On Stage Extra: Maria Muldaur, more than a one-hit wonder

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Maria Muldaur

The end of summer is looming on the horizon. For fans of live music, that means there is an uptick in midweek shows.

This week, there is an impressive array of live shows on Wednesday featuring a legendary folksinger, an iconic British pop band from the 80s, a groundbreaking metal band and an up-and-coming singer-songwriter.

When music fans hear the name Maria Muldaur, most immediately think of “Midnight at the Oasis.”

Casual listeners who don’t recognize Muldaur’s name still recognize the song.

“Midnight at the Oasis,” which was a hit single by Muldaur that reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974, was the first major commercial success in her music career which has spanned a half-century.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Maria Muldaur’s mega-hit song “Midnight at the Oasis” and in celebration she and her band are hitting the road for a special tour. Muldaur is presenting her multi-media retrospective show, “Way Past Midnight…..A 60-Year Musical Journey,” which will chronicle her 60-year musical journey. The tour touches down on September 13 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, www.st94.com).

In this multi-media retrospective Maria Muldaur chronicles her six-decade musical journey through American Roots Music, to The Oasis and Beyond. Maria and her band perform her iconic hits (including “Midnight at the Oasis” and “I’m A Woman, etc.) as well as many oft-requested “fan faves” from the 43 albums she has recorded in the last 50 years.

She treats the audience to previously unseen photos and videos. The legendary singer shares fascinating, often humorous personal stories from every stage of her 60-year career — from her early days in the 60s with The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, through her years of pop stardom. She has recorded albums in the folk, blues, early jazz, gospel, country, and R&B traditions.

“Way Past Midnight” tells Muldaur’s story in words, pictures, video and song. She talks about her personal encounters, friendships and collaborations with many of the greatest names in music including Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Aaron Neville, John Sebastian, David Grisman, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Hoagy Carmichael and Benny Carter.

“When the New Year’s turned 2023, I realized it had been 50 years since ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ was released and climbed the charts,” said Muldaur, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Maine. “So, I put this show together to celebrate.

“We play a lot of songs that span my whole career including songs from recent albums. Even though I’ve made 43 albums since that time, as artists, we still like to play new material.”

Her critically acclaimed 2001 Stony Plain Records release, “Richland Woman Blues,” was nominated for a Grammy and for a Blues Foundation Award for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year, as was the follow up to that album, “Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul.” Her timely 2008 album, “Yes We Can,” featured her “Women’s Voices for Peace Choir,” which included Bonnie Raitt, Joan, Baez, Jane Fonda, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Holly Near and others.

In 2009, she teamed up with John Sebastian, David Grisman, and Dan Hicks for “Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy,” which garnered Muldaur her fifth Grammy Nomination, and was also nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year by The Blues Foundation.

In 2011, Muldaur released “Steady Love,” a contemporary electric Blues album. It was “Bluesiana Music” featuring her own brand of New Orleans-flavored Blues, R&B and “Swamp Funk”. “Steady Love” reached #1 on the Living Blues Chart and garnered her another nomination for Best Traditional Female Blues Artist from the Blues Foundation.

In 2012, for her 40th album, Muldaur produced the critically acclaimed “First Came Memphis Minnie,” a loving tribute to the pioneering Blues woman who inspired and influenced so many female Blues artists who followed in her footsteps.

In 2018, Muldaur released her 41st album “DON’T YOU FEEL MY LEG ~ The Naughty Bawdy Blues of Blue Lu Barker,” which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Blues category. It was recorded in New Orleans with an amazing cast of A-List NOLA musicians and earned Muldaur her sixth Grammy nomination.

In September 2019, the Americana Music Association awarded Muldaur “The Lifetime Achievement Americana Trailblazer Award” for her lifelong work of covering the depth and breadth of American Roots music and for being one of the pioneers of Americana music.

Muldaur collaborated with world acclaimed New Orleans band Tuba Skinny in 2020 on “Let’s Get happy Together,” a collection of 20s and 30s vintage Jazz & Blues. Released in May 2021, the album received rave reviews. It received The Blue’s Foundation’s Nomination for Best Acoustic Album and was voted Best Traditional Jazz Album in OffBeat Magazine’s Best Of The Beat Awards.

In 2021, Muldaur and her guitarist, Craig Caffall, wrote and co-produced her latest single “I’m Vaccinated and I’m Ready For Love” to help inspire others to get vaccinated and to celebrate her feeling of liberation and renewal after her second shot.

“Along with performing the songs, I’ll be following my journey through roots music – and all is illustrated with wonderful old photos,” said Muldaur, who just turned 81 yesterday (September 12).

“When I go back and do these tunes, it’s very gratifying. I opened this tour in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was an early epicenter of the folk scene. We had fans of all ages – including a lot of college students.”

