On Stage: Sarah Diamond comes home to headline at Uptown!

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Sarah Diamond

There is an old saying – “You Can Never Go Home Again.”

Don’t tell that to Sarah Diamond. She won’t believe you — and will offer proof of the opposite this weekend.

Diamond is a Downingtown East grad and a West Chester University alumna who is now living in Largo, Florida.

She is also a talented singer who leads her own band, Sarah Diamond and the Soul Miners.

On August 20, she will headline a show at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org). It’s a one-off northern gig before she returns south for a series of shows in Florida.

“Right before COVID hit, I was playing music full time in the Downingtown/West Chester area,” said Diamond, during a phone interview Monday from her home in Largo. “I was also a part-time worship leader at my church – 938 Church in West Chester.

“I wanted to take a break, so I visited family in Huntsville, Alabama and took my gear with me. It was going to be for a couple weeks and then COVID hit. I had to wait it out with my family in Alabama because I couldn’t come back to Philly.

“I came down to visit my cousin Jill Gillian in St. Petersburg while waiting for COVID to get over. A lor of restaurants in St. Pete were re-opening. I gave out cards, got booked and built up a following. Now, I’ve been here more than two years.”

Diamond’s roots are in Chester County where she has been involved in singing for a long time

“I’ve been singing my whole life,” said Diamond. “My dad Art was a music teacher at Chichester High. My mom Karyn was a singer/songwriter in Christian music. My brother Lou is a guitarist. My sister Alyssa is the only one not in music. She’s a fashion designer.

“I was born and raised in Downingtown and started singing in choir in elementary school. At West Chester University, I got a B.A. in music with a concentration in voice – including classical and opera/

“I learned to play guitar when I was 12 and then started writing songs three years later. I’ve always been a songwriter but I never took the plunge into recording until this year.”

Diamond listed her biggest influences – Kelly Clarkson, Hayley Williams, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert.

“Dave Walker, one of my managers, taught me the business,” said Diamond. “He held my hand throughout. Tony Doblin, my other manager, came on as an investor initially and got more involved.

“We’ve flown to Nashville three times to do some recording – March, April and June. I’ve been recording with producer Roger Nichols.  He was the mentor of Paramore’s Hayley Williams, who has always been one of my favorites. I got to record in a very special studio – Bell Tone Recording – with a very special team.

“I have six tracks recorded. The first single from the sessions – ‘I Got Away’ – was just released on August 5. The plan is to keep releasing singles. The next one will be in October and then the other four by the end of the year.

“Right now, my live show is half originals and half covers. I grew up listening to my dad’s classic rock, so I want a rock edge to my music. I’d describe it as country with a rock edge.”

Video link for Sarah Diamond and the Soul Miners – www.facebook.com/sarahdiamondmusic/videos/2851523938490838.

The show at the Uptown on Saturday will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.

On August 18, the Uptown! Knauer will host One Alternative – another band with Chester County roots.

One Alternative

One Alternative features Jill Haley on oboe/English horn, Dana Allaband on violin and Mark Oppenlander on various acoustic guitars.

“We play acoustic fusion music – classical, folk, rock, jazz,” said Opperlander, during a phone interview Tuesday night.

“We started in 1983 with two guitars and an oboe. Jill and I have been together ever since.”

They wanted their sound to be an alternative to other acoustic ensembles by using a unique instrument lineup and by exploring different musical styles.  Hence, the name — One Alternative.

“We were both music students at Temple University,” said Oppenlander, an Embreeville native who graduated from Unionville High in 1978.

“We were in the same dorm. We and met at a Halloween party and started dating. Then, I hooked up with a dulcimer player – Kevin Ross, who was from the Unionville area. He wanted to add a French Horn player. I told him about Jill, who was also an English Horn player.

“He brought in Jill. And the I was let go. I started writing with Frank McDermott, a guitar player from West Chester. She heard what we were doing and wanted to add oboe. In April 1983, we were a trio.

“We went through five different guitar players. In 2018, we stopped guitar and added violin – Dana Allaband, who lives in Southern Chester County. For the last 10 years, we’ve added a drummer for live shows – Tony DeAngelis. And our regular bass player is Tim Celfo.”

