On Stage (Bonus): Diane Coffee wakes up Philly

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Diane Coffee

Having played Philadelphia numerous times in recent years, Indiana-based Diane Coffee is returning to Philly to headline a show at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com) on November 11.

Names are not always what they seem – especially in the music world.

Diane Coffee is not a female vocalist but rather a male singer/songwriter/indie rocker named Shaun Fleming.

Diane Coffee is not a solo act but rather a full band – albeit a rather amorphous band.

“The band changes all the time,” said Fleming, during a phone interview Friday from a tour stop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“I have a New York-based band that I use. I have an L.A.-based band that I use. For this tour, it’s a four-piece band of musicians from Bloomington, Indiana.”

Fleming, who grew up in Agoura Hills, California, has lived in a variety of cities. Currently, his residence is in Bloomington.

Diane Coffee began as a side project for Fleming a few years ago.

“I was the drummer for Foxygen,” said Fleming. “Back around 2012, we were between tours. I was in New York staying with Rado (Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado). He took off for California, so I was living alone at his place for a couple weeks and that’s when I wrote the first record – ‘My Friend Fish.’

“It wasn’t supposed to be a real recording. I had songs written and I was just doing demons because I had nothing better to do. I was recording on my iPhone and GarageBand. The demos ended up in the hands of Brian Sansom, the owner of Western Vinyl Records.

“Before that, I had been juggling my time between Foxygen and Diane Coffee. The was the first time to just focus on Diane Coffee. Western Vinyl released the album in October 2013. I made the ‘Everybody’s A Good Dog’ album two years later.”

“Everybody’s A Good Dog” was the first true realization of Fleming’s “Little Shop of Horrors” -meets- “Aladdin Sane” vision –recorded in a proper studio with an assortment of guest artists, horn section, and string ensemble.

Just as “My Friend Fish” was inspired by Fleming’s move from sunny California to New York City, “Everybody’s A Good Dog” took shape after Fleming uprooted again from NYC to the much smaller town of Bloomington. His reasons for moving to the Midwest were – “I missed the quiet. I missed having a fire. I missed the color green.”

Diane Coffee unleashed some new material prior to this tour.

“I just released ‘Peel’ a few days ago,” said Fleming. “It’s my new EP on Polyvinyl with two tracks. I had done seven-inch singles with them before and they wanted to put it out. It has two songs – ‘Poor Man Dan’ and ‘Get By’.”

Diane Coffee fans may have wanted more but they’ll have to make do with this for now.

According to Fleming, “These two songs were originally intended for another full-length album. However, as I began the writing process, the concept and direction of the album changed. I was suddenly left with several tracks that I loved but no longer fit the project. Getting these songs out allowed me to discover what I actually wanted to create. They were the concepts’ protective layer.”

While the album’s release may be off in the future, fans will be able to hear some of the songs at the show at Boot & Saddle.

“I’m playing songs from all three albums,” said Fleming. “And, I’ll be doing some of the new stuff. It will be a fun show. We’be played Philly plenty of times and we’ve always had a great time.”

Video link for Diane Coffee – https://youtu.be/jQ3RgJiAX30.

The shows at Boot and Saddle, which has Peach Pit as the opening act, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming shows at Boot & Saddle are Pale Waves and The Candescents on November 12; Hazel English and Suburban Living on November 14; and Cinemechanica,HEATMAP, and Endless Teeth on November 15.

Laura Cheadle

Laura Cheadle, who performs at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) on November 12, cites Stevie Wonder and Tower of Power – and other funk bands from that era — as major influences.

Two songs from that genre that would work well – and be very apt – for Cheadle and her band would be Sly Stone’s “Family Affair” and Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.”

The talented singer-guitarist from South Jersey has a band that features blues, soul, funk – and a lot of Cheadles. Her four-piece group features her brother Jim Cheadle on guitar and her father James Cheadle on keyboards. James “Papa Cheadle” has played and recorded with Don Cornell, DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Four Aces, Grover Washington Jr., The Soul Survivors, Jaco Pastorius and Peter Erskine.

“My father has influenced me so much,” said Cheadle, during a phone interview Thursday from her home in South Jersey. “He’s a seasoned jazz musician who used to be a music professor at Rowan University. So, I’ve always been involved with music

“He has his own recording studio in South Jersey called the

Swedesboro Music Studio and he records a lot of different people. He and I are both devoted to music. His influence on me is blues and jazz – but I make it modern.”

Cheadle’s music career began when she was four years old. Her father created the “Appreciation Choir” for the Persian Gulf War troops in the early nineties and created a music video that was aired on VH1 and MTV. Along with her two older twin brothers and various other children, Cheadle toured around the United States singing for audiences.

When she was 11, she enlisted her father to teach her how to play drums. From her “tween” to “mid-teen” years, Cheadle was in a band with her brothers called Sibling – a pop group that played at local restaurants, churches, music venues, private parties and parades.

“I’ve been in the Philadelphia/New Jersey music scene for quite some time,” said Cheadle. “I’ve been doing acoustic stuff since I was 16 and then put my band together later. Sibling was a blend and I morphed into my music. Songwriting comes very naturally for me. Sometimes, I wake up with a melody in my head. It’s just there.

“I’ve always been a super fan of old soul. My biggest influences are Aretha Franklin, Tower of Power, James Brown and Stevie Wonder. I love real drums and all the organic instruments. Some of my songs are rock. Some of them are blues. It’s hard to classify me – maybe pop/rock with soul influence. I just do what I feel.”

The Cheadle Family has built a strong reputation nationally.

“We were on an NBC television show called ‘The Next Great Family Band’ in 2013,” said Cheadle. “That got us a lot of interest in being booked for tours. They actually came to our place in Swedesboro. The exposure was great.”

In the shows at Sellersville, Cheadle is opening for Felix Cavaliere’s Rascal’s 50th Anniversary Tour.

According to Cheadle, “I love the Sellersville Theater stage and energy. And, working with Felix Cavaliere, the undisputed king of blue-eyed soul, was a life-long dream. Making dreams like this happen is what keeps me on musical fire.”

Video link for Laura Cheadle — https://youtu.be/iScD7UgZgFE.

The shows at Sellersville Theater will start at 3 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $49.50 and $75.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are California Guitar Trio on November 14 and Herb Alpert with Lani Hall on November 15.

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