OnStage (Bonus): Keifer is coming home

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Tom Keifer

Tom Keifer is going home again – again.

Keifer is a local boy who rose to international fame as the lead vocalist of the glam-rock band Cinderella. He is a Philadelphia area native who relocated to southern New Jersey during the Cinderella days and then moved to Nashville around 20 years ago.

More specifically, Keifer grew up in Delaware County and graduated from Springfield High School.

Back in April, Keifer returned to the area to perform a concert just a few miles from his hometown. Now, Keifer is doing it again.

On October 13, Keifer and his band will perform at Harrah’s Philadelphia’s The Block (777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Chester, 484-490-1800, http://www.caesars.com/harrahs-philly).

“It’s always fun to come back home and play in Delaware County,” said Keifer, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in New York City.

“I started playing in my first bands there, including dances at Holy Cross School with my early garage band. The show in April at Harrah’s was great. It was the first time we played the room and it went really well.”

Back in 1983, Keifer formed Cinderella in Philadelphia. Jon Bon Jovi took a liking to the band and persuaded his record label to sign them. In 1984, Cinderella released its debut album “Night Songs” and it reached No. 3 on the Billboard albums chart. One of the band’s biggest singles was “Don’t Know What You Got (Till) It’s Gone.”

Cinderella — with Keifer singing lead vocals — still tours occasionally. But, Keifer has spent most of the last two years touring in support of his solo album “The Way Life Goes.”

“I moved to Nashville in the mid-1990s,” said Keifer. “Cinderella had broken apart. I moved here because it’s such a creative community. I wanted to put together as solo band and this is where the musicians are.

“The record was made piece-meal over a period of 10 years. It was a labor of love. I was in a band place with the record industry. With Cinderella, our record deal went south and we couldn’t record together.”

Now, Keifer is going back again another way.

“The Way Life Goes – Deluxe Edition” will be released on October 21 on Cleopatra Records. The package will include the original album that has been remastered by Richard Dodd (Kings of Leon, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum).

It also has two brand new studio tracks recorded in Nashville by three-time Grammy Award-winner Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton) with Keifer and his bandmates — Tony Higbee, Billy Mercer, Paul Simmons, Paul Taylor, Savannah Keifer, and Kendra Chantelle.

The deluxe version will also include the long-awaited studio recording of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which Keifer performs at all of his concerts, plus a powerful new take on the Cinderella classic “Nobody’s Fool,” newly recorded as a duet with Lzzy Hale of Halestorm.

‘We talked about doing this album for a while,” said Keifer. “The original album was pretty well-received. We talked about a special edition and then put it on the back burner.

“Then, there were record company problems. It was a mess. The album got pulled off the shelves. Since we were putting it out again on a new label, we decided to add to it.

“The added tracks were done at Southern Ground Studio in Nashville late last year with Vance Powell. It’s a great studio and he’s a great producer.”

With the new package, there will also be a bonus DVD with music videos, tour clips, and “The Way Life’s Goin,’” a 30-minute documentary produced by Tammy Vega (Keifer’s longtime official photographer) about the creation of the bonus tracks, exclusive interviews with the band filmed during the new recording sessions, and live footage.

The deluxe package will be wrapped in an all new six-panel digipak designed by artist David Calcano (creator of the Fantoons comic strip series) with 20 pages of one-of-a-kind unique illustrations depicting each song.

According to Keifer, “Everything from the new artwork, documentary, videos and bonus tracks contained in the deluxe edition is a sum of all the amazingly talented people who came into our world as a result of the initial release.

“The two bonus tracks were specifically chosen and recorded as we felt them both to be special collaborations that came about while touring for ‘The Way Life Goes.’”

Keifer worked on his solo album in-between Cinderella reunion tours and the birth of the first child for him and his wife Savannah (Snow) Keifer.

“I was pretty disgusted with the music industry,” said Keifer. “My wife Savannah, who is a songwriter, had gone through a similar thing. She was signed to some big companies in Nashville and had to deal with the same kind of things.

“When we started working on the new songs, it was because we just wanted to make music. No record companies were involved. We have our studio and began working with friends of ours, brought in musicians that we liked. After a while, we had a lot of songs done and it sounded like an album.”

