On Stage: Some options for Mothers’ Day

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Freddie Jackson

If you’re thinking about taking mom out to a concert to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday night, you have several choices ranging from smooth — Freddie Jackson — to rough — Disparager.

If your mom likes romantic songs delivered by a classic R&B singer, Freddie Jackson should be your choice. If your mom has tattoos and like music that rattles the rafters, Disparager should be your choice.

Jackson, who is headlining a show on May 12 at the Keswick Theatre (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com), has been thrilling audiences for more than three decades with his signature romantic ballads and mid-tempo love songs.

“Rock Me Tonight” stormed the R&B charts in 1985, spent six weeks at Number One, and made Jackson an instant hit on urban contemporary radio.

Since the mid-1980s, Jackson has been a mainstay on Quiet Storm radio. Jackson’s classics like “Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake),” “Have You Ever Loved Somebody,” “Jam Tonight,” “Do Me Again,” “Tasty Love,” “You Are My Lady” and “Nice & Slow” have been a part of listeners’ soundtrack for romance.

It’s now 2019 and Jackson’s old songs are still relevant, and his new songs are keeping the tradition alive. His latest album, “Love Signals,” which was released last year, features more songs that work best when the lights are low and a romantic mood is set.

“People say R&B is dead but I’m still selling out shows with my R&B music,” said Jackson, during a phone interview last week from his home in Voorhees, New Jersey.

“All I’ve ever known is love songs – from Donny Hathaway to Luther Vandross. Crooning is still very much a part of the R&B world. True love songs will never die. If I tried to cross over to another style of music, it wouldn’t be right. Put on ‘You Are My Lady’ or Do Me Again’ — there’s no shame in my genre when I make songs like this.”

In many ways, “Love Signals” is the most personal and introspective release of his distinguished 33-year career.

According to Jackson, “I’m at a place in my life of quiet, peace and tranquility. I’ve taken control of my artistry and songwriting. I’ve made lifestyle changes that have transformed me physically, emotionally, personally, and even spiritually.

“All those transformations which I’ve embraced are part of what you hear coming through on ‘Love Signals.’ Each song was carefully curated to send ‘love signals’ of passion, love, and light all over the world.”

Jackson’s career was sidetracked recently with some health issues.

“I had kidney problems,” said Jackson. “I went through highs and lows. I went on this diet and thought that was why I was losing weight. Instead, I was damaging my kidneys. It almost got to a point where they were failing. Now, I’m back to a good weight and I feel great.”

Jackson grew up in New York City – a location that shaped his musical tastes.

“The Apollo was my education,” said Jackson, referring to Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater. “Every Saturday, I was at the Apollo. It truly was my place of education. I also sang at about every church in Harlem.

“My dream was to be like Otis Redding and those other great R&B singers. Even though I don’t live in Harlem now, my show is still there.”

Jackson now lives in Voorhees, New Jersey – not far from the Cherry Hill Mall.

“This whole change has been great,” said Jackson. “My manager and my entire band are in Philadelphia and South Jersey, so I kept coming out and spending time with them here. Moving here is like moving to be with family.

“It was time to make a change. I was tired of New York – of its impatience. I needed peace of mind – some quiet time and some trees. I needed a place away from New York – away from ambulances, police sirens and yellow cabs – away from the hustle and bustle.

“If I miss New York, I can just get a train from 30th Street Station to 34th Street and I’m there in under two hours. And, if it gets to me, I can just say – take me back to Voorhees.”

Now, almost four decades since he started, Jackson still plays a role in romantic evenings.

According to Jackson, “I’ve been blessed to create songs that have become the soundtrack for love.”

The formula remains the same. The lights are turned low and Jackson’s music fills the air. The singer croons. The lady swoons. Romance is in the house.

“The generation in my audience is spreading out,” said Jackson. “I was in an airport and a woman came up to me and said – this is my son…he is a ‘Tasty Love’ baby. That made me smile because I know there are ‘Tasty Love’ babies running all around town.

“I have great fans in my audience at every show. My fans are the reason I keep going.”

Video link for Freddie Jackson — https://youtu.be/PyjAOelCPtQ.

The show at the Keswick Theatre, which has Meli’sa Morgan as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $49.50 and $69.50.

Disparager

Disparager is a hardcore/metal band from Brooklyn that has been making intense music since 2013. The band’s first recorded output was its “Timeless Ageless” EP, which was independently released in February 2014.

The band released its debut album “Existential Dread” last week. The album, which dropped on May 3, is also an independent release.

Disparager is now on the road touring in support of “Existential Dread” – a tour that brings the band to Philly on May 12 for a show at The Barbary (951 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, www.barbarylive.com).

Disparager’s line-up features Chris AhKao (guitar, vocals), Jason Kim (guitar), Chris Castelli (drums) and Collin Stables (bass).

“Me and Jason started the band in Brooklyn,” said AhKao. “But the band members are from all over. Colin is from Kansas and he’s been in Brooklyn for four years. Jason is from Long Island and Chris is from just across the river in New Jersey.

“We were all playing on our own and we found each other through the internet. We just net up over the common thread of metal music.”

The result was a band intent on making music that was hardcore and, at the same time, emotionally charged.

“The album just dropped but we released a couple singles before this to give people a taste,” said AhKao, during a phone interview last week from his home in Brooklyn.

“The first single was ‘Fall.’ We did a video for it with Gauntlet Studio in Boston. The second single was ‘Promise.’ The song is a little crazy – creepy but fun. The video was introduced on Brooklyn Vegan. The third single – ‘Fire’ – was just released today (April 30). It debuted on metalinjection.net.”

Disparager’s new album is a vortex of raw human emotion. The music channels sorrow, anguish, and punishing sadness and then brings listeners back to the calm white light.

According to AhKao, “This record is about pain, meaninglessness, existential dread, perseverance, and spiritual peace. This record is something that I have made, drawn from my own personal experiences, from my point of view, very steeped in my identity and sense of self.

“I give this record to you, that my story may be heard, or understood, or remembered. Whether you came to know me through this record, or at a show, or side by side at the bar, or through friends or family, or sheer luck, thank you for knowing me. You have been the best listeners a man could ask for.”
“Existential Dread” was produced by Jay Maas (Defeater, Bane, H2O, Counterparts) and mastered by Mike Kalajian (Machine Head, Saosin, Moving Mountains).

“With us, songwriting is a collaborative effort,” said AhKao. “We recorded the album with Jay at The Getaway, a studio in the northern suburbs of Boston. Our sound is metal. Recorded the wrong way, it sounds too polished. So, we wanted to get more of a punk producer. We’re really happy with the results.”

Video link for Disparager – https://youtu.be/VzT42myqCTI.

The show at The Barbary, which also features Desert Hands, Worst Ones, and Troll Teeth, will start at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $5.

Disparager is also playing on May 19 at the Chameleon Club’s Lizard Lounge (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684, http://www.chameleonclub.net).

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