On Stage: Legendary songwriter Karla Bonoff comes to Sellerville

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Karla Bonoff

Four female singers with very distinctive music, voices and vocal styles will be performing in the area this weekend – Karla Bonoff, Mary Fahl, Lisa Chavous and Erin Coburn.

Karla Bonoff has been described as one of the finest singer/songwriters of her generation. That description is not hyperbole. Bonoff has enjoyed critical acclaim, commercial success, enduring popularity, and the unwavering respect of her peers.
Bonoff’s songs became hits for Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd and Linda Ronstadt. Many of Bonoff’s ballads are classics. Her own hit, “Personally,” reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as number 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1982.

She was featured in the acclaimed Linda Ronstadt documentary: The Sound of My Voice, highlighting her friendship with Linda and as the writer of several of her biggest songs, including Grammy Winner, “All My Life.”
Bonoff has continued to record and tour extensively, playing sold-out shows around the world.
On June 22, Bonoff will make a return appearance at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com).
“Sellersville Theater is a nice theater and they have me back regularly,” said Bonoff, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from her home in Santa Barbara, California.
“They have a nice restaurant at the hotel there (The Washington House). People feel comfortable there.
“We have two other shows on this trip east before we get to Sellersville – Clayton, New York on Thursday and Homer, New York on Friday. When we go out, we usually do three shows on a long weekend. I have an older audience and they don’t like weekday shows.”
Bonoff has released seven studio albums, one Christmas album and one live LP on her own and several albums as part of the band Bryndle. Her last five singles have reached the Top 40 in the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts.
In 1982, Bonoff had a hit with her song, “Personally,” which charted at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as #3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
But Bonoff is more known for her songwriting.
Bonoff has enjoyed critical acclaim, commercial success, enduring popularity, and the unwavering respect of her peers. The prolific songwriter has seen her songs become hits for classic artists including Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd, and Linda Ronstadt. Bonoff’s songs include “Home,” covered by Raitt, “Tell Me Why,” recorded by Wynonna, and “Isn’t It Always Love,” which was a hit for Lynn Anderson.
Most notably,  Ronstadt recorded several Bonoff songs, including three tracks on the 1976 album “Hasten Down the Wind” —  “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me,” “Lose Again” and “If He’s Ever Near” —  as well as “All My Life,” which was a 1989 duet with Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.
“My songs got known first,” said Bonoff. “But I never really write for other people – I write for me. I was fortunate that Linda Ronstadt took an interest.”
In the mid-1960s, Ronstadt joined forces with Bobby Kimmel and Kenny Edwards and became the lead singer of a folk-rock trio, the Stone Poneys.
“I met Kenny Edwards in the late 60s after the Stone Poneys,” said Bonoff. “We formed a band called Bryndle with Andrew Gold and Wendy Waldman. Kenny and Andrew joined Linda’s band. I knew she was looking for songs, so I filtered my songs through them to Linda.
“Even then, I always wrote my songs for me. I was writing with the idea of making my own record. I recorded my first album at the Sound Factory in L.A., and it did really well. It went gold. After that, I opened for Jackson Browne on his ‘Running on Empty’ tour.”
Her self-titled debut came out in 1977 followed by “Restless Nights” in 1979 and “Wild Heart of the Young” in 1982. Then, Bonoff had no releases until 1988’s “New World.”
“I had depression,” said Bonoff. “I wasn’t really well. I couldn’t get going. Then, I made ‘New World,’ which did well and had songs covered by Linda and Wynonna.”
In 2019, Bonoff released “Carry Me Home,” a 16-song set featuring brand new recordings of some of her classics along with new songs by Kenny Edwards and a cover of a vintage Jackson Browne tune, “Something Fine.”
She was featured in the acclaimed Linda Ronstadt documentary, “The Sound of My Voice,” highlighting her friendship with Linda and as the writer of several of her biggest songs, including the Grammy Winner, “All My Life.”
Bonoff’s latest studio venture was a holiday album, “Silent Night,” which came out a few years later.
“I made ‘Silent Night’ in 2020,” said Bonoff. “It was fun. I didn’t think it would do a lot, but it was named as a New York Times Top 10 holiday album.
“I don’t write a lot these days. I’m not working on a new album right now. It’s hard to make an album. It costs 20-30 thousand dollars to make an album. It costs a lot of money, and you don’t get much back. So, for now I’m just touring and taking it easy.
“My set list doesn’t change much. There is stuff people want to hear. It’s a pretty standard set list.”
Bonoff’s debut album was her self-titled LP in 1977 on Columbia Records.
