On Stage: Experience shows for two acts playing locally

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times


If something lasts for 50 years, it must have something going for it.

If a music act lasts for 50 years, it definitely has something going for it – something that translates into guaranteed staying power.

Two acts that have lasted a half-century are the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which was formed in 1966, and Renaissance, which will celebrate its golden anniversary in two months.

This weekend, two area venues will host concerts by these “golden oldies” – almost.

On November 17, Renaissance will headline a show at the Scottish Rites Auditorium. On November 18, John McEuen, who played with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for more than 50 years, will headline a solo show at the New Hope Winery.

The legendary British progressive rock band Renaissance featuring Annie Haslam will be back in the U.S. Northeast playing select dates in November 2018 on its “Day of the Dreamer Tour.”

The show on November 17 at the Scottish Rites Auditorium (315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood, N.J., http://scottishriteauditorium.com) will be a special one. It is the only show on the tour to feature the Renaissance Chamber Orchestra.

Based on the great success in 2017 with the addition of a “10-piece Chamber Orchestra” on four of its shows, the band has been invited to once again bring this special line-up to the Scottish Rite Auditorium.

It’s always a special occasion when Annie Haslam performs in the area.

Haslam, who was born in Bolton, Lancashire, first gained world-wide recognition when she was asked to become the lead singer of Renaissance, a band formed by Keith Relf after he left the Yardbirds.

While still a member of Renaissance, Haslam recorded her first solo album “Annie in Wonderland” — a highly-acclaimed disc that was a collaboration with (and produced by) Roy Wood, a founding member of both The Move and ELO.

Renaissance’s latest album is “Symphony of Light,” which was released in a slightly different form in 2016 and titled “Grandine il Vento.”

The band’s latest project is something different. In October and November 2017, the band debuted its “Symphonic Journey” tour.

“We did four shows last fall with the 10-piece orchestra – an orchestra that featured strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion,” said Haslam, during a phone interview last week from her home in rural Bucks County. “One of those shows was at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside. We filmed the show and now it’s available for purchase.”

On September 14, Renaissance released its new DVD – “A Symphonic Journey.” The DVD was filmed in October of 2017 with the Renaissance Chamber Orchestra. The videographers used track and boom mounted cameras to create more up close and personal shots of the band and orchestra. The concert also featured large screen projections of original paintings by Annie Haslam, with corresponding titles to each song performed throughout the concert.

“The show at the Keswick is the only show we’ll be doing with the orchestra,” said Haslam. “This music is just perfect for an orchestra.

“Last year, we had an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the filming of the show at the Keswick. I was really happy that the Keswick show is the one we recorded. I started playing shows at the Keswick with my solo project years ago. I’ve also done Christmas shows there. We like playing there.

“Our thanks go to the fans. They are why this is happening. It also allowed us to get the film company APA Music Pictures to work on the project. The new package has both DVD and CD. It’s been a huge amount of work to put this project together, And, we put it together without management or a record label.”

Haslam will be joined on stage by long time musical associate Rave Tesar on piano along with Geoffrey Langley on keyboards, Mark Lambert on guitars, Frank Pagano on drums and percussion, and John Arbor on bass.

According to Haslam, “The band keeps getting stronger and stronger and the addition of the chamber orchestra has been the most exciting development for the band in years. This addition of ‘live’ orchestral musicians adds an incredible dynamic to our big numbers like ‘Mother Russia,’ ‘Carpet of The Sun,’ and ‘Song For All Seasons.’

“I get things in my mind and then they happen. I believe in karma — but I also believe we can make things happen.”

Video link for Renaissance – https://youtu.be/i41HGuu-AIo.

The show at the Scottish Rites Auditorium, which has Leo Kottke as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $79, $59.50 and $45.

John McEuen

When John McEuen takes the stage at the New Hope Winery (6123 Lower York Road, New Hope, 215-794-2331, newhopewinery.com) on November 18, he will have an enormous musical trove from which to pick songs.

McEuen, a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, announced his departure from the band in December 2017 at the conclusion of the group’s 50th anniversary.

“I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary,” said McEuen, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Bradenton, Florida. “At the end of the 50th year, I stepped off the bus and said – I’m off to pursue other worlds.”

McEuen is a man of many talents.

He has released several solo albums, including his newest solo record, “Made in Brooklyn,” which just recently won an Independent Music Award for Best Americana Album of 2017. McEuen has earned four platinum and five gold recognition awards, Grammy nominations and wins, CMA and ACM awards and an Emmy nomination.

He has performed on another 25 albums as a guest artist and produced more than 300 concerts throughout his career.  His production of Steve Martin’s the Crow won the 2010 Grammy award for Best Bluegrass Album of The Year. In 2017, McEuen was inducted into the Banjo Hall of Fame and honored with the Folk Alliance Organization’s “Best in the West Award” for his solo performances. His recently-released an autobiography, “The Life I’ve Picked,” debuted at #1 on Amazon’s country music books chart. “Made in Brooklyn,”, which which just recently won an Independent Music Award for Best Americana Album of 2017, was recorded in Brooklyn with an all-star cast that included David Bromberg, Steve Martin, David Amram, John Cowan, John Carter Cash, Jay Ungar, Andy Goessling and Skip Ward.

