On Stage: Joshua Radin sings from the heart

Also: Beat the election blues with some bluegrass

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer

Joshua Radin

Joshua Radin

Joshua Radin, a singer-songwriter who writes songs that are heartfelt, sincere and emotionally touching, released his most recent album early in 2015 and toured the world in support of the disc. Then, he embarked on his first-ever solo acoustic tour last fall – a tour that brought him to the Sellersville Theater on Halloween night.

Now, Radin has a new tour and a new album. The tour is now and the album is a few months away from its official release date. Radin’s tour will visit the area for a show November 3 at the TLA (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-922-1011, http://www.livenation.com/venues/14272/theatre-of-living-arts).

“This time, I’m touring with a three-piece band, “said Radin, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Burlington, Vermont. “My new album is titled ‘The fall’ and it will be released on January 27. It’s available for pre-order now.”

Fans who are anxious to hear Radin’s new music have a few options. His song “High and Low” from the new record can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbTxOhA0Qa4.

“I’ll be playing a few songs now from ‘The Fall’ in my shows on this tour,” said Radin. “As the tour goes on, I’ll incorporate one or two more.

Many listeners are probably familiar with Radin’s music — even if they are not aware of it.

Radin’s songs have been used on television series such as “Scrubs,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “American Idol,” “Cougar Town,” “One Tree Hill” and “House M.D.” Radin has been involved with Little Kids Rock (http://www.littlekidsrock.org), a national nonprofit that provides music education to schools without music programs.

“I play songs people come to hear – going back to my first two albums ‘We Were Here’ and ‘Simple Times’,” said Radin. “A lot of people found out about me with those albums because here were songs that had a lot of TV exposure.

“I’m lucky eno8ugh to have a core fan base that sticks with me. Fans tell me I have songs that they fell in love to and songs that they got married to. My live show is a smattering from every album – kind of like ‘greatest hits’ even though I don’t have any greatest hits.

“I put all my creative focus into writing and performing good songs. This is my seventh album but I don’t think my songwriting has changed that much with regard to sound. I do hope that my lyrics haver improved. I’m still trying to develop more as a stortyteller. But, I still write what I’m familiar with.

“I’m pretty proud of this album. It’s the first time I self-produced an album. I recorded it over five days. I knew what I wanted to do and I held the reins. I cut the album at Sunset Sound Studio in L.A. – three days recording and then a couple days doing overdubs.

“The songs are pretty much about a relationship I had with this one lady – the fall of innocence. It’s really just journal entries. Writing it was very cathartic – and it’s cathartic to play the songs live. It’s my therapy.”

Video link for Joshua Radin – https://youtu.be/IezSDHC0v9o?t=2.

The show on November 3 at the TLA, which has Good Old War, Tim Williams as opening acts, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets for show are $33.

Doyle Bramhall II

Doyle Bramhall II

Just over a month ago, Concord Records released singer-songwriter-guitarist Doyle Bramhall II’s latest album “Rich Man” and now Bramhall is on the road touring in support of his new disc. The tour will bring him to the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) on November 4.

Bramhall released his first solo album “Bird Nest on the Ground” in 1994 and only a few more since then. But, the versatile veteran has made his name by playing on well over 100 albums by many of the world’s top artists, including Elton John, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Willie Nelson, Roger Waters, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, B.B. King, T-Bone Burnett, Buddy Guy, Sheryl Crow, Gary Clark Jr., Gregg Allman, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Billy Preston, Erykah Badu, Questlove and Meshell Ndegeocello.

“I started making ‘Rich Man’ about a year-and-a-half ago,” said Bramhall, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Annapolis, Maryland. “I produced the album and it was co-produced by Woody Jackson, Andy Taub, Adam Minkoff and Michael Harris

“I used a few different studios. I started at Vox Recording Studio in L.A. with producer Woody Jackson as co-producer. That’s the oldest private studio in the world. Then, I moved to Brooklyn and worked with Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording Studios. He was aguy I had heard about from Woody and Michael. Then, Cian Riordan mixed the album.

