On Stage: Juice lands the gig

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


O.K., if you hear “Juice” in news about the entertainment world, it’s time for you to think of something other than O.J. Simpson and his bizarre story – especially of the news is about a talented band from New England.

Juice, a septet from Boston featuring Ben Stevens [lead vocals], Michael Ricciardulli [guitar], Rami El-Abidin [bass], Christian Rose [violin, vocals], Kamau Burton [acoustic guitar, vocals], Daniel Moss [guitar], and Miles Clyatt [drums], formed when they were students at Boston College in 2013.

On February 15, the powerful seven-piece band will perform at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com) – hopefully not wearing any New England Patriots’ gear.

“I was a freshman in 2013-2014,” said Rose, during a phone interview last week from Boston. “We all were different majors at B.C. A few of us were music majors. I even did a half-year at Berklee School of Music here in Boston.

Ricciardulli said, “Me and Christian were on the same floor in our dorm. Christian saw me with my guitar and said – we have to jam. We were also in the same seminar.

“Christian also knew some of the guys who were living on the other campus. We were on the Chestnut Hill campus and all the other guys were on the Newton campus. Michael and I did a lot of commuting.”

Juice experienced a life-changing event in the Midwest in the summer of 2016.

“The thing that galvanized the band was when we went to compete in the 2016 Land The Big Gig Competition at Summerfest in Milwaukee,” said Rose.

Juice, which was playing a festival for the first time, impressed the judges at the Fifth Annual Land the Big Gig competition – impressed them enough that they sent Juice back to Boston with the $20,000 grand prize.

“The crowd in Milwaukee was the biggest we ever played to,” said Ricciardulli. “One of the judges was Johnny K (Johnny Karkazis), who is now our producer. There is a lot of validation there.”

Graduating from college a year later, the musicians returned to the annual festival and opened for pop juggernaut DNCE. They also made an important return to the city made famous by its beer.

“We did a recording session in Milwaukee last summer with Johnny K,” said Rose. “We cut four songs with him at a studio called The Recording Exchange. Then, we worked on another four songs at the House of Blues Studio in Nashville. That session was with Johnny K too.

“Now, we have this whole spectrum of stuff that we want to turn into an EP. There still is a lot of tweaking to do. The tentative EP release date is sometime in March.”

It’s hard to find a genre in which to place Juice’s music.

According to Ricciardulli, “There are so many colors when we play. The chemistry is there in the studio and on stage. We have seven members all of whom have different musical backgrounds – Amy Winehouse, rock, R&B, Kanye West, hip hop, funk and a little jam. And, it’s cohesive.

“When we play to a crowd, it’s all organic. The reactions… the faces… the experience, what you see is what you’re getting, people know that, they can tell. We’ve learned to listen to each other and to what the music has to say.

“At the same time, we channel our youth, there’s no bottling that up. We’re always searching for something tangible our listeners can thoroughly feel at the core of the music. We’re trying to create an atmosphere much bigger than the seven of us on stage.”

Video link for Juice — https://youtu.be/Z96HxBComzQ

The show at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com), which also features Joe Hertler and The Rainbow Seekers, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming shows at Boot & Saddle are Foxtrot & The Get Down, Chris Paterno Band, and American Dinosaur on February 16; Olden Yolk, Robert Earl Thomas, and Friendship on February 17; and Snakeboy, Tiger Castle, and This Kills Me on February 21.

Joy Ike

Joy Ike moved to the Delaware Valley four years and quickly began building a solid fan base for her music.

Her fans have anxiously been awaiting a new album from Ike, a singer-songwriter who accompanies herself on piano and ukulele. Her last album “All or Nothing” was released in January 2013. Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com)

The fans will have an opportunity to hear some of Ike’s new tunes performed live on Feruary 15 when she co-headlines a show with TPiH at Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com).

Born to Nigerian immigrants, Ike’s music, voice, and writing have drawn comparisons to female musicians such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, and Fiona Apple. But her percussive piano-playing and soaring vocals give homage to her African upbringing. And, she draws life experiences from her days growing up in Pittsburgh.

Joy Ike had known for a long time that she wanted to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. It just took her a while to make the move in that direction.

“Music was always a part of my family when I was growing up,” said Ike, during a phone interview from her home in Philadelphia. “In college, I realized I wanted to be a songwriter and that writing on piano was the way I wanted to go.

“I was a communications major at the University of Pittsburgh. I thought I wanted to be a news anchor and even did an internship at (Pittsburgh television station) KDKA. After college, I worked three years as a publicist from 9-5 and then came home and wrote music.

“I built my own catalog of songs. When I started playing live shows, I was getting good feedback.”

