On Stage: The Blues take center stage at Sellersville

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Clarence Spady

Two highly acclaimed blues artists will be performing at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) in the upcoming week – Clarence Spady on July 2 and Ana Popovic on July 6.

They couldn’t be less alike. Spady is an African-American male guitarist from North Jersey who now lives in Scranton. Popovic is a white female guitarist from Serbia who now lives in Manhattan Beach, California.

On the other hand, there are a lot of similarities. Each plays searing, heart-felt guitar, composes authentic blues compositions and sings with the grit you want from a blues singer.

And both musicians have the blues in their DNA having been raised in families with blues connections. Both started playing the blues before they were in elementary school.

Spady was immersed in music from a young age when he was growing up in Paterson, New Jersey. Both his father (also Clarence) and his Uncle Fletchey were blues guitarists. Young Clarence took up the guitar aged five and later recalled how he “gravitated towards the blues” after learning how to play chords and solo.

The family blues band jammed every weekend at his uncle’s pad in New Jersey.  For his stage debut (also at age five), he played Tommy Tucker’s “Hi-Heel Sneakers” with the band at the local Elks Club, for a special close to the evening’s show.

“I listened to My Uncle Fletchy,” said Spady, during a phone interview Monday afternoon from his home in Scranton. “My Uncle Fletchy could really play. He’d be playing songs by Otis Rush and T-Bone Walker.

“Blues is definitely in my DNA. My dad was listening to B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland and my mother was listening to Mahalia Jackson and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

The family later moved to Scranton where Spady was introduced to rock music. Throughout his teenage years he continued to experiment with guitar playing without receiving any formal training.

“We moved to Scranton when I was in second grade,” said Spady, during a phone interview Monday afternoon from his home in Scranton.

“Coming into a segregated area was a bit of a culture shock. I was only seven. It was more of a shock for my teenaged sisters.

“I went to Bishop Hannan. Then, I transferred to Scranton High because Bishop Hannan didn’t have a track team. I ran the 880 and the mile relay at Scranton High.

“I graduated in 1979. I wanted to go to Berklee (School of Music in Boston) but I didn’t get accepted.”

After graduation, Spady worked with Greg Woods at his studio in Englewood, New Jersey. Although he was primarily tasked with odd jobs, he was eventually able to take part in recording sessions with artists such as the Johnson Family. In the early 1980s,

Spady then joined a touring R&B band, A Touch of Class. Working with John Pougiese, the musical director, was like going to Berklee for two years, because he learned horn arrangements, harmony, rhythm and the chord progressions he still uses today.

“I was under the tutelage of Pougiese when I was in Touch of Class,” said Spady. “He was a great Hammond B-3 player. He taught me things like horn arrangement and chord movements – things that really helped me in my music career.

After that, Spady joined Pennsylvania-based singer Greg Palmer’s band, and spent six years touring with that Top 40 R&B band. Then, Spady put together the West Third Street Blues Band.

“I played with Greg Palmer from 1983-1989,” said Spady. “It was more-or-less a show band. Our home base was Wilkes-Barre, but we played 25 weeks a year in Atlantic City.

Spady released his first album, “Nature of the Beast” in 1996 on the Evidence Music label.

“I recorded that album at a studio in Clark’s Summit,” said Spady. “I cut my second album, ‘Just Between Us,’ in 2006 at Severn Studio near Annapolis, Maryland and it came out on Severn Records.

“My latest album, ‘Surrender,’ was recorded at Red Rock Studio in the Poconos. It came out in October 2020 on Nola Blue (which is based in nearby Lancaster). With the pandemic, I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to exploit it.

“Thank God the radio stations gave it airplay. Nola Blue’s Sallie Bengston pushed it out there. I’m going into the studio again next month and hope to have my next album out in 2022.”

Video link for Clarence Spady – https://youtu.be/WFgwQYlZFfc.

The show at the Sellersville Theater on July 2 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 to attend the show in person. It will also be available via Livestream. Tickets for the Livestream presentation are $10.

Traditionally, blues musicians and blues music in general have been linked to various rivers — especially the Mississippi River (Delta blues), the Chicago River (Chicago blues) and, from the late 1960s on, the Thames River (British blues).

Spady’s hometowns have been along the Passaic River in Paterson and the Susquehanna in Scranton.

Ana Popovic

Ana Popovic, who has built an international reputation as a stellar blues guitarist, hails from a totally different river area. She was born and raised in Beograd (Belgrade), the Serbian capital that is located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers.

