On Stage: Celebrating 20 years of Riverdance

Also: Fillmore rocks out with busy schedule this weekend

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times

The 20th year of Riverdance is celebrated at The Kimmel Center now through June 19. Photo by Jack Hardin.

The 20th year of Riverdance is celebrated at The Kimmel Center now through June 19. Photo by Jack Hardin.

Like most weekends during the summer months, the schedule of live entertainment in the area this weekend features a cornucopia of acts and shows. There is something that can please almost any taste.

One show might actually whet your appetite for corned beef and cabbage washed down by a pint of Guinness Stout.

Now through June 19, the Kimmel Center is presenting “Riverdance” at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, www.kimmelcenter.org).

If it seems as if “Riverdance” has been around forever – it’s because it has. Its popularity never seems to wane. Like the Energizer Bunny, “Riverdance” just keeps going and going and going — even after its “Farewell Tour.”

After some 1,500 dancers, 15,000 hours of rehearsal, 14,000 dance shoes and 16 years, “Riverdance” made its final tour of North America in 2012. Its “final visit” to Philadelphia was at the Merriam Theatre in May 2012.

But, “Riverdance” never really was put in its grave to stay. Now, the international dance performance sensation is back for its “20th Anniversary Tour.”

According to text in the tour program, “Riverdance” has drawn in a new generation of dancers which have fed back into the show itself and these dancers have developed a tradition of making old things new.

One of these young talents is James Greenan, who is one of the show’s lead dancers and was on display when “Riverdance” opened in Philly on June 14.

“I’ve been with the show for about five years,” said Greenan, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Durham, North Carolina. “We started this tour in September and have about three weeks left. The American tours are always pretty long.”

“Riverdance” is a fast-paced celebration of Irish music and dance that has already been performed live for over 40 million people around the world. Initially, “Riverdance” was created as a seven-minute piece to be performed as part of the intermission entertainment at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.

The piece was so well received that the team of producer Moya Doherty, composer Bill Whelan and director John McColgan expanded it to a full-length stage production that had its world premiere in February 1995 at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.

The casts in Ireland and on tour have always included some of the best Irish dancers in the world — dancers such as Greenan.

Greenan, who lives in Cootehill County, Cavan, started dancing at the age of 10 and has won several prestigious titles in both Solo and Ceili competitions such as the World Championships, All Irelands, Great Britain’s, North Americans and Ulster titles.

“I competed until I was 19,” said Greenan. “Then, I decided to move on.”

Greenan has toured with “Gaelforce,” “Dancemasters” and “Noctu.” He has he has performed with “Riverdance” in North America, China, Brazil, Argentina and at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

“There are different styles for this dance,” said Greenan. “Competition is technical and boring. Show is all about performance and connection with the audience. And, it has more arm movement rather than just two feet. It’s all about entertainment.

“This show has come a long way in the last two years. They definitely revamped it for the anniversary. The biggest improvements are the set design, the new numbers and an all-female a capella piece.
Video link for “Riverdance” — https://youtu.be/oc1Fd0BpjmM.

In contrast with “Riverdance” and its longevity, one of the headlining bands at the show on June 16 at the Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) features musicians who weren’t even born when “Riverdance” came into existence.

The Shelters

The Shelters

Tonight, The Shelters will share the bill with Guster at one of Philadelphia’s newest venues. The Shelters are a rock band formed a few years ago in Los Angeles by Chase Simpson, Josh Jove, Sebastian Harris, and Jacob Pillot.

They released “EP” in 2015 and followed with their highly anticipated self-titled debut album, which was just released on Warner Bros. Records. Both the EP and the album were co-produced by one of the band’s musical heroes, Tom Petty, with all songs written by band members Simpson and Jove.

“I was good friends with Tom Petty’s son,” said Simpson, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Boston. “We went to Malibu High School together.

“I always loved music when I was growing up and, when I started playing in bands, I would pick his brain. I wasn’t a die-hard Heartbreakers’ fan. I listened a lot more to the Beach Boys and the Beatles.

“I had played in a previous band — Automatik Slim — with Josh and Sebastian. When that band fell apart in 2013, I called Josh and said — let’s keep playing music together because our guitars worked together so well. So, we just kept writing music together.