The impressive list of musicians who have played on her albums includes Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, David Sanborn, J.D Souther, James Taylor, Don Henley, Bill Payne, Garth Hudson, Andrew Gold, Waddy Wachtel, Danny Kortchmar, David Lindley, Kenny Edwards, Russ Kunkel, Wendy Waldman and Jackie DeShannon.
“I play songs all the way back to my first album – including ‘Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,’” said Bonoff. “Some of the other ‘must play’ songs are ‘The Water Is Wide,’ ‘Personally,’ and ‘Home.’
“I’ll be playing 40-50 shows this year. Some of them will be with J.D. Souther this fall. We’ll share the stage and play together. I’ll also be doing Christmas shows with Livingston Taylor.”
Video link for Karla Bonoff – https://youtu.be/chk79aEFtbI.
The show at the Sellersville Theater on June 21 will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $39.50.  The show will also be available live on Livestream for $21.50.
Other upcoming shows at the venue are Michael Palascak on June 20, Gaelic Storm on June 21, Mason Jennings on June 23, Eric Johanson on June 25 and Sweet on June 26.
We all have songs that we fell in love with a long time ago and still cherish – songs that played a big part in forming music tastes that last a lifetime.
Some of us have downloaded them to a current file on our computers. Some of us have created specialized playlists on streaming services. Some, I’m sure, still have the original albums and singles on vinyl.

Mary Fahl

Mary Fahl, who will perform on June 22 at City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, www.citywinery.com) has honored her favorites by making an album of special tunes — a collection of songs that she calls “essential” to her development as an artist.

The album, which is titled, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” was released on July 22, 2022, on her own label, Rimar Records.
“I made it in Syracuse with my band and my producer Mark Doyle,” said Fahl, during a phone interview from her home in Bucks County.
“We finished it in early 2022. We mixed and mastered it in March 2022 and then released it in July 2022.”
These are the album’s 10 tracks and the artists who made the original versions — “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head,” ELO; “Ruby Tuesday,” Rolling Stones; “Tuesday Afternoon,” Moody Blues; “River Man,” Nick Drake; “Got A Feeling,” Mamas and Papas; “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” Neil Young; “Comfortably Numb,” Pink Floyd; “Since You’ve Asked,” Judy Collins; “Beware Of Darkness,” George Harrison; and “The Great Valerio,” Richard and Linda Thompson.
According to Fahl, “On top of all the madness that was happening in the world, I was grappling with the loss of my mother and sister this past year and was feeling completely rootless. In an effort to find an anchor, a link to the past, a sense of home, I began to immerse myself in the comfort of music from my youth.
“These were such essential songs for me… like old friends… my musical home in many ways. I fell in love with each of them at the quintessential coming-of-age moment when music goes straight into your heart with no filter and these songs became part of my musical DNA… I learned to play guitar with several of them – especially the early Neil Young songs.
“Most of these covers come from the first albums I ever bought using one of those Columbia House ‘get 12 free albums for a $1’ mail order programs. I played these records endlessly… and the lyrics on many of these songs still have a powerful resonance for me.”
Fahl knew exactly where she was going.
“I wanted to make a record that was special to me,” said Fahl. “I wanted to live in a place with all the music I grew up with. I learned guitar with Neil Young albums. I learned songwriting with Richard and Linda Thompson songs. Each song on this record has a very special meaning to me.
“I lost my mother and my older sister in the same year – lost a link to the past. I chose these songs because I still sing them and love them. They are part of my musical family. They got me out of a funk.”
The songs provide a comfort level for Fahl and her fans.
“The best compliment that I’ve been getting is that it brought people a lot of joy,” said Fahl.
“People really like my cover of ‘Tuesday Afternoon.’ That song gets the best audience response of anything I’ve done.”
Fahl performs concerts around the world and, every once in a while, gets to perform in her own neighborhood. Based in the Delaware Valley, the versatile singer with the haunting voice will have a hometown show at the WCL.
Once you’ve heard Fahl sing, you have her voice burned permanently into your memory bank. From that point on, if you hear a song by Fahl, you immediately know who is singing.
In 2011, Fahl recorded her own version of one of rock’s all-time classics — Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Fahl re-interpreted the songs on an album she titled “From the Dark Side of the Moon.
Fahl, who was a member of the October Project 20 years ago, went solo in 2001. Prior to this year, her recorded output as a solo artist has been slim — “Lenses of Contact” EP in 2001, “The Other Side of Time” album in 2003, “Classics for a New Century” in 2003 and “From the Dark Side of the Moon” in 2011.
