On Stage: Bryce Vine sees career take off

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Bryce Vine

Bryce Vine, who shared the bill with MAX and EZI at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) back in November, has seen his career take off and is now coming back to the TLA as a solo headliner. His show at the South Street venue is scheduled for August 4.

Vine presents a genre-bending, East Coast-meets-West Coast sound all his own, drawn in equal parts from the bass-heavy reality rap influence of his father, the bright, pop sensibility of his mother, and a childhood spent between New York and L.A. His keen blend of laid back, in-the-cut hip-hop and anthemic choruses prompted Entertainment Weekly to praise his “boundary-pushing aesthetic” and TIME to say he “sounds like the definition of cool.”

The L.A.-based artist has a lot of good things happening on a variety of fronts.

His major label debut album “Carnival” was released July 26 on Sire Records. The album features inspirations that run the gamut of the pop culture zeitgeist — lyrically referencing his favorite sci-fi TV shows, 90’s nostalgia and commentary on growing up in L.A. while effortlessly fusing the punk spirit of Blink-182 with homages to Tupac and Outkast.

Following the breakthrough success of the platinum-certified “Drew Barrymore,” soaring to Top 15 at both Top 40 and Rhythm radio and accumulating over 270 million streams to date, Vine began 2019 with his very first sold out headline tour and a new single. The single — “La La Land (feat. YG)” – is following the same trajectory as his first single. And, he has another song in the charts – a collaboration with Canadian DJ duo Loud Luxury on a track titled “I’m Not Alright.”

“Both of my singles have done really well, and the album dropped about a week ago,” said Vine, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon from a tour stop in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“My new single, ‘La La Land,’ is still climbing the charts. We thought it was done going up a week ago and then it started to climb again. It’s a success but, as of right now, ‘Drew Barrymore’ is still a bigger success.”

In 2017, Vine had a hit single with his song “Drew Barrymore.” The song has had more than 80 million streams and has lodged itself in Top 20 at Pop and Rhythm charts. Vine performed at the VMAs pre-show and was featured as Pepsi’s Sound Drop artist.

“When I wrote ‘Drew Barrymore,’ I went into it trying to write a song about somebody special without that person being the focus of the song,” said Vine. “Drew Barrymore is cool and iconic – sexy and kind of badass – the kind of girl she played in ‘The Wedding Singer.’”

Vine released the song independently in November 2017 and its success garnered interest from a number of record labels. Vine eventually signed with Sire Records.

Prior to the events of the last two years, Vine attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and was a contestant on the TV show “The Glee Project.” In 2014, he released his debut EP, “Lazy Fair.” Last month, he released his debut album, “Carnival.”

“I’ve been working on the album for the last two years,” said Vine. “Some songs just happened and some I had to work on more. ‘Love Is A Blessing’ – I started working on that two years ago.

“I recorded the album all over the place. I cut it in New York and at a couple studios in California. But all my songs have a uniform sound because I write them, and I only worked with a couple producers I like. It was a little confusing. I just had to reel it all in at the end.”

“I’m Not Alright” was a combined effort featuring Vine and Loud Luxury, which is fresh off the success of its platinum single “Body” – the most played song on dance radio for all of 2018.

“That collaboration happened through a mutual friend,” said Vine. “He knew their manager and they said they were big fans of my song ‘Drew Barrymore.’

“I had this hook that I had written. When they heard it, they said – this is our next single. It’s a good combination for both of us because I would never put out a DJ dance record and they wouldn’t do a rap song.

“Now, I’m out on a short tour of my own – just five dates. We’re testing the waters. I’ve got a good team including a drummer and a whole lighting setup. I’ve got DJ Lucky Dave scratching and a really good guitarist named Ax Williams. It’s cool to see the whole team get bigger.”

Video link for Bryce Vine – https://youtu.be/dgpPCnLlH9g.

The show at TLA will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Other upcoming shows at TLA are Ghost Light on August 3, UB40 on August 6 and Young Nudy on August 7.

Shawn James

Right about now, Shawn James’ fans must think they’ve died and gone to heaven.

James, whose voice is described as “a force of nature, a combination of the gospel choirs he sang with as a youngster and his training in classical music and opera,” just released his fourth studio album, “The Dark & The Light,” on March 22. Additionally, he just released a single on July 26 – an acoustic version of the album track, “Burn the Witch.”

What really might seem like Nirvana for his area fans is his touring schedule which brings him to southeastern Pennsylvania twice in seven days.

James and his band will be performing at Kung Fu Necktie (1248 North Front Street, Philadelphia, 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com) on August 4 and the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) on August 10. They will be his first area dates since the release of “The Dark & The Light.”

“We’re playing several songs from the new album,” said James, during a phone interview Wednesday as he was travelling from a gig in Toronto to a date in Quebec.

“It’s about 50/50 old and new. There are a lot of people who really, really relate to my older music. Some of the ‘must play’ songs are ‘Orpheus,’ ‘There It Is,’ ‘Burn the Witch,’ and ‘The Curse of the Fold.’ On this tour, I have a drummer, lead guitarist and a standup bass player.”

James has always been a musician who flourishes when touring and performing live. James annually tours more than 150 dates around the world and has released more than 70 songs over the past five years.

“I was living in L.A. for the last year,” said James. “I left Arkansas in 2017. I have a few of my boys from there in my band for this tour. I’ll always have a home base in Fayetteville.

