On Stage: Christie Lenée brings big guitar talent to The Flash

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Christie Lenée

If Christie Lenée played electric guitar with roots in the blues instead of acoustic guitar with a fingerpicking pedigree, she would be on a plateau with Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.

That doesn’t mean that Lenée is not an internationally acclaimed guitarist who is one of the best in the world at what she does.

Lenée is an International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion, an award-winning singer-songwriter and a finalist for Acoustic Guitarist of the Year.

In addition to being a top-flight guitarist with her signature percussive finger picking, Lenée is also an impressive singer-songwriter with an expressive voice.

The musical nomad, who now makes her home in Asheville, North Carolina, has played in many area venues over the years including Kennett Flash, World Café Live, Melodies Café, Sellersville Theater and Ardmore Music Hall. She has played the Flash more than any other venue.

On September 5, she is returning to Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) with the Christie Lenée Project and will follow with a pair of festival gigs in Arkansas and Kansas prior to heading to the U.K. for a string of shows.

“I’m excited to be coming back to the Flash,” said Lenée, during a phone interview last week from her home in the mountains of North Carolina. “I’m reuniting with my band in Philly.

“My band features Chris LeFevre on bass and Andy Meyer on drums. When I play in London later in September, it will be just me on acoustic guitar – all instrumental, no vocals. It will be special because it’s the same weekend that I won the International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in 2017.

“I’ll do a few more shows in the U.K. and then go to Germany for the Musisheans Guitar Tour with two German guitarists (Judith Beckedorf and Karlijn Langendijk). In the middle of that tour, I’ll take three days off to open for Tommy Emmanuel in Poland.”

When Lenée is playing acoustic guitar, symphonic compositions flow from her fingertips effortlessly, with sound ranging from transcendental folk-pop to virtuosic instrumentals. She is often described as “Michael Hedges meets Joni Mitchell and Dave Matthews,” an integration melodic pop lyricism with catchy hooks and percussive, harmonic textures.

With a menu of percussive and sonic effects, and larger than life sounding instruments, her solo shows embody layers of orchestral elements with a wide array of dynamics and harmonic textures. On her tapping technique, she uses her right-hand index, middle, and pinky fingers.

Lenée has released five albums, with “STAY” gaining critical success on a music video supporting Suicide Prevention. The LP is a collection of hopeful, inspiring songs featuring special guest Tim Reynolds (Guitarist from Dave Matthews Band). The album also contains three instrumental pieces produced by the legendary and Multi-Grammy Award Winning Producer Will Ackerman (founder of Windham Hill Records).

The title track, which deals with a friend’s suicide, features amazing finger work, adept percussive touches and emotive vocals that showcase the poignant lyrics.

“Guitar is a vibrational instrument,” said Lenée. “It’s very useful in healing.

“I had a great high school guitar teacher – John Michael Davis – when I was in school at Blake High School for Performing Arts in Tampa. Then, I majored in jazz guitar and classical music composition at the University of South Florida.

“Then, Michael Hedges come into my life. After listening to his playing, I experimented with open tuning. It created so much freedom to be creative with percussion and bass.”

Lenée, who lived in Nashville and Portland prior to moving to Asheville, also spent time living in the Philadelphia area – including Chester County.
“I grew up in Tampa,” said Lenée. “I grew up in a performing arts group and got involved in theater and acting.

“I switched to music. I got into to guitar — especially jazz guitar. When I went to the University of South Florida, I switched from acting to music.

“I lived in Philly for about six years. I have family there. I came up to visit my uncle in Malvern right after I finished college. Then, I lived in Devon for a while. Philly is a nice city. After that, I moved to Portland, Oregon, back to Florida and then to Nashville.

“I initially came to the Philadelphia area after I graduated to visit my uncle. He had bought a new house and I wanted to move from Florida, so I moved in with him. His name is Dale Nelson and he’s one of my greatest heroes. He set the Guinness World Record for Most Skydives in One Day.”

Her time living in the Delaware Valley was a catalyst for her music career.

“When I first moved to Philly, I put out an album with a choir and big arrangements,” said Lenée. “Then, when I was still in Philadelphia, I started performing as a solo act.

