On Stage: Relive the music of the 60’s with Beehive: The Musical

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

The second show of the 2021-2022 season of Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) has arrived and has audiences dancing in their seats, smiling and laughing.

The new production is “Beehive: The 1960’s Musical.”

The members of the all-female cast ask audiences to join them for this rollicking musical tribute to the ladies who left their mark on the music of the 60s. With big voices and bigger hairdos, “Beehive” will have audience members dancing in the aisles and singing along with many of the iconic songs from the past.

The show, which was created by Larry Gallagher, is a celebration of the powerful female voices of the 1960s. This musical review will transport audiences with timeless hits such as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “My Boyfriend’s Back”, “Be My Baby,” “Son of a Preacher Man”, and “You Don’t Own Me”.

There are six performers in the cast at the Candlelight – Macy (Macy Chaplin), Tiffany (Tiffany Dawn Christopher), Phoebe (Phoebe Gavula), Tiara (Tiara Greene), Jenna (Jenna Kuerzi) and Kaylan (Kaylan Wetzel).

Wetzel is a Candlelight veteran whose resume of shows at the venue is already in Double figures.

“I’ve been performing in shows at the Candlelight for 11 years,” said Wetzel, during a phone interview last week from her home in Arden.

“My first show was ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ in 2009. Some of the other shows I’ve done here are ‘Cats,’ ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Cabaret,’ ‘Damn Yankees,’ ‘Oklahoma!,’ and ‘Footloose.

“I just moved to Arden from Philadelphia. I’ve always liked it here. It’s an artists’ community and there are some really nice houses.”

This is the Candlelight debut for “Beehive: The 1960’s Musical” – and the first time Wetzel has performed in the show.

“I had never seen this production before,” said Wetzel, who grew up in Rochester (Pennsylvania) attended Rochester High and graduated from Point Park University (Pittsburgh) in 2005 with a degree in musical theatre.

“I moved from Pittsburgh to the Philadelphia area after I graduated from Point Park. After that, I lived in New York for two years and then moved back to this area four years ago. Philly is a good theatre town – especially for getting credits for my resume.

Theatre was my passion, but I also do other things. I taught online at a charter school. I’ve also worked as an online business coach – teaching people how to create a business online.”

Wetzel is familiar with the songs in the show – but she didn’t grow up with them.

“This is the music from my mom’s era,” said Wetzel. “She grew up in the 1960s. And my father too – he loved the Beatles.”

Wetzel is excited to get back on the stage.

“I’ve been missing theatre,” said Wetzel, who had a feature role in the 2020 movie “Sno Babies.”

“Because of the pandemic, I haven’t been able to perform. Then, I did a video audition for this show.

“I just wanted to be creative again. And I loved that it was a small cast of all women.”

“Beehive: The 1960’s Musical” will run from June 12-July 18. Tickets are $65.50 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12). All seats are reserved.

The monthly edition of Candlelight Comedy Club is slated for June 17 featuring Irene Bremis and Carmen Lynch.

Bremis has been doing stand-up all over the country for more than 20 years. She was a co-host on Sirius XM “Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang” and hosted a podcast with actress Jennifer Esposito.

Her comedy album, “Unladylike,” is available via variety of platforms. Bremis is co-starring “Black Magic for White Boys” on Amazon.

The pandemic shutdown wasn’t as brutal on her as it was on a lot of other comedians.

“I’m a fitness trainer so I just used Zoom,” said Bremis, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in Staten Island, New York.

“Primarily, I’m a comedian. That’s been my main job for 21 years. Right now, I’m pitching a comedy show to William Morris Agency.

“This show at the Candlelight will be my seconds live show since restrictions began getting lifted. The first was last night. Before that, it was just Zoom.”

Bremis grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts in a Greek American family.

“I was always funny,” said Bremis. “In our living room when I was a kid, I’d do characters based on family members – and I killed. I would imitate all my aunts and uncles.