“We made some demos and I asked Ton (Petty) to listen to them. He liked them and invited us over to his studio to cut a track with him. That song was ‘Rebel Hearts.’ After that, we used his studio to make our records. It was great to learn the craft of recording on such legendary gear. Kids my age don’t know much about analog (recording). We used tape machines, a vintage console, tube amps. We used everything we could before it was time to put the music into the computer.”

The Shelters’ new album shows a band that has learned the knack for making traditional kick-ass Los Angeles rock and roll — a band that has learned from and incorporated the influences of legendary L.A. bands such as Spirit, the Byrds and Love.

“Those bands and bands like the Beatles and the Kinks are the bands we love,” said Simpson. “We definitely have an eclectic group of influences. They are our musical heroes. That’s the stuff we grew up on.

“Take our love for that and push it forward is how I’d describe our music. Some of the things were mixing together may not have been done before — surf with grunge and punk or sing-alongs with music styles from spaghetti westerns.

“It really is an organic, natural thing. We’re always looking to explore and experiment. We love the studio and we love experimenting. I’d love it if we were thought of as a classic L.A. band. The main thing — I just want people to hear our music.”

The Shelters will have the opportunity to have close to 30,000 people hear their music live on June 17 when they perform at the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware.

Video link for The Shelters — https://youtu.be/w1G_5cDlWeM.

The show at the Fillmore also features Guster, a Boston band that has been making music since 1991.The show will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $31.

On June 17, the Fillmore will host a twin-bill featuring rock band with a similar longevity ratio — Gates, a relatively new band from the New Brunswick area, and Thrice, a band from Southern California that formed in 1998.

thrice albumThrice came into existence in Irvine, California in 1998 by guitarist/vocalist Dustin Kensrue and guitarist Teppei Teranishi while they were in high school. The pair then added Eddie Breckenridge on bass and his brother Riley Breckenridge on drums.

Over the years, the four musicians experimented with different styles of music while retaining their core musical identity throughout. They released their debut album “Identity Crisis” in 2000 and then followed with seven more LPs over the next 10 years. Thrice released its ninth studio album “To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere” at the end of May. The album, which was produced by Eric Palmquist, sold nearly 22,000 copies first week and landing itself the #8 spot on the US Soundscan Top Current Albums Chart — the band’s highest debut in its18-year career.

“To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere” was also the #1 Indie Release, #1 Current Rock, #1 Hard Music, #1 Current Alternative, #1 LP Vinyl and #15 on Billboard’s Top 200 for the week. In celebration of the album’s release, Thrice kicked off its North American headlining tour this past Friday with a sold-out concert at The Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

“We’re playing six songs from the new album on our tour — which is fun,” said Kensrue, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Maryland. “It’s always fun to play new stuff. He record has received great response.

“We’ve got really great fans who have endured all sorts of changed with us. We have eight records before so there are a lot of songs that have become fan favorites.”

Fans of Thrice have to be happy just to have a new Thrice album to listen to and to have the opportunity to hear the band play live again — especially considering it wasn’t that long ago that Thrice staged its farewell tour.

Following Thrice’s spring 2012 tour, the band went on hiatus. In the group’s public statement, Kensrue said that Thrice is not breaking up, but that the band would be taking a break from being a full-time band.

“The hiatus came about because of a lot of little things,” said Kensrue. “We had been going strong for 125 years without stopping. We had young kids and I had another on the way. We needed a break from the road — from the constant cycle of recording and touring.”

But, Kensrue and his mates held their promise that the band wasn’t breaking up. The group platyed at a few festivals last year and then headed into the studio to make an album of fresh new songs.

“We knew it was time for a comeback,” said Kensrue. “The kids were a little older. And, we missed doing it. I hit up the guys to see if everybody was up for it. Now, we only go out on the road for three weeks max at a time. It’s a good re-start — and a healthy rhythm.

“I do pretty much all the lyrics. As far as the music, it’s very participatory and very democratic. I think if we didn’t do it that way, the band would be lacking for it. It produces a good tension.

“The biggest way the break influenced the album was in giving us distance and space for writing. Because of that, the record came out very diverse and balanced. I think we came into it very refreshed.”

Thrice cut the record in January and February this year at Palmquist Studios in Alhambra, California.

