On Stage: Hal Ketchum comes to West Chester

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Hal Ketchum

Hal Ketchum has played his songs for fans all over the world. Now, Ketchum is bringing his music to West Chester.

On October 26, Ketchum will headline a show at the Bravo Main Stage Theater at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, 610-356-2787, www.uptownwestchester.org).

Ketchum is a country music artist who has released 11 studio albums, including “Past the Point of Rescue,” which was certified gold by the RIAA. He has also had a number of chart-topoping singles including “Small Town Saturday Night,” “Past the Point of Rescue” and “Hearts Are Gonna Roll.”

Ketchum, who is now 64, has been performing on stage since he was 15. But his career got sidetracked a few years ago.

Ketchum has been battling multiple sclerosis and acute transverse myelitis for years.

“I’m all right now – I’m O.K.,” said Ketchum, during a phone interview Tuesday morning as he and his wife shopped in a local supermarket in his hometown of Wimberley, Texas.

“I had some really serious bouts of paralysis, blindness and the fear that goes with it. I’ve been drinking noni juice. It’s a Tahitian flower juice that works really well for nerve regeneration.

“I feel good – I really do. But, I did go through some really tough times. I was paralyzed from the neck down – and I was blind.

“I called my old friend Guy Clark and told him something was wrong. He said – hell, I get that all the time – just cowboy up. So, I just kept going.

“My mom, who is a breast cancer survivor, had this poem –

“If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a-goin’!
‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine
When the fish ain’t on your line;
Bait your hook an’ keep a-tryin’–
Keep a-goin’!”

After a while in a dark place emotionally, Ketchum fought his way back. Living in a cabin in Wimberley with his wife, he turned to music.

“Music was a big part of my recovery,” said Ketchum. “It’s what keeps us going. I just love playing live shows. I’m looking forward to playing in West Chester.

“I’ve got a wonderful friend of mine Kenny Grimes playing with me. It’s just they two of us. He’s the greatest guitar player who ever lived.”

Video link for Hal Ketchum – https://youtu.be/ZcOCfLI8iqE.

The show at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, which has Travis Linville as the opening act, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30.

Other upcoming Uptown! shows are Nickerson-Rossi Dance on October 27 and 28, a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on October 30 and the Star Wars-themed metal band Galactic Empires on October 31.

The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds, who are playing the Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com) on October 26, have been around in a variety of incarnations for more than 50 years.

The band formed in London in 1963. Original lead guitarist Top Topham left and was replaced by Eric Clapton — and then Jeff Beck replaced Clapton two years later. It was this line-up that recorded the group’s signature hits “Heart Full of Soul”, “I’m a Man” and “Shapes of Things.”

In 1966, bassist Paul Samwell-Smith left the group. Jimmy Page joined and the band used a double-lead guitar format for a brief while. Then, Beck left and Page remained – but only for a short while before leaving to form Led Zeppelin.

In 1976, vocalist Keith Relf died in an accident leaving the band with just a pair of original members – drummer Jim McCarty and rhythm guitarist/bassist Chris Dreja. The group seemed to quietly fade into history.

Then, in 2003, the Yardbirds regrouped and recorded their latest album “Birdland.”  The band’s lineup included McCarty and Dreja along with other young British musicians.

Dreja sat out the US spring 2012 tour to recover from an illness. It was announced in 2013 that he was leaving the band for medical reasons and would be replaced by original Yardbirds guitarist Topham. Then, Topham left. On August 12, 2015, it was announced that Boston guitarist Johnny A. would become the newest member of The Yardbirds.

Helmed by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee McCarty, the band now features guitarist Johnny A (Peter Wolf, Bobby Whitlock), bassist Kenny Aaronson (Bob Dylan, Billy Idol), singer/blues harpist/percussionist Myke Scavone (Ram Jam & Doughboys), and guitarist/singer John Idan.

The Yardbirds’ most recent albums are “Birdland,” which was released back in 2003, and “Making Tracks,” which came out in 2013.

“We’re talking about recording a new Yardbirds album — classic bluesy-type thing,” said McCarty, during a phone interview from Toronto. “But, it’s still early with this lineup.

“It’s a new lineup. Apart from me, it’s a totally American band — all young guys. This is a good group. There are no egos and they’re all good guys. They know the music and it’s quite authentic.