“I always say things that are inappropriate. When I was in school at Lexington High, they have superlatives — like ‘Most Popular’ or ‘Best Athlete.’ Mine was ‘Open Mouth, Insert Foot.’

“I left Boston really young and went to college at the University of Superior in Wisconsin – and it was not superior. The main reason I went there was because the drinking age was 18 in Wisconsin.

“When I started in stand-up, I didn’t do may open mics. I produced an all-female show called ‘Hysteria’ in 2000 at the Zinc Bar on Houston Street in New York.

“Then, I was going out as a feature and eventually as headliner. It was a gradual thing – working and writing – and it just happened.

“My comedy is very observational. I was raised in a very traditional Greek house, and I talk about that.

“I do not talk about politics anymore. When people come out to a comedy show, they want to get away from all that. They just want to laugh and have a good time.”

Carmen Lynch can currently be seen in an FX original documentary on women in comedy that is streaming on HULU. She has been featured on a string of late-night shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan, and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Carmen has appeared in numerous prime- time shows including The Good Wife, Inside Amy Schumer, and This Week at the Comedy Cellar.

Her comedy album “Dance Like You Don’t Need the Money” was reviewed by The New York Times as “one of five to stream” and was voted the #1 comedy album in 2017 by SiriusXM.

The host for this edition of Candlelight Comedy Club is Jason Pollock.

Video link for Irene Bremis — https://youtu.be/AsvlwhPRbyo.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. on June 17 and the show will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.

This week, the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Street, Sellersville, 215-527-5808, www.st94.com) is offering an entertainment equivalent of a gourmet smorgasbord dinner with a blues band Thursday night, a ground-breaking singer/songwriter on Friday night, a veteran stand-up comedian on Saturday night and a “Father’s Day Brunch” on Sunday morning.

Mike Zito

Over the last 15 months, many music acts have recorded remotely with different band members recording their parts in home studios and sending those parts to other members to work on.

Mike Zito, who will headline the Sellersville Theater on June 17, used a slightly similar process on the album he released just prior to the pandemic and a completely similar process on his brand-new album.

Zito’s “Rock N Roll: A Tribute to Chuck Berry” was released on November 1, 2019, and quickly rose to #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.

Featuring 21 guest guitarists honoring the Berry including Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout, Eric Gales, Robben Ford, Richard Fortus, Sonny Landreth, Luther Dickinson, Albert Castiglia, and Anders Osborne. Also performing on the album is Charles Berry III, Berry’s grandson. The album is produced by Zito and was recorded at his Marz Studios.

“The Berry album was released at the beginning of November,” said Zito, during a phone interview Monday morning from a tour stop in St. George’s, Delaware.

“We wanted to go out with a big band with horns. Because of COVID-19, we didn’t get the tour we had hoped for. We did a big show in St. Louis and then everything came to a halt. We did one show in St. Louis last month with Albert Castiglia, Joann Connor and Charlie Berry.

“I probably wouldn’t tour the Berry album now. Maybe I’ll do just one Berry show each year – in St. Louis. I grew up in St. Louis. Chuck was from St. Louis, and I lived there for 32 years. When I was young, I worked at a small musical instrument store in a record store and Chuck used to come in there.

“Being away from St. Louis for the last 17 years, I wanted to do something about St. Louis. If you’re a musician from St. Louis, you have to learn to play Chuck Berry and learn how to play the blues. So, I decided to do a Chuck Berry tribute and add the guitarist aspect.”

Making an album like the one Zito did on Berry’s music provided special challenges.

“I recorded the album without the guitarists initially,” said Zito. “I decided how much space to leave for the guitar and then had to send off the tracks to the different guitarists. I could never bring them to my studio to record live because they’re always on tour playing all over the country.

“The best way to do it was to accommodate them as much as possible. I’d send them a track and say – send it back in four or five months. I went into this knowing I’d need a big window.

