On Stage: Broza’s April 17 show will aid COVID relief

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

David Broza

When David Broza performs a show on April 17 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com), it will be special in several ways.

This is an album release concert for “en Casa Limon,” which is Broza’s first all-instrumental guitar album.

It is also a charity event. All proceeds benefit COVID-19 relief efforts and healthcare workers at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville.

“It will be fun,” said Broza, during a phone interview last week from his home in New York. “I’m looking forward to it. All the money will go to a local hospital for COVID efforts. I want to help things happen.”

Broza is an internationally renowned Israeli singer-songwriter, recognized for his dynamic guitar performances and humanitarian efforts. His signature sound brings together the influence of Spanish flamenco, American folk, rock and roll, and poetry. Social justice and peace advocacy are embedded in Broza’s work.

His 1977 hit song “Yihye Tov” remains an Israeli peace anthem. The song’s lyrics — roughly translated as “Things Will Be Better” — struck at the heart of the issue that people all over the world want peace.

A longtime fan of the Spanish guitar, Broza has incorporated many styles of flamenco, jazz, classical into his performance repertoire.  Over the years, fans and friends have repeatedly requested a guitar instrumental album.

According to Broza, “After 43 years as a singer-songwriter, composing music without lyrics was a challenging task. I had to perfect my playing to become a guitarist by trade.  It took a while – almost three years.”

The album was recorded at the Casa Limón Studios in Madrid, Spain, a “magical place” where some of the world’s greatest guitarists, including Paco de Lucia and Tomatito, recorded their albums. It was produced by Grammy award winner Javier Limón.

“The album came out on August 20, 2020,” said Broza. “I recorded it in Spain at the producer’s studio. It’s hard to believe that after all these years, it’s my first all-instrumental album.”

According to Limón, “David Broza is one of the few artists with whom I would embark on any adventure with my eyes closed. The result is the most beautiful and profound journey to the roots of the most popular and beloved instrument on the planet – the Spanish Guitar.”

Because of the pandemic, Broza has been unable to tour in support of “en Casa Limon.”

“I had to turn down shows in Spain,” said Broza. “I just had to turn down some this morning. It’s very backward there.”

Broza was born in Haifa, Israel and spent his teenage years in Spain and the U.K. After returning to Israel, Broza started his musical career at age 22. His travels have contributed to his international sound and commitment to human connection, storytelling, and equality.

“I lived for a long time in Madrid, so I’m influenced by flamenco music,” said Broza, who is a die-hard fan of Real Madrid, one of the best football teams in the world.

“But I’m not a flamenco artist. My influences are Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix and folk-rock artists like Joni Mitchel.

“I’ve done three Spanish albums, six American albums and one instrumental album. I also have released more than a dozen Israeli albums. My music is eclectic folk rock. I come to entertain.”

Broza’s show at Sellersville will be for a live audience and also available via Livestream.

“I’ve done more than a hundred Livestream shows,” said Broza. “I think I mastered that performance. I decided that it’s not going to be something similar to a stage show. I expose myself in a very intimate way.

“It’s almost like I’m letting you into my closet. There is no distance. Everyone is front row center. They get to see everything.”

Prior to the pandemic shutdown, Broza was on the road a lot with Trio Havana – including a show at City Winery in Philadelphia in November 2019.

“I spent a year-and-a-half touring with Trio Havana,” said Broza. “It was fantastic. I managed to achieve a Cuban sound – very smooth and deep…very Afro-Cuban.”

Trio Havana is Manuel Alejandro Carro (aka Mannya), a Cuban-born singer-songwriter and master percussionist with a style firmly rooted in Latin Pop; Yuniel Jiminex “Elguajiro,” a master tres guitar player from Santa Clara, Cuba; and Jorge Bringas, renowned bassist from Havana, Cuba, who played previously with Albita Rodriguez and the late Celia Cruz.

Introduced by flutist Itai Kriss, Broza first met Trio Havana at a private event in New York and was stunned by their versatility. By the end of the evening, they were jamming together and found a special magnetism in the sweeping rhythms. Combining the Cuban sound with Broza’s Spanish guitar and songs sung in Spanish, Hebrew and English proved a rich common ground that connected naturally.