“The ‘Made in Brooklyn’ album is the best-sounding record I’ve made,” said McEuen. “And, it’s the best reception I’ve ever gotten. Steve Martin played on one song. He said – what’s the album’s title. I asked him, and he said — ‘Made in Brooklyn.’ I said – ‘that’s a good idea.’”

On this tour, McEuen shares the music and memories of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s landmark platinum-selling album “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” as well other NGDB tunes and songs from “Made in Brooklyn.”

“‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ is one of the most important albums I’ve been on,” said McEuen. “It’s in the Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame. It reached people’s lives the way (Pink Floyd’s) ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ did. The album resonated with people. Now, it helps the younger generation interact with the older generation.

“On the road, people are always asking for music from ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken.’ They like to hear the music and also hear what went on in the record. A good quarter of what I do is take people back to a different era.”

At the show at the New Hope Winery, McEuen will be performing with his String Wizards project, which includes Les Thompson and John Cable (both previous Nitty Gritty Dirt Band members).

“This is a combination of acoustic musicians who want to pay homage to the past,” said McEuen.

McEuen and the String Wizards will be doing a special tribute to great musician — Railroad Earth’s Andy Goessling who played five instruments on “Made in Brooklyn.” Goessling sadly passed away earlier in the month and was going to be at this New Hope Winery show as a special and honored guest. John will be sharing a couple of stories and playing some very special video of Andy during the set.

Video link for John McEuen – http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1655057105992.

The show at the New Hope Winery will start at 4 p.m. Tickets are $55.

Both McEuen and Haslam are septuagenarians and that makes them old enough to be the grandparents of the musician who is headlining a show on November 21 at the Franklin Music Hall (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, https://www.bowerypresents.com/greater-philly/shows/franklin-music-hall) – San Holo.

San Holo

Holo is a 27-year-old is a Dutch DJ, musician, record producer and composer from Zoetermeer, Netherlands. His real name is Sander van Dijck but is primarily known as San Holo.

He is currently touring North America in support of his debut album which is appropriately titles “album 1.”

Two of the tracks off “album1” that dropped ahead of the album release have seen immense success already. “lift me from the ground” accumulated almost four million streams on Spotify alone, charted on Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic and reached #1 on the iTunes electronic chart. Holo’s next single, “brighter days,” has surpassed two million combined streams across DSPs and SoundCloud/YouTube in the first week of its issue.

The producer/DJ blurs the line between EDM (electronic dance music) genres in the pursuit of creative freedom. Originally, Holo had intended to be in a band, but he found it easier to work alone. Music production led him to Codarts University for the Arts in Rotterdam.

“I started making music a long time ago,” said van Dijck, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I began playing guitar when I was 13 after being inspired by a lot of bands. I got a lot out of playing guitar and writing songs. I studied guitar at a conservatory in Rotterdam – Codarts. At the same time, I was a guitar teacher for seven years.

“By the end of my guitar study, I got a little bored with guitar because I felt everyone was doing the same thing. I didn’t think I could find anything new.”

After graduating, Holo worked as a ghost producer, and after some production success, he decided to strike out on his own. He built a significant following on SoundCloud, through which he launched his “Don’t Touch the Classics” remix series featuring remixes of classic ’90s and 2000s hip-hop, such as Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode.”

In 2014, Holo released his debut EP, “Cosmos,” through Heroic Recordings. The following year, Holo partnered with Monstercat for his second EP, “Victory.” A string of singles followed on various labels, including OWSLA and Spinnin. Then, he formed his own his own label, bitbird.

“The last couple years, I switched into production mode,” said van Dijck. “I really enjoyed the art of making music, mixing and arranging. I started making beats and found my own style – lot of traps. People really enjoyed my production.

“It was pretty different from what was going on at that time – four years ago. Trap music was very dark – dark and monotone. I got a little bored of the typical sound everyone was doing. I added chords –nostalgic, melancholic chords. People called it future bass – melodic, colorful bass music.

“That’s when I started writing ‘album 1.’ I started incorporating guitar. I wanted to close the gap between EDM and indie rock. Not a lot of people are able to re-create it because they can’t play guitar – and digital guitar doesn’t sound like the real thing. I wanted to bring a lot of organic feel to my music.”

Video link for San Holo — https://youtu.be/tV8isN3BbUk?list=PLy_MMEHf0Y3ONZxh_xZcmQGQRRW1pQQ2w.

The show at the Franklin Music Hall, which has Said the Sky, Chet Porter, Taska Black, Eastghost as opening acts, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50.

Another upcoming show at the Franklin Music features The Story So Far, Turnover, Citizen, and Movements on November 17.

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