“As the songs came back, I had to re-record my parts to make sure the intensity was the same. In the end, it sounded like we were in the studio together. I’m pretty proud of the production. The album was completed at the end of July.”

The album was produced by Zito and was recorded at his Marz Studios in Nederland, Texas. The same situation existed for Zito’s new album, “Quarantine Blues” – sort of.

“Quarantine Blues” was recorded during the heart of the coronavirus pandemic and served as a healing love letter to his fans around the world that heralded better days ahead if we’d all just stick together.

“When I made ‘Quarantine Blues,’ the band wasn’t together in the studio,” said Zito. “No-one was together. Our drummer Matt Johnson was in North Dakota. Our bassist Duve Syrkit was in St. Louis and our keyboard player Lewis Stephens was in Forth Worth, Texas.

“I knew there was a way. We just had to try it – trial and error and we got it done. There were no overdubs, but we made do.

“I’d write a song playing guitar with a click track and then send it to Matt. He’d send it back and then it would go out to the other guys.

“It was a 14-day project. The whole 14 days were consumed with how we would write, record, mix and release a new album. 14 days and on the 15th day, it was released.

“It was released as a “”ree-to-download” album. It’s a free record but any money donated will go to the band.”

Zito began playing guitar at the age of five, and by the time he reached his late teens, he was already a fixture on the local St. Louis music scene. He initially released his music independently and then signed with Eclecto Groove Records in 2008. “Pearl River,” the title track of his 2009 album for the label, won Song of the Year at the Blues Music Awards and marked his first collaboration with Cyril Nevill, with whom he’d later work in the Royal Southern Brotherhood.

A steady succession of critically acclaimed albums followed, culminating in 2011’s “Greyhound,” which was nominated for Best Rock Blues Album at that year’s Blue Music Awards ceremony in Memphis. Two years later, he signed with Ruf Records and released “Gone to Texas,” the story of how he gained his sobriety, offered an emotional homage to the state that

left an indelible imprint on his entire life. It also marked the debut of his band, the Wheel.

​From 2010-2014, Zito also played an integral role in the super group of sorts, Royal Southern Brotherhood. The group released two albums and a DVD — “Songs from the Road – Live in Germany,” which was winner of the year’s Blues Music Award for Best DVD.

Zito recently launched his own new label, Texas-based Gulf Coast Records, which counts among its artists, Albert Castiglia, Billy Price, Jimmy Carpenter, Tony Campanella, Diana Rein, The Proven Ones, Kid Andersen, and others to be announced. But, he stayed with Ruf Records for his solo work.

Video link for Mike Zito – https://youtu.be/Bbxcj29b5Iw.

The show on Thursday night at the Sellersville Theater will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50 to attend the show in person. It will also be available via Livestream. Tickets for the Livestream presentation are $12.50.

Mary Fahl

Mary Fahl performs concerts around the world and, every once in a while, gets to perform in “her own backyard.”

Based in Bucks County, the versatile singer with the haunting voice can almost call Philly home but a show at the Sellersville Theater on June 18 hits much closer.

Once you’ve heard Fahl sing, you have her voice burned permanently into your memory bank. From that point on, if you hear a song by Fahl, you immediately know who is singing.

In 2011, Fahl recorded her own version of one of rock’s all-time classics — Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Fahl re-interpreted the songs on an album she titled “From the Dark Side of the Moon.

Fahl, who was a member of the October Project 20 years ago, went solo in 2001. Prior to this year, her recorded output as a solo artist has been slim — “Lenses of Contact” EP in 2001, “The Other Side of Time” album in 2003, “Classics for a New Century” in 2003 and “From the Dark Side of the Moon” in 2011.

Fahl’s solo releases include “Love and Gravity,” “Four Songs,” “Winter Songs and Carols,” and “Mary Fahl: Live from Mauch Chunk Opera House,” which is a project that included a live album, a performance DVD and a PBS special.

