Run River North, Dar Williams headlining this weekend
By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times
Fans of Patsy Cline know how great she was. For those of you not in this category, you might want to consider a short drive across the state line into Delaware.
“Always…Patsy Cline,” the new production at the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.nctstage.org), is based on the story of Patsy Cline, one of country music’s all-time best artists.
Many of Cline’s songs are familiar to everyone — even those who have never heard of her. Songs such as “Back in Baby’s Arms,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “She’s Got You” and “Crazy” have evolved into all-time classic favorites in both pop and country music.
The highly-entertaining show is fueled by four things — the great music, an interesting storyline, an impressive vocal performance by Erica Scanlan Harr and the boundless energy and talent of Sue Hornung.
The popular musical was an Off-Broadway hit in 1997 under the guidance of director Ted Swindley. The show deals with the relationship between Virginia-born singer Patsy Cline and her “Number One” fan Louise Seger, a housewife from Houston, Texas.
“Always…Patsy Cline,” which is running now through August 24 (Fridays and Saturdays, food service starts at 6 p.m.; Sundays, food service starts at 1 p.m.), features Harr as Cline and Hornung as Seger. Tickets are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).
The story begins with a scene showing the first time Seger heard Cline’s music on television (“The Arthur Godfrey Show”) and continues until the day Cline gets killed in an airplane crash.
The production is a showcase for Cline’s music — and for Harr’s ability to channel the departed legendary Country Music Hall of fame singer.
“I had never seen the show before this,” said Harr, during a phone interview this week from her South Jersey home. “But, I knew Patsy Cline’s standards and big hits.
“When I was preparing for the role, YouTube became a great friend. I watched a lot of videos of her performing live and I became a great fan. She had this incredible voice – a great contralto voice — and her range was amazing.
“She was a woman of great depth. She didn’t read music but was self-taught. She grew up in Winchester, Virginia and I had a grandmother from French Creek, West Virginia. I could see so any similarities between Patsy and my granny.”
Harr gets to sing a lot of Cline’s best songs — a whole lot of them — 27 altogether.
“I have a lot of great roles — meaty roles — but definitely not roles with 27 songs,” said Harr. “This is the most vocally-challenging role I’ve ever done.”
For Hornung, the major challenge in her role is to not get too excessive. As the link between the audience and Cline, Seger has to remain believable throughout.
“As an actress playing the role, you can make Louise fun but not so big a character that they (audience members) can’t relate to you,” said Horning, during a phone interview earlier this week.
Hornung and Seger are old friends — in a theater sense.
“It’s a fun role,” said Hornung. “I did it in 2003 at New Candlelight during the summer time slot. Then, in 2009 we did four performances as a fundraiser for the Wilmington Drama League.
“I saw the show in Palm Beach, Florida after I did it the first time because I love the show. It’s performed all over the country and is the seventh-most produced show in America. Sally Struthers from ‘All in the Family’ has played it hundreds of times.”
Ironically, Struthers is playing the role of Seger in “Always…Patsy Cline” this weekend at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood, California.
“It’s an absolutely delightful role,” said Hornung. “I serve as a narrator in addition to interacting with Patsy. I’m able to talk directly to the audience. The fourth wall is gone.
“And, I’ve got a wonderful Patsy to work off of. Erica looks and sounds like Patsy Cline. She really captures her.”
Run River North which has its roots in the Far East (South Korea) and its home out west (Los Angeles) is now heading to the East and the Midwest for its first tour as a headlining act.
On July 27, the band will be in the area for a show at the Baby Grand (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org).
“We’ve toured a couple times and we opened for the Goo Goo Dolls in Delaware before,” said band founder Alex Hwang, during a recent phone interview from his home in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. “But, this is our first headlining tour — first time to do a long set.”
Run River North actually started with a solo project by Hwang named after his song “Monsters Calling Home.” That led to the formation of a band called Monsters Calling Home — a band that evolved into Run River North.
“We first released a song called ‘Fight to Keep’ on our own indie label,” said Hwang. “For the video, we used Honda cars. The video went viral and Honda contacted us.
“Then, Honda’s people punked us. They asked us to play the song live for them so we went there. We thought we were going to be playing for Honda’s people but it was actually a performance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.’ We were really surprised.”
Run River North features Daniel Chae (electric guitar, violin), John Chong (drums), Joe Chun (bass guitar), Sally Kang (mandolin, melodic, electric guitar), Jennifer Rim (viola) and Hwang (electric guitar, vocals).
