will always be remembered. Fortunately, the culture of that era is being kept alive also — especially with shows such as “In The Mood,” which is visiting the Playhouse on Rodney Square (10th and Market streets, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-888-0200, www. duponttheatre.com) for a pair of shows on April 6.

“In The Mood” celebrates that generation through the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Erskine Hawkins, The Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra and other idols of the 1940s.

The show took its name from the song “In the Mood,” which was a big band era Number 1 hit recorded by American bandleader Glenn Miller. It topped the charts for 13 straight weeks in 1940 in the U.S.

The touring production “In the Mood” revisits America’s “Swing Era” and recreates defining moments from the 1930s and 1940s — from the happy-go-lucky era before WWII to the end of the epic conflict.

Bud Forrest, who is they producer, artistic director, conductor and pianist of “In the Mood” began touring this production in 1994.

“This is our 23rd year of doing this show,” said Forrest, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Escondido, California.

“It started with three young ladies doing the songs of the Andrews Sisters. I added musicians and by 1993, we got invited to perform on the steps of the National Archives in Washington, DC.

“Folks from the USO approached us and soon the show became part of the official entertainment for the World USO’s 50th commemoration of the WW II events. We started travelling in 1994.

“We’re getting close to 25 years of touring. It’s very unusual for any show to last that long. It evolved over five years to become the show that we have now. The show is more a theatrical presentation than a concert.”

Forrest compiled the greatest music from the swing era into a revue about the big band era and the influence of this music before, during and after the WWII years. The second act is a moving tribute to those who fought in the war and to all of America’s military veterans.

“Every year, I go to New York to audition singers and dancers change about 25 per cent of the music,” said Forrest, a Juilliard-trained musician who served as accompanist for the Air Force chorus The Singing Sergeants.

“Alex Sanchez is the choreographer. He comes in every year and whips the kids into shape. Linda Tomlin, my wife, does all the costume designs for the show.

“I give my audiences the flavor of what it was like in 1940. There is no story but the music is the story. It’s like a variety show from that era. The singers are all in period costumes. The men wear double-breasted blue blazers, cream-colored pants and two-tone spectator shoes.

“The music is very nostalgic — Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Gene Krupa. It’s the music loved by people who lived in that time. The first part of the show is music from before the war. The second is wartime music. The songs may be 70 years old but they are still valid today. We get a lot of different generations at our performances.”

Video link for “In the Mood” – https://youtu.be/n-0o5njMnUc.

“In the Mood” will be presented at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the theater in downtown Wilmington. Tickets range from $34-$68.

Máirtín O’Connor

Another show on April 6 that will take audience members back to another era is the concert by the Máirtín O’Connor Trio at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

“We play a mixture of traditional tunes that have been around for a long time and our own originals,” said O’Connor, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from a tour stop in Savannah, Georgia.

“Finding good traditional songs is always our quest – especially nowadays because there are so many ways to get material.”

O’Connor is one of Ireland’s all-time great button accordion players. His trio also includes Cathal Hayden, an All-Ireland champion on fiddle and banjo, and guitarist Patrick Doocey, a rising young star on the Irish music scene.

“Normally, we play with a guy named Seamie O’Dowd,” said O’Connor. “We’ve been together since 2000. But, Seamie needed a rest. So, we’re working with Patrick Doocey.

“I had come across him before. Then, he was re-suggested to us by the lads from Lúnasa. Patrick has adapted well to the music we’re playing.”

The three kindred spirits have a special synergy, exploring styles from bluegrass to swing to French musettes, playing with a unique joy and kinship. The Irish Echo calls them “Irish traditional music’s own ‘power trio.’”

O’Connor, a native of Galway was named Ireland’s 2015 Traditional Musician of the Year. Both of O’Connor’s grandfathers played accordion, and he picked it up at age nine.

A member of legendary Irish bands De Dannan and Boys of the Lough and a musical force in “Riverdance,” O’Connor has worked with artists such as Elvis Costello, Rod Stewart and The Waterboys, as well as the RTE National Orchestra.

Hayden, a fiddle and banjo virtuoso, hails from a large musical family in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He is a veteran of acclaimed Irish bands Arcady and Four Men & A Dog and has also just released his solo CD “Hooked on Banjo.”
Doocey was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and raised in County Mayo. He is an All-Ireland multi-instrumentalist who has toured with such Irish stars as Lúnasa and Sharon Shannon.

“Cathal and I started playing together a long time ago,” said O’Connor. “In the late 90s, he saw me playing with De Danaan when he was a little kid. Later, there were some shows in Galway he played with me.

“One night in Sligo, there was a benefit. Seamie got up spontaneously and played with us – and that was the start of the trio. More than just energy, we have great synergy.

