On Stage: Legendary Don Felder comes to Chester County

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Don Felder

There is an obvious link between Slash, Richie Sambora, Peter Frampton, Orianthi, Joe Satriani, Bob Weir and Alex Lifeson. They are all legendary rock guitarists.

But you don’t need “seven degrees of separation” to personally link them to each other. One degree of separation will suffice.

All of them played on Don Felder’s new album, “American Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

“American Rock ‘n’ Roll” is the third studio album by Don Felder, a former member of the Eagles. It was released April 5, 2019 through BMG Rights Management.

The album, which is a showcase of Felder’s artistic talents, features 11 high-energy rockers mixed with touching, thoughtful ballads. From the state of the guitar-rock union salute to “American Rock ‘N’ Roll” to the funky crunch of “Hearts on Fire” to the fierce, unrelenting declaration of “Rock You” to the mutual heartfelt honesty of “Falling in Love” and “You’re My World,” Felder has once again tapped into the current music zeitgeist to emerge with an album that represents the peak of his creative prowess.

Now, Felder is on the road – touring in support of his sparkling new disc. The tour touches down in Chester County on September 25 at Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com)he Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com).

“The album was actually finished and mixed at the end of 2018,” said Felder, during a recent phone interview from his home in Beverly Hills.
“Before it was released, I had to get all the ducks in a row with regard to promotion. BMG is a great record company. Instead of racing to get it out by Christmas, we decided to put it out in early spring.”

The album boasts an impressive guest list of contributors addition to the above-named guitarists including Sammy Hagar (vocals on “Rock You”), Mick Fleetwood and Chad Smith (trading off drumming duties on the title track), David Paich (keyboards on “Hearts on Fire,” piano on “The Way Things Have to Be”), and Steve Porcaro (keyboards on “Falling in Love”).

According to Felder, ““On my last solo album, I had only one guest on guitar–Steve Lukather (Toto)–and I played every other guitar part on every other song. I didn’t want to do that this time. I wanted to have people come in and light it up. My goal was to play with them and have a good time. It was a ball!”

Apparently, the album was as fun to make as it is fun to listen to.

“I recorded the album in a lot of places,” said Felder, a co-writer of “Hotel California” and “Victim of Love.” “I used a studio here in L.A. – East West Studio. I was re-doing my studio and Slash came there. Me and Sammy Hagar used a studio in Sausalito. I did the tracks with Richie Sambora and Orianthi in Richie’s kitchen and the track with Peter Frampton at his studio in Nashville.

“I knew all the players – how they play and how they sound. The track with Chad Smith was migrating through decades. With Mick Fleetwood, I sent the stems to him in Hawaii. Playing with Joe Satriani pushed me out of my comfort zone. He’s one of the most amazing technical guitarists I’ve ever heard.”

Surprisingly, Felder, a former lead guitarist of the Eagles, didn’t start out as a guitarist.

“I grew up in Gainesville, Florida,” said Felder, a fertile ground for musicians where Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stephen Stills and Tom Petty groomed their sound when they were young.

“I played bass when I was 14. We’d play every Wednesday night at Dub’s Steer Room in Gainesville.

“I was also playing fraternity parties at the University of Florida every week and that kept me busy. Then, in the summer when the university was on break, we’d go and play Daytona Beach.”

Felder eventually moved on to periods of living in New York and Boston before eventually moving to California. In 1974, he joined the Eagles, who already had a number of hit singles to their credit.

With the addition of Felder’s talents, the Eagles recorded megahits such as “Take It to the Limit,” “Already Gone,” “Victim of Love,” “One of These Nights,” “Those Shoes,” and “Hotel California.” Felder and the Eagles parted ways for good in 2001 and he has been pursuing his solo career ever since.

Video link for Don Felder – https://youtu.be/hQ5O-FzqfGA.

The show at the Colonial Theatre will start at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $39.50-$75.

Alter Bridge

Alter Bridge is playing at The Met (858 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, http://themetphilly.com) on September 25 as part of the “Victorious Sky Tour,” which features Alter Bridge co-headlining with Skillet and special guest Dirty Honey.

Alter Bridge was formed in 2004 in Orlando, Florida and the hard-rocking quartet is still going strong – with all four original members.