One alternative has released eight albums.

The first, “Greenlawn”, was recorded in 1985. The second album, “Take Note”, was released in 1988 and received praise from publications such as Billboard and CD Review.

In 1990, the third album, “Shadows,” was recorded and released. Radio airplay for this recording was heard on several hundred radio stations in the United States, as well as Japan and Spain. The band followed with “Yet To Be” in 1996, “Changes” in 1998, “Air Sculpture” in 2011, “Pendulum” in 2003, and “Twilight’ in 2017.

“This five-piece live line-up has been together four years now,” said Oppenlander, who is also a music teacher. “We’re still playing older songs and some new originals. I’d say 75 per cent of our music is written down and the rest has the elemnt of improvisation.”

Video link for One Alternative – https://youtu.be/aoyxi16MUv0.

The show at the Uptown on Thursday will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is also presenting Best Friend’s Girl on August 27.

There are two good productions of Broadway shows in the area that are well worth seeing – but you need to hurry up. This is the penultimate weekend for both shows.

Dear Evan Hansen

“Dear Evan Hansen,” which is billed as a “deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it,” is making its Philadelphia premiere at the Forrest Theatre (1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, www.kimmelculturalcampus.org) now through August 28.

This touring production is being presented by the Shubert Organization in partnership with the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is a musical with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and a book by Steven Levenson. The musical follows Evan Hansen, a high school senior with social anxiety “who invents an important role for himself in a tragedy that he did not earn.”

The musical opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in December 2016 and received critical acclaim. At the 71st Tony Awards, it was nominated for nine awards, winning six, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Actor for Ben Platt, and Best Featured Actress for Rachel Bay Jones.

The Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of “Dear Evan Hansen” was released in February 2017 and made an extraordinary debut on the Billboard 200 — entering the chart at #8, the highest charting debut position for an original cast album since 1961. A remixed cover of “Waving Through a Window” can also claim a rare first for a Broadway show – as a number one hit on Billboard’s Dance Club chart.

Basically, Hansen is a geeky high school student who spends much of his time in front of a computer screen – cut off from the world. His mother is on his case all the time – exhorting him to interact with his peers.

In the summer prior to his senior year, Hansen broke his arm and had to start the school year wearing a cast. His mom suggests that he gets people to sign the cast.

At the same time, Hansen is assigned by his therapist Dr. Sherman to write letters to himself detailing what will be good about each day. His overworked mother Heidi suggests that he ask people to sign the cast on his arm to make friends. Meanwhile, Cynthia and Larry Murphy struggle to connect with their son Connor, a sullen drug user.

The only one to sign the cast was the school bully Connor Murphy – mockingly in big letters that leave hardly any room for other signatures.

Hansen wrote a letter that expresses his loneliness. He printed the letter out in school but Murphy grabed it from the printer tray and refused to give it back.

Days later, Hansen is called to the principal’s office, where Murphy’s parents tell him that their son had died by suicide. They found Hansen’s letter in their son’s pocket, and mistakenly believe it was written by their kid — indicating a close friendship between them. Murphy’s signature on his cast strengthens that belief despite Hansen’s fumbling attempts to explain.

The Murphys invite Hansen to their house for dinner, where he is awkward and uncomfortable, so he tells them what he thinks they want to hear, pretending that he and their son had secretly been best friends.

The plot then deals with how the lie continued to grow.

Hansen spends an increasing amount of time with Murphy’s family — fabricating details about his “friendship” with Murphy. The Connor Project is launched, along with a fundraiser to create a memorial space in an orchard.

The National Tour cast features Anthony Norman as Evan Hansen, Alaina Anderson as Zoe Murphy (Connor’s sister and Evan’s crush), Colleen Sexton as Heidi Hansen (Evan’s sister) and Lili Thomas as Cynthia Murphy.

In a recent interview, Thomas said, “Audiences really relate to this show. There is a character in this show for everybody to relate to. The message of this show is mainly about connection.”

Video link for “Dear Evan Hansen” — https://youtu.be/6GzU40h_kO8.

