On Stage: KMFDM keeps true to industrial rock roots

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times


When the dawn of industrial rock arrived more than three decades ago, KMFDM was there.

The industrial scene has gone through many changes over the years. Many bands in the genre have risen, fallen and ceased to exist. Fortunately, KMFDM is not one of them.

KMFDM is still here and is making music more powerful than ever.

KMFDM have a new single out via Metropolis Records, “Let Go.”

“Let Go” is also the title track of the new KMFDM 11-track album which was released on February 2 on CD and vinyl, plus download and streaming.

“Let Go” is the band’s 23rd studio album and includes the core lineup of Sascha’ “Käpt’n K” Konietzko, his wife Lucia Cifarelli, Andy Selway and Andee Blacksugar.

The release was mixed and mastered by Benjamin Lawrenz (VNV Nation, Deep Purple, Saga, Mono Inc., Lord of the Lost), at Chameleon Recording Studios in Hamburg and again has distinctive cover artwork by Aidan ‘BRUTE’ Hughes.

Now, the multi-national band (Germany/England/United States) is touring the states in support of its new LP.

On March 10, KMFDM returns to Philadelphia for a show at Brooklyn Bowl (1009 Canal Street, Philadelphia, www.brooklynbowl.com/philadelphia).

“I started writing the first couple tunes after the end of the 2022 fall tour,” said Konietzko, during a phone interview from a tour stop in Carrboro, North Carolina.

“I wrote some more in May 2023, and I finished it in late November. Lucia and I recorded in Hamburg. Andee did his work in Brooklyn and Andy recorded his parts in West Palm Beach.”

While recording parts of songs separately in different locations was a model used by bands who were isolated during the pandemic, it was a way of recording that was old hat for KMFDM.

“The last time we made an album together in a studio was in 1994,” said Konietzko. “We did it for our ‘Nihil’ album.”

There have been 15 KMFDM albums since that release.

“For the new album, I came up with a bunch of small ideas,” said Konietzko. “I pass them around and everybody throws in their two cents. After that, it takes shape – or it doesn’t take shape. I started with 17 or 18 songs, but some were non-starters.

“Conceptually, it was supposed to be a soundtrack with many different scenes. It’s a journey from start to finish – like a book. A lot of thought went into it. An album is like a snapshot of a time frame.”

Konietzko and the members of his band KMFDM are the forefathers of industrial rock – the progenitors of a whole breed of rockers who view noise as a valid foundation for songs.

KMFDM has been around longer than a lot of musicians in today’s bands have been alive. But Konietzko and his crew never grow old.

They don’t rest on their laurels — content to tour playing songs from 20 or 30 years ago. KMFDM is still making music that is vital, vibrant and vicious.

This year, KMFDM celebrated its 40th anniversary and “Let Go” is its 23rd album. The band’s previous album was “Hyëna,” which was released in 2022 on Metropolis Records.

KMFDM’s signature sound — a crossover between techno/dance, heavy rock and industrial a.k.a “Ultra Heavy Beat” — is combined with sometimes political, sometimes ironic lyrics and an underlying humorous edge.

KMFDM actually began in Hamburg, Germany as “Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid” (“No compassion for the majority”) which eventually was shortened to the acronym KMFDM.

“KMFDM really never has been a band,” said Konietzko. “It’s a project. That’s the reason for its longevity.

“Even though this is KMFDM’s 40th anniversary tour, we’re not just playing greatest hits. We’re doing six or seven from the new album and a few from ‘Hyëna’ and ‘Paradise.’ The oldest tracks we play are ‘Naïve’ and ‘Go to Hell’ from 1990.

“Young listeners today are used to listening to music on streaming services not on vinyl or CD. But in Atlanta the other night, the kids in the front row knew the lyrics of every song. There is a whole young audience waiting in the wings – not just old fans.

“I get strong encouragement from my 16-year-old daughter Annabella. She works with us in marketing and on the tour – including hair tech. And she has now started recording her own album.”

