On Stage: Peter Cetera celebrates both Chicago and solo career

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Peter Cetera

Casual music fans may not recognize the name Peter Cetera but it’s almost guaranteed that they’ve heard his music.

Cetera, who will headline a show on July 26 at the Xcite Center at Parx Casino (2999 Street Road, Bensalem, 888-588-7279, https://parxcasino.com

Cetera, a Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, has had two distinct musical careers. From 1967-1985, he was the singer, songwriter, and bass player for the legendary rock group Chicago. He was a member of Chicago for 18 albums – albums that included such hits as “If You Leave Me Now,” “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “Baby What a Big Surprise,” “You’re the Inspiration,” “Stay the Night,” “Love Me Tomorrow,” “Happy Man,” “Feeling Stronger Every Day” and “Along Comes a Woman.”

A solo artist since 1986, Cetera has recorded nine albums that featured several Number 1 hits – “The Glory of Love” from the hit movie “The Karate Kid II,” “The Next Time I Fall” with Amy Grant, “Feels Like Heaven” with Chaka Kahn, “After All” with Cher from the motion picture “Chances Are,” “No Explanation” from the film “Pretty Woman” and “Restless Heart.”

Cetera’s most recent album of new material – not including his Christmas album in 2004 – was “Another Perfect World,” which was released in 2001. Obviously, Cetera’s back catalogue is enough to sustain his popularity and generate sold-out shows.

“I haven’t done an album in years,” said Cetera during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

“I moved here to Idaho years ago when Chicago and I parted ways. I didn’t want to raise my young daughter in Southern California.

“The reason I haven’t made an album in years is that there is no record company, per se, and I’m just not into that internet stuff.

“I need to have a purpose to write. I have three songs written. I just write what I feel. Subject material is tough. Being an older artist, you start losing your edge. I gave up writing for a while because I didn’t think there was an audience.”

As long as Cetera sings his gems from the past, there will always be an audience for his live shows.

“I have a seven-piece electric group,” said Cetera. “They’ve been with me 12-15 years. I’m lucky that a lot of the songs I have are ageless.”

Cetera also has the advantage of being able to sing in a vocal range that fits him.

“Back in the day, everything you had to do was high voices,” said Cetera. “I was never comfortable back then. By ‘Chicago XVI’ and ‘Chicago XVII’ is when I started hitting my vocal stride. I feel good with my singing now. I’m having a great time.”

Cetera emphasized that his show is not a “Chicago’s Greatest Hits” show.

“This isn’t a Chicago tribute,” said Cetera. “It’s a Peter Cetera tribute. I do perform the songs I wrote with Chicago.”

Cetera also discussed the evolution of the band’s name and why most of the band’s albums are title with the band’s name and a roman numeral indicating which release it is.

“When Chicago first started, the band was called Chicago Transit Authority,” said Cetera. “At the time, Chicago had Mayor (Richard) Daley who was a very powerful politician. He didn’t want us associated with the city’s transit authority, so we had to change the name.

“It was Columbia Records’ idea to have the ‘Chicago’ logo and use roman numerals for the album titles and record covers. They wanted to keep us faceless. Maybe they thought that if somebody left, they could carry on without it being noticed much.

“It was silly of Columbia because when a lead singer goes, that’s the sound of the group. For example, a band can be called Journey, but if Steve Perry isn’t the singer, it’s not Journey.

“When I’m singing the old songs, I try to stay as close to the original as I can. We do try to modernize the sound and it’s been working. The fans love it. We evidently play all the right songs. We have great guys in the band and we cover it all.”

Video link for Peter Cetera – https://youtu.be/bQOBeCArfk0.

The show at the Parx Casino will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45, $55, $65, $75 and $85.

The Dales

The Dales, who are headlining a show on July 26 at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com), became a band in a usual and an unusual way.

Based in Los Angeles, the Dales are a five-piece Americana roots-rock band featuring Drew Lawrence, Kyle Vanes, Preston Pope, Blake Paulson, and Carrie Turner.

“I grew up in Seattle and went to school in Boston,” said Lawrence, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon as the band travelled through Delaware on its way to a show in New York City.

“Three of us in the band met at Berklee (Boston’s Berklee College of Music). Then, we all ended up in L.A. I was thinking about Nashville at first but, after one of the harshest winters in Boston, I decided to move to Southern California.”

Going to Berklee – moving to L.A. – these are “usual” paths for bands in their early stages.

“I had been writing in the pop world,” said Lawrence, who worked with Jar of Hearts and Christina Perri. “My good friend Kyle (Vanes) lost his girlfriend (Heather Marie Allman) to breast cancer. He asked us to perform a tribute.”

The Dales’ song “Still the Love” was written as a dedication to Allman.