“I took a new approach with the guitar. I looked at each string and each fret as a separate voice. That way, I could have multiple parts going on at the same time. I experimented with changing the tuning of the guitar. A lot of it ended up working.

“That’s how I got started in this tapping style of guitar. It gives it a really large sound. There’s a lot going on – but I don’t use a loop pedal. This style was developed out of necessity. Still, the biggest part missing was percussion. So, I added a Toe Kicker Foot Stomp Box, which is similar to a kick drum.”

Lenée’s fans can expect a new album sometime soon.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time making my new record – writing and rewriting…sorting stuff out” said Lenée. “I’ve done a ton of pre-production. I’ve been working with Steven Miller, a great Windham Hill engineer who is also the engineer for the Dave Matthews Band. Right now, there are just singles.”

Video link for Christie Lenée — https://youtu.be/S74HfjyO4G8.

The show at Kennett Flash featuring Christie Lenée will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $15.

Other upcoming shows at Kennett Flash are Package on September 6 and Marah on September 7.

Most people are polarized when it comes to deciding whether communication with dead is real. They either believe in the power of a medium or they look at it as a scam.

Theresa Caputo

On September 5 and 6, believers and skeptics alike will have the opportunity to see a medium in action when the Xcite Center at Parx Casino (2999 Street Road, Bensalem, 888-588-7279, https://parxcasino.com) presents “Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience.”

“I was just there in November,” said Caputo, during a phone interview last week from her home in Long Island, New York. “When I started doing larger venues, I was a little nervous.

“Even though that show was only 10 months ago, these shows will be different. Five people or 5,000 – it doesn’t matter. I’m down in the crowd – with a great dress and fabulous shoes.”

Caputo will share personal stories about her life and explain how her gift works. She will deliver healing messages to audience members and give people comfort knowing that their loved ones who passed are still with them, just in a different way.

“The Experience” brings Theresa face-to-face with her fans, as she lets spirit guide her through the audience. A video display ensures everyone in the venue has an up-close-hands-on experience regardless of seat location.

Caputo, who has her own television show — TLC’s “Long Island Medium” — has been a practicing medium professionally for almost two decades but her encounters with the dead have gone on much longer than that.

“When I was four years old, I can remember seeing and connecting with spirits,” said Caputo. “It wasn’t until I was around 28 that I realized what I really had.”

Caputo describes the process of receiving information as “feeling” spirits. She sees shadows and hears voices, but the overwhelming process is the sensory feeling and presence of those wishing to get messages across.

“I can never turn things off,” said Caputo. “And, it’s not just people. I’ve had communication from people’s dogs and cats — and even a pet squirrel. I don’t ask for these spirits to come to me. They just appear. When I want to be alone, I just don’t acknowledge them.”

According to Caputo, “People ask me to describe how I receive information, and it’s hard to put into words because I see, hear, and feel things differently than we do in the physical world.

“Spirit mostly speaks to me through a sixth sense — a kind of feeling and knowing. When I get information, it feels like very strong intuition, or recall. Spirit also uses a vocabulary of signs and symbols that they show me during a reading.”

Caputo has earned an extensive following in the New York area and currently has a two-year waiting list for private readings.

“When Spirit talks about things only you would know about, you can’ deny what you saw or witnessed,” said Caputo. “I want people to believe in themselves and that the soul’s bond will never be broken. It’s a little hello from heaven. When Spirit shows me roses, it’s a symbol of love or devotion. People can communicate with their loved ones who have died.

“Everyone can connect with their loved ones. With every message, Spirit has to validate with something unique. Spirit gives us what we need to hear. It helps people with the healing process. I don’t like to hear the word ‘closure.’ I prefer to use the word ‘peace.’

“Whether you get read or not, it’s a life-changing experience. To me, it’s just such a powerful experience.”

Caputo is also a successful author.

Her latest book “Good Grief: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again” was released in 2017 and debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at Number 3. With her energetic, positive and encouraging tone, Theresa uses the lessons from Spirit to guide the reader through grief toward a place of solace and healing. Her second book “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” was released in September 2014 and debuted at Number 9 on the New York Times bestseller list. Her first book “There’s More to Life Than This” was released in the fall of 2013.