The Morlocks, the opening act on the tour, are also a very intense band. Their latest album “Praise the Iconoclast” was released by Metropolis Records in October 2023.

Video link for KMFDM — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdoxIBCIR-Y.

The show at Brooklyn Bowl on March 10 will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $36.

Red Wanting Blue

Red Wanting Blue has also been around for a long time – if you consider more than 27 years to be a long time.

The Columbus, Ohio-based rock band has performed at many different venues around the Delaware Valley with the last few shows hosted by either World Café Live or City Winery

Just over two years ago, Red Wanting Blue made a venue debut with a show at City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, citywinery.com/philadelphia). On March 12, RWB will enjoy a return engagement at the club in Center City.

Red Wanting Blue is an Ohio band all the way – conceived at Ohio University and later based in Columbus.

Red Wanting Blue formed in 1996 in Athens, Ohio and still features many of its original members. The line-up includes Scott Terry on lead vocals, tenor guitar, and ukulele; Mark McCullough on bass, Chapman stick, and vocals; Greg Rahm on guitar, keyboards, and vocals; Eric Hall on guitar, lap steel, and vocals; and Dean Anshutz on drums and percussion.

“I formed the band when I was a theater major at Ohio University,” said Terry, during a phone interview Wednesday as the band headed east to Boston to begin the tour on March 7 at City Winery Boston.

“It exploded. It did so well so I wanted to pursue it before pursuing my master’s degree in performance. And being a lead singer is like majoring in performance.

“Now, we’ve been doing it for 27 years. It’s a great feeling. When I was younger, my father-in-law and my grandmother believed in the same thing – find something you love to do and keep doing it. I never expected 25 years. It’s always been – just handle what’s in front of you.”

In 1999 the band relocated its headquarters to Columbus, Ohio — the city Red Wanting Blue now calls home.

“Columbus was a place that was right in the middle of the state – and right where the main highways met,” said Terry. “It seemed like a good middle ground. We immediately started doing concentric circle touring.

“That we’ve been on the road as long as we have is impressive. It was great starting in 2001 with 200 shows a year. The years from 2010-2020 have been the best for us – until the pandemic. Each tour has a beginning, middle and end – and we give it a name.”

Some of the tour names have been “The Wanting Tour,” “Hey ’22 Winter Tour,” and “Our Little America Tour.”

“I guess this tour is the ‘Go East ’24 Winter Tour’,” said Terry. “We’re doing eight shows in the Northeast this March.

“We also have our friend Bobby Yang on tour. He’s a renowned violinist. We met him through our friends in the Connecticut band Alternate Routes.

“Bobby is sitting in with the band. He played on our new video, ‘Goliath,’ which was recorded live on The Rock Boat.”

Melding his classical training with years of Colorado mountain woodshedding, Yang is reinventing the sound of the acoustic violin. His inimitable sound combines the virtuosity of the violin with the dirt of a bluegrass fiddle and the rawness of a guitar. He has surrounded himself with musicians who share his madness, his Unrivaled Players, while touring internationally.

“We’re also bringing the band The Trews,” said Terry. “They are our Canadian brothers. Like us, they started when they were really young. We were a few years earlier.”

The Trews are a Canadian rock band from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, featuring vocalist Colin MacDonald, guitarist John-Angus MacDonald, bassist Jack Syperek, and drummer Chris Gormley. The band is currently based in Hamilton, Ontario. From their formation in 1997 to 2016, The Trews were among the top 150 best-selling Canadian artists in Canada and among the top 40 best-selling Canadian bands in Canada.

Red Wanting Blue did slow down a little in the few years prior to the arrival of COVID-19.

“We were trying to tour smarter,” said Terry. “We were playing 100-125 shows a year. Band members got married. Our bass player Mark and his wife Bridget had a child. We were learning how to be a rock band with members in their 40’s.”

Red Wanting Blue has released 13 studio albums – starting with “Velveteen” in 1996 and “The Image Trigger” in 1998. The quintet’s most recent album is “The Wanting,” which was released on Blue Élan Records in April 2018.

