“For the Record” is a periodic feature in which musicians discuss what they’ve been listening to lately.
The electric charge of Grace Vonderkuhn is spreading wildly, and with her first full-length album Reveries out Feb. 23, she’s already been featured by NPR, WXPN’s The Key, and a half dozen other media.
The album, put out by EggHunt Records, is a gritty, mad dash of noisy garage rock plunging into melodic catharsis, backed up by bassist Brian Bartling and Dave Mcgrory on drums.
Reveries is available on vinyl, cassette and digitally on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, Spotify and more.
In March, Vonderkuhn and her band will tour the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond, most notably playing at South By Southwest in Austin as official showcase performers (March 9-16). Locally, catch her at Wilmington’s 1984 on Thursday, March 29.
O&A caught up with Vonderkuhn before her spring tour, and she shared her music career’s five most formative, influential albums.
T. Rex — Electric Warrior
One album that really influenced me in my late teens is Electric Warrior. I remember the first time hearing the song “Cosmic Dancer.” I was waiting tables on a slow day and it came on. I thought it was Bowie at first, but I soon found out that it was Marc Bolan serenading me. I felt like I was transported into another reality. After that I delved into the whole album and fell in love with the sound. It’s true glam rock with dashes of psychedelic riffs and it’s all tied together with Bolan’s vibrato and spacey lyrics. It just grooves.
Pixies — Doolittle
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to people that have heard my music that the Pixies are one of my favorite bands. Although I enjoy most of their discography, I wanted to highlight their album Doolittle because it was my gateway drug into late ‘80s/early ‘90s alternative rock. This album is stacked with hits and there are so many mood changes, it’s no wonder it’s hailed as some of their greatest work. I really could sing their praises all day, but I’ll probably just listen to Doolittle again instead.
Autolux — Future Perfect
Here’s another life-changing album for me. Autolux redefined what a three-member rock band could be. It comes down to their dynamics and the ability to use quiet and space to build up heavy parts into lethal rock. Plus, there are some deeply satisfying guitar and bass tones and entrancing vocal harmonies. I highly recommend listening to Autolux.
Elliott Smith — Either/Or
I’ve never heard an Elliott Smith song I didn’t like, but this particular album is close to my heart. This is deeply introspective and, well, sad music. Smith was a master wordsmith and one could write a dissertation on the meaning of his lyrics. He was also heavily influenced by the Beatles and I love the juxtaposition of his pop chords and heartbroken content. If you must explore your darkness, Either/Or is an ideal soundtrack.
Sex Pistols — Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
Sex Pistols opened up a new world for me when I was a teenager. Along with The Clash, they sparked my interest in ‘70s U.K. punk and led me to bands like Buzzcocks and Generation X and later post punk bands like Public Image, LTD., Joy Division, and Magazine. Loud, fast, angsty music is truly cathartic and energizing.
Several talented musicians at some time or another have gone along for the ride with Drive-By Truckers. Among them: singer-songwriter Jason Isbell; his former wife, bassist Shonna Tucker; pedal steel player John Neff, and keyboardist Spooner Oldham, who used to record with the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (more on that later).
But at the core of the group, taking turns driving the truck, have always been the band’s co-founders, Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, who have been playing together for ages, even before the band started in 1996.
We caught up with Hood by phone last month, in advance of Drive-By Truckers’ March 28 show at The Queen. He sounded jovial and energized. It was seven dates into the band’s 2018 tour and just a few nights after their concert in Portland, Ore., which has become Hood’s home after moving there with his family in July 2015—far from his longtime residence in Athens, Ga.
“I love Portland,” Hood says, adding that the transition from Athens was relatively easy. “They’ve got more in common than they do different, honestly. Obviously Portland’s a much bigger city, and I’m enjoying that a lot. But they have a very similar vibe. Athens has more in common with Portland and Brooklyn and Austin than it does most small southern towns.”
Drive-By Truckers is on a roll at the moment. The band is touring for the second time on the success of its most recent album, 2016’s American Band, which not only was one of their most critically-acclaimed albums—appearing on many best-of-the-year lists – but also one of their most overtly political. Sample lyric: “Ronnie Reagan must be spinning his grave; Putin’s on the rise, Ukraine’s under siege; Fascism’s knocking and Trump says ‘Let them in.’”
“This record has legs,” Hood says. “We’re out touring right now, and the route we’re on is really similar to what we did [right after American Band]. We’re playing a lot of the same rooms, and, in some cases, bigger rooms. And in every single town, attendance has been up.”
On that note, here is Hood, talking about the power of song-writing, recording, and his long-standing relationship with his musical partner, Cooley.
O&A: You really do have southern music in your blood. Your dad, David Hood, was the bass player for The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and later was a co-founder of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. What was it like growing up in that environment, with all these famous bands coming in and out (of the studio) and your dad being a southern rock legend in his own right?
Hood: Yeah, I was well aware of what was going on. I really kept up with it as much as I possibly could because I was really interested in it. I always wanted to do this, too. But, at the same time, I wasn’t really there. I was at home; I was a kid; and I wasn’t really allowed to be [at the studio].
Getting info from my dad about what was going on was sometimes next to impossible. I’d have to find out from other means [chuckling]. Because Dad was very much into keeping home separate. He was old school. In his day, you didn’t take work home with you. I hardly saw him pick up an instrument at home or anything like that.
He really didn’t want me to go into music, either, so he wasn’t particularly supportive of me doing it for a long time. Probably up until Southern Rock Opera. [The band’s third album, released in 2001.]
O&A: Soon after Southern Rock Opera, you recorded Dirty South in FAME Studios, which is where your dad and The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section got their start. Was that an attempt by you to tap into or reconnect with that southern rock history?
Hood: Yeah, you know, I grew up practically down the street! I mean I always had wanted to record there. So once we had the means to do it, we just did.
I still now want to record at 3614 now that they’ve reopened that [3614 Jackson Highway, the location of Muscle Shoal Sound Studio, which his father helped start and run]. I really want to go record there. Just as I have a list of places I hope we can record, you know, before time runs out. We got to record at Electric Lady a couple years ago, and that was cool. And we made our last record at Sound Emporium, and that was really great. So I’ve got this list of legendary studios that I’d like to capture while they’re still around.
O&A: Do you find that recording at different studios affects the vibe or the final output to the point that it influences the overall theme of the record?
Hood: Oh, yeah. I’m sure it does. Everything affects it. At the same time, we made one of my favorite records in my living room. So it has to do with so many things as far as what we bring to the table. But the room can certainly affect things, positively or negatively, depending on the experience.
O&A: You and Mike Cooley co-founded Drive-By Truckers in 1996. But before that you were in a band together called Adam’s House Cat, which Musician magazine had listed as one of its Top Ten Unsigned Bands back in the late ‘80s. What was it that brought you and Mike together, creatively?
Hood: Boredom and being broke. We met as roommates. I moved in with a guy I knew from college, and Mike was his other roommate. And that’s how we met. He had a guitar, and I had a guitar. We were broke, so we didn’t have money to go out. We’d buy a case of really cheap beer and sit in the living room and pick and jam.
I’d always written songs, so I was eager to mostly play my songs anyway, and he didn’t really want to play a bunch of covers. He kind of thought it was cool that I had a bunch of songs. Even before any of us were worth a shit at it, I liked what he did with my songs. I liked his approach to what I was writing. He attacked them in a way that I thought was very appropriate for what I wrote. It was kind of counter-intuitive because he would almost always do the opposite of what I heard in my head, but I liked that.
Shit, we’ve been playing together for 33 years! This is our fourth band. We had two bands between Adam’s House Cat and Drive-By Truckers that were, like, dismal failures. But we just kept coming back to it. It worked.
