Penn’s Peak concert preview: Female tribute band The Iron Maidens discuss impact of original English rockers and guest appearance of Eddie

The Iron Maidens

Since their formation in 2001, The Iron Maidens have garnered international acclaim as one of the most popular Iron Maiden tribute bands. 

The all-female quintet, consisting of Kirsten Rosenberg (vocals), Wanda Ortiz (bass), Linda McDonald (drums), Courtney Cox (guitars), and Nikki Stringfield (guitars), are all consummate professionals, with diverse artistic backgrounds ranging from orchestral and musical theater to blues, rock, and metal.

Boasting both beauty and musicianship, The Iron Maidens cover note for note Iron Maiden material from all eras of the band’s more than four-decade career — including their biggest hits and seminal fan favorites. Their high energy stage show also includes appearances by Maiden’s iconic mascot, Eddie, the grim reaper, and more.

Fans of Iron Maiden’s music won’t want to miss The Iron Maidens when they perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe.

I recently spoke to them about their upcoming show and more.

James Wood for The Morning Call: How did The Iron Maidens tribute project come about?

Linda McDonald: “I was playing in an original band with another guitar player, and we were looking for a bass player. We wound up getting a call from a mixed-gender Iron Maiden tribute band that wanted us to come down and check them out. When we got there they told us they wanted to go and form an all-female version of that band and were looking for a drummer and guitar player … so the two of us ended up joining them. It was perfect because Iron Maiden is the band that got me started playing drums.”

What was it about Iron Maiden’s music that appealed to you?

McDonald: “When I was in high school, I got sent home for a few days because I wasn’t being a very good girl [laughs]. I went into my brother’s record collection and found the album, Maiden in Japan. I was floored with just how tight the band sounded. It was pure and honest and the energy captured just blew me away. That was the moment I decided I wanted to play drums with that same kind of energy and drive.”

Wanda Ortiz: “I’m a bass player, so I’m drawn to music that has interesting and challenging bass lines. Steve Harris’ bass lines and how all the songs are written around them are what really drew me in.”

Read the rest of my

Interview with The Iron Maidens by Clicking Here.

SteelStacks concert preview: 90s hitmakers Collective Soul set to ‘Shine’ again with chemistry back

Collective Soul – Photo by John Fulton

Collective Soul first rose to fame in 1993 when a DJ in Orlando, Florida decided to start playing their rock anthem, “Shine.” 

The resulting enthusiasm and request for continued plays propelled the group from their humble Georgia-based roots to international acclaim.

Over the course of their career, the quintet has sold more than twenty million records and amassed an arsenal of hits, like “December” and “The World I Know,” that helped define alternative rock. The band’s most recent studio album, 2019′s Blood, also received praise for its indelible consistency of combining all the different styles of music the band has accumulated over the years.

Having recently wrapped their first-ever joint tour with Styx, Collective Soul will headline a performance with fellow nineties veteran bands Better Than Ezra and Tonic at 7 p.m. September 9th at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks in Bethlehem as part of ArtsQuest’s Summer Concert Series.

I recently spoke with Collective Soul guitarist Dean Roland about the band’s upcoming Lehigh Valley show and more.

James Wood for The Morning Call: What’s it like being back performing live shows again after such an extended period of time away during lockdown?

Dean Roland: “This has been the longest break in our career. It’s great to getting the chemistry back together and seeing people having fun and celebrating music again.”

What can fans expect from your upcoming performance in Bethlehem with Better Than Ezra and Tonic?

“A lot of good songs that they know and enjoy and can sing along to. We’ve known the guys from Better Than Ezra and Tonic for years and have done many tours and festivals together. We all live in different cities now but it’ll be fun to get out there and share our passion for music with the audience.”