“The trio has recorded two CDs. The last one was “Going Places” in 2013 while the first one was “Crossroads” in 2008. Lately, we’ve all been involved in separate projects. So, maybe we’ll go with a new CD next year.”

Video link for Máirtín O’Connor — https://youtu.be/J2HUweFZ-7M.

The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Other upcoming shows at the World Café Live are “Havana Nights: A Celebration of Cuban Music & Food” with music by Conjunto Philadelphia on April 7, TFDI on April 8 (Upstairs Stage), Paula Cole on April 8, Morgan James on April 9,

Willie Nile on April 9 (Upstairs Stage), Vieux Farka Touré and Last Good Tooth on April 10, Dirty Bourbon River Show on April 11, and Clint Coley on April 12.

Angel Corella, Artistic Director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

The Pennsylvania Ballet and Artistic Director Angel Corella will finish the 2016/2017 season with two mixed-bill programs – “Romance” in April and “Re/Action” in May.

From April 6-9, the company will present “Romance” at the Merriam Theater (250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org).

“‘Romance’ is a great program to bring a date to,” said Corella, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a rehearsal break at the Merriam Theater. “It would have been great for Valentine’s Day.”

According to Corella, “Romance” will demonstrate different perspectives on ballet from three great choreographers.

The program features the World Premiere of Nicolo Fonte’s “Ghost Stories,”, Nacho Duato’s “Remansos,” and George Balanchine’s “Western Symphony.”

“Nicolo Fonte has created ‘Ghost Stories’ for our company,” said Corella. “He didn’t want to say it but it’s pretty much about his life. It’s energetic but also very melancholic. He’s a very thoughtful in in the way he choreographs.

“It’s a great opener for ‘Romance.’ It’s very poetic for a choreographer to look back at his life. Nicolo also did another ballet for us two seasons ago. He choreographs in a way that gets the best out of his dancers.

“It’s a very energetic movement – a roller coaster of a ballet. Some parts are very energetic and some are very calm. And, the shapes the dancers create are almost inhuman.”

Originally premiered in 1997, Duato’s emotional “Remansos” is a simple piece for three men and three women featuring fluid and compelling choreography. It is set to a haunting score for solo piano by Enrique Granados.

“This piece was created for the American Ballet Theater for three male dancers with very specific body types – very flexible with long limbs,” said Corella.

“I was dancing with the American Ballet Theater when it was created and was in the second cast. To bring it here was a very easy decision to make. We have two very strong casts.

“Originally, it was a pas de trois. When he did it with his company, he expanded it to a pas de six with three men and three women. There are two very different movements – the women with the men and the men alone.

“It’s a beautiful ballet – very romantic. It starts with a red rose that a ballerina lets fall to the floor. It stays on the floor for the whole ballet.”

The third piece is Balanchine – the legendary choreographer whose work has become a staple with the Pennsylvania Ballet.

“Balanchine — back to the ‘Father Figure’,” said Corella. “It’s very romantic – but in a very different way. It features flirtatious women in the Old West. They were more in control of men back then.

“We added a movement that is very rarely done. So, there are four different movements with very specific roles. The first couple is very sassy – a lot of jumping. The second features an adagio ballerina and is very sensuous.

“The third is very energetic – and very crazy. The male dancer uses the girl dancer as a lasso. The fourth features a taller woman with big movement. She is really in control – and showing off.”

Video link for “Romance” — https://youtu.be/RScxiJFkWa4.

The performances for “Romance” at the Merriam Theater are April 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., April 8 at 2 and 8 p.m. and April 9 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $35-$135.

Meklit

On April 7, Meklit will perform a concert of her culturally diverse music at the World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400, www.queen.worldcafelive.com).

Meklit is an Ethiopian-American singer, composer, and cultural instigator who has been based in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past decade-and-a-half. Her music style is born as equally from Oakland as it is from Addis Ababa.

Meklit’s music is imbued with poetry and multiplicity, from hybridized sounds of Tizita (haunting and nostalgic music) drawing from her Ethiopian heritage, to jazz, folk songs, hip-hop and art rock. She aptly describes her music as emanating from “in-between-spaces.”

Meklit’s history features a lot of geographical backgrounds.

“I was just under two when I left Addis Ababa,” said Meklit, during a recent phone interview from her home in Oakland.  “The first place our family lived when we moved to the states was Iowa.

“Then, we went to Brooklyn and eventually to Gainesville, Florida. I moved to New York and lived on the East Side before moving west. Now, I’ve been in the Bay Area for 15 years.

“My first trip back to Ethiopia as an adult was in 2001. My most recent visit there was last May and June. Amharic was my first language.

“Moving to Iowa was a culture shock – also being a very cold place. Our parents were physicians. We – mother, father and two sisters — hit our stride as a family when we hit Brooklyn. We had a great education in New York.”

