On Stage: Kasim Sulton’s music is familiar, even if his name isn’t

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Kasim Sulton

You may not recognize Kasim Sulton by name, but you most certainly have been exposed to his musical efforts.

Sulton, who will be performing at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) on December 12, has a list of names on his musical resume that looks like the “Who’s Who” of the world’s best rock musicians.

Sulton is most known for his work with Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and on a number of other projects with Rundgren. He also has spent a lot of time over the last few years playing bass for Blue Öyster Cult.

The long list of acts he has worked with includes Mick Jagger, Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf, Celine Dion, Tom Robinson Band, Ronnie Spector, Hall & Oates, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Patty Smyth, Patti Smith, The Rubinoos, Sounding Rick, David Drew, Phil Thornalley, Johnny Hates Jazz, Steve Hillage, Richie Sambora, Lulu, Scandal, Shaun Cassidy, Rick Derringer, Indigo Girls, Joan Jett, Bonnie Tyler, Steve Stevens, Glen Burtnik, Boy Meets Girl, Eileen Ivers, The Burns Sisters and Ricky Byrd.

Over the last four decades, Sulton has been involved with the making of more than 100 albums — including three of his own. His most recent albums are “3,” which came out in 2014, and “Live Bootleg,” which was recorded in 2015 at The Cutting Room in NYC and Hotel Utah in San Francisco

Sulton honored his longtime association with the groundbreaking progressive rock band Utopia and its legacy by performing a limited run of full band shows consisting entirely of Utopia music.  Billed as “Kasim Sulton’s Utopia,” the shows featured songs hand-picked by Sulton, spanning the 10 albums he appears on, including deep cuts as well as many more familiar songs.

“That tour was scheduled to run from the end of February until the end of March this year,” said Sulton, during a phone interview last week from his home on Staten Island, New York.

“I did most of the shows from that tour. All but six of those gigs happened.”

The cause for the tour’s schedule being truncated obviously was the clampdown necessitated by the spread of COVID-19.

“I did a bunch and then everything shut down,” said Sulton. “The plug got pulled just before our Cincinnati show on March 14. Everything shut down and we came home. It’s been a complete life-changing experience. It’s the first time in 45 years that I haven’t been on a plane.

“I have done a couple shows since the shutdown. I did one of the first drive-in shows in the country in May at Tupelo Music Hall (Derry, New Hampshire). I did one show at Daryl’s House and have another next year. It’s just been really different.”

Fortunately for Sulton and other musicians, The Sellersville Theater has found a way to continue its tradition of presenting live shows.

This message is posted on the website of the Sellersville Theater:

Sellersville Theater Coronavirus Safety Measures

We are currently able to present live music and comedy at 10% occupancy to live performances with ticketed livestreams as well.

We are doing everything we can to keep people safe and to be able to continue to present live shows. Please help us by doing your share to contain the virus. We are grateful for your patronage!

“When we booked the Sellersville show, it was allowed to have one-third capacity,” said Sulton. “The show sold out in three days, 66 tickets just went out immediately.

“Two weeks later, Pennsylvania’s Governor changed it from one-third to 10 percent capacity. The only way we could accommodate the 66 tickets that were sold was to do two shows.

“I’m really excited about these shows. I’m bringing two guys with me. Andy Escolese is a utility man. He plays a little bit of keys, drums, guitar and bass. And there is my good buddy Matt Beck, who plays guitar for the Rob Thomas Band. Three of us on stage and we just have a good time for 90 minutes.”

Sulton will also be hooking up with Utopia mate Todd Rundgren for a new project.

“We’re getting ready to do a 25-city virtual Todd tour,” said Sulton. “We’ll set up at a venue in Chicago and start in February.”

Utopia was formed in 1973 and by mid-1976 settled into a stable line-up featuring quartet of Todd Rundgren (guitar, vocals), Kasim Sulton (bass, vocals), Roger Powell (keyboards, vocals), and Willie Wilcox (drums, vocals).

All four band members wrote, sang, produced, and even engineered material for the band.  Sulton wrote and sang lead on Utopia’s biggest hit, “Set Me Free,” from the band’s best-selling album “Adventures in Utopia,” which was released in 1980 and peaked at number 27 on the Billboard Top 40 charts in the U.S.

Sulton is always busy with a variety of projects. His latest endeavor – other than this tour – is making new music of his own.