Read the rest of my

Interview with Dean Roland by Clicking Here

Musikfest Concert Preview: Colin Hay talks about his Men At Work days and being ready to entertain live again

Photo: Paul Mobley

With hits like the ubiquitous “Down Under,” “Who Can It Be Now,” “Be Good Johnny” and “Overkill,” Colin Hay has amassed an arsenal of radio hits and fan favorites. But it was during the recent lockdown when touring was impossible that Hay found himself alone in his studio with nothing to do. It was during this time that he decided to revisit some of the songs that impacted his life as a young fellow. Thus was born Hay’s appropriately titled covers album, “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.”

The album features Hay’s take songs like “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” (Gerry and the Pacemakers), “Ooh La La” (Faces), “Can’t Find My Way Home” (Blind Faith), “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell), as well as the title track, originally performed by Dusty Springfield.

Now that he’s back on the road, fans of Hay’s work as a solo artist and with Men At Work will have the opportunity to hear these songs and more when the Colin Hay Band performs at Musikfest’s Wind Creek Steel Stage 7 p.m. August 11.

Speaking of Men At Work, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Australian band’s monumental debut, “Business As Usual.” The album spent weeks at #1 on the Billboard album chart and earned Hay and his mates a Grammy for Best New Artist.

In addition to his “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” album and tour highlighting it, Hay is also finishing work on a new collection of original songs that will be released sometime in the new year.

I recently spoke with Colin Hay about his upcoming Musikfest performance, his new album and more:

James Wood for The Morning Call: What can fans expect from your upcoming Musikfest performance?

Hay: “They can expect to be entertained. I’m going to play a mix of songs from my new covers record as well as some new material people haven’t heard before. I’ll also do some old Men At Work songs and songs off the solo records. It’s going to be a long set so people coming should prepare to settle in for a while.”

What inspired your new covers album, “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”?

“I had already finished recording an album of new songs that will be released early in the new year and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go out on the road. Gerry Marsden (Gerry And The Pacemakers) had recently died and I was playing ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying’ in my studio. I decided to record it and sent it to my friend and producer, Chad Fischer. He orchestrated it and sent it back and said, ‘Ok, send me another.’ So, I just kept going until we had 10. These are songs I loved growing up and formed me or inspired me in some way. I love the choices and the way they hang together. I really love the way it turned out.”

Read the rest of my

Interview with Colin Hay by Clicking Here.

Shinedown’s Brent Smith Previews Musikfest Performance, New Smith & Myers Single, “Bad At Love”

Photo: Sanjay Parikh

What began as a happy accident six years ago, Smith & Myers, a music project featuring Shinedown’s Brent Smith and Zach Myers, has quickly become one of music’s most ubiquitous duos. The pair’s latest single, “Bad At Love” continues that trend with a vulnerable and personal perspective detailing the difficulties of staying in a romantic relationship while realizing the breakup doesn’t always have to be a negative.

While the infectious new Smith & Myers single churns the Shinedown machine is gearing up for a round of touring following last year’s cancellations due to Covid-19. On deck is the band’s rescheduled performance at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA on Monday, August 9th.

Shinedown is also set to release the long-awaited film, “Attention Attention,” which brings to life the story of the band’s acclaimed 2018 album of the same name. A visual and auditory experience, the film takes the viewer on a psychological and emotional journey from life’s lowest lows to the highest of highs. “Attention Attention” will be released on September 3rd.

I recently spoke with Shinedown’s Brent Smith, who previewed the band’s show in Bethlehem as well as the new Smith & Myers single, “Bad At Love.” We also discussed Shinedown’s upcoming film and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from Shinedown’s upcoming Musikfest performance?

Smith: We’re back to doing large shows which is overwhelmingly emotional. This tour was ten months in the making, with everyone working to make sure we do this with extra effort into everyone’s safety. We’re bringing out the big guns on this one. All the bells and whistles and what the audience wants to hear.

Let’s discuss the new Smith & Myers single, “Bad at Love.” How did this project begin and what can you tell me about the single?

