On Stage: Carla Olson and Todd Wolfe bring history to the stage

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Carla Olson and Todd Wolfe

When legendary singer/songwriter/rocker Carla Olson and iconic guitarist/songwriter Todd Wolfe come to perform at The Living Room (35 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, https://thelivingroomat35east.com) on May 16, they will bring a lot of music history with them. The two music veterans are touring in support of their new album, “Hidden Hills Sessions,” which was just released on May 3 on Red Parlor Records.

Olson has made her career as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, and producer on the West Coast. She appeared in Bob Dylan’s first video

(“Sweetheart Like You”) and Dylan thanked her by giving her one of his songs (“Clean Cut Kid”).

Her 1984 debut album, “Midnight Mission,” was as leader of the Textones and included Gene Clark (Byrds), Ry Cooder and Don Henley (Eagles) as guests. A few years later Clark, who was the Byrds’ primary songwriter in their early years, and Olson recorded which is regarded as the first Americana album, “So Rebellious A Lover.”

Since then, Olson has released solo albums and a live record with Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones). She is one of the few currently active women record producers and includes among her credits Paul Jones (Manfred Mann), Phil Upchurch, Jake Andrews, Joe Louis Walker, Chubby Tavares, and Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag, The Rides).

Her duets album, “Have Harmony, Will Travel,” featured Richie Furay (Poco), Juice Newton, John York and James Intveldt. Olson’s most recent solo album, 2017’s “Rubies & Diamonds,” featured Olson and George Callins of the Textones, plus most of the members of the Swedish rock band Wilmer X.

Wolfe spent five years touring the world with Sheryl Crow — including writing and recording with her. After leaving Crow’s band, he has spent the past 15 years touring the US, Canada and Europe with his own band, The Todd Wolfe Band and releasing nine solo albums. He has also recorded with legendary Mountain guitarist/singer Leslie West on two recent albums by West and two albums by Mountain.

Wolfe also has played on two of Olson’s albums and joined her on a tour of Japan in the early 90s. His songs have been covered by a diverse array of artists including Stevie Nicks, Faith Hill, Larry McCray, Phish, Deborah Coleman, The New Seekers and Shannon Curfman.

Olson and Wolfe first crossed paths more than three decades ago.

“I knew the sax player from the Textones,” said Wolfe. “I had heard about the band and they needed a guitar player for a short period of time when they came to Irving Plaza in 1985.

“Later, Carla was working on her album with Mick Taylor and asked me to play. I also did some gigs with them in 1993 when we went to tour Japan.

“Carla was doing the album with Mick, but he didn’t finish it. So, I did some guitar work. I also played on the second studio album in 1995.”

Olson said, “The synchronicity of the Textones winding down necessitated me playing with other people. Todd was a great fit.

“Todd does great guitar work. He has great tone. He just plays naturally what you want to hear. When we did gigs back then, we even played a show at the Chestnut Cabaret in Philly.”

Wolfe lives in Woodland Hills, California now but he spent many years living in eastern Pennsylvania.

“I lived in the Lehigh Valley for 15 years,” said Wolfe. “I spent seven years in Bethlehem Township and then eight years on College Hill near Lafayette College in Easton. I really liked living in Easton.

“I moved back to California in 2015. I had my own band up and running but I always wanted to work with Carla again. We said that we should do some acoustic stuff – that we didn’t need a drummer. So, we started doing some acoustic shows.”

Olson said, “Michael Reid, who is the engineer on our album, saw our shows and said — why don’t you come in and do a record? Todd and I work together well so we decided to do it.”

“The Hidden Hills Sessions” was recorded at Reid’s Rancho Relaxo studio in Hidden Hills, California, with Olson and Wolfe playing all acoustic guitars and mandolin (Wolfe) and a few long-time musical associates including Tad Wadhams (Lowen & Navarro, Sheryl Crow) on bass and Victor Bisetti (Los Lobos, Matthew Sweet) on drums and percussion.

The album includes several covers that the duo truly make their own — including Steve Winwood’s Blind Faith classic, “Can’t Find My Way Home” and Gene Clark’s beautiful, “In A Misty Morning.”

