On Stage: Hunter & Woodward perform at The Flash Sunday

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward

It’s summertime and things just keep rocking hard at Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org).

The popular venue in Kennett Square started the weekend with a show Friday night by Heather Gillis, a young Nashville-based blues rocker from Florida.

On July 14, the joint will be jumping to the sounds of a pair of rock/blues/jazz veterans — Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward.

Hunter started his musical career as a street musician and then later played with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. He co-founded the jazz fusion band Garage A Trois and also recorded with jazz bassist Christian McBride. His versatility on guitar has led him down a wide array of musical paths including jazz, blues, funk, rock and fusion.

When he played at the North Star Bar back in 2003, Hunter played a hand-made eight-string guitar which he developed to allow him to play both lead and bass guitar at the same time. He also plays a pandeiro, which is a tambourine-like instrument from Brazil that has a tunable head.

Six years later when he came back to Philly for a show at the World Café Live, he was playing his hand-made seven-string guitar, a specially crafted guitar that also allowed him to play the guitar parts and the bass parts simultaneously.

When Hunter was a young guitarist growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, his main influences were Joe Pass and Tuck Andress — six-string guitarists who were adept at blending bass notes into their standard guitar melodies to make themselves sound like two musicians at once.

Hunter wanted to take it up a level and set out to find an instrument on which he could simultaneously function as both a guitarist and a bassist. For his self-titled 1993 debut CD, Hunter played a seven-string guitar for the duality effect.

Two years later, Hunter introduced his custom-made Novax eight-string, the guitar that finally allowed him to realize his capacity. The instrument featured special frets and separate signals for its guitar and bass portions.

“Now, I’m playing the Big Six guitar,” said Hunter, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “It’s a lot like the seven- and eight-string guitars I was playing. I haven’t been playing pandeiro in a while.”

Hunter has released more than 30 albums as leader/co-leader beginning with “The Charlie Hunter Trio” album in 1993. His most recent album is “Music! Music! Music!” which he made with Lucy Woodward and was just relessed this year.

The musical partnership of guitarist Charlie Hunter and vocalist Lucy Woodward was forged under unusual circumstances.

In January 2018, Hunter was scheduled to hit the road for a West Coast tour with Mexican singer/songwriter Silvana Estrada, but that tour got grounded before it ever took off.

“I made a record with a young woman from Mexico named Silvana Estrada,” said Hunter. “Her music is very Mexican – very folkloric. We tried to tour the record, but she applied for visas twice and was denied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security both times.”

Needing an emergency vocalist for the dates, Hunter reached out to Woodward, whom he knew through their mutual friends in the jazz/funk collective Snarky Puppy.

Hunter said, “I got Lucy and we just did a bunch of covers,” said Hunter. “Through the grapevine, I knew that Lucy was cool. We had similar tastes – blues and R&B.”

Woodward, fresh off supporting her fourth solo album, 2016’s “Til They Bang on the Door,” was game — but she also knew that they only had a few days to build an entire set list.

According to Woodward, “Silvana’s a guitar player, and they were going to do all songs that she wrote, which were in Spanish, so it wasn’t like I was going to ‘fill in’ for her.

“Charlie said, ‘I come from blues, you come from blues — let’s just start with the blues. Once we decided to go that route, he started sending me links to Blind Willie Johnson and Bessie Smith tunes, things from the early Twenties. And he was like, ‘What songs have you always wanted to do?

“We went back and forth with about 30 ideas and came up with a set list. We had like a two-hour rehearsal, and did our first show the same day. About four days into the tour, Charlie was like, ‘I think we need to record this stuff.’”

After further refining their repertoire via several subsequent tours together, Hunter and Woodward finally did just that.

In November 2018, the pair reconvened at Stephen Lee Price’s studio in High Point, North Carolina with longtime Hunter collaborator Derrek Phillips on the drums.

“We made the album with Derrek in October last year,” said Hunter. “We had been on the road with the music for a while, so we were comfortable with the songs.”

In just three days, with Price at the controls, Hunter, Woodward and Phillips recorded the 11 eleven tracks featured on “Music!Music!Music!”

“Music!Music!Music!” makes the most of the interplay between Hunter’s funky guitar and Woodward’s powerful voice. The album reverberates with the thrilling intensity of the duo’s live shows, while crackling with the electricity that results when two talented performers stretch out together from their respective comfort zones.