Smith: That first time we did an album as Smith & Myers was back in 2014. It was an all-covers album that the fans picked. This time we decided to do a double album; ten covers in the way that we do them and ten original songs that Zach and I wrote together. “Bad At Love” was the very first song that we wrote. In the song, being bad at love is not primarily a negative. What I mean by that is that traditional stories of romance are love is found, love doesn’t last, and love is lost. It’s a sad ending but it doesn’t have to be that way. I can count on one hand how many real relationships I’ve been in in my life. All of these women I’ve been with were heavy relationships and sometimes it just didn’t work out. Sure, we may not be together but we’re still friends. This song is about understanding that it’s ok. You don’t have to believe that love is always a dramatic sad ending if it doesn’t work out.

Read the rest of my

Interview with Brent Smith by Clicking Here

‘By Request’: A.J. Croce Discusses Covers Album, Upcoming Performance At New Hope Winery

Photo: Joshua Black Wilkins

He may be the son of the legendary Jim Croce but for more than two decades A.J. Croce has been traveling his own musical road. The multi-talented pianist, singer/songwriter who was born in Bryn Mawr, PA, has had his soulful music appear on a variety of music charts, including the Top 40, Americana, College and Jazz.

The idea for Croce’s most recent album, By Request, came from his love of entertaining friends in his home. It’s an ubiquitous album which finds the Croce not only paying homage to some of his favorite musical memories from artists like Billy Preston, Faces, The Five Stairsteps and Tom Waits, but also celebrating friendship and camaraderie.

Fans will get to experience a multitude of songs from the artist’s work, including a few songs from his father’s catalog, on Friday, August 6, when Croce performs an intimate show at New Hope Winery in New Hope, PA.

I recently spoke with A.J. Croce about his upcoming performane in New Hope, his album, By Request, and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from your upcoming performance at New Hope Winery?

Croce: It’s a duo concert and very intimate show. David Berard, who’s played bass with Dr. John for more than thirty years and with so many other artists, will be with me playing and singing. I usually hate sticking to a set list so it will be a lot of fun to have the flexibility to just pull things out of thin air and work with the feeling and the moment.

Does the area hold any kind of special meaning for you?

Croce: Absolutely. I was born in Bryn Mawr and have visited the area just about every year since I was born. My grandmother is in Philly, my godmother is in Phoenixville and I have aunts, uncles and cousins that live in the area as well.

Read the rest of my

Interview with A.J. Croce By Clicking Here

Sellersville Theater concert preview: Dream Theater keyboard player Jordan Rudess discusses his musical journey and rock roots

Jordan Rudess (Photo Nidhal MARZOUK)

Jordan Rudess is perhaps best known as the keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist for the platinum-selling progressive rock band Dream Theater and the side project, Liquid Tension Experiment. But Rudess, a classically trained virtuoso from the age of 10, has also worked with the likes of Deep Purple, The Dixie Dregs and David Bowie among many others. 

He’s also the owner of Wizdom Music, an application development company that makes award-winning apps for keyboard synthesizers.

At 8 p.m. June 25, Rudess brings his solo piano tour to the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville. Tickets are available for $33-45 at st94.com 215-257-5808. Limited seats remain but a livestream is available.

The show, dubbed ‘A Chapter in Time,’ will document Rudess’ musical journey — which began in grade school, then to Julliard and progressed to his work with Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment. Rudess will also explore improvised selections from his progressive rock roots as well as his beautiful new album, ‘A Chapter in Time.’

In addition to Rudess’ performance on the Sellersville stage, a livestream is available for fans with COVID safety concerns. All livestream ticket holders will be emailed a link to enjoy the show.

I spoke with Rudess about his upcoming performance as well as his latest album.

James Wood for The Morning Call: What can fans expect from your upcoming Sellersville Theater performance?

Rudess: “I love doing these piano shows because the piano is my home territory. As much as people know me as the Dream Theater keyboardist the piano is where it all started. When I do these events, it’s a chance for me to let my musical spirit out. I’ll play Bach, some Chopin and improvise or play arrangements of progressive rock, Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment. I’m happy I chose the piano because its wide range allows me to do this kind of thing. People can expect to hear a full representation of who I am musically and get a feel for all the things I’m involved with.”

