Tag: Music

Interview: 80s hitmaker Howard Jones, coming to Sellersville Theater, talks about songwriting, playing Live Aid, and touring with Ringo

Photo: David Conn

For three decades, electronic pioneer Howard Jones has been a regular presence on the international touring scene. He’s been performing his arsenal of hits and fan favorites, like “No One Is To Blame,” “New Song,” “Hide & Seek,” and “Things Can Only Get Better” in various band configurations, including his high-tech electronic setup.

But perhaps there is no better way to appreciate the foundational impact of Jones’ music than when it’s stripped down to its barest of bones. Jones will do just that when he brings his acclaimed Acoustic Trio Tour to The Sellersville Theater at 8 p.m. Feb. 20.

Joining Jones on stage that evening will be two of his longtime friends, Nick Beggs and Robin Boult, for an evening of musical fellowship.

Jones will certainly have no shortage of stories to tell. Since bursting onto the contemporary music scene in 1983, he’s sold more than 8 million albums. His monstrous 1985 album alone, Dream Into Action, went platinum in the US and featured four smash hits, including the aforementioned “No One Is To Blame” and “Things Can Only Get Better.”

A few of his other credits include performing solo at the piano at the Live Aid festival in 1985 and touring as part of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.

I recently spoke with Howard Jones about this and his upcoming performance in Sellersville.

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

Howard Jones: We had been halfway through an original run of the trio tour when COVID struck. Everything was being canceled and we had to get home pretty quick. These dates are fulfilling the ones we didn’t get to do. It’s the trio tour with Nick Beggs on the bass end (he plays an instrument called the Chapman Stick and double bass), Robin Boult plays guitar and I’m on piano and vocals. Nick and Rob are two of my best friends in the world. Touring with them is a total pleasure and I hope that gets reflected in the music that we present. It’ll be the three of us enjoying ourselves on stage.

Read the rest of my

Interview with Howard Jones by Clicking Here

Sarah Brightman — coming to Bethlehem — talks about her Christmas show, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and holiday traditions

Photo by Oliver Sommers

Known for pioneering the classical-crossover music movement and for amassing an arsenal of album sales — including 40 million from The Phantom of The Opera soundtrack alone — Sarah Brightman has wowed audiences with her incredible three-octave vocal range and charismatic beauty.

Last year, while the world was in lockdown, Brightman put together and streamed her first-ever Christmas concert, “Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony.” The worldwide response was so overwhelming that this year she is bringing her Christmas Symphony Tour to America.

Perhaps there is no more fitting place for her to kick off her holiday tour than The Christmas City’s Wind Creek Event Center on Friday, November 26.

Accompanied by orchestra, choir and a dazzling light show, Brightman’s show will feature renditions of classics from the Christmas canon, holiday favorites, and a selection of her greatest hits.

I recently spoke with Brightman about her upcoming performance in Bethlehem and much more in this exclusive interview:

James Wood for The Morning Call: How did your seasonal Christmas Symphony show come about?

Brightman: When we were in lockdown last Christmas it was a fairly miserable time for everyone worldwide. I decided to stream a seasonal Christmas show for any fans who cared to watch and listen. So, I employed some musicians who needed the work and we put it all together. There was an overwhelming response which is why, when things started moving again, I decided to turn it into a proper seasonal show for the theater. It’s something I’ve never done before in America.

Read the rest of my

Interview with Sarah Brightman by Clicking Here!

SteelStacks concert preview: Gin Blossoms guitarist Jesse Valenzuela talks about the band’s start, the hits, and what’s next

Photo: Shervin Lainez

American alt-rock band Gin Blossoms first broke into the mainstream with their infectious 1992 album, New Miserable Experience. Songs from that album, which eventually went on to sell four million copies, included the jangle-pop and radio friendly “Hey Jealousy,” “Until I Fall Away,” “Found Out About You,” and “Allison Road.” These cemented the band as one of the early 90s best-selling acts.

