On Stage: Living the nomad life, Joshua Radin finds new inspiration

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Joshua Radin

Here is a familiar scenario.

Someone gets restless and decides to sell or put in storage all belongings, throw some clothes and a toothbrush into a backpack and then head to Europe with no particular game plan or itinerary.

It gets played out every year by high school grads who aren’t ready to start college yet or college students who want to take a one-semester or one-year break.

That was the game plan Joshua Radin embarked on a little over two years ago.

But Radin isn’t in his late teens or early twenties, and he is not a student. Radin is a world-renowned singer/songwriter who will turn 50 in June.

Radin, who will headline a show on March 30 at City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, www.citywinery.com), has logged an ultra-impressive one billion streams and one million records sold.

Following the success of his most recent album, which received some of the best reviews of his career, and in an effort to seek out new stories to tell, Radin left his material existence behind and traveled to Europe with nothing but a backpack, guitar, and pen and paper.

“I sold my house in L.A.,” said Radin, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from a tour stop in Pittsburgh. “I got rid of a lot of stuff and put the rest in a storage unit in L.A. I decided to let it all go and live as a nomad.

Radin explained the catalyst for the venture.

“I found that the older I get, the harder it is to seem curious,” said Radin. “Being in different countries with different languages forces you out of the box. When I’m travelling, it brings the best out of me.

“I was thinking about it before the pandemic. I had been touring so much playing music for 20 years that I needed something different. I was ready to go.

“With my travels, I start over every day and collect experiences. I’ve been out for a little over two years. If I’m home, I get itchy feet.

“I’ve travelled through a lot of Europe. I love Stockholm, Paris, Rome – and Mexico City and Buenos Aires.”

Radin’s travels have taken him to the end of the world.

“Right now, I’m just getting back from Antarctica,” said Radin, who earned a Gold Record for his hit single “I’d Rather Be With You.”

“I was in Buenos Aires and then went down to Ushuaia to travel to Antarctica. It was magic. Antarctica is like another planet – whales, penguins, seals, glaciers, icebergs and the clearest water I’ve ever seen.”

Radin’s travels provided a lot of inspiration for songs.

“The last album was a travel diary,” said Radin, who has super-fans like Michelle Obama and Ellen Degeneres, who invited him to perform at her wedding. His music has been featured in more than 200 film/TV projects, and he has performed on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Ellen.

“I wrote songs in different places and used different producers,” said Radin. “I used five studios in Europe. For some of the songs, I did the recording on the road and then sent it to the producers.

“Being a travel diary, some days are so different than others and it’s the same with my writing. I’m always writing – always jotting down notes. Even though there are a lot of different backgrounds, all the songs still sound like me. There is a sense of cohesiveness.”

Last year, Radin released connected EPs – “though the world will tell me so, vol. 1” and “though the world will tell me so, vol. 2.”

“I released two EPs,” said Radin. “But I also released them together on one vinyl. So, I look at it as one album. It was my ninth full-length. I released a new song every six weeks.”

Radin is one of those songwriters whose tunes you’ve heard over and over — even if you never even heard his name before.

His album “Simple Ties”, which was released in 2008, yielded a number of songs that have found their way to unsuspecting listeners for years — songs that benefitted from placements on hit television shows. The list of popular TV series that have featured songs by Radin includes “House”, “Bones”, Scrubs”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “One Tree Hill”, “90210” and “American Idol.” The first song ever used was “Winter” in “Scrubs.”

Many of Radin’s songs have been used in several movies each. The song “The Rock and the Tide” was featured in “Parenthood”, “Life Unexpected”, “Cougar Town” and “Gossip Girl.” Another tune “Closer” can be heard in ‘The Nanny Diaries”, “Shooting Sizemore”, “Runaway” and “What About Brian.”

Ironically, Radin did not start out to be a songwriter.

“I majored in painting and drawing at Northwestern University,” said Radin. “Then, I got into screenwriting.”

His main career was in film prior to embarking on a career in music.

“I was writing screenplays,” said Radin. “If I was stuck on a scene, I’d pull out a guitar. After I learned three chords, I learned four chords and started to write songs. I didn’t set out to do it as a profession.”

Radin is a singer-songwriter who writes songs that are heartfelt, sincere and emotionally touching.

