On Stage: Two acts with local roots come home

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Allen Tate

Two acts that are performing in the area on June 22 have Pennsylvania roots and are playing venues very close to where their careers started – Allen Tate and The Ocean Blue.

Tate, who went to high school in Fort Washington and now lives in Brooklyn, will come back to the area for a show Saturday night at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com).

For a long time, music fans were familiar with Tate as a singer and stage performer but not with Tate performing his own material. The singer with the golden baritone voice has been delighting ears for years as the vocalist for the band San Fermin.

When he has a break from San Fermin, Tate works on his solo career – a career that saw him release his debut solo album, “Sleepwalker,” in 2016 on Votiv Music, and his sophomore album, “In The Waves,” on May 3 via Sleep Well Records.

“My live set is almost all the new record,” said Tate, during a phone interview last week from his home in Brooklyn. “‘Sleepwalker’ was not a record for a live band.”

Tate began composing “Sleepwalker” in the fall of 2014 during a three-week stay in Copenhagen, where San Fermin had performed to an enthusiastic reception.

“We had a break with San Fermin at the end of summer in 2014 so I took off for Copenhagen,” said Tate, who grew up in nearby Chalfont and was a basketball standout at Germantown Academy.

“It was at the end of touring after our first record. I wanted to go to Copenhagen because I didn’t know anybody there. Scandinavian cities are interesting because everyone is nice, but everyone also keeps to themselves.

“I was able to do my own thing without interruptions. I’d walk eight or nine miles a day and then work on music. By October, Copenhagen gets pretty grey and that influenced the album. I think it’s a sparse album. On a lot of the tunes, you can feel the space that it’s happening in. If you feel the space, it can be nice, or it can be empty. The themes are about different times when you either feel alone – about being lonely or wanting to be alone.

“‘Sleepwalker’ is very internal and pensive – feelings about being alone. On the new album, almost every song is about things I was talking about with people in my life. It’s more of a social album – definitely a more connected effort.”

Tate started recording “In The Waves” last year but the project actually began long before that.

“When I finish a project, there is big sense of relief,” said Tate. “Then, two weeks later, I think of things I should have done. In the fall of 2017, I did some demos with friends in upstate New York. We did four songs. I pitched around trying to find a producer. I wanted to work with John Agnello because he had worked with a lot of projects I like.

“He wanted to go in the studio in early 2018. I only had four-and-a-half songs. I lied and told him I had nine or 10 songs and needed to write one more. I’m usually a slow writer so it was good to have time pressure. I had to write six songs in two months.

“Four of the songs were written with more guitar. It was a right next step for me so I started in that world – louder guitars and more rock.”

Tate and Agnello teamed up to make the album and used three different studios.

“With John, we used Downtown Recording Studio in Soho, Russell Street Recording in Green Point here in Brooklyn, and Hobo Sound in Hoboken, New Jersey,” said Tate. “I think we did the whole record in eight days. John works quickly. We recorded the basic tracks live with a three-piece.

“I stayed with a rock sound. When I did ‘Sleepwalker,’ I wasn’t even sure I wanted to play those songs live.”

Tate also has his career with San Fermin.

San Fermin is an American baroque pop band, started by Brooklyn-based composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone.

“Ellis and I met at a songwriting workshop at Berklee College in Boston,” said Tate, who attended New York University on a basketball scholarship. “We put the first album out in September 2013.

“I graduated for NYU and was working as a legal clerk for a non-profit firm. I was studying for the LSATs. But I never took the test. The plan was to study and go to law school. The success of the first San Fermin album changed the path.

“San Fermin told me – we’ll pay you to go on tour. San Fermin has had a lot of success over the last few years. We’ve had a lot of TV appearances and we’ve played to huge crowds in other countries.”

Video link for Allen Tate — https://youtu.be/RBoPDPzbwFA.

The show at Boot and Saddle, which has Josh Agran as the opener, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Other upcoming shows at Boot and Saddle are The Babe Rainbow on June 23, Kristen Hersh on June 24, Pelican on June 25, and William Clark Green on June 26.

The Ocean Blue

The Ocean Blue is an indie rock band that got its start in the Harrisburg area but still considers the Chameleon Club in Lancaster to be its “hometown club.”

On June 22, The Ocean Blue — David Schelzel, Oed Ronne, Bobby Mittan, Peter Anderson — will return to Lancaster to make a venue debut at Tellus 360 (24 East King Street, Lancaster, 717-393-1660, www.tellus360.com).

“Central Pennsylvania is still our home base,” said Schelzel, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“The Chameleon – here wasn’t a venue that played more of an important role in our career. Early in our career, (Chameleon’s) Rich Ruoff gave us a lot of all-ages shows.”

The Ocean Blue certainly dosan’t need all-ages shows for its fans now. Actually, many of the band’s early fans probably have kids old enough todrink legally in the state.

