On Stage Extra: A melting pot of music and comedy on display this week

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times


There is a lot of variety in the schedule for upcoming shows in the area – a Celtic rock band that was formed by a Norwegian singer (Tempest at 118 North and Havana), an American comedian whose roots are in India (Hari Kondabolu at the Grand), a punk/pop singer with an interesting background (MZ Neon at TLA), a New Orleans rock band (The Revivalists at Parx Casino), a one-man/band music project (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Johnny Brenda’s), an all-star jazz band (San Francisco Jazz Collective at Annenberg Center), a hit Broadway musical tour (“The Waitress” at the Academy of Music), a singer who was Born in Aleppo, Syria (Bedouine at the World Café Live), a Prince tribute act (Dean Ford & The Beautiful Ones at the Queen) and live productions of popular television shows (“The Bachelor” at The Met and “Cocomelon” at the Kimmel Center).

Tempest, a Celtic Rock band from the San Francisco Bay area, is coming to the area for a pair of shows – April 2 at Havana (105 South Main Street, New Hope, havananewhope.com) and April 3 at 118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, 118northwayne.com).

The veteran band just released a new album, “Going Home,” on the group’s new record label Celtodelic on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2022.

Co-produced by band leader Lief Sorbye and Robert Berry in November and December of 2021, the album is best described as “Euro Celtic,” as Tempest incorporates more Scandinavian and British Isles material into their brand of progressive folk-rock.

The band also has an international flavor with its line-up. Sorbye is from Oslo, Norway. Guitarist Nikolay Georgiev was born in Hungary. Drummer Adolfo Lazo, who is an original member of Tempest, is from Cuba. The group also features San Francisco’s Lee Corbie-Wells (fiddle, vocals) and Michigan’s Hugh Caley.

The band formed in 1988 with Sorbye (mandolin, vocals), Lazo (drums), Rob Wullenjohn (guitar), and Mark Showalter (bass). The band has seen a changing cast of musicians, with Sorbye and Lazo being the only two constant members throughout the duration of the band’s existence.

Tempest has built a strong following in the area – especially because of numerous appearances at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Now that the band is coming back to the area, its fans are saying, “tusen takk,” which is how you say “thank you very much” on Sorbye’s homeland.

“I grew up in Oslo,” said Sorbye. “I came to the states in my early 20’s and now I’ve lived here in the Bay Area for many years. I still go back to Norway quite often.

“I played guitar as a kid and then got interested in mandolin. I got into folk music through the British folk revival in the 70’s – Fairport Convention, Horslips, Steeleye Span. The Incredible String Band was a real eye opener for me when I was a kid.

“I realized that I’d stomp my feet to a fiddle and not a guitar solo. I was intrigued by traditional music. I got into traditional folk music – and also Norwegian folk music. Music is the language when words stop.

“I started playing with Irish immigrants in Oslo. Then, I moved to Galway for a while and then came to America. I was busking through the U.S. and settled in California.

“It was a great place to settle down. The San Francisco Bay area is such a melting pot. There is world music and food from every corner of the earth. I’m happy to call Oakland my home.”

Tempest has released more than 20 albums starting with “Bootleg” in 1991. The latest is the recently released “Going Home.”

“The latest album is very Euro-Celtic,” said Sorbye. “It’s very close to home for me musically. We’ve gotten a lot of radio play for our non-English songs.”

Some of those non-English songs are “Hjemreise,” “De Två Systrarna,” and the Norwegian children’s song “Pål Sine Høner” (Paul’s Chickens).

“We recorded ‘Going Home’ in November and December 2021, and it was released this year on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Sorbye. “All the material was worked up during the lockdown. You should never record an album until you have something to say. The new album makes a cohesive statement.”

Video link for Tempest —www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT9qu4neDY0.

The show at Havana on April 2 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

The show at 118 North on April 3 will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $22.

Hari Kondabolu

Hari Kondabolu, who will headline a show on April 2 at the Baby Grand (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware,  www.thegrandwilmington.org) is a funny guy.

He is a comedian, writer and podcaster based in Brooklyn, New York. He has been described by the New York Times as “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today.” In 2018, his Netflix special “Warn Your Relatives” was released and he was named one of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch.”