“I had stockpiled a lot of songs over the years when I was working with other artists like Eric Clapton and Derek Trucks. But, I didn’t use thgose songs. When I started this record, I wanted to start right at that moment because it is where I am in real time. I had a few ideas – verses and choruses – but nothing finished. I knew I was going to be able to use a lot of great musicians who would do justice to any kind of music I wanted to do. Within a couple weeks I had about nine songs recorded. About two-thirds of the way through, I started working on the lyrics. Lyrics are really important – more now than ever before in my life. Lyrics make songs last.

“Myself, I’m more of a music person listening to sound and message. Women always seem to listen to lyrics first. In order to have longevity to your music, it helps to have a message or tell a story.”

According to Bramhall, his desired sound is “not one thing stylistically, but an amalgam of lot of influences that come out of my life experiences and travels—and what I’m affected and inspired by.”

“Rich Man” is an engaging album that touches on a lot of topics and features a variety of different musical styles. One track even has a vibe of North Indian classical music – complete with instrumentals by Ustad Surjeet Singh, an Indian musician playing the sarangi (a violin-like instrument from India).

“The variety of music on the album just comes from the way I live my life,” said Bramhall. “I travel so much and I’ve played in so many different countries. I love all styles of music. For example, I really like Sufi music. I’ve spent a lot of time immersing myself in music from all over the world.

“I’m touring with a four-piece band. I’m playing all the songs except two from the new album. It’s challenging to play some of them live with a four-piece because some of the recordings have 60 tracks on them.

“But, we do a good job. I have a great band – Ted Pecchio on bass, Anthony Cole on drums and tenor sax, Adam Minkhoff on keys, guitar, strings and horns. I play guitar and sing lead but all the guys in the band are lead singers too.”

Video link for Doyle Bramhall II – https://youtu.be/WBzmXN8XBxw?t=4.

The show in Ardmore, which also features the Eric Krasno Band, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23.

Other upcoming shows at the Ardmore Music Hall are The Motet and Swift Technique on November 3 and Toots and the Maytals on November 5.

John Jorgenson

The John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band

Another area show on November 4 will feature a veteran musician who has a successful solo career and a history of performing with many of the top artists in the rock, folk, jazz and bluegrass worlds – John Jorgenson.

Jorgenson will bring the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band (J2B2) to the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) and treat the fans to an evening of bluegrass and Americana tunes.

Jorgenson, a music virtuoso known for his blistering guitar and mandolin licks and mastery of a broad musical palette, has earned a reputation as a world class musician, as evidenced by his collaborations with Earl Scruggs, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, The Byrds, Johnny Cash, Bob Seger, Willie Nelson and many others. Jorgenson is the versatile leader of the John Jorgenson Quintet, John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, and John Jorgenson Electric Band.

In addition to acoustic and electric guitars, he is also regularly featured on the saxophone, clarinet, bouzouki, pedal steel, mandolin, vocals and has garnered recognition for contributing to numerous platinum-selling and GRAMMY-winning albums. One of the elite Gypsy Jazz players in the world, Jorgenson portrayed Django Reinhardt in the Hollywood feature film “Head In The Clouds.”

His most recent album is “Divertuoso,” a three-CD box set on Cleopatra Records featuring three of Jorgenson’s band configurations (gypsy jazz, bluegrass and electric).

With 40 tracks overall, “Divertuoso” is a showcase for Jorgenson’s versatility as a songwriter and musician. In addition to electric and acoustic guitar, Jorgenson plays a variety of instruments on the trio of albums including mandolin, bouzouki, clarinet, mandocello, soprano sax, bass, Hammond organ, bassoon, keyboards, percussion.

“Returning” is an album of gypsy jazz performed by the John Jorgenson Quintet. “From The Crow’s Nest” features bluegrass supergroup J2B2 and was recorded at Sheryl Crow’s home barn studio in Nashville. “Gifts From The Flood” is a John Jorgenson solo electric record.

“The triple album came out last October,” said Jorgenson, during a phone interview Wednesday from his home in Ventura, California.

