On Stage: Ellis Paul runs to The Flash, Sept. 26

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Also: Nelson, Fiddler and much, much more

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times


Ellis Paul never planned to be a musician, but 25 years later, he;s still going strong. He brings his show to The Flash in Kennett Square, Sept. 26.

There are times when the trajectories of our lives can be drastically altered but what seem to be small things. The career path of Ellis Paul is a good example.

Paul, who will be performing at The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) on September 26, has been a folk musician for more than 25 years. It was never something that he had planned to do.

The veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist was a top track athlete when he was younger. He was a state champion distance runner in high school. He then went on to major in English at Boston College, which he attended on a track scholarship. Paul still has one of the team’s five best times in the 10,000-meter run.

But, it was track that sidetracked him. A knee injury ended his career as a runner and forced him to find another avenue to channel his energy. His girlfriend’s sister gave him a secondhand guitar and the rest is history — a history that includes 19 albums.

“I knew I wanted to be involved in the arts,” said Paul, during a phone interview Wednesday from his home in western Virginia. “Guitar seemed to be where I fit at that point.”

Paul’s 19th album — “Chasing Beauty” — was released earlier this year.

“We started working on the album two years ago,” said Paul. “I did the album in Decatur, Georgia because my producers Kristian and Brandon Bush have their studio there. Kristian, who is also in the band Sugarland, and I have worked together over the years. We’ve written a lot of songs together and he produced my ‘Sweet Mistakes’ album.

“I started with 20 songs and 14 ended up on the album. It’s supposed to be a journey — talking about people who were at crossroads going from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B.’ You get a glimpse into a moment in their lives.

“A lot of songs were already written and I wrote a few more as we were going along.  I even wrote one at the end of the session. It needed a tender love song so I wrote ‘Drive In Movie.’ Sonically, we wanted it to be raw sounding — like a band playing live.

“Travis McNabb from Sugarland played drums. Kristian and Brandon played guitars and we used Red Molly for background vocals. On this tour, I’m playing without a band. It was pretty easy to take the songs from a band format to a solo format because that’s how they were originally written.”

Paul has a lot of experience in presenting his songs live on stage.

“I do 160-170 shows a year,” said Paul. “The travelling part gets tiring. But, playing music for people never gets old. A few years ago on my 20th anniversary, I did a run at Club Passim (Cambridge, Massachusetts) where I played all 12 of my albums chronologically — night after night.

“I started with ‘Saying Something’, which was my first real professional project.  I performed two albums each night. When I was preparing for the run, it took me about a month to review all the albums. I had to teach myself my own songs.

“I’m always writing new songs. I just released a children’s book and CD package called ‘The Hero in You.’ That was a lot of fun. But, my bread and butter is my adult music.”

Tickets for Paul’s show, which starts at 8 p.m., are $20 in advance and $24 at the door.

Other concerts slated for The Flash this week are i am love with the Feelrs and Thunderhawk on September 25, Lori Citro on September 27 and One Alternative on September 28.


Lucy Kaplansky headlines at the Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse Sept. 27.

This weekend, Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com) will host two female artists who are now full-time musicians whose resumes include working in the medical field — Sarah Blacker on September 26 and Lucy Kaplansky on September 27.

Blacker, who is a mainstay in the Boston music scene, is both a musician and a member of the medical profession.

“In addition to my music career, I also work as a music therapist for adults in a psychiatric ward,” said Blacker, during a phone interview Wednesday from her home in Medford, Massachusetts.

Blacker’s expressive voice and insightful lyrics have been known to have a therapeutic effect on adult listeners.

“I also work with children with Asperger’s,” said Blacker, who plays ukulele, mandolin, piano and percussion in addition to guitar. “I really enjoy working with adults. I use songs about moving past your struggles. I do it about 8-to-10 hours a week and I’m passionate about my work.”

Blacker’s most recent CD is “Precious Little Things,” which was released in spring 2013.

“I’m in the process of recording my third full-length,” said Blacker, whose credits include having been selected to perform as an “Emerging Artist” at the prestigious Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. “I’m recording the album at 37’ Productions Studio here in Massachusetts.

“My bass player Sean McLaughlin is producing it at his studio. The oldest song on the album is about a year-and-a-half old. The rest of them were written fairly recently — including some of the original demos. We finished drums, bass and some of the guitar work.

“We have 12 songs. We’ve already gone through the process of deciding which ones to use. The themes seem to be water, angels and letting go. Those topics popped up in a couple songs.”

