On Stage: Rusted Root meets every challenge

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times 

Playing a show on the Thursday before New Year’s Eve weekend can be a challenge for a band – especially with potential audience members having the tendency to be saving their energy and money for the upcoming holiday festivities.

Rusted Root is a band that isn’t fazed by challenges such as this. The Pittsburgh-based rockers have built a well-established fan base of die-hard followers — fans who will put everything else aside when Rusted Root plays in their hometown.

So, when Rusted Root performs on December 29 at The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com), the house will be packed. It can be Sunday, Monday or Thursday — summer, autumn or winter — the fans will be there and the house will be rocking whenever Rusted Root takes the stage.

Some bands get excited when they enter their second decade. Rusted Root sailed past that marker a long time ago and now is entering its second quarter-century. The internationally-acclaimed band has a long and interesting history.

Actually, the veteran group of musicians long ago established its legacy as one of the premier rock bands to come from Pennsylvania. The group, which still includes three of the original five members, continues to write, record and tour. And, it still calls Pittsburgh home.

The trio of founding members includes Michael Glabicki (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, mandolin), Patrick Norman (bass guitar, backing vocals, percussion) and Liz Berlin (percussion, backing vocals). Rounding out the quintet are Preach Freedom (percussion, backing vocals) and Dirk Miller (guitar, backing vocals).

When Rusted Root last played the area, it was a Sunday night in late August and the band played to a packed house at the Keswick Theater.

“We’ve been pretty busy,” said Glabicki, during a recent phone interview from his home in Pittsburgh. “We had a great tour around the country. We went to Japan. We went to Guam and played for the troops over there. And, we did a West Coast tour with Toad the Wet Sprocket.

“We stayed pretty busy touring in the fall. It seemed that with the election, people needed a distraction. On the average, we play 160-170 shows a year. The numbers have been going up recently. We’ve picked up momentum. The band is clicking. We’re more relaxed with a more intimate flow onstage.”

In honor of its 25th Anniversary, Rusted Root embarked on an extensive national tour several years ago to support its most recent album “The Movement,” which is described by Glabicki as “an extremely joyous recording with seriously deep undertones.” “The Movement” was released on Shanachie Records in 2012.

Rusted Root, which is known for its fusion of acoustic, rock and world, has recorded eight albums and sold over three million records worldwide. The band’s music has been featured in films such as “Ice Age,” “Twister” and “Matilda” and TV shows such as “Ally McBeal,” “New Girl” and “Charmed.”

“We’ve had this lineup together for over five years now,” said Glabicki “Colter (Harper), our other guitarist, left after the last album to teach school in Ghana. Preach has been our drummer for six years. Before that, he was our percussionist.”

While “The Movement” was more of a spiritual, highly-creative work, Rusted Root’s next album looks to be heading in a different direction.

“We’ve been working on our next album,” said Glabicki. “We’ve been performing a lot of the music live — fleshing it out for live audiences. We took 70 songs and narrowed it to 12-15 for the album. There are 10 that are definitely going to make it.

 “There are different vignettes throughout the song instead of a whole song being just one vignette. The background vocals are laid out differently. And, I’ve been writing the blueprints for the arrangements first. Each song is its own entity and there is a lot of variety.

“Some songs are about heartache — powerful explosive ballads. One is an intimate spiritual song. Other songs go from that to a faster groove. I’m still writing four or five songs now and seeing about the blueprint. It’s getting closer. I keep having more visions – a lot of sounds and different directions. We have a lot in the can but we keep clicking and opening up new doorways.

“‘The Movement’ was a celebration of what we learned over the first 25 years. The new album is the start of the next 25 years. I can see the band being together for that long. I don’t see why not. The band keeps getting better. There are more landscapes to explore musically. And, we’re still getting bliss from the audience.”

Rusted Root’s first major success came with the band’s 1994 album “When I Woke,” which went platinum, and its breakout song was a catchy tune called “Send Me On My Way.”

