On Stage: Lindsey Stirling does it all

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By Denny DyroffEntertainment Editor, The Times

Lindsey Stirling

Lindsey Stirling is a rock musician – and a lot more. She dances, blends genres of music, does her own choreography, plays violin and is the consummate entertainer. She also is a successful writer who has several books to her credit.

Stirling released her eponymous debut album in 2012 and followed with “Shatter Me” in 2014 and “Brave Enough” in 2016. Last year, she broke the two-year cycle and released “Warmer in the Winter,” an ebullient Christmas album, on October 20, 2017.

On October 19, 2018, Stirling released “Warmer in Winter Deluxe Edition.” Now, Stirling is touring in support of the new disc with a holiday show billed as “The Wanderland Tour,” named after one of the Deluxe Edition tracks “I Wonder As I Wander.”  The tour touches down locally on December 18 at The Met (858 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, http://themetphilly.com).

“I had wanted to do a Christmas album for a while,” said Stirling, during a phone interview Friday afternoon from a tour stop in Washington, D.C.

“I love Christmas music. It’s the time of the year when we celebrate Christ’s birthday and the spirit of giving. The album was originally released last year. This year, we added extras and released the ‘Deluxe Edition’ with five additional tracks.”

The initial edition was a collection of 13 classic holiday songs including “All I Want for Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Let It Snow,” “What Child Is This,” “I Saw Three Ships,” and “Warmer in the Winter.” Also featured were “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Time to Fall in Love,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “Christmas C’mon,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Silent Night.”

“I had more songs done last year but some weren’t ready yet,” said Stirling. “So, I added five new songs this year like ‘Santa Baby’ and ‘I Wonder As I Wander,’ which is my favorite song on the album.”

The other three added tracks for the 2018 edition were “Main Title from ‘Home Alone’ (Somewhere in My Memory),” “Hallelujah,” and “We Three Gentlemen (Medley of “We Three Kings”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol Of The Bells”).”

Stirling explained what inspired her to do a Christmas album.

“People love these songs so much,” said Stirling. “I also realized they like their Christmas music to stay the same. It was a challenge to stay true to the originals and add my own touch.”

Stirling had the right response.

“These songs have been done thousands of times in a lot of different ways,” said Stirling. “But I’m a violinist and there are not many violin Christmas albums. My music has a lot of variety – classical, big band, whimsical, spiritual, electronic – the Lindsey Stirling vibe.”

Over the past six years, Stirling has forged a path all her own – a sparkling blend of classical music and EDM (electronic dance music). She is equally at home playing a violin concerto with an orchestra or whipping the audience into a frenzy at an EDM rave.

“When I was six, I started taking violin lessons,” said Stirling.

Stirling also was involved in dance – ballet and modern – and pageants. When she was in high school in Arizona, she wrote a solo violin rock song, and her performance helped her to win the state title of Arizona’s Junior Miss and claim the Spirit Award in the America’s Junior Miss Finals competition.

“I played classical music all my life,” said Stirling. “When I got to college, I lost my passion for it. I searched for a way to invigorate it. I was a student at Brigham Young University and started to listen to electronic dance music – Skrillex and dubstep. So, I combined EDM and classical. That’s when I started to enjoy it again.”

Stirling incorporated dance, theater, electronica, ballet, classical music and personality into her music, her videos and her stage performances – and created something unique.

“To me, the music is never the full story,” said Stirling. “I’m such a visual person. When I’m writing, I’m not writing just for the music, I’m writing for the visuals too.”

Her current tour has a singular focus.

“It’s solid Christmas,” said Stirling. “It’s a one-month tour from Thanksgiving to Christmas and it’s all Christmas songs and Christmas visuals. It’s that time of the year.”

Video link for Lindsey Stirling – https://youtu.be/4rR8jc6EPQM.

The show at The Met will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $39.95-$99.95. Every ticket for this show includes a digital download of “Warmer in the Winter.”

Another area show featuring an act that merges genres will take place on December 15 when the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) hosts Neville Jacobs – a two-city amalgam of funk and soul.

Ivan Neville and Cris Jacobs

Ivan Neville of New Orleans’ first family of funk and Cris Jacobs, the soulful Baltimore-bred bandleader have joined forces to collaborate on their first full-length record – a self-titled, nine-song album that was released on September 28 via Harmonized Records.

This unlikely duo came together in the most unlikely of ways. One day at New Orleans Jazz Fest, Neville and Jacobs found themselves killing time between gigs, seated next to each other at a poker table.

“Chris and I met up a few times before that,” said Neville, during a recent phone interview from his home in New Orleans. “We had been crossing paths for a while.

“Then we ran into each other playing poker in a casino. We talked about the music we liked and our bands – Dumpstaphunk and The Bridge. We thought it might not be a bad idea to get together and make some music – to come up with a couple songs. We came together a year later.”

According to Jacobs, “I was killing some time one day during my first ever Jazzfest and I sat down to play some poker in Harrah’s Casino. Coincidentally, there was an empty seat next to me and Ivan walked in and sat down.

“We recognized each other from having crossed paths with our bands, Dumpstaphunk and The Bridge. We played poker for a few hours and chatted a bunch and left with a casual ‘let’s make some music together sometime’ agreement.”

About a year-and-a-half later, Jacobs and Neville got together for a few songwriting sessions in Baltimore.

“It took a while to figure out the best way to make a record,” said Neville. “And, it took a while to find the right record company.

“We got together a couple of times in Baltimore and a couple times in Louisiana. We made the record about three years ago over the period of about a week-and-a-half at Blade Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana. Brady Blade produced it and played drums.”

The rhythm section was completed with bassist Tony Hall, whom Neville had played with throughout his career. Hall and Blade played together as the rhythm section for Emmylou Harris, Dave Matthews, Jewel and several others over the years. During the sessions, Jacobs and Neville invited Shreveport-based singer/violinist Theresa Andersson to add some of her flavor to a few of the songs. And Aaron Neville, Ivan’s father, lent his vocal to “Makeup of A Fool.”

“We both brought our own songs,” said Neville. “And, we had the songs we co-wrote going back to our first musical meetings.

“We played together live a few times – Jam Cruise and a few sporadic dates. And, we also sat in with each other’s band a few times.”

The undeniable synergy between Neville and Jacobs created a fresh and timeless sound for their debut – equal parts soulful, funky, sweet, and dirty. This batch of well-crafted songs feature their two distinct voices and grooves complementing the other perfectly. This first chapter of Neville Jacobs is the beginning of what is sure to be a long lasting and fruitful collaboration between two truly unique talents.

“It’s chemistry, man,” said Neville. “Things just clicked. There’s no blueprint. It happened by chance. We both are influenced by soul from the 70s and rock-and-roll. We both loved the great music that came out of the 70s.

“We both like the Stones, the Beatles and Sly & the Family Stone. He has a little more country flavor and I have funk. I know what I like, he knows what he likes, and we meet in the middle.

Video link for Neville Jacobs – https://youtu.be/yVwQu6C60mg.

The show at the Ardmore Music Hall featuring Neville Jacobs with special guest Jeff Washington Band will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Another show this weekend at the venue is “Beatles for Kids” on December 16.

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