Fans can expect the new songs to deliver more of a punch sonically.

“This album is definitely more rock-and-roll than the others,” said Blacker, a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston. “There is a lot of guitar playing on the record. The new songs are more uninhibited — more urban, more indie sound.

“My voice is in a place where it got more depth — and more weight. I’m getting away from a folk music sound. The new music is more dance-oriented. I call it ‘Sundress Rock.’

“Music has always been the most exciting part of my life. I’ve been singing at the top of my lungs since I was very young. In high school, I got this burning desire to learn guitar. I had a bathroom with great acoustics so I’d go in and play and write for hours at a time.

“Now, I sit down when I feel I have to write. The guitar part comes first and then I do the melody for the first two verses and the chorus. I love writing lyrics. I’m a big fan of words. When I was younger, I had a thesaurus next to my bed.”

Kaplansky became involved in the Greenwich Village folk music scene in New York — opting for music rather than college. Then, a few years later, she attended Yeshiva University, eventually got her PhD and then began work as a psychologist. It didn’t take her long to abandon medicine and return to music.

“It’s been about 20 years since I worked as a psychologist,” said Kaplansky, during a phone interview Wednesday evening from her home in New York City.

Kaplansky released her first album “The Tide” in 1994. Her sophomore effort was “Flesh and Bone” in 1996 followed by “Ten Year Night” (1999),  “Every Single Day” (2001), “The Red Thread” (2004), “Over the Hills” (2007), the “Kaplansky sings Kaplansky” EP (2011) and “Reunion” (2012).

“The ‘Reunion’ album came out about two years ago,” said Kaplansky. “It’s a collection of original songs that tend to be about family, including a family reunion when I was a kid. The album got great reviews and I’ve gotten lots and lots of solo gigs from it.

“The newest album is the ‘Tomorrow You’re Going’ album I did with Richard Shindell. The name of our group is the Pine Hill Project. We funded it through Kickstarter and that went amazingly well. We raised $85,000 which was way more than we expected.

“Richard and I recorded the album in upstate New York. It was an album of all covers. We chose great songs that we both loved. It was produced by Larry Campbell (multi-instrumentalist, producer and former member of Bob Dylan’s band). We had a lot of great musicians playing on the album like Little Feat’s Bill Payne on piano.

“I’ve been doing some more writing since them. The new songs are different but in no particular direction. I have a couple songs about my daughter growing up. Another song was inspired by a drug overdose. I’m going to need some time to write some more songs until I go back in the studio.

“Maybe I’ll start recording new songs in about a year. I do perform a few of the new songs in my live shows. I don’t go into a show with a set list. So, I’ll do some new ones and who knows what else.”

Blacker’s show on Friday night will start at 8 p.m. with Peter Linwood and Jason McGovern as the opening acts. Tickets are $10. Kaplansky’s show, which also features an 8 p.m. start time, has Buffalo Stack as the opener and tickets priced at $22 advance and $25 at the door.


Nelson celebrates family — and their own family — with a show at the World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Sept. 27.

Musical history that spans three generations will be on display September 27 when the World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400, www.queen.worldcafelive.com) hosts “Ricky Nelson featuring Matthew & Gunnar Nelson.”

The Nelson twins are the sons of Ricky Nelson. Ricky Nelson, a musical hitmaker, and his brother David Nelson, an actor, director and producer, were the sons of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” an American sitcom that ran from 1952-1966 on ABC, starred the real-life Nelson family.

From Ozzie and Harriet to Ricky to Matthew and Gunnar, the Nelson’s are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family in history with three successive generations of Number 1 hit makers. Matthew and Gunnar are also nephews of actor Mark Harmon.

“This live show is like a high energy concert combined with and A&E Biography episode,” said Gunnar Nelson, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Annapolis. “It’s a Nelson Family show — and a family-friendly show.”

Ricky Nelson was the only artist to have a Number 1 song, Number 1 movie and Number 1 television show in the same week. Life Magazine coined the phrase “Teen Idol” to describe Ricky Nelson, a musician who is credited with pioneering the country rock sound.

Nelson, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who died in a plane crash on his way to perform a New Year’s Eve concert in 1986, had 53 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and 19 other Top 10 hits. His sons also were chart-toppers when they recorded and performed as Nelson.

“We’ve been playing music since we were babies,” said Gunnar. “We had our first recording session on our 12th birthday and our first live gig opening for our father at a concert at Magic Mountain when we were 14. That was also when we started playing the L.A. club scene. We did that until we were 18.

