Chesco’s Glass comes home for Philly show

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Todd Glass

You can get your weekend off to an early start and be laughing all the way as two comedians with Philly roots perform at area venues tonight – Chester County native Todd Glass and Philadelphia’s Coleman Green.

From May 20-22, Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, is hosting Todd Glass.

A veteran comedian, Glass has been honing his high-energy, off-the-cuff act since he first stepped on stage at age 16. He has a knack for inventive material that often mocks the conventions of stand up and can fire off jokes in a stream-of-conscious matter that is undoubtedly funny.

“Like a lot of comedians, I was attracted to it,” said Glass, during a phone interview last week from his home in Los Angeles. “It’s comforting.

“I grew up in the Philly area and used to go to Comedy Works when I was 15. A lot of great acts were playing there like Richard Lewis, Eddie Murphy and Gilbert Gottfried. I found out there was an open mic, and the rest is history.

“Eventually, I moved to L.A. It was either New York or L.A. I always wanted to live in L.A., so I moved there in 1996.

“By that time, I had been doing comedy for eight years. It didn’t take long for me to become a feature. I found my home at the Improv Comedy Club.”

Located at the epicenter of the entertainment world, the legendary Hollywood Improv opened decades ago and continues to be one of the premier comedy venues in the country.

“I felt very at home at the Improv,” said Glass. “It was my home away from home.”

Glass’ home as a kid was the Berwyn/Paoli area and he was a student at Conestoga High.

“I really loved Conestoga,” said Glass. “I had a lot of great teachers at Conestoga.

“When I was young, I always wanted to do comedy. When I moved to L.A., I continued to grow as a comedian. I learn from other comedians – ones I admire. I did Conan after two years and then the Dennis Miller Show.”

If you want to become more familiar with Glass, check out his Netflix special “Act Happy,” and his frequent appearances on “Tosh.0,” “The Daily Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Conan,” and “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.”

“I love playing at Helium,” said Glass. “I come back to Philly once a year to perform at Helium. It’s a January traditional gig that I’ve been doing for seven years.”

Glass is getting ready to do his fourth Netflix special and is considering Helium as a venue.

“Comedy continues to get more real,” said Glass. “This is a very exciting time to do comedy.

“Luckily, I decided to make the best of the pandemic by doing Zoom shows. I missed the audience, but it was still fun.

“I know my stuff is funny. I said to myself – when I come out of this, I want to be a better comedian. I went back and tightened my jokes. I’m ready to go.”

Video link for Todd Glass —

The shows at Helium will start at 8 p.m. on Thursday and 7:15 and 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Ticket prices start at $36 for a two-person table.

Other shows this month at the Helium Comedy Club are Rich Vos on May 26 and Darren Brand from May 27-30.

Coleman Green

On May 20 at the Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, will host the return of the Candlelight Comedy Club with Coleman Green as the headliner.

Green is a stand-up comedian, actor, writer and producer of his own animation series. One of the fan favorites is Coleman’s portrayal of a pink pixel in the Optimum iO Pixels television commercial. Like most entertainers, his progress has been derailed by the pandemic shutdown.

“I haven’t really been working much,” said Green, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon while he was working out at an LA Fitness club in Philly.

“I’m just starting to get back. I’ve only had a few shows – not enough to keep me from getting rusty. I suffered over the last year. I did start doing some animations. And I’ve been writing more.”

Green is a big dude. If you look at him, you’d probably think — he must have played football.

And you’d be right.

“I played football at Dobbins Vo-Tech in the Philadelphia Public League,” said Green. “I was a guard and a linebacker. Then, I played football at Morgan State University. After that, I played semi-pro ball in Canada for a few years. But I’ve always lived in Philly.”

Green’s life path took him from the gridiron to stages in comedy clubs around America.

“I got into comedy the same way a lot of stand-up guts do,” said Green, who now lives in Northeast Philadelphia.

“People kept telling me that I was funny and should do stand up. So, I decided to give it a try. I took a comedy class and now I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

“I started with open mics – the rough gigs. Then, I was doing gigs as a host. I was hosting at different places. I got my first headline gig at the Comedy Cabaret in Northeast Philadelphia.

“The Comedy Cabaret kept me onstage almost every week. I went from host to feature to headliner in a year.

“I played a lot of gigs. I was pretty good as a host. You get a 10-15 minute set as a host and 25-30 minutes as a feature. Headliner is 45-60. I built my set from 25 minutes to headline pretty easy.”

Green’s comedy is very relatable.

