On Stage: Montreal Guitare Trio returns to The Flash

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Montreal Guitare Trio

The Montreal Guitare Trio is no stranger to the Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org).

The Canadian band played the venue earlier this year as the opening act for the California Guitar Trio. Now, the Montreal-based threesome – Sébastien Dufour, Glenn Lévesque and Marc Morin — is coming back to headline a show at Kennett Flash on August 2.

Described by the CBC as the hottest guitar ensemble in Canada, Montreal Guitare Trio (MG3) has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with, as well as an interactive force in various musical forms. For more than 20 years, the trio’s virtuosity and creativity and impressive stage presence have been winning over audiences around the world.

“We started in 1998 – 21 years now,” said Morin, during a phone interview Wednesday from his home in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec. “That’s why we’ve been friendly with the California Guitar Trio.

“Sébastien, Glenn and I met in Montreal at the university. We started as a trio after college. We began playing metal and rock and then went to study classical. What brought us together was the love of many kinds of music and blending them together. We were raised in rock and studied classical. We had eclectic tastes.

“I initially called Glenn about my project. Then, Glenn proposed Sébastien as the third member. The project was playing the music of (Argentinian composer) Astor Piazzolla, (Brazilian composer) Egberto Gismonti and (Italian composer) Ennio Morricone. Morricone is like our mentor. We always play Morricone. It was already a classical crossover. These composers were classical but not really in the classical world.”

MG3 has performed hundreds of concerts throughout North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia in the most prestigious venues including the legendary Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Rundetårnet in Copenhagen and the BB King Blues Club in New York.

Winner of the 2011 Opus Award for “Concert of the Year” in the Jazz & World Music category, Montreal Guitare Trio has
released eight albums, including the trio’s two latest ones – “Danzas” (2017) & “Der Prinz” (2014).

Throughout the years, the trio has collaborated and shared the stage with world-renowned ensembles and artists, such as the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Jorane, Solorazaf and Don Ross.

MG3’s most memorable collaboration to date is with the California Guitar Trio (CGT), when both ensembles joins forces to brilliantly perform some of the greatest rock classics from The Beatles, Radiohead, David Bowie, a few spaghetti western themes by Morricone, as well as some of their original compositions.

“We play rock, classical and a lot of ethnic music,” said Morin. “That’s what keeps it interesting. In our music, you will hear Indian, Arabic, Eastern European and South American. We also play some African based on music from Mali.

“Every album is a wide span of musical interests – expect the last one which is Spanish-inspired.

“We like to mix styles. I don’t know how many styles we’ll play at Kennett Flash but there will be many.”

Video link for Montreal Guitare Trio – https://youtu.be/EpXj5iJa3m0.

The show at Kennett Flash will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24.

Other upcoming shows at Kennett Flash are Jill Sobule with special guest Cliff Hillis on August 1, and Ben Arnold with special guest Michael Hahn on August 6.

Ching-Yun Hu

Ching-Yun Hu is a world-famous classical pianist who has studied and lived in cities all around Europe, South America, Africa and North America.

She lists her favorite cities as Taipei, Taiwan, where she was born; Budapest, Hungary; and Philadelphia, which is new her hometown.

On August 2, Hu will give a special performance in her adopted city.

Hu, the founder and director of the Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy (PYPA), will have her solo debut performance in the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Kimmel Center (Broad and Spruce streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, www.kimmelcenter.org). This concert is the opening of the Seventh Annual PYPA Festival.

“I was 14 years old when I came to the states,” said Hu, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in Center City Philadelphia.

“I wanted to be a concert pianist. There was no social media then, so it wasn’t easy to get information. I wanted to study to be a concert pianist, so I decided to move here. My mom was for it but my dad was against it. I came to Philadelphia with my sister who was 16 at the time. It was the two of us living by ourselves in Philadelphia. We didn’t have any family here, but my sister’s friends were studying at the Curtis Institute.”

