On Stage: The Pineapple Thief is livin’ the dream, making U.S. tour debut

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

The Pineapple Thief

Picture a high school boy dreaming for years about having a date with one of the most attractive girls in the school and never having the dream come true – until one day years later, the girl invites him to go on a date.

The Pineapple Thief, a rock band from the south of England, went through a similar experience this year.

The British quartet — Bruce Soord, vocals, guitars; Jon Sykes, bass, vocals; Steve Kitch, keyboards; Gavin Harrison, drums — has a long history of making music in the U.K.

The Pineapple Thief has released 12 studio albums, seven live albums and five EPs since 1999.

The band is now touring North America in support of its most recent album, “Dissolution” – a tour that will visit the area tonight for a show at Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100,www.utphilly.com).

This tour is special. It is the band’s version of that high school boy’s long-awaited date.

“This is our first time to do a U.S. tour,” said Soord, during a phone interview Wednesday from a tour stop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. There was always something causing problems every time we looked at touring the states before. It’s difficult managing to get out and to get visas.

“But we’ve finally done it. Playing shows in America is great. The vibe in the United States is such a unique vibe.”

The first album from The Pineapple Thief was “Abducting the Unicorn,” which was released in 1999 and remastered and re-issued in 2017 with a bonus track.

“It’s been 20 years for The Pineapple Thief but for the first five or six years, they were just my own studio albums,” said Soord, a native of Yeovil.

It’s only been the last four years that the band has really made an upward surge.

“When Gavin Harrison became our drummer – that was a turning point,” said Soord. “Things took off.”

Harrison toured as a member of Renaissance. He worked as a freelance session drummer on records and tours artists such as Incognito, Lisa Stansfield, Artful Dodger, Paul Young, Iggy Pop, Level 42, Porcupine Tree, OSI, King Crimson, Dizrhythmia, The Kings Of Oblivion, Tom Robinson, Go West, Gail Ann Dorsey, Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin, Kevin Ayers, and Claudio Baglioni.

In 2002, he joined Porcupine Tree. Six years later Harrison joined King Crimson as part of a dual-drummer line-up with Pat Mastelotto.

“After we finished our 10th album, we needed a drummer for the next one,” said Soord. “We knew Gavin, so we asked him to do the sessions of our next album, ‘Your Wilderness.’

“He played on that album. Eventually, he came on tour with us. We toured the album and got along very well. After that, he joined the band.”

By the time The Pineapple Thief made “Dissolution,” Harrison was a fully integrated member of the band.

The new material establishes The Pineapple Thief’s intent to elevate the band to new heights with a desire to develop the quartet’s songwriting and technical capabilities, and with artwork created by iconic design agency Stylorouge, whose previous work includes Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Blur and British film Trainspotting.

The album concept tells of the often-dark consequences of living in a society in which everything is played out on a public stage, a theme paralleled in the cover art, which was created by ‘glitching’ the original photographs.

According to Soord, “Broadly speaking the title reflects the disintegration of relationships and the undoing of our social fabric. In a time when we are supposed to be bound closer together than ever, I have never felt so apart from the world. We are living through a revolution and right now I am not sure it’s a good one. Lyrically this is the most vivid I have been.

“We’ve once again been joined by Gavin Harrison. It’s been a real collaborative journey between the four of us writing and recording this record, with the songs taking on a life of their own. When everyone pulls in the same direction, amazing things can happen. The Pineapple Thief is a different proposition with Gavin. This time he was with me from the inception of ‘Dissolution’ and together we took the songs into territory I wouldn’t have found on my own.

“We found ourselves pushing each other so much further, both technically and artistically. There were times in the depths of the writing and recording process, which took six months, that I felt so exhilarated but at the same time exhausted and overwhelmed, that I couldn’t imagine us ever finishing the record. Every day we found ourselves finding that extra something we didn’t know we had. None of us would let anyone or anything get in the way of what we felt the album should become. I look back on the process with immense pride.”
At the same time that The Pineapple Thief is making its maiden tour of North America, Soord released a solo album – “All This Will Be Yours.”

“The solo album is more introspective and personal,” said Soord. “I was working on it at the same time as the birth of my daughter. The title track came from a day I was walking her in her pram.”