Video link for Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward — https://youtu.be/ztUQSIx6Ftg.

The show at Kennett Flash will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $23.

Travelling around the country with furs can at times be a somewhat uncool thing to do – especially if people from PETA get in your trail.

But, it’s not always that way.

Dear Boy

If you’re a young band that has the opportunity to tour as the opener for one of your main influences, then it’s very cool – especially if  the furs in question are The Psychedelic Furs.

Los Angeles-based band Dear Boy is out on a full U.S. tour with The Psychedelic Furs and James this summer – a tour that brings the acts to the area for a show on July 13 at the Franklin Music Hall (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, https://www.bowerypresents.com)

Dear Boy — Ben Grey, Lead Vocals, Guitar; Keith Cooper, Drums, Vocals; Austin Hayman, Lead Guitar, Vocals, Piano, Lap Steel; Lucy Lawrence, Bass, Vocals  — is touring in support of “The Strawberry EP,” which was recently released via band’s own label Easy Hell and Burnside/The Orchard.

“The Psychedelic Furs and James – they were both big influences when we were starting,” said Grey, during a phone interview Thursday from a tour stop in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“When we were living in London a few years ago, we did a cover of ‘The Ghost in You.’”

“The Ghost in You” is a song by the The Psychedelic Furs, written by the band’s lead singer Richard Butler and bass player Tim Butler. It was the second single from the band’s fourth studio album, Mirror Moves (1984). As a single it peaked at number 59 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“We sent a copy of our cover to Richard and he reached out to us,” said Grey. “He invited us to their show and left backstage passes for us.

“We’ve been pen pals ever since. Earlier this year, we got a call from them asking us to go out on tour with them.”

Dear Boy had an immense 2018.

The quartet was hailed as one of the best bands in Los Angeles by critics and music publications, sold out multiple hometown shows, and completed a full U.S. tour with Rogue Wave, while also playing dates with Day Wave and Sunflower Bean.

Now, the band is touring in support of its least recording – “The Strawberry EP.”

“We put out ‘The Strawberry EP’ in April,” said Grey. “We recorded it on-and-off last fall. We’d work on it whenever we had days off from our tour with a band called Rogue Wave. It was very piece-meal.

“We produced it ourselves and recorded it at Boulevard Recording in Los Angeles. Our friend Clay Blair, who has worked with War On Drugs and Perfume Genius, engineered it.

“We also collaborated with Ian Hultquist on the song ‘Love Interest,’ which was recorded at Little Twig Studios Eagle Rock (CA). It was the only song on the record not produced by someone in the band.

“We decided to self-produce the EP because we had grown enough to have the confidence. Also, we were so intimately familiar with the songs, we knew what we would do to them. So, we kept them in the kitchen. It also helped that we worked with a great mixer — Tony Hoffer.

“This was our third EP. The first one was one we made when we were living in England. It was self-titled and came out when we first started in 2014.”

Dear Boy is based in L.A. and has two native Angelenos – Lawrence and Grey.

“I grew up in the Valley,” said Grey. “Lucy is from Studio City and Austin lives in Santa Rose. Keith, who also lives in Studio City, is from Long Island, New York originally.

“We’ve all been friends for a long time. We were all in different bands in the community. When we became musically single, we started messing around together.

“Next was the move to London. We wanted to be close to the magic. We got a small flat and started writing songs. We had saved money to make the trip – and we’re all masters at getting things done without money. We all worked in London and spent seven months there.”

That led to a “reaching out” to Butler — and that led to an unlikely friendship between bands 6000 miles and 35 years apart — and that led to a U.S tour this summer – and that led to a date in Philly on July 13.

Video link for Dear Boy – https://youtu.be/sZvfT3SQiiA

The all-ages show at the Franklin Music Hall, which features The Psychedelic Furs, James and Dear Boy, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 and $45.

For area fans of British music that began two decades before The Psychedelic Furs hit their stride, there is a show July 13 in West Chester.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, http://uptownwestchester.org) is presenting a show by Magic Bus. This is an American band that is a tribute band for legendary British band, The Who.

With Magic Bus, it’s not so much “who” but rather which – which Magic Bus is rolling into Chester Country on Saturday?