Keifer almost lost his ability to sing when he was diagnosed with vocal cord paresis. The incurable ailment involves the periodic loss of voluntary movement of the vocal cords. Fortunately, he now has the disorder under control.

“My solo music is very similar to what I wrote with Cinderella,” said Keifer. “My goal has always been for ‘real’ rather than ‘flavor of the day.’ It’s the same blues-influenced hard rock that I grew up with in the 70s.”

Video link for Tom Keifer — https://youtu.be/T7tAh1862eI.

The show at Harrah’s will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.

On October 13, the jazz sounds of saxophone will fill the air at the Keswick Theatre (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) when Boney James returns for another show at the comfortable venue in Montgomery County.

James is out on the road touring in support of his new album “Honestly,” which was just released on September 1.

“I turned the record in back in June,” said James, during a phone interview Thursday from a studio in his hometown of Los Angeles.

“I started recording it in June a year prior. I was doing a lot of it during the turmoil of the election. The music is fun and happy – a good antidote for all the negativity.

“A lot of it was about trying to find the positive energy by making music that is fun and uplifting. Music is a wonderful thing. Music is such a vital force in terms of human experience.”

This year is a landmark year for James as a musician.

“This is my 25th anniversary as a solo artist,” said James. “I don’t have any special projects planned. I don’t think that is a viable strategy.

“The new record just happens to coincide with the anniversary. Every time we play on stage is a celebration of the catalogue.”

“Honestly,” which is James’ 16th album, is his follow-up to “futuresoul,” another award-winning album. The album before that – “The Beat” in 2013 — was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Pop Instrumental Album.

“Honestly” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz and Contemporary Jazz charts and has remained there for weeks.  In addition, the album debuted at #22 on the Billboard Current Albums chart, which was the highest debut to date for the four-time GRAMMY nominated artist.

The album’s two singles are also creating a multi-format success story at radio.

“Tick Tock,” the first instrumental single from the album, hit #1 on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz airplay chart. It is one of four songs co-written and co-produced with Jairus Mozee (Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke) and features horn arrangements by Jerry Hey, who worked on Michael Jackson’s greatest hits.

“Honestly,” the first R&B single from the album (featuring vocalist Avery Sunshine) is #29 on the Billboard Adult Urban charts this week landing at #29 on the Mediabase UAC chart.

“Every song on the album was co-written except ‘Skylark,’ which is a cover of a classic by **,” said James, who has racked up sales of more than three million records and four RIAA gold albums.

“Co-writing happens different ways – someone will send me something or I’ll have an idea and send it to someone. The bulk of my catalogue is co-writes.

“I always work with co-writers. This album has about the same number of collaborators” as usual. We’ll be working on a song and, if it needs someone, we’ll get them.

“When I first start writing a song, I begin with a blank slate. The song could start with a melody or a keyboard chord progression or a sax phrase.

“I generally make a version of the song by myself. I’ll create a pretty full arrangement and then replace parts with musicians. Although, sometimes I stay with the original.

“This new album is a little more exposed. I thought the melodies were really strong and that the songs called for less treatment. It’s more sincere.”

Over the years, James has won a Soul Train Award, received nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and placed 10 albums atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2009, Billboard named him the #3 Contemporary Jazz Artist of The Decade (trailing just Kenny G and Norah Jones).

“The current live set is half the songs from the new record,” said James. “I really love the music on the new record.

“The rest of the songs in the show are people’s favorites. It’s getting harder with all these songs building up – songs that I can’t ignore.

“Some of the must-play songs are ‘Sweet Thing,’ ‘Grazing in the Grass’ and ‘After the Rain.’ I’m always trying to pay my homage to R&B. At the same time, I just try to make my music individual to me.”

Video link for Boney James – https://youtu.be/FU8TAWYq_z4.

The show at the Keswick will start at 7:30. Ticket prices range from $32-$67.50.

The show on October 13 at Reverb (1402 North Ninth Street, Reading, 610-743-3069, www.reverbconcerts.com) is not for the faint of heart.