After leaving Serbia, Popovic settled alongside another river — The Amstel in Amsterdam. Her next relocation brought her to the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis. Her most recent album is “Live for Live,” which was just released as a DVD and a CD.

“The new album is called ‘Live for Live’ because we live for playing live,” said Popovic, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from her home in Manhattan Beach.

“We hadn’t played a live show for a year. We recorded the album in December in the south of France. We had a six piece band and six cameras. It was great.

“The music had a lot of power and a lot of guitars. We really had the music cooking. It was the right time to record. And it was showcase of great players.

“I have a European band and that keyboard player has been with me for 15 years and the horn player for eight. I also have a band for American shows with different members. But I do use the same rhythm section on both sides of the Atlantic.

Popovic’s two most recent albums prior to “Live for Live” were “Trilogy” (2016) and “Like It on Top” (2018).

“‘Trilogy’ was a three CD set,” said Popovic. “‘Volume Three’ was jazz. ‘Volume Two’ was rock and blues. ‘Volume One’ was funk and soul. Every record is different. Every record brings out a new sound. My audience is used to that. That’s what they’ve come to expect from me since the beginning of my career – funk, blues, good shuffles.

“The inspiration for ‘Trilogy’ came when my fans would tell me about compilations they made of my songs from different albums. I was able to feature musicians whose strength was in each genre.”

“Trilogy” was produced by Grammy Award winner Warren Riker (Lauryn Hill, Carlos Santana), Grammy Award winner Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi) and Delfeayo Marsalis, one of the top trombonists, composers and producers in jazz today.

Some of the standout musicians who made guest appearances on the ambitious project were Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph, Bernard Purdie (The Purdie Shuffle), Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), rapper Al Capone and many others.

Serbia was part of Yugoslavia when Popovic was growing up and Communist-controlled Eastern Europe was hardly a place where blues music flourished. But, Popovic didn’t have to go far to hear blues music — it was all around her.

“I grew up with blues music,’ said Popovic. “I had listened to blues music since I was little in my house because my dad was a blues musician. He’d hold jam sessions in our house every week.

“Also, he was playing blues records all the time — albums by artists such as Robert Johnson, Son House, Elmore James, Albert Collins and Bukka White. We also listened to jazz and funk albums too. When I heard Ronnie Earl and T-Bone Walker, I liked the jazz element too.

“I was 15 when I started playing guitar, but I had been involved with the blues for a long time before that. When my dad had his jam sessions, I would be in there singing along with the band. I formed my first band and started performing on my own when I was 18.

“I studied graphic design in Beograd and then started studying jazz at the Conservatory of Music in Amsterdam in 1999. I decided to study jazz so I could create my own style that combined blues and jazz. I wanted to go out and play with people other than those who were totally into blues.

“I didn’t want to just stay in the same place musically. I wanted to get out and not be afraid to swim in a new style. I love to play a variety of styles with respect to each other — rock, jazz, funk and blues. I like to look at the guitar as a sound instrument more than just a solo instrument. I like to be different in every song. I love writing about the things that I see and the things that I feel.”

Now, Popovic has a new album in the works.

“During the whole pandemic, we were just making music and that kept us going,” said Popovic. “It was one big pre-production. We’ve got so many songs. Now, we just have to get in the studio and make the finished product.”

Video link for Ana Popovic — https://youtu.be/V7C4A5ruqjA.

The show at the Sellersville Theater on July 2 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 to attend the show in person. It will also be available via Livestream. Tickets for the Livestream presentation are $10.

Other upcoming shows at Sellersville Theater are The Wild Feathers on July 1, Songs in the Attic on July 3, Ana Popovic on July 6 and Nicole Atkins on July 7.

Bees Deluxe

More blues music is on the menu for this weekend when Bees Deluxe headlines a show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com).

The band was formed by British guitar ace Conrad Warre. Like Spady and Popovic, he started into the music world when he was young – but not quite as young as the other two.

“I grew up in London,” said Warre, during a phone interview Monday from his home in Boston. “I went to a Quaker boarding school that had a lot of U.S. students. One of them gave me a blues compilation album with songs by Johnny Winter, Little Walter and B.B. King.

“In high school, I was in a band with Paul Kossoff. Paul later went on to be a guitarist with the band Free.

“I got a degree in graphic design. When I got out of college, I realized I didn’t want to do graphic design.”

