Category: Entertainment

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.

Interview: Linda Perry Discusses Two-Day ‘Rock ’N’ Relief Concert Series & Live Stream Event’

LINDA PERRY

Legendary producer & Hall of Fame songwriter  has curated and is set to take part in this weekend’s two-day (& Live Stream) at L.A. City and mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on March 5 and 6. CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) is a non-profit organization started by Sean Penn and Ann Lee that has worked tirelessly, and without any government funding, to provide access to free Covid-19 testing and vaccines across Los Angeles.

This two-day live stream will benefit CORE’s life-saving programs as well as raise money for CORE’s mobile vaccination. A program which brings access to the vaccine directly to low-income and communities of color who need it most. Perry’s Rock n’ Relief concert aims to give the community live entertainment, in the safety of their cars, while they wait to receive the vaccine.

Hosted by DJ Kat Corbett of SiriusXM & KROQ, the lineup for this two-day concert series features live performances from artists like Miguel, Macy Gray, Scream, DJ Adam Bravin (She Wants Revenge), Macy Gray, Willa Ami, Juliette Lewis, Donita Sparks (L7 & Friends), Linda Perry, Pete Molinari, Kevin Bacon, Silversun Pickups, Jen Awad, Aloe Blacc, Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas, Troy Noka and house band Flashback Heart Attack. The series also includes digital performances from artists around the world, including Carly Simon w/ David Saw, Foo Fighters, Deadmau5, Gavin Rossdale, Pete Yorn, James Blunt, Jewel, Gary Barlow, Tracy Bonham, Deborah Cox, Shaed, Sheryl Crow, Sammy Hagar and Jenny Lewis & Blake of Rilo Kiley.

I recently spoke with Perry about the Rock N’ Relief Concert Series, her involvement with CORE, songwriting and much more in this exclusive new interview.

What’s it been like for you as an artist (and person) living during these uncertain times?

Linda Perry: I feel very focused, clear, creative, and determined to be of service in any way that I can. There’s a lot going on in the world right now. There are people who are dying and others who’ve lost stores they’ve spent their whole lives building. I’m extremely grateful to be alive and that my family is healthy and safe.

How did you become involved with CORE and what inspired this event?

LP: I first got involved with Sean Penn when I scored the documentary he made about his organization going to help Haiti to assist after the earthquake in 2010 and how they’re continuing to help them. Here in L.A, Sean’s CORE Response has been out for eight months. With zero government funding they’ve given out five million covid tests for free. Now they’ve given over 450,000 vaccinations (12,000 a day). I decided to help raise money for the mobile units they’re putting together to go across the county and in places like New Orleans and Chicago. There are a lot of people in the Latino community who are struggling to get to this sight to get vaccinated and older people who can’t sit in a two-hour line. They need someone to come to them. That’s why me, my team and the artists got involved. It’s a human cause to help each other get through this very difficult time. Seeing how people have come together to unite and take a stand to help the world in crisis has been a beautiful thing to see.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Linda Perry by Clicking Here.

Guitar hero Gary Hoey, coming to ArtsQuest, talks about touring with Ozzy Osbourne, Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani

Photo: David Brow

With a career spanning 22 albums in a multitude of styles ranging from rock, surf, blues, and metal, Gary Hoey is one of the prolific guitarists in music.

His unique style and popular “Ho! Ho! Hoey” series during the holiday season brought him legions of fans. Hoey has toured with guitar legends like Jeff Beck, Brian May, Ted Nugent and Joe Satriani. And as a producer, he’s worked with artists like Lita Ford, as well as scoring the soundtrack to the film, “The Endless Summer II.”

On Saturday, March 13, fans will be able to experience a unique taste of Hoey’s musical legacy when he brings his intimate Retrospective Solo Show to ArtsQuest’s Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem.

The high-energy performance will feature Hoey along with backing tracks from his original albums. Fans can expect to hear songs including “Mass Hysteria,” “Drive,” and “Peace Pipe,” as well his cover versions of the Focus hit “Hocus Pocus,” and War’s “Low Rider.”

Hoey will also entertain the audience with a Q&A session and share behind-the-scenes stories, which will likely include his 1987 audition with Ozzy Osbourne — an experience that inspired his move to Los Angeles and launched his career.

ArtsQuest’s Musikfest Cafe will be following CDC guidelines for the show, including temperature checks prior to entry, mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing. SteelStacks also has upgraded and expanded its cleaning and disinfecting procedures before, during and after all events to ensure patrons’ safety.