The band abruptly broke up in 1997 only to reform five years later and have continued to record and perform as many as 120 shows a year. Their 2010 release No Chocolate Cake shot up to #1 on Amazon and reached #14 on the Billboard Indie Chart. The band’s 2018 follow-up Mixed Reality, is reminiscent of the group’s earlier days. Vocalist Robin Wilson called it a companion to New Miserable Experience and an album the band would’ve wanted to make in 1990.

Fans of the Gin Blossoms — featuring Wilson, Jesse Valenzuela (vocals and guitar), Scott Johnson (guitar), Scott Hessel (drums), and Bill Leen (bass) — can relive the magic of the 90s when the group performs at SteelStacks’ Musikfest Café at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9.

I spoke with Gin Blossoms guitarist Jesse Valenzuela about the band’s Bethlehem show and more in this exclusive new interview.

James Wood for The Morning Call: What can fans expect from the Gin Blossoms upcoming performance in Bethlehem?

Jesse Valenzuela: We may have had a lot of time off and not touring as much as we used to but fans can expect to hear every song they want to hear. All of our hits will be represented. Then we’ll play some of the other material from our thirty-five years together. There’s a lot to choose from. It’s going to be a great time.

How did the band get started?

It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It took some starts and stops before we actually became a band. We all had grown up in the same college town working in different bands. We all knew about each other and eventually just started playing together. 

Read the rest of my

Interview with Jesse Valenzuela by Clicking Here.

Lisa Loeb concert preview: Grammy-winning singer-songwriter discusses ‘strangely creative time’ and return to Sellersville Theater

Lisa Loeb (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty)

Emotional, ethereal, poignant, poetic. These words best describe singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb’s music.

From her platinum-selling #1 song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the “Reality Bites” soundtrack to her Grammy-winning children’s album Feel What U Feel, Loeb has a knack for writing songs that are as ubiquitous as they are vulnerable.

Loeb will bring her arsenal of music and storytelling to an intimate performance at The Sellersville Theater on Oct. 16.

In addition to performing her signature song, fans can expect to hear songs like “Do You Sleep,” “I Do” and “Let’s Forget About It.” Loeb will also be showcasing material from her most recent album, “A Simple Trick To Happiness.” Produced by her and writer/producer Rich Jacques, the album examines Loeb’s life as a mother, wife, artist, and businesswoman seeking to find a balance between personal fulfillment and purpose.

I recently spoke with Loeb about her upcoming performance at The Sellersville Theater and more.

James Wood for The Morning Call: As an artist, what’s it been like for you during the last eighteen months of the pandemic?

Lisa Loeb: It’s been a strangely creative time during the lockdown. I set up shop in my guest bedroom and was able to work on new songs and even start a new album. I also did a lot of livestreaming shows as well as events and fundraisers over Zoom. It was an interesting time getting to connect with fans from all over the world.

Have you performed at The Sellersville Theater before?

Many times. Joe Quigley, the bass player from my band, Nine Stories, has a brother who was one of the original owners when they started having live musical acts. We had a personal connection with the theater and have seen it grow over the years. As a singer-songwriter it’s a perfect theater. It’s intimate but formal at the same time. I love being able to go there and play.

What can fans expect from your performance?

I love to play songs that people want to hear. So, I’ll play songs like “Stay” and a handful of others that have been on the radio. I’ll definitely play songs from my new album, “A Simple Trick to Happiness,” because they’re new and seem to resonate during this time. I’ll also play songs from my entire career as well as requests and maybe even some songs from my children’s album. I also like to talk, so there will be a lot of stories.

How does the new album, “A Simple Trick to Happiness,” compare to some of your previous work?

For me, it’s a lot more personal. I wanted to write songs that people [when they hear them] can take with them throughout their day. There are songs about appreciating your life and respectfully walking away from situations that aren’t right. The title of the album is a little tongue-in-cheek. You can’t snap your fingers and find happiness but there are things you can keep in mind to make your life better.

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With Lisa Loeb by Clicking Here.

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.