Did you always know music would be your calling?

“Honestly, I did. The short version is that I had been playing piano in my second-grade classroom. My teacher called my mom and told her how I was playing so beautifully. My mom told her she must be talking about someone else, because I didn’t play. No one in my family was involved in the arts or even played an instrument, although my mother always liked music. Once she heard I was playing it sparked her imagination and a few days later a white piano arrived at the house. I started taking lessons and never looked back.”

Read the rest of my

Interview with Jordan Rudess by Clicking Here.

Foreigner Returns To The Road With 121-Date Tour Across 16 Countries

Foreigner – Photo credit: Bill Bernstein

Universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world, Foreigner‘s timeless anthems include ten multi-platinum albums and 16 US Billboard Top 30. With a formidable musical arsenal that includes monster hits like “I Want To Know What Love Is,” “Cold As Ice,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Hot Blooded,” “Juke Box Hero,” the band continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, 

Foreigner is bringing these hits back to concert stages across the world with the recent announcement of a new, 121-date concert tour across sixteen countries.  

The US leg of FOREIGNER’s world tour will take the band to 71 cities in 42 states. Dates are listed below. For tickets and more information, visit www.foreigneronline.com

FOREIGNER is: Mick Jones (guitar), Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass, vocals), Michael Bluestein (keyboards, vocals), Bruce Watson (guitar, vocals), Chris Frazier (drums) and Luis Carlos Maldonado (guitar, vocals). 

Thursday, June 24                     Ottumwa, IA – Bridge View Center

Friday, June 25                          Sioux Falls, SD – Washington Pavilion

Saturday, June 26                      Bismarck, ND – Bismarck Civic Center

Tuesday, June 29                      Casper, WY – Casper Events Center

Wednesday, June 30                 Billings, MT – MetraPark Arena

Friday, July 2                             Welch, MN – Treasure Island Great Lawn 

Sunday, July 4                           Fort Bragg, NC – Pope Army Airfield

Tuesday, July 27                        Fresno, CA – Saroyan Theatre

Wednesday, July 28                  Prescott Valley, AZ – Findlay Toyota Center

Friday, July 30                           West Valley, UT – Maverick Center

Saturday, July 31                       Grand Junction, CO – Los Colonias Park Amphitheater

Sunday, August 1                      Rio Rancho, NM – Rio Rancho Events Center

Wednesday, August 4                Lubbock, TX – Buddy Holly Hall

Thursday, August 5                   Enid, OK – Stride Bank Center

Saturday, August 7                    Park City, KS – Hartman Arena

Sunday, August 8                      North Little Rock, AR – Simmons Bank Arena

Tuesday, August 10                   West Allis, WI – Wisconsin State Fair

Wednesday, August 11              Cedar Rapids, IA – McGrath Amphitheatre

Friday, August 13                      Arcadia, WI – Ashley For The Arts

Saturday, August 14                  Interlochen, MI – Kresge Auditorium

Sunday, August 15                    Peoria, IL – Civic Center Arena

Tuesday, August 17                   Kettering, OH – Fraze Pavilion

Wednesday, August 18              Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium

Friday, August 20                      Doswell, VA – AfterHours at Meadow Event Park

Saturday, August 21                  Selbyville, DE – The Freeman Stage at Bayside

Monday, August 23                   Syracuse, NY – New York State Fair

Wednesday, August 25              Bridgeport, CT – Hartford Healthcare Amphitheatre 

Thursday, August 26                 Webster, MA – Indian Ranch

Friday, August 27                      Cohasset, MA – South Shore Music Circus

Saturday, August 28                  Hyannis, MA – Cape Cod Melody Tent

Thursday, September 9            Grand Forks, ND – Alerus Center

Friday, September 10                Rapid City, SD – Rushmore Plaza Civic Center

Saturday, September 11            Butte, MT – Civic Center

Tuesday, September 14            Everett, WA – Angel of the Winds Arena

Wednesday, September 15       Nampa, ID – Ford Idaho Event Center

Thursday, September 16           Airway Heights, WA – Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Saturday, September 18            Fort Hall, ID – Fort Hall Casino