Meklit might not have always realized it but music was her destiny.

“I was always very attracted to music,” said Meklit. “It was moth to flame. My mom told me that I sang before I spoke. I sang casually in high school and college. I didn’t really start writing songs until I moved to the San Francisco area.

“When I started, every step I took toward music – music took 10 steps toward me. I was a political science major at Yale. I tink of it in two ways – learning how to learn and understanding complexity. I used my poli-sci more for music.

“I lived in Seattle for two years after college. I loved the West Coast – but Seattle was to rainy. Five friends from college moved to San Francisco.

“It was like a community of friends descending on San Francisco. As soon as I moved to the Bay Area, I started making music professionally right away at Mission Arts and Performing Project.”

Ethiopia has produced two great, internationally-acclaimed female vocalists — Aster Aweke and Gigi (Ejigayehu Shibabaw). Meklit is in line to be the next one.

“Aster Aweke – we listened to her a lot,” said Meklit. “She was right next to songs that were on American radio. I came to know about Gigi when I got older.”

Meklit released her debut solo album “On A Day Like This” in 2010, and her follow-up “We Are Alive” came out in 2014. “This Was Made Here,” her newest body of music, was commissioned by the MAP Fund and is set to be released in June by Six Degrees Records.

“The new album was recorded last August,” said Meklit. “I had a commission to write it. It took me two years to write the music and then we recorded it in L.A., New Orleans and San Francisco.

“I also sent the record to Ethiopia and got three musicians to be guest artists on it. Their instruments were krar (six-stringed bowl-shaped lyre), mesenqo (single-stringedbowed lute) and washint (end-blown wooden flute).”

Video link for Meklit – https://youtu.be/qC8feW4gomo.

The show at the Queen will get underway at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams usually has some sort of theme to its show whenever it plays in this area.

Last summer, the band touched down with a show at the World Café Live that was a tribute to the late, great David Bowie. The Slambovians also made a stop in Lancaster County in October to perform at the “Steampunk Unlimited Festival” at the Strasburg Railroad.

At the end of December, the Slambovians continued their Philadelphia holiday tradition. Each year, the band treats area fans to a “New Year’s Eve Eve” show at the World Café Live.

Some of the group’s other themed shows in the last eight months have been “A Very Slambovian Christmas,” “Halloween Rock’N’Roll Séance Show,” “Grand Slambovian Extraterrestrial Hillbilly Pirates Ball” and “Day After The Day After Thanksgiving Show.”

On April 7, the Slambovian Circus of Dreams is coming back to perform a concert at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com). That’s right – just a plain old concert of Slambovian tunes.

But, anyone who has ever seen the band perform is well aware that a Slambovians shows is never “just a plain old concert” – theme or no theme.

The show this weekend will feature all the band’s “hits” from their catalog as well as a live preview of some of the new songs from the group’s next album “A Very Unusual Head,” which will be released later this year.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, which has been making music since 1998, features founding members Joziah Longo (singer, songwriter, guitarist, leader of the band), his wife, Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, flute, ukulele, theremin, keyboards) and Sharkey McEwen (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals).

“I really appreciate this band,” said Longo in a phone interview from his home in New York. “It brings down a certain realm. I feel like I’m in the 70’s. I particularly dig the vibe of this band.

“In addition to me, Tink and Sharkey, we have Bob Tomasello, a punk bass player, and Felipe Torres. He’s been playing drums and percussion for us for about a year now. He used to be the drummer for Davy Jones of the Monkees.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams has its roots in another New York band.

“We were in a group called The Ancestors in New York,” said Longo. “Eddie Kramer, who was the Stones’ engineer and producer, did an album with us. That brought everybody around to see us play. We were doing really well. One time, we played Carnegie Hall and CBGBs the same night.

“We were ahead of the curve and then we disappeared — on purpose. We went to the hinterlands and hid out in the folk scene. We were playing folk music that was different with things like an electric slide mandolin. It was ‘Floydian’folk. The folkies really took to it. We found our niche.”

They found a niche and they found a new name — Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

“It was just a name I made up,” said Longo, a Philly native who went to St. John Neumann High in South Philadelphia. “Eventually, we cut off the Gandalf part. It made it easier to fit the name on marquees.”

Video link for the Slambovians — https://youtu.be/-kgjptPgbrc.

The show at Sellersville will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $39.50.

Other shows at the Sellersville Theater in the next week are

Kip Winger (of Winger) and MindMaze on April 6, Liz Longley and Jeff LeBlanc on April 8, John 5 (of Rob Zombie & Marilyn Manson) & The Creatures and Slik Helvetika on April 10 and Samantha Fish on April 12.

