On Stage: Conestoga grad fights back against bullying with music

Livvie Forbes’ debut CD launches tonight

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times

Livvie Forbes

Livvie Forbes

Berwyn’s Livvie Forbes had to deal with a number of serious health problems when she was growing up – physical and psychological. As she moved through the grades in the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, another problem haunted her – bullying.

Now, Forbes, who graduated from Conestoga High this year, has the last laugh on all the bullies who tormented her for years in school. He has just recorded her debut album “Chronic” and will be headlining a CD Release Show on September 29 at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

When Forbes was a student at Hillside Elementary School in Berwyn, her height and weight began to accelerate – at a rate much faster than her classmates. That made her a target for school bullies.

The bullying started in second grade,” said Forbes, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “I was bigger than everybody else so I got picked on. I was 5-foot-2. Everyone else was four feet. They’d call me Big Bird, things like that. I just cried a lot.

Even at that young age, I got depressed and sad – and I lost interest in things. I’d just cry and feel awful. There was no safe place at that point. Depression and anxiety led to eating problems and being introverted.

When I was in middle school, other students would beat me up on the playground and choke me on the bus. They said things like – “You’re fat. You’re ugly. Why don’t you just kill yourself?

I kept withdrawing. There is a disassociation that comes with severe depression. You lack a sense of grounding. I developed eating disturbances. Id make myself throw up a lot. I kind of drowned in the victim thing. And, I broke my ankles a lot.”

Fortunately, the doctors were finally able to figure out the cause of Forbes’ medical problems.

There was Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that results in unstable joints. There was polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder that causes obesity.

Along with all that, she suffered from amplified musculoskeletal pain syndrome and reflex neurovascular dystrophy – two conditions which cause extreme pain in the joints.

I was dislocating my ankles and having severe pain in them and, for the longest time, they couldn’t figure out why,” said Forbes. “Nothing would show up on the MRI. I was in chronic pain.

Then, in 10th grade, it got properly diagnosed. Now, the pain is not as debilitating and I’m able to actually live and participate in life. CBD oil helps.”

Forbes also found solace in music.

I grew up with music all around me,” said Forbes. “My brother was into music a lot and my parents listened to classic rock. I’ve always loved music. I took lessons when I was younger.

I studied piano then violin then clarinet then banjolele then thumb piano then mandolin. I was in ninth grade when I got into a singing program at the Main Line School of Rock.”

Eventually, Forbes started recording some demos and that started the ball rolling. A demo reached David Uosikkinen, drummer for The Hooters and In the Pocket, and that really started the ball rolling.

“My dad knew David,” said Forbes. “My dad gave him my CD without telling him who I was. David waited a few months to listen to it and then he put it in his car and he had to pull over because he was so astonished by my voice.”

Uosikkinen knew immediately that he wanted to produce her records and worked on putting together a band of Philly area all-stars. Uosikkinen, who played drums on the songs, enlisted Hooters’ bandmate Eric Bazilian along with Steve Butler (Smash Palace), Kenny Aaronson (The Yardbirds), Fran Smith Jr. (The Hooters) and Wally Smith (Smash Palace).

We finished the album in March,” said Forbes. “Now, we’re releasing it this week with a show at the World Cafe Live.”

Video link for Livvie Forbes – https://youtu.be/N7M0OogDYWc?t=1.

The show at the World Cafe Live, which also features Randy Goodman, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Olga Bell

Olga Bell

Olga Bell, a composer, producer and performer who resides in Brooklyn, has just released a very tasty electronica/dance album called “Tempo” on One Little Indian Records. Now touring in support of her new disc, Bell will be in Philadelphia on September 29 for a show at PhilaMOCA (531 North 12th Street, Philadelphia, 267-519-9651, www.philamoca.org).

Bell has arrived as a new face on the electronica scene after following a very non-traditional path to the world of dance music.

She was was born in Russia and moved with her mother from Moscow to Anchorage, Alaska when she was just a young child.

I was seven when we moved to Anchorage,” said Bell, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from her home in Brooklyn.

I was in Alaska for 10 years and then moved to Boston when I was 17 to study at the New England Conservatory. I was studying classical music – piano performance. I was pretty serious about it until I finished at the Conservatory.

Then came the big rejection – not being admitted to the graduate program at Julliard. That was a big ‘a-ha moment.’ I moved to New York, did acting and voice-over work. I played Broadway auditions as a piano accompaniment.

I was still playing classical music but, in my spare time, I was listening to Radiohead, Bjork and a lot of hip hop – bands like Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest.

I got a laptop and started with GarageBand. I was chopping up drum beats and making melodies over them. Eventually, I began to get into songwriting and production.”

Tempo” is Bell’s third album following “Diamonite,” which was released in 2011 and “край (Krai),” which came out in 2014.

I made the ‘Bell EP’ in 2008 and ‘Diamonite’ in 2011,” said Bell. “Both were self-released and featured collaborators Jason Nazary and Gunnar Olsen. I’m really proud of them. They were self-produced and self-funded.

My first show was an open mic at the Sidewalk Cafe in New York.

From there, I began playing a lot of different venues around the Lower East Side and then had a residency at Pianos. It all started building from there. Before long, I had a show at the Brooklyn Music Hall and I also played South by Southwest.”

In 2011, Bell she received a Jerome Fund Grant from the American Composers Forum to aid in the completion of her first large-scale composition, “Krai,” which was released as an album in 2014 after a sold-out premiere at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

“‘Krai’ was pretty different,” said Bell. “I had an urge to sing in Russian folk style. It’s a 40-minute, through-composed piece for six voices. It premiered at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

“‘Krai’ is a Russian word that means edge, periphery or hinterland. In Russia, there are a geographic areas – like states in America – called Krais. They are large territories located on the edge of the Russian state.