Tuesday, September 21             Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater

Wednesday, September 22       Kennewick, WA – Toyota Center

Sunday, September 26              Reno, NV – Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort

Wednesday, September 29       Saratoga, CA – Mountain Winery (orchestral)

Friday, October 1                      Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre (orchestral)

Saturday, October 2                  Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl (orchestral)

Monday, October 11                 Detroit, MI – Fox Theatre (orchestral)

Tuesday, October 12                 Youngstown, OH – Foundation Amphitheater (orchestral)

Wednesday, October 13            Grand Rapids, MI – Van Andel Arena (orchestral)

Friday, October 15                    Johnson City, TN – Freedom Hall Civic Center

Sunday, October 17                   Knoxville, TN – Civic Auditorium

Monday, October 18                 Columbus, OH – Palace Theatre

Tuesday, October 19                 Charleston, WV – Municipal Auditorium

Thursday, October 21                Reading, PA – Santander Performing Arts Center

Friday, October 22                    Wilkes Barre, PA – F.M. Kirby Center

Saturday, October 23                Baltimore, MD – MECU Pavilion

Monday, October 25                 Providence, RI – Performing Arts Center

Wednesday, October 27            Port Chester, NY – Capitol Theatre

Thursday, October 28                Hampton Beach, NH – Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

Friday, October 29                    New Brunswick, NJ – State Theatre

Saturday, October 30                Atlantic City, NJ – Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena

Thursday, November 4              Corbin, KY – Corbin Arena

Friday, November 5                   Springfield, IL – UIS Sangamon Auditorium

Saturday, November 6               Southaven, MS – Landers Center

Monday, November 8               Savannah, GA – John Mercer Theatre

Tuesday, November 9               Augusta, GA – Bell Auditorium

Wednesday, November 10        Greenville, SC – Bon Secours Wellness Arena

Friday, November 12                 Macon, GA – Macon City Auditorium

Saturday, November 13             Tupelo, MS – Bancorp South Arena

Sunday, November 14               Brandon, MS – Brandon Amphitheater

Tuesday, November 16              Huntsville, AL – Mark C. Smith Concert Hall

Wednesday, November 17        Birmingham, AL – BJCC Concert Hall

Friday, November 19                 Biloxi, MS – IP Casino Resort & Spa

Saturday, November 20             Pensacola, FL – Saenger Theater

Interview: Guitar legend Steve Howe Discusses Asia’s New Box Set – ‘The Reunion Albums: 2007-2012’

Left to Right: Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer & John Wetton

Multi-platinum selling supergroup Asia are celebrating their 40th anniversary with new 5-CD boxset, The Reunion Albums: 2007-2012. The package includes the three albums (PhoenixOmega and XXX) that reunited original members John Wetton, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes. The reunion albums are presented together in a collector’s boxset designed by Roger Dean, who produced all of the artwork on the original albums.

A dual-CD live recording, Fantasia: Live in Tokyo rounds out the package and features many of the tracks from the band’s first two albums, Asia (1982) and Alpha (1983) as well as heritage tracks from each band member’s musical history. The live concert also includes an acoustic version of Ride Easy, a B-side from the band’s debut single, Heat of the Moment, performed for the first time.

We spoke with guitarist Steve Howe about the new boxset, 50 years of Yes’s landmark single Roundabout, and his undying love for Martin guitars…

How did The Reunion Albums: 2007-2012 boxset come about?

“Because there hasn’t been much touring, there were discussions with management about the idea of taking a look at those three albums which had recently returned to our ownership.

“When I listened back to PhoenixOmega and XXX, it was a delight to put them in perspective. It was a very productive period for the band. Phoenix has a bit more intricacies and proggy bits and the other albums are a development from that starting point. So we decided to put together a boxset with Roger Dean and everyone else who’s worked with us. It’s marvelous.”