“It is a good representation of all three of my bands. There have been a couple festivals where I played with two of my bands and there was one called Guitar World Festival where I performed with all three. My electric band plays more in Europe – Italy, Holland, Germany and Switzerland. I play with my bluegrass and gypsy jazz bands quite a bit in America.

“The three albums weren’t necessarily related but they were created at the same time. I thought – here is a wide assortment of my musicality. It seemed like a good idea to put all three together. I bring the box set to sell on my tours. I’ll be touring with one act and fans of that style reach out and buy it even if they’re not familiar with my other styles. Actually, more people are buying it than I would have ever expected.

“My sensibility goes through all different styles. Some people say – I don’t like gypsy jazz but I like this album or that they don’t like bluegrass but they like what I’m doing. People can just get into the songs themselves.

“Interest in gypsy jazz and the music of Django Reinhardt keeps growing. There was a huge spurt from 2000-2006. It really exploded. Nothngcan sustain like that but it does keep growing steadily. I see more young people playing in that style. Gypsy music is passed down in Europe like bluegrass is in America – music that is played around campfires.”

At Sellersville, the show will be all bluegrass. J2B2 is an all-star bluegrass supergroup featuring four legendary, award-winning musicians – John Jorgenson on acoustic guitar, mandolin and vocals; Herb Pedersen on banjo, acoustic guitar and vocals; Mark Fain on bass; and Patrick Sauber on acoustic guitar and vocals. finest.

Jorgenson and Pedersen are founders (with Chris Hillman) of the formative country rock group Desert Rose Band. After working as a freelance musician in Southern California, Jorgenson met Hillman (formerly with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers) and soon formed the Desert Rose Band. In 1990, Jorgenson went on to found the Hellecasters.

Pedersen was a member of legendary bluegrass band The Dillards as well as bluegrass super-group Old and In the Way. A sought-after singer and musician, he has worked with such music legends as Chris Hillman, Earl Scruggs, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Tony Rice, Dan Fogelberg, Stephen Stills, Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Jackson Browne and John Denver.

Mark Fain toured and recorded as bass player for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder for 13 years. He’s toured and recorded with the Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Dwight Yoakam, Allison Krauss and Dolly Parton, as well as producing many artists in jazz, country, bluegrass and gospel genres.

Patrick Sauber is a multi-instrumentalist who has quickly made a name for himself in the world of bluegrass and old time music. Equally adept on guitar, mandolin and banjo, Sauber has toured with Peter Rowan and Laurie Lewis and appeared on screen in “The Mighty Wind.”

“We’ll be playing a lot of songs from the ‘From the Crow’s Nest’ album,” said Jorgenson. “We’ll also be playing a bunch of our songs that haven’t been recorded yet and a couple traditional tunes. It will definitely be a good selection of songs.”

Video link for John Jorgenson — https://youtu.be/9Q0q_s5aSlg?t=5.

The show in Sellersville will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $40.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers on November 3, Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company on November 5, Samantha Fish on November 6 and Griffin House on November 9.

Kero Kero Bonito

Kero Kero Bonito

On November 4, there will be a show at Coda (1712 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 267- 639-4630, http://www.codaphilly.com/) that is about as far away from traditional Americana music as you can get – a show headlined by Kero Kero Bonito.

Kero Kero Bonito is band from London, England featuring vocalist Sarah Midori Perry, producer Gus Lobban, and producer Jamie Bulled. The trio just released its new album “Bonito Gentleman” on October 21 via Double Denim Records. The three Londoners have been making music together since 2013.

Lobban and Bulled grew up in the suburbs south of London and went to school together. They wanted to work with someone who could speak Japanese and posted an advertisement on MixB, an online bulletin board for Japanese expatriates.

In January 2013, Perry saw an advert for a rapper on an internet bulletin board. She applied and Lobban and Bulled decided to use her for their musical project. Perry’s mother is from Japan and her father is from England so she is truly bi-cultural and bilingual.

“I was born in Nagoya, Japan,” said Perry, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in New York City. “I grew up in Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan where it snows half the year. Oar family moved to the U.K. when I was in middle school.”

The other two band members grew up in England’s capital.