“We’ve been playing that song so long that it has a life of its own — we just follow it where it goes,” said Glabicki. “We’ve been getting great responses with the new songs. It’s a little scary because the sound is different — but the crowd gets it. The grooves are more organic and moving. There’s a little bit of funk — and some straight-ahead rock grooves.”

Video link for Rusted Root — https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IGMabBGydC0.

The show at Ardmore, which also features Rad & Kell, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23 in advance and $28 at the door.

Other upcoming shows at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) are The James Brown Dance Party Feat. Clyde Stubblefield of James Brown Band, Elise Testone (American Idol), Members of Tedeschi Trucks, Charles Bradley & More along with Nik Greeley & The Operators on December 30 and Start Making Sense and Band From Mars on December 31.

A lot of bands have New Year’s Eve traditions – shows at venues they visit every December 31 – shows that fans look forward to all year.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams has a similar yet very different tradition. Each year, the band treats area fans to a New Year’s Eve Eve show at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, which has been making music since 1998, features founding members Joziah Longo (singer, songwriter, guitarist, leader of the band), his wife, Tink Lloyd (accordion, cello, flute, ukulele, Theremin, keyboards) and Sharkey McEwen (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals).

“We just did all our Christmas shows (“A Very Slambovian Christmas”) and now we have to think about the New Year’s Eve Eve show,” said Longo, during a phone interview last week from his home along the Hudson River north of New York City.

“Once summer is over and it’s after the festivals, we do various themed shows. Every year, we do a costume ball in Connecticut and we did one at the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

“We did a ‘Halloween Rock’N’Roll Séance Show’ and had a lot of people with us, including Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jack Bruce, David Bowie and Brian Jones. We also did the ‘Grand Slambovian Extraterrestrial Hillbilly Pirates Ball.’ We also do a few regular shows and then go right into our Christmas shows.”

The Slambovians also made a stop in Lancaster County in October to perform at the “Steampunk Unlimited Festival” at the Strasburg Railroad. At the end of November, Longo and his gang played a “Day After The Day After Thanksgiving Show” in Woodstock, New York.

“I really appreciate this band,” said Longo. “It brings down a certain realm. I feel like I’m in the 70’s. I particularly dig the vibe of this band. In addition to me, Tink and Sharkey, we have Bob Tomasello, a punk bass player, and Felipe Torres. He’s been playing drums and percussion for us for about a year now. He used to be the drummer for Davy Jones of the Monkees.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams has its roots in another New York band.

“We were in a group called The Ancestors in New York,” said Longo. “Eddie Kramer, who was the Stones’ engineer and producer, did an album with us. That brought everybody around to see us play. We were doing really well. One time, we played Carnegie Hall and CBGBs the same night.

“We were ahead of the curve and then we disappeared — on purpose. We went to the hinterlands and hid out in the folk scene. We were playing folk music that was different with things like an electric slide mandolin. It was ‘Floydian’folk. The folkies really took to it. We found our niche.”

They found a niche and they found a new name — Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

“It was just a name I made up,” said Longo, a Philly native who went to St. John Neumann High in South Philadelphia. “Eventually, we cut off the Gandalf part. It made it easier to fit the name on marquees.”

The band always approaches its New Year’s Eve Eve show in Philly as something special.

“I’m a South Philly boy and all my South Philly people bring umbrellas and dance like jellyfish,” said Longo.

“The New Year’s Eve Eve show is an overview of what we’ve been doing all year – a little from the summer festival season, a little from the Séance, a little from the Christmas show, a little from our Bowie show, a little from our U.K. tour. Also, because it’s the cusp of a new year, we play a few things that no-one has heard.

“Philly is our home town. It’s like we come back and bring it to the elders. This is our 10th year to do this show. Being in Philly at this time of year just feels right.”

In 2016, Longo did more than just take his band on the road.