“It’s people observations,” said Green. “I talk about family. Basically, I talk about my life. I also bring the audience in and talk with them a little bit.

“My show is a combination of regular routines and improv. I try to regularly add two or three new jokes and replace others. But I still use some of the same jokes from when I started.”

Green now has some rust to shake off.

“Without working for a year, it’s taking time to get my timing down,” said Green. “It’s going to take a while for everybody to get their chops back.”

The layoff will not affect his nervousness.

“I’m always nervous before I go onstage,” said Green. “If I’m not nervous, I know I’m going to have a bad set.”

Video link for Coleman Green –

The Comedy Club show, which also has Shari Franklin as the emcee and Tim Grill as the feature, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.

On May 21, the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, will host “Love City Music Collective presents Reckless Daughter — In Celebration of Joni Mitchell.”

Peg Talbott-Lane

Creator/Lead Vocalist Peg Talbott-Lane is joined by veteran Philadelphia vocalists Amanda Brizzi and Irene Lambrou, bringing rock, pop, jazz and blues influences to the stage in their interpretations of Joni Mitchell’s songbook. This curated performance of Mitchell’s works between “Clouds” (1969) and “Mingus” (1979), Reckless Daughter is part revival, retrospective and a celebration of one of the greatest songwriters of our age.

Featured selections include timeless classics plus deep cuts performed by Love City Music Collective’s 11-member band, as a modern cabaret style performance.

“I started Love City Music Collective in 2019,” said Talbott-Lane, during a phone interview last week from Her home in South Jersey.

“We came together to put together our first tribute. I was just coming out of 0 years in another band – Countdown to Ecstasy, which was a Steely Dan tribute band.

“I was looking what I wanted to do next. I have a lot of talented musical friends. I wanted to do tribute shows to artists not performing live anymore.

“I was really interested in working on a female artist who is not playing anymore. I also wanted a challenge. All roads pointed to Joni Mitchell.”

Mitchell’s career spans decades with her debut, “Song to a Seagull,” dropping in 1968. Mitchell’s career also spans genres.

“People think of Joni Mitchell with a guitar,” said Talbott-Lane, who grew up in nearby King of Prussia and graduated from Upper Merion High School.

“Her middle period was a lot more jazz. My voice fits her mid-career better.”

Talbott-Lane had an odd choice where to start her band in Philadelphia.

“I rented RUBA, which is located in Northern Liberties,” said Talbott-Lane. “They have a theater space upstairs.”

RUBA is the Russian Ukrainian Boating Association – a membership-based hangout on Green Street.

“We put together a show and promoted it,” said Green. “I was hoping for 100 people. I didn’t know that here is a huge network of Joni Mitchell fans around the world – especially in this area.

“We sold out the show with a lot of demand for tickets. I didn’t realize what this meant to this rabid fanbase. It’s dear to us. It’s dear to them.

“Joni Mitchell played Philly a lot when she was a young troubadour. She had shows at the Main Point and the Second Fret. Gene Shay played her new song, “Both Sides Now,” a lot.”

That song is one of the highlights of Love City Music Collective’s set list for this weekend’s show.

“We’re an eight-piece band plus two vocalists and me,” said Talbott-Lane. “The other vocalists are Amanda Brizzi and Irene Lambrou.”

The rest of the LCMC is James Farrell (percusion), Barry Hollander (acoustic and electric guitar), Glen Marrazzo (bass), Rob Lawrence (piano, organ), Troy Schoenmeier (acoustic and electric guitar, music director), Mark Schreiber (drums, percussion), Tony Winkler (electric guitar), and Mark Zelesky (woodwinds).

“The show is like a modern cabaret show – especially because we have to wait for Larry to tune his guitar between songs,” said Talbott-Lane. “It’s one 90-minute set. I want it to be a beautiful theater show.”

The show at the Sellersville Theater on May 21, which will also be available via Livestream, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 for in person and $10 for Livestream.

Vanessa Collier

On May 22, the Sellersville Theater will host a pair of shows by Vanessa Collier.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived last spring, it forced Collier to abandon a spring/summer tour after just one show and to push back the release of her new album. It also wiped out a blues cruise in the fall on which she was scheduled to be a featured performer.

Fortunately, Collier, a resident of Chadds Ford, has been able to start booking shows again.

In addition to this weekend’s shows in Sellersville, Collier will be performing at the Havre de Grace Jazz & Blues Festival in Maryland on June 5. She has several shows listed for Pennsylvania venues as well as dates in New York, New Jersey and Ohio.