Eventually, Warre put his own band together.

“That band lasted a couple years,” said Warre, who also worked as a music journalist in England for Melody Maker and New Musical Express. “I had a hit single on Rough Trade called ‘The Rich Get Rich’.”

In the early 1980s Warre relocated from London to New York City.

“My girlfriend then, who is my wife now, was a dancer,” said Warre. “But there was no modern dance in London. Everything was ballet or pop. So, we moved to New York.

“I put together a band in New York. We did an audition at CBGB’s. We then played Mondays, moved up to Tuesday and then weekends. Within six months, we went from an audition to opening for the headliners.”

Nobody can look at Bees Deluxe as a basic blues band. They are a mixture of New Orleans funk, Chicago Blues and a variety  of music from the Blue Note Records archives.

“Then, I moved to Boston and had to start all over again,” said Warre. “I had kids and was living in Jamaica Plains (a Boston neighborhood).

“I put together this band with a couple mates and said – we can do this. We played a lot. For almost a year, we had a residency at House of Blues in Cambridge.”

The four-piece band is fronted by Warre and Carol Band on keyboards, harmonica and vocals. It also features Allyn (“Aldo”) Dorr on bass and vocals and Paul Giovine on drums and percussion who provide the metamorphic foundation of the band on stage and in the studio.

Band had been a member of several Boston jazz bands. Dorr is a sought-after bassist for Boston area blues band and also worked in Jamaica as a reggae artist. Giovine’s background is rock and punk rock.

“This line-up has been solid for three years,” said Warre. “We don’t play a standard blues band repertoire. A lot of blues bands play the same few songs such as ‘Born Under a Bad sign,’ ‘Spoonful,’ and ‘The Thrill Is Gone.’ It’s really repetitive.

“I pick songs that other blues bands don’t – for example songs by J. B. Lenoir. We like to discover songs that are off the beaten path.

In 2018, Bees Deluxe released their all-original acid-blues album, “Voice of Dog,” which was produced by Joe Egan on Slapping Cat Records.

The band’s new CD, “Mouthful of Bees,” which features an original sound that they call “acid blues,” was produced by Egan and Warre. It includes three originals and seven classic blues songs re-interpreted by the band.

“Our repertoire has about 60 covers – most of which are deep cuts — and 40 originals. You’re in danger if you play too many originals.”

Video link for Bees Deluxe — https://youtu.be/9Ae6It4EEL0.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music on July 2 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door.

On July 3, Jamey’s will present a twin bill featuring Woehrwolf and View Finder.


Woehrwolf is the solo stage performance of the music of Daniel Woehr. A blending of folk, punk and folk-punk adjacent influences that comes out in sweet serenades and emotional outbursts.

“I’m originally from West Chester, New York,” said Woehr, during a phone interview Monday from his home in West Philadelphia. “I first started playing in 2016 when I was in Binghamton, New York.

“I went to SUNY – Binghamton and majored in mechanical engineering. My main occupation now is telcom engineering.

“With music, I think I always messed around with instruments –accordion, trumpet, banjo. I always wanted to write. One day, I decided to do it. At the time, I was working in a factory packing potato chips.

“Guitar is my main instrument. And I play a little of a lot of instruments – keyboards, accordion, banjo, trumpet and also kazoo. I always perform solo – mostly just guitar live with a little bit of looping. I played in Binghamton a lot at a bar called The Belmar.”

A few years ago, Woehr decided to relocate to Philadelphia.

“I live in West Philly now,” said Woehr. “I’ve been here about three years, I just decided that I wanted to be here. It seemed like a really approachable city to live in. Plus, a lot of my favorite bands were Philly bands – Man Man, The Extraordinaires, On The Water.

“I started playing around Philly in 2019 including gigs at The Grape Room. With the pandemic, I haven’t played much in the last two years. My last show was October 2019. Now it’s just this show on Saturday. There are no other shows on my schedule.

“I have a few other bands I work with. I have friends in West Chester I meet up with. Their band is called Line Lions.”

Woehrwolf has released four discs – “Cats on Edwards” album in 2016, “The Brothers Tapes” EP in 2017, “The Longest Summer Ever EP in 2017, and “Leaving” LP in 2020.

“In my live show, I play songs from all four,” said Woehr. “Mostly, I play newer things.

