Also: The 80s make an amazing comeback at The Keswick
By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times
By far, one of the most interesting musical events to hit the area this summer will take place on August 21 at Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org).
Jackie Evancho, who has starred in two PBS specials for the television series “Great Performances,” will tape her third PBS special with a live concert at Longwood Gardens’ Open Air Theater. Unfortunately for fans, the concert is sold out.
But, you can still enjoy an evening of live entertainment under the stars at Longwood Gardens when the site presents one of the installments of its “Summer Soirees” series on August 22 from 6-9 p.m. and hosts Le Vent du Nord, a progressive folk band from Quebec, performs on August 24 at 7 p.m.
The “Summer Soirees” event features Ballet Xochiquetzal Folklorico (Mexican folklore dance group) at 6:15 and 7:15 p.m. in the Open Air Theatre, Philly Vibe Duo at 6,7 and 8:15 p.m. in the East Conservatory Plaza and Americana group M Shanghai at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. in the Main Fountain Garden.
Longwood Gardens will also present “Open Air Theatre Fountain Shows” from 8:45-10 p.m. along with the “Main Fountain Garden Illuminated Fountain Show,” which currently is “Gershwin Gala,” at 9:15 p.m.
The concert on August 24 by Le Vent du Nord is free — but there is a catch. It is a “Members Only” event. Full details on becoming a member can be found athttps://tickets.longwoodgardens.org/ItemList.aspx?node_id=425548
Another interesting option will take place on August 22 when the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, http://www.keswicktheatre.com) hosts the Retro Futura Tour 2014.
The headline acts will be Howard Jones, the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and Ultravox’s Midge Ure. The show will also feature China Crisis and Katrina (former lead singer of Katrina and the Waves).
This tour marks the first time in nearly three decades that Bailey, who was the Twins’ lead singer, keyboard player, guitarist and songwriter, will perform Thompson Twins hits. The Thompson Twins’ list of international hits includes “Hold Me Now,” “Doctor Doctor,” “You Take Me Up” and “Love On Your Side.”
Howard Jones, who was well-known to MTV viewers for his tufts of blond hair as well as his well-crafted songs, had his first Top Five hit in 1983 with the song “New Song.” Four more hits followed over the course of a year and his album “Human’s Lib” reached the top spot on the U.K. album charts.
Jones’ 1984 “Like to Get to Know You Well” was “dedicated to the original spirit of the Olympic Games” and became a worldwide hit. It also was used in the film “Better Off Dead” and the computer game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.”
“Dream into Action,” which came out in 1985, quickly became a Top Ten Platinum album in the United States and was Jones’ most successful album. Four major hits were on that album — “Things Can Only Get Better,” “Life In One Day,” “No One Is To Blame,” and “Like To Get To Know You Well.”
Jones, who was born and raised in Wales, has re-mastered those first two classic albums and has played them live in their entirety. He continues to tour extensively with Robbie Bronnimann on live sequencing/sampling and effects (Ableton Live and various controllers) and Jonathan Atkinson on electronic drums.
“It’s a completely electronic band,” said Jones, during a recent phone interview from his home in Somerset, England. “I have a drummer who uses an electronic drum kit and there are sequencer parts by another gentleman — Robbie Bronnimann.
“I also play keyboards. I have a new rig which is based on Mainstage — the equivalent to Logic software. Rather than carting around hundreds of keyboards, I use software. I’ve gone away from the hardware because it’s too difficult to travel with.
Jones has stayed up-to-date with both music technology and musical styles, including EDM (Electronic dance music).
“I’ve done a new version of ‘Everlasting Love” and there is an EDM hit of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ with (French DJ/producer) Cedric Gervais. All the hits have been updated and we do play a lot of dubstep.”
Jones also looks to the past — spiritually. He is a devout follower of Nichiren Buddhism.
“A friend of mine who is a fashion designer got me interested in Buddhism,” said Jones. “I loved the way he worked with people and his positivity. So, I got him to teach me.
“I started straight out with Nichiren and I chant ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’ (a mantra that dates back to 1253) every day. Nichiren focuses on the belief in the positive power of human beings.
“There are three things that I feel are very important. If we want to change things, we have to change ourselves. We need to exchange dialogue with each other. And, we have to realize that we are global citizens.”
The Retro Futura Tour 2014 represents convocation of global citizens — musicians from a variety of countries. China Crisis is a British pop band from the Liverpool area. Midge Ure hails from Lanarkshire, Scotland and Katrina (Leskanich) is a native of Topeka, Kansas.
“The roots of this tour started last year,” said Jones. “We toured last summer with Andy Bell from Erasure and had a really fantastic time. When I was thinking of a lineup for this year, I met up with Tom Bailey and asked him to come out on tour.
“We had a really nice curry dinner and I persuaded him to come. He has an all-girl band — even if it wasn’t planned that way. I’ve had a long connection with China Crisis and I’ve always enjoyed their music. And, Midge and I have been friends for a long time.”
All the acts on this year’s tour rose to prominence during MTV’s heyday in the 1980s.
“We’ve almost formed our own subculture — the 80s,” said Jones. “We don’t fit in with rock-and-roll. Instead, we have a separate niche in rock music. The 80s was an era marked by videos, fashion and a lot of synthesizers and drum machines.”
Like Jones, Ure had a major influence on the music that came out of the 1980s.