“I’m working on four albums – and a musical,” said Longo. “I’ve got three songs into each of these projects – songs that are already recorded. It’s moving along – in a very non-linear way. I’ve written the entire new album and narrowed it down to about 30 songs. I’m also working on the ‘China Project.’ Back in the 90’s, we were the first American band to perform in Mainland China.”

A New Year’s Eve Eve Party is not a normal event. A concert by the Slambovian Circus of Dreams is not a normal event. But, two “non-normals” do not make a “normal.” Proof of this will be presented on December 30 at the World Café Live.

Video link for The Slambovian Circus of Dreams — https://youtu.be/KR3VKEyvrng?t=34.

The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24 in advance and $27 day of show.

Additionally, the World Café Live will host Mistletoe Jam 2016 with Soraia, John Fay, JDT, Robbie Casablanca, Scarlet Sunrise, and Curtis Jr. on December 29 and New Year’s Eve with the David Bromberg Quintet on December 31.

Mary Fahl

New Year’s Eve celebrations are all about looking fondly at the past and looking optimistically to the future.

When Mary Fahl celebrates New Year’s Eve with a concert on December 31 at the Tin Angel (20 South Second Street, Philadelphia, 215-928-0770, http://www.tinangel.com), she will be doing both.

The Tin Angel will close the room at its current location on Olde City on February 4, 2017. Owner Donal McCoy and booker Larry Goldfarb will continue operating the Tin Angel at a larger venue later in 2017.

“My New Year’s Eve concert will be my last show ever on this stage,” said Fahl, during a recent phone interview from her home in Upper Bucks County. “I’ve been doing shows on this stage since 1993.

“The Tin Angel was one of the first shows October Project (her previous band) ever did after we got signed and before our record got released. We played as the opener for Acoustic Alchemy. I’ve been going back there every year for 23 years and they’ve always welcomed me. So, this is a very poignant moment.”

The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” will definitely be an emotional experience for all in attendance.

“I did a New Year’s Eve show there last year and it was a lot of fun,” said Fahl. “It was a ball. I do a New Year’s Eve show for people who don’t like to go out on New Year’s Eve – warm, intimate and fun. It’s like a house concert.

“I end the show a few minutes before midnight. That way, the people in the audience can walk outside and watch the fireworks display over the river at midnight. I get people out quickly.”

The last time Fahl played the area was a show at the Sellersville Theater with a full band. This time, it will be different.

“No band – just me,” said Fahl. “It’s going to be an intimate evening. I will be taking requests from people. They can even request songs in advance at info@maryfahl.com. There are certain songs from the 70’s that pare down surprisingly well.”

In 2011, Fahl recorded her own version of one of rock’s all-time classics — Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Fahl re-interpreted the songs on an album she titled “From the Dark Side of the Moon.

For many artists, the task of re-inventing songs from an album as iconic as “Dark Side of the Moon” could have been too much of a challenge. Not so for Fahl who crafted a disc that honored its roots but established an identity all its own.

“After making the Sony classical album (“Classics for a New Century”), I wanted to do something that was fun,” said Fahl. “An independent filmmaker I knew wanted to use me in a performance piece. I wanted to do something that I didn’t have the ability to write.

“That’s when I decided to do the ‘Dark Side’ recording. It’s like a classical piece of music. I did not intend to make a cover record. It’s my version and it doesn’t sound at all like Pink Floyd’s version. But, a lot of die-hard Pink Floyd fans have responded well. They like the album — and my live versions of the songs.”

At Sellersville, Fahl did the Dark Side music with a band. But, she also touches on the Pink Floyd classic when she performs solo.

“I always do ‘Dark Side; in my shows,” said Fahl. “In a month, I’m going to be doing the entire ‘Dark Side’ from start-to-finish at the Auburn Public Theater in Auburn, New York.

“It’s a real labor of love. The Auburn Theater asked me if I’d be interested and I was. It’s 43 minutes long so it’s a nice first set. I didn’t play the whole album at Sellersville because they wanted the show to have an opening act.”