Ike’s younger sister Peace, who frequently plays percussion for her sister in live shows, was the first in the family to make the move from Pittsburgh to Philly.

“She moved here six years before I did,” said Ike. “I moved in the fall of 2014. But, I had already played Burlap & Beam several times before I moved here.”

Leaving her career as a publicist in 2008, Ike has since played thousands of shows across the Northeast, Midwest, and South. Ike’s path has consistently taken an “anywhere for anyone” approach playing for intimate audiences in coffeehouse, universities, house concerts, churches, and small theater settings.

“When I first came here, I did a lot of house concerts. “I also did a lot of shows at MilkBoy when it was in Ardmore and then when it became Melodies and a lot at Burlap & Bean. I love Tara, the owner of Burlap & Bean, and it’s such a beautiful room to perform in.”

Ike has found a home in Philly – musically with her fand and physically in Germantown.

“I really love it here in Germantown,” said Ike. “And, Peace lives just a couple blocks from me.

“When I started in music, I listened to a lot of singer-songwriters I admired. I appreciated lyrics – how artists wove theuir words to get ideas across. They write songs that people can connect with.

“At first, I was listening to artists such as Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan and Tracy Chapman. My current influences are a lot of world-pop – especially Laura Mvula and Yael Maim.”

With regard to the new album, the fans still have a wait – but a light in the tunnel is beginning to appear down the tracks.

“The album won’t be out for another few months,” said Ike. “But, it is absolutely done. I finished it in January. Right now, I’m working on the publicity, preparing for release and setting up tour dates.”

So, then wait is not over. But, as they say in Jamaica – “Soon come.”

Video link for Joy Ike – https://youtu.be/R-cpWKqmVCU

The show at Burlap & Bean, which also features TPiH, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $

Other upcoming shows at Burlap & Bean are Jason McGovern and Chris Rattie & the New Rebels on February 16 and Craig & Aislinn Bickhardt and Jesse Terry on February 17.

Another talented musician from Philadelphia is giving his fans no cause for impatient feelings.

The Greg Sover Band

Greg Sover, a top-flight blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, performs regularly around the area. On February 16, he is treating his fans to the release of a new EP – “Jubilee.”

This Friday, WXPN welcomes the Greg Sover Band and The Peace Creeps for Sover’s “Jubilee Release Party!” at the World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, www.worldcafelive.com, 215-222-1400).

“I’m pretty excited because the release of the EP is this Friday already,” said Sover, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his Philadelphia home. “We recorded it two months ago.”

The Greg Sover band includes Greg Sover (Guitar, Vocals), Garry Lee (Bass, Vocals), Tom Walling (Drums) and Allen James (Guitar).

“We recorded the album at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Mount Airy with Pete Tramo as the producer and Mike Tarsia doing the mixing and mastering. We did everything analog style with real amps and everything miked up.

“We were in the studio on-and-off for about three months. We finished it pretty fast. We did five songs for the EP and a radio edit of one of the songs.

“This time around, we had a stronger game plan. We went full-throttle. I definitely see the progress the band has made. I definitely hear the growth.

For Sover, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year. In January, the GSB competed at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and made it all the way to the end stage.

“We went to Memphis for a week,” said Sover. “It was a good experience. And, we got second place. We’ve also been getting airplay for ‘Jubilee’ in Europe. One of the songs – ‘Emotional’ – is already taking off in Europe.”

At Friday’s show, the GSB Band will be joined by special guests — keyboardist Wally Smith, VizzTone recording artist/harmonica player Mikey Junior and cellist Yoni Draiblate. Smith performed on “Songs of a Renegade” and “Jubilee” and has performed live with the GSB at select performances since 2016. Junior, host of The Twisted Tail’s weekly blues jam, has performed with the Greg Sover Band Both Junior and Draiblate played on “Jubilee.”

Sover became fascinated with the guitar at age 13. His father taught him the French song “La Maladie d’Amour” and Sover took it from there. He taught himself how to play guitar, how to write songs and, eventually, how to sing.

“I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and my family moved to Philadelphia when I was 10,” said Sover. “I was exposed to music when I was really young.  I had musicians on both sides of my family. My whole life I’ve had access to the guitar.

“With guitar, I started really knowing what I was doing when I was around 15. At the same time, I was playing electric bass at my church.”

Sover says his music doesn’t fit into one particular genre. It includes elements of “blues and rock with a dash of everything else.”

The Philly musician first attracted serious attention when he won the 2015 Hard Rock Rising competition at Philadelphia’s Hard Rock Cafe.

Sover’s favorite guitarist is a player who tops many musicians’ “favorite guitarist” list — Jimi Hendrix.