“We recorded the album at Rancho Relaxo, which is on the border of Woodland Hills and Hidden Hills,” said Olson. “That’s where the name ‘Hidden Hills Sessions’ came from.”

Wolfe said, “The studio is at Mike’s house. He’s a master at ProTools. We started laying some stuff done in late 2017. Carla and I did a lot of the tracks live. Victor Bisetti did some percussion on it. And, we did one track live with a band.”

Olson said, “From crowd response at our shows, we found what the audience really liked. They liked when we sang together – especially on ‘Can’t Find My Way Home.’ We did a few covers, but mostly we wrote a bunch of songs together. The covers were really great songs – ‘Blue,’ which was a B-side of a Mick Jagger single; Gene Clark’s ‘In a Misty Morning,’; and ‘Wild Horses,’ which my favorite Stones song ever.”

Video link for Carla Olson and Todd Wolfe – https://youtu.be/xKaCIIevbjg.

The show at the Living Room will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Another upcoming show at the Living Room is the “Rogers & Butler EP Release Party” on May 17.

Fans of Hudson Taylor are in for a double treat this week.

Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor is a two-man band featuring Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor, brothers from Dublin, Ireland. On May 16, they will headline a show at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684,

www.johnnybrendas.com). The following evening, they will open for Rodrigo y Gabriella at Franklin Music Hall (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, https://www.bowerypresents.com/greater-philly/shows/franklin-music-hall)

The Irish Americana-pop duo is touring in support of its most recent EP “Bear Creek To Dame Street,” which was released September 21, 2018.

“The new EP is a mix of studio material and live material,” said Alfie Hudson-Taylor, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour top in Boston. There are four live songs and an additional five songs that were previously recorded.

“We recorded the five songs over a six-week period at Bear Creek Studio in Seattle. That was two years ago. We cut 15 songs altogether at Bear Creek. We’ve released 10 of them so far.

“The first stuff we released from the bear Creek sessions were on our last EP – ‘Feel It Again’ – which came out last March on Rubyworks.”

That EP gave listeners a taste of Hudson Taylor’s fresh sound, including the singles, “Feel It Again” and “Run with Me,” along with three other tracks – all produced by Ryan Hadlock, who has worked with The Lumineers and Vance Joy.

“The live tracks were taken from a show at The Olympia Theatre in Dublin in February 2018,” said Hudson-Taylor. “We were touring with a full band for an Irish tour. It was a great show with all our family and friends there.

“It was an amazing audience. The songs we took from the show were all tracks we had recorded in the studio four years ago. But they got changed when we were playing them live.”

The sweet-voiced brothers grew up in Dublin, where their father was a musician and their mother was a dancer.

According to Harry Hudson-Tylor, “We were 16 and 15 when we started making music – accidentally. We were away on holiday with our family in Italy near Venice in 2008. I had my guitar and we played around a beach campfire. We were playing covers. The first night we played there, there were about 10 people.

“We came back the next few nights and the crowd got bigger each time. There were a lot of Germans there and they liked how we played. The Germans suggested that we go on YouTube. That set us off. We were really young at the time.”

Alfie Hudson-Taylor said, “Shortly after that, we started busking in Dublin. Harry was away at school. He’d come back on weekends and we’d busk at places like Grafton Street and Temple Bar. It was great.

“Because we were in Dublin, a lot of international people were coming through. So, we were able to build a global audience. A lovely way to experience any city is to busk.”

That was just the start.

“Once we graduated from busking and putting videos on YouTube, we moved to London and put our first EP,” said Hudson-Taylor. “That’s when we took it serious.”

Prior to being signed they released their debut EP, “Battles,” in August 2012, which peaked at Number1 on the Irish version of iTunes and at Number 14 on UK version of iTunes. In November 2012, they followed with a second EP, “Cinematic Lifestyle” and a third, “Osea”, in October 2013. It was around this time that the band signed to Polydor Records in the UK.

The brothers released their debut album, “Singing for Strangers” in 2015. Most recently, the band enjoyed a very successful 2017, playing to one of the biggest crowds of the weekend at the Electric Picnic festival in September. “Feel It Again,” the lead-off Irish single from the new album, was one of the biggest national airplay hits of 2017.