The show will run from August 16-28 at the Forrest Theatre. Tickets prices range from $59-$177.

The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting an all-time classic musical as its fourth production run of 2022. The lively comedy “Sweet Charity” is running now through August 28.

“Sweet Charity” is a musical with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields and book by Neil Simon. It was directed and choreographed for Broadway by Bob Fosse starring his wife and muse Gwen Verdon alongside John McMartin.

It is based on the screenplay for Federico Fellini’s 1957 Italian film, “Nights of Cabiria.”

Besides the obvious major change of resetting the story from Rome to New York, the biggest change is Cabiria/Charity’s occupation. Cabiria is a “hooker with a heart of gold.” This had to be softened for American musical audiences in 1966, so Charity works instead as a taxi dancer at the Fandango Ballroom.

In the early 20th century, men could go to dance halls and pay to dance with the woman of their choice, usually for 10 cents a song (thus the famous Rodgers & Hart song “Ten Cents a Dance.”) However, by the1960s, taxi dance halls were not nearly as common. It’s suggested, at least in “Sweet Charity,” that most of the women who were still taxi dancers were willing to do more than just dance, if the price is right.

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1966, where it was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning the Tony Award for Best Choreography. The production also ran in London’s West End as well as having revivals and international productions.

The musical was adapted for the screen in 1969 with Shirley MacLaine as Charity and John McMartin recreating his Broadway role as Oscar Lindquist. For Bob Fosse, who directed and choreographed, the film was his feature-film directorial debut.

The production at the Candlelight features stellar performances by Phoebe Gavula on the title role of Charity Hope Valentine. The other main character — Oscar Lindquist – is performed admirably by Jared Calhoun.

Other key performers are Gabrielle Impriano as Helene, Beth Dugan as Nickie, Tess Sinatra as Carmen, JJ Vavrik as Herman, Joe Falcone as Vittorio Vidal, and Rebecca Schall as Ursula March.

The production at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre is directed by Jessica Bostock with choreography by Jody Anderson and musical direction by Christopher Tolomeo.

“Sweet Charity” is running now through August 28.

Tickets, which include dinner, non-alcoholic beverages and free parking, are $65.50 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

On August 18, it will be time for another edition of Candlelight Comedy Club at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre.

The show will feature Keith Purnell, Rachel Fogletto and Justin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who is a stand-up comedian and magician, is a local Renaissance Man. He is an independent musician based in Philadelphia who travels throughout the tri-state area and beyond.

Gonzalez, who began performing professionally at the age of 11, now performs with a repertoire that includes classical, big band, Broadway and opera. Most recently, he added a new genre when he assumed the role of lead vocalist for “33 1/3 LIVE’s Killer Queen Experience.”

“I’m originally from Northeast Philly,” said Gonzalez. “I went to school in South Philly at GAMP.”

The Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP) is a college preparatory school for students in grades 5 through 12 that provides a unique educational environment, focusing on college and career readiness, while allowing all students to pursue music as a major subject.

“I was at GAMP for eight years,” said Gonzalez. “I studied voice and instruments starting with lower brass. Voice was a large chunk of it. I got my first professional performance in Europe.”

At the age of 13, Gonzalez was asked to join a chorus as a soloist on its two-week tour of Germany and France. On that trip, he had the opportunity to perform in many castles, mansions, and historic houses of worship. The most memorable moment for him was singing in the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris, France.

“It was amazing,” said Gonzalez. “I was 13 and I was singing at the Cathedral Notre Dame. I was just a poor Puerto Rican kid from North Philly, and I was singing in places like a castle in Germany and a cathedral in Berlin.”

After years of laying the groundwork for a promising career as an opera singer, Gonzalez was diagnosed at the age of 18 with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease. One of the symptoms of MS is memory loss. His opera career was over just as quickly as it began.

“It affected my brain’s ability to memorize,” said Gonzalez. “I still sing classically at venues around the East Coast and on Broadway.”

Today, 20 years since that first tour, Gonzalez is still a sought-after classical music soloist. He is also a practitioner of the American Song Book and the music of Broadway. He uses all of this music to entertain, educate, and share his story.