“I put all my creative focus into writing and performing good songs,” said Radin.

Now, Radin has evolved into a modern-day troubadour – a griot with a knack for storytelling – a performer whose current state fits with song titles such as Tom Rush’s “Urge for Going” and Canned Heat’s “On the Road Again.”

“Next, I’ll be going to Greece – island hopping in Greece – after I finish making the album I just wrote,” said Radin. “I’m going to do a full album in L.A.”

Video link for Johua Radin – https://youtu.be/l1es-GqTI8Q.

The opening act on Saturday night will be Maddie Poppe.

Maddie Poppe

Poppe is a singer and musician (guitar, piano and ukulele) who was the winner of “American Idol Season 16” in 2018.

She released an independent album, “Songs from the Basement,” in 2016 and followed with her first studio album, “Whirlwind,” which came out on Hollywood Records in 2019.

On November 20, 2020, Poppe independently released her holiday EP, “Christmas From Home.”

For Poppe, music is in her DNA.

“When I was growing up, my dad (Trent Poppe) was always involved in music,” said Poppe, during a phone interview.

“He was in bands and had a studio in the basement of our house. There was always music around the house. He was hoping one of his kids would go into music. My siblings didn’t but I did. I recorded ‘Songs from the Basement’ at his studio here in our house.”

Poppe’s first TV music show was an appearance on “The Voice,” which didn’t materialize into anything.

Then came her successful stint on “American Idol.”

“I always thought that these shows were what you did as a singer,” said Poppe. “Not getting anything from ‘The Voice’ bummed me out for a while. Then, I realized I needed some motivation.

“I was nervous for “American Idol” auditions. I had no expectations because I didn’t want to get let down. That’s what helped me relax and have fun.

“Every step of the way, I was expecting to get cut. But I just kept going. I did not expect to win. I never really thought it was possible. I was really shocked when it happened.

“It definitely gave me such a helpful boost. I got to skip so many levels. Right after the show, I got a record label and was thrown in a room for writing sessions with other writers. It was hard to get used to because I always just wrote by myself.

“Then, I had 42 days to make the album. It was all made in L.A. with so many different producers and recorded all over at different studios. I just tried to focus on getting it finished.

“It was different making the Christmas record. It was in the middle of the pandemic, so I didn’t have the opportunity to record with other people. I wanted to release something, so I decided to do the record solo.”

Video link for Maddie Poppe – https://youtu.be/Ys5e7pn1v_8.

The show at City Winery on March 30, which features Maddie Poppe as the opener, will start at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are: Stage Premier, $65; Premier, $60; Gallery, $55; Rear Gallery, $50; Mezzanine, $45. “Frozen” was a blockbuster movie for Disney followed by a highly successful ice show – “Disney’s Frozen on Ice.”

Now, “Frozen” is a musical – a lively musical that was a hit on Broadway and London’s West End. “Frozen” is currently on a National Tour in North America – a tour that brings it to Philadelphia.

Ensemble Arts Philly (www.ensembleartsphilly.org) is presenting a three-week run as part of its “Broadway Series,” which is co-presented by the Shubert Organization. The show will run now through April 7 at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia).

“Frozen” is a musical with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and book by Jennifer Lee, based on the 2013 film of the same name. The story centers on the relationship between two sisters who are princesses, Elsa and Anna.

Elsa has magical powers to freeze objects and people, which she does not know how to control. After inheriting the throne, Elsa flees, inadvertently causing the kingdom to become frozen in an eternal winter and nearly killing her sister. She must sacrifice and show true love to save the day.

The touring cast features Caroline Bowman as Elsa, Lauren Nicole Chapman as Anna Jeremy Davis as Olaf and Dominic Dorsett as Kristoff.

“‘Frozen’ is about these two sisters who are torn apart because of this secret,” said Davis, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Providence, Rhode Island.

“Olaf is a four-foot-tall puppet,” said Davis, who has also performed on Broadway in “Cats,” “Annie,” “The Last Ship,” and “South Pacific.” “His torso is attached to me – his feet to my feet. It does feel like a dance partner. We sort of dance around the stage together.”