“I played a show at the Arden Gild in February 2020 and a few other shows after that,” said Collier, during a phone interview. “My last gig on the tour was March 12 – the first show of a Midwest tour. We played Mojo’s Boneyard in Evansville, Indiana. That same day, the NBA and MLB stopped their games.

“I realized it was serious, so I said to my band – ‘let’s play this show and go home.’ I love to talk to people after my shows. I just like chatting with my fans, but I couldn’t do that. Instead, the show ended, and I had to head back to the Green Room. I like hugging people, but I didn’t want to put them at risk.”

Collier released her new album “Heart On The Line” on August 21 – an album that has received rave reviews from music critics and fans alike. Still in her mid-20s, 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 third album “Honey Up” was released on July 6, 2018.

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 previous album “Honey Up” was released almost two years and was nominated for Blues Music Award (BMA) Contemporary Blues Album of the Year.

“That album did well right from the start,” said Collier. “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.”

Now, Collier is ready for “Heart on the Line” to take off.

“We had recorded the basics for the new album back in February,” said Collier. “I had planned to put the vocals on it during the Midwest tour even though it would have been hectic. When I came home, I had a lot of time. I put vocals on. I put horns on a few tracks. I spent time with the mixing. It took longer than I had planned. Like my previous albums, it’s definitely a mixture – blues, funk, NOLA – but this one goes rootsier.

Collier recorded the album in January at Hearstudios in Camden, Maine and released it on her own label – Phenix Fire Records.

“It’s the same studio I used for ‘Honey Up’,” said Collier. “I used the same engineer – Mark Wessel. He was a professor I had at Berklee for a course in music production. He really captures each instrument as it sounds in the room and is absolutely wonderful to work with.”

Collier’s band will feature stellar guitarist and blues master Arthur Neilson.

In the 80s and 90s, his guitar work became much in demand. Neilson became adept at playing blues, rock and roll, rockabilly and country. At one point, he was gigging in seven bands, including Oxford Blues, Kid Java, Felix and The Havanas and The Guitar Guys from Hell. He also worked with guitar great Otis Rush.

In 1998, Shemekia Copeland hired Neilson to be the guitarist in her band. He has played on many of Copeland’s Grammy nominated albums including “Wicked,” “33 1/3” and “Outskirts of Love.”

Neilson has released three albums under his own name – “a piece of wood, some strings, and a pick,” “Moan & Cry” and “Hell of a Nerve.”

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.”

Video link for Vanessa Collier —

The shows at the Sellersville Theater on May 22 will start at 5 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for in person and $15 for Livestream.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are Snacktime Brass Band on May 25 and Molly Tuttle on May 26.

Jefferson Berry & The UAC

After 15 months of pandemic lockdown, Jefferson Berry & The UAC (Urban Acoustic Coalition) is ready to rock. The band will celebrate its new album with a pair of “CD Release Concerts” this weekend.

In the main event, Berry and his band will headline a show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, on May 22. Jefferson Berry & The UAC also have an outdoor 5 p.m. dinner show – weather permitting – at Malelani Cafe Dinner Show in Philadelphia on May 23.
The weather outside on Saturday will have no effect on the show at Jamey’s – but it will be hot inside the club.

“It’s been difficult during the lockdown,” said Berry, during a phone interview last week from his home in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.

“I did a couple new video projects. And, I have a record release coming up.”

On April 23, Jefferson Berry & the UAC released its fourth studio album, “Soon!” The LP’s first single, “We’ll Soon Be Together” recently premiered via Americana Highways

The band’s previous albums were “Guitar on the River” (2016), “The Habit” (2018) and “Double Deadbolt Logic” (2020).

“It’s been tough even keeping a band together,” said Berry, “We used remote software to rehearse. But a certain magic is missing when it’s not face-to-face.

“I’ve done Livestream shows every week. It’s been fun but it’s not like playing live for an audience.”

Berry’s other career is as a high school economics and government teacher at the Philadelphia School District’s Excel South Academy in Northeast Philly.

“On the song ‘Shattered Glass’ on my last album ‘Double Deadbolt Logic,’ I got a lot of info from my class – like how to boost and strip a car,” said Berry.

“The new album was all pretty much written during the pandemic. There are nine songs on the album. We went into production with 14 songs – some pre-pandemic but most during the pandemic.

“I put it into internet software called Soundtrap and then I’d put it out to the band. Then, we’d go into the studio with bass, drums and me.