“I’ve been working on my next solo project,” said Sulton. “I just finished my fourth solo album three months ago. I was in London working with my writing partner Phil Thornalley.

“I go to his studio in St. John’s Wood. A lot of songs were done at his place. On some, I used my home studio – mainly for the bass parts and the lead vocals. We spent about a year-and-a-half making this record.

“As opposed to self-releasing the album, I decided to solicit a record company for a distribution deal. I didn’t want to release it with people afraid of coming out to shows. You shouldn’t release an album if you can’t tour to support it.

“The record is really good. There are 12 songs on the record, and I don’t think there is a bad song in the bunch. It runs the gamut from Frank Ocean style to a Weezer song to ballads. I’m really proud of it. I can’t wait for it to come out.”

Video link for Kasim Sulton — https://fb.watch/2fSH8T57-O/.

The shows at the Sellersville Theater will start at 3 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50. Livestream option is available at $17.50.

The Micah Graves Project

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are The Micah Graves Project on Soundbooth Sessions on December 15, Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy Present: “A Celtic Family Christmas At Home” on December 18, Deb Callahan Band on December 19, and The Launch (A Tribute to The Music Of Styx & Queen) on December 26 and 27.

Live original music is also being presented at 118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com) as part of its “118 North presents the Tailgate Under The Tent Series.”

Scheduled to run through the winter, “118 North presents the Tailgate Under The Tent Series” features live pop-up concerts from under the Wayne Picnic Grove. Every Wednesday-Sunday night, the venue will feature favorite local musicians with food and cocktails to-go available to order.

Announced shows for next month are The Quixote Project on December 4 at 6 p.m., Newspapers Taxi Duo (Beatles Tribute) on December 4 at 8:15 p.m., Vilebreed on December 5 at 8:15 p.m., Pawnshop Roses on December 6 at 6 p.m., Jawn of the Dead (Grateful Dead Tribute) on December 10 at 6 p.m., Kenn Kweder on December 11 at 6 p.m., Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones Tribute) on December 11 at 8:15 p.m. and Joe Kenney on December 12 at 6 p.m., The Amanda and Teddy Thomas Band on December 18, Not Tuna on December 18, Tommy Conwell on December 19, Bickell Brothers on December 19, Three Fourteen on December 20, Melt With You on December 26, Clay McElwee on December 27.

In the event of inclement weather, or if you are unable to attend, all performances will also be streamed on 118 North’s Facebook Live.

“Yuletide Jazz & Wine at Winterthur” will be presented every Wednesday evening at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware,800-448-3883,www.winterthur.org).

The events, which will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. each night, feature an evening of live jazz, food, and wine among the twinkling lights of the Visitor Center. Visitors can enjoy concerts by some of the area’s best musicians playing holiday music.

Winterthur’s Pavilion Restaurant is open for dinner with cash wine and beer bar. Reservations required as capacity is limited.

Sharon and Shawn

The schedule for this year’s “Yuletide Jazz & Wine at Winterthur” is Sharon and Shawn Trio on December 16, Aniyajazz on December 23 and The Greg Farnese Quartet on December 30.

The shows are Included with general admission ticket. For those not purchasing a Yuletide general admission ticket, tickets are $10.

There will also be live music at Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org)

The “Outdoor Christmas Musicians Holiday Series” is running now January 3 in Pierce-du Pont House Plaza.

Longwood visitors can revel in the delightful instrumental sounds of Rob Dickenson and the Brandywine Christmas Minstrels as they celebrate “A Longwood Christmas.” Performances will be held nightly Fridays through Sundays from 5-8 p.m. — weather permitting.

Some of the local venues presenting live music shows throughout December are:

Clay MacElwee

Brickside Grille (540 Wellington Square, Exton, bricksidegrille.com) is hosting Chris Lebresco on December 12, Clay MacElwee on December 13, Samantha Seider on December 19, Dave Saunders on December 20, Dan Graber on December 27 and Madeline Knight on December 27.

Cedar Hollow Inn Restaurant and Bar (2455 Yellow Springs Road, Malvern, www.cedarhollowinn.com) will present Sunshine Jones on December 12.

Tuned Up Brewing Co. (135 North Main Street, Spring City, www.tunedupbrew.com) will present Bill Ferreri on December 11 and Mr. Mody on December 25.

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