With more than 50 million albums sold and having an enviable reputation as both an artist and for his wit and raconteur, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Wakeman should delight his fans when he performs “An Evening With Rick Wakeman: His Music And Stories” at the Wind Creek Event Center on Thursday.
The one-man event gives Wakeman the opportunity to perform selections from his vast 50-plus-year musical catalog as well as share anecdotes from his early days as a session player right up to the present day. Included will be selections from Wakeman’s time arranging and performing keyboards on hits like David Bowie’s Life On Mars, as well as his groundbreaking stint with the progressive rock band Yes, and his own multi-platinum solo albums.
An Evening with Rick Wakeman: His Music and Stories promises to be a show filled with musical memories and riotous reflection from a true rock legend.
I recently spoke with Rick Wakeman about his plans for his Wind Creek performance and more in this exclusive interview.
What do you enjoy most about these one-man shows as opposed to performing in a group ensemble?
Rick Wakeman: I don’t really prefer one over the other, I do shows with orchestras, band shows, band shows with orchestras and even one-man and two-man shows with my son, Adam. They’re all different and I love them all. I think the reason why is because I’m not doing the same thing all the time. I’m a people person and it’s great to just be in a room with a lot of people and playing away.
What can fans expect from your upcoming performance at Wind Creek Event Center?
Wakeman: It’s a one-man show where it’s just me, a piano, a couple of keyboards and a microphone. I’ll play music from all the eras I’ve been involved with in my life and the people I’ve played with, such as David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Yes [obviously], some of my own stuff, and a few surprises. In between, I’ll tell ludicrous stories. Some of which, possibly, have some resemblance of truth to them. You never know.
Read the rest of my Morning Call Interview with Rick Wakeman By Clicking Here.
Now in her sixth decade as a multitalented artist and performer, Marie Osmond is showing no signs of slowing down. Her latest album, 2021’s Unexpected, debuted at #1 on the Billboard’s Classical Crossover chart. An album that showcases Osmond’s versatility in performing everything from opera to The Great American Songbook.
Osmond first rose to fame in 1973 at the tender age of 12 with the release of her debut album, Paper Roses. Three years later she would find herself, along with brother Donny, as co-hosts of one of the most popular variety shows in television history, “Donny & Marie.”
Osmond is currently performing a small run of shows, which includes a stop at the Wind Creek Event Center in Bethlehem on Friday. Longtime fans can expect to hear many of the songs and stories that made Osmond one of the most iconic artists in the world.
In addition to these select run of shows, Osmond is also planning to join in the 40th anniversary celebration of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which to date has raised more than $8 billion for children. Osmond is one of the co-founders of the nonprofit organization.
I recently spoke with Marie Osmond about her upcoming show in Bethlehem, her career and more in this exclusive interview.
What can fans expect from your performance at the Wind Creek Event Center?
Osmond: You’ll get to see six decades of my career along with multiple singing styles and genre performances with my fantastic band. There will also be lots of video and interaction with the audience. David Osmond will also be there, who’s a phenomenal entertainer. I had him perform in my Christmas shows. His story is unbelievable. I really enjoy these shows and think it’s a good time for people to get out and live again. It’s a fun show and I think people are going to have a really good time.
When Sabrina Joseph began her musical theater journey, it was in the production of “Hairspray” during her time at Dieruff High School. She’d later go on to participate in the State Theatre’s annual Freddy Awards and take part in the ceremony’s opening and closing performances.
The Dieruff and DeSales University graduate will be making a homecoming visit on Saturday, Feb. 18, to The State, this time as part of the touring production of, ironically enough, “Hairspray.”
Set in the 1960’s, “Hairspray” tells the story of 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad (Niki Metcalf) as she dances her way onto TV’s most popular show and winds up changing the world. The show features a beloved musical score and a talented ensemble cast that also includes Andrew Levitt and Sandie Lee.
Joseph’s role in the touring production is that of a swing, an important position that requires her to master multiple parts. Slightly different than an understudy, Joseph is an offstage performer who goes on often at a moment’s notice if someone in the ensemble is unable to do so.
I recently spoke with Joseph about the upcoming “Hairspray” performance and her local ties to the Lehigh Valley and State Theatre in this exclusive interview.