“We started two years ago. We were going to start earlier but we had to cancel a tour because I had an operation in France. The operation was a success and I’m fine now. We had a great tour in the U.S. back in November.”

For a band that really wasn’t around that long (just over five years in its original incarnation) and never really had a string of monster hits, the Yardbirds left an indelible imprint on rock music.

Taking their name from Jack Kerouac’s writing (“yardbirds” were hobos that hung around railroad yards and hopped trains), the Yardbirds evolved from the Metropolitan Blues Quartet, a seminal British band put together by guitarist Paul Samwell-Smith and vocalist Keith Relf.

They added Chris Dreja (guitar), Jim McCarty (drums) and a 16-year old guitarist Tony “Top” Topham to complete the original Yardbirds’ lineup.

Topham was pressured by his parents to return to school and a then unknown British blues guitarist named Eric Clapton replaced him.

Clapton was the first of three “Guitar Gods” to handle lead guitar duties for the Yardbirds. His tenure lasted for one very blues-oriented studio album and a live album of the band backing blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson.

The Yardbirds’ final guitarist was Jimmy Page, who was with the group for one album. Page then formed the New Yardbirds — a band that was the embryo of Led Zeppelin.

Most of the Yardbird’s groundbreaking music came during the three-year period when guitar master Jeff Beck was the group’s lead guitarist.

Beck’s innovative and emotive style of playing stretched the boundaries of traditional rock and opened the door for new improvisational and experimental aspects of rock and roll.

“The original band was together for five years,” said Dreja, during a previous phone interview. “But, it felt like 20 years with all the miles traveled and music played. It started to fade around 1968.

“After we did the last tour with the ‘Little Games’ albums – which was a good tour — Jimmy and Keith wanted to come off the road. Then, Keith and Jim left to form Renaissance and Page went to Led Zeppelin.

“Paul had left awhile before. I had already started my career as a professional photographer. So, I went to New York and learned the craft of studio photography.”

Dreja and McCarty brought the Yardbirds back to life in 2003. Now, with Dreja sidelined, it is up to McCarty to carry the banner.

“We’ll be playing some songs from ‘Birdland’ and, of course, all of our old hits like ‘Shapes of Things’ and ‘Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.’ The Yardbirds have such a strong repertoire and we have a very energetic band.”

Video link for the Yardbirds — https://youtu.be/FeFG5HLFtsc

The show at the Colonial Theatre, which has Gooch and the Motion as opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Four levels of tickets are available — Gold Circle: $44.50; Orchestra: $39.50; Front Balcony: $34.50 and Rear Balcony: $28.50.


Fans of Dopapod better take advantage of the opportunity to see the band play live by attending the group’s show on October 26 at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com).

The show at TLA will be Dopapod’s final area show for a long time – well, for at least a year.

On October 27, Dopapod — Eli Winderman, keyboards; Rob Compa, guitar; Chuck Jones, bass; Neal “Fro” Evans, drums — will release its fifth studio album, “MEGAGEM” on vinyl, CD and digital formats. The album release will coincide with a cross-country tour.

Then, the band members will take a year off to focus on themselves. Following seven years of non-stop touring, the hiatus is a blueprint for wellness borne from love and mutual respect amongst old friends.

“We’re going to take next year to focus on other aspects of our lives,” said Winderman, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his parents’ house in Yardley, Pennsylvania.

The move was inspired by self-preservation inspired by the TED Talk, “The Power of Time Off.”

According to Winderman, “Every seven years this guy closes his design firm and everyone who works for the company works on their own projects for the year. When they come back, everyone is inspired and working with a newfound sense of excitement.”

Dopapod was formed in Boston when the band members were students at Berklee College of Music.

“We were done school in 2009 and we started touring heavily in 2010,” said Winderman. “That’s when it became a full-time operation. Our first home base was Brooklyn.

“When we first started, we were playing shows in New England and around the Northeast. That was our original fanbase. Then, we started playing up and down the East Coast. Eventually, we spread to the whole country.

“After a couple years in Brooklyn, we all moved out. I live in Philly, one of the guys lives in New Jersey and the rest are in Colorado.”

Colorado was the place where Dopapod recorded “MEGAGEM.”

“We put up a post on social media for a space for us to record,” said Winderman. “We have our own recording gear so all we needed was a space. We have a digital console but the keyboards are all old-school analog.”