Ironically, we didn’t necessarily get along back then. It wasn’t like we were unstoppable close friends. We were close, because we played together forever. But it was kind of a—I don’t want to say stormy close—but we were like brothers who didn’t necessarily get along. I’ll put it that way.
It was that kind of relationship for a really long time. We were roommates for three different points of time, but we weren’t necessarily good roommates, either [laughs]. We were roommates that sometimes wanted to kill each other.
It’s all really funny now because I would say we’re super close now. We get along great now. But that was kind of the last piece of the puzzle. We figured out how to play together long before we learned how to get along [laughs].
O&A: You guys recorded the single “Perilous Night” in November. A lot of people have been talking about how political it is, how strongly worded it is. Then you donated proceeds of the 7-inch single to the Southern Poverty Law Center. How does it feel to do that—to come out and really say how you feel and, at the same time help an organization that you believe in like that?
Hood: Right. I mean to me that’s kind of the whole point to what we do. Writing was something I did because it made me feel better. It was a way for me to express what I was thinking about: either what was bothering me, or pissing me off, or hurting my feelings, or making me sad or depressed or whatever. Occasionally what makes me happy. But usually it’s a way of dealing with the more negative things.
So to be able to back it up with some modicum of action was good. Our donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center isn’t going to be a game-changer [laughs] Unfortunately. I wish it was. But at least I think we’re doing what we can.
We try to support various good causes. There’s no shortage of people who need support. We’ve been raising money for Nuci’s Space, a suicide-prevention non-profit from Athens, for 20-plus years now. That’s always been our pet cause. But it’s good we’re able to add a few more things, too.
This is the second thing I’ve done for the Southern Poverty Law Center. I did a song for them about a year ago—a solo thing—that was for a little EP they put out with Bonnie Prince Billy, myself, William Tyler and a couple of other artists. Really good artists. I was really proud to be part of that.
And it was the perfect use for a song like “Perilous Night,” because I’m not trying to profit from our country’s current failure of judgment [laughs]. I’m trying to support my family, but I’m happy to do whatever I can that helps fund the resistance.
I really didn’t see that song as being part of the next record. It’s more of an epilogue to the last record.
Patterson Hood and Drive-By Truckers play The Queen on Wednesday, March 28. For more info and tickets, go to TheQueenWilmington.com.
The multi-instrumentalist comes to The Grand on Feb. 23
Los Angeles-based film score composer, multi-instrumentalist and lyricist Andrew Bird picked up a violin for the first time at age 4. As he grew up, he pursued a variety of styles, including early jazz, country blues and gypsy music, melding them into his own brand of pop. Since beginning his recording career in 1997, he has released more than a dozen albums, including his most recent full-length Are You Serious (2016) and the instrumental Echolocations: River (2017), which is second in a series of short films and recordings documenting site-specific compositions. River was recorded while Bird stood ankle-deep in the Los Angeles River under The Hyperion Bridge. The first installment, Echolocations: Canyon, was released in 2015 after Bird played violin in a canyon in Utah.
Equally creative and candid, Bird hosts a Facebook Live series “Live from the Great Room” which streams from his living room, putting the creative process on display for fans as he performs and converses with friends and collaborators. Previous guests have included Zach Galifianakis, The Lumineers, Fiona Apple, The National, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.
Out & About caught up with Bird by phone as he prepared for his winter tour, which will hit Wilmington on Friday, Feb. 23, at The Grand at 8 p.m.
O&A:Can you talk about how you choose recording locations for your Echolocations albums like Canyon and Rivers?
Bird: The idea is to go into the spaces and try to be a blank slate and listen to the feedback I’m getting off the surfaces – whatever brings in all the reverberations of the instruments. I take the songs home and create a record around them, reacting to what I hear and remember. It gives me an excuse to improvise and to exercise other ideas. Then, at shows, I basically do what I did when building the record: I react to the film recording and improvise while watching the film.
O&A: Will there be more Echolocations installments?
Bird: These are part of a series of four albums I’m making. The next one is going to be in bunkers built into a coastal hillside during the ‘30s. And the one after that is in an aqueduct in Lisbon, Portugal; the reverberation of that one is insane. They’re all distinct environments.
O&A:Echolocations recordings differ in style from your other albums, which feature vocals and a full band – like 2016’s Are You Serious, which falls between these two instrumental albums. Instead, you approach Echolocations with a minimalist slant with just one instrument – the violin – and one musician – you. What made you take this approach, and did it present any new artistic challenges for you?
Bird: Between records I put out every three or four years, I do these projects that keep me able to exercise other things. A lot of stuff ends up on the cutting room floor when you’re making a pop album, so this just kind of gives me life and the ability to stretch out and play long-form pieces and explore textures and sounds. And to just be a player again. I think otherwise I would be withering creatively.
O&A: What inspired your collaborative Facebook Live series “Live from the Great Room”? What artists are you planning on working with in the future?
Bird: It relates to Echolocations in a sense that it began with the emphasis on being raw. I wanted to bring it back to music and collaboration and invite people into my house and play in my living room and fill that room with sound and have it be raw and live and messy. A lot of people tried to convince me to pre-record it and I thought, ‘I can’t do that, it has to be scrappy and live and reactive.’ It turned out to be more successful and gratifying than I imagined.
I’ve got a list of folks that want to do it, we just gotta find the time. I’m hoping to get back into it in the summer or fall. I’ve been trying to get Randy Newman for a while.
O&A: What’s next for you?
Bird: I’ll be finishing a new record that’s going to come out early next year. It’s on my mind ‘cause I just finished tracking it. It’s gonna sound different than the last one. I’ve been basing the sound off early ‘60s jazz and gospel records that were all recorded in one room. The subject matter is a bit more political, I guess you could say, rather than personal, though it’s never entirely one or the other. I guess the overarching theme is talking about how we need our enemies or how we seem to thrive off of conflict.
I’m also doing a run of symphonic shows in the fall, where I’ll be playing with the National Symphony Orchestra – that’s a totally new venture.
The usual powerhouse lineup will play the music of half a century ago in the annual concert to support the Light Up the Queen Foundation
When it comes to music, yesteryear can seem like yesterday, and that’s the feeling the annual Shine a Light concert will aim for by rolling back the clock to 1968 to create warm memories for those lucky enough to secure a ticket. Sponsored by the Light Up the Queen Foundation, the concert is set for Saturday, March 3, at The Queen in Wilmington. Tickets for the annual event have always sold out, but there’s still time to purchase general admission or the highly-sought-after VIP tickets, which include a Celebrity Chef menu executed by The CROP Foundation, open bar featuring Tito’s specialty cocktails and Twin Lakes craft beer, exclusive balcony seating, front pit access and more. This year’s concert will once again bring together an all-star lineup of scores of the most popular and revered musical performers in the Wilmington area. For many, 1968 was a year of turmoil, but from that chaos arose some of the best music of the 20th century, and it’s reflected in the set list for this year’s concert. “We have rock, country, jazz, blues, Top-40, and more,” says “Harmonica” Pete Cogan, a veteran of the concert series. “The magic of the show is that it takes everyone out of their own bands and puts you with other people you’ve never played with before. You get to meet other band members and their followers and that really opens up a lot of doors for you as a performer.” “The Light Up The Queen Foundation began in 2008 with a single arts education program and has developed and diversified over the years,” says Tina Betz, the foundation’s executive director. “The concert is by far our biggest fundraiser, pulling in well over a half million dollars in its seven-year run. The money raised allows us to serve about 3,600 children and young adults a year—well over 10,000 in total—through our programs. And we are just picking up speed.” After tackling the Rolling Stones’ catalog for the first few years of the event, organizers decided to fete all styles of music of 1975 three years ago and followed that by celebrating 1976 and 1977 in subsequent years. This year, the decision was made to step back even farther, to 1968, in a salute to a golden year of music.