Fahl’s solo releases include “Love and Gravity,” “Four Songs,” “Winter Songs and Carols,” and “Mary Fahl: Live from Mauch Chunk Opera House,” which is a project that included a live album, a performance DVD and a PBS special.
Many of Fahl’s fans have been with her ever since her time with October Project which lasted from 1993-1996.
For many artists, the task of re-inventing songs from an album as iconic as “Dark Side of the Moon” could have been too much of a challenge. Not so for Fahl who crafted a disc that honored its roots but established an identity all its own.
“After making the Sony classical album (“Classics for a New Century”), I wanted to do something that was fun,” said Fahl. “An independent filmmaker I knew wanted to use me in a performance piece. I wanted to do something that I didn’t have the ability to write.
“That’s when I decided to do the ‘Dark Side’ recording. It’s like a classical piece of music. I did not intend to make a cover record. It’s my version and it doesn’t sound at all like Pink Floyd’s version. But a lot of die-hard Pink Floyd fans have responded well. They like the album — and my live versions of the songs.”
Fahl has written and performed songs for several major motion pictures, including the lead song (“Going Home”) for the Civil War epic “Gods and Generals.” Her music can also be found on the original soundtrack of the 2003 movie “The Guys.”
Fahl is a singer, a guitarist and a songwriter. More than anything, she is a performer.
“Performing is my primary form of self-expression,” said Fahl. “When I do a show, I want to take you on a complete journey. I want to transform you.
“This will probably be the last concert of the album support tour which started last fall. The show at the World Café Live will have all the songs from the new album, some songs from October Project and some older songs from my solo work.”
The show at City Winery on June 22 will start at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $32, $35, $40 and $45.
Lisa Chavous and Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) have developed a strong relationship over the years.
On June 21, the venue will host a return engagement by Chavous, who is one of the most respected jazz and blues singers in the Philadelphia music scene. On June 22, the headliner will be Erin Coburn.
On Friday, Jamey’s will present a special concert by Chavous, “The British Invasion Meets the Blues – Tribute to the Doors, the Animals, Etta James, Albert King, Dusty Springfield, Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy and many more.”
Chavous’ band this weekend will feature Don Evans (who recorded with the Animals vocalist Eric Burdon) on guitar and vocals, Gene Hawrylak on guitar and vocals, Rich Budesa on Hammond B3, Charles Beasley on bass, Larry Hambrecht on harmonica and vocals, Tony Day on drums and percussion and Chavous on vocals.
Born and raised in Sharon Hill, Chavous attended Studevan Elementary School and Darby Township High School, graduating in 1984.
She studied for a career in nursing at a hospital in Delaware County. Now, Chavous is a resident of Lansdowne and could easily walk to Friday’s gig if she so desires.
Chavous is making a return visit to the venue where she had a CD release party for her most recent album, “Breaking Down the Walls.”
“The CD is dedicated to my late husband Michael Hayes,” said Chavous, during a phone interview from her Delco home. “He died of cancer in 2014.
We had a tour in Paris in 2019 and two trips to Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico shows were tributes to Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. One of them raised $3,000 for emergency relief in San Juan. Then, the pandemic hit, and everything shut down.”
Chavous has been singing her whole life.
“I started performing and singing in church when I was really young,” said Chavous. “The, my mom and dad managed me. Eventually, I got calls from agents. So, I started putting bands together – Lisa Chavous and Friends.”
In 1989 she began performing with the group Chapter One in banquet halls such as The Twelve Caesars and the Riviera Ballroom. In 1997 Lisa won first prize while competing in the Temple University jazz station talent contest sponsored by B&V outreach. In 1999 she began forming bands that performed for a variety of audiences. These ensembles eventually became known as Lisa Chavous and Friends.
“My first band was a jazz band. We played a lot of jazz clubs including the Blue Note in New York. I was on the jazz side for a while.
“We were really blessed with being able to book shows at country clubs in Delco. One night, the sax player couldn’t make the show. So, they sent another cat – and it was Byard Lancaster.”
The late, great Byard Lancaster was an alto saxophonist/flutist from Philadelphia who was part of the wave of free jazz inspired by John Coltrane. His music had many cultures in its DNA such as blues, reggae and Afrobeat and he lived in a variety of places including Chicago, France and Nigeria. But he always returned to jazz and his hometown.
After watching Chavous perform many years ago, Lancaster said, “I have recorded with Jonny Copeland, and have known Shemekia Copeland since she was a little girl, when I was on the road with her father. I’ve got to tell you the best female blues vocalist to come along since Shemekia is without a doubt, Lisa Chavous.”
This quote came from the musician who discovered Kevin Eubanks, the Roots, and Stanley Clarke.