His comedy covers subjects such as race, inequity, and Indian stereotypes. He was a writer for “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” and the creator of the 2017 documentary film “The Problem with Apu.”

“My parents are from South India, and they came here in the 70s” said Kondabolu, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Brooklyn.

“Being born here, I wasn’t given a context from another country. I learned Indian culture, but I grew up as an American. I grew up in Queens. It’s very much a melting pot. The world should be like Queens.

“I’m the father of a son who is one-and-a-half. I want a future where the world doesn’t make him feel he doesn’t fit. In Queens, we didn’t use the word ‘diversity.’ Diversity is there every day.”

Kondabolu knows how and where to mine comedy.

“With my standup, I talk about topics such as racism,” said Kondabolu. “I also talk about what it’s like to be the father of a baby during COVID.

“This is only the third headlining show I’ve done since the two-year hiatus. It’s exciting. And people are excited to come out.

“The hour isn’t different than what I’ve done. It’s still me. But, it’s my first time talking about being a dad – about the ego that has to be suppressed when you’re a parent.

“My life, my work, my art – they’re all about me. There has been a shift. Now, life is all about that living thing.”

Kondabolu may have softened a bit in some ways but not all the way.

“Race has always been a big part of my humor,” said Kondabolu, who has released two comedy albums (“Waiting for 2042” and “Mainstream American Comic”).

“I’m a leftie. I’m very much focused on oppression and care about it. I was an immigration rights worker and I still have that search for fairness.”

Video link for Hari Kondabolu – https://youtu.be/QzlXgNkCWRI.

The show at the Baby Grand on April 2, which will feature Chloe Radcliffe and be hosted by Electra Telesford, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $31.

When fans head out to see Poppy headline a show at the Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) on April 2, they would be well-advised to get to the venue in time to catch the opening act — Mz Neon.

Mz Neon

Mz Neon so far has released two EPs out along with several singles.

“I have a lot of new material in the works,” said Mz Neon, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon as she travelled between gigs in Toronto and Montreal.

“I have two EPs currently and I just released a single. Actually, I re-recorded my first single, ‘Pussy Stick,’ which I made with Linda Perry.

“The EPs were part of my Queen Hyena Series. ‘Volume 1’ and ‘Volume 2’ dropped in the spring and fall of 2020. ‘Volume 3’ is in the works. Hyena is my public persona.

“I decided to re-interpret that song. It has new life breathed into it. I did the vocals at Linda’s amazing studio.”

Mz Neon offered this description of the new single, “I just wanted to rap about authentic situations, stories, and concepts that I’ve experienced; juxtaposed with conceptualized storytelling based on life experiences, quantum realities and spiritual revelations…there’s a lot of esoteric references throughout, some more obvious than others.”

Mz Neon is a genre-bending musician, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, and multimedia artist using performance and lyrics to express her sexuality as a trans woman and defy misconceptions about herself and anyone who identifies outside of the binary spectrum – both gender wise and ideologically.

A lyrical provocateur, Mz Neon confronts issues of identity, sexuality, politics, spirituality, and lived experiences as a trans-femme-fatale. She is a triple threat of sharp wit, hypnotic sensuality, and musical virtuosity.

A Massachusetts native, MZ Neon moved to New York City after high school where she spent more than a decade performing in a number of bands and working in fashion as a couturier, before relocating to Los Angeles in 2017.

“I was born in the Boston area and moved to New York when I was 19,” said Mz Neon. “I was in New York for 15 years and then moved to L.A.

“Music was always where I felt I belonged. I didn’t even know what a trans person was when I was growing up. I gravitated to goth rock and glam.

“I was always a performer ever since I was a baby – and I was always doing dance stuff. Music was a part of finding my identity. It was a place where I could express my gender fluidity.

“I can remember back when I was four or five. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said – a girl. I was always androgenous and I got bullied a lot growing up.

“I started in music when Marilyn Manson was at the height of his popularity. Getting into that was a gateway to all the other stuff like David Bowie. I remember the first time I went out dressed as a girl. It was a show at the Palladium in Worcester with GWAR and the Misfits.”