“Me and Jamie have been friends since school days,” said Lobban “We were making music together and we wanted a vocalist. So, we put an ad on GumTree. Then, a friend of ours put our ad up on MixB — an internet bulletin board for Japanese.”

Perry said, “I used to check the bulletin board because there were always interesting things on it – work on a personal cruise ship, braid someone’s hair. There were lots of really interesting things that caught my attention.”

Lobban said, “We got along really well right from the start. It turned out that we had been to the same concert a few days before we met – a show in London by Toquiwa. It was fate that we came together.

“We started working on original material not long after we met. We worked on a mixtape called ‘Intro Bonito’ that was released in September 2013. Then, it got picked up by Double Denim and they re-released it in the summer of 2014. It was a 15-track tape that was very minimalist – influenced by early digital dancehall.”

The band contributed “Flamingo” to Ryan Hemsworth’s compilation EP “shh#ffb6c1.” In September 2014, Kero Kero Bonito released “Bonito Recycling,” a compilation of “Intro Bonito” remixes by artists including Danny L Harle and Spazzkid.

Prior to making the new album, Kero Kero Bonito released a steady stream of lively, danceable singles – “Why Aren’t You Dancing?,” “Build It Up,” “Pocket Crocodile,” “Sick Beat,” “Small Town,” “Picture This,” “Park Song,” “Chicken,” “Lipslap,” “Break,” “Graduation” and the recently-released “Trampoline.”

“We started working on the album last November,” said Perry. “The whole thing was done in our bedrooms on LogicPro.”

Lobban said, “We finished the album at the end of August and then a friend of mine let me use his studio to mix it. It was pretty hardcore. I needed a week or two to get it in perspective.”

Video link for Kero Kero Bonito — https://youtu.be/9Qmwsg2pyEc?t=4.

The show at Coda will start at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Another interesting concert on November 4 will take place here in Chester County when Steep Canyon Rangers perform in concert at West Chester University’s Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall (South High Street, West Chester, https://www.wcupa.edu/oca/wcuLive/currentSeason.aspx).

Steep Canyon Rangers

Steep Canyon Rangers

Together now for more than 15 years, the Steep Canyon Rangers have become one of America’s best young bluegrass bands. The North Carolina-based group includes Woody Platt (guitar, lead vocals), Graham Sharp (banjo, lead and harmony vocals), Mike Guggino (mandolin, harmony vocals), Charles R. Humphrey III (bass), Nicky Sanders (fiddle) and Mike Ashworth (cajon drums).

The Grammy award-winning band’s most recent album, “RADIO,” which was produced by Jerry Douglas, was released on Rounder Records.

“We’ve been writing songs for years leading up to this release,” said Guggino, during a recent phone interview. “The primary songwriters are Graham and Charles. They write a lot of songs when we’re on the road and then we work on them while we’re on tour.

“I swear, as soon as we put out a record, they start writing new songs. There’s always a lot of material to work with — a lot of tunes. Some songs we’ll play live for a while before we record them. We definitely arrange all the songs as a band.”

“RADIO,” the band’s ninth studio album, was recorded with Douglas at Asheville, NC’s Echo Mountain Recording Studio. The album features 12 all-original bluegrass/Americana tracks — most of which were written by Sharp with Humphrey, Platt and Guggino composing the rest in varying degrees.

 “We’ve been together for 16 years,” said Guggino. “We were all friends in college at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. We were a typical bar band and then we stayed together and kept it going. We all fell in love with bluegrass during our college years. We bought (bluegrass) instruments and started to learn to play them. We all graduated in 2001 and nobody had a plan other than playing music. So, we moved to a house in Asheville (N.C.).”

Living in western Carolina allowed the Steep Canyon Rangers to hone their skills as bluegrass musicians.

“We were so green at first,” said Guggino. “We signed with Rebel Records in the mid-2000s and that got our music out to the bluegrass audience. We played bluegrass festivals for many years — and still do a few each year. More of the festivals we play now are Americana or folk.

“The cool thing about bluegrass is that it appeals to a wide variety of audiences and age groups. On any given weekend, we might play Friday night at a rock club and then the next night for a retirement age audience. Our music appeals to a big range of listeners. It’s acoustic so it doesn’t scare away older listeners. And, the younger audiences like the energy. It’s fast-paced music that gets people dancing.”