I recently spoke with Hoey about his upcoming Lehigh Valley performance.

James Wood: As an artist, what’s it been like for you adjusting to the lockdown requirements?

Gary Hoey: “It’s been quite a year navigating … but like everyone else, we’ve been dealing with it one step at a time. Early on, I decided to go online and do more livestreaming to try to connect with the fans in a different way. It worked out well because it exposed me to a whole new fan base. I also do a coffee time with my mom where we hang out live on Facebook and have coffee. I also do a ‘Hang Out With Hoey’ where we play songs and do whatever we can to keep people engaged.”

What can fans expect from your upcoming SteelStacks performance?

“In this business, it’s about reinventing yourself and finding ways to take a difficult situation and make it better. The thing about doing these limited capacity shows is that the venue doesn’t make as much money and neither do I, but what’s important to me is to support these venues. So I decided to put together a solo tour. It’s an intimate show where I’ll do a little bit of storytelling and a retrospective of my 22 albums. There will be early stuff, surf, blues, metal, shred and acoustic. I want to give everyone a taste of my career and make it an interesting night.”

Read The Rest of My
Interview with Gary Hoey by Clicking Here!

‘Finding The Sun’: Steve Lukather Discusses His Ubiquitous New Solo Album

Photo: Alex Solca Photography

You’d be hard pressed to find someone with a music career more indelible than Steve Lukather. Best known to fans for his guitar work in the band Toto, Lukather has performed on thousands of albums as a session musician, including Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album of all-time.

Luke’s new solo album, continues his legacy as the quintessential guitarist. Co-produced by Ken Freeman, Luke brings a rawness and energy to the eight-track collection. With original compositions like the ethereal title track, the jazz-infused “Journey Through,” the rocking “Along For The Ride,” and the slitherly “Serpent Soul,” Luke showcases the guitar prowess and versatility that made him one of the most in-demand session players. Also included in the new set is Luke’s take on obscure but powerful covers by Traffic (“Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” ) Joe Walsh (“Welcome To The Club,”) and Robin Trower (“Bridge of Sighs.”) The result is an album of one or two-take performances, raw production and jam fades tastefully reminsiceint of 1970s recording.

Special guests on I Found The Sun Again include Gregg Bissonette (drums), Jeff Babko (keyboards), Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce (bass), as well as Toto bandmates David Paich (piano and organ) and Joseph Williams (vocals). One of Luke’s idols, Ringo Starr, also appears on the album, performing on the fun and hook-laden track, “Run To Me.”

I recently spoke with Lukather about I Found The Sun Again, his writing process, session work and more in this exclusive new interview.

How would describe I Found The Sun Again in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

It’s the most honest and real thing I’ve ever done. It’s different in the fact that it’s under-produced and everything is played live. I purposely kept the song forms loose so that there would be room for improvisation and longer fades for the jams that happened. There are all sorts of moody things on this record: jazz elements and a lot of rock, second line Little Feat, the [Jimi] Hendrix vibe and a few pop songs on there, because I just love a good pop song. There’s also a piece where I get to do my Jeff Beck impression. We ran through the songs one time, and the second take was the record.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Steve Lukather by Clicking Here!

‘Thanks For Coming’: Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum’s Michael C. Hall, Peter Yanowitz & Matt Katz-Bohen Discuss Debut Album

With disparate influences ranging from the glam, experimental music of David Bowie to the poetic sounds of The Velvet Underground and bands like 8 Eyed Spy and Sonic Youth, Thanks For Coming is the debut album by Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum. The band features vocalist, lyricist, musician and actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), drummer Peter Yanowitz (The Wallflowers, Morningwood) and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen (Blondie).

There’s a heightened sense of awareness and romanticism that exists in the band’s songwriting, as exhibited in tracks like “Armageddon Suite.” Then there’s the fun but deeply dark and disturbing undertone in songs like “Eat An Eraser.” There’s also material which began as subliminal inspiration on vintage instruments, as was the case in the groove-ridden “The Deeper Down.” Thanks For Coming also includes the band’s unique spin on Phantogram’s “Cruel World,” a song which has since become a staple of their live show.

While eschewing traditional rock instrumentation in favor of theatrical sensibility and a colorful, stripped-down synth/drum approach, Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum combines the best elements of glam, pop, new wave and theater, as well as the noisy, art rock vibe of the New York City scene. The result is a welcomed debut that’s both ethereally melancholic and hauntingly brilliant.

I recently spoke with Michael C. Hall, Peter Yanowitz and Matt Katz-Bohen about Thanks For Coming and much more in this exclusive new interview:

How did Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum come together?