Many of Fahl’s fans have been with her ever since her time with October Project which lasted from 1993-1996.

“October Project had a large body of work and I still perform some of those songs in my live show,” said Fahl. “If I don’t do some of those songs, fans get upset. I also do songs from the Pink Floyd record and several compositions from my solo records.

“I’ll always have a new song I like to introduce. And I like doing interesting covers. Putting together a set list can be difficult now and then because of the limited amount of time on stage. My sets usually are between 75 and 90 minutes.”

For many artists, the task of re-inventing songs from an album as iconic as “Dark Side of the Moon” could have been too much of a challenge. Not so for Fahl who crafted a disc that honored its roots but established an identity all its own.

“After making the Sony classical album (“Classics for a New Century”), I wanted to do something that was fun,” said Fahl. “An independent filmmaker I knew wanted to use me in a performance piece. I wanted to do something that I didn’t have the ability to write.

“That’s when I decided to do the ‘Dark Side’ recording. It’s like a classical piece of music. I did not intend to make a cover record. It’s my version and it doesn’t sound at all like Pink Floyd’s version. But a lot of die-hard Pink Floyd fans have responded well. They like the album — and my live versions of the songs.”

Fahl has written and performed songs for several major motion pictures, including the lead song (“Going Home”) for the Civil War epic “Gods and Generals.” Her music can also be found on the original soundtrack of the 2003 movie “The Guys.”

Fahl is a singer, a guitarist and a songwriter. More than anything, she is a performer.

“Performing is my primary form of self-expression,” said Fahl. “When I do a show, I want to take you on a complete journey. I want to transform you.”

Fahl has been delivering transformative shows for years.

Video link for Mary Fahl – https://youtu.be/-HMtsJwnyFk.

The show on Friday night at the Sellersville Theater will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to attend the show in person. It will also be available via Livestream. Tickets for the Livestream presentation are $17.50.

For the show on June 19, the Sellersville Theater will shift into comedy mode.

Todd Barry

Todd Barry, a stand-up comedian, actor and voice actor who is known for his deadpan delivery, has been working in the comedy field for more than three decades.

“I’ve been doing stand-up for a long time,” said Barry, during a phone interview Monday afternoon for his home in New York. “It will be 34 years in November.”

Barry was born in The Bronx, New York, and grew up in Broward County in South Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in English in 1986. Prior to becoming a comedian, he was a drummer for the indie rock band The Chant from 1984-1985.

“I started doing stand-up in Florida after college,” said Barry. “People always told me I was funny, but I never got into doing comedy until after I graduated.

“There was a comedy boom in the 1980s. It was really popular and there were a lot of comedy clubs all over. There was a lot of opportunity to do open mics which are usually five minutes or less.

“My first open mic was a Coconuts Comedy Club in North Miami Beach. There were three different places around the area – in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and North Miami Beach. I did all three in my first week.

“My jokes are pretty generic. At my first open mic, I did McDonald’s jokes and circumcision jokes.”

There are several performance levels in stand-up. After the open mic phase, successful comics move up to the “M.C.” stage followed by the “feature” level and finally the “headliner” pinnacle.

“I didn’t go on the road as an M.C.,” said Barry. “I initially went out as a feature. There was a lot of work available. After a year, I moved back to New York.

“As a headliner, I do about a 30-minute set. My jokes are not real long. Any development of my persona has been pretty organic.

“I’ve done a lot of food jokes. A lot of it is little incidents that happen to me and then become a joke. Ideally, I’m always adding new stuff.”

In 1999, his “Comedy Central Presents” aired. He wrote, directed and starred in the short film “Borrowing Saffron” in 2002. He also voices a recurring character on “Squidbillies.” In 2004, Barry was featured in an animated series called “Shorties Watchin’ Shorties.”

He made 16 appearances on “Dr. Katz”, appearing as himself in the first two appearances. He then played the recurring character “Todd the video store clerk” and appeared in most episodes in the show’s final year.

