On Stage: Downingtown native Longley comes home

Brittany Robey featured at Phoenixville benefit

By Denny DyroffCorrespondent, The Times


Downingtown’s Liz Longley comes home to Chester County to perform Sunday at Upper Merion’s annual “Concert Under the Stars.”

Liz Longley’s music career has taken her to venues all over America and to living quarters in a number of cities. But, the Downingtown High grad always finds time to come back to her home area to perform for her large number of fans around this region.

On July 13, Longley, who now lives in Nashville, will return to the Delaware Valley for a free show as part of Upper Merion’s annual “Concert Under the Stars” series (Upper Merion Township Building Park, 175 W. Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia, www.umtownship.org, 610-265-1071). She will be the headliner of the 7 p.m. show with Brian Dunne as the opening act.

“Things are moving along nicely,” said Longley, during a phone interview this week from her home in Tennessee. “It’s always enjoyable to get back to Pennsylvania. I play there several times a year. It’s good to get back to my roots.”

After graduating from Downingtown, Longley moved north and earned a degree in songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston. She stayed in New England for a while after finishing at Berklee and then headed south to Nashville.

In the past two years, Longley has taken home top prizes at some of the most prestigious songwriting competitions in the country, including the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship Competition, the International Acoustic Music Awards and the Rocky Mountain Folk Fest Songwriting Competition.

Longley has recorded several albums over the last eight years, including her soon-to-be released fourth album “Liz Longley.”

“This album isn’t really new – it’s just not out yet,” said Longley, whose first three LPs were independently released. “I’m working on building a team around it and joining up with a label.

“I made it here in Nashville after I moved here in November 2011 and funded it through a Kickstarter campaign. I needed to raise $35,000 and I got over $55,000 in pledges.

Nashville, which has been the “Music Capitol” for country-and-western music, has evolved into a primary destination for musicians from a wide variety of genres.

“This is a great city for music and I wanted to be part of the scene,” said Longley, who was introduced to music at a young age by her jazz musician father. “There is a great Berklee community here. Actually, it’s just a great community of musicians from all over.

“My latest album was recorded at Ocean Way Studios with a lot of great musicians – musicians who had worked with artists such as James Taylor, Etta James and Stevie Nicks. It was a very intense experience working with this level of musicians.

“The songs range from singer-songwriter to bluegrass and from jazz to country. It’s really eclectic. Now, I’ve been playing these songs for a few years so I’m looking forward to new material.

“I’ve been writing a ton of songs for my next album. It’s not as eclectic. There is a little more blues influence. Also, it has more of a rock and pop feel. I’m planning on going into the studio at the end of this year to start recording it.”

The shift in styles can be attributed to a switch in instruments.

“I’ve been doing a lot of writing since I switched to electric guitar,” said Longley. “I haven’t been writing that much the last few years. I was touring a lot and just felt stuck. I needed to get out of my own way.

“So, I started journaling and doing meditation. I start the day every day with three pages of writing in my journal. Also, I meditate, which is really helpful with finding peace. I’m also doing other things that are creative – things like coloring stationery.

“This summer, I’m out touring again. At times, I have opening acts that also play with me during my set – acts like Barnaby Bright, a really talented husband-and-wife duo. For the show in Upper Merion, I’ll be playing with Brian Dunne, who is a really good guitarist and singer.”

“Long in the Tooth” is a colloquial saying that means “old” or “aged.” It is also the title of the most recent album by Billy Joe Shaver.

Shaver, who will headline a show at the Sellersville Theatre (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) on July 12, definitely qualifies to be included in the “Long in the Tooth” category.

One of the forefathers of country music’s “Outlaw” sub-genre, Shaver will turn 75 this year. He released his first album “Old Five and Dimers Like Me” in 1973. Now, 41 years later he’s still going strong – making albums and performing on tour.

“I started this tour about a month ago,” said Shaver, during a phone interview earlier this week from a tour stop in Buffalo. “I don’t know when.

“I don’t keep up with it. I just get up and go when they vtell me it’s time. I don’t do the driving because I had my right knee replaced a month ago. When it gets well, everything will be hunky-dory.

“I never get tired of touring. I just keep going. I love to travel and I love what I’m doing. If I weren’t in music, I wouldn’t be able to travel. I couldn’t afford it.

“I enjoy touring around the country a lot. I tour every year. One year, we did over 300 shows. Now, a lot of the time, we’ll do three shows in a row and then take a day off.”

Shaver still has a razor-sharp memory – especially with regard to his music.

“When I’m playing, I go as far back in my catalog as I can,” said Shaver. “I remember all my songs. And, I’m still writing. It’s the cheapest psychiatrist there is and I need one. Writing music is fun for me. I’m not writing songs to make money. I just need to get them out of me.

“My grandmother raised me in Corsicana, Texas. We lived across the river from the black cotton pickers. There was one lady who had a piano on her porch. She’d play every night and there always seemed like there was someone with a bottleneck (guitar).