Peter Yanowitz: The three of us met in the most unlikely of places for a rock band — on Broadway doing Hedwig [and the Angry Inch]. Mike was Hedwig and Matt and I were also part of the show. It started with us just being in the band playing someone else’s music. After we’d finished the show Matt and I kept jamming and Mike heard some of the instrumental ideas we’d started and offered to sing on them. One thing led to another and three years later, here we are.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Matt Katz-Bohen: I think we would all agree that [David] Bowie is someone we can really get behind. Then there’s a lot of the noisy art rock of New York City, starting with The Velvet Underground, No Wave, 8 Eyed Spy and Sonic Youth. There’s a lineage there we can all appreciate, just getting into that vibe from hanging around the East Village.

What’s the band’s approach to songwriting?

Michael C. Hall: There’s no set formula. We’ve written songs in every way possible. There have been instrumentals that have been the beginning of things. Then there’s melody ideas and songs with structure but no musical accompaniment. Most of the lyrics on these songs were written in the past few years. It’s been a pleasant surprise and welcome exercise to find myself in a situation where I’m called upon to write words.

Read the rest of my
Interview with the band by clicking here.

Live concerts at ArtsQuest start making sense for Talking Heads tribute band leader and friends

When Jon Braun — vocalist for (Lehigh Valley-based) Talking Heads tribute band Start Making Sense — was asked about doing a residency at ArtsQuest, the multitalented artist had a perfect idea: Gather a bunch of musical friends for a run of shows featuring not only hits from Dave Byrne’s ‘80s New Wave pioneering band, but also to rock out tributes to Tom Petty and Jane’s Addiction.

The aptly titled Start Making Sense & Friends, begin their Bethlehem/ArtsQuest residency with the music of Petty’s seminal “Wildflowers” album on Feb. 5, and will follow this up with full album shows of alt giants Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing Shocking” and “Ritual de lo Habitual” on Feb 12.

Braun will then bring the original three-piece rock project, Ruby Dear, to the Musikfest Cafe on Feb. 19 for a record release performance. The residency will culminate on March 5 with a unique and special Start Making Sense concert.

ArtsQuest says all shows are being presented with a safety layout designed to follow CDC guidelines and health measures. This includes mandatory mask requirements, capacity and social distancing measures, limited table reservations (2-6 guests with chairs spaced 6 or more feet apart), as well as regular cleaning of facilities, including major touchpoints.

The venue’s HVAC system has also been reconfigured to allow more fresh air to circulate within the building and HEPA filters have also been upgraded.

I recently spoke with Braun about the upcoming residency and more.

James Wood: As an artist how has it been dealing with the lockdowns imposed by COVID-19 this past year?

Jon Braun: “I assume it’s very similar to everyone else whose work has been restricted. We normally do more than a hundred shows a year. Last year we did 10. Fortunately, a lot of us also teach music throughout the year so that’s given us a little sense of normalcy. We’ve also had a lot of time to put together things like this residency, which is something we’d never have time to do in a normal year.”

What were those first shows like for you after being away for so long?

“We’d already done a few livestreams but the first outdoor show we did was odd because it wasn’t the normal set up, and the crowd size was limited in capacity. At the same time, the first time we finished a song and heard people clapping and cheering was just amazing!”

Read the the rest of my
Interview with Jon Braun by Clicking Here.

Interview: Singer/Songwriter Bill Champlin Discusses His New Album, ‘Livin’ For Love’

Bill Champlin has had an illustrious career as a singer, songwriter, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. Although he’s perhaps best known for his twenty-eight-year run with Chicago, where he sang on numerous hits like “Hard Habit to Break”, “I Don’t Want to Live Without your Love,” and “Look Away,” he’s also an acclaimed ensemble arranger on hits by Elton John and Donna Summer, as well as a two-time Grammy winner for his work on songs like “After The Love Is Gone” (Earth Wind & Fire) and “Turn Your Love Around” (George Benson).

Now Champlin is back with his first solo album in nearly ten years — ‘.’ An introspective, sixteen-song compilation that’s filled with personal anecdotes and honest vulnerability.

I recently spoke with Champlin about the new album and more in this exclusive new interview.

How would you describe Livin’ For Love in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

Bill Champlin: I’ve done numerous solo albums over the years and, in terms of writing, I always thought of them as a little bit craft-oriented. I’d read somewhere recently that if it’s not personal it’s not art, so I decided to put my heart and soul into this one a little more and dug a little deeper. I also had a few years where I was dealing with a medical issue as well as my oldest son passing away. It changed my whole view of the world. At some point of the game you realize that your list of what you care about gets shorter, and the list of what you don’t care about gets longer. I realized that what I care about is love, music, family, and friends. That’s what I wanted to establish here. This album is a little more personal and vulnerable.