Hu used her ingenuity to get money to live and study.

“I entered competitions and got whatever grants I could,” said Hu. “If you won a scholarship competition, then there was no tuition. I studied at a pre-college session every Saturday at Julliard in New York – going back and forth from Philadelphia every weekend.

“I just stayed with Juilliard and moved to New York after high school. I eventually got my master’s degree from Julliard. Since then, I’ve lived in Cleveland, London and Hannover, Germany.

“Over the years, I’ve performed all over Europe, in Korea, Japan and China, in Brazil and in Africa. I’ve performed a number of times in Mozambique.

“After a while, I was searching for a place I wanted to live and put down roots. I decided to come back to America – to Philadelphia or New York. I chose Philadelphia because Philly feels like home.”

Just returning from a sold-out world concert tour, Hu will perform the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz’s “Iberia, Books I and II,” Frédéric Chopin’s “Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58” and Chopin’s contemporary, French composer Charles-Valentin Alkan’s  “Le festin d’Ésope (Aesop’s Feast), Op. 39, No. 12.”

“‘Iberia’ is a set of 12 pieces written by an impressionist composer named Isaac Albéniz,” said Hu. “They are extremely colorful and, at the same time, very challenging technically. I’m playing six of the 12 pieces – Books 1 and 2. That will be the first half of the show.

“After intermission, I start with Alkan’s piece. Alkan, who lived next door to Chopin, was not very well-known because his pieces are so difficult to play. He was a very mysterious composer.

“His music was very much ahead of its time. The piece I’m playing is a very humorous piece. The reason I chose the piece by Chopin is because it’s a very artistic piece. It’s from his late period. And, it contrasts well with Alkan’s piece.”

Video link for Ching-Yun Hu – https://youtu.be/tVwOPAabnhA.

The show at the Kimmel Center will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.

The Dollyrots

The Dollyrots – Luis Cabezas and Kelly Ogden –just released their ninth album, “Daydream Explosion on July 12 on Wicked Cool Records. Now, they are on tour in support of the new album – a tour that will have two stops locally.

On August 1, The Dollyrots are sharing the bill with the Pink Spiders at Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684,http://www.chameleonclub.net). On August 2, they will be in Philly with the same line-up at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455,www.milkboyphilly.com).

The Dollyrots have had a family vibe ever since they started – ever since they went to school together at Pine View Middle School and Sun Lake High School in Florida.

“We’re from Land O’Lakes,” said Ogden, during a phone interview Wednesday evening from a tour stop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “We met when we were in eighth grade.”

They both attended New College of Florida where they formed a band called No Chef – which only lasted a short while. Then, Cabezas and Ogden relocated to the West Coast.

“We’re living in Tampa now,” said Ogden. “We have a five-year-old and a two-year-old, so we moved to Tampa because it’s a better place to raise a family. We still also have an apartment in L.A.”

Tampa was where “Daydream Explosion” had its start.

“We recorded the bulk of it in December and January,” said Ogden. “The way I write, we pretty much record as I’m writing. We have our own studio in our backyard. Then, we brought the tracks to our producer John Fields in Minneapolis. We did the bones at home and then went to John’s studio – Creation Audio. He added his ideas and played some keyboards. We wrote the song ‘Flippy in My Red Dress” with him. Once all the songs were done and written, we finished the recording at Pachyderm Studio in Minneapolis.”

The Dollyrots’ family vibe is evident on “Daydream Explosion.” The album’s credits for background vocals list River Ogden Cabezas, Daisy Moon Cabezas, and Katie Ogden.

“Our kids sandg on a few tracks,” said Ogden. “And, my sister Kelly also sang on the record.”

The Dollyrots have their own label and have used crowdsourcing campaigns for several of their albums using PledgeMusic and Kickstarter. PledgeMusic recently went bankrupt and that almost was a disaster for the duo.

“We started the campaign for ‘Daydream Explosion’ back in December with PledgeMusic,” said Cabezas. “In January, we found out that PledgeMusic was in trouble.