Barry’s film resume includes “The Wrestler,” “Road Trip,” “Pootie Tang,” “Tomorrow Night,” “Los Enchiladas” and “Borrowing Saffron.”

“The most recent film I did was ‘The Climb,’ which was released in late 2020,” said Barry, who had a recurring role as a fictionalized version of himself in the second season of the live-action Adult Swim series “Delocated.” “I’m currently working on creating enough material for a TV special.

“I didn’t do many live shows during the pandemic. I did do some outdoor shows and some rooftop shows. It’s starting to come back. I’m doing some one-offs in June and then I’ll be touring a lot from July until next year.’

“I do mostly clubs but also do some theatre shows – like Sellersville. Theater shows are usually more focused because there are less distractions.”

Comedian and writer Jim Tews, the creator of the New York Times Bestseller “Felines of New York” will open Saturday’s show. He made his stand-up television debut on Last Comic Standing. He has been seen on FX, NBC, SeeSo, and TBS.

Video link for Todd Barry – https://youtu.be/abgVk7zYl5g.

The show on Saturday night at the Sellersville Theater will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to attend the show in person. It will also be available via Livestream. Tickets for the Livestream presentation are $17.50.

“Father’s Day Brunch” at the Sellersville Theater will be held on June 20 from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The menu features a mimosa, bloody Mary or Free Will IPA, breakfast breads, appetizer, entree and dessert sampler.

Tickets are $30 per person.

Another upcoming show at the venue will be a “Sellersville Soundbooth Sessions” presentation on June 22 featuring Kelli Lin Knott.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) has a history of hosting top-flight cover bands and the band the venue has scheduled for this weekend is one of the best.

Total Mass Retain

On June 19 as part of its “Rooftop Series,” Kennett Flash will present “Total Mass Retain – A Tribute to Yes.”

Total Mass Retain (TMR) is recognized by the members of Yes and Yes Fans as one of the premier Yes tribute bands in the world. TMR delivers authentic, high energy musical and vocal performances that captivate audiences and transports them back in time to the rocking heyday of the world’s greatest progressive rock band.

TMR was handpicked by Yes to perform at the British legends’ official 50th Anniversary Fanfest in Philly and received high praise from both the band and its management, including band members Tony Kaye, Patrick Moraz, and Geoff Downes.

TMR also stands apart from other tributes in that they not only perform the classics and fan favorites, but also full albums, epics, and rare songs that haven’t been performed live since their album was released.

Total Mass Retain features Joey Cass, Drums & Vocals; Terry Dey, Lead Vocals; Mark Gonzales, Guitar; Joel Simches, Bass & Vocals; and John Rittweger, Keyboards.

Cass has Yes music in his DNA.

“I’m 33 and I’ve been a Yes fan all my life,” said Cass, during a phone interview Monday from his home in Newton, New Jersey.

“I first saw Yes play when I was seven years old. That was back in 1994 at the Saratoga Racetrack on their ‘Talk’ tour.

“My dad is one of the biggest Yes fans in the world. Everybody knows him by the name, Mike YesFan. I’ve seen Yes play more than 100 times and he’s seen them more.”

Before there was Total Mass Retain, there was Yesterdays, another Yes tribute act.

“John Rittweger was in Yesterdays,” said Cass, who works a day job as a CPA.

“I saw them play. Later, Terry and I joined Yesterdays. Then, we stopped and formed Total Mass Retain. Our bass player Joel is from Peabody, Massachusetts and we met him on a Yes cruise.

“Our first gig was at a bar in the Bronx to get our feet wet. Our second gig was the Yes 50 Fanfest in Philly. Yes played downstairs at The Fillmore and we played upstairs at The Foundry before their show.”
Unlike some tribute acts that attempt to look and sound like the original, TMR focuses entirely on the music.