“A couple years later, I ran into Byard at a blues festival in Media,” said Chavous. “He told me there was a blues band — the Philadelphia Blues Messengers – that needed a vocalist and asked if I wanted to go to Paris. That was in the early 2000s. He opened so many doors for me.
“For me, getting into the blues was a fluke. I was supposed to be going Motown and playing country clubs. Then, blues came in with Byard. I just became an icon in Philly as a blues singer. People wanted the blues and it never stopped. I realized – this music is me.”
Chavous is frequently compared to Tina Turner, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Ruth Brown, and Irma Thomas, who along with Billie Holiday and Mahalia Jackson are among her primary musical influences. She a been singing in church and performing in shows since she was five in a career that encompasses jazz, blues, soul, gospel and rock.
In 1989, she began performing with the group Chapter One in banquet halls such as The Twelve Caesars and the Riviera Ballroom. In 1997, Chavous won first prize while competing in the Temple University jazz station talent contest sponsored by B and V outreach. In 1999, she began forming bands that performed for a variety of audiences. These ensembles eventually became known as Lisa Chavous and Friends.
Chavous has performed with jazz greats Byard Lancaster, Odean Pope, Trudy Pitts, Pat Martino, Jimmy McGriff and Bootsie Barnes, and is regularly backed by former members of Patti LaBelle’s band, as well as by Don Evans, former guitarist for Billy Joel.
Chavous, who is a nurse, has also donated her talents at a variety of functions that benefit children’s organizations supporting research for multiple sclerosis and the anti-AIDS foundation.
Lisa’s forte is her great versatility in singing jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues, all with tons of soul that projects her sincere love and devotion to her music and that creates powerful audience attraction and response.
Video link for Lisa Chavous – https://youtu.be/3N0iG_x7u44.
The show at Jamey’s on Saturday will start at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
Cincinnati native and perpetual misfit, Erin Coburn is known for her prolific songwriting and modern approach to American rock and roll. Her relatable lyrics and soul gripping vocals are a striking compliment to scorching guitar solos and infectious riffs.
Coburn is afraid to authentically be herself — always delivering an unforgettable, high-energy performance that leaves people wanting more. Her motto is, “Expect the unexpected!”
A wide range of artists and genres have inspired Coburn throughout her musical journey — everyone from BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Rolling Stones to Alice In Chains, Arctic Monkeys, and Nothing But Thieves.
These influences can be heard lightly woven throughout her repertoire. While she brings the sounds of modern rock front and center, Coburn never forgets her blues and classic rock influences. Fans of Royal Blood, Black Keys, Gary Clark, Jr and White Stripes will immediately identify with her music.
Coburn released her debut album, “Chaos Before Conformity” in 2015 when she was just 14. Her lyrical output focuses on the theme of not fitting in with societal norms — being a misfit.
With the release of her second and third albums, “Queen of Nothing” (2017) and “Out from Under” (2019), her fanbase has grown both nationally and worldwide. With her latest single releases, “The MiSFIT” (July 2020), “Flip” (May 2021) and “Sleeve” (June 2022), she has exhibited a natural progression to a more mature sound with edgier lyrics, searing guitar solos, and a dash of humor on full display.
Coburn was nominated for the 2017 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in the “Best Blues Artist” category, and the 2018 Josie Awards for “Young Adult Artist of the Year” award for independent artists.
Additionally, Coburn is a proudly endorsed artist for Strandberg Guitars, Bad Cat Amps, DR Strings, Westone Audio and Gravity Picks.
Video link for Erin Coburn – https://youtu.be/tpklZQXSoxo.
The show at Jamey’s on Saturday will start at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
A lot of current music fans are too young to have enjoyed a live performance by Sublime perform. That comes as no surprise considering Sublime disbanded more than two decades ago.
Sublime may be gone but the music of the ska punk band from Southern California lives on.
When a trio loses its guitarist/vocalist/primary songwriter, it usually spells the end of the band. Such was the case with Sublime when the trio’s main man Brad Nowell died in 1996.
The music of Sublime lives on through Badfish – A Tribute to Sublime. In addition to being the best Sublime tribute band, it is one of the premier tribute acts in America.
There are many, many Sublime fans who wish they were concertgoers during its eight-year run from 1988-1996. Fortunately for them and for longtime sublime fans, there is Badfish, a band from Rhode Island featuring Joel Hanks on bass, Scott Begin on drums, Dorian Duffy on Keyboards and Pat Downes on vocals and guitar.
Sublime will perform on June 21 as part of the 2024 Concerts Under the Stars series in King of Prussia, which has returned for its 38th season.