“Kyle had never been a musician but, after she dies, he learned how to play bass. One year later, he asked Preston and me to play a one-year anniversary tribute show to his deceased girlfriend, So, there was Kyle, Preston and me. We came back to L.A. and added Carrie and Blake.”

That’s the “unusual” part of the band’s formation.

“I went to high school with Brandi Carlile,” said Lawrence. “I loved her music – especially the three-part harmonies. I wanted to make a record that sounded like that.”

A video of their song, “Still the Love,” caught the attention of Grammy-nominated producer Jerry Streeter (The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile). This led to Streeter producing the band’s debut album, “Marie,” which was released in August 2017.

“The next thing we knew, we were up in Washington at Bear Creek Studio in the winter of 2016,” said Lawrence. “We lived there on the property and made the record in two weeks.

“I do most of the songwriting. Kyle also took up writing poetry while he was recovering. ‘Still the Love’ was his poem.”

According to Vanes, “It’s a life-inspired message about eternal love that was delivered in the throes of grief. It’s a reminder that through tragedy, hardship and loss…the love still remains.”

“The album had an indie release last fall but wasn’t officially released until last month,” said Lawrence. “ It was released on June 8 on Big Picnic Records. We’re seeing a lot more uptick on our social media and we’re going out on a lot of tour dates.

“We have a second album almost in the can and we’ll probably start releasing some singles soon. It’s more of what we do. Three-part harmony is one of our pillars – one of the biggest parts of our songs.

“We’re playing some of our new songs in our shows on this tour – and a lot of songs from ‘Marie.’ This will be our first time to play Philadelphia so we’re really excited. We’re definitely looking forward to this show.”

Video link for the Dales – https://youtu.be/UKoD5OIouLE.

The show at MilkBoy Philadelphia, which has the Karmic Repair Company as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13.

Other upcoming shows at MilkBoy Philly are Long Miles and Stella Ruze on July 27, Dylan & the Dead Experience on July 28 and The L.A. Hustle on August 1.

Nicki Bluhm

Another interesting show in Philly on July 26 will be Nicki Bluhm’s concert at The Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150,www.thefillmorephilly.com).

After nearly a decade spent with the Gramblers, and recent high-profile collaborations (Phil Lesh, Infamous StringDusters, Ryan Adams), and a split from her husband and musical mentor, vocalist and songwriter, Bluhm is stepping out on her own with her new album, “To Rise You Gotta Fall.”

The songs were written over a two-year period in Bluhm’s life and chronicle her fundamental life changes – changes which resulted in the West Coast native relocating to Nashville.

According to Bluhm, “These songs are the conversations I never got to have, the words I never had the chance to say, and the catharsis I wouldn’t have survived without.”

Recorded in Memphis at legendary Sam Phillips Recording, Bluhm brought in producer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell), for these live band, analog sessions. The studio band includes Will Sexton (guitar), Ross-Spang (guitars), Ken Coomer (drums and percussion), Al Gamble (Hammond B3), Rick Steff (piano), Dave Smith (bass), with Sam Shoup (string arrangements) and various special guests.

“To Rise You Gotta Fall” tells the story of a woman searching for light among darkness and reveals her emergence as a powerful songwriter and vocalist of great depth and immediacy.

Video link for Nikki Bluhm — https://youtu.be/iAHUxREIHJM.

The show at The Foundry, which has Peter Oren as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Round Eye Shangai

If a band were put together in China featuring a bunch of western ex-pats – a guitarist from Edinburgh, Scotland; a bass player from Lima, Peru; a sax player from San Francisco; a drummer from New York City; and a guitarist/vocalist – what kind of music would you expect from the group?

If your answer was “experimental freak punk,” you’re 100 per cent right.

If you had a music outfit featuring four Occidentals in an Oriental country, what do you think a good name would be?

The band’s answer is Round Eye Shangai.

On July 27, Round Eye Shanghai — Chachy: guitar / vocals; Livio: bass / vocals; Gil: guitar; Jimmy Jack: Drums; Mac: Tenor Sax – will visit the area for a show at TheFire (412 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, 267-671-9298, thefirephilly.com).

Round Eye Shanghai won the “Best Local Band” title from Shanghai’s City Weekend magazine two years in a row. The band has released two music videos – one of which starred famed Chinese actress Wang Lin.

Known for its unconventional blend of punk rock and 1950s R&B, the band first released a critically-acclaimed EP “Full Circle” on Ripping/Genjing Records and followed with its debut album “Round Eye.” The group’s new album is “Monster Vision.”

“We all are in Shanghai working as teachers,” said Chachy, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from a tour stop in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“We all had mutual friends in Shanghai. I formed Round Eye Shanghai after my previous band Libyan Hit Squad broke up. With Round Eye Shanghai, we put out the EP on a local label. The new album is on Sudden Death Records, which is a label owned and run by D.O.A.’s Joey Keithley.