What can fans expect from the upcoming Hairspray tour stop at The State Theatre?
Sabrina Joseph: You can expect a great show with a lot of fun energy, moving moments and, at the end, a big dance party.
What can you tell me about your role in this touring production?
Joseph: I’m a swing for the show, which is an understudy for the ensemble members. My role is to learn multiple ensemble roles and be ready to go on for them at any given time due to someone going on vacation, being sick, or has an injury. Sometimes I may have two days’ notice, but often times it may be hours before the show or even while the show is happening.
Over the course of his nearly 50-year career, Mandy Patinkin has established himself as one of the legends of stage and screen. His accolades include a Tony Award win for his debut performance as Che in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita,” as well as an Emmy for his role on the CBS series, “Chicago Hope.” Patinkin also spent eight seasons in the role of CIA agent Saul Berenson on Showtime’s acclaimed series, “Homeland.”
On Saturday, the self-described mailman storyteller, along with pianist Andy Ben-David, will take to the intimate stage of The State Theatre in Easton, to perform Patinkin’s latest concert experience, “Being Alive.” A show Patin
kin describes as a celebration of living, learning and loving.
I recently spoke with Mandy Patinkin about his upcoming performance and more in this exclusive new interview.
Q: How did your new concert experience, “Being Alive,” come about?
Patinkin: I had a previous concert called “Diaries” that I did before the pandemic. Times were a little dark then and, although I loved it, it was a bit of a dark concert. When we were coming out of the pandemic and deciding to get back on the road I said, “I need a concert that makes me and my audience feel happy.” So I went through 13 hours of archival material that I had in my repertoire over the years and we put together a happy, fun evening. I called it “Being Alive” because that’s the great privilege of being 70 years old and still waking up every morning. To say nothing of the fact that I get to do what I love and have fun.
I hope this letter finds you well. I was having a bit of trouble trying to find the right words to say as I wrote it. It’s not every day you try to put into words just how much an old high school teacher means to you. Yeah, I know, it’s been more than thirty-five years since I was a student walking those hallowed halls but believe it or not, you’re still the first person who comes to mind whenever I think about my high school experience.
Back then, you had a saying you liked to use whenever someone was having a problem. Whether it was something as simple as a homework assignment, peer pressure, or even trouble at home, whenever someone was having an issue, you’d pull that person aside and say, “Talk to me.” Those three words became your mantra, and I guess in a way that’s what I’m doing now, talking to you.
I never told you this before, but you played a huge role during the most fragile and formative years of my young life. Like so many other teenagers trying to find their place in the world, I didn’t fit in well in high school, but your choir class was the one place I could go where I felt like I completely belonged. You taught me how to sing and how to release the song from inside my soul. Most of all, you made me feel valued.
I remember the awkward feeling I had walking into your music room every morning and seeing you surrounded by a gaggle of students. All of them eagerly asking you questions about last night’s music theory assignment or trying to get your opinion on a selected piece of music they chose for their district chorus audition. You seemed like a celebrity and the class was your fanbase. Sometimes I had questions of my own to ask but was too shy to do so. It wouldn’t be until after class had ended that I’d pull you side and tell you about my interest in majoring in music at the same state college as you.
I hadn’t seen you since the night of my graduation in 1987. If I’m being honest, I also hadn’t given you much thought at all, that is until almost two decades later when someone told me about the adult choir you were directing once a week in a chapel on the far side of town. This was shortly after you’d retired from teaching, and long after I’d given up on my own dream of becoming a professional musician.
Call it nostalgia but I had an urge, a tickle in my stomach of wanting to be part of something special. By then, I’d already had a family of my own and was long established in a busy career in information technology. Something like the prospect of singing in a choir with you seemed too good to be true, but regardless of any scheduling concerns, I needed to make time, if only for myself.
I still remember the familiar feeling of awkwardness when I walked into church that night for that first rehearsal. As usual, you were already in conversation with a few people and didn’t see me approaching. I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. Part of me wanted to turn and run, not because I wasn’t sure of what to say, but because I’d already started second guessing myself again. It had been years since I’d sung in a choir. Would I even know what to do?
