On Stage: Dee Jay Silver puts new spin on country

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Dee Jay Silver

It’s easy to assume that a musical act with the name Dee Jay Silver would be a Day-Glo drenched EDM (electronic dance music) act. However, if the artist’s name were Jay Dee Silver, it would sound much more like a country act.

On August 25, Dee Jay Silver will be performing at the BB&T Pavilion (1 Harbour Boulevard, Camden, New Jersey, 856-225-0163, www.livenation.com) – treating the fans there to his own distinct sound as the opener on Jason Aldean’s “They Don’t Know Tour.”

Aldean is one of America’s top country acts with a string of hit singles and albums, including his 2010 album “My Kinda Party” which is certified quadruple-platinum.

Silver is a country act. And, he is a DJ spinning music to get people on their feet dancing.

RCA Nashville recording artist Dee Jay Silver has been a top touring DJ/remixer/producer for the past 15 years, having played in premier venues in virtually every major market in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

The groundbreaking open-format DJ/performer has thrilled millions with his unique ability to blend all types of music from hip hop and rock to house and country for crowds of all sizes as well as on mash-ups and remixes.

Silver has been traveling the world playing every kind of event and venue from the largest nightclubs, high-profile celebrity parties and exclusive private events to massive sporting events, award shows, major music festivals and arena tours and all that’s in between.

“I play a whole lot of songs and I play them fast,” said Silver, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

“If it’s not a song you like, just wait a minute or two and I will be playing a song you like.”

Silver began DJing while attending college in Arkansas and later moved to Springfield, Missouri. While working as a doorman for a club in Springfield, his interest peaked and he began opening up the dance floor until the headlining DJ would come on.

According to Silver, “One gig turned into the next. Back in the day, you didn’t have computers, YouTube, or schools to learn how to DJ. If you were going to DJ, you had to learn from another DJ.

“Growing up in Texas, country music was all I ever heard. I was very versed in country music, so I’ve always mixed it in. I’m so happy to see that ‘Country Remix’ is actually a genre now.”

Silver’s exposure to music started when he was just a kid.

“I sang in churches when I was young,” said Silver. “And, my dad played guitar on the porch. Then, go to college and the world changes. I was still into country but I also gravitated to big house music.

“When I was in college, I got into N.W.A. and gangster rap. Older house music became my favorite. DJing is exciting. It draws you in. I’ve been doing it for 20 years. Every day, I can’t wait until I do my next show.

“It’s about being creative and relating to your crowd. No matter what song it is, people will dance if it’s presented right. If they’re familiar with a song, that’s what makes them more comfortable to have a better time.”

Silver successfully was able to build his career with one foot in dance and one foot in country.

“Wherever I played, I was the guy known for mixing in country,” said Silver. “Club owners would say – I know you’re going to play some country so, when you do, get in and get out.

“Soon, the club owners realized that the fans loved it, Now, they’re hiring me to play country 12 days at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“Country music is something that people can relate to. Hip-hop is different. I don’t have a Bugatti in my driveway – very few people do. Hip-hop – no-one is living like that.

“But, everybody knows ‘Wagon Wheel’ and ‘Any Ol’ Barstool’ (country hits by Darius Rucker and Jason Aldean). It’s just good laid-back music that people want to sit back and listen to with a beer.”

In 2013, Silver signed a recording contract with RCA Nashville, becoming the first DJ to be signed to a major Nashville label. His 2013 EP, “Country Club,” features creative and rhythmic country mash-ups of some of the format’s most popular and beloved artists, including Alabama, Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Jake Owen, and Love and Theft.

In April of 2014, Silver launched a nationally syndicated weekly radio show called “The Country Club with Dee Jay Silver” via the Sun Broadcast Group. Each week, the show features up-tempo mixes and mash-ups of hits from country’s biggest stars and newcomers, with an infusion of unique rhythms as well as tracks from other genres.

“I just love house music and all its energy,” said Silver. “I look for new songs every day. But, old music is just as important. In this digital age, no-one listens to just one style of music anymore.”

Two new activities have been added to Silver’s hectic schedule – fatherhood and his own kids’ clothing line called Nice Nice Babies (https://nicenicebabies.com/).

“My son Wake Silver Perdue will be one-year old on September 1,” said Silver. “So, I wanted a clothing line of cool shirts for my kid – and for other kids.”

Video link for Dee Jay Silver – https://youtu.be/wJdN7y98J-c

Jason Aldean’s “They Don’t Know Tour” featuring Dee Jay Silver will start at 7:30 on August 25 at the BB&T Pavilion will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets prices range from $25.50-$65.50.

Most people are familiar with Mexican music – especially Mariachi bands. And, many music fans are familiar with Mexican-American bands such as Los Lobos, P.O.D. and Los Lonely Boys.

LOLAA

It’s a safe bet that not many are familiar with Mexican-Canadian bands. But, you can get to experience a Mexican-Canadian band if you head down to the Barbary (951 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-634-7400, www.facebook.com/thebarbary) on August 25.