“There was definitely a good vive in the studio,” said Kensrue. “On our last two albums, we nailed down what we could plat. This time, we nailed it down and then let ourselves be free to add new things. It was a very fluid environment.”

Video link for Thrice — https://youtu.be/TzNSaxZqw24.



Gates — Kevin Dye (vocals/guitars), Dan King (guitars), Mike Maroney (bass), Ethan Koozer (guitars) and Daniel Crapanzano (drums) — released its new album, “Parallel Lives,” on June 3 on Pure Noise Records and then set out on the road for a summer tour with La Dispute and Thrice.

“Everyone except for me lives in New Jersey,” said Dye, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon heading to a tour stop in Norfolk, Virginia

 “I live in Brooklyn. We practice in North Brunswick, so that’s why we’re considered a Jersey band. Ethan moved to New Jersey a few years ago and met the other dudes. When I moved to Brooklyn, I was looking for people to play with and I got in contract with them.

“I graduated from Michigan State in 2008 and then moved to upstate New York to do an internship as a recording engineer at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock. It was an awesome experience. I got to work with legendary producer Justin Guip and he taught me all the basics I know.”

Gates’ self-released debut EP “The Sun Will Rise and Lead Me Home” came out in 2011 followed by the “You Are All You Have Left To Fear” EP in 2012. The band’s debut album “Bloom & Breathe” was released in October 2014 by Pure Noise Records.

“Definitely, ‘Bloom & Breathe’ is the first album that had lyrics or ideas before we made the music,” said Dye. “In the past, I would write the lyrics after the music was done.

“With the songs done the new way, there was a lot more flexibility with the structure. We could change songs stylistically or tempo-wise. We recorded both albums at VuDu Studio in Port Jefferson, New York. We did the new one last November and December. We took our time making it.”

When Dye moved to Brooklyn, he began to look at the world differently and that inspiration informed the songs on “Parallel Lives.”

Dye said, “Trying to absorb and deal with how you can’t know everyone, and you won’t ever know how they affect your lives or how you’re affecting others with simple things you’re saying or doing. I tried to hone in on that and use these songs to get that point across.

“I was living next to so many people and was wondering what their lives were like. There are so many layers to it. You think you could dissect it forever. The ideas for lyrics came so much easier.”

Video link for Gates —https://youtu.be/ll2YsY0J8pE.

The show at the Fillmore, which also features La Dispute, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23 and $33.

Other upcoming shows at the Fillmore are Domo Genesis on June 18, Michael Franti & Spearhead on June 19, and Tunji Ige x Michael Christmas on June 22.

Pierce The Veil

Pierce The Veil

Philadelphia will also host another California band on June 17 when Pierce the Veil arrives in town for a show at Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com).

In terms of longevity, Pierce the Veil is neither young nor old. The band was formed in San Diego in 2006 when the Fuentes brothers — vocalist Vic and drummer Mike — teamed with bassist Jaime Preciado and lead guitarist Tony Perry (lead guitar).

Pierce the Veil released its debut album “A Flair for the Dramatic” in 2007 and followed with the “Selfish Machines” LP in 2012. The band’s third album “Collide with the Sky” was released in 2012 and was the group’s first album on Fearless Records. Featuring the hit first single “King for a Day,” the album debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200.

The band’s fourth album “Misadventures,” which was produced by Dan Korneff, was released on May 13, 2016 on Fearless Records. The album’s release put the band on the covers of magazines such as Alternative Press and the U.K.’s Kerrang!

Pierce The Veil is supporting the release of “Misadventures” with a 16-date U.S. tour. On this run, the band will perform the entire new album start-to-finish.

“We were all in the same music scene in San Diego a few years back,” said Preciado, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from a tour stop in Boston. “Mike and Vic had a band in the punk scene and me and Tony were in the metalcore/heavy scene. Mike and Vic’s band broke up but they still had label connections. They met Tony at a guitar shop in San Diego. They asked him to come and jam and he brought me. We met and jammed together and the hemistry was really good. Obviously, the chemistry worked out because we’re still together 10 years later. After a few jam sessions, we started Pierce the Veil. We had a conversation that the commitment had to be 100 per cent. We’re all glad we had that conversation.”