The resilient foursome features lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Myles Kennedy, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips. Kennedy came from the band The Mayfield Four while the rest of the band made up three-quarters of Creed.

Alter Bridge burst onto the music scene in 2004 with the release of its gold-selling debut, “One Day Remains.” In 2007, the band released “Blackbird,” the album that elevated the band’s profile worldwide. The epic solo in the title track “Blackbird” was voted “Greatest Guitar Solo of All Time” by Guitarist Magazine.

Now, a decade-and-a-half after releasing its debut album, Alter Bridge is ready to drop its sixth album, “Walk The Sky.” The new album will be released on October 18 via Napalm Records.

“We started writing for it in August 2018,” said Kennedy, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“We then went in a studio in Orlando with producer Michael Baskette, who everybody just calls ‘Elvis.’”

In the past, Kennedy and Tremonti would make an album by working on riffs and ideas and riffs with Baskette. This time around, Kennedy and Tremonti arrived for the recording sessions with complete song ideas and then Marshall and Phillips would help fleshing out the songs.

“Most of it was written before we went into the studio,” said Kennedy. “Michael and I are the primary songwriters.

“That’s the writing team. With doing this together for 15 years, we have it worked out. So, we brought in completed songs. Some were in pieces, so, for them, it was a matter of sitting down with Brian, Scott and Elvis.

“People who have heard the record keep commenting on how positive it sounds. I’ve found a good way to frame my existence. I feel comfortable with it. There is a certain peace.”

Alter Bridge’s new album ventures into new territory but does not wander too far from the path.

“Sonically, we definitely have certain hallmarks – a strong sense of melody over a riff factor,” said Kennedy, who has also recorded and toured with Slash since 2009.

“We focus on riffs being a certain style that is our own. We didn’t want to drift too far away from that. But we also wanted to use textures – the synth vibe of old John Carpenter films. It was a balancing act.

“It’s important for us to have that balance so we don’t alienate fans from the past but also not to do the same thing over again. The album defines a moment in time. Other than the synth parts, the overall vibe is because of lyrical themes. It’s not a poppy and happy but it does explore a more optimistic vibe.”

All four band members have solo careers and side projects – all of which are on the back burner at the present time.

“Right now, it’s all Alter Bridge –all the time,” said Kennedy. “At least for this year.”

Video link for Alter Bridge — https://youtu.be/xOZaoiPg8Xk.

The show at The Met, which also features Skillet and Dirty Honey, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $35.

Leslie Stevens

LA-based singer-songwriter Leslie Stevens just released a new album titled “Sinner” via Thirty Tigers on August 23. Now, she is touring in support of her latest disc and will visit Philly on September 25 for a show at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

The album’s title has a universal vibe. At some point and to some degree, everyone is a sinner – except maybe Mike Pence.

“Sinner – it’s a word that is really complicated,” said Stevens, during a recent phone interview from her parents’ home in St. Louis, Missouri.

“It’s a word people don’t like. It’s a harsh, judgmental word. It’s also a fun word between friends.

“I came across a moment in my life when I had to make a difficult decision – and I felt like a sinner.”

The album was produced by Jonathan Wilson (Dawes, Roger Waters, Father John Misty) who also played a variety of instruments during the sessions including guitars, bass, drums, percussion and mellotron. Other top-flight musicians on the record were drummer James Gadson (Bill Withers, Paul McCartney, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye), bassist Jake Blanton (the Killers), pianist Keefus Ciancia (Elton John, T Bone Burnett), organist Nate Walcott (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bright Eyes) and vocalist Jenny O.

Fortunately, Stevens doesn’t preach or get judgmental on her “Sinner” album.

“I like to let people interpret my songs,” said Stevens. “There is a need for songs and music. It’s a way for us to see what we’re all about.”

According to Stevens, “I have always written songs to help me heal and to help me cry and laugh. Many people don’t like tears. They are afraid of pain. They want to walk away. When after I play someone says, ‘You are the most vulnerable,’ I consider it the biggest compliment. Still, it means cracking my heart open like an egg at every show.”

Stevens has been penning songs since she was young.

“Music has been a tool of self-expression since I was little,” said Stevens. “I used to practice piano by a big window with birds conking their heads.