Fahl is a singer, a guitarist and a songwriter. More than anything, Fahl is a performer.

“Performing is my primary form of self-expression,” said Fahl. “When I do a show, I want to take you on a complete journey. I want to transform you.”

Fahl has been doing just that for years — ever since her days with the band October Project starting in the early 1990s. Once you’ve heard Fahl sing, from that point on when you hear a song by Fahl, you immediately know who is singing.

 “I’m in the studio right now working on a new record,” said Fahl. “This record will be basically done by next week and I’m going for an early fall release. I’m doing a folky, ambient classical record. It has a lot of ambient guitar, cello and a little me on guitar.”

Many of Fahl’s fans have been with her ever since her time with October Project which lasted from 1991-1996.

“October Project had a large body of work and I still perform some of those songs in my live show,” said Fahl. “If I don’t do some of those songs, fans get upset. I also like doing interesting covers.”

Fahl has written and performed songs for several major motion pictures, including the lead song (“Going Home”) for the Civil War epic “Gods and Generals.” Her music can also be found on the original soundtrack of the 2003 movie “The Guys.”

Video link for Mary Fahl — https://youtu.be/Gc5_6jaGER4?t=3.

The show at the Tin Angel will get underway at 9 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Epoch Failure

The past may have been rocky for the two members of Epoch Failure but there is no failure in the present or the future for the urban pop duo that features singer Billy Joe Marrero (aka “Billy The Kidd”) and rapper Nick Young (aka “Nickey Knoxx”). Both have overcome major obstacles in their lives and now are paired together in a successful music act.

On December 29, Epoch Failure will be one of the headline acts at a six-act show at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com). They will be joined on the bill by John Dutton, Aaron Hehl, Chris Gennett, E-Hos and Boy Wonder.

One of the most recent good things happening for Epoch Failure is an American Airlines in-flight Cigna ad that features the duo’s song, “Every Day Great (Dreamers)”. The spot has been airing regularly on AA flights since September. It is just one of many placements earned by Epoch Failure over the last year-and-a-half.

“We’re really happy that they’ve used our song ‘Dreamers’ on all those flights,” said Young, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from his home in Bucks County. “Things like this give us a big boost.”

Epoch failure’s message is one of hope and ambition — an attribute gained from overcoming hard times in their respective lives.

Marrero and his family have experienced extreme poverty, which was actually highlighted in a 20/20 profile of community hardships in Camden, NJ in 2007. The response to the Marreros’ plight was so overwhelming that his family was chosen for a home renovation by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”.

Young committed to securing a brighter future for himself and his family. When he turned 18, he enlisted in the Army as a way to get a college education and open up more options for his future. He attended West Virginia University and now, in addition to penning brilliant lyrics and rocking crowds, he serves full-time in the New Jersey Army National Guard as a photographer and broadcast journalist.

“Billy’s cousin and I were in the same unit in the Army,” said Young. “His cousin said he knew a street kid who was a good singer and that we should work together. I was a solo artist and so was Billy. I told him — I’m not working with any pretentious singer.”

At the same time, Marrero told his cousin — I’m not going to work with a rapper.

“Nick and I did phone time for about a year,” said Marrero. “I was playing hard-to-get. Finally, I got to his apartment in Trenton. We dropped the first song and it was great. We wrote four more songs that afternoon and did a show that night.”

Young said, “That show was in New York City in a room that was like a broom closet. There were 10 people there — six of whom we brought.”

Marrero said, “That was a tough start. Now, we’re playing to a lot more than 10 people. We’re playing to big crowds.”

Marrero was living on the street at the time but Young had a solution.

“I had an apartment in Trenton by myself,” said Young. “I told Billy to come live with — that he didn’t have to pay rent. All he had to do was make music.”