“We’re trying to replicate the energy of some of Yes’ biggest and best concerts,” said Cass, who handles the Chris Squire and Trevor Rabin vocals.

“We play classic fan favorites as well as deep cuts – songs Yes haven’t played in years. There are some must-plays. Yes fans expect a show to end with ‘Starship Trooper.’ We open with ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart.’

“For the show at The Flash, we’re not really going into the 2000s. The first set is Trevor Rabin and ‘Big Generator.” The second set is Steve Howe and ‘Drama.’ The biggest challenge is staying true to the complexities of the music.”

Video link for Total Mass Retain – https://youtu.be/goCmNXNOd_s.

The show, which will be held on the rooftop of the Kennett Square Parking Garage at 100 East Linden Street, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Back in September, Laura Mann, the proprietor of the Living Room (The Living Room at 35 East), posted this message on the venue’s website – “Regrettably, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to cancel the final two shows of The Living Room Outdoor Concert Series – Women’s Singer-Songwriter Showcase with Emily Drinker, Joy Ike and Valentina Sounds on September 26 and Lili Añel and David Mowry with Dale Melton and Bill Zinno on October 2. We apologize for the inconvenience and if you purchased tickets for either of these shows you will receive a refund.”

Now, the Living Room is back with its “2021 Outdoor Summer Concert Series in Ardmore.”

Fortunately, Mann was able to resurrect the show featuring Valentina Sounds, Joy Ike and Emily Drinker as part of the outdoor series. The show is scheduled for June 19 at 4 p.m. and will be held at “the address to the outdoor shows will be on your ticket.”

Valentina Sounds

Valentina Sounds is the stage name for Italian-born, Philadelphia-based Valentina Raffaelli.

Raffaelli, the former singer in Sunshine Superman and Sparkle Pony, creates music that is a fusion of catchy melodies and pop tunes, perfectly blended with a background in jazz vocals and a love for composition.

“I have been in the United States for 11 years in January,” said Raffaelli. “I fell in love with an American – a man from Philadelphia — when I was living in Italy. I was studying film and contemporary art at the Universita di Bologna.

“He waited until I finished college and then encouraged me to apply to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. I came to Philadelphia and studied there. I learned about voice and music—and I studied piano. I started meeting musicians at University of the Arts. Then, I took a songwriting course and I was hooked.

“Putting a band together was easy. The first band was Sunshine Superman back in 2017. Then, I was in a band called Sparkle Pony with my ex-husband. It was a folk/bluegrass/Americana band that ended in January 2019.”

All the while, Raffaelli was writing songs and preparing for what came next.

“I started writing an album without knowing it,” said Raffaelli, a native of Forte dei Marni.

Forte dei Marmi is a seaside town in the northern part of Tuscany that is a major vacation destination for Italy’s upper class. In Italian, “Forte dei Marmi” means “Fort of the Marbles.” The town takes its name from the fortress that rises in the middle of the main square.

“I knew I wanted to make a full album,” said Raffaelli, whose father Angelo Raffaelli was a professional soccer player in Italy for A.S. Livorno Calcio (currently in Serie C).

“Then things started deteriorating. I moved out and began living on my own in January 2019. The biggest chunk of songs was written between December 2018 and May 2019 and then I got into the recording studio in June.”

Raffaelli had a CD Release show at the Locks in Manayunk in November 2019 and another in her native land over the Christmas holiday.

“I had a very successful album release show at the Locks with my friends and Philadelphia family,” said Raffaelli.

“I was surprised at the amount of people who came out to support me. I got emotional when I realized I’d be singing all these personal songs for friends. I also did a release show in Italy in this beautiful place called Villa Bertelli.”

Her final pre-shutdown show was a Valentine’s Day concert at Johnny Brenda’s – right before everything came screeching to a halt.

The pandemic shutdown did not affect Raffaelli as much as it did other area musicians.