“The band falls into the prog rock category but we’re not a prog rock band. I tell people that we play rock music with a little bit of a twist.

Soord will have no solo tracks in the set list for the band’s current tour. With 12 albums from which to draw and songs fans have been waiting maybe more than a decade to hear performed live, Soord has a challenging task in trying to decide which songs to play onstage.

“It is difficult,” said Soord. “Our fans are saying – please play this song, please play this song. We just play the songs we like. We focus on the last two, but we also play five or six from the back catalogue.”

Video link for The Pineapple Thief – https://youtu.be/te5bGWJIlOk.

The show at Union Transfer will start at 8 p.m.


“Defy,” the new album by Otherwise, is as fresh as a loaf of crusty-yet-soft Italian bread moments after it is slid out of the bakery’s oven – and just as tasty.

On November 22, Otherwise will be serving up mouthwatering slices of “Defy” when the band co-headlines a show with Blacktop Mojo at the Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684,http://www.chameleonclub.net).

Like The Pineapple Thief, Otherwise has been around a long time but has just recently picked up speed with an upward trajectory.

“‘Defy’ just came out on November 8,” said Adrian Patrick, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in New York.

“The first single – ‘Lifted’ – jumped up to #31 right from its release.”

“Defy” is the band’s fifth album and first for Mascot Label Group

The Las Vegas quartet—Adrian Patrick [lead vocals], Ryan Patrick [guitar, vocals], Tony Carboney [bass, vocals], and Brian Medeiros [drums]—push the boundaries of the band’s signature style in terms of both songcraft and sonic experimentation alike.

According to Patrick, “Rock and roll was always meant to be dangerous. We grew up in the last era where nineties bands were Soul Rebels. They stood for something. They didn’t conform.

“Since the greatest risks yield the greatest return, why play it safe? We decided to swing for the fences this time. In between the last album and now, we changed everything.”

Since its self-titled independent debut in 2006, the band has recorded a trio of well received albums — “True Love Never Dies” (2012), “Peace At All Costs” (2014), and “Sleeping Lions” (2017).

“We recorded the new album with producer Matt Good earlier this year in his Phoenix studio,” said Patrick. “We had a lot of demos going in. About half the album is based off original demos. The other half we wrote in the studio with Matt. He was very proficient as a singer.

“The album is hard alternative rock, but we also wanted to infuse modern elements that younger listeners are into. We wanted to have heavy subject matter lyrically but do it in an accessible way instead of being so dark and morose.”

Usually, when a band is touring soon after the release of new music, it slowly introduces the new material into the set list. Otherwise opted for a different “M.O.”

“In our live show, about two-thirds of the set is new material,” said Patrick. “And we play staples from all five albums. We have fans in the audience who are singing along with the new songs already. It’s a really strong set – a good balance of old and new.”

The band’s merch table also has a blend of old and new.

“The new album obviously is available digitally as a download,” said Patrick. “But we also have CDs, LPs – actual vinyl albums – and cassettes. I still think cassettes have the warmest bandwidth.”

Video link for Otherwise — https://youtu.be/Btnwklj8i8I.

The all-ages show at the Chameleon Club, which also features Blacktop Mojo, Lullwater and Kirra, will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $18.

On November 22, two bands from Chicago are playing the area but the venues are pretty far apart – the Nick Moss Band is playing in Reading and Fredo Disco is performing in Center City Philadelphia.

Fredo Fosco

While the venues might be far apart, the physical gap pales in comparison to the gap between the two acts musical styles. Fredo Disco plays indie rock music with roots that go back just a few years. Moss plays powerful Chicago blues with roots that go back almost a century.

fredo disco is a band that started as a recording project by Fredo Fosco.

“My real name is Fredo Fosco and not Fredo Disco,” said Fosco, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon as the band was travelling through Virginia to a gig in Washington, D.C.

In his Facebook bio, Fosco said, “hi im fredo. i am 18. my real name is fredo fosco but my phone always autocorrects it to disco so here we are. these are some songs that i write and record. in 2018 some of my friends joined fredo disco and their names are max, colin, and aidan. max plays guitar 🎸. colin plays drums 🥁. aidan plays bass 🎣. enjoy our tunes, eat some food, and stay cool 😎.”