The real nucleus of the folk scene was located in New York’s Greenwich Village where Muldaur was born and raised.

Muldaur began her career in the early 1960s as Maria D’Amato, performing with John Sebastian, David Grisman, and Stefan Grossman as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band. She then joined Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band as a featured vocalist and occasional fiddle player. During this time, she was part of the Greenwich Village scene that included Bob Dylan, and some of her recollections of the period, particularly with respect to Dylan, appear in Martin Scorsese’s 2005 documentary film “No Direction Home.”

“I started discovering old-time Appalachian music in the 60s,” said Muldaur. “I got a lot of inspiration from music of the 20s and 30s, jug band blues and gospel.

“With Greenwich Village, I was in the right place at the right time. I got exposed to all these great blues artists like Son House and Mississippi John Hurt along with old-time music and bluegrass. The Village was the epicenter of all things hip.”

Now, Muldaur is sharing a glimpse of that era with fans old and new.

“I call my band a ‘Bluesiana” band,” said Muldaur. “It’s me and a three-piece – drums, guitar and keyboards.

“This show is a lot of fun. All-in-all, it’s an interesting evening for people who like me and like my music.”

Video link for Maria Muldaur – https://youtu.be/whYiOJ2iBE0.

Maria Muldaur’s “Way Past Midnight…..A 60-Year Musical Journey” is scheduled for 8 p.m. on September 13 at the Sellersville Theater.

Ticket prices range from $29.50-$45.

Another touring act is coming to town and celebrating a 50th anniversary.


Squeeze has returned to America this fall to celebrate their upcoming 50th anniversary alongside fellow New Wave pioneers The Psychedelic Furs. The two classic Brit pop acts will share the bill at The Met (858 North Broad Street, Philadelphia,http://themetphilly.com) on September 13.

Fueled by the celebrated songwriting partnership of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the band first blasted to the forefront of the U.K. music scene during the height of the punk revolution.

With songwriting hooks and melodies that harkened back to the 60’s British Invasion, the groundbreaking album featured “Take Me I’m Yours,” followed by a series of U.K. hits, including “Cool for Cats,” “Up the Junction,” “Pulling Mussels From A Shell,” “Black Coffee in Bed,” and “Labeled With Love.” The band made an indelible mark on the U.S. in 1981 with the release of their classic hits, “Tempted,” “Hourglass,” and “853-5937” (from East Side Story.)

Squeeze disbanded in 1999, then reunited in 2007, releasing three new albums.

In 2022, the “Food for Thought” EP was released featuring one new song, two reimagined songs, and three exclusive live tracks. Profits from the digital album went to benefit independent U.K. Food Banks.

“I think it worked very well and raised lots of money for food banks,” said Difford.

Additionally, both Difford and Tilbrook have released various solo projects.

Squeeze came to prominence in the United Kingdom during the new wave period of the late 1970s, and continued recording in the 1980s, 1990s and 2010s. The vast majority of their material is composed of lyrics by Difford and music by Tilbrook, who are guitarists and vocalists in the band.

The group formed in Deptford, London, in 1974 and first broke up in 1982. Squeeze then reformed in 1985 and disbanded again in 1999.

The band reunited for tours through the United States and United Kingdom in 2007.

In 2010, they issued “Spot the Difference,” an album of newly recorded versions of older material. The band’s first album of all-new material since “Domino” in 1998, “Cradle to the Grave,” was released in October 2015 followed by another album, “The Knowledge,” in October 2017.

During an interview last week, Difford explained why there was such a gap in studio recordings between “Domino” in 1998 and “Spot the Difference” in 2010.

“The reason is that as a band we were not up and running,” said Difford. “I was off doing my own thing as was Glenn. The break had the brain wave to re-record our songs and thus ‘Spot the Difference.’

“During those 12 years, we didn’t perform as Squeeze much because we were off doing our own things during much of that time.”

What was the catalyst for the band’s re-formation in 2007?

“We did some press for a ‘hits’ record that was being released and after that coming together in a hotel room talking to a journalist, we talked about playing together again,” said Difford. “Our respective managers at the time then put together further creative meetings.”

Squeeze’s “Cradle to the Grave” album was released in October 2015 and provided the music for a BBC drama called Cradle to Grave, based on the autobiography Going To Sea in a Sieve by Danny Bake.

“I saw ‘Cradle to the Grave’ as both a TV soundtrack and a Squeeze album – a coming together of new songs, a catalyst for relighting an old flame,” said Difford.

Difford explained his songwriting process.

“I sit and write, I wait and then write some more.  I then think about what just happened and if I had hit the mark. Then, I down tools and wonder off. And so it goes.

“COVID wasn’t really a distraction. I found the time engaging allowing me to write lots of new ideas. There is never disruption only inspirational breaks.”