“I’ve been teaching private lessons on Zoom – voice and beginner’s piano,” said Raffaelli. “I’m also choir director and middle school teacher at Episcopal Academy. I’ve been teaching there for six years.

“We were in person during the pandemic. It’s a private academy so they could do that. For music, we had instructions – but the students weren’t allowed to sing. So, we did things like body percussion.”

Raffaelli has stayed busy musically.

“I’ve also been releasing a new single every five or six weeks this year on every online platform,” said Raffaelli. “The first four are just piano and voice. They speak to the climate of the pandemic. I booked Retro City Studio in Philly and worked with Matt Muir. I did four songs all in one day.

“In February, I released ‘Irresistible,’ which is a love song. Then, there was ‘Sad Song,’ which is pandemic song about being stuck at home. The next was ‘10 Years of Piano,’ which is a little silly. It’s about piano playing being replaced by technology. This month, I’m releasing ‘Story for Me.’ It’s a little about the pandemic but it can also stand alone.”

Raffaelli will introduce the new songs to her fans at this weekend’s show, which is a strong triple bill with Ike and Drinker.

“I was happy that Laura was able to reschedule this show,” said Raffaelli. “With Joy Ike and Emily Drinker – it’s a dream team.”

Video link for Valentina Sounds – https://youtu.be/6zKa7tCk38A.

The Outdoor Summer Concert Series concert will begin at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30.

The Crossing (www.crossingchoir.org) is a Grammy-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir.

As with all entertainment acts, it was hard for The Crossing to maintain a normal schedule of live performances over the last 16 months.

This month, The Crossing has a very active schedule with nine performances in three locations over a span of three weekends. The series, which has the Annenberg Center as co-presenters, is titled, “Month of Moderns.”

“Month of Moderns 3: At which point” will be staged on June 18 and 19 at Awbury Arboretum (1 Awbury Road, Philadelphia). It will feature two world premieres and one U.S. premiere.

Commissioned for this amplified outdoor performance, the world premiere of Wang Lu’s “At which point” explores the emotional peaks and valleys of 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Forrest Gander’s raw, brutally honest poetry.

The Crossing will also perform a world premiere expanded version of Ayanna Woods’ “Shift,” a multi-layered contemplation on the reimagining of our monuments.

The final piece is the U.S. premiere of David Lang’s “the sense of senses.” The piece explores the power of our five senses and is an apt reminder as we emerge from a time when much of that human connection has been absent.

“‘Month of Moderns 3: At which point,’ starts with Ayanna Woods’ ‘Shift,’” said Nally, during a phone interview last week from his office in Philadelphia. “It’s a piece which was written during the pandemic. We actually made a film of the first movement.

“Wang’s piece is set in a Monteverdi (Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi) way. It always feels like it’s moving forward and developing. I really, really love this piece – 20 minutes and it’s all concentrating on the words.

“The piece by David Lang is a concert piece with synchronized singing. It’s taken from ‘Song of Songs.’ It’s a 10-minute piece and it feels very intimate.”

“Month of Moderns 1: The Forest” was staged two weekends back at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope.

“The Forest” focuses on the symbiotic relationship between individual trees and the forest – a metaphor for the relationship between each singer and the ensemble. The libretto is formed from The Crossing singers’ reflections on their isolation during COVID-time, overlaid with texts from Scott Russell Sanders’ essay Mind in the Forest.

Each Echoes kit allows singers to stand and safely sing 30 feet from each other and from the audience while listeners walk along a well-worn, mostly flat path of approximately one-third mile lined with speakers.

“Month of Moderns 2: “we got time,” which is also co-presented with Ars Nova Workshop,” was performed last weekend at The Woodlands in Philadelphia.

The Crossing performed the world premiere of Matana Roberts’ work honoring the life of Breonna Taylor.

The production is a collage of sound that reflects on the world today, positions the loss of Taylor at the center of that world, and asks questions about the meaning of familiar words present in historic documents, event data related to Taylor’s death, and a roll call of the names of Black women lost in similar ways.