“I also have several music projects,” said Gonzalez. “There is the Little Big Band Lounge Revival, which does lounge and popular standards along with classic love songs, and the Justin Gonzalez Jazz Trio, which is a pop trio that uses classical instruments.

“There is also ‘33 1/3 LIVE’s Killer Queen Experience.’ I leave Friday for Pittsburgh to do a show with them and then I’m back in Philly on Sunday to sing the ‘Messiah’ with the Philadelphia Chorus.”

Can you say – “Justin Gonzalez, Renaissance Man.”

The comedy aspect is the most recent.

“About eight years ago, I was doing a weekly cabaret show with Julia Scotti – ‘Julia Scotti’s Comedy Test Kitchen,’” said Gonzalez. “She said I should tell my stories when performing. That allowed me to just be funny.”

Video link for Justin Gonzalez — https://youtu.be/kNtcF4Z5aqQ.

The show at the Candlelight Theater will start at 7:30 p.m. on August 18. Tickets, which are $30, include complimentary light fare and free parking.

If you’re looking to hear jazz or blues music live, then you need to look no further than Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com). The Delaware County venue is a prime destination to hear folk, jazz and blues music every Thursday through Sunday.

The “Thursday Night Jazz Jam” and the “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” are regular features on Jamey’s calendar while Friday and Saturday night shows feature national and regional acts.

The headline acts this weekend are Dave Orban and the Mojo Gypsies on August 18 and Elle Gahnt on August 19.

With Dave Orban and the Mojo Gypsies, you get both jazz and blues.

“I’d describe our music as blues-based with a jazz twist,” said Orban, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Hamilton, New Jersey. “We also have a fair amount of influence from traditional R&B from the 50s like Rya Charles and T Bone Walker.”

As a teenager in the 60s, Orban was influenced by rock bands such as the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Then he expanded his tastes.

According to Orban, “Initially, my exposure to it came through such British interpreters as Cream, Jeff Beck, the Stones, and John Mayall who eventually led me to uncover some of their “source” material. Then, I discovered the music of the late, great harmonica virtuoso and band-leader Paul Butterfield, and through him, the master — Muddy Waters. Countless hours of my late teen years were spent listening to his “Sail On” LP, a collection of classics from about 1947 through 1952. For me, this was the mother lode.

“From the first notes of “I Can’t Be Satisfied” all the way through “Louisiana Blues,” these songs were filled with a raw immediacy that, for me, has never been matched. And I was hooked. Of course, Muddy led me to Little Walter Jacobs, Jimmy Rogers, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon. Digging deeper, I learned about Robert Johnson, Huddie Ledbetter, Blind Will McTell, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Willie Johnson, T-Bone Walker, Blind Blake, and hundreds of others.”

Then, his interest in music got shelved.

“I was in a couple bands in high school,” said Orban. “Then, I fell away from it when I was in college. I studied art and got my bachelor and master’s degree in art from Brooklyn College. Around 1976, I sold all my music gear. I spent the 80s being ‘Mister Corporate America.’

“In the mid-90s, I started with music again. I had forgotten everything. I’d go and listen to people play. Then, I’d go home and mimic it with a guitar I borrowed from my nephew. Eventually, I started doing open mics and then was in a couple bands. In 1998, I decided I wanted to do my own thing.”

The Mojo Gypsies were born and have continued to thrive over the following two-and-one-half decades.

“I’ve probably had six different line-ups since 1998,” said Orban. “The most constant member has been sax player Mike Scott, who was been with me for 10 years.”

A lot of bands have a lead vocalist and two harmony singers and take the stage with three mics. Orban has a slight variation.

“With the current band, it’s me and three Mikes,” said Orban. “In addition to Mike Scott, we have Mike Cruse, who has been my bass player for the last year, and Mike DeMonte, who has been my drummer for a while.

“A lot of the music we play is blues-based but, if you’re looking for traditional blues, look elsewhere. I’ve played all the traditional blues before. With this band, I wanted to play blues with a modern approach – contemporary blues, jazz/blues.

