On Stage: Anna Meredith is not like anyone else

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Anna Meredithna Meredith, Abbie Gardiner, Chosen Dance, Hannah Wicklund, Sin City Band,

In 1966, the Kinks had a hit with a song titled “I’m Not Like Anybody Else.”

Now, more than a half-century later, another Brit musician could adopt the title as her motto.

Anna Meredith, who will headline a show at The Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) on February 2, makes contemporary music that is not like anything else coming out these days.

Meredith is a British composer and performer of electronic and acoustic music. She is a former composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and former PRS/RPS Composer in the House with Sinfonia ViVA.

In 2016, Meredith released her debut studio album, “Varmints” – an album that impressed critics and won awards. The album, which featured strong compositions and interesting electronica treatments, won the 2016 Scottish Album of the Year Award.

“I was a bit of a geek when I was really young and, at my school, music was a place to hide away – and avoid P.E.,” said Meredith, during a phone interview Wednesday night from a tour stop in Boston.

“When I started, I was playing clarinet and singing. I chose clarinet because I could get free lessons. My mom liked it because she thought I would play jazz. But, I hated jazz.

Meredith was born in North London and moved to South Queensferry, Scotland at the age of two. She read for a degree in Music at University of York, where she was awarded first class honors, and gained her master’s degree from the Royal College of Music. In 2003, Meredith was made the Constant and Kit Lambert junior fellow of the Royal College of Music.

“I grew up in the Edinburgh area of Scotland and then came to England for university,” said Meredith. “The music I was listening to was what kids listened to at the tine like grunge. I also listened to composers like Mahler and Shostakovich. I didn’t write a tune until my music exam at school in Scotland.

“I studied all-around music at York and then composing at the Royal College. I didn’t originally realize I was attracted to composing. I heard other people’s stuff and came up with instinctive ideas like ‘why didn’t they do that?” After a while, I stopped doing what my teachers wanted and started writing what I wanted.”

Meredith is a composer and producer not bound by genres. Her work spans contemporary classical, art pop, electronica and experimental rock.

After building an established career in the classical world and two-critically acclaimed EPs, she released her much-anticipated debut album, “Varmints” on Moshi Moshi Records.

Her impressive CV includes being Composer in Residence for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, a piece written for MRI scanner, sound tracking PRADA’s Spring/Summer 2015 campaign, symphonies created for nursery children, music for park benches in Hong Kong and sleep-pods in Singapore. Her body-percussion piece “HandsFree” received rave reviews from its performances at Southbank Centre, Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Centre, Utah Youth Symphony and even flash-mobbing the M6 services.

“My compositions have a strong character – an identity that isn’t just color and texture,” said Meredith, who now lives in London.

“Structure is important. When I write, I draw a shape. I want to make sure the music has a strong structure. Before I go to a piano or a computer, I make sure the shape is right. From there, it’s fleshing out that sketch with chords and rhythms.”

Even when she’s touring and playing on stage, Meredith is not like everybody else – especially with the line-up of instruments in her band.

“There are five of us on tour,” said Meredith. “We have drums, electric guitar, tuba and cello. I play clarinet, some drums and electronics – computer and MIDI. And, we all sing.”

Video link for Anna Meredith –  https://youtu.be/92o2Qci6ozo.

The show at The Foundry will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at The Foundry are The Dangerous Summer on February 5 and Scorpio for Puerto Rico on February 7.

The schedule for The Fillmore includes Greensky Bluegrass on February 1, Kayzo on February 2, and G. Love & Special Sauce on February 3.

Abbie Gardner

Abbie Gardner has built up a strong fan base in the Delaware Valley. And, she has done it in a variety of ways – as a solo act, as one-third of Red Molly and, last year, as part of a duo project with Jesse Terry.

Garner is returning to the area this weekend – as a solo act. On February 2, she will headline a show at the Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com)

Gardner, the fiery Dobro player with an infectious smile toured with Americana darlings Red Molly for eleven years. The band took an indefinite hiatus in 2015, so Gardner started doing gigs with different bands, backing up her friends and stepping out into the spotlight for her own gigs.

She has released three CDs as a solo act and her first songbook was published in December 2016. Now, she is treating fans to a brand-new album – “Wishes on a Neon Sign.”

“The album just came out on January 19,” said Gardner, during a phone interview Monday afternoon from her home in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“It’s gotten to radio. I already did a couple CD release shows. Steel City will be my Pennsylvania CD release show. It’s self-released. I use CD Baby. It’s a great company for indie artists.”

The album shows Gardner’s depth as a songwriter and professionalism as a musician.

“I wanted good songs,” said Gardner. “I wanted them to come across well and have a really good rhythmic pocket. Grooves were important. I made the whole record as demos first so we had a good idea of what the songs were.

“I started making the album last April. It took most of last year to get it done. The album was recorded at Big Orange Sheep Studio in Brooklyn. It’s a brand-new studio in a big warehouse.

“The songs go back as far as 2012. I went back-and-forth. I wrote a bunch of different songs and ended up with 13 – lucky 13.

“I had 15 or so with possibilities. One song was written with Chris Stapleton after I won a songwriting contest. But, we never finished the song. When I was putting songs together for the album, I remembered the song. So, we finished it.

“I played dobro on the album and a National that I turned into a lap-style guitar. My main dobro was made by Paul Beard. I play a Hipshot dobro which is like two instruments in one. You can pull a lever and change the tuning. It’s a throwback sound.”

Gardner’s songwriting has brought her much acclaim including 2008 Lennon Award Winner (folk) for “The Mind of a Soldier” and 2008 American Songwriter Magazine Grand Prize Lyric Winner for “I’d Rather Be”. Her song “Honey on My Grave” was also published in Sing Out! Magazine in 2008.

“Right now, probably half my show is new songs,” said Gardner. “. The other half is a mix of old and new songs – some of which have been re-arranged – and a few covers.”

Video link for Abbie Gardner – https://youtu.be/nEXyjBkWYps.

The show at Steel City will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18.

Another weekend show at the venue will be Jim Boggia on February 3.

Hannah Wicklund

American roots music will also be featured on February 2 — and February 3 — when Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones play a pair of shows in the area.

On February 2, the blues-based rocker from South Carolina will headline a show at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com). The following night, Wicklund and her band will perform at Havana Night Club (105 South Main Street, New Hope, https://www.havananewhope.com).

Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones is an American rock band from the popular vacation resort — Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Wicklund, who is closing in on her 21st birthday, has been performing music for most of her life.

“My dad got me into music,” said Wicklund, during a phone interview Monday from a day off in Ocean City, New Jersey. “My mom is an artist. She did the cover for my latest album.

“My parents got me a piano when I was three – and a ‘Beatles Easy Play.’ By age six, I knew 60 Beatles songs. My dad – Matthew Wicklund –influenced my music tastes – Tom Petty and Janis Joplin. He introduced me to Susan Tedeschi.

“I got my first guitar at eight and started a band six months later. We were playing cover songs and doing three-to-four-hour shows.

“When my dad was younger, my dad was the drummer for the first homegrown band in Hilton Head. They were called the Bonzo Brothers.

“My dad was also my chauffer. Me and him did 1,200 shows together until I was 16. The first one was when I was nine. Once I was 16, I started driving myself. I graduated high school and I’ve been on the road ever since.

Wicklund lists other primary influences as Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar and Jeff Beck. But, one influence from that era stands apart from all the rest.

“My biggest influence was Janis Joplin,” said Wicklund. “Janis Joplin was my first female role model.”

Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones just released a new album on January 26. The self-titled album, which was produced by Sadler Valden, shows her classic rock influences – especially Fleetwood Mac, Petty, Beck, the Tedeschi-Trucks Band and, of course, Joplin.

“This is my third full-length album,” said Wicklund. “I consider it my new starting point.”

Video link for Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones – https://youtu.be/EfMlZoRWwgc.

The tour, which is titled “The Sibling Rivalry Tour,” also features The High Divers – a band fronted by Wicklund’s brother, Luke Mitchell.

The show at MilkBoy Philly will start at 8:30. Tickets are $15.

The show at Havana Night Club will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Other upcoming shows at MilkBoy Philadelphia are iNFiNiEN, Lör, Moonstriker, and Something Like A Monument on February 1; Man About A Horse + Yarn and The Hoppin’ Boxcars on February 3; and Glen David Andrews: Mardi Gras Celebration and Ocean Avenue Stompers on February 7.

Another upcoming show at Havana is PROTOCOL 4 featuring Simon Phillips, Greg Howe, Ernest Tibbs and Otmaro Ruiz on February 2.

Chosen Dance Company

This weekend, Chosen Dance Company will make a return visit to the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, 610-356-2787,www.uptownwestchester.org). Chosen Dance will perform “Evvolution” at 7:30 p.m. on February 2 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on February 3.

“Evvolution” is the story of hip hop dance in “America 2.0,” an upgrade to the company’s prior performance. The show is billed as “family friendly, intended to entertain and enlighten audiences of all ages.”

Chosen Dance Company’s goals are the validation of hip hop dance as a true art form and the accessibility of hip hop to audiences regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender. Through entertainment and education, Chosen strives to enhance the global appreciation of hip hop culture and take hip hop beyond its traditional boundaries while preserving its purity.

According to Clyde Evans, Jr., Founder and Artistic Director of Chosen Dance, “If you think you know all about hip hop, you need to see this show. It’s informative and interactive. It encourages young people to make good choices, understand their value as a human being and the importance of being true to themselves even in adverse circumstances.”

As a guiding principle, Chosen Dance Company produces and participates in Hip Hop projects that are positive, constructive and uplifting, free of violence and bad language.

Hip hop styles such as Lockin’, Poppin’, and Breakin’ will be showcased in “Evvolution.” The show will also feature other current dance genres such as Getting’ Lite, Waacking, House and Krumpin’.

The production gives an overview of the development of hip hop in dance and examines the history of a movement that defined this social dance era. It ranges from the 1960s – think “Soul Train” – to the current dances found at inner-city raves. Chosen Dance looks at the evolution of hip hop with a focus on promoting unity, peace and love.

Video link for Chosen Dance Company — https://youtu.be/r_WVUp–Qhs.

The shows at Uptown will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on February 2 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on February 3. Tickets are $17.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will host Buffalo Chip and the Heard along with Naked Blue on February 2 and Sin City Band on February 3.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present Florida Wayne on February 2, and Near Nightmare, Resting, and Presidential Top Knot on February 3.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Steal Your Peach (playing The Dead & ABB) w/ special guest Ron Holloway (Sax- The Allman Bros & Warren Haynes), Darlingtyn, Andy Mowatt’s Steely Jam on February 1; Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Jah Works on February 2; and Echoes, the American Pink Floyd and Rausch on February 3.

February 3.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present

No Sailor with William H. Travis on February 2, and John Byrne Band with Heather Pierson on February 3.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Tommy Emmanuel on February 3 and a production of “The Cat in the Hat” on February 6.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com)

Stanley Jordan and Trevor Gordon Hall on February 1, Masters Of The Telecaster Ft. GE Smith, Jim Weider & Jon Herington on February 2, and “Battle Of The Sexes Stand Up Comedy Night” starring late night TV comedians on February 3

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” now through February 25.

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