Tribute bands at Flash, Carey and Sample at Burlap & Bean
By Denny Dyroff, Correspondent, The Times
This weekend, two talented musicians who grew up elsewhere and relocated to Philadelphia before the turn of the century will be performing at area coffee houses. Both are musicians who have become fixtures in the local music scene.
On June 20, Lili Añel will headline a show at the Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse in Newtown Square (204 South Newtown Street Road, 484-427- 4547, www.burlapandbean.com). Jim Boggia is slated to play on June 21 at Phoenixville’s Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com).
Boggia has no new album to promote but he does have a new sound that he has added to his musical repertoire — the sound of the ukulele.
“My shows are almost always solo and have traditionally featured me on guitar but now it’s guitar and ukulele,” said Boggia, during a phone interview this week. “In my live shows, it’s not 50-50 but there is more ukulele creeping in.”
Boggia’s last studio album was “Misadventures In Stereo,” which was released in 2008. Last year, he released a live album titled “Ample Seating Available.”
“Now, I’m playing a lot more ukulele,” said Boggia. “So, I’ll do a ukulele album next and then a regular album after that.”
Boggia developed his interest in ukulele almost by chance.
“I was dating a woman in New York and there was no guitar in her apartment,” said Boggia, whose album count has already reached double figures in just over 12 years. “But, she had a ukulele.
“When I held it, it reminded me of when I played classical guitar when I was five. I had small hands and could only do four of the strings. So, I started playing the ukulele and fell in love with it instantly.
“I have six ukes now and use three of them. I’m playing finger-style uke. I treat it like a small classical four-string guitar. I’m playing rock tunes, pop tunes Bachrach tunes and show tunes. The ukulele has such a gentle tone.”
Boggia grew up in Michigan and moved to Philadelphia in the mid-1980s.
“I found a job with Ensoniq, a keyboard company. I worked there for nine years and then started making music full-time in 1996. I started out playing open mic nights. My first booked gig was at the Tin Angel opening for Kirsty McCool, a great British singer who tragically died a few years later.
“I played The Point in Bryn Mawr a huge number of times when it was still open. They even had me play on the closing night. Steel City is a similar type venue. I played there when it first opened. It closed after awhile and it’s had a couple owners since it reopened.
“I think I’ve played there for five different owners. I think I come with the deal — like part of the lease. It’s definitely become my Philadelphia area home. It’s the most comfortable club around. The shows I do there are most representative of what I do as a performer.”
In a similar vein, Lili Añel has found a comfortable home performing at Burlap & Bean and has become one of the venue’s favorite performers. Añel does have a new album — “I Can See Bliss From Here” — but it is her first since 2009’s “Every Second In Between” (which won three New York Music Awards).
“The reason there was a long gap between albums is money,” said Añel during a phone interview this week. “People don’t realize that it takes money to make records. It wasn’t because of lack of material. It was because the economy went in a downward spiral. Most musicians, unless they have a label and are touring, have to have day jobs to live.
“I did my first album ‘Laughed Last’ in 1994 for Palmetto Records. Then, they decided to focus on being an instrumental jazz label and they released me. I would have been picked up by another label but wasn’t because the whole industry was affected by the economy. I was working for a major law firm in Philly that closed down without warning and left over 2,000 people without jobs.”
On her brand new album, Añel sings about the challenges that people face — challenges like financial woes and life issues.
“I talk about the downturn of the economy in ‘Climb the Wall,’ the album’s opening track,” said Añel. “I sing — ‘It can all be gone forever in the blink of an eye, lose your job, lose your car, lose your house, lose your mind.’”
But, she maintains hope and finishes the song with the verse “Climb the wall, get to the other side, scale the hurt, leave it behind, find the answers.”
Añel’s music shows influences of jazz, folk, Latin, pop and blues. Añel, who is a New York-born Cuban-African American, came by these influences naturally.
“I’ve never referred to myself as jazz but I have jazz inclinations based on people I listen to,” said Añel, who grew up in the South Bronx. “I like sophisticated harmonic structures. My music is very varied including songs that are straight-up folk songs and others that are Latin jazz.”
Añel recorded “I Can See Bliss From Here” during a period that started in late 2011 and ended last year. Much of the album’s very diverse music was recorded in the heart of Chester County.
“I recorded the album with Dale Melton, my band mate and co-producer,” said Añel. “We recorded it at his studio out in the country (Sandbox at Buck Hollow Farm). It’s a really quiet place near Coatesville. He’s an excellent engineer.”
Ironically, both Añel and Melton are twins. Dale and Dennis have been performing together since the 1970s with the Melton Brothers Band and they will headline a show at the Anson B. Nixon Park Concert Series in Kennett Square on July 9.
Matt Helm will open for Boggia at Steel City on June 21. Admission for the show, which also lists an 8 p.m. start, is $16 in advance and $18 on day of show.