“I really like Trio Havana,” said Broza. “They play traditional Cuban instruments – tres, bass and percussion. I heard them playing in New York and loved them. I asked if I could sit in with them and I did. I was finishing my contract with previous musicians after four years and was looking for something new.

“My music is pop-rock and I come from Israel, When I started playing with the musicians in Trio Havana, it was so musical. I fell right into it.”

Israeli pop-rock and traditional Cuban music is not a combination you’d expect to find anywhere. But Broza found it and it worked well.

Video link for David Broza – https://youtu.be/DTVQZjZmpxs.

The show at the Sellersville Theater on April 17 will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $29.50-$40. Livestream tickets are $18.

Paul Hammond and Friends

Prior to Broza’s show on Saturday night, the Sellersville Theater will present a trio of concerts by Paul Hammond and Friends – one on April 15 and two on April 16.

Hammond is no stranger to the Sellersville venue having played the venue numerous times with his ultra-popular Led Zeppelin tribute band Get The Led Out.

Paul Hammond & Friends is a musical project formed by the desire to continue to safely play live shows and provide quality entertainment during and beyond the pandemic of 2020 with current members and alumni of the national act Get The Led Out. Paul Hammond & Friends features core members Eddie Kurek (vocals and guitar), Brian Quinn (vocals and guitar) and Hammond (guitar, mandolin, vocals).

“Paul Hammond & Friends has a rotating cast,” said Hammond, during a phone interview Tuesday morning from his home in Norristown. “We’ve been playing once a month at the Bridgeport Rib House.

“For the Sellersville shows, it’s me, Brian, Eddie and Mike Greer sitting in on guitar and vocals both nights. Bobby Pyrlis is playing drums on Thursday and Adam Ferraioli is on drums and percussion on Friday.

“On bass, we have Bernie Carville on Thursday and Phil D’Agostino on Friday. We have two different keyboard players – Steve Sauer and Andrew Lipke.”

On his Facebook page, Hammond posted this message, “We figured it wouldn’t be a PH and Friends show without some very special guests so with that in mind, my dear friend Andrew Lipke will be joining us for the Sellersville Theatre shows on April 15th and 16th! Talented beyond belief he is.”

Hammond is elated that bookings are starting to open up for PH & Friends and for Get the Led Out.

“Our last PH & Friends show was at the Bridgeport Rib House back in November,” said Hammond. “Get The Led Out is coming back and we have our first show on June 10 at Live at the Drive-In in Frederick, Maryland – our first show after not working since March last year.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were doing about 130 gigs a year. Everybody is from the Philly area and Get the Led Out was a full-time thing for all of us. It was everybody’s main occupation. I’ve run a private recording studio, but it was a secondary thing.”

Get The Led Out has had concert dates from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to New Jersey and D.C. wiped out this month by COVID shutdowns along with May shows in Indiana, State College and Reading. In June, the band has a green light to resume.

Fans of Get The Led Out who have been jonesing can get a temporary fix this weekend at Sellersville.

“We’ll be playing a handful of favorite classic rock favorites and a set of Zep songs,” said Hammond. “We’re kind of like Get The Led Out Jr. We’re doing three different shows with two sets a show.”

Video link for Paul Hammond & Friends — https://youtu.be/W9NHrgym6Bo.

The shows at the Sellersville Theater will start at 8 p.m. on April 15 and April 16 at 6 and 9 p.m. Ticket prices range from $33-$52.50. Livestream tickets are $17.50.

Pawnshop Roses

Another band with a history of shows at the Bridgeport Rib House – Pawnshop Roses – will be performing on April 16 at 118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com).

Pawnshop Roses, a Philly area favorite, revolves around the nucleus of founding members Paul Keen and Kevin Bentley and exists in several formats.

It will be the “duo” version of Pawnshop Roses at Friday evening’s show.

“This show will be Kevin and Me,” said Keen, during a phone interview Monday from his home in Norristown.

“I sing, write songs and play guitar and harmonica,” said Keen. “Kevin plays electric and acoustic guitars.

“We also can play as a full band with Jason Jonik on guitar and Zil Fessler on drums or as a five-piece with Jude Alvarez on bass. We’ve had this lineup together for four years.”

Four years is less than a quarter of Pawnshop Roses’ history.