Caputo never gets upset if someone thinks she is a fake.

“I never feel a need to defend or prove my gift,” said Caputo. “I expect people to be skeptical.”

Video link for Theresa Caputo — https://youtu.be/YnpxmQUOv_Y.

The shows at Parx Casino on September 5 and 6 will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $55-$135.

Crooked Colours

Crooked Colours, an electronic trio from Australia, has been steadily building a fan base in North America. The band, which features Philip Slabber, Leon Debaughn and Liam Merrett-Park, has just released its sophomore album, “Langata” via Sweat It Out. Its first album, “Vera,” was released in 2017 on the same label.

The trio is now touring North America in support of the new LP. The tour stops in Philly on September 5 at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com).

“This is our fourth North American tour,” said Slabber, during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles.

“We’ve been together for six years. This was the first band for all of us. We grew up in the same neighborhood. We were mates.”

Crooked Colours has come a long way in six years – musically and geographically.

The band hails from Australia, which is a long way from the United States. The group’s home base is Perth, a city in western Australia that is a long way from most of the country’s heavily populated cities. Crooked Colours even came from a town that was a long way from Perth – Mandurah, a coastal city in the Australian state of Western Australia, situated approximately 72 kilometers (45 miles) south of the state capital, Perth.

Currently, the band members live a long way from each other.

“I’m living in L.A. now,” said Slabber. “I’ve been living in Brentwood for three months. Liam still lives in Perth and Leon has moved to Melbourne.

“When we first started playing together back in the Perth area, we began recording right off the bat. Our first single was ‘Another Way’ and it did pretty well.”

Crooked Colours burst onto the scene in 2013 with breakout singles “Come Down,” “Capricious” and “Another Way,” earning three consecutive Number 1 hits on Hype Machine and gaining a solid fanbase from the outset.

“We recorded ‘Langata’ on and off after the first record,” said Slabber. “We were on the road touring the album, so we were recording on our laptops. We finished it toward the end of last year. I had a studio at my house in Sydney. Then, we finished tracking at Leon’s house in Perth and had Tim Watt mix it.

“Some songs on the album were left over from the first record but 90 per cent were written for the new album. Usually, we do the instrumental part in full before we start writing the lyrics. The songs usually start with one element such as a melody or a synth sound. But a few of the songs are definitely lyric-driven. It comes in track-by-track.”

“Comparing our first album to the new one, I’d like to think the overall polishedness has improved. In hindsight, the first record was a little disjointed. Sonically, the new one has a little mote purposefullness to the sound.”

Video link for Crooked Colours – https://youtu.be/_6ATS3uGI-Y.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at Johnny Brenda’s are West Philadelphia Orchestra on September 6, Fontaines D.C. on September 7, Neil Hamburger on September 8, Mega Bog on September 9, and Stop Light Observations and Argonaut & Wasp on September 10.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will have Angelina Valente and Todd Fausnacht on September 6.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Steel Pulse on September 5, SPAGA on September 6, AM Radio on September 7, and Fortunate Youth with special guests Bumpin’ Uglies and Educated Phools on September 11.

118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com) hosts Philip Sayce and James Pace Band on September 5, Melt With You (80s Alternative Tribute) on September 6, All Good People (Yes Tribute) on September 7, and Alex Skolnick Trio (Guitarist – Testament) on September 10.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) presents Frank Gamble on September 5, Adam Ezra Group on September 6, Cody Fry on September 7, and “Live & Local” with The Vaughns, Commonwealth Choir & Someone In A Tree  on September 11.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) hosts Sunny War with special guest Lizzie No

Thursday on September 5, Grayson Capps with special guest Silvershade Scenery on September 6, and The Other Favorites on September11.

Living Room (35 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, https://thelivingroomat35east.com) presents Songwriters Night with Reggie Harris, Meghan Cary, Aaron Nathans and Avi Wisnia on September 5, Dave Goddess Group on September 6, and The ROAMies with Mark Alberici on September 7.

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