John Cassidy, multi-instrumentalist for Kategory 5, likes the idea of celebrating 1968, but says slyly, “I hope we don’t go back to 1959 next year.” When horn player Alan Yandziak jokingly frets they might eventually run out of years and songs, Shine A Light Executive Committee member Tom Williams laughs and says, “Don’t worry, we still have a lot of quality songs from which to choose in coming years.” Guitarist Nick Bucci, regarded reverently by many area musicians, says that 1968 is right in his wheelhouse. “I had the opportunity to play on some Steely Dan songs during previous years’ shows,” he says, “but having a chance to emulate Jimi Hendrix [this year] is a challenge I’m looking forward to.” Bucci’s exalted standing in the musical community contrasts with Cole Petrillo, who will make his debut in the concert series this year. “I used to sneak into practices when my dad (Mike “Pops” Petrillo) would be rehearsing for past shows,” he says. “I hope to get to play on a song with him and also with Pat Kane (guitar),” who played his first Shine a Light show last year. This constant infusion of new performers helps keep the show fresh year after year. Singer Nihkee Bleu also made her debut last year and says her experience was “fun and awesome.” It reinforced in her that “people really love music from 40-50 years ago,” she says. “I spoke to people who could not make it to last year’s show and they were very disappointed. I wasn’t even born in the 1960s, but I think music from that era is more relevant today than it ever was.” Drummer John DiGiovanni, of Steal Your Peach, can relate. “This is my music, the music I grew up on. I was in high school in 1968.” He considers it an honor to be included, especially since a scheduling conflict prevented him from performing at last year’s show. Kat Pigliacampi, lead singer for Kategory 5, has her hair color (sort of) to thank for her first invitation to perform at the show, back when it featured The Rolling Stones’ music. “(Shine A Light Planning Committee member Rob Grant) called me up and said they needed another backup singer,” says Pagliacampi. “He told me they have a blonde, a redhead and needed a brunette, so that was how I first got involved.” She says that back then, “it was a lot more rogue, but still well organized.” Since The Stones don’t feature female lead singers, it was more “guy-oriented,” but she says she will miss the chance to do more disco and prog rock by not continuing on to 1978. Like everyone else, Pigliacampi is looking forward to this year’s show, citing “the spirit of unity. It’s all about the music.” While everyone involved tries to make each show better than the previous year, they also recognize the true focus of the event—the Light Up the Queen Foundation. Kathleen Ford, co-chair of the Shine A Light Committee, says, “The focus on arts education has resulted in even more—and larger—sponsors than ever this year, which allows us to serve more children than before.” With this year’s show offering an enhanced video production with some surprises, tickets are—as usual—going fast to this local musical event of the year. Check availability at LightUpTheQueen.Org/ShineALight.
“For the Record” is a periodic feature in which musicians discuss what they’ve been listening to lately.
If you talk to Montana Wildaxe lead guitarist and co-founder Kurt Houff about music, it’s surprising how much of the conversation focuses not only on sound, but also on sight and feel.
“Your influences are not always directly related to music,” Houff says. “Visual, auditory, anything that you process can be an influence to your music. It comes out in what you do.
“I have people come up to me and ask, ‘What do you see when you are building a solo?’ And honestly, I think of it more as a painting than an auditory thing. It’s more of a visual thing.”
It’s an interesting observation from a musician who has been long celebrated locally for his ambitious guitar solos—rollicking, circuitous sonic monologues that somehow counter a laid-back, almost instinctual style of play.
However, if Houff makes it all look easy, it’s an illusion of sorts. There is work to it, after all.
“I’ve done a fair share of studying [but I] apply it to the point where, when I go to perform, it’s not obvious that I tried to study something,” the guitarist says. “I assimilate it with what I do from a day-to-day perspective so that it really becomes another tool or another set of colors to put on [my] palette.”
With more than three decades with Montana Wildaxe, Houff has had time to collect a wide array of musical tools and colors. Along with the other members of Delaware’s most legendary jam band, Houff will be displaying that onstage artistry the night of Saturday, Dec. 23, at The Queen in the annual holiday show that has become a local tradition, attracting both longtime fans and inquisitive newbies looking to discover what the fuss is all about.
Houff himself remains somewhat curious about the popularity of the yearly event.
“I can’t put my finger on exactly why people continue to come out,” he says. “I’m assuming the music’s good because I enjoy it. But I think it also has to do with the camaraderie amongst the people who have come to see us [all these years]. They come out to see their friends who they haven’t seen in a while, and we’re a part of those friends. We’re kind of the catalyst for getting together.”
In addition to their revered renditions of songs by the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Little Feat and other classic jam bands, Montana Wildaxe’s connection with its audience certainly has helped fuel its success. Houff recalls a time, not so long ago, when the band played back-to-back weekend nights every month at Kelly’s Logan House.
“We’d get a lot of crap for it, but we’d do the first set then we’d take that seemingly endless half-hour break and hang out with everybody,” Houff recalls, chuckling. “Throw back a couple of beers or whatever and then head up on stage. They’re working their tails off having a good time in the crowd, and we’re up there sweating everything out for them.”
If you plan to get wild and festive with the Wildaxe crew this month—whether for the first or for the umpteenth time— you may be interested in the influences that have colored the sensibilities of one of the local music scene’s most colorful musicians. Here’s Kurt Houff on those influences:
Artist Unknown – Autumn Leaves
My first exposure to recorded music in album form—I don’t even know what the album was called—but I believe it was a collection of jazz standards with the first cut on the record being an instrumental version of “Autumn Leaves.”
My mom used to tell me that, as a 3-year-old child, I would pull that album off the stack because I recognized the picture on the cover, a beautiful autumn landscape, and then I would put it on. I would play the first cut, walk over, jerk the stylus off the record player and start it again. I would play it for hours, the same song, over and over again.
I’m pretty sure it was a piano trio. And to this day, piano trios are my favorite jazz vehicles.
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
When I was 8 or so, my sister and her friends were just absolute Beatles freaks, for lack of a better term, and so Sgt. Pepper’s would probably be the next record. Paul McCartney basically indicated that this album was the Beatles’ response to the Beach Boys and [what they were doing in the studio at that time]. Hearing that later made perfect sense to me. But back to wh
en I was first listening to it, that wasn’t even a thought in my head. I was just floored by sounds of that record: the
guitar tones, some of the tape loop stuff, and McCartney’s bass lines throughout the entire album.
Part of [what was going on at that time] was that artists were exposed to new and different things and were asking, “How do I get at this sound that I hear in my head?” In today’s music, that childlike sense of discovery doesn’t seem to exist much anymore. Everybody’s jaded. Nobody’s going “How do I do this differently?”
Jeff Beck – Wired
The next step in my thought process was probably Jeff Beck. The hit song off that record was “Blue Wind,” and it [featured] the guitar carrying these quite different melodies that I was not used to hearing a guitar carry. That’s what struck me about it.
I had listened to some Yardbirds stuff and Jeff Beck Group’s “Shapes of Things.” Then I listened to Yardbirds without Jeff Beck, but those guitarists didn’t speak to me as much as the Jeff Beck stuff. So as soon as Wired came out, I was like, “I gotta listen to this!”
I didn’t know how he was getting those sounds back then. It was not like I’d seen tapes of him, or video footage, or any of the stuff you can Google now. So I just listened to it and said, “That’s cool. How does he get the guitar to do that?”
Rory Gallagher – Tattoo
I was watching TV and saw Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and they had a Rory Gallagher bit. There he is in this really worn flannel shirt playing this beat-up Stratocaster with a tone that was pretty much guitar-to-amp. Some of the stuff that he did with guitar just absolutely blew my mind. It was probably the first time I saw somebody doing that with guitar.