Discovered via ReverbNation by North Star Media’s John Sepetys, Epoch Failure is poised for a bright future. The duo’s five-song debut EP was mixed and co-produced by Grammy-nominated producer Billy Hume (Lil’ Jon, Ying Yang Twins, Pitbull).

Epoch Failure’s first single “Champion” has become a breakout sync track in the sports world. This past February, it was played during the post-game celebration of Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco. It’s also been featured by The NFL Network, ESPN, Fox Sports, NASCAR, WWE, NBC Sports, NY Knicks, NY Giants, Denver Broncos, the Australian Football League, and more.

The group’s follow-up single was a reinvention of Bon Jovi’s legendary anthem, “Livin’ on a Prayer.” It reached the Top 10 on Spotify’s Viral 50 USA chart, which highlights the most shared and trending tracks in the country. The song was also featured by ESPN during their NFL Sunday Countdown programming throughout the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl lead-up coverage.

Upon discovering the Epoch Failure version, Bon Jovi shared the song across all their major online platforms.

“We realized that a lot of bands gained attention by doing covers,” said Young. “But, we didn’t want to do it the traditional way. We also wanted people to find us. We’re from New Jersey and, in New Jersey, Bon Jovi is God.”

In addition, Jon Bon Jovi and cowriter Desmond Child have offered the following joint statement of praise — “The powerful new version of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ by Epoch Failure retells the intimate story of Tommy and Gina, set in an urgent urban landscape. It captures the song’s timeless message, lifting the banner of hope and faith for a whole new generation of working class heroes. Epoch Failure is a winner!”

According to Marrero, “Epoch Failure is the voice of everyone who has fallen or stumbled, but still had the heart to stand up again and climb back into the ring. It’s about accepting our failures and turning a negative into a positive. You fight through the struggles and come out the other side better, wiser, and stronger as a result. And then, of course, always raise a glass or two to celebrate.”

Young said, “We did our perspective on it. We took the story of Tommy and Gina and related it to our own experiences. We’ve been there. We are Tommy and Gina. And, there are still a lot of Tommy and Gina’s out there.”

Epoch Failure is ready to soon release its second EP.

“Our second EP is going to be even better,” said Marrero. “It’s gonna be dope. It should be out soon. We’re just waiting for the post-production on the last two songs. With the new EP, we’ve stayed true to what we do.”

Video link for Epoch Failure — https://youtu.be/TFRzozU5_h4?t=39.

The show at the TLA will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $13.

Protest The Hero

In 1999, a young band from Whitby, Ontario changed its name from one three-word, five-syllable moniker to another. Protest the Hero has been going strong ever since.

On January 4, Protest the Hero will kick off a national tour with August Burns Red with a show at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com).

The band’s founding members were Rody Walker, vocals; Tim Millar, guitar; Moe Carlson, drums; Luke Hoskin, guitar, piano, backing vocals; and Arif Mirabdolbaghi, bass, backing vocals.

“Those were the original five guys from when we started in 1999 as Happy Go Lucky,” said Walker, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from his home in Whitby, a suburb of Toronto. “We became Protest the Hero in 2000. Three of us are still the originals.”

Protest the Hero released its debut album “Kezia” in 2005 on Underground Operations Records and followed with “Fortress” on Vagrant Records in 2008. The band’s last two albums have been on Razor & Tie – “Scurrilous” in 2011 and “Volition” in 2013.

“We’ve lost our original rhythm section,” said Walker. “Moe left after the release of ‘Volition’ and Arif left after the first ‘Volition’ tour. Now, we have Mike Ieradi on drums. Cam McLellan, who plays is filling in on bass for us, is also our audio engineer. He’s been with us 10 years. He started as our lighting guy.”

Protest the Hero may have changed its line-up a little but it has fully retained its signature sound – a hard-hitting blend of intriguing prog rock and powerful heavy metal. The band’s continuing intensity is on full display on the group’s new EP “Pacific Myth,” which was just released via Razor & Tie. The six-track album is available on 180-gram purple swirl vinyl, with a colored insert of all six covers from the original releases. Additionally, a variety of merch bundles will include the band’s artwork on stretched canvas, hoodies and t-shirt designs.

