Category: Morning Call

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.

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!

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.