Fosco and his crew are on tour now and will play a show on November 22 at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011,http://www.lnphilly.com) as the opening act for Tiny Moving Parts.

“Me and my buddy Colin started playing music together in high school,” said Fosco. “We wrote a ton of songs together back in 2017. He was in a band called Clear Confusion and then went away to college – to St. Louis University.

“A little while later, Max from that band came back home after going to school at Belmont University. The summer before I left for college, me, max and Colin recorded our first album – ‘Very Cool Music for Very Cool People.’

“I started school at DePaul University. A few weeks into college, we got some tour offers. So, I dropped out of college. I was only in school for about three weeks.”

Fosco has two “Disco” projects going – fredo disco and disco inc.

“disco ink is all electric guitar rock,” said Fosco. “In fredo disco, I play acoustic guitar.

“We put out two EPs in 2017 – ‘What a Year’ and ‘School Spirit’ – and both were fredo disco. Last year, there was the album and we also did an EP called ‘Boredom Keeps Me Up at Night’ – and that was a disco inc EP.”

A lot of young musicians forego the traditional method of recording tracks in a brick-and-mortar studio and opt to record at home on a computer using programs like Logic and ProTools, Fosco takes the D.I.Y. attitude a step deeper.”

I do my recording on my phone,” said Fosco. “All my recordings – EPS, singles and album – have been made on my iPhone.”

Video link for fredo disco — https://youtu.be/eSlCUtNekA8.

The show at TLA which has Tiny Moving Parts as the headliner, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.

The Nick Moss Band

On Friday night, The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling will headline a bill with Chadds Ford’s Vanessa Collier and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram at a Reading Blues Fest show at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading (701 Penn Street, Reading, www.readingbluesfest.com). Tickets are $59.

The concert in Reading is part of Moss’ “2019 Lucky Guy! Tour.”

Lucky Guy!” is the band’s new album which was released in August on Alligator Records.

Since the 2018 release of the group’s Alligator Records debut, “The High Cost of Low Living,” the band — guitarist/vocalist Moss, harmonicist/vocalist Gruenling, pianist Taylor Streiff, bassist Rodrigo Mantovani, drummer Patrick Sealshas — have toured relentlessly.

“We recorded the album in California at the beginning of January,” said Moss, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon from a tour stop in Milford, New Hampshire.

“We cut the album at Greaseland Studio, Kid Anderson’s studio in San Jose. He also produced our first Alligator album at my home studio. This time, we decided to do at his place in California because he’s more comfortable there. It’s a really good studio with a great mix of analog and digital gear. He’s one of those producers who figured out how to meld digital and old school.”

“Lucky Guy!” features the classic Chicago blues sound the band is known for. But, as Moss himself notes, there are also “a few other flavors,” including Louisiana swamp pop, West Coast blues, New Orleans funk, and even some proto-rock and roll. All but one of the 14 songs are originals, with 11 by Moss and two by Gruenling.

“We were in the studio for a week,” said Moss. “I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants. We had a few tracks we knew we wanted to record. Most of the songs were written in the weeks before we went in the studio and some were written in the studio. I tend to write by myself a lot. Because Kid understands the music so well, he has great input into the process.

“When I bring in a song, it’s more a rough idea. This line-up has been together for about six years, so we know each other well and how we play. I don’t write the notes for the other guys. It’s their interpretation of what I’ve written. And we map out where the solos are going to happen.”

Moss is an American blues musician who has been releasing albums for 20 years. His two Alligator Records releases are shining examples of the classic Chicago blues ensemble sound that world class guitarist/vocalist Moss and master harmonicist/vocalist Gruenling have been generating for years.

Moss paid his dues gigging in Chicago’s rough and tumble West and South side blues clubs under the tutelage of some of the city’s greatest blues luminaries.

“Chicago is still my home,” said Moss, who has received 22 Blues Music Award nominations, including this year’s coveted Band Of The Year Award. New Jersey’s DennisGruenling, considered among today’s best blues harmonica players, has been nominated this year for the Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist – Harmonica.

“Music was always a big deal in our house when I was growing up,” said Moss.