“I grew up in St. Louis and was influenced by Uncle Tupelo which was some real honest music. That aspect of what they were doing was something that I love. I also listened to country radio. I love that 90s era country radio. Those songs were tight.”

“Sinner” is Stevens’ third full-length album. Her debut LP was “The Donkey” and her sophomore album was “Roomful of Smoke.”

All three albums are showcases for her voice – a voice that makes country singers green with envy. Her voice has made her an in-demand singer who has recorded and toured with artists such as Joe Walsh, Jackson Browne, Florence + the Machine, Jim James, Father John Misty, and John Fogerty.

“Singing has always been an occupational hazard,” said Stevens. “I’ve grown so much as a singer it’s scary.”
Video link for Leslie Stevens – https://youtu.be/5w7vC0nMg4Y.

The show at the World Café Live, which has Brianna Nelson as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

The show at The Met, which also features Skillet and Dirty Honey, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $35.

Royal Teeth

Royal Teeth, which is opening for Rocket Summer at the Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) on September 25, is an indie-rock band from Louisiana with an interesting timetable in its career history.

The band — singer and guitarist Larsen, singer Nora Patterson, guitarist Thomas Onebane, and drummer Josh Hefner — formed in 2010. In a span of three years, Royal Teeth released its debut album, “Glow,” in 2013.

After a six-year gap, Royal Teeth released its sophomore album, “Hard Luck,” on June 28, 2019.

“The long delay started with some record label drama,” said Larsen, during a recent phone interview as the band travelled from Nashville to a gig in Atlanta.

“‘Glow’ came out in 2013 on Dangerbird Records. Then, the label we were on started having some problems. So, we bought ourselves out.

“Then, we signed to Elektra Records. A short while later, the guy who signed us left the company. Unfortunately, every time something like that happens, it pushed back our recording and tours.”

In April 2015, the band signed with Elektra Records. In April 2016, Royal Teeth and Elektra parted ways. Later that year, the band hooked up with Round Hill Records.

“We did put out an EP – ‘Amateurs’ – in 2016 on Round Hill Records,” said Larsen. “We met the Round Hill crew in New York, and they decided to take a chance. This year, we put out ‘Hard Luck’ through the. It was like a restart.

“I think we changed as people from the experience. We’re older. We’re self-sufficient and we’re ready to keep going.”

Ever since the group’s members began recording from their homes in New Orleans and Nashville as far back as 2017, they’ve felt revitalized. Unlike their previous releases, the new album is rough around the edges.

According to Larsen, “We didn’t want to reference anything we had done before. We needed to move on and figure out what we are today. This line of work can be difficult. It requires you to be vulnerable and put yourself out there to be judged by others. It’s hard to get used to.

“We are using this album as a platform to face our fears, and to focus on the love we find through the music we create and those who connect along the way. I hope that this album gives strength to anyone who has a hard time putting themselves out there for the world to see.”

Currently, Hefner and Onebane live in Nashville while Patterson and Larsen, who are married, are still living in New Orleans.

“Nora and I have been married for two years,” said Larsen. “We’ve been together for eight years.

“All four of us grew up in Louisiana. Tom and Josh were members of the band Oh Juliet based in Lafayette, Louisiana. They played together as teenagers.

“Once their band ended, I joined with them. We were based in New Orleans. Nora had just moved to New Orleans and we asked her to join the band.”

After a while, Hefner and Onebane decided to move from the Crescent City to Music City.

“We did some sessions in Nashville in the past,” said Larsen. “‘Hard Luck’ had stuff we recorded in our houses. I had a studio in our New Orleans house. We’d send tracks back-and-forth.

“It was a definitely a more fun experience than our past records. I’d get my guitar and build tracks at home. I’ve written twice as many songs working this way.

“We didn’t want this album to be smooth. Our attitude – we wanted it to feel a little more rough around the edges. We want to still be an upbeat pop band – but just a bit rougher.

“On this tour, we’re opening for Rocket Summer, so we only have a 434-minute set. Half of the set is stuff from ‘Hard Luck’ and we’re sprinkling in some older songs. And, we do have one little acoustic segment in the middle of the set.”

Video link for Royal Teeth — https://youtu.be/N0pGRAOS5xo.

The show at the Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia, which has Rocket Summer as the headliner, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17.

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