“When we’re onstage, we’re not just up there playing music. We want to put on an entertaining show. A lot of acts don’t try to engage the audience. Other acts – like Steely Dan – had a presence. That’s what we try to do.”

Orban is no stranger to Jamey’s stage.

“This is the fourth or fifth time I’m playing there,” said Orban. “I also sit in periodically with the Sunday Blues Jam if their regular guitar player is unavailable.

“Jamey’s is such a great place to play – great sound and there’s not a bad seat in the house. Jamey is also a great guy who does so much for local and national music acts. That’s why our show there this weekend is a benefit for him. All the money from our ticket sales is going right back to the house.”

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

The show at Jamey’s on Friday will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

This week’s featured performer on Saturday will be Ella Gahnt.

Ella Gahnt is not only her (stage) name, but also a description of the music she plays and of her singing style.

Gahnt is a vocalist in the jazz/traditional pop style who has performed with some of the most talented musicians in the quad-state area of Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. She also has worked professionally as a studio vocalist/performer for many years.

“Ella Gahnt, which is my stage name, was given to me by my husband Leon Mitchell,” said Gahnt, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.

“It comes from the persona I want when I perform – elegant. I wat to be like the performers back in the day who dressed to the nines – Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole. They put on a show. It’s all about entertaining.”

Mitchell is a sax player and a key figure in Philly area jazz support groups such as The Jazz Bridge Project. He is also the Musical Director of the Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra

“I sang in church choirs when I was little then glee clubs in junior high and choirs in high school,” said Gahnt, a graduate of West Philadelphia High School. “I was also in one of the last versions of the Orlons in the late 60s.”

The Orlons were an R&B group from Philadelphia. The group had nine Top 20 hits. “The Wah-Watusi,” “Don’t Hang Up,” and “South Street” each sold over one million copies and were awarded gold disc status.

“In the 1980s, I decided I wanted to be a jazz singer,” said Gahnt. “I started listening to old favorites – especially to learn the songs and find different versions of the songs I liked.

“I was a big fan of Chick Corea and Return to Forever. I learned his song ‘You’re Everything.’ A lot of people played it but no-one played it the way Chick Corea wrote it. I played it the way Chick Corea wrote it.”

“My first jazz show was at the Freedom Theater. I was the featured vocalist for the Mike Hill Trio.”

“In my live shows, I do mostly traditional jazz – including some originals. One original is the set opener ‘What You’ll Hear from Me’ and another is ‘Let It Be Yesterday.’ I also do a lot of jazz standards.

“I venture into the more challenging music. When I’m working with guys on a regular basis, they can handle music that’s more challenging.”

Gahnt has released several albums over the years including “Immaculate Union,” “Third Stage of Elegance,” and “By Request.”

“I’m working now on a new album,” said Gahnt. “It’s a new project for Aaron Graves and me. It’s pretty much all recorded.”

Video link for Ella Gahnt — https://youtu.be/1jQyZncKxZg.

The show at Jamey’s on Saturday will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

The “Thursday Night Jazz Jam” and the “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” are regular features on Jamey’s calendar while Friday and Saturday night shows feature national and regional acts.

Jamey’s has started a popular “Guest Singer Series” featuring many of the best singers in the region performing a set from 7-8 p.m. with the backing of the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.

This week’s featured performer on August 18 will be Greg Farnese. The show will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

“Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” is a favorite of Jamey’s regulars because Jamey Reilly and his band the Philly Blues Kings (www.phillyblueskings.com) are the performers each week.

The Philly Blues King are a veteran outfit comprised of David Reiter on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Maci Miller on vocals, Bill Marconi on drums and vocals and Reilly on bass guitar. They have performed together for 15 years (except for Miller) and are the house band for Jamey’s House of Music. They are well known for tight, jazz inflected classic blues.

Reiter performs on a seven-string guitar and Reilly plays a fretless five string bass and that sets the group above the ordinary. The three veteran musicians have each spent decades playing the blues professionally and have backed many well-known national artists. Maci Miller, an internationally recognized jazz singer based in Philadelphia, joined the Blues Kings and quickly established herself as a top-flight front woman.