“We recorded ‘The Wanting’ with Will Hoge as the producer,” said Terry. “We cut the album at Sound Emporium in Nashville. It was amazing to be in such a historic studio where bands like R.E.M. made great records.

“After the album came out, we toured it for a while. Then, COVID hit in spring 2020 and we had to cancel the tour. So, we began working on our next record.”

Red Wanting Blue’s new album is titled, “Light It Up.” It is scheduled to be released on June 7 on the band’s record label, Blue Élan Records. The first single was the recently released, “Goliath.’ The next single — “Light It Up” – has a May 18 drop date.

“‘Light It Up’ is the first self-produced album by Red Wanting Blue after all these years,” said Terry. “We just decided to record the way we wanted to.

“The recording was done in Columbus, Ohio at a number of studios, including Sonic Lounge and Peppermint Studios. It was mixed by John Spiker, who is from Columbus and now lives in California. It was mixed at his studio in L.A.

“It was a longer process due to the pandemic. It was good. It came out sounding the way we wanted it to be – bringing energy, light and color back to the music.

“With this album – we hit it. It’s the best representation ever of Red Wanting Blue.”

RWB’s show in Philly will be a homecoming of sorts for Terry.

“I grew up in South Philly and we would head over to South Street a lot when we were teenagers,” said Terry. “I’m from Moorestown. I even worked at Moorestown Mall. When we get to Philly this time, I’m hoping I can get over to Jersey for a steak at Donkey’s Place.”

Donkey’s Place in Camden is nirvana for lovers of cheesesteaks – hailed by many as the best in the Philly area. Even Anthony Bourdain visited Donkey’s and lavished praise on it during one of his television shows.

Terry is a Jersey boy who came of age in Ohio and now has lived in Brooklyn for 12 years. Red Wanting Blue’s music, however, has always calle the Midwest home.

“We play heartland rock and roll– music with blue jeans,” said Terry.

Video link for Red Wanting Blue — https://youtu.be/0kFRv2OGX_w.

The show at the City Winery on January 23 will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

Other upcoming acts at the City Winery are Kempire After Dark on March 7, Cat Cohen on March 8, Sun Ra Arkestra on March 9, Sy Smith on March 10 and Avery Sunshine on March 12.

The Gretchen Emery Band has played many venues around the area including Kennett Flash, Jamey’s House of Music, Stoney’s English Pub and Bellefonte Café.

The band’s fans are used to seeing GEB as a hard rocking group.

This weekend, fans will have an opportunity to see GEB as a duo featuring Emery and her husband Kenny Windle. Emery is the singer while Windle is the band’s guitarist and Emery’s co-writer.

On March 8, Emery and Windle will perform as an acoustic duo at Riverside Yacht Club (95 Wanamaker Avenue, Essington, https://rycessington.com). The show will run from 7-10 p.m.

The Gretchen Emery Band released its debut EP, “If Love Were Enough,” in July 2022 on a/i/r records. It has been described as a “rootsy, soul-fueled mix of rockin’ R&B…. blending both traditional and contemporary influences, creating something that feels instantly familiar yet excitingly fresh at the same time.”

Now, they are working on a new release on a/i/r records.

“We took a break and sort of hibernated the last two months,” said Emery, during a phone interview from her home in Newark, Delaware. “We’re going to Muscle Shoals in May to record at FAME. This is a bucket list for Kenny. He always wanted to record at FAME.

“We’re taking the whole band to Alabama along with producer Derek Chafin, who produced our last album. It’s like everything lined up just right.

Both Emery and her husband grew up in Dover, Delaware.

“I stayed in Dover for college and went to Wesley College,” said Emery, who was recently honored with the 2023 award for “Best Lead Singer” by Delaware Valley Hometown Heroes.

“When I was growing up, music was obligatory in our home. Everyone is musical. My mom has been a singer since she was really young. My dad played the clarinet and his brother played organ and piano. I started singing in church. In school, I played flute in the band and sang.”