What was the songwriting process like?

BC: I write with my wife, Tamara, and between the two of us, she may come up with a premise and then I’ll come up with a way to have it fit the music. I’ve been writing for a long time and always feel better about writing a song when there’s something personal about it and I took that to heart for this album. I’ve got some great people on the record that really helped me put a groove on it.There are three songs I did with Greg Mathieson: “Especially Me,” “Losin’ Ground” and The Truth Has Begun” that are right in the pocket.

Let’s discuss a few other tracks on the new album, starting with “Reason To Believe.” What can you tell me about it?

BC: That was a track sent to me by Bruce Gaitsch that Tamara and I dug right away. It had George Hawkins playing bass on it. George passed away a few years ago but this track came from when he was still living in Nashville. I asked Bruce to play guitar and keyboards on it, I played organ and Vinnie Colaiuta played drums.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Bill Champlin by Clicking Here!

‘The Best Is Yet To Come’: Indomitable Songstress Bonnie Tyler Discusses Her Uplifting New Album

Photo: Tina Korhonen

Read the rest of my
Interview with Bonnie Tyler by Clicking Here.

1000

My customary ritual every January 1st is to start each year by sharing the very first blog article I ever wrote. Regular followers of this blog know the one I’m talking about. That wonderful day when I almost burned the house down making pierogies.

This year I decided to change that because of something I noticed the other day after posting my most recent interview. So, instead of posting something on the first of the year, I’m going to post something on the last day of the worst year ever.

Here’s the big announcement:

The post you are reading right now is my 1,000th article on WordPress! That’s right – one thousand. What makes this monumental achievement even more special is that tomorrow, January 1st, 2021, also marks the 10th anniversary of the following resolution I made to myself:

Who would’ve guessed that over the course of these last ten years I would have achieved such a mind-boggling statistic, and that number doesn’t even include the interviews I’ve done for sites like Yahoo! Examiner and Technorati.

In addition to the articles and interviews I’ve posted over the past decade, I’ve also co-authored three children’s books with a dear friend, traveled as far away as Los Angeles for interviews, wrote my very first novel and contributed four interviews to Guitar World magazine and several features for a major newspaper.

Among these one thousand articles are some pinch yourself moments, like the time I interviewed REO Speedwagon in the dressing room at The Greek Theatre in L.A. and was given a side-stage personal tour of Dave Amato’s guitar rig while Don Felder [formerly of The Eagles] stood thirty feet away performing “Hotel California” to a screaming, sold-out audience. Or the time filmmakers invited me to the Hollywood premiere of their horror film, and I actually got the chance to walk the red carpet with a legend of the genre.

I’ve interviewed Colonel Oliver North in his hotel room while he was nursing a bum foot. I chatted with Ozzy Osbourne on the phone and actually understood every word he said. I even talked to Ace Frehley of KISS and thanked him for being the one who inspired me to pick up the guitar. The truth of the matter is I will interview anyone – from artists about their new projects to porn stars about their unfortunate #MeToo experience – because everyone has a story that needs to be told.

But perhaps the greatest thing that’s happened to me during these last ten years of writing has been getting to meet so many amazingly talented people: independent artists, actors, musicians, filmmakers, photographers. All who’ve inspired me with their own creative works. People who’ve gone from being just another interview to lifelong friends.

Like many of you, 2020 was the absolute worst year of my life, but I’m optimistic about the future. Some of the things I’ve done recently include taking up watercolor painting as a form of mental therapy. I even sold one of them to a friend who generously donated the money to the local animal shelter [just like I did with my children’s books]. I’ve also begun the process of going back to college to finally finish my degree. Next year will be the release of my brand-new novel. One that’s been in the works for a very long time. There is something very cool, and music related with it that I hope I’ll be able to pull off. Will require some approval by the artist but fingers crossed.

I hope that by reading this blog, or any of the other 999 that have come before it, has inspired you to make a similar resolution to the one I made on January 1st, 2011, and that is to make a promise to yourself for 2021. A resolution to do something you’ve always dreamed about doing. Just take the first sentence of my resolution and change the word “writing” to something you’re passionate about. Then go out and make it happen.

Here’s wishing you peace, love, music, art, writing….and all the best for the New Year.