The bnd got its syart in 1986 nd released its debut album, “The Ocean Blue,” on Sire Records in 1989. It followed with two more on Sire – “Cerulean” in 1991 and “Beneath the Rhythm & Sound” in 1993. The Ocean Blue switched to Mercury/Polydor Records for its 1996 release, “See The Ocean Blue,” and then put out “Davy Jones’ Locker” in 1999 on March Records.

The group’s latest two LPs are on it own label – Korda Records. “Utramarine” came out in 2013 and “Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves” was just released on June 21.

Schelzel discussed the decade-plus gap between “Davy Jones’ Locker” and “Utramarine.”

“We never really disbanded,” said Schelzel, who now works as a civil lawyer in the “Land of Purple” (Minnesota Vikings and Prince).

“I took a break to go back to school in the early 2000s. I was till thinking about music and working on it. There was a long time between releases because we all had a lot of things going on with our lives.

“There was a period of time as a teenager and in my early 20s that I devoted a lot of time to music. But I still had other things. I went to college and got my undergrad degree at Penn State and my law degree at the University of Minnesota.”

After a long break, The Ocean Blue rose again to the surface with “Ultramarine.”

“It had gotten to a point where we had written enough songs and had enough recordings for an album,” said Schelzel, who loves cold weather and thinks winter in Minnesota is beautiful.

“Another catalyst was forming an indie record label Korda Records, which is a co-op with ex-pats from other bands. We formed Korda at the end of 2012 and we have 20 releases by various bands — including Innocence Mission, our old friends from Lancaster.

“‘Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves’ was recorded mostly in our home studio. Recording technology has changed so much. We learned so much from recording in big studios in the past.

“We recorded one track in Buenos Aires, Argentina – ‘Paraguay My Love.’ We’ve played Asuncion many times and some of our biggest South American shows were there.

“The new album is our most mature album to date while ‘Ultramarine’ fit right in with our earlier releases. ‘Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves’ is more weighty. It captures where we’re at now. We think that the art form of an album is a collection of songs that relate to each other. Lyrically, it’s our heaviest album to date.”

Video link for The Ocean Blue — https://youtu.be/avmz3ct2XUU.

The show at Tellus 360, which has The Blurrys as the opening act, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Other upcoming shows at Tellus 360 are Dave Pedrick on June 23 and Leo DiSanto on June 25.

Serafin Summer Music, which is running now through June 30, has a variety of classical music to offer its fans. The highly acclaimed festival artists hail from China, the Philippines, New Zealand, and also from around the US, including New York City, Oklahoma, Ohio, Kentucky, Atlanta, Florida Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Victor Asuncion

All concerts will be held at The Music School of Delaware in partnership with The University of Delaware Department of Music with sponsorship by William J. Stegeman, Ph.D. The shows will be presented at the Music School of Delaware’s Wilmington Branch (4101 North Washington Street).

The roster of world-class musicians includes Victor Asuncion, piano; Amos Fayette, violin; Hal Grossman, violin; Kate Ransom, violin; Benjamin Shute, violin; Lisa Vaupel, violin; Amadi Azikiwe, viola; Luke Fleming, viola; Mary Harris, viola; Charae Krueger, cello; Lawrence Stomberg, cello; Guang Wang, cello; Miles Brown, bass; Jennifer Nicole Campbell, piano; Amy Dorfman, piano; Read Gainsford, piano; Augustine Mercante, countertenor; Eileen Grycky, flute; and Christopher Nichols, clarinet.

The remaining shows in the series are:

Saturday, June 22 at 5 p.m., FRIENDS and MENTORS

Brahms Sonatensatz in G Minor for violin and piano

Schumann “Fairy Tales” for clarinet, viola and piano

Niels Gade Sonata in D Minor, Op. 21 for violin and piano

Dohnanyi Piano Quintet No.1 in C Minor;

Sunday, June 23 at 4 p.m. – OUT OF BAVARIA

Mozart D Major Quartet for flute, violin, viola, cello

Reger Sonata in G Minor for solo viola

Schumann “Fantasy Pieces” Op. 73 for cello and piano

Brahms Piano Quartet in G Minor for violin, viola, cello, piano;

Thursday, June 27 at 7 p.m. – FRENCH FORAY

Leclair Duo for two violins

French Song Set

Faure Piano Quartet in C Minor;

Friday, June 28 at 7 p.m. – THE THREE B’s

Bach G Minor Sonata for solo violin

Beethoven String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18, No.4

Brahms Piano Trio in C Major, Op. 87;

Saturday, June 29 at 5 p.m. – RUSSIAN ROMP

Khachaturian Trio for clarinet, violin, piano

Arensky Trio in D Minor, Op. 32 for violin, cello, piano

Borodin Piano Quintet in C Minor;

Sunday, June 30 at 4 p.m. – FINALE FIREWORKS

Brahms Sextet in Bb Major, Op. 18 for two violins, two violas, two cellos

Tchaikovsky “Souvenir de Florence” for two violins, two violas, two cellos.

Single tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling (302) 762-1132 or visiting www.brownpapertickets.com. Show attendees can enjoy a meet-and-greet reception (complimentary refreshments) with the artists following all the festival concerts.

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