Video link for the Gretchen Emery Band – https://youtu.be/yUWijOc-OuM.

The show at the Riverside Yacht Club on March 8 will start at 7 p.m.

Fans of the Gretchen Emery Band also will have an opportunity to see the full band perform live this weekend at a venue just south of the state line in Concordville (and just a mile away from the Ebright Azimuth, the highest point in Delaware at 447.85 feet).

The group is one of the headliners at the Diamond State Blues Society’s “House Rockin Party,” which will be held on May 10 from noon-6 p.m. at Delaware Veterans Post #1 (2535 Veterans Drive, Wilmington, 302-475-0636).

The other headliner is the Gabe Stillman Band. The opening bands are Slim & The Perkolators and The Tony Holiday Band.

“I’ve stayed busy all through the last year-and-a-half,” said Stillman, during a phone call from his home in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Stillman was busiest during a two-week period in April 2021.

“I went to Austin in April and recorded my first album,” said Stillman. “It was produced by Anton Funderbergh at Wire Recording.”

Funderbergh is top-flight guitarist and the bandleader of Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets since 1978. Their style incorporates both Chicago blues and Texas blues. He is also one of the most respected producers in Texas’ capitol city.

“I met Anton at the International Blues Challenge a couple years ago,” said Stillman. “I’ve been a fan of his since I was a teenager. He’s in my top 10 list of blues players. And I loved his production work with other people.”

Stillman’s album, “Just Say the Word,” was released in August by the Vizztone Label Group.

“It’s a 15-song album – 13 originals and two covers,” said Stillman. “The covers were Bill Withers’ ‘Friend of Mine’ and Bobby Blue Bland’s ‘I’ll Take Care of You.’

“When the album came out in August, it debuted at Number 10 on the Billboard Magazine Blues chart. It was also named one of the top blues albums of 2021 by Roots Music Report.

“I brought my rhythm section Bassist Colin Beatty and drummer Ray Hangen – down to Austin. In the studio, we used Taylor Streiff, a piano player from St. Louis, Austin’s Texas Horns and had Sue Foley and Anton playing guitar on one track.”

It was a big step forward for Stillman, who has been studying guitar for almost a decade-and-a-half.

“I started taking guitar lessons when I was 11,” said Stillman. “I’m 25 now so I’ve been playing for 14 years.

“When I started out, I wanted to play heavy rock and heavy metal. Listening to guitarists in those genres, I realized that their playing was very fast and technically complicated. A teacher told me to learn rock by getting into the blues.

“So, I started listening to a lot of blues guitarists like B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert King, Buddy Guy and Elmore James. I was also listening to guitarists such as Duane Allman and Derek Trucks. I realized – hey, I can do this. I got hooked on blues and R&B – and jazz. When I was 13 or 14, I started to perform live.”

A key stage in Stillman’s development came at the Uptown Music Collective in Williamsport.

For 20 years, the Uptown Music Collective has been providing exceptional modern music education grounded in traditional educational principles. Its programs engage students through an emphasis on modern genres including rock, pop, soul, blues, country, R&B, and funk.

“I studied at the Uptown Music Collective when I was younger,” said Stillman. “I also taught there after I got out of college.”

Stillman spent his college years in Boston where he got a degree in “Professional Music” with an emphasis on guitar performance and songwriting.

“I started my band in 2015 after graduating from Berklee,” said Stillman, whose honors include making it to “Final Eight” of the 35th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee.

“My band has been primarily a trio but at the Blues Challenge, I made it to the finals with the addition of a harmonica player in the group.

“My bass player Colin Beatty, who is also from Williamsport, has been with me the whole time. We’ve had different drummers come in and out. Right now, our drummer is Ray Hangen from Buffalo, New York.

“With the trio, we play mostly blues and American rock. There also is a little mix of R&B in there.”

Video link for Gabe Stillman — https://youtu.be/QGIJgb51Kw8.