This would have been ’74 or ’75 and I would have been 11 or 12. I think I’d just recently bought my first copy of Guitar Player magazine. [I was] just really starting to wrap my head around it all.
So I went to the record store at the Concord Mall—Village Records or something like that—and went in there and saw the record. The album cover is a picture of Rory done up like a tattoo. Same flannel shirt he was wearing on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.
His playing was pre-Stevie Ray Vaughan “Stevie Ray-ism.” Somebody who kind of channeled stuff. And once he got into an extended jam, he was somewhere else.
The Kinks – Arthur
I think it was the political commentary. I didn’t quite grasp it as I would today: songs like “Mr. Churchill Says” and songs about the prudishness of the Victorian era.
It’s rock ’n’ roll. I mean rock ’n’ roll really is a rebellious voice back to its origin. It’s a distaste for authority, just beating the man down.
Dave Davies played a significant amount of Stratocaster on that record and the tone of those guitars always speaks to me.
Houff and the rest of Montana Wildaxe perform their annual holiday show on Saturday, Dec. 23, at The Queen. For tickets and more information go to TheQueenWilmington.com.
At 72, John Lodge can look back on an extraordinary life as a musician who has played bass and sung and written songs for The Moody Blues since 1966.
Having sold more than 70 million records worldwide with The Moody Blues and with the band recently earning a nomination into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Lodge certainly has earned the right to rest on his laurels.
But after 50-plus years in the music business, he decided September of 2016 was the right time to embark on his first solo tour—eight club dates in the UK.
With last year’s release of his second solo album, 10,000 Light Years Ago, Lodge didn’t want to make the same mistake he did after releasing his first, Natural Avenue. He never toured after releasing that album 38 years ago.
“I always felt like I hadn’t completed that circle, really,” Lodge says, during an Oct. 20 phone interview. “So when I recorded my new album, 10,000 Light Years Ago, I was determined to go on the road and perform not only that album, but also songs from The Moody Blues that I’ve never played [live] before.”
Now he is bringing the tour to the U.S., with a stop here at The Queen on Sunday, Nov. 5. In addition to cuts from the solo album, Lodge also will be performing songs that can be heard on his new concert recording, Live in Birmingham, which was recorded on the last night of his UK tour in the town where he was born.
The Birmingham Town Hall show was especially significant, for it was there, as a as a 13-year-old boy, that he sat in the front row of the balcony and watched Buddy Holly perform for the first time in his life.
“Buddy Holly was the biggest influence in my career completely,” Lodge says. “People talk about rock ‘n’ roll, and I say, ‘Yeah, I was into rock ‘n’ roll from Day One.’ But Buddy Holly really tuned my music.
“What I wanted to do with my live album was for me to stand on that stage where Buddy Holly was and almost look back up at the balcony and see a young Johnny Lodge looking down. So that sort of completed a circle.”
Here are Lodge’s takes on his favorite Buddy Holly album and a few other records that have been on his turntable—or on his mind —recently and most resoundingly:
The Crickets – The “Chirping” Crickets
[This is] the album that really changed my life from a musician’s point-of-view, as a 13-year-old boy with a six-string guitar for the first time. There was a program in England called Jukebox Jury that played new records, and they played a record by Buddy Holly and the Crickets called “That’ll Be the Day.” I was just absolutely intrigued.
I tried to find it—it took me ages—two months I think, before that album was actually available in the UK.
It’s a go-to album, because of the double-tracking of guitar parts and the bass playing. It’s stand-up bass, but it’s really interesting the ways the bass and guitars work together.
The wonderful thing about Buddy Holly is that basically up until then, rock ‘n’ roll was 12 bars or eight bars. But Buddy Holly just changed everything by putting minors in there; putting sevenths in there; not playing 12 bars; putting guitar solos in there; different rhythms. Chirping Crickets was all of that.
Every time I play that album, it magically transports me back to that time. It reminds me of everything that got me hooked on rock ‘n’ roll. And the English version of rock & roll, I might say. I know Buddy Holly was American, but somehow he translated so well into the Englishness of rock ‘n’ roll.
John Lennon – Imagine
It’s just such a brilliant, brilliant album. Everything about it. The way it was played, the musicianship, and some wonderful songs on that album, like “Jealous Guy.” There’s a string part in that song. It just comes in once, and every time I hear that—there’s just something magic about that album.
Nina Simone – Baltimore
Nina Simone’s voice is unbelievable, and the orchestration on that album is beautiful. What I love about that album is that is the different way in which each song is approached. You’ve got sort of West Indian music in there, but you also have wonderful orchestrations in the song about a father going to Paris. If people want to listen to a fantastic album, listen to Baltimore.
Her voice just transcends everything to me, it’s pitch-perfect. There’s a melody in her voice. If there’s anybody who wants to be a fantastic singer, find the melody in your voice. It’s not so much about trying to hit the highest note possible and singing it as loud as possible. It’s about getting that melody, where you actually draw people into that melody. And her voice just draws me in every time.
B.B. King and Eric Clapton – Riding with the King
I love going to the Delta in America. All of that area, through Helena and Memphis and Tupelo, with Elvis [being born there]. When I was in Memphis once, I remember going to this rib shack. And they had all this wonderful music playing, Robert Johnson and other great blues artists. Then they played a track from this album, Riding With The King, which had just come out. To me, bringing those two musicians together in that rib shack was just brilliant.
I play that album a lot. We grew up with Clapton. Our first tour in America was with Clapton. The Moody Blues played our first concert, believe it or not, in Paris with Cream.
B.B. King and Eric Clapton, just playing against one another on this album, it’s just a great album. To me, it brings together the blues from the Delta and English blues.
John Lodge – Live From Birmingham
It was released today, so I have to mention it! [laughs]
The reason it’s a go-to album is that I’ve had to listen to it so much just to make sure the mix is right, and the mastering is right, and the pressing is right. [laughs again]
I’m so pleased with the guys in the band. They played so well. It was only one show. We didn’t go back into the studio [to do overdubs] at all. Everyone just gave their all with this record.
We were talking about Nina Simone, [and] trying to find the melody and emotion in the voice. And that’s what you got to do on stage: You’ve got to get that melody in the instruments. It’s not about how loud they play. It’s about that melodic sound that draws you in and captures you.
Bassist John Lodge of The Moody Blues will appear at The Queen on Sunday, Nov. 5. For tickets, go to TheQueenWilmington.com. To order copies of Lodge’s recent releases—and for more tour information—go to JohnLodge.com.
Major changes, close-knit friendships and an energetic sound contribute to newest Musikarmageddon victors Rusty Blue
When Rusty Blue was announced as the victorious band at the Musikarmageddon competition on Oct. 14 at the baby grand, members of the group began laughing uncontrollably.
Says bassist Joey Heins: “It was just pure joy. I was trying to stop myself from laughing but I just couldn’t.”
The four-man band received an average score of 93 out of 100 from judges and got nearly half of the audience votes. The remaining three bands—Cologne, TreeWalker and Carrier—were much closer in their scores, with Cologne taking the runner-up spots thanks to a solid fan base. There were approximately 160 people in attendance, one of the largest Musikarmageddon finale crowds.
Judges’ comments about Rusty Blue brimmed with praise: “Solid. Full of energy. An eclectic mix. You’re on the fast track to amazing things,” from Jim Pennington, guitarist of local band The Collingwood; “Who needs an intro with a start like that? Killer. Catchy, interesting, nostalgic,” from Zach Crouch, lead guitarist of last year’s winners Susquehanna Floods; “Great interaction, amazing energy, fun to watch. I’m an instant fan. Classic but innovative,” from area music mainstay Angela Sheik.