As a snowman Anna and Elsa built together as kids, Olaf represents innocent love and the joy the sisters once had when they were young before being split. Olaf is not just funny. He also has a “big role to play representing the innocent love in the scale of fear versus love.” Additionally, his character provides much of the comic relief while conveying lovable innocence and purity.

“Olaf is the emotional bridge,” said Davis, whose Broadway credits also include “Billy Elliot,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “9 to 5,” “The People in the Picture” and “Ghost.”

“I know he is an inanimate object, but he sure does feel alive to me. He talks all the time. I’m sort of in charge of a lot of jokes. Olaf is the archetypal fool. He sees everything as an opportunity for fun.”

“Frozen” was nominated for a number of awards and received several. The song “Let It Go” was singled out for praise. The film was nominated for two awards at the 71st Golden Globe Awards and received the Best Animated Feature award. It received Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let It Go”) and Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let It Go”).

At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, the “Frozen” soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media and was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media. “Let It Go” received the Best Song Written For Visual Media award, with credits to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez as songwriters and Idina Menzel as performer.

Video link for “Frozen” — https://youtu.be/evYafRPWhFk.

The show is running run now through April 7 at the Academy of Music.

Ticket prices start at $25.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” which is running now through April 21 at the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org), is definitely a mystery.

The cast for the show includes many Candlelight veterans including Anthony Connell (Phillip Baz, Bazzard), Dan Healy (James Throttle), Julia Kershetsky (Alice Nutting, Edwin Drood), Sarah Mackus (Beatrice), Constance Clay Pelesh (Princess Puffer, Angela Prysock), Samantha Ricchiuti (Florence Gill), Shaun Yates (Nick Cricker) and Victoria Healy (Ensemble).

The Candlelight Theatre provided some information with this message on its website and handout flyers –

“THE MYSTERY of EDWIN DROOD, based on Charles Dickens’ final unfinished novel, is presented by a delightfully zany, vaudeville-type company at The Music Hall Royale.

“The story features John Jasper, a Jekyll-and-Hyde choirmaster who is quite madly in love with the fair Miss Rosa Bud who is engaged to Jasper’s nephew, young Edwin Drood. Drood disappears after dinner on a stormy night and is thought to have been murdered. If so, then whodunnit?

“YOU, the audience, must decide and vote.

“Just how many possible endings can there be? The secret is in the number of combinations made possible by three separate sets of roles chosen by you, the audience. The total? 480!

“Which show will you see? You vote on the ending, so it’s entirely up to you!”

As “Drood” is metatheatrical, the characters of the play “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” are played by actors of the “Music Hall Royale,” within the production.

Metatheatre, and the closely related term metadrama, describes the aspects of a play that draw attention to its nature as drama or theatre, or to the circumstances of its performance. “Breaking the Fourth Wall” is an example of a metatheatrical device.

“It’s a murder mystery,” said Connell. “It’s a fun show with great audience participation. The audience votes on who they think murdered Edwin Drood.”

There are all sorts of clues throughout the play concerning who the murderer might be. Audience members take notes and play a role in the play’s final stages.

“Audiences like it,” said Connell. “It’s something different – something interactive. Audiences always live murder mysteries. Personally, I like when actors can go into the audience.”

The Candlelight Theatre is presenting “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” now through April 21. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $63 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

On March 29, Maro DēLo and LJR will co-headline a show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com).

DēLo, who grew up in Bucks County in a musical family, is a talented musician whose soulful music has the power to connect deeply with fans.

“I got into music from a very young age,” said DēLo. “My father Tom was a musician who played bass, percussion and drums in various bands. His mom Tina is a graphic artist who has done a lot of artwork for her son’s music projects.

“I got a guitar when I was around six and my passion for music blossomed from there. I went to music camp for several years and played rhythm guitar in cover bands in middle school and high school. When I was around 17-18, I met some music producers – Jimi K. Bones and Neff Jones.”

DēLo used websites such as TikTok to start putting his music out.

“My first studio recording was done in late January 2018 – a song called ‘Girl Next Door’,” said DēLo. “I’ve since taken it down because I have plans to revamp the song. I kept putting out songs here and there – including four singles in 2022.

“I did a song called ‘Dreams,’ which I wrote and produced with David Ivory. He’s the owner of Ivory Productions in Gwynedd Valley with a great studio. It’s been my safe haven for three years.