“We’re still in the middle of writing songs for our next album,” said Hwang. “The songs from the first album have evolved a lot. To me, it seems like they’re new songs.
“These songs have evolved in sound — more complex, more electric. They’re louder and faster. They’ve grown up a bit. When people ask us what kind of music we play, we tell them ‘gangster folk.’
“We don’t play K-Pop (Korean pop music) but having Korea as a background is a good thing. “Immigrant Song’ reflects our parents’ struggles when they came from Korea to America. Living in L.A., we’re pretty lucky to have the biggest Korean community in the world.”
Run River North’s show at the Baby Grand starts at 7 p.m. with The Lighthouse and The Whaler as the opening act. Tickets are $17.
Another group from Southern California set to perform in Delaware over the next few days is the San Diego-based duo The Lovebirds.
The two musicians — Veronica May and Lindsay White — will be performing on the Upstairs Stage at the World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400,www.queen.worldcafelive.com) on August 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14.
On July 29, they will have a free show as part of the Eagleview Summer Concerts on the Square when they open for Christine Havrilla & Gypsy Fuzz at the Eagleview Town Center (Wellington Square, Exton, www.ineagleview.com). Show time is 7 p.m.
With a name like The Lovebirds, it may sound ironic that the group’s latest album is titled “Breakup Shmakeup” but it is based in reality. May and White had a romantic link for a number of years and then decided to end that relationship.
“The theme for the album is breaking up because that’s what we did — but we stayed together as a musical duo,” said White, during a recent phone interview.
“It was a difficult album to make because we weren’t writing together anymore and we weren’t living together anymore. We had to take space. There were some ups-and-downs but we were pretty fair to each other. Still, it was definitely hard.”
Fortunately, their respect for each other, their love of the music they made together and their friendship kept them together as a musical unit.
“It was a lesson in harmony,” said May. “The band played a big role in it. We had a show to play two weeks after we broke up.”
The singer-songwriters never needed any lessons in harmony when it came to singing together.
“We both had our own bands in the San Diego area,” said May. “I started singing harmony at Lindsay’s shows and it went from there. The band is just the two of us.
White said, “I knew Veronica from friends. I knew she was a great vocalist. We started writing together. We both play guitar, ukulele, upright bass and drums — and we have great vocal harmonies.”
The Lovebirds have released three albums in the last three years — “Nutsy Pants” in 2012, “and a one and a two” in 2013 and “Breakup Shmakeup” this year.
“We’re going to hold off on making a new album for a while,” said May. “When we write, we both work on music and lyrics. The strongest lyrics influence is Lindsay. We can experiment with a lot of styles because it stays cohesive because of our vocal harmonies. We’ve gelled when it comes to singing together.”
Other shows scheduled for the Upstairs Stage at the World Café Live at the Queen over the next week are The Chairman dances (July 24), Universal Funk Order (July 25) and Megan Jean and the KFB (July 26).
The schedule for the Downstairs Stage features Back to the 80’s Show with Jessie’s Girl (July 25), Stone, Black Dog Alley, Honor, Helmz Edge and Andorra (July 26), Buckwheat Zydeco (July 29) and Marchfourth Marching Band (July 30).
Dar Williams, who will be performing at 7 p.m. on July 27 at the Bryn Mawr Gazebo as part of the Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts series (9 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, 610-864-4303,www.brynmawrtwilightconcerts.com), has a number of new songs written — but don’t expect to hear any of them during her area show this weekend.
“I have 12 new songs but I’m not ready to perform any of them yet,” said Williams, during a phone interview last week from her home in New York’s Hudson Valley.
“I haven’t performed anything new in a long time. My last two albums have a lot of songs I like to play — and some of the older stuff is making it back. It’s the 20th anniversary of ‘The Honesty Room’ album so I might do some of those songs.”
Williams’ last two studio albums with new songs were “In The Time Of Gods” in 2012 and “Promised Land” in 2008.
“The songs from those two albums work well live,” said Williams. “When you write a song, it lays where it has to lay on the melody. It lays where it needs to lay in the social landscape. It finds its place.”
“In The Time Of Gods” looks at the past — the ancient past as in Greek mythology.
“I started writing a song about the Messenger of Death from Greek mythology,” said Williams. “I thought about how some people in modern times relate to the Greek myths with things like hubris, bravery and power — good and evil. The themes are power and how we deal with power — especially when we have it. It looks at different moods. Some are more melancholy and some are more joyful.