“We recorded the new album in Shanghai mostly with some recording done in Beijing. We had analog gear that were we using in Shanghai and then a few tracks were done digitally in Beijing.”

Round Eye Shanghai will be introducing the songs from “Monster Vision” on this stateside tour.

“The set list is mostly the new album,” said Chachy. “The songs are constantly developing when we play them live. And, we rarely have breaks between songs.”

Summertime is tour time for Round Eye Shanghai,

“For us, touring in the summer works out,” said Chachy. “We’re all teachers and our companies pay us to come home during the summer break. I’m a music teacher at Shanghai Experimental School. The other guys teach subjects like architecture and American history.

“Our music style is hard to describe. We all contribute. Our bass player is Afrobeat. Our drummer is Southern rock. Our sax player is a fusion player. I came from a jazz influence – that and Captain Beefheart.”

On the band’s Facebook page, it lists its genre as – “Compost Punk/Rock and Roll/Sax shit/doowop.” No matter what Round Eye Shanghai’s music is called, it has been going over big with American fans for almost a decade. At the same time, it appeals to a strong fanbase in China – even though the band is “Laowai.”

“Laowai” is the Mandarin pronunciation of 老外 (“constantly foreign”) — an informal term or slang for “foreigner.”

Video link for Round Eye Shanghai – https://youtu.be/OHL-6vuW0Hg.

The show at The Fire, which also features the PLIBmen and MOTO, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at The Fire are ¡Tortuga! Pastel and FLEMT on July 28 and Philly DJ Showcase on July 29.

This Way to the Egress

If you’re looking for a way to adequately describe the music of This Way to the Egress – good luck.

Anyone who has heard the band from Bethlehem knows two things about This Way to the Egress — the band is good, and its music is almost impossible to describe easily.

This Way to the Egress — Taylor Galassi (lead vocals, accordion, piano); Sarah Shown (vocals, piano, violin); John Wentz (tuba, backup vocals); Joe Lynch (trombone, backup vocals); Jaclyn Kidd (guitar, banjo); Nick Pecca (drums/percussion) – will be making an area appearance on July 27 at Bar XIII (1706 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-746-2213, http://barxiii.com).

In one press release, the music created by the sextet from Bethlehem (PA) is described as an “an explosion of sound and sight that’s equal parts unruly vaudeville, ebullient world-beat and three-ring circus….an amalgamation of worldly genres that catapults their audience through time and space with unexpected shifts of styles, tempos and time signatures.”

This is not so surprising if you consider the source of the Lehigh Valley band’s name – P.T. Barnum.

Barnum’s American Museum was so popular that people would spend the entire day there. This cut into profits, as the museum would be too full to squeeze another person in. In classic Barnum style, old P.T. put up signs that said, “This Way to the Egress.”

Many customers followed the signs, not realizing that “Egress” was a fancy word for “Exit.” They kept on looking for this strange new attraction, the “Egress.” Many patrons followed the signs right out the door. Once they had exited the building, the door would lock behind them, and if they wanted to get back in, they had to pay another admission charge.

This Way to the Egress won’t pull any fast ones on their fans but the band does provide an atmosphere that captures the variety, excitement and adrenalin rush of a circus performance. Confetti snowstorms, tuba farts, Balinese chanting, fire-wielding evangelists and puppets sweep across the stage and create an anything-goes atmosphere. There is no escape.

Back in September, the band played at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia. The show was a “CD Release Party” for the band’s new album “Onward! Up A Frightening Creek.” The album is lively and danceable and stays true to the band’s identity – an identity best described as bizarre.

Hailing from a wide variety of musical backgrounds with a diverse array of influences, This Way to the Egress crafts intricately-arranged songs that get people out of their seats.

“Just like our previous albums, our latest album has certain vibes – circus, avant-garde, swing, gypsy,” said Galassi, during a phone interview from the Lehigh Valley. “This album had a full band collaboration.”

The full-tilt band collaboration can really be found on the group’s ongoing project that will soon result in a new album titled “Songs from Tin Can Alley.”

“It’s a concept album that we recorded ourselves,” said Shorn. “It started with songwriting workshops. We do an exercise every few months. We get together one weekend and write three songs from scratch, record them and mix them. All the songs were written by the entire band. We’ve released different volumes – each with two or three songs.

“‘Volume One’ was recorded in 2015 and we’ve released one a year since then. We just finished ‘Volume Four.’ We released each of them digitally. ‘Volume Four’ won’t be released until it comes out on the album – but it has been available to our fans…our patrons…through Patreon.