“Right now, we’re without a home. I’m on the road so much that it’s become my home. I tour a lot and when I’m off the road, I try to get in the studio.

“I recorded ‘The Dark & The Light,’ in the beginning of 2018. We cut the album at my producer Jimmy Messer’s studio in Mar Vista, California. I love analog but we did tis one digital.

“We were in the studio for a month, but the actual recording took two weeks. I don’t like to go in unprepared. The songs were ready, but we adjusted some in the studio. Most of the musicians we sued on the album were friends of Jimmy’s. It was a lot of fun.”

Music has always been a big part of James’ life.

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, James’ timeless sound is steeped in blues legends like Robert Johnson and Son House, forever at the crossroads of damnation and redemption, the two inextricably woven into the fabric of his songs.

“I’ve been playing music since I was a little boy,” said James. “It was just singing for a long time. I started out in gospel and also opera and choir. Then, I got tired of it all. I quit everything and got into a rock band.

“I didn’t start songwriting until when I was 20. Part of it was therapy. I was always touring in bands and I decided that I wanted to stand on my own two feet. So, I started songwriting on guitar. I had all the life experiences and stories for inspiration for the songs.

“There is no definite process for my songwriting. Sometimes, it’s a phrase – or it could be a chord structure or a piece of poetry. Some songs came easy – 10 or 15 minutes – and other songs took 10 years.”

James cites Tom Waits, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Bill Withers as inspirations – along with a totally different source.

“A big inspiration is mythology,” said James, “I’m obsessed with mythology and folklore.”

Video link for Shawn James – https://youtu.be/N8myBEC4cmA.

The show at Kung Fu Necktie on August 4 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at Kung Fu Necktie are Eye Flys, Fashion Week, and Pinkwash on August 5, Charlie Bonnet on August 6, and Spoken Nerd, Darko The Super, and ssupertasterr on August 7.

The show at the Sellersville Theater on August 10, which has New Reveille as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 and $29.50.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are 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.


Just like with the fans of Shawn James, there is great news for local fans of The HawtThorns.

The country rock duo from Southern California – Johnny Hawthorn and KP (formerly Kirsten Proffit) – has a new album and is performing in the area. “Morning Sun” is set to be released on August 9th by Forty Below Records.”

Adding to the band’s fans’ joy is a show here in Chester County. And, making it even better, the concert is free.

On August 6, The Eagleview Summer Concerts on the Square at Eagleview Town Center (565 Wellington Square, Exton, www.ineagleview.com) will present a free concert featuring the HawtThorns and Hezekiah Jones.

An Americana band whose sun-kissed songwriting, fiery electric guitar, and lush vocal harmonies evoke the California coastline as much as the Bible Belt countryside, the HawtThorns are rooted in the collaborative chemistry of husband-and-wife duo KP and Johnny Hawthorn.

Before forming their band in Los Angeles, the Hawthorns both enjoyed acclaimed careers of their own, leaving their marks upon the intersecting worlds of rock, country, and pop music.

California native KP launched her solo career with 2006’s “Lucky Girl,” a singer/songwriter record whose tracks found their way onto TV shows like Friday Night Lights and Dawson’s Creek. By 2012, she was also touring the country as a member of Calico.

As a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, lead guitarist, and record producer, Hawthorn had already performed with bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket and Everclear by the time he crossed paths with KP at the Cinema Bar in Culver City, California. He also had released three albums as a solo artist.

“Johnny and I ran in the same circles,” said KP, during a phone interview last week from the duo’s home in Nashville, Tennessee. “I always liked him, and he always liked me. We met five years ago and got married two years ago.

“For quite a while, he had his own thing going and I had Calico,” said KP. “I didn’t want to do anything until Calico ended. When Calico stopped, Johnny and I started working together. We got into our own project and started writing together early last year.”

Rooted in the collaborative chemistry KP and Hawthorn, The HawtThorns official debut, “Morning Sun,” will be released next Friday. Produced by Eric Corne (Sam Morrow, Jaime Wyatt), with some songs produced by Steve Berns and KP, “Morning Sun” is an amped-up Americana album.

“We went in the studio with producer Eric Corne from Forty Below Records,” said KP. “We recorded five songs and finished those at Fitting Room Studio in West Hills.

“Then, we did more recording at King Size Studio in Atwater Village in East L.A. That’s a really cool studio. We recorded everything live. We went through an old soundboard from the 1970s and into ProTools.

“Eric mixed most of what we recorded. It took about nine months altogether. Even though we had sessions at different times in different studios, it was easy to keep it consistent. Johnny and I are connected. And, Eric did a great job with the mixing.”

The recording project didn’t have a slow build.

“For this project, we came into it fast,” said Hawthorn. “Calico decided to call it quits so KP had stuff already cooking. And, I also had stuff cooking that I had done with a few co-writers. We also had a few songs that we wrote together for the album. It was a mixed bag.

“Now, we’re touring in support of the album. In some cities, we’re doing our shows as an acoustic duo and in other cities, we have pickup bands. We’re playing songs from the new album, some of my older songs and some of KP’s songs with Calico. We have a lot of layers.”
Video link for the HawtThorns – https://youtu.be/pEnoxxlj_UY.

The free show at the Eagleview Town Center, which has Tumbleweeds as the opening act, will start at 7 p.m.

While no admission is charged to attend Eagleview Town Center events, the organizers request that you will bring a canned food item to each event to support their fight against hunger. Food donations will benefit the Chester County Food Bank.

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