“We were the only unsigned band to ever perform on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ We were 23 when we had our first hit — ‘(Can’t Live without Your) Love and Affection.’ We sold 10 million copies of our first album, had four Top 10 hits and two Number 1 hits.”

The Nelson twins definitely had music in their DNA.

“Grandpa (Ozzie Nelson) died when we were eight,” said Gunnar. “Harriet was our best friend. She was really cool and would even come on tour with us. She was really supportive and gave us great advice like — some days you’re going to work and some days you’re going to play.”

Ozzie and Harriet are remembered in the touring show but the heavier focus is on the music of Ricky Nelson. Some of his most well-known hits are “Hello Mary Lou,” “Poor Little Fool,” “Travelin’ Man,” “I’m Walkin’,” “I Gotta Feeling,” “Teenage Idol” and “Garden Party.”

“This show seems to move people,” said Gunnar. “It’s more than just a concert. It really does vacillate. We interact with the audience. There are videos and comedy. We’re at ease with the show. Actually, with the amount of stories and videos we have, it’s hard to keep it at 90 minutes.

“We see older people coming into the show and they’re walking slowly. These same people leave the show with smiles on their faces and bounce in their steps. The music can take you back and evoke memories and emotions.

“With regard to our band, we’re finishing the last Nelson album that will ever be made. It’s an 80s rock album called ‘Peace Out.’ It sounds really good and we’re going to take it out on the road. My brother and I are also working on a Christmas album — all organic instruments and beautiful vocals.”

Show time for “Ricky Nelson featuring Matthew & Gunnar Nelson” is 8 p.m. and tickets for the concert on the Downstairs Stage are $28.

Upcoming shows at the World Café Live at the Queen’s Upstairs Stage are the Howlin’ Brothers on September 25, Blues Night with Kitty Mayo & The Emperess Band, Venom Blues and What’s in the Box? On September 26, the Melton Brothers Band on September 27, Gorilla Music Presents the Wilmington Battle of the Bands on September 28 and 4W5 Blues Jam on October 1.


Marissa Barnathan is featured as Hodel in the production of Fiddler On The Roof at the Candlelight Theater in Arden, Del., running now through Nov. 2.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” which is running now through November 2 at the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.nctstage.org), takes a look  at Jewish history and has an amazing amount of history on its own.

The musical, which is set in Russia in the early 1900s, tells the story of Tevye (David Wills), his wife Golde (Gerri Weagraff) and three of their daughters — Tzeitel (Tori Healy), Hodel (Marissa Barnathan) and Chava (Brigid Rose).

It is almost 50 years to the day that the timeless musical opened on Broadway.  The inaugural performance took place on September 22, 1964 at the Imperial Theatre. The show was moved tothe Majestic Theatre 1967 and to The Broadway Theatre in 1970. It ran for a record-setting total of 3,242 performances and was the first musical theater run in history to surpass 3,000 performances.

The musical, which is based on Sholom Aleichem’s short story “Tevye’s Daughters”, is set in 1905 in Anatevka, a small Ukrainian Jewish village in Russia. It tells the story of Tevye’s attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions during challenging times.

His three older daughters are headstrong and willing to challenge tradition with their choices of husbands — Tzeitel with a poor young man from the village, Hodel with an idealistic freedom fighter and Chava with a Russian soldier.

“This is my first time to do ‘Fiddler’,” said Barnathan, during a phone interview this week. “I saw the movie when I was a kid and then a saw a friend of mine in a production of the show in Baltimore six years ago.

“Being a Jewish performer, it’s really great to be able to embrace and share Jewish traditions. I also enjoy the push and pull of the daughters.”

Even though the show has been around for more than a half-century, it surprisingly is still topical — still in line with things going on in the world in 2014.

With all the spousal abuse cases making headlines these days, more attention is being focused on women’s rights. In the show, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava were fighting in their own way for women’s rights at the start of the 20th century.

“It shows women standing up for what they want,” said Barnathan, a Haverford High alumna who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a theater and dance major.

“Getting married to Perchik is what Hodel wants and she knows it. Going through Hodel’s journey was a little startling. My other sisters and I talked about how hard it would be to stand up to our father — and to tradition.

“Hodel and I have some similarities. I connect with the warmth within the family. I like Hodel’s wit. She’s clever. And, I admire her bravery — her strength and faith in Perchik. The scene where she is pulling away from papa is really unsettling. But, she shows a vulnerable strength. Her faith in her love is impressive.”