The show in Delaware will run from noon-6 p.m. on March 10. Tickets are $45.

Emery’s group, Slim and his band, and Stillman share a local angle. All have performed at a highly acclaimed club in Delaware County — Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com).

This weekend, Jamey’s is presenting a concert by Bees Deluxe on March 8 and the Mike Montrey Band on March 9.

Fronted by British guitar monster, Conrad Warre, with Carol Band on keyboards, harmonica and vocals. Bees Deluxe is grounded by Jim Gildea on bass and vocals and Paul Giovine on drums.

“We’ve played Jamey’s before,” said Warre. “It’s like dying and going to heaven.

Band added, “The people are there for the music.”

Bees Deluxe love the venue so much that they recorded an album there recently. “Bees Deluxe – Live at Jamey’s” was just released.

Bees Deluxe is an anything-but-basic blues band. Hell-bent on a mission to drag the electric-analog blues of 60’s Chicago, the Blue Note catalog and the funk of New Orleans into the 21st century, the band has created a genre-bending sound it describes as “acid blues.”
Bees Deluxe has won audiences from Maine to the Mississippi with their arresting and highly danceable originals and their innovative interpretation of less-traveled tunes by artists like Etta James, Joe Zawinul, J.B. Lenoir, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Albert Collins and the three Kings.

The musicians each bring their own experience to the mix. Band was recruited from jazz bands that were playing the Boston circuit, notably Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge. Giovine was discovered by the band playing rock and roll in a slew of punk rock clubs in New England and Gildea was drafted by drummer Giovine after sharing the stage with him at several country-bro festivals. Warre was in a high-school band in London with Paul Kossoff of the band Free.

“I’m from London – from Notting Hill Gate, where the riots were,” said Warre. “I wrote Two-Tone music and toured with The English Beat and Joe Jackson. I moved to New York and played a lot at CBGB’s.

“I found Carol playing jazz at Ryles Jazz Club in Boston. I got Paul in the band because he knew who Bernard Purdie was. Jim was a friend of his and they played country blues together.”

Bees Deluxe has played with Ronnie Earl, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Matt Schofield, Roomful of Blues, Walter Trout and David Maxwell. The four-piece band celebrates the music of B.B. King, Robert Cray, Albert King, Tinsley Ellis, Freddie King and others.

So, the band’s background includes blues, rock, English ska, punk rock, jazz and country rock. Its current sound is all of that – and none of that.

“Our sound is more modern – more progressive – more edge,” said Band.

Warre, who is a British football fan and supporter of the Arsenal Gunners, said, “The communality is acid rock and blues. So many bands play the same songs the same way every night. When we play, we stretch it out and change it always. Arrangements are made up on the fly.”

Bees Deluxe push the limits of the blues, color outside the lines of convention, and do it with impeccable musicality, originality, and a touch of insanity.

“This kind of music appeals to fans of all ages – if they get to hear it,” said Warre. “We’re at our best when people are dancing.”

“Or if they’re hooting and hollering,” added Ware. “We adjust our music to the audience. If it’s not a dance crowd, we can stretch it out.”

Hooting, hollering, stretching it out, dancing, jamming – expect a little bit of everything from the crowd at Jamey’s on Friday night.”

Video link for Bees Deluxe – https://youtu.be/vcl0t_Ux26g.

The show on March 8 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

The first 10 guests will receive a free copy of the new “Bees Deluxe – Live at Jamey’s” CD.

The Mike Montrey Band show on March 9 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Jamey’s features a popular “Jazz at Jamey’s” on Thursday 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.

Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings.

This is your final chance to see an award-winning musical featuring the music of Bob Dylan.

Ensemble Arts Philly and The Shubert Organization are presenting “The Girl From The North Country” now through March 10 at the Forrest Theater (1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia).

This is the Philadelphia premiere engagement of the Tony Award®-winning musical, which was written and directed by celebrated playwright Conor McPherson and features Tony Award®-winning orchestrations by Simon Hale.