Along with Difford and Tilbrook, Squeeze now features keyboardist Stephen Large and drummer Simon Hanson (since 2007) percussionist/backing vocalist Steve Smith (frontman for electronic band Dirty Vegas) along with pedal/lap steel guitarist Melvin Duffy (who joined them for the 2019 tour) and Owen Biddle (former bassist for The Roots who joined in 2020). Squeeze most recently toured across the U.S. in 2021 with HALL & OATES, being the first UK band to tour the US since the pandemic.
Video link for Squeeze – https://youtu.be/bm3fYvXkAT8.

The show at The Met which also features the Psychedelic Furs, will start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets prices start at $39.50.

The Babyklok Tour featuring Dethklok and Babymetal will be unleashing hours of brutal metal rock when it makes a stop this week at the Mann Center’s TD Pavilion.

Dethklok is a band with a niche audience – a large and very devoted niche audience.

Dethklok is a fictional melodic death metal band featured in the Adult Swim animated television series “Metalocalypse,” known for its satirical or parodic lyrical themes.

The first official Dethklok album was released on September 25, 2007, entitled “The Dethalbum.” The album debuted at number 21 on Billboard magazine’s Top 200 list. The band released “Dethalbum II” on September 29, 2009.

The band’s third album, “Dethalbum III,” was released on October 16, 2012. The soundtrack to the special episode, “Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem” was released on October 29, 2013.

A real band was set up in order to perform the band’s music in live shows. Both bands were created by Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha. The music heard on “Metalocalypse” is performed by Small, with others needed for live concerts and albums.

On August 25, 2017, Small released his second solo album, “Brendon Small’s Galaktikon II,” which is considered to serve as “a new Dethklok album,” due to Adult Swim holding the rights to the band name. However, after a five-year absence, the band returned to perform at Adult Swim Festival 2019

Their fourth album, and first in over a decade, “Dethalbum IV,” was released in August 2023, along with a soundtrack album to the film “Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar.”

“I’m a TV writer.” Said Small, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Ohio. “I graduated from the Berklee College of Music and also studied writing at Emerson College. I did stand-up comedy for a while in Boston and then started writing for television.”

Small and Loren Bouchard co-created “Home Movies,” an animated series that initially aired on the UPN television network which moved to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. The series ran for four seasons from 1999-2004. Small was one of the show’s writers, while Bouchard served as the director.

Small served as co-producer, co-writer and composer for the Adult Swim animated series “Metalocalypse,” which ran for four seasons from 2006-2012, along with a 2013 special, “Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem.” In addition to writing, directing and executive producing the series, Small also provided voice talent for the characters Skwisgaar Skwigelf, Pickles, and Nathan Explosion, three of the five members of Dethklok.

“I was looking for the right project,” said Small, who grew up in Salinas, California.

“I spent a long time figuring out how the band would be and how to work with animation. I’m the creator of the show and I wrote all the music.”

In the Metalocalypse series, Dethklok is depicted as the world’s most popular and successful death metal band. The members of Dethklok reside in a colossal, fortress-like castle elevated high above ground called Mordhaus, which serves as their residence as well as their recording studio. Beyond their extremely wealthy financial status, they also oversee a massive personal organization of devoted workers known as Klokateers, who act as their personal servants, as well as their roadies, security personnel, and private military squadron.

The band’s fan base includes billions of metal fanatics, who frequently endanger themselves to watch the band perform live, as their incredibly expensive shows are frequently held in dangerous locations, and include numerous hazards such as excessive pyrotechnics, aircraft, lasers, and giant bladed pendulums, with many shows concluding in multiple attendee deaths. With their widespread commercial success and lucrative sponsorship contracts, Dethklok is ranked as the world’s seventh largest economy by the end of the second season.

Despite their otherworldly success, the members of Dethklok are often portrayed as incompetent at almost everything not related to their profession. The band struggles to perform everyday tasks, including shopping for groceries, preparing food, and maintaining proper social relationships. Throughout the series, they are often assisted by their manager and lawyer, Charles Foster Offdensen, who frequently attempts to prevent the band from making poor decisions.

The band’s actions and uncanny misfortune caught the attention of an Illuminati-style council, known as The Tribunal.

The Tribunal is portrayed as Dethklok’s antagonist throughout the series, and secretly monitors their actions in almost every episode. They describe Dethklok as the “world’s greatest cultural force”. The leader of The Tribunal (Mr. Salacia), however, frequently instructs the other members to allow Dethklok to do as they will.

“Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar was made available to purchase digitally and on Blu-ray on August 22 — accompanied by two new albums: Dethalbum IV (August 22) and “Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” (August 25).

“Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar,” an original full-length movie written and directed by Small and produced by Titmouse, Adult Swim and Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment. The film stars Small, Blacha, Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”), Victor Brandt (“Metalocalypse”), Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner (Grammy® Award Winning Musician), King Diamond (KING DIAMOND; MERCYFUL FATE), Mark Hamill (“Batman: The Animated Series”; “The Machine”), Kirk Hammett (METALLICA), Jon Hamm (“Confess. Fletch”; “Top Gun: Maverick”), Scott Ian (ANTHRAX), Amy Lee (EVANESCENCE), Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”), Juliet Mills (“Passions”), Laraine Newman (“Saturday Night Live”), Raya Yarbrough (“Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem – a Klok Opera”), and Livia Zita (2022 Winner – Society of Voice Arts and Sciences Award).

“It’s very surreal having so much new ‘Metalocalypse’ and DETHKLOK this year with the trifecta of the tour, movie and album,” said Small. “I’m so excited to get on the road with the powerful BABYMETAL, and to celebrate all the hard work that team ‘Metalocalypse’ & DETHKLOK put in over the last two years and beyond.

“Our live show has a giant movie screen and crazy symmetry between the picture and the band. It’s very entertaining – musically and visually.”

Video link for Dethklok — https://youtu.be/R8r2heCJAUU.

The Babyklok Tour featuring Dethklok and Babymetal with Jason Richardson as the opening act will start at 7 p.m. at the Mann Center’s TD Pavilion.

Tickets start at $52.50.

Lauren Calve, who is headlining a show at City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, www.citywinery.com) on September 13, has just released her debut album, “Shift.”

“Shift” is more than a title; it is an aural assessment of where Calve was when putting the songs together for the LPO.

“I taught myself to play guitar when I was 15 or 16,” said Calve, during a phone interview last week from her home in Maryland. I played covers and went to open mics until about 10 years ago.

“Once I started writing my own music, that’s when things started to click. I was really into roots music. The new album, which is my firsr full length,  is a little bit of a shift. While it still has some of a roots influence, it has a sound that is a little more generic.”

Calve released her debut EP, “Between the Creek and the Tracks” in 2014. She released a pair of singles in 2018 – “Be My Home” and “Sunny Day” – and followed with the “Light Dark” EP later that year. Next was the “Wildfire” EP in 2020.

This year, Calve put out three more singles – “Shift,” “Everything at the Same Time” and “Alchemy” – prior to the recent release of the “Shift” album.

“My early music was definitely acoustic blues – Delta Blues – slide guitar, resonator, lap steel,” said Calve. “I was listening to blues greats like Son House, Elmore James, Robert Johnson and Lightning Hopkins.

“I started listening to a lot of folk recordings – Lomax recording and Smithsonian Folkways albums. I also loved Chicago blues. I definitely listened to it all.

“When I was first writing, I was surprised to hear these blues influenced come through in my writing and vocals. Blues is a through line for everything. Some of that made it onto ‘Shift.’ I wanted to take my recording experience to the next level.”

“Shift” was recorded in Nashville at 3Sirens Music Group with producer, engineer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Dex Green (Margo Price, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Allison Russell). Green brought heavy hitters into the studio: Fred Eltringham on drums (ACM Drummer of the Year, Drumeo Country Drummer of the Year, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson), Audley Freed on guitar (Sheryl Crow, The Black Crowes), Robert Kearns on bass (Sheryl Crow, Lynyrd Skynyrd), Marlon Patton on drums (Larkin Poe, Lera Lynn), Jared Reynolds on bass (Ben Folds) and Joe Costa on the board (Ben Folds).

“He took songs that had never been road tested, songs that went directly from my living room to the studio, and effortlessly brought them to life,” said Calve. “Nashville is home to some of the best musicians in the world.

I felt like I got to work with the best of the best.  It wasn’t just their technical ability; they approached every song with true artistry and infectious enthusiasm. As a developing artist and singer/songwriter, you have to hire all these players.

“I went down to Nashville four times in 2020 and 2021. Each time, I came down with a new batch of songs. It gave me more time to write songs – thought-provoking songs that were more reflective of what I was going through.”

The shift was more than musical.

During the 14-month writing and recording process, Calve was thriving on pushing herself outside of her comfort zone. In turn, Shift was the catalyst for major paradigm shifts in her life.  Several months after wrapping up the album she ended an engagement and six-year relationship. And she finally stopped drinking after years of failed attempts, and the writing process forced her to examine the ways she had limited herself.

“There was a shift in songs and a shift in personality,” said Calve. “I was going through some serious personal changes. All the songs had this yearning for change. I wanted to make an album not a collection of songs.”

Video link for Lauren Calve — https://youtu.be/uJegCHsActQ.

Lauren Calve’s show at the City Winery with Joey Frendo will start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $12 and $15.

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