On Friday night, the popular music venue in Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood will host LOLAA – a band featuring Mexican-Canadian sisters Lex Valentine and Nadia Valerie King.

While there is definitely Mexican music in their sonic DNA, the sisters play music that is better described as indie-rock. The Toronto-based sisters released their eponymous debut EP on May 22.

Valentine and King emerged in 2016 as LOLAA and released their debut single, “Always Been.” The song featured backing vocals from ’90s dance icon, Simone Denny of Love Inc.

“Me and Nadia have played together for a long time,” said Valentine, during a phone interview Monday afternoon from her home in Toronto. “We were in Magneta Lane for 10 years.”

King and Valentine represented two-thirds of Toronto’s Magneta Lane, a project begun in high school. That band released its debut record when the sisters were still in their mid-teens.

When 2015 rolled around, King and Valentine were ready to take it to another level and began writing sessions in the studio with producer Jon Drew – music that featured drums, bass, movement, rhythm, pop-infused vocals and no-limits songwriting.

“I love working with my sister,” said Valentine, the elder sister. “We’re completely opposite – and we’re good at being honest with each other.

“Growing up, I remember being the sibling who got into vocal lessons. I was classically trained as a soprano – and then my voice dropped.

“My sister was always the shy one. We joined a choir together when we were young. We wrote silly songs together and realized it was fun.

“After a while, we got into things other than music. It was that way for a couple years and then our interest in music sparked up again. We were listening to music from the early-to-mid-2000s.

“Our mom was a big fan of bands like the Doors and Creedence Clearwater. Plus, we grew up in a Mexican household so we were influenced by a lot of Mexican pop music.

“Another influence was the powerful female front women from the 1980s – singers like Debbie Harry. Blondie’s ‘Parallel Lines’ album was one of the reasons I wanted to be a lead singer.”

The sisters’ time spent in Magneta Lane set the stage for LOLAA.

“Magneta Lane was an indie-rock three-piece – guitar, bass and drums with one vocal,” said Valentine. “With this project, we experiment more with synths and other things. It was a natural progression of where we wanted to go.

“There is more emphasis on percussion. Our producer Jon Drew is an exceptionally-talented drummer. He’s helped stretch our limit. We have a great dynamic.”

LOLAA is also looking back to its roots.

According to Valentine, “The thing about Latin Americans is that our culture is so colorful. We are always smiling and laughing. We love to dance. We feel immensely – passion, sadness – we celebrate life. We wanted LOLAA to have these ideas at its core, no matter what shape the songs took.”

Some of the songs have gone bi-lingual.

“Right now, we’re in the studio recording a Spanish version of our new EP,” said Valentine. “There is something powerful about being Mexican and growing up in North America.”

Video link for LOLAA — https://youtu.be/dnM81r5GeAc.

The show at the Barbary, which also features Retroglyphs and Hueman Garbij, will start at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Neal Morse Band

The music made by the Neal Morse Band will never be classified as “easy listening” music.

That’s not to say the music made by Morse and his stellar group of players is not enjoyable because it is fun to listen to. But, grasping the complexity of the music and following along with the stories in the lyrics is not so easy. Actually, it takes work on the part of the listener.

A prime example is the new album just released by the Neal Morse Band – an album that will be introduced to area fans when the band performs in concert on August 26 at the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com).

The Neal Morse Band — singer/guitarist/keyboardist Neal Morse, drummer Mike Portnoy, bassist Randy George, keyboardist Bill Hubauer and guitarist Eric Gillette – treated fans to an intellectually challenging double-CD.

The album is “The Similitude of A Dream,” which was recently released on Radiant Records via Metal Blade Records/Sony. The album, which has A running time of more than 100 minutes, is loosely based on the book “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”

Officially titled “The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come.” is a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print.

The entire book is presented as a dream sequence narrated by an omniscient narrator. The allegory’s protagonist, Christian, is an everyman character, and the plot centers on his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (“this world”), to the “Celestial City” (“that which is to come” — heaven) atop Mount Zion.

“This album almost plays itself,” said Morse, during a phone interview Tuesday morning from a tour stop in New York City. “It has such a flow to it.

“I did the first writing session in January 2016 and we did most of the recording last spring. We mixed it in the summer and it was released on November 16.

“I was the only one really reading the book and going from it. I ended up writing all the words for the album. Musically, I’d tell the band – this is what’s going on in the story and this is the music it needs. Everyone worked on the mood of the piece.”

“The Similitude of a Dream” is the eighth studio album with Morse, Portnoy and George, and the second as a true collaboration with this current lineup.

According to Morse, “The book chronicles the spiritual journey of a man from the City of Destruction to the place of Deliverance. Someone had suggested to me that I do a concept album based on this book, but I kind of forgot about it.

“Then when I began writing new songs last December, the suggestion came to my mind. I had never read the book, so I Googled the SparkNotes story outline and began to write some little song bits and instrumentals based on what I had read.

“Those bits combined with the ideas that the other guys brought to the table then miraculously exploded into this double concept album.”

Morse was able to get his band in line with what he was looking for.