“The physical version just came out,” said Walker. “It’s on CD, vinyl, a box set of six 10-inch singles with instrumental versions on the B-side and all the streaming and downloading outlets – everything but cassette.”

The songs were previously recorded and released solely for members of the band’s Pacific Myth subscription platform.  Intended as a way to create and distribute new music for core fans, “Pacific Myth” resulted in six new tracks that are now being packaged together physically for the first time. The individually released tracks have been fully remixed and remastered to create a cohesive sound.

According to the band’s press release. “‘Pacific Myth’ was purely an experiment.  Normally, we take as much time as we need to write records — lots of which is spent procrastinating.  With ‘Pacific Myth,’ we didn’t have that luxury. We promised to release one song per month on the 15th of each month for six months running.

“What we discovered in writing these tunes was the fact that strict deadlines (even if self-imposed) do not allow for over-thinking — something we are incredibly guilty of on our four existing full length albums.  Surprisingly, the constricting time frame lead to some risks in writing we wouldn’t have normally taken — or at least some risks we would normally have had the time to identify as ‘too risky’ and then re-worked until we felt safe again.  For this reason, it’s a totally ‘go-with-your-gut’ record and one we are extremely proud of.”

Walker said, “We originally wanted to do a ‘vinyl-of-the-month club’ but it’s really expensive to do. Then, we saw than Bandcamp was doing something similar – a feasible way to do it without costing and arm-and-a-leg. It was a little over a year ago when we started. The second song was in January 2016.

“We were recording and writing it as we went. We did the first two songs back when we first announced the project. Then, we had to do a song every two months. It was stressful – but we got it done. We came out with some pretty good songs. We’re playing a few of them on this tour but no more than two or three a night. We play the older songs and want to hear. We go all the way back to ‘Kezia’ and do a lot from ‘Volition.’”
Video link for Protest the Hero – https://youtu.be/qp8wu2ltC4Y?t=13.

The show at TLA, which also features August Burns Red, In Hearts Wake, and ’68, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $23.

Other upcoming shows at the Theater of the Living Arts are Dag Nasty on December 30, and Cabinet on December 31.

Disney On Ice

Now through January 2, the Wells Fargo Center (3601 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-336-3600, http://www.wellsfargocenterphilly.com) is hosting “Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart” with a selection of morning, afternoon and evening shows.

The show, which has a huge cast and a lot of big production numbers, features many of Disney’s most popular characters — from Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to Rapunzel from “Tangled” to Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.”

This groundbreaking show features 60 characters including Olaf, Kristoff, Anna, Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, Minnie Mouse and the legendary Disney Princesses. The touring ice spectacle has segments representing a variety of Disney’s most popular movies in recent years including Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory” and Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out.”

Video link for “Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart” – https://youtu.be/V7m0UbcAqSA?t=6.

Ticket prices range from $20-$123.

The Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker

The Pennsylvania Ballet’s annual production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” is one of the most cherished—and longest running—family holiday traditions for families in the region. For many, a visit to Philadelphia to enjoy the lavish presentation by the world-famous Pennsylvania Ballet is a integral part of the holiday season.

This year’s production, which is running now through December 31 at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.paballet.org), is the 47th annual staging of the classic ballet. The ballet is based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale “The Nutcracker and The Mouse King” and set to a score by Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky.

Featuring lively dances, colorful costumes and elaborate sets, “The Nutcracker” is a production that appeals to audiences of all ages. The original version of the timeless classic was first presented in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1892.

Video link for Pennsylvania Ballet’s “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker”—https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6j4HATkhrSY.

Performances are scheduled for December 29 at 2 p.m., December 30 at noon and 5 p.m. and December 31 at noon. Ticket prices range from $35 -$150.