Superjoint

Superjoint, the show’s headline act, is touring in support of its comeback record, “Caught Up in the Gears of Application” – delivering heavy doses of its abrasive gutter-punk sludge.

“The Broken Bones Tour” will also feature DevilDriver, King Parrot, Cane Hill and Child Bite.

Superjoint features a line-up of metal music all-stars – Phil Anselmo,  Vocals; Jimmy Bower, Guitar; Kevin Bond, Guitar; Joey “Blue” Gozalez, Drums; and Stephen Taylor,  Bass.

“The idea for this tour was brought up to us and we thought it would be a good idea,” said Bower, during a phone interview Tuesday bs the band traveled to New York City.

“Caught Up In The Gears Of Application,” was released in America via Anselmo’s Housecore record label. The disc was recorded at Anselmo’s New Orleans-area studio, Nodferatu’s Lair and was produced by Anselmo and Stephen Berrigan.

Superjoint formed in 1993 and disbanded in 2004. The members got together for a one-off reunion at the Housecore Horror event in Austin in 2014. That led to the band’s rebirth.

“It was unexpected,” said Bower, who is a founding member of the bands eyehategod, Crowbar, Down and Superjoint. “Personally, I didn’t think it was going to happen.

“But, it made sense. The chemistry was there. We all had pretty positive intentions. And, there wasn’t much happening with any of our other projects at the time.”

The result is a hard-hitting album that reignites the classic Superjoint sound.

“We all wet to New Orleans with the intention of making a really good record,” said Bower. “This is a really intriguing genre of music.

“With Superjoint’s live shows, our main focus is not trying to re-do but rather to stay in the same vein as ‘Use Once and Destroy.’”

“Use Once and Destroy” was Superjoint’s debut album in 2002.

“We had decent success with that record,” said Bowwer. ‘It was really raw. We wrote those songs so fast. When we started writing this time, it was influenced by the earlier stuff.”

Video link for Superjoint — https://youtu.be/I9Wpxvp-3EQ.

King Parrot released its new album “Ugly Produce” on September 22 in North America via Housecore Records. The album is a ten-track collection of distinctively punishing and powerful anthems. Recorded at the infamous Goatsound Studios in Melbourne, Australia and produced by Blood Duster’s Jason Fuller, this is no walk in the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

“We did it at Goatsound because we’ve used the studio before,” said Young. “The same with the producer. We used them both on out first album ‘Bite Your Head Off’ years ago.”
“Ugly Produce” fuses the raw fury of “Bite Your Head Off” and mashes it with the twisted sophistication of the band’s ARIA-nominated follow-up “Dead Set.”

A blend of gnarled and nasty grind, death metal, thrash, and punk rock, the band’s unique, over-the-top sound is more defined on “Ugly Produce” while remaining true to the fundamental ideals the band started with — angst, aggression, absurdity, and antics.

King Parrot

King Parrot introduced itself to area fans a little over a year ago when the band came to Philadelphia for a show at Kung Fu Necktie.

King Parrot, which is based in Melbourne, Australia, has released one EO and two albums. The band features Matthew “Youngy” Young (vocals), Ari “Mr. White” White (guitar), Andrew “Squiz” Livingstone-Squires (guitar), Matthew “Slatts” Slattery (bass), guitar and Todd “Toddy” Hansen (drums).

“We’ve been doing this for about six years,” said Young, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from a rest stop in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

“We’ve been touring North America for three years. This is our ninth tour on the North American continent. We love doing it. We love travelling and performing as much as we can.”

King Parrot released its new album “Ugly Produce” on September 22 in North America via Housecore Records. The album is a ten-track collection of distinctively punishing and powerful anthems. Recorded at the infamous Goatsound Studios in Melbourne, Australia and produced by Blood Duster’s Jason Fuller, this is no walk in the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

“We did it at Goatsound because we’ve used the studio before,” said Young. “The same with the producer. We used them both on out first album ‘Bite Your Head Off’ years ago.”

“Ugly Produce” fuses the raw fury of “Bite Your Head Off” and mashes it with the twisted sophistication of the band’s ARIA-nominated follow-up “Dead Set.”