The Wilmington alternative rock band has come a long way since forming in 2014 as Over Ripe Banana. Most members hadn’t even reached high school then.
Between then and now, the original line up has shifted—members left, others switched instruments—and the group now consists of Greg Stanard on rhythm guitar and vocals, Joey Heins on bass, Clayton Milano on lead guitar and Damien Pace on drums. The band name first appeared as the title of a song, which, Heins says in retrospect, was “a pretty bad piece of music, but we needed to get rid of Over Ripe Banana if we had any chance of getting a real show.”
At the time, the group did covers, something remembered by Gayle Dillman of Gable Music Ventures, the local event company that promotes original music and runs events like downtown’s Ladybug Music Festival.
“Every month for six months Joey emailed me,” Dillman says. He also sent videos of the band playing—and growth and improvement were immediately palpable. When Rusty Blue shifted to playing original music, Dillman got them a handful of Gable gigs.
“Each time they got better,” she says. “What Joey demonstrated is something many bands have trouble with: patience, perseverance and persistence. Did I mention that Joey was 14 when he started emailing? Who does that? Usually it’s a parent, not a young teen. We knew there was something there.”
Songwriting became Stanard’s job, though over time that role has become more collaborative. Someone will write a chorus or verse, someone else will come in with a riff, and everyone discusses the song’s outcome from there.
The band has released one album, Life’s Good. The Musikarmageddon prize package includes a recording session with TribeSound Records (along with 20 custom band t-shirts from Spaceboy Clothing, a photoshoot with Moonloop Photography, and more) so Heins says they’ll definitely be utilizing that studio time to work on their second album in the near future.
Most of Rusty Blue’s songs are rooted in experience, whether about day-to-day life like bike riding adventures or the more abstract, like dreams. But one thing all the songs have in common is that they’re deeply personal.
“I think that’s what makes them so special,” Heins says.
Band members’ chemistry doesn’t stop with collaborative songwriting.
“Our music is complex and we really try our best to play together,” says Heins. “We never let a musical moment go unrecognized if we can help it and I think we all know where everyone’s moments are. We complement each other.”
In the meantime, finding a band-life balance is no easy task. All members, between the ages of 16 and 17, are juniors or seniors at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington. They also have jobs, so finding time to practice can be challenging, but it’s a priority—as is building friendships.
“All of us hang out all of the time,” says Heins. “We love to listen to music, ride bikes, take walks, explore interesting places, pretty much anything.”
While graduation is around the corner, Heins says the band is excited for their future of playing together. “This is my first chance to pursue music in a big way and I love that I’m getting this chance with my best friends,” he says. “Our shared musical and personal chemistry is what makes continuing as a band worthwhile to me.”
Heins says Rusty Blue wants to go on tour soon, which he says seems more feasible now than it did even a month ago. With the adrenaline of the Musikarmageddon win, plus the fact that the band has been expanding its show base beyond Wilmington and Philadelphia, things are looking up.
“Rusty Blue’s evolution is everything that Gable wants as a business,” says Dillman. “We started Gable to provide a platform for all ages. The young men have matured, sharpened their skills and have written some amazing original music. And they are all 16 or 17—kind of reminds me of The Districts.”
In this year’s Performing Arts edition, we are launching a new feature, “For the Record,” in which local musicians discuss what they’ve been listening to lately.
Our first entry in this series focuses on Darnell Miller, who, by day, teaches music at Kuumba Academy Charter School in Wilmington. By night, Miller leads his soul and funk band, The Souldaires, at venues like The Nomad Bar, where they play the first Wednesday of every month. This month, Miller will also release his solo five-track EP, Jesus & Jameson, which features the already released single “Bastard.”
“I wanted to make it separate [from The Souldaires],” says Miller. “Sound-wise, it’s two different things: The Souldaires is one thing, and the Darnell Miller thing is a whole other thing.”
In other words, local fans should prepare for the unexpected.
“If I said what it is by genre, I would say funk, rock, soul, gospel,” Miller says. “But that’s too generic. I don’t know how to explain it, so I just call it Jesus & Jameson: a little bit of Heaven and a little bit of Earth.
A self-proclaimed music nerd with a love of liner notes, Miller has an encyclopedic knowledge of the back-stories of the music he likes. Keep reading and you’ll get an idea of what we mean.
Mavis Staples – Your Good Fortune EP
The sound of everything on that album—the song-writing—it’s really one of the most overlooked albums in the last couple of years. It’s a really great album. It was co-produced by Son Little, who is an up-and-coming, amazing guy. I didn’t discover him until later. But he [made his mark] on this Mavis Staples album, totally. Perfect combination.
Gary Clark, Jr. – Live North America, 2016
Oh, my goodness, I love that he can play his ass off! Lately, I’ve been really listening to songs, really listening to what that person is saying, and [paying attention to] black artists moving outside the lines. And he is one of those guys. To me, he’s more than just a blues artist: He’s a little bit of everything. The album, sonically, sounds great. The guitars are nice and dirty. The vibe. Everything sounds great.
CeCe Winans – Let Them Fall in Love
I think of albums that I play over and over again, and this is one of them. I don’t know if you know, but my background as a touring musician and as a professional musician was the gospel world.
[Ed Note: Miller’s career as a gospel vocalist spanned more than seven years and took him on tour across the U.S. and abroad, including England, Spain and Africa.]
When I decided to step back from gospel and transitioned, I stopped listening to anything gospel. I maintained relationships, but I just stopped listening. But then I just happened to see a picture of this album cover. And the picture told me what the album might sound like. So I was like, ‘I should check this out,’ and I was glad I did. For gospel, this album is a game changer. It’s retro. So she’s doing ‘70s country; she’s doing Ray Charles-type stuff; she’s doing Phil Spector-type stuff. It’s really good production-wise. Tommy Sims, who is one of my favorite producers, produced this with CeCe Winans’ son, who I didn’t know had it in him.
Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1
This dude can sing. Some of these songs made me revamp lyrics for Jesus & Jameson because I felt he was saying some of the same things that I wanted to say. So I just kept listening and listening.
I love the drums on this album. I listen to mixes and how stuff sounds sonically and the different sounds that people use. The drums on this album really pop.
Solange – A Seat at the Table
This album will probably be on everyone’s list, but for my last pick I’m going to have to go with this one. By the way, I’ve been a Solange fan for years. I’ve been always hoping that she would get her break. Everything about her is artistic. With Solange, either you love it or you hate it.
Her last album was very ‘80s-sounding. This one is stuff I’ve never heard before. And it features production by two of my most favorite people in the world: Raphael Saadiq and Questlove. Everybody knows I love Questlove. So, when he’s involved, it just has to be good. But for people to like this album was a complete surprise to me, because it’s so different. It’s not mainstream. She decided to tell a different story.