The Delaware Theatre Company (200 Water Street Wilmington, Delaware, 302-594-1104, delawaretheatre.org) is presenting its production of “A Christmas Carol” again this season. The popular holiday show is scheduled to run now through December 30.

The Walnut Street Theatre Company (825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-574-3550, http://walnutstreettheatre.org/) has a timeless classic from a different genre to go along with all the other holiday-themed shows in the area. The theater is presenting the family favorite “The Wizard of Oz” now through January 8.

Now through December 31, the Merriam Theater (250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org) will host the “Farewell Tour” of the smash-hit musical “Mamma Mia!” The lively show is based on the songs of ABBA — songs composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The title of the musical is taken from the group’s 1975 mega-hit “Mamma Mia!”

The musical includes such hits as “Super Trouper,” “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Thank You for the Music,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Winner Takes It All,” “Voulez-Vous,” “SOS” and, of course, “Mamma Mia!”

The musical’s plot is based on a film that predated it. And, the popularity of the stage show “Mamma Mia!” , which had its debut in 1999, has been bolstered by the theater and DVD success of the movie “Mamma Mia!”, which was released in 2008. The feature film adaptation is the most successful movie musical of all time having already grossed over $600 million worldwide.

Video link for “Mamma Mia!” — https://youtu.be/bCuDZi0aR6Q?t=5.

Performances are scheduled for December 29 and 30 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and December 31 at 2 p.m.

Jazz great Orrin Evans will be performing shows on December 29 and 30 at Chris’ Jazz Cafe (1421 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, www.chrisjazzcafe.com, 215-568-3131).

Evans, who grew up in Philadelphia and now resides in the city’s Mount Airy neighborhood, will be performing the songs from his brand-new album “#knowingishalfthebattle” live for the first time in Philly. Evans used two internationally-acclaimed guitarists from Philadelphia on the album – Kevin Eubanks and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

The album’s title was taken from the closing moments of every “G.I. Joe” cartoon – the familiar refrain, “And now you know… and knowing is half the battle!”

On “#knowingishalfthebattle,” his third release for Smoke Sessions Records, Evans shares his own lessons in life and music on a raw, electrifying session that also featured bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis and vocalist M’Balia.

The line-up for the six shows in Philadelphia features Eubanks on guitar, Curtis on bass, Whitfield, Jr. on drums and Evans on piano. Eubanks gained fame for his 15-year stint as the bandleader for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but is also well respected for his work with a long list of jazz greats.

Once Evans embarked on his music career, he never looked back. He released his debut album “The Trio” in 1995. “#knowingishalfthebattle” was his second album release in 2016 and his 22nd album over the last 21 years.

Video link for Orrin Evans – https://youtu.be/sUaEj-HQxlI?t=9.

There will be shows each night at 8 and 10 p.m. Admission is $35 per show — all nights.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) presents Blues Reincarnation Project on December 30.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host House Plant and Qwirk on December 30 and Ben Arnold & Friends on December 31.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will have Silver Dress Pants, Kristina D’Amico and Alex LeVlanc on December 30 and Slave Dog, Pharohs and the Lizard People on December 31.

Valley Forge Casino (1160 First Avenue, King Of Prussia, 610-354-8118, www.vfcasino.com) will present Sublime with Rome on December 31.

The Tower Theater (69th and Ludlow streets, Upper Darby, 215-922-1011, www.thetowerphilly.com) will feature Cedric the Entertainer on December 31.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Chrisette Michelle and Raheem Devaughn on December 29, and The Wall on December 31.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have Lotus Land on December 29, Live Wire on December 30, Rubix Cube on December 31, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Slicked Up 9s on January 3.

World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400, www.queen.worldcafelive.com) will have Montana Wildaxe on December 29, and Urban Shaman Attack feat. Ron Sutton Jr + The Late Saints on December 31.

Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684,

www.johnnybrendas.com) has a schedule that includes Grubby Little Hands, Tutlie, and Raindeer on December 30, and New Year’s Eve with David Wax Museum, Kevin Manning, and Auld Lang Syne on December 31.

Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com) is hosting The Sun & The Moon Band and Rush 2.0 on December 29, Oh, Are They?, Belgrade, and Honeytiger on December 30 and  TJ Kong And The Atomic Bomb, Mercury Radio Theater, and Levee Drivers on December 31.

Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) will host Making Time New Year’s Eve 2017 on December 31.

Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) will present Gramatik on December 30, and Kurt Vile on December 31.

Electric Factory (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215-627-1332, www.electricfactory.info) has Lotus and theNEWDEAL on December 29, Dark Star Orchestra and Keller Williams on December 30 and Dark Star Orchestra on December 31.

Kung Fu Necktie (1248 North Front Street, Philadelphia, 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com) hosts

Pink Slip DaddyGibbous Moon, and She Hates Me on December 29, Green Jelly, Triple Goddess, and Riverside Odds on December 30, Dysentery, Iron Price, Ether, The Virgin Birth, Eaten Alive, and Knives on December 31 and Residuels, The Nude Party, and The Robotrippers on January 4.

Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, http://undergroundarts.org) presents Diarrhea Planet and Straw Hat on December 29, Guided By Voices and The Moles on December 30, and West Philadelphia Orchestra + Johnny Showcase, Minka, and Muscle Tough on December 31.

Fire (412 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, 267-671-9298, thefirephilly.com) will have The Last Brontosaurus, Gab Abramson and Carmen Costa on December 30.

Punch Line Philly (33 East Laurel Street, Philadelphia, 215-606-6555, http://www.punchlinephilly.com) will host Comedy Countdown with Jimmy Shubert & Friends from December 29-31.

Bourbon and Branch (705 North Second Street, Philadelphia, 215-238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com) hosts Impressionist, Slophouse, Tranche, and Edenspore on December 29, and Chalk & the Beige Americans, Shy Boyz, and Dirty Soap Blues Band on December 30.

Coda (1712 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 267- 639-4630, http://www.codaphilly.com/) will present New Year’s Eve 2017 on December 31.

The Voltage Lounge (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215- 964-9602, www.Voltagelounge.com) hosts Huey Mack, Cal Mobley, Fis Geez The Rapper, A.V.A, and Squid Mchale on December 29, and Marvel Years on December 30.

MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com) presents HR of Bad Brains, Dubb Agents, Kingsound and on December 30, GhettoSongBird on December 30 (late show), and Scot Sax Soul Revue and Suzie Brown on January 4.

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-0 648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) is presenting its 2016 Christmas show “Winter Wonderland” now through December 30, “Bonded: A Tribute to James Bond” on December 31, and “Dancing with the Stars: Live! – We Came to Dance” on January 4 and 5.

Tellus 360 (24 East King Street, Lancaster, 717-393-1660, www.tellus360.com) has Dabby Paddy Allstars with Higher Education on December 30 and “Acappellus360!” on January 1.

Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684, http://www.chameleonclub.net) presents The Skiffs, Humandala and Up and Up on December 23, Laura Luce featuring Ton Taun, The Vivien Leigh Documentary, and Dan Zdilla on December 27,

Galactic Empire, The Stonewall Vessels, and Blind/Bird on December 28, The Holiday Jam on December 29, and Reservoir, Magnolia, Meg and The Right Sound, Avery, and Guilt Trip on December 30

SteelStacks (101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, 610-332-1300, http://www.steelstacks.org) will have The Philadelphia Funk Authority on December 29 and The Red Elvises’ New Year’s Eve Spectacular on December 31.

The Sands Bethlehem Event Center (77 Sands Boulevard, Bethlehem, 610-297-7400, http://sandseventcenter.com) will present Clutch on December 29 and Jerry Blavat on December 31.

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