“The album will be out this fall. Some of the songs from the album have made it to stage. ‘Going Home Again’ was on ‘Volume Three’. We re-did it for our last studio album and we play that version live.”

This Way to the Egress released its debut album “This Delicious Cabaret” in 2011 and followed with an album every other year – “Mighty Seed” in 2013, “Great Balancing Act” in 2015 and “Onward! Up A Frightening Creek” in 2017.

“‘Onward! Up A Frightening Creek’ is self-released,” said Galassi. “We did a Kickstarter campaign to make it. Our goal was $9,500 and we raised $14,000.

“We cut it at Vibromonk Studios in Brooklyn back in the spring. We finished it in April. We did a lot of road-testing of the new songs on the tour right before we went in the studio. When we write an album, we go through songs and keep playing them. Then, we get in the studio and play them again without vocals.

“The recording went really smooth. This is one of the shortest times we’ve taken to record an album. In the past, it took us a year to do an album. This time, we did everything in six weeks to keep on our two-year schedule.”

When asked about the nature of the band’s sound, Shown said, “How do we describe our music? We’ve been at odds with that since the beginning.

“It has a worldly influence along with punk, Eastern European, reggae and gypsy – sort of avant-garde meets punk.

“We all live in Bethlehem except our tuba player John Wentz who lives in Brooklyn. I’m grew up in the Poconos. Taylor originally played accordion and cello in John’s band. Taylor saw me play in a pub in the Poconos and told me that we should play together.

“That was back in 2008 and we were doing stuff in a similar vein. We put the band together and Joe and Jaclyn started playing with us sporadically at the beginning. They were on the first album even though they weren’t in the band full-time. Originally, it was just a three-piece

Video link for This Way to the Egress – https://youtu.be/5TIRkZXXwb0.

The show at Bar XIII, which has Radiator king as the opener, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8.

Other upcoming shows at Bar XIII are Corrosion on July 26, and “Dark Angels Cabaret presents: Blazing Space Balls In Tights, A Tribute to Mel Brooks” on July 29.

Steve Forbert

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present “New Summer Sounds of The Kennett Flash – Week #3 with Mom Fears My Music, Jackets in July, Just a Bit Outside, and Mattock School of Music on July 26,

Steve Forbert and Jesse Bardwell on July 27, “Miles Ahead – Films & Words at The Flash” with Mike Billingsley on July 29, and “The 2nd Annual Ben Arnold Summer Residency – Week 4” with the Dennis Melton Duo on July 31.

Apache Trails

The Kennett Flash & Anson B. Nixon Park will present Apache Trails on August 1 at Anson B. Nixon Park. Showtime for the all-agfes concer is 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Chelsea Berry with Katherine Rondeau on July 28.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host a singer/songwriter night on July 28 featuring Alex O’Brien, Florida Wayne Band, Mike Labella, and Brick Nova.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host “Big Mind + Bazmati Vice” on July 26, “Echoes recreating Pink Floyd at The Spectrum 6/29/77” along with Coatesville musician Brian Fitzy on July 27, and Andy Timmons on July 29.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents “Hippiefest 2018” featuring Vanilla Fudge, Rick Derringer, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, and Badfinger featuring Joey Molland on July 28.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have The Outlaws on July 26, The World-Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra on July 27, Crack the Sky on July 28, Blackfoot on July 29 and Thomas Dolby on August 1.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present

“We Kids Rock” on July 26 with shows at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331, www.thequeenwilmington.com) will host Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers on July 26, “The People’s Festival” featuring The Hip Abduction, Etana, and The Iconic Meditation Band on July 28, Black Label Society with Corrosion of Conformity on July 30 and Jake Shimabukuro on August 1.

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?”

The theater’s current production is running now through August 26. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $63 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

Volta

Now through August 19, Cirque du Soleil is performing its new show “Volta” under the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) which has been erected on the grounds adjacent to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks

“Volta,” the show in Oaks Center (100 Station Avenue, Oaks, www.cirquedusoleil.com) will be Cirque du Soleil’s first Big Top production in five years.

It is Cirque du Soleil’s 41st production since 1984, and its 18th show presented under the Grand Chapiteau. Its creative team features 16 creators under the artistic guidance of Jean Guibert (Director of Creation) and Bastien Alexandre (Writer and Director). The production had its debut in April 2017 in Montreal, Quebec.

“Volta” is a captivating voyage of discovery about finding yourself, unveiling your personal powers and fulfilling your true potential. It’s about the ultimate freedom that comes with self-acceptance and the liberation from the judgement of others.

Video link for “Volta” – https://youtu.be/CE_IxUaojt4.

Performances of Cirque du Soleil’s “Volta” will be presented until August 19 under the Grand Chapiteau in Oaks. Ticket prices range from $49-$155.

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