On this tour, Mz Neon is accompanied by one other musician.

“My bandmate is Ian/Lilian Void,” said Mz Neon. “They are non-binary. We met in the past year through a friend in Portland. I’m primarily a solo artist but I asked Ian to come on board as a DJ and guitarist.

“I’m doing a 30-minute set. There is one new song and some different mixes of older songs. There are no breaks between the songs. It’s just ‘balls to the wall’ for 30 minutes.”

Video link for Mz Neon – https://youtu.be/J5Nd474ybB0.

The show at the Fillmore on April 2, which has Poppy as the headline act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27.


The Atlanta heavy metal band Cloak has played Philadelphia several times over the past few years and has steamrollered audiences every time.

In addition to being one of the heaviest metal bands in America, the intense quartet from Georgia always is accompanied by bands that are similarly brutal.

Back in November, Kung Fu Necktie hosted Cloak’s “March of the Adversary Tour,” which features Demiser and Spiter as the opening acts. In a 2019 show at Underground Arts, it was a metal triple bill featuring Cloak, Khemmis and Moros. That same year, Cloak played Philly as part of the Decibel Beer & Metal Prefest 2019 along with Integrity, Full of Hell, and Devil Master.

Now, Cloak is returning for a show on April 6 at Silk City (435 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, www.silkcityphilly.com) sharing the bill with Tombs with Restless Spirit as the opening act.

It would be safe to say that the Georgia-based headliners, who are touring in support of their most recent album “The Burning Dawn,” operate under a “cloak of darkness.” Their record label Season of Mist bills Cloak – Scott Taysom, Vocals & Guitar; Max Brigham, Guitar; Sean Bruneau, Drums; Billy Robinson, Bass — as “Blackened Death Rock.”

Cloak’s most recent album is “The Burning Dwan,” which was released October 25, 2019.

“We’re still touring ‘The Burning Dawn,’” said Taysom, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Atlanta.

“We recorded it in early 2019 and it came out that fall. That album has been out two-and-a-half years, but we had two years of not touring. So, it’s kind of new in a way.”

Cloak blends the sounds of black metal, rock-and-roll, and homegrown Southern sludge to create their own unique and menacing sound.

“We started in 2013,” said Taysom. “Me and Sean started jamming in early 2013. I had played in punk bands and Sean in hardcore bands. It wasn’t a unified thing at first. It was a puzzle.

“It took time to put it together right. We were together for about three years before we started recording.

“Our first album was ‘To Venomous Depths’ in 2017. Prior to the album, we did a two-song EP that was just called ‘CLOAK.’ It was black metal with elements of rock-and-roll and death metal. We try to make each album different.”

Decibel Magazine placed “To Venomous Depths” at #20 among their “Top 40 Albums of 2017.” CLOAK’s sophomore album, “The Burning Dawn,” was released in 2019.

“Our second album was a bit more streamlined – more stripped down with less long songs,” said Taysom. “Then, the pandemic started right after the album came out.

“During the pandemic, we wrote another album. The new music is faster and heavier. It’s the sound I’ve been chasing for a while. It’s evolved. We already did what we wanted to do with the first two albums.

“I do most of the writing, but it’s split. Everyone contributes. I usually start it and it usually starts with guitar. I demo everything I come up with. Sometimes it’s riffs and other times it’s full songs. The lyrics always come at the end. The instrumental usually leads me to where the lyrics should go.

“We just recorded a new album,” said Taysom. “We’re done tracking and it’s in the mixing process now.

“It probably won’t come out until next year. A lot of tings have caused it to get backed up. Having to wait so long sucks.”

Fans should not expect a serious preview of new material.

“We’re only playing one new song – ‘The Holy Dark’ – on this tour,” said Taysom. “I don’t like to play new songs until they’re released. I did the same thing with ‘The Burning Dawn.’

“We keep evolving. We’ve become darker and heavier – and a better live band.

“This is the first time we’re touring with Tombs. We have the same management and same label. Our music should fit fine. We each do a 40-minnute set. We’re co-headliners, so we might switch who plays last from night to night.”

Video link for Cloak – https://youtu.be/rpq05qINVTc.