“Kevin and I formed back in 2002,” said Keen, a Kennett Square native and Unionville High grad. “We’ll start our 20th anniversary next year.

“When I was in Unionville High, I was in a band called Joe’s New Socks. Kevin graduated from the University of Scranton and then moved to Philly. That’s when I met him. I put an ad online looking for a guitar player and that’s how we met.

“Our musical style hasn’t changed over the years. It’s jangle-rock – like Tom Petty and it can be heavy at times – like Led Zeppelin.”

Pawnshop Roses, who were winners of YouTubeʼs 2006 “Best Live Video” contest for
the video “Getʼs So Hard Live at Grape Street,” have managed to stay connected during the pandemic.

“We lost 90 percent of our gigs from the past year but we’ve kept playing,” said Keen. “We’ve been playing shows outside at the Bridgeport Rib House,” said Keen. “I like the tents. It’s cool to play outside.

“Recently, places are starting to open up inside with social distancing. Me and Jason have a Sunday brunch duo show this weekend at Troubles End Brewery in Collegeville.”

Pawnshop Roses have released three albums – “Let It Roll” in 2007, “Versions” in 2008 and “Solid Gold” in 2010. A new recording is on its way.

“We’re going in the studio on April 17 and doing four songs,” said Keen, who also works as a music teacher in Plymouth Meeting.

“We’re hoping to have it out in the next six months. It’ll be a four-song EP. The songs are ready. We’re doing the recording at Retro City Studio in Germantown.

“We’ll produce it ourselves, but our engineer Matt Muir also helps with producing and overdubs. He’s a good mixer. We did some songs on ‘Versions’ with him. We also did a Christmas song with him a couple years ago.”

Video link for Pawnshop Roses — https://youtu.be/5Gx6CGvDj74.

The show at 118 North on April 16 will start at 8:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Bridgeport Rib House (1049 Ford Street, Bridgeport, www.ribhouse.net) will be hosting performances by Brian Quinn & Danny Beissel on April 21 and 28.

Beissel has spent the past decade performing with such musical stalwarts as Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers), Barry Goudreau (Formerly of Boston), James Burton (Elvis, Ricky Nelson) and Fosterchild (with Quinn).

Quinn co-founded the Philadelphia-based rock band Octane and was named “Best Guitarist” in the Philadelphia region by the Philadelphia Music Awards in 2001 and 2004. A decade later, Quinn joined Candlebox when the band needed to replace its guitarist.

Other announced upcoming shows at the Rib House are Mike Greer & Co. and Somewhat Civil on April 16, Side Arm and John McNutt on April 17, Four Lean Hounds on April 18, Montoj and Jim Tauscher on April 24, Mike Guldin Rollin & Tumblin on April 25 and That Band and Alex DiMartini on April 30.

Another band with links to the “Land of the Zep” will be performing a free show this weekend.

The Harry Walther Band

The Harry Walther Band – Chris Faraday (lead guitar), Jeff Moran (bass), Dave Maribella (drums) and Walther (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, songwriting) –will headline a “no cover” show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, jameyshouseofmusic.com) on April 17.

Walther is a resident of Plymouth Meeting which sits on the outer edge of the “Land of the Zep.”

A zep has nothing to do with Led Zeppelin. It is an Italian sandwich indigenous to the tri-borough area of Norristown, Conshohocken and Bridgeport – known for its outrageously tasty blend of cooked salami, provolone, tomato, a layer of thick freshly-sliced raw onion, salt, pepper, oregano and oil in a fresh Italian roll.

Faraday and Moran are from Hatboro and Maribella is a Havertown resident.

“It’s been eight years with this version – four guys who play together really well,” said Walther, during a phone interview Tuesday night from his home in Montgomery County.

Since 1996, The Harry Walther Band has been rocking the tri-state area with its storytelling style of music — Americana rock with deep country roots.

“Our repertoire is 75 per cent original songs,” said Walther. “I guess you could call it Americana. It’s country rock like Tom Petty, Steve Earle and John Cougar. If it’s Americana, it’s Americana with balls.”

Just like every other band around, the Harry Walther Band has been kicked in the balls by COVID-related shutdowns.

“We haven’t been playing much at all since the pandemic hit,” said Walther. “I have done some solo acoustic stuff.