“A lot of the stuff really came together when I had them in individually. We recorded the album at Kawari Studio in Wyncote with Matt Muir, who is a great engineer.

“We started last summer and wrapped up in November. Then, we got it mastered and set a release date.

“In January, when we were planning the release, I picked May – Memorial Day. I figured the pandemic should be under control by then.”

Berry grew up in Southern California and is a graduate of University of California Santa Cruz, a school whose sports teams are nicknamed, “Banana Slugs.” He eventually landed in the Philadelphia area where he became part of Philly’s folk/rock/Americana scene.

Berry’s website presented the history behind UAC:

“In 2006, at around 3a.m. at the Falcon Ridge Festival, Jefferson and his banjo playing brother Hank were playing a Hillbilly version of “White Room” by Cream. In fest-jam fashion, each vocal verse was separated by an instrumental-lead verse. Out and of the shadows and into the light of the campfire came this guy with a mandolin and long red hair, playing the song’s iconic Clapton lead pretty much verbatim.

“As the sun was coming up, Jefferson asked Bud Burroughs if he wanted to start a band and Hippies and Hillbillies was born. The album Drumless America was recorded in Bud’s living room: a quirky mix of covers ranging from Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt to Neil Young and U2, the show and CD was fun for some, but considered blasphemous at the bluegrass festivals the band played.

“Bud and Jefferson’s next venture involved Jefferson’s daughter.  Briana Berry and her sister were raised at the summer festivals—Kerrville, Falcon Ridge, XFS and Philly. The Berry’s 2009 album, Fairmount Station featured songs written by Briana and her Dad. It was promoted nationally to radio by Powderfinger Promotions and charted fairly high for an independent release on the folk charts. The band played X-Fest and the Philadelphia Folk Festival that year.

“The Urban Acoustic Coalition came to be in 2014 with the release of Guitar on the River. Again, Bud Burroughs served as the music director for a collection of Jefferson’s city-themed songs. Recorded at MelodyVision by Rodney Whittenberg, the album’s sessions grew the band. Jefferson Berry and the Urban Acoustic Coalition (a mouthful) played the Camp Stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival that year with a Coalition of players from Boris Garcia, Bad Sister and Beaufort.

“This was an example of the “coalition” aspect of the band, an ethic that allowed players to keep their other projects alive while clearing dates with the UAC periodically. While bass players (Billy Hyatt, Dean McNulty) and female vocalists (Irene Lambrou, Emily Drinker) have cycled in and out of the band to pursue their own projects, the core of the coalition for the past six years has been Jefferson, Bud, Marky B! Berkowitz (on harmonica), Dave Brown (on banjo, guitar, keys and anything else needed), David Rapoport (on drums).

“Bud and Jefferson’s next venture involved Jefferson’s daughter.  Briana Berry and her sister were raised at the summer festivals—Kerrville, Falcon Ridge, XFS and Philly. The Berry’s 2009 album, Fairmount Station featured songs written by Briana and her Dad. It was promoted nationally to radio by Powderfinger Promotions and charted fairly high for an independent release on the folk charts. The band played X-Fest and the Philadelphia Folk Festival that year.”

“The band’s current line-up has Budd Burroughs on mandolin and keyboards, Mark Berkowitz on blues and chromatic harmonicas, Mike Damora on bass, Caleb Estey on drums and Dave Brown on everything — banjo, lap steel, guitars and fretless bass,” said Berry.

“We also had Meaghan Kyle sing with us. She’s worked so well that she’s now joined the band.”

Kyle is one of a trio of singers along with Jess McDowell and Maren Sharrow in the Philly band No Good Sister.

Berry offered this description of Jefferson Berry & The UAC’s music style. 

“It’s Americana,” said Berry. “It’s acoustic rock. Basically, I’m an urban storyteller. It’s folk music for the city.”

Video link for Jefferson Berry & The UAC

The show at Jamey’s on Saturday night will start at 8 p.m. and will also be available via Livestream. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Pay-per-view tickets are $15.

Other shows scheduled for Jamey’s House of Music this month are Bobby Messano on May 21 and King Solomon Hicks on May 29.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, will present two editions of its Rooftop Series this weekend.

On May 22, the venue will host “Highway 61 Revival – A Bob Dylan Experience.” The show will celebrate the 80th Birthday of Bob Dylan and feature members of Mason Porter. On May 23, the headliner will be Dave Mattock and Funktap.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, will present Electron on May 21 and 22 and Aunt Mary Pat on May 23.

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