Tombs is a metal band from Brooklyn featuring Mike Hill – lead vocals, guitars, synths; Justin Spaeth – drums, synths, guitars; Drew Murphy – bass, backing vocals; and Matt Medeiros – guitars.

Currently, Tombs is touring in support of 2020’s “Under Sullen Skies,” which was been named one of the best metal releases of 2020 by Metal Insider, Decibel Magazine, The Pit, Riff Magazine, Chicago Music Guide’s Global Music Podcast, and others while drummer Justin Spaeth has been dubbed one of the best drummers of 2020 by Sick Drummer Magazine.

“This is our first time to tour for ‘Under Sullen Skies,’” said Hill. “We played one show at the end of last year – in November at the Brooklyn Monarch in Bushwick — but this is the first real tour. I had almost forgotten how good it feels to play live.

“‘Under Sullen Skies’ came out almost two years ago. Our label Season of Mist had already spent money on production on promotion. It was up to them. So, we put the album out during the pandemic. Unfortunately, we couldn’t tour to support the album.

“Still, I’m happy that the album came out when it did. Now people have had time to listen to the album. We also did some videos and some streaming.

“It’s weird that we haven’t played any of the songs from ‘Under Sullen Skies’ in front of people. We’ve practiced then during the lockdown, and we’ve played them back-to-back with older songs.”

“Under Sullen Skies” is the band’s fifth album and first on Season of Mist. Tombs’ previous album was “The Grand Annihilation,” which was released on Metal Blade Records in 2017. The band’s first three LPs were all on Relapse Records – “Winter Hours” in 2009, “Path of Totality” in 2011, and “Savage Gold” in 2014.

Tombs’ music has been described as “atmospheric black metal.”

“Metal is the most forward-thinking and creative genre,” said Hill. “In the beginning, I had to figure out what I wanted to do. The music is heavy and dark but there is also influence of bands like My Bloody Valentine – evil shoegaze – more synthesizers and more depth.”

Now, Hill and his band are taking the “new” music to the fans.

“We have this tour with Cloak,” said Hill. “Then, we have a tour with Origin and Abysmal Dawn in May and June on the West Coast. After that, we’ll do a proper U.S. tour in the fall.”

Video link for Tombs — https://youtu.be/hqjqqG_P5i0.

The show at Silk City on April 6 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

The Kimmel Cultural Campus is presenting the popular musical “Waitress” at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, www.kimmelculturalcampus.org) now through April 3.

Pies play a role in the hit musical “Waitress,” which was nominated for four Tony Award and six Drama Desk Awards in 2016. The show’s Christopher Fitzgerald won the Drama Desk Award that year for “Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.”

“Waitress” is a musical with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson. The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly.

The musical “Waitress” tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an unhappy marriage to her husband Earl. When Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she begins an affair with her gynecologist Dr. Jim Pomatter. Looking for ways out she sees a pie contest and its grand prize as her chance.

The original production of “Waitress” premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in August 2015, with direction by Diane Paulus and choreography by Chase Brock. It starred Jessie Mueller, Drew Gehling and Joe Tippett as Jenna, Jim and Earl, respectively. It made its Broadway debut at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in April 2016. A U.S. national tour began on October 20, 2017.

Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by five-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (“I Am Sam”) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (“Pippin,’ “Finding Neverland”).

Jenna, an unhappy waitress and expert pie maker, is stuck in a small town and loveless marriage. She is also faced with an unexpected pregnancy that may end her dreams of opening up her own pie shop. As fate would have it, she enters a baking contest in a nearby county and meets a handsome new doctor. With the help of a quirky crew of fellow waitresses and loyal customers, Jenna makes use of a secret ingredient she’s been missing all along and that’s courage.

Jisel Soleil Ayon will don an apron and bake across the country as Jenna in the national tour of “Waitress,” while Gabriella Marzetta plays Dawn and Brian Lundy plays Ogie.

Dawn is a friendly waitress but is also very shy. After a while, she tries an online dating service where she gets introduced to Ogie. They start dating and eventually get married.

Video link for “Waitress” — https://youtu.be/zNyhdPrD3A4.

“Waitress” will run now through April 3 at the Academy of Music. Ticket prices start at $25.

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