Presented and produced by Rising Sun Presents, the team behind the Philly suburbs’ premier music venues Ardmore Music Hall and 118 North in Wayne, the summer-long series will again take place at the scenic Upper Merion Township Building Park (175 West Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia, www.concertsunderthestarskop.com) and will include a mix of ticketed and free concerts.
Badfish covers virtually the entire catalog of songs from Sublime’s three albums – 1992’s “40oz. to Freedom,” 1994’s “Robbin’ the Hood” and 1996’s “Sublime.”
“We’ve pretty much learned all the tracks from all three albums,” said Begin, during a phone interview from his home in South Kingston, Rhode Island.
“The middle album – ‘Robbin’ the Hood’ – has some instrumental tracks that we might not do exactly as they were recorded but the rest is all pretty true. With ‘40oz’ and the self-titled album, we know them front-to-back. We’ve even performed them in their entirety from start to finish.”
Badfish has always been a Sublime tribute band. It took its name from the title of a song appearing on the album “40oz. to Freedom.”
“The band started in 2001 at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston,” said Begin. “I met Joel there. We started the band as college students looking to do something on weekends. When we first started, we were jamming on reggae and punk tunes.
“We decided right away to be a Sublime tribute band. We booked a show two weeks out and rehearsed every day. Our first show was April 13, 2001, at Ocean Mist in South Kingston. We still play there.
“After a while, we started taking it seriously. It evolved into a full-time touring band. Joel and I both were computer science majors at URI. We graduated in 2002 and 2003/2004 was when we really started to get serious. It was a lot of risk, but we knew it was worth it.”
Now, two decades later, Badfish is still going strong.
“The core of the four of us remains the same – Joel on bass, Pat as the singer, Dorian on keys and samplers and I play drums and do backup vocals.” said Begin. “We rotate in horn players.
“Our old singer – David Ladin – was with us for five or six years. He was a local guy from Kingston. He left the band because he had started a family. Then, Pat Downes, who had played sax with us at times, took over vocals and guitar.
“Pat is a great singer. That’s a good thing for us because the main challenge for any tribute band is to sound like the vocalist. For me, the biggest challenge was learning the distinctive style of Sublime’s drummer Bud Gaugh.”
Over the years, Badfish have conquered all the challenges and that has allowed the music of Sublime to live on.
“We’re playing the music of Sublime, and they had three major releases,” said Begin. “So, we don’t have a large set list.”
Badfish does have some recorded material that it will be releasing in the new year – recordings of original songs.
According to Begin, “Putting out original music alongside being a tribute band has always been a point of interest to us. It’s been a tricky path to walk, though. Yet as the years have gone by and we’ve gotten to witness our little show turn into somewhat of a movement within the scene, we are at the point where we feel we have something of real heart and value to add not only to our show but to the American reggae scene.”
During the lockdown, Badfish did some livestream shows featuring Sublime songs and, at the same time, began looking in a different direction.
We started toying with the idea of doing our own music,” said Begin. “Original music – the idea that we were coming out with our music – what was being presented by certain guys in the band. We started and stopped with originals over the years.
“Once we turned the corner, it started moving. The summer of 2022 was when it really got moving. Just as Sublime owed a debt to reggae bands, our new material is rooted in reggae.”
Badfish will never abandon Sublime’s music.
“We never will run out of Sublime songs – well-known tracks and lesser-known songs,” said Begin. “We probably could do five hours if we really dug into it. We’ve always tried to strike a balance between well-known cuts and album cuts.
“We have five originals in the can that are 90 per cent of the way there with the intent of releasing it as an EP after a few singles over the next few months. We have another 8-10 demos in the works.”
Badfish has already released the first “original” single – “High With You.”
“We started recording it in summer 2022,” said Begin. “We completed it last fall when the band Little Strangers contributed a verse. Now, we’ll sneak the new single into the live show.”
Video link for Badfish — https://youtu.be/0iJ312cXiWI.
The show in Upper Merion on June 21 will start at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $22.
Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present Chrissy Strong and Josee McGee with special guest Stephen Lyons on June 22.
Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) will present the musical “Footloose” from June 14-23.
On June 21, Stoney’s British Pub (3007 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, www.stoneyspub.com) will host a live concert by the Gretchen Emery Band. The show, which features free admission, will run from 7-10 p.m.
The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, www.AMTshows.com) will present “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson” on June 20, Newsboys on June 21, The “Happy Together Tour” with the Turtles, the Association and Badfinger on June 22, The Australian Pink Floyd Show on June 23 and “Kenny G Live” on June 26.
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