Video link for Philly Blues Kings — https://youtu.be/bAnBVLc7Wsg.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music on August 14 will start at noon. Admission is free.

The Dales have an interesting history with MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, www.milkboyphilly.com).

The L.A.-based band, which features California country rock/Americana/Topanga Canyon music, played MilkBoy in 2020 – just days before COVID-19 slammed the door shut on live shows everywhere.

The Dales — Drew Lawrence, Preston Pope, Jackie Tozzi — were scheduled for a triumphant return to the venue in Center City Philadelphia on August 18.

This time, the door did slam shut on the show.

“We were supposed to play there this week, but the club is temporarily closed,” said Lawrence, during a phone interview Monday from Spring Lake, New Jersey.

“It seems the club has been having trouble with Philadelphia inspectors and has to remain closed until things are fixed.”

MilkBoy had 14 shows scheduled between now and September 30. Five have been cancelled. Four have been shifted to Kung Fu Necktie and two to Silk City. One show has been relocated to Silk City, one to the World café Live and one to 118 North.

The Dales’ show has been relocated to 118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com) where they will share the bill with Andrew Duhon.

In January 2020, The Dales released “Easy Times” an EP which charted both at AAA and Americana radio.

The band spent the winter of 2021/2022 recording its second full length album at Bear Creek Studio in Washington state with producer Jerry Streeter (Brandi Carlile).

The Dales are still (sort of) touring in support of their latest album “Easy Times,” which is the follow-up to their acclaimed 2018 debut album, “Marie.” “Easy Times” features a sense of optimism and exuberance which offers an antidote for troubled times.

“The album dropped on January 10,” said Lawrence, during a recent phone interview from his home in Los Angeles. “We did it in L.A. and produced it ourselves.

“We tried to do an EP with a producer earlier and it didn’t work out. It was too heavy. The instrumentation was fighting with the vocals. We were mixing and the mixing just wasn’t right. It was a heavier sound – more electric.

“I have a home studio and so does Preston. We’re both engineers and produces in addition to being in the band. So, we decided to do it ourselves. We started from scratch. It had been a year-and-a-half since our last album came out. The first few songs we released from ‘Easy Times’ were well-received. The album is clearly Americana.”

With “Easy Times,” The Dales had better vibes – and a better line-up.

“During the recording of the shelved album, there was some tension in the line-up with the band,” said Lawrence. “Two members left, and we got a new member – Jackie Tozzi.

“It brought a lot of new excitement into the group. That’s why the concept was ‘easy times.’ With the old line-up, the band was in a tense period, and it showed in the music.

“Me and Preston have been playing together for 12 years and our drummer Blake has been in it since Day One. We went to college together at Berklee School of Music in Boston.”

Produced by The Dales, “Easy Times” is, as Lawrence describes it, all about affirmation and encouragement, a soundtrack that urges the listener to get on with the business of life and not get bogged down in disappointment and hard times.

“It’s Americana and the genre is open for us,” said Lawrence. “It’s grassroots – just us playing for folks. It has longevity.

“Our first album was recorded in Washington State. The tome was about loss and heartbreak. With ‘Easy Times,’ we wanted to focus on good times.”

Even without the ability to tour in support of “Easy Times,” the Dales saw positive reaction.

“‘Easy Times’ did well,” said Lawrence. “We got some radio play and the single, ‘Homesick Summertime,’ was on the Americana charts.

“Because of COVID, we couldn’t go out and tour in 2020. We did play a number of ticketed streaming concerts from our studio in L.A. We also did some festivals remotely.

“It was a good year-and-a-half when we were without live audiences. We did a tour of the East Coast last summer and that was our first time of being on the road again.”

The Dales spent the down time recording a new album.

“The album is called ‘Multi-Track Pony,’ and it will be out on September 23,” said Lawrence. “The first single, ‘Glass Wall,’ came out in May. The second single, ‘Don’t Tell Me How to Hurt,’ will be out next week.

“We went to Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, Washington. We spent two weeks living in the woods there. We immersed ourselves in the music.

“Preston and I live in L.A. and Jackie lives in Santa Barbara. We went to studio like this to have a change from daily life with our families. It was good to get away and immerse ourselves in nothing but the music.

