On Stage: Twiztid fans can enjoy special show Friday

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Twiztid

Fans of Twiztid will have to wait a while until the outrageous rap duo goes on tour and heads to their towns this year.

But, Twiztid fans in this area don’t have to wait.

This weekend, Twiztid will play two shows in the East – one of which is tonight (January 19) at the Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684,http://www.chameleonclub.net).

Formed in 1997, Twiztid is an 11-time Billboard chart-topping rap duo featuring Jamie Madrox and Monoxide Child (a.k.a. Jamie Spaniolo and Paul Methric). The two former members of the group House of Krazees departed that group and formed Twiztid in 1997.

Now, 21 years later, the Twiztid guys are still going strong with more than 20 albums in their catalogue.

Madrox and Monoxide Child could be content to settle into the cycle of releasing an album, touring extensively in support of the disc and then starting the cycle all over again with a new album.

But, that’s never going to happen. That’s the “straight” way and Spaniolo and Methric do things the “Twiztid” way.

“We’re just coming east for two shows this weekend,” said Madrox, during a phone interview early Friday morning as he headed to the airport in Detroit to catch an A.M. flight to Harrisburg.

“We’re playing tonight in Lancaster at the Chameleon and tomorrow night at ‘Freak Fest 9!’ in Providence, Rhode Island. Then, we hop on a plane back to Michigan.”

Usually, Twiztid hit the road with themed tours with unique names. Last year, the duo played in Reading on its “Eat Your Heart Out” U.S. tour.

A few months earlier, Twiztid played a gig at the Troc in Philly as part of its “Spooktacular Horror Show” tour. Another recent area visit was on the pair’s “Freektasteless Show” tour.

“We’ve got this Astronomicon going on from February 9-11 in Michigan,” said Madrox. “It’s the first time we’ve done something really different. We’re putting together this pop culture event and it’s been taking a lot of our time.

“I’ve been to more Comic-Cons and Star Trek conventions than I’ve been to concerts by other bands. We grew up with them. People really get into these events – especially the cosplay people.

“We have our own comic book and we’re flying in the whole creative team four Astronomicon, including the inker from Italy and the comic’s writer. We have a lot planned for the event. We’re even going to be marrying a couple.”

Twiztid has its own record label and management company called Majik Ninja Entertainment and last year released its 12th album “The Continuous Evilution Of Life’s ?’s.”

“We were recording the album all of 2016,” said Madrox. “But, we stopped everything when it was time to go on the road. After the tours, it was re-getting familiar with the songs and getting back in the zone. It helped taking a break from the songs and then going back to them. We’re absolutely happy with how the record came out.”

“The Continuous Evilution Of Life’s ?’s” might just be Twiztid’s best album ever.

“What I like about the new one – we didn’t have any boundaries,” said Madrox. “We did songs we like to do.

“It wasn’t about doing what was expected of anyone. We catered to ourselves and we had a great time in the studio. I feel this time around there is a nice blend of everything. There is something for everyone – even if they didn’t know they wanted it.

“It was taking shape for a year out. The writing was different. Usually, it was one of three ways – one, Monoxide and I would hear a beat and write it on the spot; two, we’d write separately; three, I’d write a song with no music and sing it to him. This time, we worked together more.”

“The Continuous Evilution Of Life’s?’s” features 12 all new tracks, primarily produced by longtime Twiztid producer Seven. However, the new album features four tracks with a clear hard rock influence — a crossover genre the duo has successfully dabbled in for over a decade. These tracks were produced by famed goth rock front man Davey Suicide and his keyboardist Needlz.

“There was a catalyst for us doing a few hard rock songs,” said Madrox. “Right around the time we made our ‘Freekshow’ album in 2000, was when rap rock started taking off.

“I like rock. Monoxide is more rap. Together, we’re like peanut butter and jelly. We were primarily introduced as a rap duo but we’ve become an entertainment duo. We’re doing shit that we want to do.”

The two long-time friends from the Motor City have also devoted a lot of time and energy to building Majik Ninja Entertainment.

“It’s been a really busy time – not only with the band thing but we’re also doing the record company thing,” said Madrox.

“We signed a shitload of new talent. We have some great young acts that are going to reshape the next 20 years of music. Most importantly, we make their dreams become reality.

“We have something new planned for the fall. And, we’ll be getting back in the studio soon and working on some new projects.”

Tonight’s show uncharacteristically is a show without a theme.

“It’s me and Monoxide – doing the do like only we can,” said Madrox. “It’s a pretty good mix – a nice hodge-podge of new stuff and old stuff – some classics and some contemporary tunes.”

Video link for Twiztid – https://youtu.be/4QtokETDSiQ.