“I’d describe our music as pop-rock with a folky feel – and a Celtic influence,” said Hudson-Taylor. “It has songs with an awful lot of harmonies.”

The brothers are already working on their next recorded project.

“We just spent a week in the studio in Nashville recording new music,” said Hudson-Taylor. “We’re really excited about it. Working with different people is great but our approach now is different. It’s similar to how it is live with a set number of players.

“We spent the last week in Nashville tracking new material. We plated Nashville three months ago and met a producer we met who liked our tunes. His name is John Rausch.

“On our shows on this tour, it’s my brother and I and two other brothers backing us – Oisin Walsh-Peelo on keyboards and Tadgh Walsh-Peelo on violin, mandolin and guitar. They both also sing. The show is a nice family affair.”

Video link for Hudson Taylor — https://youtu.be/nn2RJdBRCsc.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $18.

The show at Franklin Music Hall, which has Rodrigo y Gabriella as headliners, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45.29.

Other upcoming shows at Johnny Brenda’s are Damien Jurado on May 17, It’s The Year 1999 on May 18, and Filthy Friends on May 21.

May 16 is a night for comedy.

Paul Bond

On Thursday night, it’s time for Candlelight Comedy Club at the Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org). The headliner will be veteran comic.

Bond, a Long Island native, is stand up comedy veteran with a high-energy act that always finishes on a funny note. He toured with Saturday Night Live’s Jim Breuer for three years as his opening act and heavy metal guitar player.

Bond has been on “The Roast of Denis Leary,” the Comedy Central special, “Hardcore” with Jim Breuer, and MTV’s “Metallica Icon.” His talents have been seen on VH1’s “Stand Up Spotlight” as well as in a video shown on Saturday Night Live.  Bond has also been heard numerous times on radio’s “Opie and Anthony Show” on Sirius XM.
His resume also features live appearances at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, the Riviera in Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden, Dangerfield’s, House of Blues venues around the country and Los Angeles’ Hard Rock Cafe.

This week, he makes a return appearance at the Candlelight.

“I’ve been to the Candlelight plenty of times,” said Bond, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home on Long Island’s East Shore.

“It’s usually around Christmastime. I do a lot of shows around the holidays because I want to sell my Christmas DVD – ‘A Very Filthy XXX-mas.’ Joan (Alster Weisblatt) is on the show this week and I’ve worked with her before.”

If you like your comedy served up fast and furious with an adult edge, then Bond will satisfy your appetite — and then some.

“I’m an adult act but I’m not dirty,” said Bond. “I’m silly about it – but no ‘F-bombs.’

“It’s a little comedic journey that I like to take audiences on. I stay away from politics. No-one wants to hear it – left wing, right wing or Buffalo wing.

“My show is physical comedy and it ends up being musical comedy with me playing guitar.”

Bond has been inspired by many comedians, but one stands out above the rest.

“I love George Carlin,” said Bond. “He was my biggest influence – along with Steve Martin.

“I pay homage to George Carlin in my act. He was famous for his ‘Seven Dirty Words’ routine. I take it further and talk about how those seven words became dirty.”

Bond does however get dirty at times with the other major activity in his life – animal rescue.

“I’ve always loved animals and now I rescue animals” said Bond. “I love rescue work. We find colonies of feral cats, get them “spayed and released’ and make sure they have enough food to eat. I love all animals but cats especially.

“People who say they don’t like cats have never lived with one. Cats are amazing animals who deserve a lot of love.”

At that point, Bond brought his cat to the phone to say hello – and his cat responded with a vocal greeting.

Cats frequently howl — for a variety of reasons. Bond’s audiences also frequently howl – for just one reason. They howl with laughter.

Video link for Paul Bond – https://youtu.be/5mxXBMya2JI.

Paul Bond’s show at the Candlelight Theatre also features Joan Alster Weisblatt as the opener and David Evans as the MC. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and include complimentary light fare buffet, cash bar, and free parking.

Additionally, the Candlelight Theatre’s production of the hilarious comedy  “Lend Me A Tenor” is running now through June 23. 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).