“A Flair for the Dramatic” was the first Pierce the Veil album but “Selfish Machines” was the first real PTV band album.

“‘Secret Machines’ was the first time we actually got together as a band to record,” said Preciado. “We stuck together — and lived together. It was fun. For ‘Collide,’ we had the opportunity to pick our producer.  Dan Korneff was the engineer on a lot of albums we liked so we got him to be our producer. He took the project to another level. We stayed with Dan Korneff for ‘Misadventures.’ He’s the dude we always go to for anything record-wise. ‘Misadventures’ was recorded two years ago in Long Island. We actually lived in the studio. The only time we went out was t get food. We toolk as lot of time making this record because we wanted it to be the way it was in our heads. We called it ‘Misadvetures’ because it took us on this amazing journey. This record was a milestone — from a songwriting perspective and knowing who we are as a band. We experimented with different sounding songs. We knew where we could take chances.”

Video link for Pierce the Veil — https://youtu.be/WumCI56iYUk.

The show at the Theatre of the Living Arts, which also features I the Mighty and Movements, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $26.50.

Secret Space

Secret Space

On June 17, area music fans can take advantage of a situation that doesn’t happen very often — the opportunity to hear a show by a band from Toledo, Ohio. Secret Space, one of the top young bands from “The Glass City,” will be headlining a show at First Unitarian Church (2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, www.r5productions.com).

June 17 is also the official release date of Secret Space’s debut record “The Window Room,” which is being put out on Equal Vision Records. According to the band’s press release, “‘The Window Room ‘seamlessly blends the heavy, atmospheric rock of the band’s early releases with crossover caliber pop-rock anthems.”

Like so many bands, Secret Space — Dean Tartaglia (vocalist/multi-instrumentalist) , Zach Ruetz (bassist/vocalist) and Steve Warstler (drummer) — got its start during jam sessions between friends.

“We’ve known each other for a decade,” said Tartaglia, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from Toledo as the band prepared to hit the road. “We were all in different bands in Toledo and, at times, had played in each other’s bands.

‘Between bands, we were jamming together. It started for fun. I don’t think it was until we recorded our first song that we seriously considered making this a real band. That song was ‘Stay for Awhile.’ It caught the attention of someone from Equal Vision Records, a label from Albany, New York. When they approached us, we had only played about a dozen shows. It was a great opportunity for a young band.”

When it came time to record its debut album, the band headed out of town to work with a legendary producer at a top-flight studio. But, the three musicians did not go to New York, L.A. or Nashville — they went to nearby Conshohocken to record with Will Yip at his Studio 4.

“We recorded ‘The Window Room’ in October last year,” said Tartaglia. “We have a great working relationship with Will Yip. We lived in Conshohocken for a month in the studio. We wrote over 20 songs.

“‘The Window Room’ is a collection of stories all about isolation while watching the outside world pass you by. When I started writing these songs almost two years ago I was in a very different place in my life. After a few past musical projects had fallen apart I was struggling with whether I had anything left to say through my music, with whether I could even pursue music seriously anymore.

“I had just moved into a new house at the time that had a room with three walls of windows, and at night it overlooked the stars and the trees, with the moon beautifully lighting nature all around it. It became incredibly surreal looking out on that scenery every night, and was a constant reminder of how small each individual person really is in the grand scheme of things. It inspired me to write songs from a completely outside perspective as opposed to a narrative one, in order to find the universal truths in what I was struggling with at the time.

“I think most people associate isolation with fear or sadness, but over time I discovered those universal truths I was searching for — patience, commitment, honesty, hope — were the most present during those periods of isolation. As I look back on where I started with these songs and think about putting this album out into the world today, my wish is that anyone who listens to this record can discover those universal truths on their own personal level — that you can find hope through isolation.”

“We were a new band trying to figure out what our sound should be. The lyrical theme was the most guiding force when we were making the album.”

Video link for Secret Space — https://youtu.be/neJspmIfWno.

The show at First Unitarian Church, which also features Turnover and Sports, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door.

taste of chaosOn June 19, a lot of people in Philly will be celebrating Father’s Day with dinners at nice restaurants or festive get-togethers at family barbecues. And, there will be more than a few celebrants heading to Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing (601 North Columbus Boulevard at Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215- 629-3200, www.festivalpierphilly.com) to enjoy the Taste of Chaos Tour.