The show at the Chameleon Club, which also features Rude Boi, T-Ravill, Mikey Bones, Shangri-La Soldierz, and ZOMBIESHARK, will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25.

John Gorka

Fans of John Gorka have been waiting a long time for an album of new original material.

Finally, the wait is over.

Gorka is starting the new year with a brand-new studio album and a support tour. The tour brings him to the area tonight (January 19) for a show at the

Titled “True In Time,” the album is being officially released today (January 19). This will be first Red House label album released through the Compass Records Group in Nashville (which acquired the venerable folk/Americana label in November 2017).

Produced by Rob Genadek at Uptown Sound in Minneapolis, it features a band of some of the Twin Cities best musicians in live sessions, with vocal cameos contributed by fellow folk luminaries Jonatha Brooke, Eliza Gilkyson, and Lucy Kaplansky.

“The record comes out tomorrow and the World Café Live show will celebrate its release,” said Gorka, During a phone interview Thursday night.

“I stayed away from playing the new songs live in recent shows because I wanted them to be fresh. So, I’m excited and scared at the same time.”

“True In Time” is an engaging, personal album that shows the full range of Gorka’s artistry, exhibiting his spirited acoustic guitar playing, insightful lyrics and wry, witty storytelling. The tracks capture the sound of career musicians (and friends) who understand where Gorka’s music comes from and instinctively knew what to contribute.

“The recording went really quickly – three days at the end of July and beginning of August,” said Gorka, who grew up in Woodbridge, New Jersey and has lived in Minnesota for 22 years.

“We recorded it at Uptown Sound the old-fashioned way with everyone playing and singing at the same time. Rob and I tried to gather the best musicians available in the Minnesota area. I was really happy with how it turned out. They left me a lot of room.”

Gorka’s last release was “Before Beginning” — an album that is actually a very old album.

Gorka, who got his start musically at venues in the Lehigh Valley, released his first album “I Know” in 1987 on Red House Records. His next five LPs were on Windham Hill/High Street Records.  He returned to Red House in 1998 and put out six more albums. Prior to “Before Beginning,” the most recently-made is “Bright Side Down,” which came out two years ago.

“I recorded an album in five days in Nashville in November 1998 and then ended up not putting it out,” said Gorka, during a phone interview last week from his home in Minnesota.

“It was my first record and it wasn’t what I wanted at the time. I wasn’t sure who I was back then. It was a lot different than ‘I Know.’ I recorded it on a 24-track with producer Jim Rooney.”

The album never saw the light of day for almost two decades.

“When I went back and listened to them, I realized they were pretty good,” said Gorka.

Now, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

“My last album of new material was in March of 2014,” said Gorka. “For the new one, I knew I wanted to work on songs until the end of June and then see what I had and how to present them. I think we had 14-15 songs going in, recorded 13 and ended up with 12.”

According to Gorka, “A lot of the songs on this record remind me of Utah Phillips’ line ‘The past didn’t go anywhere’ and Faulkner’s ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

“I wrote the title song with Pete Kennedy (The Kennedys). When Carrie Fisher and her mom, Debbie Reynolds, died within a day of each other I quoted lines from Paul Simon’s ‘Mother and Child Reunion’ on Facebook — ‘Oh I would not give you false hope on this strange and mournful day. But a mother and child reunion is only a motion away.’

“Pete responded, ‘Maybe all songs come true in time.’  Later he wrote, ‘True in time sounds like a song,’ and we proceeded to write the song long distance via the internet. We collaborated on the title and the lyrics and I came up with the tune. I think that ‘What is true?’ is a question a lot of us are asking today.”

As Gorka’s list of newly-written songs grew, a vibe for the album began to emerge.

“I kept thinking about how we keep accumulating things. A lot don’t leave the past behind. A lot of it stays with us until it becomes debilitating. But, it wasn’t really a conscious thing when I was writing these songs.

“For my live shows right now, it’s just me and my guitar. I’m going to play as many of the new songs as I can – along with some old favorites.”

Video link for John Gorka – https://youtu.be/WVgysmtC1cc.

The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28.

Harper

At the same time Gorka is performing on the Downstairs Stage at the World Café Live, Harper and the Midwest Kind will be headlining a show on the Upstairs Stage.

It might be your only opportunity to see someone jam out on a didgeridoo.

An artist that is an amalgamation of blues, soul and world music, Australian singer-songwriter Peter D. Harper, now based in Detroit, creates a heady mix of roots music through his creative use of the harmonica, and the haunting drone of the didgeridoo. Harper possesses a powerful. soulful voice and a deep, almost mystical approach to music that some might say has evolved into its own genre.