“Jimi Hendrix is one of my major influences,” said Sover. “I’m really influenced by a lot of the music from that era. The music of the 60s spoke about things. It was very political.”

Like Hendrix, Sover knows that recordings are important but not quite as important as getting the music across to people in a live performance. Sovere is ready to get his next wave of new music across this weekend.

“We did test runs live on some of the songs before we recorded them,” said Sover. “This is a bunch of songs people want. I’ll be playing all of them in the show. This is their real debut.”

Video link for Greg Sover Band – https://youtu.be/m0kh-mWQL8k.

The show at the World Café Live, which also features the Peace Creeps, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming shows at the World Café Live are the Seamus Egan Project and the DuPont Brothers on February 15, The Stooges Brass Band on February 16, Ceramic Animal on February 17, Flor on February 18, Gin Blossoms on February 20, Marty Willson-Piper and Edward Rogers on February 20 and Phoebe Bridgers on February 21.

On February 16, there will be a show in the area featuring a band that has been performing live just about as long as Sover has been breathing.

Less Than Jake

On Friday evening, ska/punk/indie rock veterans Less Than Jake will headline a show at The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331,www.thequeenwilmington.com).

Less Than Jake is a band from Gainesville, Florida, formed in 1992. The band features Chris DeMakes (vocals, guitar), Roger Lima (vocals, bass), Vinnie Fiorello (drums, lyrics), Buddy Schaub (trombone) and Peter “JR” Wasilewski (saxophone).

DeMakes, Lima and Fiorello are founding members. Schaub joined the band in 1993 and then Less Than Jake welcomed aboard Wasilewski in 2001.

Less Than Jake also is an act that knows how important performing live is with regard to a band’s popularity – and longevity.

The ultra-popular band, which shares its hometown with the University of Florida, is known for being obsessed with interacting with its fans — both online and after shows LTJ is a band that is so concerned with making sure the fan gets the perfect experience it features well-known hijinks in every live performance.

It is a band with seemingly unlimited creativity in the form of physical products — from custom-made cereal boxes to unique vinyl packaging. In it earlier days, the group even had its own set of baseball card-sized trading cards.

Less Than Jake also has recordings – nine studio albums, six live albums, several compilation discs and a large smattering of diverse EPs.

Now, Less Than Jake has a new EP for its fans – “Sound the Alarm.”

“We made ‘Sound the Alarm’ last February,’ said DeMakes, during a recent phone in interview from his home in Gainesville. “We spend so much time on the road that it’s hard to get time to go in the studio.

“We ended our last tour in November and took a couple months off the road. Last week, we came back for a rock cruise. Now, we’ll be out all of February and most of April. We’re pretty much booked all the way through to September.

“We keep picking up new fans as we go along. Our main age group is 28-40 and now parents are bringing their kids to our shows.”

Last year marked the band’s 25th anniversary but the group didn’t play up the landmark anniversary.

“We did a big thing on our 20th anniversary,” said DeMakes. “We rally didn’t do much for our 25th. We could have capitalized more. But, we’re definitely going to do some celebration for out 30th.

“The fact that we’ve been playing together for 26 years is pretty amazing. Actually, touring has gotten easier. When you’re young, you’re running 150 m.p.h. every night. Now, in our mid-30s, it’s a lot easier. When we tour, we have diner with friends and visit our favorite record shops – the few that are still remaining.

“It’s kind of funny that when our friends come out, they want to raise hell like the old times. We have to remind then that it’s their one night out and we’re out every night.”

Less Than Jake is a band loaded with experience – from playing small dive bars to large arenas on the performance side and from recording with major labels (Capitol Records, Warner Bros./Sire Records) to self-releasing their records.

“We started with Capitol and then went to an indie label (Fat Wreck Chords),” said DeMakes. “Then, we went back to a major – Warner Bros. We left Warner Bros. in 2008 and we’ve just been doing our own thing ever since. Leaving the majors was never the end of our career.

“We haven’t done any recording lately but we’re still writing songs – always writing songs. But, it’s hard to write when we’re on the road so much.

“In our live shows, we go all the way back to the beginning. We still pay stuff from ‘Pezcore’ (the band’s debut album from August 1995). We never had these huge albums that were all over radio and TV. Bands like that don’t play older catalog stuff – but we do.”

Video link for Less Than Jake — https://youtu.be/y8yvtX9GzHA.

The show at The Queen, which also features Four Year Strong, Direct Hit and Bearings, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.50.

The other show this weekend at the Queen will be Tyler Farr on February 17.

Another band performing in the area this weekend makes Less Than Jake appear young in comparison.