I also wondered if you’d even remember me. I was one of thousands of students you had taught over your thirty-three-year teaching career. It had been decades and the skinny, introverted, long-haired student who once sat before you in the corner of the room was now a full-blown middle-aged man. Less hair on his head and, sadly, a bit thicker in the middle. Somehow, I was able to muster up the courage and nervously tapped my hand on your shoulder.
“Hello, M” I said, meekly. “Do you remember me?”
I will never forget the look of joy on your face when you turned around and saw me standing there. It was as if the Prodigal Son, who had been through the confusion of life and adult responsibility, had suddenly found his way back home. Here I was, once again the fragile student now stuck in an adult body, and there you were, still carrying the age and wisdom of years just like me, but with the same wit and energy I loved while sitting in your music theory classes.
“Oh my gosh!” you exclaimed as you shook my hand, firmly. “It’s been a long time.”
You told me to call you “Ed” that night because your name was Ed Milisits and we were now both adults. I did but truthfully didn’t want to. That bond of teacher-student was still very strong. For me, and I think for most everyone who ever had the pleasure of being one of your students, you were known as a single letter of the alphabet:
I spent the next ten years spending Tuesday nights in the choir under your direction. One year, I mustered up the courage to suggest a piece of music to do that we performed my senior year of high school. You were excited about the possibility but let me know that it was a bit of a long-shot because approval was needed by the music committee. It took a few more years but one morning, ironically thirty years after last performing the piece in high school, I received an email from you:
“Thought you’d be interested to know that ‘Os Justi’ is on the Winter program list! We WIN!”
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and the world shut down, the choir went on hiatus. It was also a time when I was going through a lot of personal issues and you were facing your own challenges as well. Ones that made mine look small in comparison. Although I did email quite a few times to see how you were, I always respected your need for privacy.
It’s hard to believe that today makes a full a year that you’ve been gone. Sometimes I’ll see a post pop up in my Facebook memories and read your comments about it. That will, inevitably, get me to thinking about you and our conversations in the high school choir room or the adult choir rehearsal hall. It puts a smile on my face but I wish there was a chance to have one more conversation with you. Until then, I suppose this one-sided letter will have to do. Someday, God-willing, I’ll have the honor of sitting in your choir again.
M, just know that you are missed dearly, not just by me but by the generations of people who had the pleasure of sitting in one of your classrooms or choirs. You taught us to believe in ourselves, to laugh and, most importantly, to raise our voices in song.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that we’re at the end of another year, let alone that we’re in the third decade of the 21st century. I still remember when I got my very first laminated school identification card back in September of 1981. On the back of it was a sticker that listed the year of what would be my high school graduation – 1987.
I remember staring at that card for a long time thinking about 1987 and, even though it was only six years, how far away it seemed to be. For some perspective – this past year, 2022, I attended my 35th high school reunion.
A lot has happened over the course of these last twelve months. I’d like to spend these next few minutes giving you a list of my top five events of 2022.
#5 – The Loss of Favorite Teachers. Hey, I never said this list was going to only contain good things. Not only did 2022 mark the 25th anniversary of the death of my father, it was also the year I said goodbye to two of my favorite teachers. First was my favorite teacher in all of my schooling; my high school music theory and choir teacher, Edward Milisits, who died on January 8th. I could easily write an entire book on how Mr. M and his classes affected my life. His influence was so popular that after his retirement from 30+ years of teaching, generations of former students (now adults) signed up to sing in his choir.
Then there’s my third grade teacher, Mrs. Tanzella, who passed away in November. Although I don’t have much recollection of her after I left the halls of Porter Elementary, I’ll never forget the day my brother and I rode on a float the Cub Scouts had made during our town’s annual Halloween parade. I had told Mrs. Tanzella how nervous and scared I was about riding and waving to people. As the route began and we made our way through town, I heard a woman’s voice calling my name. I looked and saw that it was Mrs. Tanzella, briskly walking behind the float; waving to me with a huge smile on her face. Seeing her put me at ease.
These days I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but 45 years later, I can still remember her doing that for me.
#4 – This one actually dates back to one year ago today, December 31st, 2021. The day I adopted Merlot, or Merle as he is known in my home. He had been part of a hoarding situation and I gave him a second chance at life. It took him nearly five days into 2022 to come out from under the bed. Today, he is my buddy.