“I’d go across the river and sing with them when I was a boy. That’s where I learned the blues. They also played a lot of Jimmy Rodgers songs. They thought he was black – and so did I.

“When I was eight years old, I sold newspapers on a street corner and I sang while doing it. I had no instrument but I got away with it. I just started singing about things that happened to me and people seemed to like to listen.”

Over the years, a lot of people have shown that they like to listen to Shaver – including music legends such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

Waylon Jennings filled most of his album “Honky Tonk Heroes” with Shaver’s songs. Elvis Presley, the Allman Brothers and Kris Kristofferson all have recorded Shaver’s songs. Bob Dylan mentioned Shaver in his song “I Feel a Change Comin’ On” when he sang – “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver and I’m reading James Joyce”.

“I want to keep on writing songs and making albums,” said Shaver. “I like ‘Long in the Tooth.’ It’s a good one. I’m proud of it. And, I’m going to do another album soon.”

There will be a special benefit show on July 13 with a very diverse musical line-up.


Phoenixville’s Brittany Robey will be among the performer at Give the Gift of Music Foundation benefit, Sunday.

Photographer Laura Keen hosting Rock & Relief fundraiser for music lesson scholarships in Phoenixville on July 13 at 12:30 p.m. It will be a house concert to benefit the Give the Gift of Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to children for musical instruction.

The concert how will feature musicians from near and far – including Jann Klose, who was born in Germany and raised in South Africa and Kenya, and Brittany Robey, who grew up and still lives a few miles from the club in Phoenixville.

Klose, a singer-songwriter-guitarist, is a veteran musician who has resided in the U.S. for number of years now. He has released severa,”l albums in the last decade, including “Mosaic,” which is his most recent.

When not cheering on his native Germany in the 2014 World Cup, Klose is on the road performing his songs to appreciative audiences.

“I’ve been touring the new record for the last year,” said Klose, during a phone interview last week from his home in New York. “The record has done really well. It charted, reached the first round of the Grammys and won four Independent Music Awards.

“This year, I’ve been co-writing with a lot of people –Annie Haslam, Gary Lucas and Larry Beckett, who was Tim Buckley’s lyricist.

“I was used in the movie about Tim Buckley’s life. I came in during post-production to do the Tim Buckley vocals. I did three songs – ‘Song for Janie,’ ‘Pleasant Street’ and ‘Once I Was.’

“I still write a lot on my own. Staring to write with others has made it easier. I’m looser – less critical. It’s more fun. It’s different experience. It’s kind of liberating.”

Klose, who tours with a band and also performs as a solo act, has an impressive catalog of recorded music.

“I’ve done four albums and two Eps,” said Klose. “In my current shows, I play mostly songs from ‘Mosiac,’ ‘Reverie’ and ‘Black Box EP.’ I also do two or three new songs.

“The new material is in the same family as my previous material but it feels a little more pop. The stuff I did with Gary (Lucas) has more of an Americana, bluesy vibe.”

Robey, on the other hand, still has yet to release an album or even an EP. The young singer, who graduated from Phoenixville High in 2012, is still in the very early stages of her musical career.

“I was always interested in music,” said Robey, during a phone interview this week. “I did choir in elementary school and then progressed to school musicals when I was in middle school and high school,

“I also play a lot of instruments – piano, guitar, flute, oboe, percussion and some ukulele. I’ve played flute for 14 years. I also did music at Rock and Roll After School in Collegeville since I was 14 years old.

“After I graduated from Phoenixville, I spent one year at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a vocal performance major and then I took the next year off. Next month, I’ll start as a songwriting major at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota.”

Robey has already gained experience performing her own material with shows at area venues such as Puck, Steel City Coffeee House and Chaplin’s.

“Usually, I just play solo,” said Robey. “I sing and accompany myself on piano and guitar. The music I play is indie pop-rock and pop ballads.”

The event will also feature performances by Willie Wisely, Cliff Hillis, Matt Spitko, Nik Everett and Eric Miller. Mimosas and lite fare will be served. In addition, Gangster Vegan will be selling their fresh organic dishes, desserts and juices.

Tickets for Rock & Relief are $20 and must be purchased in advance. Payment can be made via PayPal to CapeMayL@aol.com with Rock & Relief in the subject line.


The Machine, a Pink Floyd tribute band, will be at The World cafe at The Queen, Saturday.

The number of Pink Floyd tribute bands around the world probably is in triple figures by now. Some are good, some are bad and some simply are.

One of the best is The Machine, a New York-based foursome that will be in the area for a show July 12 at the World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-994-1400, queen.worldcafelive.com). What elevates The Machine above the rest is the band’s authenticity and longevity – and their refreshing ability to jam.

“We’ve been doing this for almost 25 years,” said Tahrah Cohen, during a phone interview from Manhattan earlier this week. “Pink Floyd has a lot to offer people. It’s a very rich music.”

Cohen, who is The Machine’s drummer, is also one of the founders of the band. The other members are Scott Chasolen (keyboards, vocals), Ryan Ball (guitar, vocals) and Adam Minkoff (bass, vocals).

