On Stage: Jarre finally comes to North America

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Jean-Michel Jarre

Jean-Michel Jarre is a legend in the world of electronic music.

Ever since his debut album, the French composer/performer has been pushing the boundaries of music – and of attracting live audiences.

In 1990, Jarre attracted an audience of 2.5 million in front of La Défense skyline, Paris in a show commemoration celebration of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution 1789–1989.

In 1997, Jarre broke his own record in Russia when he played to over 3.5 million people at a concert celebrating the 850th birthday of Moscow.

Now, Jarre has embarked on his first-ever tour of North America – a tour that will visit several intimate venues. On May 18, Jarre will bring his “Electronica Tour” to theTower Theater (69th and Ludlow streets, Upper Darby, 215-922-1011, www.thetowerphilly.com).

“There were a few times in the past that I was supposed to do a tour of the states but this is the first time it has actually happened,” said Jarre, during a phone interview last week from a stop in Manhattan.

“I’ve worked in the United States a lot over the years but I’ve never done a real tour. I’m really happy to be able to share this project with American audiences.

“Every night is going to be different. I go by the vibe of the night and the vibe of the people.

“Making electronic music is like cooking. A good chef is always able to surprise. I call my space on the stage ‘My Kitchen.’

“I’ve always involved visuals in my shows. For years, I’ve wanted to express the sound through visuals but the technology wasn’t able to do what I wanted.”

Now, Jarre has the technology he needs.

“This stage show is exciting,” said Jarre, a four-time Guinness World Record holder for largest concerts ever performed.

“I’m creating cinematography in 3-D – without the glasses. We have LED screens that are transparent with layers of visuals. It works very well wherever you are in the venue.”

Jarre’s most recent albums are “Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise” in 2016, “Oxygène 3” in 2016 and “Radiophonie vol. 9” in 2017.

“The show’s set list is based on the project I have in mind,” said Jarre, a 2017 Grammy nominee with more than eighty million albums sold.

“I do some of my new songs, some that were collaborations with other people and also some classics that we’ve re-worked to fit the sound in 2017. The set list is also based on where I’m playing.”

Every concert will be a unique experience.

“The project is a modular project that can be adjusted to any venue,” said Jarre, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador renowned for his one-off groundbreaking events at historical landmarks across the world.

“We did a big outdoor venue on the Red Sea and the O2 Arena in London. We’ve also played small theaters – and we can even play small clubs.

“There are three of us on stage – two other musicians and myself. There are somewhere around 50 keyboards and percussion instruments representing different eras of electronic music – from vintage synths to digital gear developed specially for this tour.”

Jarre is serious when he says that this is truly a one-of-a-kind concert experience.

“With a lot of concerts, you can go to YouTube and understand what it is,” said Jarre, whose experimental music is on a plateau with that of electronic music pioneers Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio.

“With this show, it has to be seen to be believed. We’re not making any DVDs or BluRays of the shows on this tour. It has to be experienced live or not at all.”

Video link for Jean-Michel Jarre – https://www.facebook.com/jeanmicheljarre/videos/10155328664134096/. The show at the Tower, which also features Josh Wink, will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $25.

Another show in the Philly area on May 18 will occupy a completely different sphere than that of Jarre.

Pump and Dump

While Jarre’s show is ethereal, dream-like and cerebral, the show at Punchline Philly (33 East Laurel Street, Philadelphia, 215-606-6555,http://www.punchlinephilly.com) is down-to-earth, punchy and focused on mundane activities.

Actually, the comedy-and-music show focuses on the humorous side of mundane activities. Its The Pump and Dump Show’s “Best Moms’ Night Out Ever.”

The Pump and Dump Show, which features originators Shayna Ferm and Tracey Tee, is an irreverent, one-of-a-kind, interactive production designed as the ultimate respite for beleaguered parents everywhere.

“This was a 19-city tour and we only have four cities left,” said Ferm, during a phone interview Wednesday from a tour stop in Washington, D.C.

“About five years ago, Tracey and I started this show in Denver in a bar. We were overwhelmed as moms.

“Every mom has to deal with baby blogs, with people telling her how to be a mom and Facebook mom pages. It’s so overwhelming.”

Tee said, “We thought – what if people could get together and laugh at this – real people getting out together and laughing together – learning to not be so hard on themselves.

“My job and Shayna’s job is to say things that you think about but don’t say. We do this for mothers. It’s one-and-a-half hours to laugh – with no-one touching your boobs.”

Pump and Dump’s show has introduced laugh-inducing segments that are totally relatable for mothers, including “Stump the Gyno,” and the “Sad Cake” photo slideshow.

The most popular is the interactive “The Most F***ed Up Thing Your Kid Did This Week” segment in which the mostly-young-mom attendees write down a story on index cards and then hear them read aloud on stage. The segment has since birthed a Huffington Post Parents feature that was “liked” more than 12,000 times on Facebook.

The show takes its name from the procedure of pumping breast milk then disposing of it – usually so breastfeeding moms can safely drink a glass of wine or two.