The issue of women’s rights isn’t the only part of “Fiddler on the Roof” that corresponds to what is happening in the world today. Russia taking over another country’s territory and using violence to maintain its rule there happened in the early 1900s and it’s happening again right now.

The music — delivered in top-flight style under the guidance of the show’s music director Betsy Connell — features an array of classic songs, including “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Tradition,” “Matchmaker” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

Tickets are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12) and include a tasty buffet dinner.

On September 27, there will be no “Fiddler on the Roof” performance. Instead, the Candlelight is presenting a one-night-only murder mystery show titled “Greased.”

This is the venue’s brief description of the show — “Past secrets emerge and the malt shop soon becomes a morgue as the gang laughs, loves and Bunny Hops while trying to avoid a killer. Join your favorite characters at Rhydem High as Denny, Candy, Roxy, and the rest of the gang gear up for the big car race. Help the cast members solve the mystery as one of their own becomes GREASED.”

The theater also states that 1950’s style attire is encouraged (but not required). Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show at starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $49 and include the show and buffet dinner.  The adult-themed show is not recommended for children under 16.

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (5105 Kennett Pike, Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware, 800-448-3883, http://www.winterthur.org) has another installment of its “Music Along the Bank” series scheduled for September 28 from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Clenny Run area.

The concert will showcase the Splashing Pearls featuring original songs written by Peter Scobell that tell stories “the old-fashioned way.”  Musically, the band is a trio if instrumentalists on ukulele, steel drums and upright bass along with vocals by Larkin Salemi.


Guitar ace Steve Kimock is at the Ardmore Music Hall, Sept. 26.

Guitar ace Steve Kimock has played a number of shows in the Delaware Valley over the years and keeps showing up with something new every time. On September 26, Kimock will bring a triple-pronged show to the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com).

Kimock will be playing a “Solo, Duo, Trio show billed as “a night of ‘dressed up’ acoustic and experimental music.” It will feature special guests Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz and Kimock’s 25-year-old son John Morgan Kimock. With only a short trip from his studio in the Lehigh Valley, Kimock will have the opportunity to bring out some of his favorite guitars, new material and concepts to the stage for the first time.

“I’m going to do a healthy amount of solo unfretted stuff,” said Kimock, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in the Bethlehem area. “Some parts are left a little up in the air depending on the mood of the event.

“The duo stuff is primarily with Dan Lebowitz. We’ve done this before and we had good chemistry. It was a lot of fun so we’re going to do it again. There will be interpretations of songs you know. I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead.”

Over the years, Kimock has built a legion of fans through touring and recording. His musical resume includes jamming with Jerry Garcia (the Grateful Dead guitar legend who, shortly before his death, called Kimock his “favorite unknown guitar player”) and playing with musicians from the now-defunct Grateful Dead.

Kimock has performed with Bob Weir in Kingfish, with Vince Welnick in Missing Man Formation and with Phil Lesh in the Phil & Friends. He has also played in the Heart of Gold Band with Keith and Donna Godchaux and has toured with Merle Saunders and Bruce Hornsby.

He also has recorded with a number of his own bands, including Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, Zero, the Steve Kimock Band, Praang and Steve Kimock & Friends. His current line-up adds more versatility to the mix.

“The trio stuff is difficult to describe,” said Kimock. “We add another musician — my son John. He is a tremendous drummer. He has great ears. And, he has great chemistry with me. I’ve recorded some acoustic stuff with Johnny that will be for my next album.

“The album is still a giant scrapbook of ideas. I’m at a point now where I understand how I might thread things together in a way that hasn’t been done before. There is a lot of diversity — fretted and fretless. There are three main styles — modern jazz, blues and North Indian meditative.”

Show time for Kimock’s performance is 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 day of show. Other shows at the Ardmore venue over the next week feature Yacht Club Revue on September 25 and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes on September 27.

The schedule for Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) features Beezy and Mikey Bars on September 26 and Fidlam Bens and Wolf Accent on September 27.

This weekend’s show at the Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) features Garnet Rogers and Nik Everett on September 26 and New Sweden and Kicking Down Doors on September 27.

The Sellersville Theatre (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) is presenting jazz songstress Jane Monheit on September 26, Joan Osborne on September 27 and Blue Highway on September 28.

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 717-397-7700, http://www.amtshows.com) will have “Music of the Night: Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber” on September 25.

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