“It was a pretty wide-open palate – Mario Lanza, Dean Martin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Eagles. My dad was into early rock-and-roll and doo wop and my mom was into everything.

“I was around nine or 10 when I got my first guitar. I brushed it off at first because I didn’t have the patience to figure it out. My brother was 13. I’d sneak into his room and play his guitar. He caught me but didn’t get mad.

“Instead, he bought me a Silvertone bass and Silvertone amp. He said that if I learned to play bass well, I could play in his band. He needed a bass player. He taught me how to teach myself.

“When I was in high school, we started going downtown and sneaking into these blues jams. We started going all in on it.”

But a time loomed when Moss would have to choose between music and sports.

“When I was 18, I had scholarship offers from a lot of universities,” said Moss. “I was a state champion wrestler and an all-conference football player.

“Then, I had medical problems. I lost 80 per cent of my kidney and that ended my athletic career.”
Moss released his debut album “First Offense” in 1998. He has released 13 more since.

According to Moss, “When the band and I get on stage, the music takes over. We can’t hold back, and the energy just comes pouring out. We get carried away and the audience gets carried away with us.”

Video link for the Nick Moss Band – https://youtu.be/Y7Xgbly2Ap4.

Vanessa Collier

Still in her mid-20s, Vanessa Collier has toured all over the world numerous times and has released three solo albums. With searing saxophone solos, soulful vocals, and witty lyrics, her songwriting features a blend of blues, funk, rock, and soul.

Collier’s impressive vocals and stinging saxophone work saw her light up stages as part of Joe Louis Walker’s band in 2012 and 2013.

In 2014, her debut album “Heart Soul & Saxophone” won her accolades as a “Best of 2014 Blues Breaker.” In March 2017, she released her sophomore album “Meeting My Shadow.” Collier’s latest album “Honey Up” was released on July 6, 2018.

“I’ve been touring a lot since ‘Honey Up’ came out,” said Collier, during a recent phone interview from her home in Delaware County. “It’s been almost non-stop. I did 115 shows in 2018 and I’ve already done more than 200 in 2019.

“I pretty much always take the band – except when I go to Brazil to play. Fred Sunwalk, who is from the Sao Paulo area, emailed me a few years ago and asked me to come to Brazil. For the last three years, I’ve gone there at least once a year.”

Sunwalk, a guitarist, singer and composer, is among the top names in contemporary Brazilian blues. With 22-year career, five CDs and a DVD, he performs at the main blues and jazz festivals in Brazil and makes frequent tours in the United States and Europe accompanying international artists.

“When I tour in Brazil, I use Fred’s band,” said Collier. “They know the music well.

“I haven’t been in the studio for a while. Making an album every two years seems to be a good number for me. I’m writing songs now for my next album. There will be vocal tracks and instrumental tracks. I always do a mix.

“Playing sax, songwriting, singing – I think of them as equals,” said Collier. “I really enjoy the songwriting process. I’ve always been a sax player. I keep the balance when I’m writing.”

Collier is primarily a sax player, singer and songwriter but is also well-versed in playing clavinet, flute, electric organ, and percussion.

“When I was little, I really wanted to play piano,” said Collier. “I don’t know why. I started taking piano lessons but didn’t like the teacher, so I quit after six months. I saw someone playing sax on television and fell in love with it. We rented a sax for me when I was in fourth grade. That was in school. Then, I studied with a private instructor for a few years.

“Then, I took lessons with Chris Vadala, who played sax with Chuck Mangione. I studied with him for seven years – classical, jazz and funk. He started me doubling on flute and clarinet. I still play those instruments. Mainly, I play sax — tenor, some soprano and some baritone.”

Collier’s latest album “Honey Up” was released just over a year ago.

According to Collier on her website, “This album is a snapshot in time of what I enjoy writing/playing/singing and brings together my diverse inspirations and ideas and, on this album especially, more of my personality.

“Of course, there’s always a purpose to some of my songs as they are based on things I struggle with, like why we can’t listen and respect each other, why we can’t work to find common ground, and why we can’t find our way out of the small boxes we place (or accept) in our lives, but even those songs drive us forward and the music is upbeat and funky.