“My first experience with Pink Floyd was when ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ came out,” said Cohen. “I loved the guitar. Joe (now-departed founding member Joe Pascarell) and I saw them on their ‘Momentary Lapse of Reason’ tour. And, I saw Roger (Waters) do ‘Another Brick in the Wall.’

“I feel very complete with how we handle Pink Floyd’s music. We’ve been in it for 25 years. We carefully have decided what to play – what we can play, what the audience wants and what the audience doesn’t want. At this stage, we know what works and what doesn’t.”

Cohen and her band mates also know that the appreciation of Pink Floyd’s musical canon spans generations.

“We have a lot of younger audience members,” said Cohen. “Our audiences get older and younger at the same time. Younger people are discovering the brilliance of Pink Floyd. There is nothing like it out there now.

Modern bands might have the sonic part or the lyrical part but not all of it. Pink Floyd’s music is so complex and rich. Younger fans really like hearing this music. We play some of Pink Floyd’s earliest music. But, if you do a set that is too much old stuff, it can be a problem. If you put one or two old (Syd) Barrett-ear songs in the set, it will be fine.”

Like Pink Floyd, The Machine has a complex light show and the ability to produce sections of spacey jam music that open up in the middle of some songs.

“Our light show has evolved over the years,” said Cohen. “With technology changing, we’ve been able to bring video into the show. And, with new lighting technology, you don’t need massive lighting equipment.

“With jamming and improvisation, our shows are very unique. Everyone in the band brings their own influences. We’re very careful with our improvising and with where we improvise.”

Showtime at the Queen is 8 p.m. Tickets are priced at $24 and $32.

The World Café Live at the Queen will also present Hannah Gorgas on July 14 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the concert are $10.


Internationally-acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Hannah Gorgas will perform at The World Cafe Live at The Queen, July 14.

Gorgas is an internationally-acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter who grew up in Ontario and then moved to British Columbia a few years ago.

“I moved to Victoria when I was 20,” said Gorgas, during a recent phone interview from her home in Vancouver. “I just wanted to get away. I wanted to find a place that was refreshing.

“I started studies at the University of Victoria. I was taking a bunch of music electives to get a degree in music therapy. Then, I realized that I wanted to give my own music a try.

“I first started making music when I was young. I played in a bunch of different bands in high school. When I moved to Vancouver after going to school in Victoria, I started doing open mics.”

Gorgas’ first recorded output was a five-song EP in 2009 called “The Beat Stuff.” She followed with the “This Is Good” album in 2010 and with “Hannah Gorgas” in 2012.

The Canadian singer-songwriter won “Emerging Artist of the Year” at XM’s Verge Music Awards in 2011 and “Solo Artist of the Year” at the Sirius/XM-sponsored Indies. “This Is Good” was put up for the Polaris Music Prize. At the 2011 Juno Awards, Georgas was nominated for both “Best New Artist of the Year” and “Songwriter of the Year.”

“The EP was more folky,” said Gorgas. “I cut five songs in five days. ‘This is Good’ had folky elements along with pop. And, some moments were more rock. That’s when I started to tour and more things started happening.

“I started working on my latest album in 2012. During my process of writing here in Vancouver, I started demo-ing with synths and beats. I knew I had to find something to move in that direction.

“I began working with Graham Walsh, who has his own electronic band. We definitely had discussions about the records we loved, why we loved them and the production. We wanted to be able to play our music in alive setting and still be organic.”

Now, Gorgas is out on the road as the opening act for Sara Bareilles on her national tour. Gorgas’ show in Delaware fills in a night when there is no Bareilles show.

“I’ve been using a band on this tour – a guitarist, a bassist/synth player, a drummer and me on synth and guitar. The show in Delaware is the only one I’m doing on my own.”

Other shows coming up at the World Café Live at the Queen are the Full Effect Show Band (July 11), Renee Scott and Leslie Delqado (July 12), Sandra Bernhard (July 13) and The Sermon (July 16).

The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, www.kennettflash.org) will present the Better Than Bacon comedy troupe on July10, the Dukes of Destiny Dance Party & Concert on July 11 and Marc Unruh and Friends on July 1.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) has a schedule featuring The Kennedys with Michael Braunfeld on July 11 and Joy Ike and Black Horse Motel on July 12.

Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Splintered Sunlight on July 11, Divine Hand Ensemble on July 11 at 7 p.m. and The GTVs Album Release Show with Weird Hot, St. James and The Apostles at 10 p.m.,BVTLive! – Dance Party! on July 15 and BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet on July 16.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Pushing Static and TBA on July 12 and Thrifty Discount DJS on July 13.

The upcoming schedule for Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, www.chaplinslive.com) includes Alex Smith and Brad Krysan on July 10, The Floats and What’s Next on July 11 and Stacc Decc on July 12.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) will host a concert by Patti Lupone on July 10 at 7:30 p.m.

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