Satisfy your palate with this delectable menu of Wilmington-area arts
8th Avenue Arts Collective Jasmine Brown leads this creative agency that helps artists, makers and doers to create and share in their own communities. 8th Avenue supports artists across the city through visual art exhibitions, open mic night performances and more. For September’s Art on the Town (Friday, Sept. 8), the organization features artist Erin Courtney’s acrylic resin work in an exhibit at Artist Ave Station. On Sunday, Sept. 3 and 17, 8th Avenue will host Art in the Park, an open-air, all-ages gathering. Bring your own supplies, sit together and create at the Wilmington Green Box location at 420 N. Market St. The Flavour, 8th Avenue’s regular open mic event, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 27, also at Wilmington Green Box, weather permitting. (If inclement weather, the location will be Wilmington Jaycees Clubhouse.) All events are free to attend. 800 N. Tatnall St., Wilmington • 723.9197 • 8thavenuecollective.com Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @8thAveCG
Arden Concert Gild Arden has an outstanding season ahead with new shows continually added. The kick-off is the annual end-of-summer jubilee, Arden Fair, on Saturday, Sept. 2, with rides, games, food, art and the free Shady Grove stage featuring music by Garry Cogdell, Steal Your Peach and Jr. Wolf. Thursday, Sept. 21, heralds the first-ever David Bromberg Quintet performance at Gild Hall. Friday, Oct. 6, brings Rhett Miller’s (of the Old 97’s) solo show and Thursday, Oct. 12, Dar Williams concert and book reading (What I Found in a Thousand Towns includes an extended section on Wilmington). Hot young Brooklyn duo—the Indie-folk-with-electronic-undercurrent Overcoats—hits the stage Friday, Oct. 20.Jazz perfection is celebrated on Friday, Oct. 27, with Etienne Charles on trumpet and percussion with his Creole Soul Sextet. Finally, on Saturday, Nov. 4, the vibrant voice of Mary Fahl (formerly of October Project) fills Gild Hall for a debut performance. 2126 The Highway, Arden • 898.9308 • ardenconcerts.com Facebook: @ArdenConcertGild • Twitter: @ArdenConcerts
The Arts at Trinity This free series in the heart of Wilmington, hosted by Trinity Episcopal Church, is in its seventh season of “pop-up” events in literature, drama, poetry and visual arts. This year opens on Saturday, Oct. 7, with the Serafin String Quartet performing works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and American composer William Grant Still. On Sunday, Nov. 5, Trinity Church Choir and orchestra, conducted by Terrence Gaus-Wollen, performs sacred music by Bach as part of its regular Sunday service. On Saturday, Dec. 2, rising jazz pianist Gil Scott Chapman performs, including classical and jazz works and his own compositions. 1108 N. Adams St., Wilmington • 652.8605 • theartsattrinity.org Facebook: @TheArtsatTrinity
Based in Wilmington’s bustling LoMa neighborhood, ArtzScape has created an equally bustling scene for local and regional artists, poets and musicians, providing a rental space for private and public events and encouraging active networking at events. On Sunday, Sept. 17, ArtzScape presents the third installment of its MUSIC.POETRY.ART series, featuring Christian poet Charles Robinson-Snead. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com. 205 N. Market St., Wilmington • 267.679.2711 • artzscape.com Facebook: @ArtzScape
Christina Cultural Arts Center A new Literary Café program leads off Christina’s 71st year, featuring author and Delaware native Jeff Hobbs on Saturday, Oct. 21, discussing his New York Times best-selling work, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce. CCAC’s focus on intimate live performances returns on Saturday, Nov. 18, with a concert by SPANK, featuring gospel/soul/hip hop drummer George “Spanky” McCurdy. Finally, CCAC embraces the majesty of the holidays on Sunday, Dec. 10, with the stunning contemporary dance/music/narration production of “Carols in Color,” performed by Philly-based Eleone Dance Theatre. December wraps up with CCAC’s own Holiday Festival of the Arts on Saturday, Dec. 16. 705 N. Market St., Wilmington • 652.0101 • ccacde.org Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @CCACDE
The Delaware Art Museum The museum welcomes two major exhibitions this fall. The first, Tableau: The Art of Richard Cleaver (Sept. 16-Jan. 7, 2018), features elaborate sculptures full of hidden compartments to capture the lives and secrets of historical figures and personal acquaintances of the artist. The next, An American Journey: The Art of John Sloan (Oct. 21-Jan. 28, 2018), is the first major retrospective of Sloan’s work since 1988. It covers his work as an illustrator in Philadelphia, his depictions of New York City, his views of Gloucester, Mass., and his studies of Santa Fe, N.M. Throughout the fall, the museum also offers many engaging, informal programs for all ages: enjoy Art is Tasty (Sept. 1, Oct. 6, Nov. 3), a monthly series pairing 30-minute art discussions with a delicious lunch in the Thronson Café; take part in Peace Week Delaware or Día de los Muertos with the Labyrinth Walks on Friday, Sept. 22, or Thursday, Nov. 2; listen to Concerts on Kentmere on Thursday, Sept. 28, with “ensemble in residence,” Pyxis Piano Quartet; or talk with New York Times best-selling author Robert Wittman at his lecture and book signing on Thursday, Sept. 7, for The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich. 2301 Kentmere Pkwy., Wilmington • 571.9590 • delart.org; Facebook: @DelawareArtMuseum; Twitter/Instagram: @DelArtMuseum
The Delaware Contemporary The Contemporary keeps our eyes, hearts and minds busy with its group exhibition that began last month and runs through Oct. 25—Spiral, Recoil: Honoring a legacy of Black Art —which asks the imperative question: In 50 years of “progress,” how far have we really come? Additional exhibits now through the fall: Artist Monique Rollins’ Eastern Poesia: A cultural exchange expressed through emotional abstraction through Nov. 19 in the Carole Bieber and Marc Hamm Gallery, and Ola Rondiak’s Behind the Lines: An Iconographic Journey of a Ukrainian Family’s Experience through Historical events, through Oct. 15 in the Beckler Family Members’ Gallery. Running Sept. 5-Dec. 3 in the Avery E. Draper Gallery is Adam Ledford’s Don’t Worry About the Government: Investigating the ideologies of mid-century modernism by leading the viewer through three-dimensional space. Be sure to stop by “the place to be” on Art Loop Fridays for exhibitions openings, open artist studios, food trucks and more. The music ensemble Mélomanie also launches its Wilmington Concert Series at the Contemporary on Saturday, Oct. 29. 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington • 656.6466 • decontemporary.org; Facebook & Instagram: @DEContemporary
Delaware Shakespeare Once more upon a midnight dreary, Delaware Shakespeare opens many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore during its autumnal celebration of the macabre with Shakespeare, Poe and Fiends. New selections, new authors, new venues— including the courthouse in Historic New Castle and Old Town Hall in Wilmington—will usher guests into a world of literary spirits and specters for a night of readings from plays, prose and poetry. This year’s event runs one weekend only, Oct. 12-15.The fall Community Tour production of As You Like It stars DelShakes alum Danielle Leneé as Rosalind, directed by Madeline Sayet, with original music composed and performed by Joe Trainor. The tour will present 13 free performances over three weeks (Oct. 25-Nov. 9), for audiences that traditionally have limited access to the arts, in the Rick Van Story Resource Center, Greenwood Public Library, Delaware Psychiatric Center, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution and Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia. Where possible, productions are open to the public. The tour concludes with three ticketed performances at OperaDelaware Studios (Nov. 10-12). Performance venues: Varying in Delaware • 415.3373 • delshakes.org; Facebook & Instagram: @DelShakes
Delaware Symphony Orchestra The Orchestra’s season begins Friday, Sept. 15, at The Grand Opera House with a concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5; Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony No. 1; and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, with soloists Kim Reighley, flute, and Sarah Fuller, harp. Music Director David Amado will conduct and give a pre-concert talk one hour before each concert. The second classics concert is Thursday, Nov. 16, featuring Pictures from the Floating World by David Ludwig with guest bassoon soloist William Short; Debussy’s La Mer; and Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite. The first concerts in DSO’s Chamber Series are Tuesdays, Oct. 17 and Dec. 12, in the Gold Ballroom of the Hotel du Pont. 100 W. 10th St., Suite 1003, Wilmington • 656.7442, delawaresymphony.org • Facebook: @DelawareSymphony; Twitter: @DelawareSymph
