On Stage: Reed offers a welcome laugh with a show at Sellersville

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Earl David Reed

If you view the COVID-19 pandemic as a tropical storm with gale force winds and live entertainment venues as boats, venues throughout Pennsylvania have been tightly secured to their docks while those in Philadelphia have been completely taken out of the water.

Philly’s tight restrictions have made it impossible for any venue to stage live shows. It’s been almost as tough in the rest of the state but the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) has found a way to weather the storm.

The theater in Bucks County, which is one of the only venues in eastern Pennsylvania to still stage live concerts, will present nine shows in January including two in the upcoming week.

On January 9, veteran comedian Earl David Reed will be the featured attraction at the Sellersville Theater. On January 12, the theater will host the Mini Q’s as part of its Soundbooth Sessions” series.

Reed’s forte is the way he interacts with the crowd — knowing just who to pick on to get the biggest laugh. The Las Vegas Review-Journal called him “an urban Don Rickles!” and Rickles himself commented, “This guy works the room like a Las Vegas Showgirl… funny without being offensive.”

Reed is a trendsetter in the comedy and radio world. In 15 years of performing stand up comedy, Reed has performed at more than 100 comedy clubs and colleges and is a favorite in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Along with his 25 years of broadcasting experience and numerous television appearances, his improvisational style has become a favorite of radio and stage audiences all around.

The veteran stand up comedian and radio host currently resides in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania – a small town located southwest of Harrisburg, halfway between the state capitol and Dillsburg, the home of the famous New Year’s Eve “Pickle Drop.” He currently works for a radio station in Rochester, New York.

“I used to do a show at 105.7 WQXA in Harrisburg and now I do a show here,” said Reed, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from Rochester.

“I’m on WAIO 95.1 in Rochester weekdays from 2-6 Monday through Friday. It’s an entertainment show – all talk. The whole station is a talk station.

“I showed up here in August – right in the middle of protests. The whole Daniel Prude killing took place here in Rochester in March and there were protests all summer. It happened in March and was covered up. It didn’t come out until August and then there was a lot of protesting in the streets.”

Fortunately, Reed’s show is not about politics.

“It’s morphed into something that’s funny and topical,” said Reed, who grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

“At the start, there were also a producer and a co-host on the show. The station’s intention was a local show for the local community. I had done a morning show in Harrisburg for 15 years and 15 years is a long time for radio. That show also played music.

“My current show doesn’t have any music. With no music, it makes it a little more difficult. But that’s all right — I’m a comedian and I’ve got the gift of gab. I can talk forever.”

Comedy always came first for Reed whose TV credits include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, HBO, Showtime, Fox’s Comic Strip Live, A&E’s Comedy on the Road, and NBC’s Friday Night Videos. Reed is also one of Bill Engvall’s All-Stars of Country Comedy comedians with Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy.

“My comedic background got me into radio,” said Reed, who is also working on his reality-based TV pilot called “The Secret of My Unsuccess.”

“Comedy is universal. As long as it’s funny, funny is universal. My stand up shows are interactive. There is a lot of energy.

“I never really realized how much I liked doing stand up live until COVID-19 restrictions cut back my schedule. In normal times, I do clubs. I do a lot of theaters.

“My shows are always entertaining and funny. It’s almost like magic. I have an idea of what I’m doing but it’s not verbatim every night.”

Reed – and his audiences – know the value of an evening of looking at the lighter side of life.

“Right now, we’ve come into a time when laughter is extra important,” said Reed.

Video link for Earl David Reed — https://youtu.be/PLpWVF5zw2E.

The show at Sellersville on January 9, which will also be available via Livestream, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50 for live audience and $10 for Livestream.

The Mini Q’s are an organ trio fueled by the nucleus of keyboardist Luke Carlos O’Reilly and guitarist Ben O’Neill. The band, which has featured various drummers, currently has Anwar Marshall at the drum kit.

“Ben and I have been making music together for almost two decades,” said O’Reilly, during a phone interview Wednesday evening from his home in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia.

“We’ve also played in other situations with each other outside this group – other gigs together – but we’ve played together as the Mini Q’s for 16 years.

The band has averaged an album every five years.

“We’ve released three albums,” said O’Neill, in a conference call Wednesday from his home in Philly’s Queen Village neighborhood.

“The first one, which was 2007 or 2008, was called ‘Monday Night Jump.’ For a couple years, we had a long-standing Monday night gig at a swanky, old Old City venue called Marmont. We recorded the album at Tirpak Studio in New Jersey. Then, it was more than 10 years until we made another.”

O’Reilly said, “That album, which came out in 2019, was ‘The Mini Q’s Ride Again.’ Our first album weas self-released and this one was on our current label, Spring Garden Records. We recorded it at Kawari Studio in Wyncote.”

The third album by the Mini Q’s caught the trio at its live best. “The Mini Q’s Live!” was recorded November 2019 and released December 18, 2020.

“We recorded four shows during Thanksgiving week 2019 at South Jazz Kitchen,” said O’Neill, a native of State College who came to Philly to study at the University of the Arts and stayed.

“We’ve been playing together so long that we have a lot of songs in our repertoire – originals and covers. With the shows we recorded, we had a set list we used for the first set and then the second set was more free form.”

The Mini Q’s are becoming prolific with their recorded music.

“We just went in the studio three weeks ago to start making our next record,” said O’Reilly, who grew up in Lexington (MA) and came to Philadelphia in 2000 to study for a BFA at Temple University. “We’re making the upcoming album at a studio at Drexel University.”

O’Neill said, “It’s all 70’s covers – Patsy Cline, Nina Simone, a civil rights anthem. We did six tracks at that session.”

The Mini Q’s are a band with versatility. Pulling from a wide range of influences, The Qs meld the rich and flavorful jazz tradition of Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson, Pat Martino and Grant Green with the hip hop and soul sensibilities of J Dilla, Jill Scott, TSOP and an ever-expanding repertoire of spirituals and hymns.

“We have about 10 originals in our repertoire and a lot of covers,” said O’Reilly. “We like melding unrelated things – the Beatles and Jay-Z or the Meters in Patsy Cline.”

O’Neill said, “I think of us as a jazz group. Luke and Anwar and I are music lovers and students of jazz – from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to 60’s organ trios and Blue Note Recordings. We’re an organ trio.”

O’Reilly said, “My main influences are classic jazz organ trios – Shirley Scott and Jimmy Smith. And, with the Mini Q’s, we do like our Beatles and Stevie Wonders.”

O’Neill said, “Ray Charles has been a huge influence on me. When you listen to so many jazz records, you hear that they’re playing pop songs in a jazz mode.”

The band has diverse influences and the ability to transcend genres, but the bottom line is that the band is a jazz organ trio.

“We’re trying to continue the legacy of the organ trio,” said O’Reilly.

Video link for The Mini Q’s – https://youtu.be/Vm6xZOa-WKI.

The show at Sellersville on January 12, which will also be available via Livestream, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for live audience and “pay as you please” for Livestream.

Other shows this month at the Sellersville Theater are The Micah Graves Project on January 19, “High Noon – A Tribute To Lynyrd Skynyrd And Southern Rock” on January 23 at 3 and 8 p.m. and January 24 at 8 p.m., The Tribe on January 26 and Kasim Sultan on January 30 at 3 and 8 p.m.

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