The set includes the 2CD live concert Fantasia, Live in Tokyo from 2007. Did the idea to do a full-on reunion album build out of that tour?

“When we met in 2006, Geoff said he and John were starting to write together and that there was enthusiasm from Japan, America and England. At the time, Yes had taken a hiatus and I thought, ‘Great! I hadn’t played this music in years.’ My only pre-condition was that we would play the songs more meticulously than we did in the old days.

You can read the rest of my

with Steve Howe by Clicking Here.

Lehigh Valley native John Morgan Kimock talks about his atmospheric electronic music and playing with members of Grateful Dead

A Lehigh Valley native, drummer John Morgan Kimock’s music can best be described as the soundtrack you’d hear while taking an ethereal hike or walk through the forest.

Photo by Mandy Pichler

Kimock attended Notre Dame High School for one year and the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts, where he studied drums, for three.

He also played with local musicians, including Post Junction and the Octave Below, in Lehigh Valley musical venues such as Godfrey Daniels, The Funhouse, Pearly Baker’s and Porters’ Pub.

His latest album, “Hikikomori,” released in March, is a patchwork quilt of organic, cinematic atmosphere. Although a primarily drum-focused compilation, it’s one that is also uniquely rich with layers of instrumentation and experimental sound.

I recently spoke with John Morgan Kimock about his music and more.

James Wood: How would you describe your music in terms of its sound? Is there a way you could put into words what your music is all about?

Kimock: “It’s cinematic, psychedelic, and made with both electronic and organic instruments. I like to say that if you took a drive or went somewhere to clear your head, my music is a good companion to go with the visual.”

Was this the type of music you always aspired to do?

“It was all kind of a big happy accident. Like any career, you make connections and eventually they start to pile up. Then all of sudden, you find yourself doing something you never thought you’d do. My dad [Steve Kimock] is a musician who grew up in the Lehigh Valley and I attribute a lot of my drumming career to him. He hired me a lot when I was in my late teens and early 20′s.

“Through that, I was able to meet people at shows and festivals and would wind up getting hired on to do something else. The music I make now has a lot to do with my love of instrumental and movie music. Music that accompanies a video and comes with a visual element. The music is certainly honest, and I enjoy sharing it with others.”

Read the rest of my Morning Call Interview with John Kimock By Clicking Here.

ArtsQuest concert preview: Guitarist Samantha Fish talks about the blues, her new album and raw, rock trio show

Photo: Kaelen Barowsky

Anyone who’s heard guitar maven Samantha Fish’s previous albums knows she’s developed an uncanny knack for combining elements of contemporary blues with guitar ferocity and visceral emotion.

Her most recent album, 2019′s “Kill Or Be Kind,” is reflective of that. It’s the first album to feature Fish as the sole guitarist and is rooted deep in the Delta, with a strong Memphis undertone.

Fish will bring her energy, and guitar, to Bethlehem’s SteelStacks 7 p.m. Friday, April 16, for an outdoor performance at the Highmark Blue Shield Community Stage on the Air Products Town Square. For this round of shows, she has stripped her band down to a three-piece unit, giving her the flexibility and freedom of extending lead breaks with dynamic improvisation.

CDC guidelines for proper social distancing and to provide a safe dining experience for all patrons will be in place at the performance, and Levitt Pavilion lawn spots will be spaced out accordingly. Food and beverages will be available via the Mack Truck Stop and bar on the lawn. No outside food or drink will be permitted.

I recently spoke with Samantha Fish about her upcoming show at SteelStacks. We also discuss her latest album, “Kill Or Be Kind,” memorable moments, and what makes blues such a great form of music.

As an artist, how has it been going for you this past year with touring being canceled due to COVID-19?

Samantha Fish: “Some days are better than others. The industry itself has changed so much over the last 10 years and performers now have to be on the road to have any kind of career. To have it all go away suddenly was a little jarring. It took me several months to truly understand that we were going to be in this for the long haul.”

Read the rest of my of my Interview with Samantha Fish by Clicking Here.