“This is really a night out for moms,” said Ferm. “We feel we are the original ‘Moms’ Night Out.’ This is really more an event than a show. This is like a post-partum party.”

Video link for “The Pump and Dump” show –https://youtu.be/eIc1vdbQwss.

The show at Punchline Philly will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28.

Lonestar

It was just about 25 years ago when a few friends from Texas who had relocated to Nashville decided to work on a new project.

The project was an immediate success and has continued to grow, evolve and endure. Now, a quarter-of-a-century later, that project – a country band called Lonestar – is still a major success.

On May 18, the sweet-singing quartet will visit the area for a show at the Valley Forge Casino (1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, 610-354-8118, www.vfcasino.com).

Known for merging country roots with strong melodies and rich vocals, Lonestar — Richie McDonald (lead vocals), Michael Britt (lead guitar, backing vocals), Keech Rainwater (drums), and Dean Sams (keyboards, backing vocals) — has amassed RIAA-certified sales in excess of ten million album units since their national launch in 1995.

The band has logged 10 Number 1 country hits including “No News,” “Come Crying to Me,” and their crossover smash “Amazed” (which was also Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100).

“The four of us have been together for 25 years,” said Britt, during a phone interview Wednesday as the band’s bus was departing Nashville en route to a tour stop in Connecticut.

“Richie left in 2008 but then came back in 2011. John Rich, who is now in Big and Rich, was in the band when we started but left in 1998.

“We don’t have anything special planned for out 25th anniversary. We’re just trying to enjoy ourselves. We’re all just so thankful that we get to do this.”

Lonestar is heading north for shows at in Norwalk, Connecticut; the Valley Forge Casino; Marshfield, Massachusetts; and Portland, Maine.

“This is just a short four-show run,” said Britt. “Typically, we just go out on short runs. It’s hard to play places on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Most venues are mainly weekend-driven.”

Lonestar’s awards include ACM Single of The Year for “Amazed” (the song also won the Song of the Year award), and CMA Vocal Group of the Year as well as this year’s nomination for People’s Choice Award for best country group. worldwide per year, they are celebrating 25 years together.

Now, the band is touring in support of its new album “Never Enders.”

“Our latest album ‘Never Enders’ came out in 2016,” said Britt. “We recorded it at the end of 2015 and early 2016. We cut it at two studios in Nashville that we always use – Blackbird Studio and Ocean Way Studio.

“On ‘Never Enders,’ our keyboard player Dean is actually the producer. He’s produced other acts and he’s a good producer. In the past, when we had a record label, they would make suggestions for producers they wanted us to use.

“This is started as an independent release so we were able to use whatever producer we want. And, we didn’t have a timeline. Our last album ‘Life As We Know It’ was also independently released Last year, Shanachie Records picked up ‘Never Enders.’

“We do a 90-minute show but we didn’t play any songs from ‘Never Enders’ live until the album came out. We don’t play songs before they are released.

“Since its release, we play three or four songs from the new album in our show. So much of the set list is our hits. We had nine Number Ones and a bunch of other top 10 hits.

“We also do a couple old cover songs that we’ve been playing for a while, including an Eagles song as a tribute to Glen Frey.”

Video link for Lonestar — https://youtu.be/CNXjDvOxOlg.

The show at the Valley Forge Casino will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $45.

Life of Agony

If you like your music more on the heavy side and you’re looking for a show on May 19, take a short trip west to Lancaster to check out Life of Agony’s show at the Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684, http://www.chameleonclub.net).

Life of Agony emerged from the New York music scene in the early 1990s with one of the most distinctive sounds in its genre.

Best known for its 1993 metal/crossover debut “River Runs Red,” the band instantly built a die-hard, cult following. For over two decades, the group toured relentlessly all over the world.

Life of Agony — vocalist Mina Caputo, guitarist Joey Z, bassist Alan Robert, and drummer Sal Abruscato — took several breaks in its career and the last one looked like it might actually be a break-up. That changed three years ago.

“In 2014, promoters from the Alcatraz Festival in Belgium contacted us and asked us to perform at the festival,” said Joey Z, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from his home in Merrick, New York

“The money was there. Mina said – I’m into it if the boys are into it. We went over and we had a blast. The crowd absolutely adhered to Mina. Her performances were incredible.

“It snowballed from there. More shows were added. Our agent said – what about a record? We considered it and realized that making a new album was a natural progression.”

On April 28, Napalm Records released Life of Agony’s new album “A Place Where There’s No More Pain.” The album came “hot on the heels” of the band’s previous album “Broken Valley,” which came out in 2005.

“I produce records when I’m not touring,” said Joey Z. “I had a nice facility in Brooklyn – until Hurricane Sandy wiped it out. It was a $160,000 loss because the insurance policy had a clause about tidal water.

“So, I rebuilt the studio in my home. We did most of the new record here — a bunch of guitar work and some prep. Then, we finished at three other studios. We had Matt Brown as our producer.

“I could have produced it. But, I play lead guitar and I wanted to concentrate on that. We all thought it would be better to have a fifth member.

“We all have projects we’re working on, homes to maintain, families and children. We all have responsibilities so we had to make the bolts fit. It took about 18 months altogether and we over-achieved. What we got was a great record.”

Video link for Life of Agony – https://youtu.be/4i4CCKgWWh8.

The all-ages show at the Chameleon, which has Goat Skull Rebellion and Wrath of Typhon as the opening acts, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.50.

Ora Cogan

Ora Cogan, a Canadian singer-songwriter, lives in the Pacific Northwest but has developed a blossoming relationship with Philadelphia.

She has performed numerous well-received shows in this area. Cogan recorded her new album in Philadelphia – with Philly musicians.

Now, she is coming back to Philadelphia for a house show on May 19 at Harmonie Hall (Manayunk, http://harmoniehall.space).

“I have a new album coming out in the fall called ‘Cricket,’” said Cogan, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon as she travelled from Philadelphia to a show in Boston.

“I recorded the album in Philadelphia with my friend Tom Deis. We produced it together at his place in Fishtown.

“I first met Tom when we played the same house concert about a year-and-a-half ago. He was with his band Falsa. Tom also has another really good band called Uni Ika Ai.

“I made the album this winter – in February. I don’t know if I had a pre-meditated idea about the album when I was writing the songs. I write songs quickly and there were threads. There definitely is a feeling – an ethos – which came together on its own accord.

“I wrote a lot of the songs when I was staying at this wild, remote place – an island in western Canada with heavy storms and crazy waves. I finished writing and then went from that isolation to a densely-populated place like Philadelphia. It was quite a change.”

Cogan, who has already released seven albums, has been working her craft for a while.

“I’ve been playing music since I was a kid,” said Cogan. “My family was pretty artistic and creative. We lived in a West Coast town – Salt Spring Island. Then, when I was 19, I moved to Vancouver and really began making music.”

Video link for Ora Cogan — https://youtu.be/xD05X1v2HQo

The show at Harmonie Hall, which also features Anna Rossi and Open Hand, will start at 9 p.m. The suggested donation is $15-$25.

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams

Area fans of Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams are very fortunate this weekend. The husband-and-wife team has not been playing many live dates lately but they will be in the area for a pair of shows in Delaware.

On May 19, they will share the bill with John Gorka at the Arden Gild Hall (The Village of Arden, 2126 The Highway, Arden, Delaware, 302-475-3126, www.ardenclub.com).

On May 20, they will perform in downtown Wilmington as part of David Bromberg’s Big Noise Festival at Tubman Garrett Park (815 Justison Street, Wilmington,http://www.bignoisefestival.com).

“This weekend is just a one-off,” said Campbell, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from the couple’s house in Woodstock, New York.

“We’re only doing sporadic shows right now. The big new is the record – which comes out later this year. Since February, we’ve been completely consumed with this thing,”

Williams said, “Were getting close. I’m putting the finishing touches on the art this week. With the album, we allowed ourselves a ridiculously short amount of time.”

Campbell said, “It’s been an intense few months. I was hoping we’d get it done a lot sooner than we did.”

Campbell won a Grammy Award for his work with Levon Helm and has played with many of the era’s greats including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Phil Lesh, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Keith Richards, Cyndi Lauper, Hot Tuna and Mavis Staples.

He has also won the Lifetime Achievement Award (2008) and Instrumentalist of the Year Award (2013) from the Americana Music Association.

Williams was a member of Southern Comfort, and later Swing Fever. She created the role of Sara Carter, the lead singer of The Original Carter Family, for the stage and for the BBC and PBS.

She has performed with Bonnie Bramlett, Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, Little Feat and Hot Tuna and has toured as a member of Phil Lesh and Friends.

“We recorded the new album with Justin Guip as the engineer,” said Campbell. “He’s the engineer I also use when I’m producing other people’s records.

“We did the new album at his studio up here near Woodstock. We have a very symbiotic relationship with Justin. We always work together.”

Together, Campbell and Williams are one of the premier musical couples in American rock.

“We’ve been married for 27 blissful years,” said Campbell.

Video link for of Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams — https://youtu.be/NwIJ-RSgJUY.

The show at the Arden Gild Hall will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27. The Big Noise Festival will start at noon. Tickets are $44.

Mason Porter

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present The Bryan Tuk Complex Trio featuring Tiffany Ly on May 18, Mason Porter and Friends present the “4th Annual Bob Dylan Birthday Bash!” on May 19, Valdez CD Release Show with Brett Kull and Ray Weston on May 20, and Open Mic with guest host Jace Miller on May 21.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host The Peace Creeps with Nik Everett on May 20 and Bet Williams & the Epiphany Project on May 23.

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will present Rachael Kilgour and Ethan Pierce on May 18, Christine Havrilla & Gypsy Fuzz on May 19 and Brad Cole, Matt Nakoa, and Robinson Treacher on May 20.

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