“I had this burst of creativity,” said Morse. “I’d think – if he’s leaving the City of Destruction, what would it sound like?

“There are a lot of recurring themes in the album. When we wrote the songs, it got linear. At times, I wasn’t sure where the music should go, so I went back to the book.”

Morse has been a major player in the prog rock scene for the last two decades.

In the mid ’90s he formed the quirky Spock’s Beard, whose debut recording, “The Light,” was an unexpected success. Over the next seven years, Spock’s Beard released six critically-acclaimed studio recordings and multiple live recordings while establishing a passionate fan base in the prog rock community.

In 2000, he formed the prog supergroup Transatlantic with drumming legend Mike Portnoy (formerly with Dream Theater), Marillion’s Pete Trewavas and The Flower Kings’ Roine Stolt.

In 2001, Morse became a born-again Christian, left Spock’s Beard and began a Christian rock solo career, releasing many progressive rock concept albums about his new religious faith. In the meantime, he continued to play with Transatlantic and formed three new bands, Yellow Matter Custard, Flying Colors and The Neal Morse Band.

“I started going to church with my wife in the church she grew up in,” said Morse. “After a while, I experienced something I had never experienced before. I experienced the Holy Spirit.

“I quit Transatlantic and initially lost about half my fans because of the switch. Ultimately, I gained some. I gave my life to God and I’m happy with what we have.”

“The Similitude of a Dream” is available in various formats — a two CD package, a Special Edition with the two CDs and “The Making of A Dream” DVD, or as three vinyl records along with two CDs.

“Normal music fans might not listen to a project like this all the way to the end but prog fans will,” said Morse. “In the prog world, the longer it is the better it will sell. They want the picture book and they’re really ravenous for the music.”

Video link for Neal Morse Band – https://youtu.be/8PNDS-_rmhQ

The show at the Keswick Theater on August 26 will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $29.50-$65.

The Keswick will also present Stephen Stills & Judy Collins with Kenny White on August 25 at 8 p.m.

Varials

Varials, a young metalcore band based in suburban Philadelphia, just released its debut album and now are introducing it to fans with a CD release show on August 26 at The Voltage Lounge (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215- 964-9602, www.voltagelounge.com).

The hard-hitting quintet — Travis Tabron (vocals), Mitchell Rogers (guitar), James Hohenwarter (guitar), Sean Rauchut (drums) and Mike Foley (bass) –has developed a sound that blends metallic unpredictability and hardcore spirit.

“Sean started the band on his first day in college at Montgomery County Community College,” said Tabron, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

“I wasn’t in the band then. I went on tour with them in 2014 running the merch table. I’d also do a guest spot every night.

“After a while, they booted their original vocalist. Sean called me and asked if I wanted to do it. It was a great opportunity for me.

The group’s debut EP “Absolution” yielded a string of fan favorites such as “Deadweather” and “Stigmata,” which both cracked 100K Spotify streams.

Varials approach heavy music from a different angle altogether on their full-length debut, “Pain Again,” which is out on Fearless Records. This mindset expands the possibilities of “heavy” throughout 11 bruising songs.

“We recorded ‘Pain Again’ in February this year,” said Tabron, a graduate of Perkiomen Valley High.

“All our previous stuff was self-produced but we made the album with producer Josh Schroeder at Random Awesome Studio in Saginaw, Michigan.

“We had the studio booked for six weeks and we knocked the album out in two weeks. I only had four or five songs written from before we went there.

I wrote new material in Studio B and while we were actually recording.

“I wrote 9.5 of the 11 songs. I work on the demos myself and play bass, drums, guitar and vocals. Then, I bring what I have to the band and it goes from there.

“I had a concept for the album a year before I started writing. I knew how the songs were supposed to feel. A lot of the songs lyrically touch off each other.

“The theme of the album is bitter…painful…but it’s also very calculated and precise. It’s definitely an entire piece and not a collection of 11 songs. It’s a contribution to the metalcore genre.”

Video link for the Varials – https://youtu.be/Fd8Elk-Fe-A.

The show at The Voltage Lounge, which also features Left Behind, Vicious Embrace and Mercy Blow, will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $14.

The POF

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present Glenmoore’s The POF with Elastic Blur, Kiana Corley on August 25; Chicago 9 – A Tribute to Chicago on August 26; and Melodramatic, Eric Perez, Kaloni Baylor, and Marielle Kraft on August 27.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host the Doubleclicks on August 25 and Bluestime and Some Hands on August 26.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Roots of Creation + Flux Capacitor on August 24; Echoes (Pink Floyd tribute) on August 25; and  Splintered Sunlight (Grateful Dead tribute) with special guest Kenny Brooks (RatDog), along with The Hoppin’ Boxcars on August 26.

Valley Forge Casino (1160 First Avenue, King Of Prussia, 610-354-8118, www.vfcasino.com) will present comedian Jim Breuer at The Venue with shows at 7 and 10 p.m.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will host Selwyn Birchwood on August 23; The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson along with Upright Manon August 24; Bob Schneider and Clarence Bucaro on August 25; and Live At The Fillmore on August 26.

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