Chris Carrabba will bring his latest incarnation of Dashboard Confessional to Philly to headline the Taste of Chaos package with Taking Back Sunday as the second bill. The line-up will also include Saosin with Anthony Green, The Early November and The Starting Line.

The last time Carrabba brought DC to Philadelphia was a year ago — almost to the day — when the band co-headlined a show with Third Eye Blind at the Festival Pier.

 “I did that tour last summer and it was nearly September when we finished. Then, we went to Brazil earlier this year with Maroon 5,” said Carrabba, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Portland, Maine.

“For the most part, I’ve been recording for the last year at my studio in the middle of Tennessee. It’s a really beautiful area. We all live in the same area. It’s a great way to be productive. Everybody is there hanging out.”

Carrabba has had a musical career that is multi-pronged. In the late 1990s, he was the vocalist for the Florida-based band Further Seems Forever prior to his formation of the original incarnation of Dashboard Confessional.

Dashboard Confessional

Dashboard Confessional

Dashboard Confessional released six studio albums starting with “The Swiss Army Romance” in 2000. The sixth was “After the Ending” in 2009. In 2010, Carrabba put the band on hold and did a solo tour for the 10th anniversary of “The Swiss Army Romance.”

Later in 2010, Carrabba and Further Seems Forever reunited and recorded the band’s fourth studio album “Penny Black.”

In 2011, Carrabba formed another band — Twin Forks — pretty much the same way he started his previous band Dashboard Confessional about 12 years ago. Carrabba wrote the songs first and then put a band together.

That group released the “Twin Forks EP” in 2013 and the “Twin Forks LP” in 2014.

“With the new songs, I’d say there is a real relationship to bits of the first three Dashboard albums,” said Carrabba. “There are some that feel really close to the stuff we wrote in the early days of being a band. We’re freewheeling the way we did then so we’re producing stuff now that feels similar.”

The band will likely play some of the tunes that old-school diehards want to hear — songs such as “Screaming Infidelities,” “Vindicated,” “Stolen, “The Good Fight,” and “Hands Down.” But, fans should not expect to hear any previews of recordings to come.

“I have been playing one new solo acoustic song,” said Carrabba. “I don’t care to play too many new songs because that’s not what fans come to hear. We don’t want to put audiences at a disadvantage because they’re so much a part of the show.”

Dashboard Confessional has been able to retain its fan base even after a several year hiatus a few years ago.

“I’m absolutely surprised that the fans are still there for us,” said Carrabba. “We walked away because we were fatigued. We didn’t want to just phone it in. Our fans deserved more. And now, we’re developing a new generation of fans. I guess they’re learning about us from their friends.”

Carrabba has always been able to attract devoted fans because of his heartfelt lyrics — his ability to let his emotions flow out naturally through his songs.

“Most of my songwriting is personal and first person,” said Carrabba. “It’s a great release for my emotions — for any anxiety. That way, you don’t have to be weighed down by it.”

Video link for Dashboard Confessional — https://youtu.be/BiaF9iDHW_w.

Taste of Chaos at Festival Pier will start at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $39.50.



Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have “Stand Up at The Flash” with Brandon Jackson, Buddy Harris, Alyssa Truszkowski, Matthew Tsang and Charles Blyzniuk on June 16, Mutlu and Ben Arnold on June 17,  The Collingwood and Sarah Koon on June 18 and Open Mic with Guest Host Greg McCarthy on June 19.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Ben Arnold Band with Ross Bellenoit on June 16 and Jeffery Foucault with Kyle Swartzwalder on June 17.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present Last Chance and Rusty and Jan on June 17 and Aim 4 Grey, The Lizard People and TIEM on June 18.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Dave Patten with special guest Sir Video on June 16 and John Brown’s Body with special guests Ill Dotts, Kings & Comrades on June 17.

Doc Watson’s Public House (150 North Pottstown Pike, Exton, 610-524-2424, docwatsonspublichouse.com) will host Hotlnata on June 17 and ruckus rocxx on June 18.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents “Happy Together Tour 2016” with The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night), Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Cowsills, Mark Lindsay (former lead singer of Paul Revere & The Raiders) and Billy Kramer on June 22.

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