Tilting Windmills will open for Añel at Burlap & Bean at 8 p.m. on June 20. On June 21, the Alfred James Band will headline an 8 p.m. show with Josh Harty opening. Tickets for either show are $10. On June 25 at 8 p.m., B&B will present Barnaby Bright with Kwesi Kankam with tickets listed at $15 in advance and $18 at the door.
Burlap & Bean also is hosting a special performance by Edie Carey and Sarah Sample on June 19. They both have built successful careers as solo artists and now are working on a new venture — making an album and touring as a duo.
Carey and Sample recently released their debut album “Lullabies and Songs of Comfort” and are in the Northeast for a tour that includes stops in Boston, New York and the Philadelphia area.
“Sarah and I met at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 2008,” said Care, during a phone interview this week from a tour stop in Manhattan. “We both had been touring solo for awhile. We became friends and decided to join up and do this album.
“We did a Kickstarter campaign for the first time and it worked great. Our goal was $15,000 and we raised over $25,000. We recorded the album in January this year in Utah. I live in Chicago and she’s in Salt Lake. We did the record with Sarah’s producer Scott Wiley at June Audio Recording, his studio in Provo.”
The lullaby theme for the album came about naturally. Sample has two young children while Carey had a son in 2012 thanks to a $16,000 IVF cycle she won at a raffle. The two young singers make charitable contributions to support “RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.”
“The album has 10 cover songs along with two originals from each of us,” said Carey. “It’s lullabies. But, it is also a dreamy pop record so even people without kids will like it. We want these to be songs of comfort.
“In the past, we had done tours together as two solo artists playing our own sets and helping each other on some songs. This is the first time to perform fully as a duo. We both play guitar and Sarah plays piano. We do tons of harmonies — and lots of banter. Our songs are quiet and reflective so we try to inject humor with our banter.”
Carey and Sample’s show at Burlap & Bean will start at 8 p.m. on June 19 with alt-country singer Caroline Reese as the opener. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
Tribute bands are very much in fashion these days and two of the best local tribute acts will be featured this weekend at The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, www.kennettflash.org).
The venue will present Countdown to Ecstasy, a Steely Dan tribute band, on June 20 at 8 p.m. with tickets priced at $22 in advance and $26 day of show. The headliner on June 21 will be Real Diamond, which is a Neil Diamond tribute act. Start time is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 in advance and $29 day of show.
Countdown to Ecstasy is an 11-piece band based in Bucks County that brings to life many of the classic rock hits of Steely Dan.
“This is Year Five for our band,” said founding member and bassist Glen Marrazzo, during a phone interview Wednesday. “Myself, guitarist Tony Winkler and our original drummer and keyboard player used to get together on casual weekends — playing and jamming.
“We’d play Beatles, Police and classic rock. Tony wanted to do Steely Dan songs because he wanted to challenge himself as a guitarist. He planted the seed and we were playing Steely Dan songs the next week. We were having such a good time playing this music as a four-piece, I thought about how good it would be to have a full-scale Steely Dan tribute band.”
That was the start and the band has grown and evolved into the dynamic 11-piece unit that fills the stage.
“Steely Dan is a curious band if you look at their history,” said Marrazzo. “(Walter) Becker and (Donald) Fagen had Steely Dan mostly as a studio band in the early days. Then, they began playing concerts in the ’90s.
“We try, as much as possible, to stay true to the studio versions of the songs. But, it’s actually some wax, some live and some combinations of the two. We’ve crafted a good balance.”
The World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-994-1400, queen.worldcafelive.com) will have the twin bill of R&B singer Nadjah Nicole and Motown-influenced band Edna’s Tribe on June 20 at 8 p.m. on the Downstairs Stage. Tickets are $10.
On June 21, the stage will belong to singer/songwriter/producer — and Grammy Award nominee — Eric Roberson along with R&B songstress Algebra Brissett. Show time is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 and $30.
Veteran singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo will perform at the Queen’s Downstairs Stage at 8 p.m. on June 24 with Bettysoo as the opening act. Tickets are $12 and $24.
The schedule for the Upstairs Stage at the Queen features Peace, Love and Poetry on June 19; Lira and Kwesi K on June 20; and Bonerama, Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why and the Billy Pierce Band on June 21.
Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com/schedule) will present the triple bill of Knightlife, The Rudy’s and Whatever We Are on June 20 and a double feature of Brothers and Sisters and RFA on June 21. Each night, show time is 8 p.m. and admission is $10.
Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Carbon Leaf along with opening act Birds Over Arkansas on June 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Splintered Sunlight, a Grateful Dead tribute band, will play on June 21at 9:30 p.m. with tickets priced at $10.
On June 19, the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, http://www.keswicktheatre.com) will present a twin-bill featuring legendary blues guitarist Taj Mahal and the gospel/spiritual sounds of the blind Boys of Alabama. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are priced at $37.50 and $47.50.
On June 21 at 4 p.m., the Keswick will host the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival with the “Temptations Review” featuring Dennis Edwards, Kindred Family Soul and the “Abstract Truth Tribute” to Teena Marie and Rick James. Tickets are $75 and all proceeds benefit the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation.