On Stage: Quebe Sisters share true harmony

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

The Quebe Sisters

Making harmonious music is a natural thing for siblings. There usually is a high level of harmony – onstage and offstage (unless you’re talking about The Kinks, Oasis or the Black Crowes).

Three siblings who get along great onstage and offstage are the Quebe Sisters, who will headline a show on September 6 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).

The Quebe Sisters are a fiddle-centric Western swing group from Texas. The band features a trio of sisters — Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe. Formed in 2002, the band performs fiddle music — Western and traditional Texas style — along with Western swing and vintage country.

When the Quebes (rhymes with “maybe”) take the stage, the triple-threat fiddle champions play and sing in multi-part close harmony. The trio’s vocal and instrumental performances are authentic all-Americana.

“My sisters and I started playing music for fun,” said Hulda Quebe, during a phone interview last week from a tour break in Philadelphia. “We grew up in Krum, Texas. We never thought we’d play music professionally as fiddlers. We just played little Suzuki violins. It was fun.

“Then, our teacher encouraged us to enter a fiddle contest. We ended up quitting playing violin and stared fiddling. We started taking lessons and our teachers saw the potential. That’s when we started competing in fiddle contests.”

When Hulda, Sophia and Grace were ages 7, 10 and 12 in 1998, they attended their first local fiddle competition in nearby Denton, and decided fiddling was what they wanted to do. The sisters earned solo and group accolades early on — winning state and national championships in their respective age groups in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.

“Our teachers were Sherry McKenzie and her husband Joey McKenzie, who was a professional fiddler,” said Quebe, the youngest of the three.

“They gave us music to listen to — western, jazz and country. The three of us would sit in the same room and take lessons together. We’d all learn the same kind of material and we kept progressing at the same level. We learned about chords and arranging. Soon, we were playing gigs.

“Since then, we tour all the time. Tours range from a week to a month or more. We’ve been coming to Pennsylvania for a long time. Some of our earliest shows were in Pennsylvania. We love touring. It’s been great to see so much and to meet so many wonderful people along the way.”

Along with headlining their own shows, the Quebe Sisters have shared stages with American music legends like Willie Nelson, George Strait, Merle Haggard, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Ray Price, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, and Riders in the Sky.

“We’re doing a whole lot of touring,” said Quebe. “We’ve also been working on writing and arranging a new album. So, we’ll have a bunch of new songs for our audience ibn Sellersville. We were recently in the studio for a few weeks working on new material. It’s a private studio in Austin that has a great collection of vintage gear.

“Our first album in 2003 — ‘Texas Fiddle’ — was an all-instrumental album. We weren’t really a band yet. We’re proud of that album. We were kids and we did a good job. One of the people who recommended we do vocals was Ricky Skaggs. He invited us to play the Grand Old Opry.

Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs told listeners on his own show on Nashville’s WSM — “One thing is for sure, you don’t see a group like The Quebe Sisters come along every day. Give them your undivided attention, and if you’re not already, you too, will become a fan.”

“In 2005, we started singing in our own shows,” said Quebe. “We’ve been working on building our fan base and finding our sound musically.

“Now, we’re working on a lot of originals which is something we never did before. We have a whole slew of different sounds we’re trying to work in. Originally, it was mostly western swing. Now, we’re listening to jazz. Our new songs are reminiscent of the Mills Brothers. The way they recorded had an awesome feel.”

Video link for the Quebe Sisters — https://youtu.be/QANZnAKDvc8.

The show at the Sellersville Theater, which has The Levins as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $39.50.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theatre are The Willis Clan on September 7, Red Molly on September 8 and Oz Noi & Ozone Squeeze on September 12.

Glenn Hughes

Glenn Hughes (also known as “The Voice of Rock”) is a British musician who was a founding member of Trapeze, a rock band from the Midlands, in 1969 and who had a brief stint as lead vocalist for Black Sabbath.

But, Hughes is most known for his time spent as bass player and vocalist for Deep Purple in the mid-1970s.

Hughes left Deep Purple in 1976 after recording three albums with the British heavy metal pioneers – “Burn” (February 1974), “Stormbringer” (November 1974) and “Come Taste the Band” (October 1975).

The highly-acclaimed vocalist separated from Deep Purple but never separated from DP’s songs from that era.

After completing a successful South American and European festival tour, Hughes brought his “Classic Hits of Deep Purple Live” tour to the United States. The 18-city tour touches down locally on September 7 for a show at the Keswick Theatre (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com).

“I’ve been planning this tour for a long time,” said Hughes, during a phone interview Wednesday evening after soundcheck for a show at Jergels in Pittsburgh.

“I came to play America and then we hit Europe in the fall. I’ve already planned more tours in the starts for April and again next fall

Hughes and his band will be focusing on songs from “Burn,” “Stormbringer” and “Come Taste the Band.”

“I felt that this was the right season to go back and play the music I made with Deep Purple in the mid-70s. After I thought for a while about doing this tour, I knew the time was right.”

The first important band Hughes was a member of that achieved notable success was Trapeze. In 1973, Hughes joined Deep Purple. The trailblazing hard-rock legends had just weathered the departure of vocalist Ian Gillan and bass guitarist Roger Glover, but guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice continued with the addition of Hughes and David Coverdale.

Since 1992, Hughes has toured extensively in Europe, Japan and South America in support of solo albums. Hughes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Mark III line up of Deep Purple on April 8, 2016.

The “Voice of Rock” is performing various hits and deep cuts from the illustrious Deep Purple catalog including “Burn,” “Stormbringer,” “Sail Away” and “Smoke On The Water.” Hughes is focusing on arrangements from the live albums rather than the arrangements found on the studio recordings with the intention of giving fans even more insight as to what it was like seeing a Deep Purple show during the 1970s.

“I wanted to do it this way rather than do short versions of the songs as they were on the albums,” said Hughes. “Deep Purple was always at its best as a live band. I want this show to have angst, aggression and a little muster.

“I wanted to do songs that will transpose well to the stage. I cherry-picked the songs that I thought would be best for this tour. The show runs exactly one hour and 15 minutes and it is intense the entire time.

“We’re adding another song next week. There are so many to choose from. I just do songs that make me happy.”

Hughes also knows which songs to play to make the audience really happy

“One of the favorites is ‘You Keep Moving On,’ a song I wrote with David Coverdale,” said Hughes. “And, there is ‘Getting Tighter,’ the song I did with Tommy Bolin. And, of course, there is ‘Burn.’ I’ve been singing that song for 40 years.”

Video link for Glenn Hughes – https://youtu.be/Bb9mzNok9Qc.

The show at the Keswick Theatre will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 and $49.50.

Jarle Bernhoft

Jarle Bernhoft is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and lyricist from Oslo, Norway. Some of his best-known songs are “Streetlights,” “Shout,” “C’mon Talk” and “Stay With Me.”

Over the past few years, Bernhoft has been building a strong fan base in North America and has returned to the states for a two-week tour — a tour that brings him to the area on September 7 for a show at the Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com).

Bernhoft is touring in support of his new album “Humanoid,” which was released on August 24 via Big Picnic Records. It marks his first release as Bernhoft and the Fashion Bruisers.”

“I’ve had this band for about two years,” said Bernhoft, during a phone interview from New York Wednesday evening. “We just flew over from Oslo today. We landed about 1 p.m., picked up some beer and now we’re headed to Washington, D.C.”

In the past, Bernhoft was mostly a solo act.

“I felt that it was the right time to put a band together,” said Bernhoft. “For a long time, I performed solo or with a maximum of two people. With this band, we just have a very nice energy playing with each other. I found myself writing for these guys instead of just writing for myself.

“Writing for the band – it’s almost a reaction to making synthesized music. I wanted to highlight the human connection – putting songs as structures in rehearsals. As musch as it was me writing for the basnd, it was me writing with the band. We were able to try the songs in different ways befoire we recorded thjem. We spent a half-year writing and playing the osngs. Then, we did two weeks of pre-production at our rejerasal space before we went into thr studio.”

In December 2014, it was announced that his album “Islander” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album for the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony. His nomination is remarkable, as he was the first non-American artist to have been nominated in the 20 year-history of this US-dominated category.

“Humanoid” is the full-length follow up release to “Islander.” Bernhoft’s other recordings are the “Solidarity Breaks” album in 2011 as well as EPs “Stop/Shutup/Shout It Out” (2016] and “The Morning Comes” (2017).

“Both my parents were musical,” said Bernhoft, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon as he travelled along the New Jersey Turnpike on his way to a tour stop in Washington, D.C.

“I was exposed to a lot of music and it just seeped in. My parents got me a violin when I was four. I didn’t really like it that much. They gave me a flute when I was nine and I got pretty good on it. I had a masculinity crisis so, when I was `12, I switched to tuba.

“I also started playing guitar at that time. Iron Maiden was my first big influence — then AC/DC and that led me into Chuck Berry and American R&B. Eventually, rock and roll took my life away. I played in a band and started singing because no-one else in the band could sing.

“I was listening to rock and American soul. When I was 18, a friend lent me a Sly and The Family Stone album. It defined my relationship with soul music. I put the album on and was nailed to the wall. I started diving into the whole thing and tried to discover the roots of soul.

“There is something about soul music — what it encompasses. It’s a driving force of social change. It helped shape the whole civil rights movement. I still feel that music should be a driving force in making the world a better place.”

Stax Records became a huge influence for Bernhoft. The Memphis-based label focused on Southern soul, funk, jazz, and blues recordings and featured such stars as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas and Eddie Floyd.

The label was known for its output of Afro-American music but was founded by two white siblings and business partners. It featured several popular ethnically integrated bands including Booker T. & the M.G.’s (which featured a drummer and a keyboardist who were black and a guitarist and a bass player who were white).

“I listened to all the early Stax recordings,” said Bernhoft. “That was so tremendously important to me. That showed the power of music. Great music can make everyone in the room pull in the same direction — no matter what color they are.

“I’m a bit of an outsider in my home country. In Norway, the soul scene consists basically of me. The music scene there is mostly indie-rock. I’m loosely affiliated with that scene but I’m a loner.

“In America, I’m embraced in a different way. I love playing America. I lose money but I love it. The spiritual income is very substantial. People scream their enthusiasm during the songs. That doesn’t happen when musicians play in Europe.”

Human contact is main theme in “Humanoid.”

“Basically, it was a theme about reconnecting with humanity – how to re-ignite the urge to talk to someone without emailing them or texting on the phone,” said Bernhoft.

“It was cool to be in the studio and analyze the sound we were making. I’m always searching for the warmth. I’d rather have soft, fluffy and warm than a hard, cold sound.”

Video link for Bernhoft — https://youtu.be/VfLVjcjjYcE.

The show at the Foundry will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18.

Other upcoming shows at The Foundry are Strung Out, After the Fall, and Make War on September 9, Dodie on September 10, Donny McCaslin Group on September 11 and Vinyl Theater on September 12.

Gabriel Kahane

On September 7, there will be a show at Bourbon and Branch (705 North Second Street, Philadelphia, 215-238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com) featuring two acts that 70 years ago could have been comfortable hopping freight trains back-and-forth across the country – Gabriel Kahane and Sunny War.

Kahane spent a good chunk of time recently riding the rails all around America – in the comfort of Amtrak coaches with sleeping compartments.

On his website, Kahane said, “The morning after the 2016 presidential election, I packed a suitcase and boarded Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited bound for Chicago. Over the next 13 days, I talked to dozens of strangers whom I met, primarily, in dining cars aboard the six trains that would carry me some 8,980 miles around the country. The songs on this album are intended as a kind of loose diary of that journey, and as a portrait of America at a time of profound national turbulence.”

As a composer of concert works, Kahane has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Oregon Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with whom he toured his WPA-inspired “Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States” in 2013. He has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and A Far Cry.

An avid theater artist, Kahane’s musical “February House,” with playwright Seth Bockley, premiered at the Public Theater in 2012 and was recorded by the StorySound label. A two-time MacDowell Colony fellow, Kahane has performed and/or recorded with artists ranging from Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Blake Mills, Chris Thile, and Brad Mehldau, to Jeremy Denk, yMusic, and John Adams. He is a graduate of Brown University and resides in Brooklyn.

Kahane is now on tour in support of the album that was inspired by his trip.

Book of Travelers,” which came out August 24 on Nonesuch Records, is a 10-song musical travelogue Kahane wrote after the journey he embarked upon the day after the country was in shock over the results of the 2016 presidential election. He left behind his cell phone and other internet-connected devices and spent the next two weeks with dozens of strangers whose stories are woven into the cycle.

The music is drawn from a longer work that has been performed at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), among other venues, as “8980: Book of Travelers,” a production conceived in collaboration with director Daniel Fish and designer Jim Findlay (set and video design) with lighting by Mark Barton.

“I had been writing on a commission from BAM to follow up the ‘Ambassador’ album,” said Kahane, during a phone interview Wednesday from his home in Brooklyn.

“I was sort of interested in transit – especially since I did a lot of travel supporting ‘Ambassador.’ I thought about travel from religious pilgrimages centuries ago to the Great Tours in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries to travel and leisure in the United States today.

“At first, I was looking at it in a cerebral way. I was also looking at the rift in politics. It’s always there but the bandage was torn off in 2016.

“I wanted to get out of New York. About four weeks before the election, I decided I was going to start the trip the morning after the election. Learning from history, one of the big lessons is that nationalism flourishes when there is economic discontent.

“Another reason I took the trip – there has always been a cultural divide in the country. Goading each other heightens a condition of contempt. But, on this trip when I expressed disagreement with people, it was very civil. The way that we treat people is very important.”

Kahane wrote in the New York Times: “Where much of the digital world finds us sorting ourselves neatly into cultural and ideological silos, the train, in my experience, does precisely the opposite. It also acts, by some numinous, unseen force, as a kind of industrial-strength social lubricant.

“To be sure, I encountered people whose politics I found abhorrent, dangerous, and destructive, but in just about every instance, there was something about the person’s relationship to family, and loyalty to family, that I found deeply moving. That ability to connect across an ideological divide seemed predicated on the fact that we were quite literally breaking bread together. Perhaps it also had something to do with the pace at which we traveled.”

Video link for Gabriel Kahane — https://youtu.be/KjSaErHKV7M.

Sunny War

Sunny War is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/guitarist whose music is frequently described as “folk-punk.” She is currently p;laying shows in support of her new album “With the Sun.”

“I started recording ‘With the Sun’ in 2017,” said War, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in Los Angeles. “It didn’t take that long. I think we were recording about three weeks.

“I made it at Hen House Studios in Venice (CA). I met producer Harlan Steinberger who owns the studio. They have their own projects and don’t usually rent out the studio. We just had a contract that we were going to do this album. I think I had 12 songs. Then, I wrote ‘Static’ and ‘The Change You Make’ when we were recording the album.

“Originally, I was going to record the album with my friend from the band FIDLAR – Elvis (Kuehn). We recorded guitar and vocals. We were going to layer everything. I wanted to keep working with him, but he was out of town a lot touring with his band, so it didn’t work out.”

War (born Sydney Lyndella Ward) was born to a single mom in Nashville and had a nomadic childhood. She lived in Denver, Detroit, San Francisco and Portland before “settling down” in L.A.

“I was in school with Max and Elvis from FIDLAR at Hamilton High School in L.A.,” said War. “Then, I dropped out of school. I was living on the streets in San Francisco and then lived in Oregon until I was 19.”

After a life as a young woman making bad choices, War got back on the right track. Her adept finger-picking guitar work and evocative vocals brought her success as a street artist in Venice Beach. And, it led to her career as an entertainer and recording artist. Now, she is ready to take it to a new level with the success of “With the Sun.”

“I think the songs on my new album are similar, but there is no real theme,” said War. “A lot was going on when I was writing the songs – Bowie and Prince dying, Trump getting elected, unarmed black people getting killed by police. And, I had been in an abusive relationship.

“Surprisingly, some of the songs on ‘With the Sun’ are happy, which is different for me. Still, most of the songs on the album are sad songs.

“I started two of the songs about imaginary lives of women. One is about the sacrifices they’ve made — deciding to have kids and basically your life is over. Another is about getting marries nor for love but for stability – doing things you’re supposed to do your whole life and then you die.”

War’s music sits at the intersection of blues, folk and punk.

“Blues was the music I was studying,” said War. “Punk was the music I was listening to.”

Video link for Sunny War – https://youtu.be/i1bj0oY3yww.

The show at Bourbon & Branch will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are Matt Kelly on September 6, Lucy Spraggan on September 8. Trach Boy on September 10 and Lucas Biespiel on September 12.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is presenting Alejandro Escovedo with Don Antonio at the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival on September 8.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Zach Deputy & The Yankees + Hayley Jane & The Primates on September 6, Start Making Sense (Talking Heads tribute) and Flux Capacitor on September 7,

The Magpie Salute on September 8, and The Movement + Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad on September 12.

Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, www.kimmelcenter.org),

The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331, www.thequeenwilmington.com) will hoist Taj Mahal on September 6, Get the Led Out on September 7, and “Future Stars Show” on September 8.

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