#3 – Painting Holiday Watercolor Cards. As most of you know, I regularly watercolor. Most of them are 9×12 in size. For Christmas this year I was asked to paint a few 5×7 postcards to use as Christmas cards. I started out thinking I would only do a half dozen or so. Instead, I wound up doing 60 of them. I’m happy to say that, like Merle, all of the cards now have happy homes. Take a peek at them below:
#1 Graduating from College – It was a journey that actually began after graduating high school. It was August of 1987 when I entered college thinking I’d become a music teacher. The road would lead me to Penn State, Northampton Community College and West Chester University. All fizzled out and in 1990, I reluctantly entered the work force. When Covid struck in 2020 and we couldn’t go anywhere, I decided to gather all of my transcripts and see what, if anything, I could get. I was told that if I passed five courses I would receive an Associates Degree in General Studies. The quest began, and over the next year and a half I took Environmental Science, English II, Geology, Developmental Psychology and Nature of Mathematics, In May of 2022 I passed my last final and became an honors college graduate almost 35 years to the day after graduating high school. Framing the degree and putting it on my wall was the biggest accomplishment of all for me.
So, another year is about to pass. Along the way there have been a few ups & downs. Some days to remember, and some days to forget. But there’s a New Year ahead and new dreams to collect. So, I wish you one that’s full of health, contentment and most of all….love. Here’s to 2023.
When singer-songwriter Ted Vigil entered a singing contest in Laughlin, Nevada in 2006, little did he know his life as an artist was about to change. With no pre-set agenda, Vigil decided to perform a John Denver song and took home first place in the competition that included contestants from more than 25 States and three other countries.
Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Denver, it wasn’t long before people who had worked with the late singer encouraged Vigil to do a tribute show, and the ball started rolling.
Today, Vigil performs more than 100 shows a year celebrating Denver’s life and musical legacy. He even spent a few years performing with Steve Weisberg, who was the late singer’s lead guitar player from the 1970′s.
This season, Vigil is including holiday songs as part of his appropriately titled, A John Denver Christmas, which will stop at The Sellersville Theater Dec. 10.
Fans of Denver’s music can celebrate the holidays with hits from Denver’s traditional and Christmas catalogs as well as a selection of holiday favorites performed by an award-winning artist who not only looks like the musical legend but continues to keep the spirit of John Denver alive more than 25 years after his untimely passing.
I spoke with Ted Vigil about his John Denver Christmas show and more.
James Wood for The Morning Call: What made you decide to do a John Denver tribute?
Ted Vigil: It really started as a result of a contest I won in Nevada. I met some people who had been friends with John, and they said that I should start thinking about doing a tribute show to John’s music. I was a rock and roll drummer at the time, but the ball started rolling, and I couldn’t stop it. I ended up touring with John’s lead guitar player, Steve Weisberg, for four and a half years, performed in 50 states and probably do around 100 shows a year as my full-time job. I’ve been doing this for about fifteen years and have loved every minute of it.
Blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor, at age 16, was discovered by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and over the past two decades, has proven herself as a guitarist and prolific songwriter.
She’s received praise fans and artists like Joe Bonamassa, Stevie Wonder and Annie Lennox for her distinctive style and soulful voice.
Taylor has released three albums in the past year, including “The Blues Album” (produced by Bonamassa and Josh Smith) which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.
Her new album, “Nobody’s Fool,” is another collection of catchy hooks and riffs and includes the lead single “Just No Getting Over You (Dream Cruise)” as well as Taylor’s spin on The Eurythmics’ hit “Missionary Man.” Bonamassa also joins Taylor on the original song, “Won’t Be Fooled Again.”
Taylor brings her infectious blues prowess to Easton’s State Theatre on Nov. 12.
I spoke with Joanne Shaw Taylor about the show, her new album and more in this exclusive Morning Call interview.
James Wood for The Morning Call: Is your tour stop in Easton part of a larger run of dates you’ll be doing?
Taylor: We’re doing three weeks here in the States in November and then straight to the UK for three more weeks. We’ve got a bigger Spring run through the U.S. in March and April that’ll start in Florida and make its way out west.
What can fans expect from your upcoming performance at The State Theatre?