“The last band show we did was indoors at Moss Mill Brewery back in January. But we do have some band shows coming up at Crooked Eye Brewery, Country Creek Winery and Moss Mill.

“We’ve played a lot of different places over the years – Parx Casino, New York Giants tailgate at Met Life Stadium, the Camden waterfront, and Steel City in Phoenixville. Steel City is one of favorite places to play.”

The Harry Walther Band has a few recorded releases so far and another one in the works.

“We have two EPs that we released – ‘Western Gate’ and ‘Hard Rain,’” said Walther. “We have a new full-length coming out called ‘Mixed Up Roads.’

“With the first two EPs, I have hard copies I’ll bring to the show. The new one will be mainly digital, but we’ll also have hard copies of that to sell to our fans.”

Fans will have plenty to look forward to at this weekend’s show.

“We’re going to play some of the new songs – including ‘Drifted Too Far From the Shore,’” said Walther. “We’ll play stuff from everything – and a couple covers like Dylan and Johnny Cash. It will be more country or folk than rocked up.

“This will be the first time we’ve done a show at Jamey’s. We’ll play two sets. It’s going to be a two-and-one-half-hour show.”

Video link for the Harry Walther Band — https://youtu.be/NPtHTlnHZbE.

The show on April 17 at show at Jamey’s House of Music will start at 8 p.m. and feature free admission.

Other shows at Jamey’s this weekend – all with no cover charge — are Dave Reiter Trio on April 15, The Philly Blues Kings on April 16, and “Sunday Blues Jam” on April 18.

Jake Mattera

In the world of comedy, it will be a case of “local boy does good” when Jake Mattera headlines a show at Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.heliumcomedy.com) on April 18.

“I usually feature there because I’m a local comic,” said Mattera, during a phone interview Monday from his home in Prospect Park.

“In a comedy show, there are usually three comics – the MC, the feature and the headliner. I’m one of the features they use regularly. I’m headlining Sunday because they’re recording the show for a record on Helium Records.

“It will be available digitally and there will be some hard copies – CD and also a video. Different components will be released later down the line.

“I’ve also played Punch Line Philly. I just headlined a showcase there a few weeks ago. This will be my first headlining gig at Helium.”

Mattera, who grew up in Chichester and graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School, explained how he was drawn to the life of a standup comedian.

“I was playing in a band that played a lot of local shows,” said Mattera. “The band broke up and I was looking for another way to get attention for myself.”

It was a smart choice.

Mattera studied comedy writing at Temple University and then landed an internship with one of television’s top comedians.

“I moved to L.A. and was an intern for Conan O’Brien,” said Mattera, reflecting on his career break in 2012.

“I worked in the monologue department. I wrote the set-up for the jokes. It was like a master class in learning how to write a joke. I spent six months in L.A. Then, they hired me back for a month of shows in Atlanta.”

Mattera came back to Philly and worked on WMMR’s “Preston and Steve Show.” After that, he embarked on a standup comedy career.

The Delco comic has been invited to perform at many prestigious festivals all over the country, including Big Sky Comedy Festival, Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, Limestone Comedy Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, and HBO’s “Women In Comedy Festival.”

“When I was young, I was the kid who would do anything to make people laugh,” said Mattera. “I always thought I was funny. People told me I was funny.

“I started out in comedy doing open mics – 5-to-10-minute open mics. I learned the ropes. I learned which bars to play. I learned stage presence in Delco. Then, I went to Philly to learn joke efficiency – learn how to just get to the point

“My comedy has been described as wholesome – funny things that mothers would like. It’s self-deprecating and anecdotal. I married with a kid, so I talk about family life. I have my routines and I stick to my material.”

Mattera knows this show at Helium will be special in many ways.

“I did my first open mic at Helium so it’s nice that it’s come full circle,” said Mattera.

Video link for Jake Mattera – https://youtu.be/gCK_tF6i89U.

The show at the Helium Comedy Club on April 18 will start at 7 p.m.

Tickets, which are not sold individually because of capacity restrictions and social distancing, are $40 for a two-person table or $80 for a four-person table.

Other shows this month at the Helium Comedy Club are Rich Vos (April 21), Greg Fitzsimons (April 22-24), Lawrence Killibrew (April 28) and Krystina Hutchinson (April 29-May 1).