Delaware Theatre Company
This fall, DTC continues its vision as the only theater in the state developing new shows for Broadway with the World Premiere musical adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes, based on the Ray Bradbury novel, with book by Brian Hill and music & lyrics by Neil Bartram (Sept. 13-Oct. 8). Picture 1938, a small town, a mysterious carnival and two young boys bent on escaping to find adventure and themselves. Dare to Be Black follows (Oct. 25-Nov. 12), written by Tommie J. Moore. Before Muhammad Ali, there was champion boxer Jack Johnson, whose quest for equality has never seemed more timely. Finally, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] reinvigorates the Bard’s works in a madcap romp (Nov. 29-Dec. 23). These men in tights weave their way through all Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies in one wild ride, leaving you breathless with laughter. 200 Water St., Wilmington • 594.1100 • DelawareTheatre.org; Facebook/Instagram: @DelawareTheatreCompany • Twitter/Snapchat: @DelawareTheatre
First State Ballet Theatre
Delaware’s premiere professional ballet company first sweeps you away with Giselle—a transcendent story of a village girl transformed into a tender spirit after dying of a broken heart. The performances, at The Grand Opera House, are Saturday, Oct. 21, and Sunday, Oct. 22. Next, the company’s hallmark Up Front series opens Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, in Studio 1 of the Grand, giving audiences an intimate look at the company’s classical and contemporary work. Then, ring in the holidays with Wilmington’s favorite tradition, the magical Nutcracker, for two dates at The Grand on Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23. 818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 658.7897 x3851 • firststateballet.com; Facebook/Instagram: @FirstStateBallet • Twitter: @FSBTheatre
Gable Music Ventures After the smashing success of this summer’s expanded two-day Ladybug Festival, Gable continues to be the conduit for live music in and around Wilmington. Gable is booking regular performances in a variety of genres at places like 40 Acres’ Halligan Bar, Concord Pike’s Stoney’s British Pub and, of course, the highly anticipated weekly curated open mic showcase, Wilmo Wednesdays, at Ernest & Scott Taproom on Market Street in downtown Wilmington. Check the website for complete, up-to-the-minute details. Performance venues: Varying in Wilmington; gablemusicventures.com; Facebook & Instagram: @GableMusicVentures; Twitter: @GableMusic
The Grand Opera House & The Playhouse on Rodney Square
The Grand’s newest season is sure to impress entertainment lovers of all kinds. America’s Got Talent’s Tape Face brings unconventional silent comedy on Saturday, Oct. 14, and a Capella showmen and Grand favorite Straight No Chaser will perform two shows Sunday, Oct. 29, in what will be a certain sellout. Broadway star Ana Gasteyer fills The Playhouse with saucy songs and comedy Thursday, Dec. 7 and comedian Sinbad returns with his sharp topical humor Friday, Dec. 15.The Playhouse on Rodney Square kicks off its Broadway in Wilmington season with The Wizard of Oz (Nov. 14-19), captivating the entire family with a trip down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond. All your favorite characters from the beloved TV classic come to life in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical in a limited engagement to kick off the holidays with two shows on Sunday, Nov. 26.
The Grand: 818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 652.5577; TheGrandWilmington.org • Facebook: @TheGrandWilmington; Twitter/Instagram: @TheGrandWilm The Playhouse: 1007 N. Market St., Wilmington • 888.0200 ThePlayhouseDE.org • Facebook: @ThePlayhouseDE
Market Street Music Wilmington’s most affordable and diverse music series presents full-length Festival Concerts featuring organist David Schelat on Saturday, Oct. 14; Pyxis Piano Quartet on Saturday, Oct. 28; and Mastersingers of Wilmington on Saturday, Nov. 4. Its much-beloved mid-day music fest, Thursday Noontime Concerts, begin Thursday, Oct. 5, with a varied roster that includes the Copeland String Quartet; regional favorite artists like pianist Daniel Carunchio and countertenor Gus Mercante; and a return appearance by the Lyra Russian Choir—the vocal ensemble of St. Petersburg. The noontime series culminates in the holiday tradition of the Cartoon Christmas Trio on Thursday, Dec. 7, and a holiday choral concert by Center City Chorale on Thursday, Dec. 14. Performance venue: First & Central Presbyterian Church, 1101 N. Market St., Wilmington • 654.5371 • marketstreetmusicde.org; Facebook: @MarketStreetMusicDE
Wilmington’s “provocative pairings” music ensemble celebrates its 25th anniversary season. A new partnership with the Delaware Historical Society presents two performances: the first on Saturday, Sept. 30, Up Close and Personal, features violinist Christof Richter, and the second on Sunday, Dec. 3, which includes holiday music. A post-concert partnership with La Fia Bistro also follows each of those performances. The ensemble’s Wilmington Concert Series at The Delaware Contemporary begins on Sunday, Oct. 29, with a premiere by composer Mark Hagerty and guest percussionist Chris Hanning. The remaining series dates—Sundays, Jan. 14, March 11 and April 8—see three additional premieres written for the ensemble as well as a collaboration with Delaware’s Poets Laureate, The Twin Poets. Performance venues: The Delaware Historical Society, 505 N. Market St., Wilmington & The Delaware Contemporary, 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington • 764.6338 • melomanie.org; Facebook: @MelomanieDE
The Music School of Delaware
The Music School boasts a busy fall of performances, both student and professional. Its Wilmington Branch professional concerts will feature the music of the Revolutionary War; the 10th anniversary of its “Music of Many Lands” program; and an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Additionally, faculty recitals at both Wilmington and Milford Branches will be presented throughout the season. The Wilmington Community Orchestra, under the baton of Tiffany Lu, will perform works from Barber to Beethoven. Alumni return to share their musical stories in concert. And, the school continues to host its Classical Cafe sessions (complimentary coffee and donuts included), where attendees engage in lively discussion with select faculty on a variety of music-related topics. The Music School also hosts and presents events in genres from classical to rock, including quarterly Open Mic Nights, a monthly Bluegrass Jam, jazz and rock performances. 4101 Washington St., Wilmington • 762.1132 • musicschoolofdelaware.org; Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @MusicSchoolofDE
OperaDelaware continues to tweak our perceptions of what opera is and what it can be in its distinctive programming and collaborations. The fall begins with Opera Uncorked! on Friday, Oct. 20, and Sunday, Oct. 22. Arias, Ambers and IPAs will flow at the group’s Riverfront Studio as operatic highlights are paired with your favorite beers provided by Swigg. Saturday, Nov 18, and Sunday, Nov. 19, features Werther—Jules Massenet’s opera based on Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther—in concert with piano, again at the Riverfront Studio. 4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington • 442.7807 • operade.org, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @OperaDelaware
The Queen Wilmington
The Queen is bringing national touring acts to Wilmington that have never performed in the area—Third Eye Blind, Regina Spektor, Cheap Trick, Andrew Dice Clay, Kevin Smith, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness and more. With genres ranging from reggae to rock and roll to hip hop, there’s something for every kind of music lover here. 500 N. Market St., Wilmington • 215.309.0150; thequeenwilmington.com; Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @QueenWilmington
Summer in the Parks
This annual city-wide program completed its final week of free arts activities, and by all accounts, it was another wonderful collaborative effort by the City of Wilmington, the Grand Opera House and the 176 individuals (including 50 students), representing 31 artists/organizations who participated. This year’s Summer in the Parks has served 2,700 participants. Approximately 80 percent of those participating were children. Nearly 1,000 observers enjoyed the arts throughout almost every neighborhood, providing a total arts reach of 3,667 people.In all, Summer in the Parks presented 52 daytime events and eight evening concerts, showcasing all types of music, dance and movement, arts and crafts, live theater and fun workshops. At the end of August, the Grand Opera House and the City of Wilmington Department of Parks & Recreation held an end-of-summer BIG BASH, featuring a performance with Illstyle & Peace on the mobile stage, to celebrate the program’s success. Performance Venues: Varying Parks in Wilmington • 658.7897; thegrandwilmington.org/parks • Facebook: @SummerinParks