Among Criminals

Some bands aren’t bands in the true sense of the word but rather vehicles for solo artists to bring their music to fruition.

One example of this is Among Criminals, which will have a CD release show on April 7 at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455,www.milkboyphilly.com).

Among Criminals currently is guitarist/vocalist/founding member Ryan Gaughan, bassist Bhauraw Avhad, and drummer Kyle Ruggieri.

“Among Criminals started about nine years ago,” said Gaughan, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his parents’ house in Bucks County.

“I’m the only original member. It’s basically my project with rotating bass players and drummers. Actually, it wasn’t until we released the first record five years ago that it really started. It’s still a trio – but might add a guitar.”

April 7 is the official release date of Among Criminals’ new album “Kill The Precedent.”

Four years ago, Gaughan had a wakeup call. Close to being homeless, and doing any job to pay the bills, he quickly found the band was all he had. He put his everything into writing and recording a new album.

“The story of the album was me coming out of a pretty wild time in my life – living in a van, couch surfing and drinking way too much,” said Gaughan.

According to the veteran singer-songwriter, “You can hear a rebirth in this album. I realized I had to take control and put my entire being into my music. There was no safe backup plan. It was this band or nothing.”

At the time, Gaughan worked more than 60 hours a week as a bartender, delivering pizza, driving for Uber, and even doing nude art modeling.

He bounced back and forth between living in a van that kept getting broken into, and sleeping in a warehouse that necessitated he wear shoes and a winter coat each night to fend off the frigid temperature conditions.

Any money made over basic bills, was used to fund “Kill The Precedent.”

“The album was written and recorded in Fishtown,” said Gaughan, a graduate of Council Rock High School. “We recorded it at Spice House Sound in the heart of Fishtown with engineer Alex Santilli.

“On my previous records, it was me writing and taking it to the other guys – and spending a lot of time on arrangements. This time had a more raw, spur-of-the-moment feel.

“Bhauraw wrote the single – ‘Patience and Regret’ – and did an exceptional job arranging and pre-producing on the rest of the tracks.

“We started making the album two years ago. We recorded live and cut all the instruments in two days. The songs were written in the year prior to the recording session.

“There was definitely a sense of anger when I was writing the songs. Some of that anger and angst turned to political topics. There is a track on the album called ‘President.’ Most of all, the album has a very spontaneous energy.”

Video link for Among Criminals – https://youtu.be/p7LBAQO7RV4.

The show at MilkBoy Philly, which has Alright Junior, Daddylap as opening acts, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Other upcoming shows at MilkBoy are Mipso and Dan Mills on April 8, Jenny Owen Youngs on April 9, Nalani & Sarina on April 11 and Cory Brannan on April 12.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will host Too Pretty For Parties, Recording Club and Ryan Casey on April 7, Shytown on April 8, Peter Bradley Adams and Lullanas on April 9, and Arlen Roth on April 11.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will present A Day Without Love, More Than Sound, Hoss and Something Like Sound on April 7, and US Rails and the Quixote Project on April 8

The Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com) will present Sonia de los Santos on April 8.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will have a “Bluegrass Jam” on April 6; Near Nightmare, Powerless Rise, Venture and Meaty Ogre on April 7; Dylan Andre, Josh Giannini, Eric Perez and Brandon Messen on April 8; and “Open Mic Night” hosted by Ted The Fiddler on April 9.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Ryan Montbleau, Cris Jacobs and JP Biondo on April 6, Pink Talking Fish on April 7 and 8, and Ron Holloway Band and Steal Your Peach on April 9.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Paul Pfau and Hey Monea with Grant Stinnett on April 6,

Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt on April 7, and Dan Navarro with Lara Herscovitch on April 8.

Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, www.kimmelcenter.org) is hosting “Cabaret” now through April 9.

Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) will have Never Shout Never on April 6, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness on April 7, Maggie Rogers on April 7, The Fab Faux Performing “The Beatles Greatest Hits Show” on April 8, The Baeside Groove on April 8, Jain on April 10 and Big Sean on April 12.

Punch Line Philly (33 East Laurel Street, Philadelphia, 215-606-6555, http://www.punchlinephilly.com) will present Todd Barry from April 6-8.
Now through April 23, the Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting Loerner & Loewe’s classic musical “Camelot.”

The show, which is based on T.H. White’s novel “The Once and Future King”, made its Broadway debut in 1960 and received four Tony Awards. It has been revived several times on Broadway and was made into a film in 1967.

“Camelot” tells the story of the legend of King Arthur who rules his kingdom with new ideals — with the intention of bringing peace to a troubled land. But when the two loves of his life — his beautiful new Queen Guinevere and his most trusted knight Sir Lancelot — give in to their passion for one another, troubles develop.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $60 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

 

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