The title stems from Taylor’s trial, when grand jurors were told they wouldn’t be able to watch all of the body camera footage due to time restraints, and one juror shouted, “we got time.”

The performance was staged as a socially distanced one-third mile walk through the trees and markers of The Woodlands historic cemetery with timed entry for groups of people.

Video link for The Crossing – https://youtu.be/ttcZL4AXErU.

Tickets for all performances are $35.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) will be serving up two nights of tasty blues this weekend with Dave Orban & the Mojo Gypsies on June 18 and Gabe Stillman on June 19.

Founded in 1998 and based in the Central NJ/Philly area, Dave Orban & the Mojo Gypsies are a high-energy quartet that play a unique blend of up-tempo blues and old-school R&B. At a Gypsies gig, you’re likely to hear songs by such classic blues artists as T-Bone Walker, Ray Charles, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Louis Jordan, Freddie King and Albert Collins, as well as music from contemporary blues performers including Rick Estrin, Rod Piazza, Kid Ramos, Paul DeLay, and James Harman.

The band’s lineup features Mike DeMonte on drums and vocals, Mike Scott on tenor sax and vocals, and founder — and International Blues Hall of Fame inductee – Dave Orban on guitar and vocals.

Orban has a story similar to a married couple who say – we got married 50 years ago but this isn’t our golden anniversary because we haven’t been together for 50 years…we got divorced after 15 years and then remarried 15 years later.

“I started playing guitar in 1966 playing Beatles and then punk,” said Orban, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Hamilton, New Jersey. “I did that until 1977 –and then I stopped. I had a career in the corporate environment, so I stopped music entirely.

“It was around 1995 or 1996 when I started back up. I remembered nothing – not even how to tune a guitar.

“I went to open mics and watched the people onstage. Then, I went home and tried to mimic what they were doing.  I decided I wanted to pursue it. I practiced and got better. I was in a couple bands.”

The blues influence in Orban’s music goes way back.

“When I was a youngster, I had an older cousin who was in a band that was influenced by the blues,” said Orban. “I started listening to Paul Butterfield. Then, I kept going and got into acts like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Little Walter. The became the foundation for me as a teenager.”

The band’s music integrates many influences from the greater blues tradition – from Chicago and West Coast electric blues to southern country blues and even New Orleans-styled marches. With a repertoire that shines a light on lesser known but compelling tunes from the pioneers of the blues form, the band looks to impart a contemporary feel to a traditional form, while not departing drastically from the foundational elements of this type of music.

Influences ranging from Willie Dixon to Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones and even Norah Jones can be heard in Orban’s original tunes. His songs are self-contained stories cover a variety of topics that can be both humorous as well as more serious.

“In 1998, I started my own band,” said Orban. “I decided I wanted to play music I want to hear. I wanted to be a bandleader because a bandleader calls the shot.

“I didn’t want to approach the blues like so many cover bands – playing standards like ‘Hoochie Coochie Man.’ I looked to artists like James Harman and Rod Piazza. Their music was much more contemporary – more uptempo for an audience that wants to dance.

“With this band, I first heard Mike DeMonte and Mike Scott playing jazz at a little club in Trenton – a jazz club that has been around more than 50 years called the Candlelight Lounge. Sometimes, we play as a quartet with another jazz player – Rich Bedessa – on keyboards.

“These are all guys with music degrees. I know I can rely on them to get across what I want with minimum input from me.

The band’s first CD, “I Heard You Twice the First Time,” is a collection of 14 of Orban’s original compositions. It was recorded from March through September 2016 and was released on Sep 24, 2016. The CD was produced and arranged by Orban and was recorded at Beach Bunny Sound studios in Doylestown.

Video link for Dave Orban and the Mojo Gypsies — https://youtu.be/ZUR75Cq1RzI.

The show at Jamey’s on June 18 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance and $18 at the door.

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