“Girl From The North Country” reimagines 20 legendary songs of Bob Dylan as they’ve never been heard before, including “Forever Young,” “All Along The Watchtower,” “Hurricane,” “Slow Train Coming,” and “Like A Rolling Stone.”

One of the key roles – Kate Draper – is performed by an actress from the Deware Valley – Chiara Trentalange, a graduate of Gwynedd Mercy Academy and native of Southampton.

“I auditioned in September 2019 and got the call in October that I got the part,” said Trentalange, during a recent tour stop in Greenville, South Carolina. “I was the understudy for Kate Draper on Broadway and was dance captain for the show.

“We had rehearsal in the winter. Then we spent a week on Broadway before COVID closed everything down. That was a crazy time. We expected to be back in two weeks but that never happened. Now to be on the road with this show is great.”

Fortunately for area theater fans, the show has found new life.

“All I knew was that it was written by an Irish playwright and had music by Bob Dylan,” said Trentalange, who graduated from Emerson College with a B.F.A. in Musical Theater. “The show is set in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934. The story is not about Bob Dylan. It just uses his music to tell the story.”

The setting takes place on the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth in the winter of 1934 and America is in the grip of the Great Depression.

The story is narrated by Dr. Walker, physician to the Laine family. Nick Laine is the proprietor of a rundown guesthouse. The bank is threatening to foreclose on the property, and he is desperate to find a way to save his family from homelessness.

His wife, Elizabeth, is suffering from a form of dementia which propels her from catatonic detachment to childlike, uninhibited outbursts which are becoming difficult to manage. Their children are Gene, who is in his early twenties, and their adopted daughter, Marianne, who is 19.

Marianne is five months pregnant, and the identity of the father is a mystery she guards carefully. Nick is trying to arrange a marriage between Marianne and a local cobbler, Mr. Perry, in order to secure her future.

The social awkwardness is complicated by the fact that Marianne is a black girl living with a white family. She was abandoned in the guesthouse as a baby and brought up by Nick and Elizabeth.

Gene is unable to get a grip on his life, and veers between ambitions of becoming a writer and debilitating alcohol binges, a situation not helped when his sweetheart, Kate, announces she is marrying a man with better prospects.

Nick has become involved in a relationship with a resident of the guest house, Mrs. Neilsen, a widow who is waiting for her late husband’s will to clear probate. They dream of a better future when her money comes through, although she scolds Nick for his constant pessimism.

Also staying at the house are a family, the Burkes. Mr. Burke lost his business in the crash. His wife, Laura, and his son, Elias, share a room upstairs. Elias has a learning disability and the family struggles to come to terms with their reduced state.

Late at night, during a storm, a self-styled reverend bible salesman, Marlowe, and a down-on-his-luck boxer, Joe Scott, arrive looking for shelter. The arrival of these characters is a catalyst, changing everything for everyone in the house.

“Girl From the North Country,” which had its Broadway run cut short a month in due to the pandemic, reopened at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway in October 2021. It was the first Broadway show to reopen after the Coronavirus pandemic forced theatres to close in March 2020.

Even Dylan himself is a fan of the show.

In an interview with The New York Times, Dylan said, “Sure, I’ve seen it, and it affected me. I saw it as an anonymous spectator, not as someone who had anything to do with it. I just let it happen. The play had me crying at the end. I can’t even say why. When the curtain came down, I was stunned. I really was.”

Video link for “Girl From The North Country” – https://youtu.be/8YsFznBBLfo.

The show will run now through March 10 at the Forrest Theater,

Ticket prices start at $45.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is presenting Better Than Bacon on March 7 and West Chester Dance Works 2024 Spring Concert on March 10.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is presenting Lucy Wainwright Roche on March 9 and Alice Howe & Freebo on March 10.

On March 9, the Colonial Theater (227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, thecolonialtheatre.com/events) will present “The Seven Wonders – A Live Tribute to Fleetwood Mac.”

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