“Similar to my previous records (which I also produced), the songs on ‘Honey Up’ pay respect to the traditions and roots of blues music, but branch out with my own blend of rock, funk, gospel, NOLA, and soul grooves and, of course, my love of the saxophone. Each song is different, and I hope you find a favorite (or two or three…)!! Thank you for listening!”

“The ‘Honey Up’ album was nominated for Blues Music Award (BMA) Contemporary Blues Album of the year,” said Collier.  “The album came out last July and did well right from the start. It was a Top 5 Billboard Blues Album and was well-received by radio deejays.”

Collier was nominated in 2017 for a Blues Music Award in the “Instrumental — Horn Player of the Year” category. She also won first place in the “Lyrics Only” category of the 2017 USA Songwriting Competition. In 2018, Collier was nominated in two categories at the Blues Music Awards – “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year” and “Instrumental — Horn Player of the Year.”

In 2019, she was again nominated in same two categories at the Blues Music Awards – “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year” and “Instrumental – Horn.” She claimed first place in the “Instrumental – Horn” category.

“Honey Up,” which had a three-month residency on Billboard’s “Top Blues Albums Chart,” provides a good look at Collier’s influences.

“With jazz, the first person I was turned on to was Cannonball Adderley,” said Collier. “Other major influences were John Coltrane, Junior Walker, and Maceo Parker. Vocally, I started with Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and that morphed into Norah Jones and Bonnie Raitt.”

Collier also is a music teacher and has been involved in various “Blues in Schools” programs.

“I grew up in Clarksville, Maryland and then graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston,” said Collier, who earned a dual degree in performance and music production, and engineering. “Right now, I’m basically just playing and teaching.

“When I’m playing live, it’s mostly sax and vocals. I do play guitar on two songs. I use three saxes – soprano, tenor and alto – with the majority on soprano. In my current show, I’ve been trying to work songs from ‘Honey Up.” Generally, I play a blend from all three records.”

Video link for Vanessa Collier – https://youtu.be/Ji0x9vkQVcQ.

Many blues guitarists have been playing for decades. “Kingfish” Ingram’s guitar playing gives listeners the impression that he too has been at it for decades. In reality, he is barely two decades old. He was born in Mississippi in January 1999 and has been exposed to the blues since he was a toddler.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

“I come from Clarksdale, Mississippi – the Mecca of blues,” said Ingram, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I remember seeing the PBS documentary on Muddy Waters when I was pretty young. And, I lived next door to a blues band. I was exposed to the blues a lot as a young child.

“I actually started as a bass player. My first paid gig playing bass was with the All Night Long Blues Band. I was 11 at the time.”

It didn’t take long for Ingram to switch from bass to lead guitar.

“I was playing bass, but I always wanted to play guitar,” said Ingram. “But, when I was young, my fingers were too big for guitar.

“When I was 14-15, I played guitar for a local band. I just wanted to do something different. I wanted to put my own thing together. I wanted to play guitar. Playing guitar was original.

“I started with a cheap Sears & Roebuck guitar. An Epiphone 335 was my first real guitar.  I got it for Christmas when I was in middle school.”

Ingram explained the origin of his nickname.

“My mentor from the Delta Museum gave kids nicknames,” said Ingram. “He called me Kingfish. He said Kingfish who was a character on the ‘Amos ‘n’Andy Show.’

“My biggest influences were Albert King, Little Milton, B.B. King, Son House, Freddie King and Skip James. I was also influenced by Ernie Isley, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and George Benson.

“Even though I was influenced by Jimi and Prince, I never had an actual intent to merge rock and blues. I just want to experiment and see what I come up with. I just like to create stuff.”

Ingram is known for making his guitar sing.

“Making the guitar sing – that’s when playing with substance comes into play,” said Ingram. “I love playing originals. I’m still writing when I’m on the road.

“On tour, it’s a three-piece – bass, drums and me. Both of the other guys in the band are from Mississippi. Paul is from Tupelo and Chris is from Shelby. I have two electric guitars I use and one acoustic. I play two or three acoustic songs a set.”

Video link for Christone “Kingfish” Ingram — https://youtu.be/VQha23zpf5k.

The Nick Moss Band/Vanessa Collier/Kristone Ingram show at the Reading Blues Fest show on November 22 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $59.

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