Vicki Barbolak

Vicki Barbolak followed a traditional path on her way to becoming a standup comedian. She was an ordained minister, a trailer park resident and a carpet salesman. Oh yeah – she was also a Top 10 finalist on “America’s Got Talent.”

All of the above combined with other attributes to make Barbolak one of the top-rated comedians in America.

This weekend, Barbolak will bring her unique sense of humor to Philadelphia for a three-day, five-show run at Punch Line Philly (33 East Laurel Street, Philadelphia, www.punchlinephilly.com).

“I love Philadelphia,” said Barbolak, during a phone interview Monday from her home in Oceanside, California.

“My son-in-law Tim is a retired Marine and Philly is a historical place for the Marine Corp. When I went to Punch Line the first time a few years ago, I took him with me. We had so much fun.”

A few years ago, Barbolak received a “sign” that she should pursue comedy.

“When I was 38, I was in the bathroom and I saw an ad for a comedy club sticking out of the trash,” said Barbolak. “I was working in a carpet store at the time. I didn’t care if the customers bought carpets – I just wanted to make them laugh.”

Barbolak’s involvement with the Shore family shored up her career path as a comedian. Mitzi Shore, who passed away three years ago at the age of 87, was owner of one of the comic world’s landmark venues — The Comedy Store in West Hollywood. The venue was founded by her husband Sammy Shore at its Sunset Strip location in 1972. Mitzi’s kids – Pauly and Sandi – both became comedy stalwarts.

“I took a class with Sandi Shore, Pauly’s sister,” said Barbolak. “She told me I had talent. So, I started doing open mics and then couldn’t stop.

“I was going to open mics at The Comedy Store in La Jolla. I came every Sunday to the open mic there and brought baked goods.

“One night, Mitzi Shore walked in. Fred, the club manager, told me that Mitzi wanted to see me on stage. I had a good set. Mitzi called me over and said – you’re funny.

“She said – you’re funny and you’re now a paid regular. Part of being a regular is a spot every Sunday night. I was a paid regular at first at La Jolla and then they brought me to Hollywood. I just didn’t know that it was going to change my life.”

Barbolak was a fan favorite and Top 10 finalist on the 2018 “America’s Got Talent” show. Howie Mandel told her (and America), “I think you just came up with your own sitcom, ‘Trailer Nasty.’ There’s room for someone like you in a sitcom, you’re wonderful, I love you.”

“It was lucky for me to get on ‘America’s Got Talent,’” said Barbolak. “Simon Cowell helped me a lot. He got me a really good manager.”

Barbolak also competed in “Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.”
“Being on ‘Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions’ was a really good experience for me,” said Barbolak. “I got to perform in front of 15,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium.”

Drawing on her roller-coaster life, Barbolak has created a comic persona that has earned her well-deserved praise. From working in a family carpet business owned by her dad (former Pittsburgh Steeler lineman Pete Barbolak), dueling with ex-husbands who think alimony is an Italian ice-cream flavor and raising two great kids all while living in the ultra-posh Vista Manor Trailer Park near San Diego – she is considered unique both in the character she has created as well as the fresh material she consistently delivers.

In 2007, Barbolak won Nickelodeon’s “America’s Funniest Mom” show hosted by Roseanne Barr, who was so impressed that she hired Vicki as one of her writers. In addition to being crowned as “America’s Funniest Mom,” she was for the 2010 Jay Leno Laugh Squad.

“In my live show, I do both routines and interaction with the audience,” said Barbolak. “I never know what I want to do. I’ll start with a bit and then go off on a tangent.

“It’s mostly domestic stuff – relationships and stuff around the house. Some of it is observational. A lot is about sex and relationships – and living in a trailer park for over 40 years.”

Video link for Vicky Barbolak – https://youtu.be/E7EFttAb92g.

The shows at Punch Line Philly are scheduled for April 15 at 8 p.m. and April 16 and 17 at 7:15 and 9:30 p.m.

General admission tickets are $30 on Thursday and $32 on Friday and Saturday.

Other shows at Punch Line Philly this month are Liz Miele (April 22-24), Pandemic Poetry (April 25), Lovable Monsters (April 28), Omar Terrell (April 29) and Majah Hype (April 30-May 1).

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