Kristina Kuzmič

On May 16, The Keswick Theatre (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents an evening with a comedian whose first show was less than two months ago – “The Hope and Humor Tour – An Evening with Kristina Kuzmič.”

Kuzmič bases her comedy routines primarily on the subject of parenting.

“The topics are parenting-related…guilt and insecurity,” said Kuzmič, during a phone interview Tuesday evening. “But, it’s not just a show for parents. We talk about feelings every human feels.”

Kuzmič, who moved from Croatia with her family when she was 14, has built an impressively large fanbase large with her direct sense of humor coupled with heartfelt practical advice. She is a creative parent who attracts people with her ability to relate and motivate without being pretentious.

Kuzmič’s path to be a standup comic was strange and sometimes painful – two factors that make her humor so approachable and human.

“I studied theater in college at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California,” said Kuzmič from her home in Valencia, California.

“Eventually, I started going through hard times. I was divorced with two kids and living on food stamps. I was really struggling. I was living in L.A. and got really depressed.

“Slowly, I regained my confidence and put my life back together. I decided I wanted to give to others what I had needed. I made videos with moms who were struggling. I heard from moms who said I gave them hope. That’s why I call it the ‘Hope’ tour. I want to make sure every person leaves the show feeling encouraged – encouraged, brave and strong – even if they have had a rough year or two…or five.”

There’s a saying that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” For Kuzmič, the means to an end was through the stomach.

“I pulled out of my struggle,” said Kuzmič. “I felt like I had nothing. The only thing I was confident in was that I can cook a great meal. Back in 2007, I invited friends to bring people to my house on Wednesdays and I’d feed them.

“Through that, I changed my attitude. I got positive.

“I met my current husband and got married. The day after the wedding, he said – what do you really want to do? So, I started making cooking videos.”

In 2011, Kuzmič was chosen from 20,000 applicants and crowned the winner of Mark Burnett’s reality TV competition “Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star.” Later, Kuzmič’s first reality show titled “The Ambush Cook” aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

“Oprah gave me a TV show and that was a start,” said Kuzmič. “It was a typical cooking show. Then, I took some time off. Five years later, I decided to put out some parenting videos.”

The videos were a huge success. Kuzmič’s comedic talents grew and the rest is history. On March 29, she performed her first live stage show and felt the positive feedback from the audience.

“I like to make people laugh,” said Kuzmič. “And, I always want people to feel more confident.”

And, she loves to cook.

“My favorite dish without a doubt is Zagorski Štrukli,” said Kuzmič, who is still feeling good from the success of Croatia’s soccer team at the 2018 World Cup . “It’s a Croatian dish made with pastry and cheese.”

If there were one phrase to describe Kuzmič’s positivity, cooking prowess, humor and ability to make people feel good about themselves, it would be “vrlo dobro,” which is Croatian for “very good.”

Video link for Kristina Kuzmič – https://youtu.be/2vdO6UazEus.

The show at the Keswick Theatre will start at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $33.25-$78.50.

Other upcoming shows at the Keswick Theatre are The Fab Faux with The Hogshead Horns, The Creme Tangerine Strings, Erin Hill & Jim Boggia

On May 17, “The ELO Experience — Strange Magic” on May 18, and Damien Escobar on May 19.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present Mason Porter and Friends Present The 6th Annual Bob Dylan Birthday Bash! on May 17 and Brand X with special guest Andre Cholmondeley on May 18 and 19.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host The Doubleclicks on May 17 and The Climaxers, Florida Wayne and, and Labella & Poole on May 18.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host Blue Roots and Ted the Fiddler on May 17.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Thank You Scientist on May 16,

Splintered Sunlight with special guest Brown Sugar on May 17 and Maceo Parker on May 19.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) has The BB King Blues Band Ft. Michael Lee on May 16, The Blasters on May 17, Red Molly on May 18, Leo Kottke on May 19 and Uriah Heep on May 20.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present The Bronx Wanderers on May 17 at The Playhouse and “The Rock Orchestra Performs Genesis” on May 18 at The Baby Grand.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) will present Suzanne Westenhoefer with special guest Sara Henya on May 17, Molly Tuttle with special guest Dee White on May 18 and Cory Massi on May 19.

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