Harper calls it “World Blues” — a rich musical stew of ‘50s rhythm and blues, a ‘60s message of love and unity, and ‘70s funky soul, stirred up with masterful, virtuoso harmonica and the deep, woody, percussive tones of the didgeridoo, served up in a feast of timeless mystery.

Harper was born in Guildford, Surrey, England, but relocated with his parents to Perth, Western Australia at a young age. Harper was self-taught on the harmonica and played in clubs before securing his first recording contract.

“I left England when I was 11 and moved to Perth,” said Harper, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Grass Lake, Michigan. “That was definitely a culture shock. Perth is pretty isolated – a very small city.

“I started playing in bands when I was 15. I was playing in bars even though the drinking age was 18. Actually, in Australia, the drinking age is birth. My first band was a quirky band playing music like Lindesfarne or Led Zep’s ‘Gallows Pole.’ I moved into blues a bit later.

“Then I stopped playing for a while. I had gotten disillusioned with the music scene. After taking some time off, I got back into it and formed another band. I went back to my old school of songwriting.”

Now, the English-born Aussie is a long-time Michigan resident – a Midwest musician.

“I used Harper and the Midwest Kind instead of just Harper because of internet searches,” said Harper. “There are a lot of Harpers in the music world like Ben Harper and Roy Harper.

“About 15 years ago, I started playing digeridoo. I was serious about it. It took a while for me to learn the instrument. I didn’t want it to be just a gimmick.

“People look at me as a blues musician, but I play all kinds of music. I play blues and rock – and I love bluegrass. My band here is Michigan is all wonderful players. They’re really good at their craft. I even took them to Australia and China instead of just hiring bands there for tours.

“We play together really well. We try to keep it minimalistic because we want it to be more real.”

Video link for Harper and the Midwest Kind – https://youtu.be/-_vgEKpS6vU.

The show at the World Café Live, which has Gooch and The Motion as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Tinsley Ellis

Tinsley Ellis’ fans eagerly look forward to anytime they have the opportunity to hear him out on tour – but that doesn’t happen too often.

This weekend, area fans have to feel like they’re in Nirvana because Ellis has two local shows – January 19 at the Arden Gild Hall (The Highway, Arden, Delaware, 302-475-3126, ardenconcerts.com) and January 20 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).

Ellis is touring in support of his new album “Winning Hand” on Alligator Records.

“The new album came out at midnight – 10 hours ago,” said Ellis, during a phone interview on January 12 from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. “It’s a very exciting time.

“The tour starts tonight at the Variety Playhouse here in Atlanta. I haven’t done a tour like this in 20 years. Usually, I go out for three or four weeks at a time. But, this way is the best way to go to get an album out there. We have 65-70 shows in three months.

“It’s great to be playing shows. Live, the songs start as the studio version and then we add to them and modify them. We’ll be playing a lot of songs from the live album that we recorded in Chicago in 2005 and a bunch of songs off the brand-new record. And, we’ll play some standards – songs by B.B. King, Freddie King, Elmore James, Junior Wells and Howlin’ Wolf.”

Born in Atlanta in 1957, Ellis was raised in southern Florida. He found the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, The Rolling Stones and Southern rockers like The Allman Brothers. As he discovered the roots of these bands, he attended shows by B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and every other blues artist who came through town.
Already an accomplished teenaged musician, Ellis returned to Atlanta and started playing with local bands. In 1981, along with veteran blues singer and harpist Chicago Bob Nelson, Tinsley formed The Heartfixers, a group that would become Atlanta’s top-drawing blues band. After cutting three Heartfixers albums for the Landslide label, Ellis was ready to head out on his own.

Now, Ellis has 20 albums in his discography – ranging from “The Heartfixers” in 1982 to “Winning Hand” in 2018.

Recorded in Nashville and produced by Ellis and keyboardist Kevin McKendree, the 10 songs on “Winning Hand” include nine originals ranging from blistering blues to heart-pounding rock to soulful ballads.

“Guitar, guitar, guitar is what this album is all about,” said Ellis, who recorded primarily with his 1959 Fender Stratocaster, his 1967 Gibson ES 345 and his 1973 Les Paul Deluxe.

“I recorded the album in Nashville and at my home studio. I started it nine months ago – building up songs and putting them in a file on my laptop. Some songs were written 10 years ago and some are very new. Now, I’ll be playing four or five of them in my live show.”

Video link for Tinsley Ellis – https://youtu.be/4cS0sSyEHrM.

The show at the Arden Gild Hall on January 19 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

The show at the Sellersville Theater on January 20, which has Albert Castiglia as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50 and $29.50.

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