“The new album is an evolution for us. Ever since Jackie joined, we’ve been more collaborative. It’s less of an Americana album and more a rock LP. There’s also some soul music along with some rockers.

“It’s louder – a post-Covid release of energy to make people feel alive again. More importantly, we wanted to write music that we would want to see a band play.”

Video link for The Dales — https://youtu.be/M-JU_gnrGUg.

The show at 118 North, also features Andrew Duhon, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at 118 North are Sundried Vibes on August 19 and Zen Dog on August 24.

Over the last quarter-century, Chris Knight, who is headlining a show City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, citywinery.com) on August 24, has built a reputation as one of Americas’ most respected singer-songwriters. And it’s always been “no frills.”

“I’ve just done a little bit of writing again – new songs for my next album,” said Knight, during a recent phone interview from his home in eastern Kentucky.

“I wait until the spirit moves me. I’ve slowed down a whole lot. When I first started, I wrote about everything I wanted to. Now, I’m not writing a song just to write a song. It’s got to grab me – got to do something to me to get me interested in writing.

“If I can’t believe myself, I won’t sing the song. The last song I wrote was on a glider in the yard at my house. It ain’t even got a name.”

According to Knight, “If I don’t have something worth saying, I’m not opening my mouth. I haven’t suited everybody, but every time I get a new fan it tells me I’m doing something right. I think all my records have set a precedent, if only for me at the very least. I just want people to think the latest one stands up to everything else I’ve done.”

A lot of musicians believe in what Knight has written.

Some of his songs that have been covered by other artists are “A Pretty Good Guy” ( Fred Eaglesmith), “A Train Not Running” (Stacy Dean Campbell), “Cry Lonely” (Cross Canadian Ragweed), “Heart of Stone” Dan Baird, “Highway Junkie” (Randy Travis, Gary Allan, The Yayhoos, The Von Ehrics) “I Don’t Want to Hang Out With Me” (Confederate Railroad), “It Ain’t Easy Being Me” (John Anderson, Jason McCoy, and Blake Shelton), “Love at 90 Miles an Hour” (Ty Herndon) and “She Couldn’t Change Me” (Montgomery Gentry).

“In my mid-20s, I started doing some open mics after I started writing some songs,” said Knight. “The place was about 30 miles away – Goldie’s Opera House in Goldsboro. One of the people there told ne I should keep writing my own songs.

“I started writing in 1986. I was inspired by Steve Earl, Dwight Yoakim, Lyle Lovett, Marty Stuart and Hank Williams, Jr. I wrote a bunch of songs when I was 26 but didn’t write a keeper for a year-and-a-half.

“I sent my songs to people in Nashville and would get hand-written notes that said – we like your style…keep writing.”

Knight kept writing and released his debut album, “Chris Knight,” in 1998 on Decca Nashville Records. He has released 10 albums altogether – the most recent of which is “Almost Daylight,” which was released via Drifter’s Choice in October 2019.

“We had a big tour scheduled for 2020,” said Knight. “Our last show was March 15. That’s when everything shut down. In 2021, I got back to doing about half the amount of shows I would usually do. So, I consider what I’m doing now is still touring this album.”

Video link for Chris Knight – https://youtu.be/Ylb7RwJn4dk.

The show at City Winery on August 24 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is presenting Tret Fure and Heather Mae on August 19, Sugar Lime Blue on August 20, and The Real Diamond on August 27.

Concerts Under the Stars (Upper Merion Township Building Park, King of Prussia, concertsunderthestarskop.com) will present Steal Your Peach on August 19, Devon Gilfillian on August 25, Brett Dennen on September 14, David Bromberg on September 23, and The Wailers on September 30.

On August 21, the West Goshen Community Park (1023 Fern Hill Road, West Chester, www.westgoshen.org/201/Summer-Concert-Series) will present Irish music by The Malarkey Brothers.

Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts (9 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, brynmawrtwilightconcerts.com) will present Cris Jacobs Band on August 19, Trout Fishing in America on August 24, and The Dirty Grass Players on August 28.

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