“Some of the songs are based on actual Greek myths and others are more based on the essence. There are a lot of specific references. One deals with Artemis as I retell her story. At the end of the day, all the songs are related to Greek mythology. But, I’ve stretched a lot on some of them, including one called ‘Storm King’ that I wrote for a project about Pete Seeger.”
Even though Williams hasn’t been recording any new music, she still is staying very busy.
“I just taught a college course at Wesleyan University,” said Williams, who also handles the duty of being as mother to a young child. “Teaching at a university was great. I’m also writing songs for a new album. I have all these different friends in mind that I want to do songs with.
“I’ve also done some songwriting retreats and that’s been great too. I like to have different avenues rather than just recording and touring.”
Show time at the Bryn Mawr Gazebo is 7 p.m. and all tickets are $15.
Some of the most dynamic rock bands ever were groups that used the power trio format — Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mountain and even the Who (a power trio musically with a fourth member, vocalist Roger Daltrey).
The Winery Dogs, who will be performing on July 30 at the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, http://www.keswicktheatre.com), are a power trio that can rock hard.
The band includes Mike Portnoy on drums, Richie Kotzen on guitar and vocals and Billy Sheehan on backup vocals and bass guitar.
Portnoy was one of the founding members of Dream Theater and was the band’s drummer for 25 years. Sheehan played bass and was the voice of Mr. Big, which had a Number One single with “To Be With You.” Kotzen, who was born in nearby Reading, joined Poison when he was just 21.
“I was working with another singer/guitarist but wanted something different so I called up Billy Sheehan,” said Portnoy, during a recent phone interview. “I was fresh out of my time with Dream Theater and I wanted to work with Billy in a real band. That was one of the things on my post-Dream Theater list.
“Then, another friend suggested Richie as a bass player. We went up to Richie’s place in January 2012 and immediately hit it off. We had three or four songs after our first practice. The chemistry was obvious. We started writing more and more and that led to the album.”
The Winery Dogs’ music is not for the timid. The band rips into each song with a vengeance. The music snarls as its power presses against the listener. It’s a bona fide power trio doing what power trios are supposed to do.
“We’re rooted in a classic rock sound,” said Portnoy. “It’s something the three of us have a love for — the love of the classic rock of the last 1960s and early 1970s.
“Going with a power trio was a conscious decision. We wanted to try to tap into that old school power trio sound. We wanted to take that old school sensibility and bring it up to the present.”
The concert at the Keswick on July 30 starts at 8 p.m. with the opening act Charm City Devils. Tickets for the show are $28.50 and $38.50.
The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, www.kennettflash.org) will feature the “Billy Penn Birthday Burger Bash”
Featuring performances from John Lilley (The Hooters), Tom Hampton, Tommy Geddes, EB Hawkins, Steve Smith, Rob Dickenson, Chris Sherlock, Steve Prentice, Nick Bucci, John McGovern, Richard Grossman, and Chuck Whiteman on July 25 at 8 p.m.
The lineup for The Flash on July 26 includes Porkroll Project with Gretchen Emery as the opening act. On July 27, the comfortable venue in the heart of Kennett Square will host Sharon and Shaun (Sharon Sable and E. Shawn Qaissaunee) along with trumpeter Joe Anderson.
Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Tom Hampton and Friends on July 24, The Nodd and Madaleane Gauze on July 25 and Tom Whall and Emily Earle on July 26.
American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-648-4102, http://www.amtshows.com) will present “Music of the Night: The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber” (July 24-26 and 29-31), America and Christopher Cross (July 27) and the Beach Boys (July 28).
Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host another show by Splintered Sunlight, the area’s favorite Grateful Dead tribute band. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $10.
Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present a show on July 24 featuring Somebody’s Problem and Anthony Piergiovanni. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $12.
On July 26, the venue will host the “Beats for Bruce Benefit” at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. It is a tribute to Bruce Ketterer; a talented musician who inspired these local artists. Proceeds will go directly the Philadelphia Clef Club where Bruce volunteered his time teaching aspiring musicians.
The afternoon show includes sets by New Quartet, Old Head, Colour and Codeine, Half Made and a number of special guests. The evening event will feature jazz performances by Brandon Evan Moudel and the OverFlow along with other area musicians. Tickets are $12 for the matinee and $18 for the nighttime show.
The Sellersville Theatre (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will present Days of the New on July 24, Billy Price & the Nighthawks on July 25, Altan on July 26, Dick Dale on July 27 and Leon Russell on July 29.