After ‘Krai,’ I released an EP called ‘Incitation’ in fall 2015. Then, I released ‘Tempo’ last May.

I wrote and produced most of ‘Tempo’ at my home studio in Brooklyn and then mixed it at Machines with Magnets Studio in New York. I produce all my own music. I worked on this record for about a year.

My songwriting happens a lot of different ways. I’m really motivated by harmony. I usually start with a melody on a synthesizer. The new album is held together by its dance vibe. I was listening to a lot of club music. It was inspired by a film called ‘Paris Is Burning.’”

Video link for Olga Bell – https://youtu.be/DEzuZlUB3zM?t=63.

The show at Philamoca, which also features Jenny Hval and Moor Mother, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.



On September 29, the Voltage Lounge (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215- 964-9602, www.voltagelounge.com) will present a twin bill featuring Earthside and Leprous.

Earthside – Jamie van Dyck (guitars), Frank Sacramone (keyboards), Ben Shanbrom (drums), Ryan Griffin (bass) – is touring in support of its debut studio album, “A Dream in Static,” which was self-released in fall 2015.

Earthside is a New England-based creative collective that plays a style of modern progressive music the band has dubbed “cinematic rock.”

The group formed as part of van Dyck’s senior thesis at Yale.

Through organic layers of living, breathing orchestra (courtesy of the Moscow Studio Symphony Orchestra), and an eclectic arsenal of world music-influenced instrumentation alongside a work of cinematic art as it is resonating throughout a densely packed concert venue.

A Dream In Static” features sweeping instrumental movements interwoven with adventurous vocal compositions featuring guest performances from premier voices across the rock and metal worlds (Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Björn Strid of Soilwork, Daniel Tompkins of Tesseract, and Eric Zirlinger of Face The King, Ex-Seer).

In a press release, the band made the following statement – “We make every effort with our music to give you all something unique and heartfelt that breaks from the norm. We did this by taking a no-limitations approach to our songwriting on ‘A Dream in Static’ and working with a number of incredible guest musicians. It follows in suit that our live show should also bring something special to the Earthside mythos.

We collaborated with several amazing vocalists for ‘A Dream in Static’ and, unfortunately, we can’t bring them all on the road with us. To avoid compromising the stellar performances of Björn (Strid), Dan (Tompkins) Lajon (Witherspoon) and Eric (Zirlinger) during our live shows, we came up with a unique solution.

We captured full-body video of their performances and infused them with intense visuals to create a powerful multimedia element that we project alongside each of these songs.”

The collaborative cross-continental project was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden with producer and mix engineer David Castillo (Opeth, Katatonia, Bloodbath) and additional mix and mastering engineer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, The Ocean, Leprous).

We only have four people onstage but it seems a lot bigger than that because of the way we play our live show,” said Griffin, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from a tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia.

There is a large screen television that we use – a video of the performer in a black box setting. For example, when we play ‘Crater,’ you see Bjorn onscreen performing. We also have cuts to videos that complement the music. We have to play along with it. Technically, in a way, it was forced upon us.

Even before I joined, it was always an instrumental band. A lot of people told us we needed a vocalist. People would audition for us but it never really worked out. We never found the perfect person. So, we came up with the idea of guest vocalists and we just pay them to do the video. Without an in-band vocalist, we can write in a variety of ways.

We finished writing the album three years before it came out. We are all perfectionists which is good. But, it holds us back from a timeline. We went to Sweden twice to work on the album. On one trip, we did 65 hours of bass tracking in a four-day period.

We didn’t do any live shows when we were writing and recording the album. Our first performance was at the end of summer in 2015 – an album release show. Our first tour was last fall with Soilwork.”

Video link for Earthside – https://youtu.be/mKOlyFZLR2Q?t=7.

The show at the Voltage Lounge, which also features Leprous, Binary Code, Dissona and In The Presence of Wolves, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Maria Muldaur

Maria Muldaur

The song “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur is a staple on classic rock radio. On October 1, Muldaur will be playing the song – along with tmany other songs from her 52-year career – in concert at Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org). Mojo Stu will open.

Other upcoming shows at the comfortable venue in Kennett Square are Dan May and Erez Potok-Holmes on September 30 and Open Mic with guest host Angelee on October 2.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Woznicki World Music on September 30 and The Urban Acoustic Coalition on October 1.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host Alex O’Brien and Sunday Muse on September 30 and Bernard Sarkissian & Friends, Chris Adams, Carolyn Cott, and Sandy Pluta on October 1.


Blitzen Trapper

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Blitzen Trapper with Kacy & Clayton on September 30, and Melvin Seals & JGB with Roots of Creation on October 1.

Doc Watson’s Public House (150 North Pottstown Pike, Exton, 610-524-2424, docwatsonspublichouse.com) will host Project X on September 30.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present the Chris Paterno Band on September 30 and James Maddock on October 1.

The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) will be presenting the camp hit musical “Hairspray” now through October 30.Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

The Rainbow Comedy Theatre (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, http://www.rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting “Is There Life After 50” now through October 29.

Matinee performances are every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and selected Saturdays with an 11:30 a.m. lunch and a 1 p.m. curtain. Evening performances are every Friday, Saturday and selected Thursdays with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the show following at 8 p.m. There will also be “Twilight Performances” on selected Sundays with dinner at 2:30 p.m. and the show at 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25-$56.

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