The Steep Canyon Rangers have found their niche but it took years of refining their sound.

“Our music has evolved greatly,” said Guggino. “At first, we came at it in a very non-traditional way. Later, we studied traditional bluegrass — artists such as Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs. As years go on, we’ve gotten away from the traditional sound. Our previous album, ‘Tell The Ones I Love,’ was the first one with drums.”

Released in September 2013, “Tell The Ones I Love” was their third album for Rounder Records. The same record label also released “Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell LIVE”.

Steve Martin played banjo along with the Steep Canyon Rangers in 2009 on a broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion,” and continued playing with the band on selected dates, including the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco and Carnegie Hall in New York. He also travelled with the band to England for a performance on the radio show “Later with Jools Holland.”
“Steve Martin had a great effect on our success,” said Guggino. “He put our music out there. We got to play big venues and perform on TV shows. We played a lot with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Steve is a funny comedian but he’s also a serious banjo player.”

Video link for Steep Canyon Rangers – https://youtu.be/XU_qshIQtV4?t=5.

The show at West Chester University will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets prices are — Orchestra: Adults $20, Seniors/Students $15; Balcony: Adults $17, Seniors/Students $13.

The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) just finished its run of “Hairspray” last weekend and will open its holiday show in a few weeks. This weekend, the comfortable dinner theater will ghost a pair of special events.

On November 5, the theater will present “Just Drag! Rock n’ the Country.” The show, which will be hosted by Karen Murdock, will feature Anita Mann and Karyn Thomas.

The event’s MC will be Matt Allen and the lively entertainment will be provided by a talented group of Candlelight performers — Lyndsay Equality Mauck, Kaylan Wetzel, Cindy Zern, Jodi L Swartz McLane, Erik McLane, Renee Grant, Jameson Challenger, Clayton Stacey, Sharon Brown Ruegsegger, Timothy Lamont Lannon, Elisabeth Kersey, Peter Briccotto, and Zach DeBevec.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and include a complimentary light fare buffet. There will be a cash bar and plenty of free parking. Show attendees are invited to stay after the performance and meet the cast.

candlelight-theatre-blues-reviewOn November 6 from noon-6 p.m., the Candlelight Theater will host its annual Blues Revue and Silent Auction — an afternoon of music, dancing, and a silent auction. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 at the door.

The line-up of blues acts includes Divergent, Gary Cogdell, Steve Cal, Bruce Anthony, Blue Bizness, Vanessa Collier and Rockett 88.

Ticket price includes complimentary roast beef sandwiches and salad. A cash bar is available. The silent auction includes liquor baskets and musical items from the concert’s bands and other local artists.

Adrian Legg

Adrian Legg

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have Countdown to Ecstasy on November 4; Birds Over Arkansas, Shane Palko & Friends, and Nik Everett on November 5; Ellis Paul and Kenny Thompson on November 6 and Adrian Legg on November 9.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Transistor Radio with Travel Lanes on November 4, and the Odyssey, Dad’s Wardrobe and Katie dale on November 5.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host an “Acoustic Bluegrass Jam” on November 3, Genesis tribute band Trespass on November 5 and an “Open Mic Night” on November 6.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Bethel Steele and Under The Oak on November 3, Jason McGovern and Heather Pierson on November 4, and Rivers and Ryanhood on November 5.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Incognito featuring Maysa on November 3, The Hooters on November 4 and 5 and Marillion with John Wesley on November 6.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present Sean Riley’s Sinatra Tribute on November 6 at 2 and 7 p.m.

The Rainbow Comedy Theatre (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, http://www.rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting “Green Holly & Grey Tomatoes” from November 5-December 28. Matinee performances are every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and selected Saturdays with an 11:30 a.m. lunch and a 1 p.m. curtain. Evening performances are every Friday, Saturday and selected Thursdays with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the show following at 8 p.m. There will also be “Twilight Performances” on selected Sundays with dinner at 2:30 p.m. and the show at 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $30-$55.

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