Is it Magic Bus which is based in the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida? Is it Magic Bus from New England, a band that is based in Portland, Maine? Is it Magic Bus from the Midwest that calls Watertown, Michigan home? Is it Magic Bus from the Pacific Northwest that is based in Seattle, Washington?

The answer is — Magic Bus, a tribute band based in Portland, Maine.

The Who released its first single, “Zoot Suit,” in 1964 and its most recent single, “Be Lucky,” in 2014. In between, the London-based band has released more than 50 LPs including studio albums, live albums, compilations and soundtracks. “Magic Bus” was a worldwide Top 25 hit single for The Who in 1968.

For a tribute act, it’s a lot of material from which to choose.

The Magic Bus coming to West Chester specializes in playing The Who’s most iconic songs. The quartet offers a wide look at The Who’s discography and covers songs from “My Generation” to “Who Are You.” Magic Bus also performs select songs from the rock operas “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia.”

New England’s Magic Bus features Paul Bessa (Roger Daltrey), Don Joray (Pete Townshend), Mike Meservey (Keith Moon) and Rich Pierpont (John Entwistle).

“The Who is a universally loved band,” said Tom Lombard, Music Manager of West Chester-based Windish Music & Productions, during a recent phone interview.

“We felt that Chester County citizens would like to hear a good Who tribute band in West Chester. Magic Bus focuses on playing all the classic Who songs.”

Video link for Magic Bus — https://youtu.be/EMqy1xaWikM.

The show at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center will start at 7:30 p.m. on July 13. Ticket prices are $25, $30 and $35.

Eilen Jewell

Eilen Jewell’s new album is called “Gypsy” and it fits.

Jewell grew up in Idaho and remained there until it was time to leave for college. Since then, she has lived in the Southwest in Santa Fe, New Mexico and on the East Coast in Boston.

Jewell has also travelled all across America in her 14 years as a performing musician. Her current tour brings her to Philadelphia on July 13 for a show at The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com).

“We moved back to Boise in 2012,” said Jewell, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from a tour stop in Columbus, Ohio. “We were back in Idaho for two years and then had our daughter, Mavis.

“My husband Jason Beek is our drummer. Now, Mavis is five and she’s on the road with us for this tour. She really likes travelling – just like her parents.”

Jewell is touring with a band that features Jerry Miller (not Moby Grape guitarist Jerry Miller) on guitar, Matt Murphy on bass and Michael Render on percussion and toad manager. Jason is recovering from open heart surgery but he’s still here as our drummer.”

American Songwriter describes Eilen Jewell as “one of America’s most intriguing, creative and idiosyncratic voices.” That singular voice springs forth from a woman of more than one mind, and she taps into many of them on “Gypsy.”

Jewell’s first album of original material since 2015 expands brief moments of joy into lifetimes and distills epic sentiments and persistent doubts into succinct songs.

“Some of the songs on ‘Gypsy’ were in the works for many years – even 10 years for some of them,” said Jewell. “I’d write a little and then come back. ‘Crawl’ was like that.”

The first track on “Gypsy” is ‘Crawl,” a rollicking country rocker that revels in indecision, pitting the terrifying urgency of now against nostalgic longing.

According to Jewell, “I’ve been writing bits of that one for close to eight years now. I’ve felt that polarity in my life a lot, ever since I can remember, and I wanted to capture that discomfort and angst. Putting it into words and music felt cathartic. Now, whenever I feel that tug-of-war, I can sing my song about it.”

Other songs on “Gypsy” were more immediate.

“Some were written the day before we went in the studio,” said Jewell. “All are representative of where I’m at right now. It’s nice that after 14 years I can still make music that’s fresh to me.”

The album is scheduled to drop on August 16.

“Since it hasn’t been released this year, I’m adding new songs to my set slowly,” said Jewell. “I think we’re playing five songs from ‘Gypsy’ now. Every show, I try to work in at least one song from every album.

“I’ve put out 12 albums in 14 years. That’s a pretty good clip. It just feels that it is what we do. It’s all we know how to do.”

Video link for Eilen Jewell – https://youtu.be/beN3Isqxgyk.

The show at The Locks at Sona, which has Jimmy Scantron and his Cosmic Guilt as the opener, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and $27.

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