For people who know my stuff, it’ll be a bit of a mix. In the past year, we’ve done three albums: “The Blues Album,” “Blues From The Heart: Live,” and the new album, “Nobody’s Fool.” With COVID kind of shutting down touring for a bit, all of that material is still fresh. I say this tongue in cheek, but I’ll also play a selection of greatest hits from the older albums. It’ll be a good night of the best of my catalogue played by an explosive band.
With a pedigree dating back to the early days of the Electric Light Orchestra, members of The Orchestra continue to tour and perform the music of ELO to generations of fans.
All six group members were once part of ELO II, which formed shortly after the original group disbanded.
On Oct. 7, The Orchestra will bring ELO’s catalog of classic and symphonic rock hits to Easton’s State Theatre for an intimate performance.
Mik Kaminski (violin) is the longest-term member of the group, having not only worked with ELO II and The Orchestra but has also recorded many of ELO’s biggest hits and toured the world with Jeff Lynne and the original lineup from 1973 through the early eighties.
In addition to being a keyboardist and vocalist for The Orchestra, Eric Troyer has contributed his talent as a session artist on monster hits for John Lennon, Billy Joel, Bonnie Tyler and more.
The Orchestra includes Kaminski (violin), Troyer (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Parthenon Huxley (guitar, vocals), Gordon Townsend (drums, vocals), Glen Burtnik (bass, vocals) and Louis Clark (orchestral keyboard, cello, guitar).
I spoke with Mik Kaminski and Eric Troyer about the upcoming State Theatre show, the music of ELO, and more.
James Wood for The Morning Call: What can fans expect from The Orchestra’s performance at the State Theatre?
Mik Kaminski: They can expect to hear all of the ELO hits that I’ve been playing for nearly 50 years. I still get great fun out of playing songs like “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Living Thing” and all the other favorites. As long as the audience is with us we’ll be doing it as long as we can.
Eric Troyer: We’ve been touring all around the world playing the songs the way they were written and recorded by Electric Light Orchestra. Mik was in the original ELO lineup and I’ve been doing it since the ELO II days that started in 1988. It’s an engaging and exciting show to watch. We really enjoy playing this music.
What do you think makes the music of ELO so timeless and special?
Troyer: It’s classic rock, a high point of the rock and roll era that speaks to everybody. These songs are still used in movies and many other things. It carries the torch and becomes familiar to other generations. We have a lot of young people coming out to see us.
Kaminski: Every time you walk into a supermarket there’s an ELO tune playing. It’s embedded in people’s heads. Jeff Lynne’s writing was, and still is, brilliant. He’s a very talented guy.
Ranked by Billboard as the #1 Adult Contemporary Artist of all-time, Barry Manilow’s unparalleled career is made up of virtually every facet of music, including performing, recording, arranging, and producing.
With more than 85 million albums sold, Manilow is also ranked as one of the world’s all-time best-selling artists, with songs that include such timeless classics as “Mandy,” “I Write The Songs,” “Could it Be Magic,” Looks Like We Made It,” “Weekend In New England,” and “Copacabana (At The Copa).”
On Friday, August 12, Manilow will bring his musical legacy and arsenal of hits to PPL Center in Allentown, PA as part of his “Manilow: Hits 2022 Tour.”
Every stop on Manilow’s current East Coast jaunt will also bestow a Manilow Music Project’s Music Teacher Award, where a winning teacher from each city, based on voting, will receive a five-thousand-dollar cash award and another five thousand in “Manilow bucks” to purchase instruments for their school’s music program.
I recently spoke with Barry Manilow about his new tour, music, and some of the most memorable moments of his career in this exclusive new interview.
What can fans expect from your performance at PPLCenter in Allentown?
Barry Manilow: There were years that I was out doing shows with medleys of big band songs and show tunes and album cuts. These days, I know what people want. They want to hear the songs they know and I’m happy to give it to them. I’m very lucky that I’ve got ninety minutes of hit records that I can go to. Every song is familiar to audiences. They sometimes sing even louder than I do at these shows and we all have a great time together. With the world the way that it is being an entertainer is a big responsibility. So, the lights will go down, the doors will close, and I’ll get to take them into a place that feels safe, joyful, and full of music. That’s my job and I love doing it.