On Stage: Zoe Ko’s career coming on like a storm

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Zoe Ko

Zoe Ko’s music career is like a storm brewing in the distance.

You can feel it in the air. You know it’s coming. And you know that it’s going to be a major event.

Ko grew up in New York and recently has relocated to Los Angeles.

She has released one EP, “Baby Teeth,” along with a bunch of emotional alt-pop singles and is now on her first full-scale national tour.

The tour, which also features Games We Play and House Parties, will touch down locally on April 25 at the First Unitarian Church (2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-563-3980).

“This tour is a roller coaster of emotions – so many highs and lows each day” said Ko, during a phone interview from Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s really cool. It’s my first long tour.”

The tour started in Detroit in mid-March, travelled to the Pacific Northwest with a show in Vancouver and now has wound its way across the country and back to the East Coast.

Ko grew up in New York and studied at the Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music (a part of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts).

“I grew up in Queens and went to school in Manhattan at the School of the Future,” said Ko. “Then, I moved to Manhattan. A year ago, I moved to L.A.

“It’s weird. I grew up in New York and I have a love/hate relationship with the city. I moved to California because I wanted to experience a new place.”

Ko is the latest signing to Big Loud Rock, the alternative/rock imprint of Big Loud Records and home to genre standouts Blame My Youth, Letdown., HARDY, Jagwar Twin, and Yam Haus, in partnership with Double Down 11.

In celebration of the announcement, Ko released her new angsty, rock-infused single, “Dirt,” which was co-written and produced by Jonny Shorr. It is her first release since last year’s debut EP, “Baby Teeth.”

“My very first release was ‘Line’ in May 2022, and I’ve released 11 singles since then,” said Ko. “My first EP, ‘Baby Teeth,’ came out last November.

“Many of the singles were done with Jonny Shorr. He has his home studio in L.A. Right now, I’m living in Los Feliz on the east side of L.A.

“Here in L.A., I found myself missing the grit and dirt of New York City. The stereotypes are true in L.A., and I missed the rawness and no bullshit attitude of people in New York.  I liked the word ‘dirt’, so I wrote a gritty dance track – a song like what I used to hear in of my favorite clubs in Manhattan.”

Ko’s songwriting is the result of a smart, talented musician coming of age in NYC and L.A.

“I usually always come up with a concept or some lyric I want to land on. Next is the guitar riff and then build it up with the drums. The topics come from my life although some details may be different.”

Ko cited her musical influences.

“I love old No Doubt songs and anything else that Gwen Stefani has done,” said Ko. “I also have been influenced by Olivia Rodrigo, Kesha, Avril Lavigne. I always have attitude and I like women with attitude.”

Ko showed some of that attitude this week when she released a new single, “Eat,” on Wednesday with “Dirt” as the B-side. It is a not-so-subtle suggestion to her Angeleno friends that they need to add some New York-style grit and dirt to their cultural diets.

Video link for Zoe Ko — https://youtu.be/89TVkSeOmGQ.

The show at the First Unitarian Church will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $22.

“Come From Away” is a hit musical about the people in Newfoundland and their activity after the terrorist attacks in America in 2001. The musical opened in 2017 and has played to packed houses all over North America.

Alan Doyle

Prior to the arrival of the musical, very few people in America had any idea what or where Newfoundland was – unless they were music fans. Those fans were well aware of the Canadian province (actually Newfoundland and Labrador) through the music of Great Big Sea, songwriter/folk singer Ron Hynes and guitarist/vocalist Alan Doyle.

Actually, Doyle was a founding member of Great Big Sea. He left to pursue a solo career and has released a number of well-received albums since.

In 2012, Doyle released his first solo album, “Boy on Bridge.” The title is a nod to Doyle’s credit as the “boy on bridge” in the movie “A Whale for the Killing,” when he was a young boy.

Doyle, who primarily plays electric and acoustic guitars, is out on the road to support “Welcome Home” (out now on Warner Music Canada) on a North American Tour. He has a performance scheduled for April 30 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).

“Welcome Home” is his sixth solo release since departing Great Big Sea. The album features marquee co-writers Jimmy Rankin, Donovan Woods, and Hollywood actor Oscar Isaac. The album presents nine original songs that are both typically buoyant and surprisingly intimate, what Doyle refers to as “the lower and slower: the lower part of my vocal range and the slower songs. I’m letting myself do that for the first time on this record,” which he cut in Montreal with producer-engineer Marcus Paquin.

“The album came out in the middle of February,” said Doyle, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“I did about 30 concerts in Canda – from British Columbia to Halifax. Leg Two is in the U.S. Leg Three will be all over – U.S., Canada and Europe.

“I recorded about 12 songs in June 2023 in Montreal with Marcus Pacquin,” said Doyle, who grew up in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. “We did it at Studio P.M. It was a beautiful studio.

“About half of the songs were written during COVID and a few came later. There is also ‘How Did We Get From Saying I Love You,’ which I wrote the song Great Big Sea in 1997. The arrangement on the new album is quite different.

“With COVID, I was in St. John’s almost two years in a row. I wrote songs. I wrote a book. I wrote a musical. I produced a couple records, including a 20-song compilation tribute to Ron Hynes.

“For about a year, we had no COVID in Newfoundland. The first summer was one of greater isolation. I learned really early, it was not only O.K. to write about things in your backyard, it was essential.

“I always thought it was cool to write about people in Petty Harbour. There are only about 500 people in Petty Harbour, but it was very busy with fisheries. It was always very active. Most of the people in Petty Harbour worked in the fisheries and a lot of the others worked in Newfoundland Light and Power’s hydroelectric plant.”

Doyle attended Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. It is also there that he met Séan McCann, Bob Hallett and Darrell Power with whom he formed Great Big Sea.

“My family music tradition began long before I can remember,” said Doyle, who has also been involved with a handful of stage, television and film productions.

“I did some songwriting as a teenager, but I didn’t really go in it in a big way until Great Big Sea. In the early 90s, I really became a songwriter. I was influenced by musicians like John Cougar (Mellencamp).”

Fortunately for music fans, Doyle opted to be a singer/songwriter/guitarist rather than a cod fisherman.

Video link for Alan Doyle – https://youtu.be/XNJm_e3y798.

The show at Sellersville Theater will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $45.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) will host the Matt Waters Band on April 26.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. It will also be available as a pay-per-view at $15.

On April 27, live entertainment will be provided by the Katie Barbato Band.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. It will also be available as a pay-per-view at $15.

Jamey’s features either “Jazz at Jamey’s” or “Anything Goes” on Thursdays featuring the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.

“Jazz at Jamey’s” will be presented every second and fourth Thursday, and “Anything Goes” every first, third and fifth Thursday.

Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings. On the second Sunday each month, the featured act is the Girke-Davis Project which features club owner Jamey Reilly, Roger Girke, Glenn Bickel, Fred Berman and Colgan-Davis.

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