“Right now, I’m working on five or six new songs. I broke a string on my guitar so I’ve been playing a five-string guitar.”
Video link for Woehrwolf — https://youtu.be/BFTIvpAAzNU.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music on July 3 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door.

Art Alexakis, the mastermind behind the enduring band Everclear, is hitting the road again with his band – and dividing the tour into two parts.

“We’re doing 20 shows in July on the first leg,” said Alexakis, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Boston.

“Then, we’ll do 25 more on the second leg in September and October. The break allows me to spend time at home with my 13-year-old daughter. The shows will be all over the country, but I don’t think we play Philly until the second leg.”


Fortunately, area fans of Alexakis and Everclear won’t have to wait until them to catch the tour because it touches down on July 2 in Berks County at Reverb (1402 North Ninth Street, Reading, 610-743-3069, www.reverbconcerts.com).

The tour is the Summerland Tour and it features Everclear, Living Colour, Hoobastank, and Wheatus.

The Summerland Tour is an annual touring music festival, founded by Alexakis and mainly featuring bands that began in the 1990s alternative rock era.

“It’s a good variety,” said Alexakis. “We’ve got a 90s alt band with Wheatus, an 80s band with Living Colour, a current band with Hoobastank and Everclear. It’s a great rock-and-roll show.”

The Summerland Tour made its debut in 2012 featuring Everclear, Gin Blossoms, Lit, Marcy Playground and Sugar Ray. It was named in “The Ten Hottest Summer Package Tours of 2012” by Rolling Stone.

Some of the other featured bands over the years were Fuel, Local H, Sponge, Toadies, Spacehog, LIVE, Eve 6 and Soul Asylum.

When Everclear got its start in 1991, it was a rock trio from the Pacific Northwest. More than anything, it was a vehicle for the music of Alexakis – the band’s vocalist and guitarist.

After the limited release of their independently released debut album, “World of Noise,” the band found success with their first three albums on Capitol Records – “Sparkle and Fade,” “So Much for the Afterglow,” and “Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile,” all of which were certified platinum.

The current Everclear line-up features Dave French on guitar, Freddy Herrera on bass, Brian Nolan on drums and Alexakis on vocals and guitar.

“This line-up has been together for a long time,” said Alexakis. “This is Dave’s 17th year. Freddie has been our bass player since 2008 and Brian has been our drummer since 2015.

Altogether, Everclear has released 10 albums. The most recent was “Black Is The New Black” in 2015.

“Our set list for this tour includes all the hits and fan favorites,” said Alexakis. “We do one from ‘Black Is the New Black,’ and one from ‘World of Noise.’ We do a lot from ‘Sparkle and Fade’ and ‘So Much for the Afterglow.’ We’re going to run the gamut. The focus is going to be heavy rock – guitar rock.”

That Alexakis is even able to go put on tour is somewhat of a minor miracle. If he had the nine lives of a cat, he’s probably already used three of them – including surviving a drug overdose when he was 22.

“More than that,” said Alexakis, as he pondered why he’s still alive at age 59. “I’ve had drug addictions but now I’m 32 years sober.”

In March 2019, Alexakis announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in a letter to fans posted on the band’s website. Alexakis said he was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS following a car accident three years prior.

“I got MS and then I got COVID this year. The combination of both was tough – just dealing with the fatigue. I was in bed for two months. For being older and having a disease, I’m feeling really good.

“Last year, we had 84 shows booked and only did four – all outside gigs or drive-in shows. This year, we’ve already played 11 shows across the country. Doing a hot summer tour is going to be tough for someone with MS. But I’m doing O.K.”

Video link for Everclear – https://youtu.be/MW6E_TNgCsY.

The show at Reverb on July 4 will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Another upcoming show at Reverb is Faster Pussycat and enuff z’nuff on July 6.

More than 20 years after co-founder Jerry Garcia died, and the band technically dissolved, the Grateful Dead continues to capture the imagination and loyalty of millions around the world.

Surviving members of the pioneering jam band that formed in 1965 have continued to play together in various combinations — live as The Other Ones, the Dead, Furthur and, most recently, Dead & Company, which features guitarist John Mayer playing with original members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.

After more than 50 years, one might think the band’s devoted fan base — lovingly called Deadheads — would be diminishing. Instead, new generations of fans have emerged, as have a growing army of Grateful Dead tribute bands.

Splintered Sunlight

If you’re a Deadhead living in the Delaware Valley, chances are extremely good that you have attended at least one show by Splintered Sunlight, the premier Philly area Dead tribute band.