You may not recognize Midge Ure’s name but you’ve almost definitely heard his music
If you know the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — you’ve heard Ure’s music. That was a song he co-wrote with Bob Geldof and presented to the world as Band Aid. Ure co-organised Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Geldof. He also serves as ambassador for Save the Children.
Ure’s musical repertoire is long and varied, including the song “Breathe,” which in 1996 became the soundtrack of a massive European “Swatch” campaign. His list of former bands includes Slik, the Rich Kids, Thin Lizzy, Ultravox and Visage.
Slik had a monster hit with “Forever And Ever”, while the Rich Kids was a band put together by ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock. Ure became most famous as the frontman who replaced John Foxx in Ultravox, and was the singer on such Ultravox hits as “Reap the Wild Wind”, “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes” and the timeless classic “Vienna.”
One of Ure’s most recent projects has been recording and performing live shows with Ultravox, a band that had an acrimonious breakup in 1985 and an amicable make-up in 2009. The classic Ultravox lineup released an album titled “Brilliant” in May 2012. Now, Ure is ready to release a new solo album titled “Fragile.”
“It had been 12 years since my last album of original material,” said Ure, during a recent phone interview from his home in Bath, England. “After 12 years, I wasn’t sure if anyone wanted another Midge Ure album.
“After doing the Ultravox album three years ago, that inspired me to put my act together. I only completed ‘Fragile’ two months ago. After Ultravox, I fueled myself up again. I gathered my ideas and completed them.
“I recorded the entire album at home where I have a Mac-based studio. I did all the instruments and was the engineer and producer. Then, I mixed it myself. I was very pleased with the whole process of doing it.
“The music is quite involved and it took about a year altogether. Doing it by myself, I became very anal about it. When you’re working alone, the only gauge you have is time. You have to walk away, come back in the light of day and play it again.”
Ure has always been known as a guitarist and a vocalist. It was a little different when he was recording “Fragile.”
“I’m a guitarist — first and foremost,” said Ure. “But, in the studio, I’m more keyboard-based. It gives you more variety with songs. With a synthesizer, you can make the same six chords sound very different.”
Music made with synthesizers — that’s what the Retro Futura Tour 2014 is all about.
The Keswick will also showcase another veteran music act on August 24 when it presents reggae legend Beres Hammond. The Jamaican singer-songwriter has been making hit records since the 1970s. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $30, $35 and $39.50.
On August 22, The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, www.kennettflash.org) will host folk-rock singer/songwriter John Eddie. There will be two shows — 7 and 10 p.m. — with tickets for either show priced at $20 in advance and $24 day of show.
Sin City will be the featured band at The Flash on August 23 with tickets listed at $16 for advance purchase and $20 at the door. Club will then be on vacation for Labor Day Weekend.
At the World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400, www.queen.worldcafelive.com), the Downstairs Stage will host “Kiss Jam 12” featuring Cash Out, Teeflii. Mike Jay and Driicky Graham with the Breakfast Club as the opening act on August 21.
On August 26, Les Claypool, who is the bass player for Primus, will bring his current project Duo De Twang to the Queen’s Downstairs Stage. Reformed Whores will be the opening act.
The lineup for the Upstairs Stage includes Long, Long Time (August 21), Clint Cooley (August 22), Can You Canoe (August 23) and the Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival 2014 (August 24-29).
It will be time for tribute bands over the next week at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com). It starts on August 21 with Splintered Sunlight, a Grateful Dead tribute band. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $10.
On August 22, the venue will present a trio of bands dedicated to playing the music of classic rock legends — “Bold As Love: Jimi Hendrix Tribute,” “Everyday People: Sly & the Family Stone Tribute” and “Sister Blue plays Janis Joplin.” Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door for the 8 p.m. show.
Showtime is 9 p.m. on August 23 for a concert featuring Pure Jerry — a band devoted to performing the music of the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia. The 9 p.m. show features The Happy Dog as the opener and tickets are $10.
The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) has just one show scheduled for this week. On August 22, the comfortable venue will host Cliff Hillis and Corin Ashley. Showtime is 8 p.m. with tickets priced at $12.
Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will have a triple bill on August 22 featuring Emily Neblock, Melo-Hippy and Kirsten Arian. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $12 at the door.
Another triple bill is scheduled for the venue on August 23 with
Take Back, Loss of Effect and Sabotage the Heist. Tickets are $10 for the show which is slated to get underway at 8 p.m.
The Sellersville Theatre (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) has four consecutive nights of shows with Selwyn Birchwood and Guitar Shorty on August 21, Parrotbeach on August 22, Raymond the Amish Comic on August 23 and Breask of Reality on August 24
The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 717-397-7700, http://www.amtshows.com) will have “Music of the Night: Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber” on August 21, The Shoji Tabuchi Show on August 23 and Terry Fator on August 24.
Theater fans still have a number of opportunities to see “Book of Mormon.” The smash hit musical is running through September 14 at the Forrest Theatre (1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia 866-276-2947, www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway) as part of the Kimmel Center’s “Broadway Philadelphia” series. Ticket prices ranges from $67-$277.
This weekend will be the last chance to see “Always…Patsy Cline,” which is based on the story of Patsy Cline. The show is running through August 24 (Friday and Saturday, food service starts at 6 p.m.; Sunday, food service starts at 1 p.m.) at the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.nctstage.org). Tickets, which include a tasty buffet dinner, are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).