“So, we pulled the album even though 70 per cent of the goal was reached. We had to kill the pledge and start our own. We finished the record and sent it to Wicked Cool Records.”

Wicked Cool Records is the garage rock label founded by “Little Steven” Van Zandt in 2005. The label evolved out of Van Zandt’s weekly syndicated radio show Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

“We sent it to Wicked Cool so they could play it on their radio show,” said Cabezas. “They liked and said they wanted to release it on their label.”

Video link for The Dollyrots – https://youtu.be/vXNdzppor68.

The show at the Chameleon on August 1 will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12

The show at MilkBoy Philly on August 2, which also features the Pink Spiders and Alright Junior, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Other upcoming shows at the Chameleon are Copper Chief on August 2, and Dorothy on August 3.

Other upcoming shows at MilkBoy Philly are Winnetka Bowling League on August 1 and Carver Commodore, The Dead Flowers, and Dominy on August 3.

Prior to last year, Matthew Koma had established himself in the world of rock music as a singer, songwriter, DJ and record producer.

Winnetka Bowling League

He had two well-received EPs on Interscope Records and had songs he had written covered by such acts as Shania Twain, Tiesto, Hillary Duff, Kelly Clarkson, Zedd, Far East Movement and Carly Rae Jepsen. Koma also has a strong CV as a producer – especially for EDM artists.

Last year, Koma opted to head in a new direction and formed a band called Winnetka Bowling League – a band that makes its Philly debut on August 1 at MilkBoy Philly.

Winnetka Bowling League, which already has a radio hit with “On the 5,” released its second EP in seven months, “Cloudy With a Chance of Sun” on RCA Records on April 26.

“After years of sharing visions with other people, I got to a point where I didn’t have to do what was strategically right,” said Koma, during a phone interview Wednesday from a tour stop in New York City. “I just wanted to do something that I love.”

That something was forming a new band and that band was Winnetka Bowling League.

 “I wrote some songs,” said Koma. “I wanted to figure out what the next step in my music career would be. This was very different. I stated playing the songs for friends.

“When you’re in high school, you start a band in an organic way. It gets more awkward when you get older. I put this band together through word-of-mouth – asking friends for recommendations.

“Everyone in the band is from L.A. except my brother who lives in Boston. Our first show was a little under a year ago.”

Winnetka Bowling League is a band from L.A. and the California vibe features heavily in its DNA.

“I moved to L.A. from New York about 10 years ago,” said Koma. “I live in Studio City. I’ve always been a ‘Valley Dog.’ Ironically, most of the songs on the first EP were written when I was back to New York and thinking about California.

“With this band’s line-up, it worked from the very first rehearsal. Fortunately, there was just a magic from the first day. We were lucky to have it work out that way.

“I write the songs and bring them to the band. My songwriting comes from everywhere. It’s never the same. If I did it just one way, I’d get bored.”

When Koma was a teenager, he was too busy with his music to watch much TV. If he had watched television shows in the early 2000s and saw the show “Lizzie McGuire,” he would have seen his future soulmate – Hilary Duff.

“I knew of the show but never saw it,” said Koma. “Later, I worked with Hilary on a few songs on her latest record.”

Koma and Duff are now engaged and have a young daughter — Banks Violet Bair.

“My daughter is nine months old now,” said Koma. “She is everything to me.”

Koma’s other “baby” — Winnetka Bowling League – is also growing at a rapid pace.

“We have two EPs so far and we’re in the middle of making the third,” said Koma. “I like releasing EPs and not feeling the pressure to do an album. It allows evolution to take place.

“In our shows now, we’re playing songs from the first two EPs. We haven’t put any of the new songs into our set list yet.”

Video link for Winnetka Bowling League — https://youtu.be/Rh27VnYxJ10.

The show at MilkBoy Philly, which has Carroll as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Sarah Grace

Rising young pop star Sarah Grace will make her area debut when she headlines a show on August 1.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).