A blend of gnarled and nasty grind, death metal, thrash, and punk rock, the band’s unique, over-the-top sound is more defined on “Ugly Produce” while remaining true to the fundamental ideals the band started with — angst, aggression, absurdity, and antics.

“The whole writing process took place over the course of a year-and-a-half,” said Young. “We put aside blocks of time for writing. We’d spend a week jamming. Everyone was involved.

“The difference in this album is the chemistry of the band. We’ve played a lot longer as a unit. Bing on tour so much, we’re constantly working together. The familiarity grows. The results are apparent in this record.

“For us, songwriting is a pretty organic process. We all build the songs together and I do all the vocals. Having the opportunity to do extreme vocals on the new album was fun. It’s always fun to incorporate new vocal styles.

“King Parrot albums are intense and in your face. We just like to keep improving every aspect – to continually get better. Introducing new songs to our live set gives us more energy.”

King Parrots are birds native to Australia. Many of the birds have four types of cone in their retina, (compared to only three in humans) and see into the ultraviolet wavelengths.

It might seem unusual for a band as intense, heavy and aggressive as King Parrot to take its name from a pretty little bird. Not surprisingly, the bird never even entered the picture.

“In Australian slang, ‘parrot’ means ‘an annoying asshole’ and that’s where we got our name,” said Young.

Video link for King Parrot — https://youtu.be/tWt_Eh_JGM4.

The show at Reverb, which features Superjoint, Devildriver, King Parrot, Cane Hill, Child Bite, It Is Written, Ruination, Built From Chaos, will start at 5 p.m. Tickets are $27.

Ice Balloons

Noise rock band Ice Balloons, which is headlining a show on October 13 at Everybody Hits Philadelphia (529 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-769-7500,  http://everybodyhitsphila.com), began in 2013 in a dark basement in Brooklyn.

As much a cult as a band, Ice Balloons celebrate chaos.

The band — Kyp Malone (TVOTR), Sean Kennerly (Samiam), Sean Powell (Fuckemos, Surfbort), Giselle Reiber (Midnight Masses), Dan Scinta and BA Maile — released its album “Fiesta” on August 15.

“This current line-up has been together for a while,” said Kennerly, during a phone interview Thursday as the band traveled from Chicago to a show in Detroit.

“I had this weird fever dream and hallucinated ideas for a band – a chaos/noise band with skeletal song structures. I asked all my closest friends to play. It was a gradual accumulation. It took a little while to coalesce into a solid group.

“Gradually, it cemented. But, the first few shows were terrible. Now, it makes sense in a way – but not too much sense. It actually cemented about a year ago. Usually, there is a song and then there is noise and they wrap around each other.                                                                                                                                                                                                              “We recorded ‘Fiesta’ over the last year. We did it in two different sessions. We shopped it around and then re-mixed it a few times. We recorded it at a few different studios in Brooklyn.”

This band does not deal with normal song topics.

One of the album’s songs – “The Wasp” — was inspired by insects after a hallucination caused by Kennerly’s altitude sickness during a trip to Colorado.

According to Kennerly, “The song chronicles the development of parasitic wasp babies inside a caterpillar as they slowly eat its body away until they are large enough to emerge.

“Two of the baby wasps, however, remain behind, sacrificing themselves by lodging in the wasp’s brain to turn it into a zombie that will hover over the newly emerged babies, guarding them from small predators with its last glimmers of life.”

A lot can be traced back to the elevations in Colorado.

“I was staying at a cabin in the mountains of Colorado,” saud Kennerly. “It was very high. I stayed for a few days. I got altitude sickness and couldn’t sleep.

“I came back to Brooklyn and collapsed. I slept 16 hours straight, woke up and it was like I was on acid. I had visions and wrote a lot of songs that day.”

That seems like a perfectly good reason that Ice Balloons mew album contains songs such as “Dead Fly,” “Smothers Almond Brothers Worm Story,” “Calypso Heartworm,” “Fly on the Beach” and, of course, “The Wasp.”

Video link for Ice Balloons – https://youtu.be/jIN4hjrxhdQ.

The show at Everybody Hits Philadelphia will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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