This weekend, Splintered Sunlight will perform at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) for three nights from July 1-3 as part of the band and venue’s “Dead, White and Blue: 3 Nights of Splintered Sunlight” presentation.

Splintered Sunlight’s line-up includes Zeren “Butchy” Sochorow on guitar, Stephen Spatz on bass, Mike Borowski on keyboards and two drummers –Jerry Horan and Scott Toop.

“The band started in 1992 bur I didn’t join until 1995. “Before I joined, the band was playing many shows.

“I played in anther band – the Rum Runners, who took their name from a Robert Hunter lyric. We played Dead music and did shows at the Jersey Shore a lot.

“A friend of mine told me that he knew a Dead tribute band that was looking for a guitar player. I was living down the shore in Long Branch, and they were in Philly. But we came together.”

According to gratefuldeadtributebands.com, there are more than 300 registered Grateful Dead tribute bands worldwide, including acts in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, Japan and 48 of the 50 United States. Only North Dakota and Idaho are lacking. Thirty-one of those bands, including Splintered Sunlight, are in Pennsylvania.

Splintered Sunlight sits on an elevated plateau all its own in the Keystone State.

A short while after Sochorow joined Splintered Sunlight, the band was signed by a management agency and began getting booked in some of the larger clubs in the region, including the Electric Factory. It has become a regular at SteelStacks, Musikfest and has an annual early July run of shows at Ardmore Music Hall it calls “Dead, White & Blue.”

“The Ardmore Music Hall is our first home,” said Sochorow. “We used to play there when it was Brownie’s. Splintered Sunlight has played more than 1,000 shows at that venue.

“We’ve always been a Dead band. We love the music and want to honor the band. Now, we also play Jerry Garcia Band and Ratdog songs. We try to mix it up.

“We’ve done shows in part devoted to a particular Dead album –but not recently. We have three shows in Ardmore this weekend. We’ve made the set lists and they’re a mix of all kinds of stuff.

“This weekend, we have a female singer as well – Rosalind Rose. So, we’re comfortable with 70s Dead music with Donna Godchaux. We’ll have six players in the band.”

Video for Splintered Sunlight – https://youtu.be/5–iWyh9dUk.

Splintered Sunlight will perform at the Ardmore Music Hall for three nights from July 1-3 as part of the band and venue’s “Dead, White and Blue: 3 Nights of Splintered Sunlight” presentation. Shows start at 8 p.m. each night. Tickets are $39-$65 (Table Seating; sold in pairs).

The second show of the 2021-2022 season of Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) has arrived and has audiences dancing in their seats, smiling and laughing.

The new production is “Beehive: The 1960’s Musical.”

The members of the all-female cast ask audiences to join them for this rollicking musical tribute to the ladies who left their mark on the music of the 60s. With big voices and bigger hairdos, “Beehive” will have audience members dancing in the aisles and singing along with many of the iconic songs from the past.

The show, which was created by Larry Gallagher, is a celebration of the powerful female voices of the 1960s. This musical review will transport audiences with timeless hits such as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “My Boyfriend’s Back”, “Be My Baby,” “Son of a Preacher Man”, and “You Don’t Own Me”.

There are six performers in the cast at the Candlelight – Macy (Macy Chaplin), Tiffany (Tiffany Dawn Christopher), Phoebe (Phoebe Gavula), Tiara (Tiara Greene), Jenna (Jenna Kuerzi) and Kaylan (Kaylan Wetzel).

Wetzel is familiar with the songs in the show – but she didn’t grow up with them.

“This is the music from my mom’s era,” said Wetzel. “She grew up in the 1960s. And my father too – he loved the Beatles.”

“Beehive: The 1960’s Musical” is running now through July 18. Tickets are $65.50 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12). All seats are reserved.

Music at Marshall Park (200 East Marshall Street, West Chester, http://marshallsquarepark.org/) concerts are back. The free shows will feature Sin Brothers on July 1, John Grecia Band on July 22, and Dirk Quinn Band on August 12. All three events are on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. Rain Dates are July 8, July 29, and August 19.

Punch Line Philly (33 East Laurel Street, Philadelphia, 215-606-6555, http://www.punchlinephilly.com) will host Drew Michael from July 1-3.

Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.heliumcomedy.com) will feature Todd McComas and Shaun Latham on July 1.

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-0 648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) will present Michael W. Smith on July 1.

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