Hot Rize

Hot Rize, which is headlining a Point Entertainment presentation at the Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com) on February 15, has been performing live shows for more than 40 years.

Hot Rize started performing in January 1978. Often called “America’s Bluegrass Band,” Hot Rize has always balanced innovation with tradition to create their own style of bluegrass

The founding members were Mike Scap (guitar), Tim O’Brien on mandolin and fiddle, Pete Wernick on banjo and Charles Sawtelle on bass. Mike Scap was almost immediately replaced by Nick Forster (electric bass), allowing Charles Sawtelle to switch to acoustic guitar. That established the four-man line-up that lasted over 20 years — O’Brien, Forster, Sawtelle and Wernick.

In 2002, Bryan Sutton replaced Sawtelle. Sutton is primarily known as a flatpicked acoustic guitar player. He also plays mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and electric guitar. He also sings and writes songs.

It didn’t take long after Hot Rize first appeared onstage together in 1978 for the bluegrass music world to realize that the Colorado band was something special. Steeped in bluegrass tradition through long hours on the road spent listening to the genre’s giants, the band’s music was equally influenced by the music of Leadbelly and Freddie King, swing, old-time Appalachia and more in ways that mirror the broad sweep of Bill Monroe’s influences. Now, Hot Rize is celebrating its 40th year as one of Colorado’s most revered bands.

“When I started the band, I was 31 and couldn’t even imagine being 40,” said Wernick, during a phone interview last week. “I couldn’t imagine the 21st century – or being 72. Thinking that Hot Rize would still be around 40 years later was unimaginable.

“The way it worked, we just wanted to put a band together and play some gigs. Tim and I were the nucleus of the band. We had been in other bands. He had a record coming out and I had a record coming out. We both played on both albums. It was natural to do some performing together – and it stuck.

“After three months, we got a nine-year-old Sedan DeVille for $1,300. It got us around the country in style and comfort. We had a name. We had a logo. And, most importantly, we had gigs. In my previous bands, I always had the function of getting gigs. So, with Hot Rize, I saw to it that we got work every week. Colorado was the start and soon we had early road trips.”

The band issued six studio albums before disbanding in 1990. That year, the group received the first Entertainer of the Year Award issued by the International Bluegrass Music Association. The following year, the album “Take It Home” received a Grammy nomination, and a song from the album, “Colleen Malone,” won Song of the Year from the IBMA.

From 1991–98 the band played several reunion shows each year. Following the death of Sawtelle in 1999, Hot Rize regrouped in 2002 and added Sutton on guitar.

“When I’m Free” (Ten in Hand Records), which was released in 2014, was Hot Rize’s first studio album with Bryan Sutton – and the impetus for the band’s first major tour in more than 20 years.

“Not many bands have 40th anniversaries – especially with stable line-ups,” said Wernick. “Two of our original members are deceased – but they weren’t in the band that long. Tim, Nick and I sing the three-part harmonies. Voices blended into each other have that certain distinctive sound nad that’s the sound we’ve always had.”

Video link for Hot Rize — https://youtu.be/43uY3lnnTpw.

The show at the Colonial Theatre, which has Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers and How to Trick a Bear as opening acts, will start at

Tickets range from $27.50-$42.50.

Echo Test

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have Dead Flowers – A Tribute to The Rolling Stones on February 16, EchoTest featuring Julie Slick, Elastic Blur, and The Red Masque on February 17 and Open Mic with guest host Jimmy McFadden on February 18.

Deb Callahan

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Deb Callahan with Norman Taylor on February 17.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host NXT2NORMAL and James Daniels on February 16 and Sembley, The Odyssey and Paper Lanterns on February 17.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Melanie Fiona on February 15; Sensamotion, Big Mind, and Jah People on February 16; Box of Rain (’68-’74 Grateful Dead tribute) and Dirty Grass Players – Pickin’ on the Allman Brothers on February 17; Funky Brunch with the Whiskeyhickon Boys and Hambone Relay on February 18 (10:30 a.m.); and Dead & Company Live Stream on February 18.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two Woman Show on February 16, and Tape Face on February 17.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have Phil Vassar on February 16, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap and Transistor Trio on February 17,

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will have “Summer of Love” on February 16, and Southside Johnny on February 17, The Association and Moonroof on February 18, Lee Dewyze and Frank Viele on February 19, and Y&T on February 20.

The Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia’s presentation of the National Tour of the hit musical “Waitress” is running now through February 18 at the Forrest Theatre (1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org). Ticket prices range from $62-$132.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” – the current production at the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) – is running now through February 25. 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.) with an added evening show on February 22. Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $63 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

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