University of Delaware Department of Music The Concert Season begins Friday, Sept. 15, with a return performance by the Calidore String Quartet. Additional season highlights include Sublime Strings, a group of five performances anchored by Quartet-in-Residence Serafin String Quartet, Blair String Quartet and Calidore String Quartet. UD Faculty perform at the Faculty Gala on Saturday, Sept. 23; in Faculty Jazz on Monday, Oct. 16, and in acclaimed Resident Ensembles and Faculty Artist Recitals throughout the semester. Students also perform throughout the semester in the award-winning UD Chorale, UD Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band and UD Opera Theatre. The popular Chamber Orchestra Cinema Series opens with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger (1927), a silent movie with live orchestral accompaniment on Friday, Oct. 20. Gore Recital Hall, Roselle Center for the Performing Arts, Newark • 831.2578 • music.udel.edu
University of Delaware Master Players Concert Series
Producing Artistic Director Xiang Gao invites you to experience “Unity in Variety,” celebrating music as our diverse planet’s universal language. Now in its 14th year, Master Players Concert Series brings the world’s top musicians and ensembles to Delaware in its role as UD’s cultural ambassador. The three concerts on campus begin with musicians of the Baltimore classical music scene performing solo and chamber works in The Stars of Baltimore: Season Opening Gala on Sunday, Oct. 1; The Shanghai String Quartet: 35 Years of Our American Experience on Saturday, Nov. 4; and Holiday Pops: Frank Sinatra’s Coming to Town on Saturday, Dec. 9. Mitchell Hall, Roselle Center for the Performing Arts, Newark • 831.2905 • masterplayers.udel.edu, Facebook & Twitter: @UDMPCS
Wilmington Drama League For its 85th season launch, the Drama League presents Godspell (Sept. 15-24), directed by Chris Turner with music directed by Caty Butler. Based on the Gospel according to Matthew, the show features a troupe of eccentric players who team up with Jesus to teach His lessons in a new age through parables, games and tomfoolery. More madcap comedy follows with the farce Moon Over Buffalo (Oct. 20-29), centering on two stage actors with one last shot at stardom—if they can keep their act and relationship together. The Tony Award-winning Peter and the Starcatcher arrives Nov. 10-19, telling the story of how a miserable orphan comes to be The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (AKA Peter Pan). The fall season closes with the classic tale A Christmas Carol (Dec.15-27), reimagined by Broadway heavy hitters Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens. 10 W. Lea Blvd., Wilmington • 764.1172 • wilmingtondramaleague.org; Facebook: @WilmingtonDramaLeague; Instagram: @WilmingtonDramaLeague
Rock Opera Kicks Off CTC’s 24th Season
City Theater Company, Delaware’s off-Broadway experience, drops the axe on its 24th season with Lizzie, a blistering rock opera based on the 19th century legend of Lizzie Borden (Sept. 8-16). Four women front a six-piece rock band to tell a tale of murder and mayhem, with music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt; lyrics by Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner; book and additional music by Maner, and additional lyrics by Hewitt. The musical is based on an original concept by Cheslik-DeMeyer and Maner.
Michael Gray, CTC’s producing artistic director, helms the piece, which he’s been looking forward to producing for some time. “I was intrigued by the story told by four women (though ‘men’ were always present) and how the music (rock, thrash, punk) was used to capture their rage—the years of abuse and neglect, and the loneliness and betrayal that led to the horrific murders. It’s compelling to see one woman, in a time when single women had little status, take control of her narrative. That’s the story we are excited to portray.”
Lizzie marks the CTC debut of Darby Elizabeth McLaughlin in the title role, alongside Jill Knapp of popular band Hot Breakfast!, Kyleen Shaw and Grace Tarves. The band features Caty Butler, Meghan Doyle, Jon Luther, Noelle Picara, Joey Lopes and Sheila Hershey.
CTC‘s Fearless Improv—the only comedy improv team in Wilmington—returned to Wilmington this summer with Third Thursday shows at Chelsea Tavern and continue through the year’s end with performances on Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and Dec 21. Additional shows are scheduled at Penn’s Place in Old New Castle on two Saturdays, Sept. 9 and Nov. 11. Fearless also offers Improv 101 and Improv 301—eight-week, two-hour workshops open to the public that teach basic scene work and advanced performance techniques. Both classes begin Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Delaware Historical Society in downtown Wilmington.
In December, CTC returns to The Black Box to present a stripped-down version of the Sondheim classic Sunday in the Park with George (Dec 1-16). Gray has plans to collaborate with local visual artists to produce a “live” piece of art during each production—in essence, delivering a new and exciting multi-genre experience every night.
Class Venue: Delaware Historical Society, 505 N. Market St., Wilmington; Performance Venue: Chelsea Tavern, 821 N. Market Street, Wilmington • 220.8285 • city-theater.org
The University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players (REP) is the only full-time, resident professional acting ensemble in Delaware and the tri-state region, and one of a few in the United States. Their fall season includes a diverse mix of powerful stories and raucous entertainment.
“The REP’s 2017-2018 season includes something for everyone,” says Sanford Robbins, producing artistic director. “From madcap comedies to suspenseful dramas…to the world premiere of a new play written for the REP by one of America’s most gifted young playwrights, this is going to be a dynamite season.”
It opens with a powerful, intimate look at Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Mountaintop by Katori Hall (Sept. 14-Oct. 8), directed by Walter Dallas. The story finds Dr. King retiring to his quiet room in the Lorraine Motel, exhausted after delivering his famous “Mountaintop” speech. But a chance meeting with an enthusiastic maid leads him to reflect on his achievements and all the work he has left to do.
Next is the comedy You Can’t Take It with You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart (Sept. 21-Oct. 8). When the eccentric, rule-defying Sycamore family is introduced to high-society parents of their daughter’s fiancé, it is anything but a quiet evening.
November brings the World Premiere of From the Author of… (Nov. 9-Dec. 3) written especially for the REP by emerging playwright Chisa Hutchinson. The story follows a famous New York author who, reeling from disastrous reviews of her new book on homelessness, tries to save face by taking in a street person to rehabilitate. It’s a wickedly blunt, funny and insightful look at loyalty, responsibility and “who owns whose story.”Directed by Jade King Carroll, this play contains adult themes and strong language.
Roselle Center for the Arts, Newark • 831.2204 • rep.udel.edu
One of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the past three-and-a-half decades, 10,000 Maniacs, will play the 2017 Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Special Events Tent. The concert will be presented by The Kennett Flash venue and will benefit the Non-Profit Performing Arts Center and Music Venue also located in Kennett Square.
The history of 10,000 Maniacs, founded by Robert Buck, Dennis Drew, Steven Gustafson, John Lombardo and Natalie Merchant in the fall of 1981, is a storied one. Together with artists like R.E.M., they defined college rock and formed the first wave of alternative rock bands and what became known as the alternative rock format on FM radio.
Because of the band’s danceable, socially-aware material, which was marketed and produced independently, they were considered one of the original indie bands before signing with Elektra Records and making their major label debut with The Wishing Chair in 1985 with producer Joe Boyd.
The group went on to release more material in the following decades, selling millions of albums and churning out hit singles like “Don’t Talk,” “Trouble Me,” “Candy Everybody Wants” and more.
In December of 2000, founding member Robert Buck died at the age of 42. The group took a three-year hiatus before returning with long-time friend and former guitar tech Jeff Erickson on lead guitar. Most recently, the band released it ninth studio album, Twice Told Tales, in 2015. The album is a collection of traditional folk songs from the British Isles compiled and arranged by founding member John Lombardo.
General admission tickets are $45, and a limited number of VIP seating tickets are available for $65. Seating for the concert begins at 7 p.m. and the performance will start at 8 p.m.