Millions of people got introduced to the then-15-year-old singer last fall on Season 15 of The Voice. Grace won over the public and judges alike as she made her way through to the semi-final round. Voice Coach Adam Levine hailed her as a “powerhouse,” and fellow coach Jennifer Hudson praised Sarah Grace’s sassiness, while her coach, Kelly Clarkson, marveled over the teen’s “big, old-soul voice.”

Viewers similarly were captivated by the soulful pop singer, who was a Public’s Vote winner during the six-week Live Shows. Her social media followers also grew by 60K (37K on Instagram) after starting on The Voice, and her Week One rendition of Big Mama Thornton/Janis Joplin’s “Ball & Chain” – which caused three Voice coaches to swivel their chairs – has racked up over 2.2 million YouTube views in just six months. 

Now, the young Houston native is spending her summer break from school at Houston’s prestigious High School of Performing and Visual Arts touring the country with her band, The Soul, which includes her younger sister, Reagan, on drums and long-time bassist Daniel Holder.

“Our first show was on July 26,” said Grace, during a phone interview Tuesday as she travelled to Pennsylvania from a tour stop in Wisconsin. “We still have a bunch of shows left. There is one part of the tour where we have eight shows in nine days.”

Even though she is just 16, Grace has been making music for a while.

“I always loved singing,” said Grace. “I’ve been singing since I was a baby. As I got older, I wanted to accompany myself. I started with guitar but that didn’t fit. So, I got a piano. My little sister Regan played drums and my dad got a guitar.”

Soon, the Graces started a family band. Grace was nine years old when she began performing live at local Houston open mics and coffeehouses. When teen bassist Holder joined the sisters, their group was first called Campfire Soul before becoming Sarah Grace and The Soul.

“I got into music because I had a condition called synesthesia.”

Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. A common form of synesthesia is the association of sounds with colors. For some, everyday sounds such as doors opening, cars honking, or people talking can trigger seeing colors. For others, colors are triggered when musical notes or keys are being played.

“My synesthesia has gone away now,” said Grace. “It usually goes away when you’re really young but mine stayed around for a

While. Around eighth grade, it slowly faded away. Do I miss it – yes and no. It was a unique experience – but very distracting. I couldn’t read if there was background noise.”

In addition to singing, Grace also plays trumpet and Hammond organ.

“When I was in sixth grade, I went with my family to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival,” said Grace. “I saw the Shotgun Jazz Band whose lead singer Marla Dixon also played the trumpet. I hadn’t considered playing trumpet before that but, once I heard it being used by a singer, it made me want to learn to play the instrument.

“I had started playing piano when I was in fourth grade. Later, I went to a blues jam one night and heard someone playing a Hammond B3. Right then, I knew I wanted to play a Hammond and got a Hammond SK1. On The Voice, I played a Hammond B3.”

Grace is a trailblazer — the first Voice contestant to play trumpet on the show…and the first to play organ. She also was probably the first synesthesia veteran to perform on the show. Now, she is blazing new trails on the road with her band.

Video link for Sarah Grace – https://youtu.be/6s-NRCChB9A

The show at Sellersville Theater, which has Brianna Nelson as the opener, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 and $29.50.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are King’s X  with Sound & Shape on August 2, David Clark’s Songs In The Attic (Billy Joel Tribute) on August 3, The Spouse Whisperer on August 4, Bluegrass Jam In The Bar on August 6, and Nelson Magic Show on August 7.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present Revalation and Vassal on August 2.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host Red Baraat on August 1, Hezekiah Jones with special guest Under the Oak on August 2, Splintered Sunlight on August 3 and John Kadlecik and West Philly Fadeaway on August 4.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents

An Evening with Glennon Doyle on August 1, Cinderella’s Tom Keifer #Keiferband on August 2, and Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox on August 3.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) will present James Hunter (duo) on August 1 and BJ Barham on August 2.

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