The band found just what it was looking for — solar-powered Mountain Star Studios in Black Hawk, Colorado.

“We went there in January – in the dead of winter,” said Winderman. “It was very high where we were in Colorado. The altitude was definitely a factor.

“A lot of the songs we recorded there were in live rotation already. That’s how we developed each song.”

People frequently classify Dopapod as a jam band but the group is more than that. It is a band that features elements of rock, jazz and funk.

“A lot of bands are hesitant to call themselves jam bands,” said Winderman. “You could call us a jam band. But, but we’re not a noodling jam band. It’s more electronic and funk.

“Now, it’s just funk rock with some electronics. We’re inspired by Phish and the Grateful Dead because our set list changes every night and features a lot of improvisation. But, we definitely take a lot of pride in our songwriting.”

Video link for Dopapod — https://youtu.be/Ib9zFkxkgdA.

The show at the TLA, which has Motet as the opener, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30.

Brian Dunne

On October 26, Burlap and Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present a twin bill featuring Brian Dunne and Natalia Zuckerman.

Dunne, a NewYork City-based Americana singer-songwriter is touring in support of his new album “Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements.”

Dunne’s first single from the album, “Don’t Give Up On Me,” premiered in February on SiriusXM’s Coffee House, and the second single, “You Got Me Good,” was released in April.  Dunne’s recent appearance on NPR’s Mountain Stage aired in May.

“The new album came out in May but I actually started writing the songs three years ago,” said Dunne, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Brooklyn.

“I wrote several hundred songs and whittled it down to 10. I’ve always adhered to the school of ‘write a lot, get rid of the bad stuff and keep the good stuff.’ And, I have a lot to say.

“The songs I don’t use all go in the scrap pile for parts after I discarded them. Then, things kind of jump up. They never really go away. At times, it’s hard to let go of a song. If it’s good, it’ll stay.

“When choosing the final 10, there were a couple things that go on through with a thread – like the distance between dreams and reality. There are also threads of personal problems, love and youth.”

Another thing factored into the making of “Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements.”

According to Dunne, “I made this record to play live. I wrote these songs while traveling around the country and nothing is better than bringing the music back to its natural habitat.

“I self-produced and self-released the album and it’s now picking up traction. It’s the first thing I’ve done that has started to catch. It’s exciting to play new music and have fans respond to it.”

Dunne found inspiration and song topics everywhere, including a conversation with his friend Liz Longley, a Nashville resident and Berklee grad who grew up and attended high school in Downingtown. Longley sings on the album track “We Don’t Talk About It.”

Like the guys in Dopapod, Dunne also went to Berklee and then moved to Brooklyn.

“I lived in Berklee for four years when I was in school,” said Dunne. “I moved to Brooklyn in the summer of 2011 and kicked around a little bit.”
In 2012, Dunne released “The Brooklyn Bridge” EP and followed with his album “Songs From The Hive” in 2015.

“I’ve released a couple EPs and ‘Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements’ is my second full album,” said Dunne. “Even though it’s my second, it feels like my first. I’m incredibly proud of it.”

Video link for Brian Dunne – https://youtu.be/8la5X21x-CA.

The show at Burlap and Bean Coffeehouse, which also features Natalia Zuckerman, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at Burlap and Bean are Alex DiMattia with Kala Farnham on October 27, and Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt with Aislinn Bickhardt on October 28.

Muriel Anderson

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will host Travis Larson Band, Elastic Blur, and Horizens on October 26; Muriel Anderson & The Wonderlust Audio Visual Show and Mark Unruh on October 28; Abbie Gardner (of Red Molly) and Hurricane Hoss on October 29; Peelander-Z, James Christopher, and Chloe Likes Olivia on October 30; and Lowdown Brass Band and Gruv on November 1.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will present Hambone Relay and The Groove Merchants on October 27 and “Halloween Bites” on October 28.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Phillybloco on October 27; Anders Osborne and Jackie Greene on October 28; “Philly Loves Petty” with Low Cut Connie, Ben Arnold, Mo Lowda & The Humble w/ Joe Reinhart (Hop Along), Smash Palace, Travel Lanes, Hinton/Bower/& Jones Trio, The Big Jangle, No Good Sister, Cow Muddy, Shannon McGill, Nik Greeley, Ross Bellenoit, and Rekardo Lee on October 29; and Oteil Burbridge & Friends on October 31.

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