“David is really talented and really smart in what he does. He produces my songs without changing them and makes them better. He sees me like an equal. There is no ego involved in our work. It’s effortless when we work together. David is like a second dad to me.”

DēLo draws finds influences for his songs from his blues and classic rock background. He released his debut EP in 2022.

“I put my ‘Shades of Blue’ EP a year ago October,” said DēLo. “The EP took eight months to produce. I did it with Jimi K. Bones. But later I retracted it. Some of the songs weren’t really moving in the direction I’m moving.

“You could describe my genre as pop-rock-soul. My current influences are John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Giveon, Shawn Mendes and Train. My songs are about love, life and music and I’m writing all the time.”

DēLo’s goal is to create a sense of community and healing through his music.

A few of his most recent streams are “Twisted,” “Think Too Much” and “Breathe You.”

Video link for Maro DēLo — https://youtu.be/E8Sx5FsCoFs.

LJR is a tenacious and passionate pop-rock artist who strives to empower and inspire his audience to live their lives to the fullest.

Seamlessly blending ‘80s-style pop beats with alternative rock guitar solos, his music is anthemic and infectious while conveying remarkable vulnerability — speaking to those parts of the soul that yearn to heal and grow.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

On March 30, live entertainment will be provided by The James Pace Band. The group plays original music that focuses on the sounds of 1968-1975.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.

Jamey’s features either “Jazz at Jamey’s” or “Anything Goes” on Thursdays featuring the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.

“Jazz at Jamey’s” will be presented every second and fourth Thursday, and “Anything Goes” every first, third and fifth Thursday.

Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings. On the second Sunday each month, the featured act is the Girke-Davis Project which features club owner Jamey Reilly, Roger Girke, Glenn Bickel, Fred Berman and Colgan-Davis.

This weekend, the Elkton Music Hall (107 North Street, Elkton, Maryland, www.elktonmusichall.com) will host a rock supergroup on March 29 – a trio featuring legends Chris Spedding and Anton Fig along with Keith Lentin.

Spedding is a legendary rockabilly guitarist known for leading Robert Gordon’s band for years and working alongside everyone from The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Paul McCartney and even The Sex Pistols.

AllMusic has described Spedding as “one of the U.K.’s most versatile session guitarists with a long career on two continents that saw him tackle nearly every style of rock and roll.”

Fig, renowned drummer known as “The Thunder from Down Under,” is a South African session drummer, best known as the drummer and second-in-command for Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band. Fig is also well known for his work with Kiss, Ace Frehley and Joe Bonamassa.

Lentin is a versatile bassist with an impressive CV as a session player. He has worked in the studio with acts such as Keith Richards and the Beach Boys.

Video link for Chris Spedding — https://youtu.be/7Juz4W9yEYA.

The show, which opens with Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen, will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $31.

On March 30, the venue in Elkton will present Tinsley Ellis.

With his new project “Tinsley Ellis – Acoustic Songs and Stories,” Ellis performs​ ​many of his most popular songs (plus Delta blues and classics by artists like Gregg​ ​Allman, Bob Dylan and Leo Kottke) on his 1937 National Steel and 1969 Martin D-35.​

Ellis intertwines his music with interesting, engaging and humorous stories from the more than 40 years he spent on stage, in motels and truck stops. His most recent Alligator Records release and 21st album is “Naked Truth,” which was released earlier this year.

2024’s “Devil May Care.”

“In my solo acoustic set, I talk about how I write songs,” said Ellis, during a phone interview while he was driving through Nebraska.

“I talk about and play Delta blues and do great quirky covers. I’m playing slide guitar on a National Steel.

In March of 2020, when the pandemic first struck, Tinsley suddenly found himself off the road and sorely missing being onstage and connecting with a live audience.

In January, Ellis had launched a tour to promote his 2020 release, “Ice Cream in Hell.” By March, he was forced to cancel the tour only six weeks into the 60-date run. After being forced off the road, he focused on creating new music and staying in touch with his legion of worldwide fans until he could get back on stage.

He almost immediately began composing on amps and guitars that he hadn’t used for decades. He explored obscure studio and live recordings from some of his greatest musical heroes, such as the Allman Brothers, Freddie King, Michael Bloomfield, B.B. King and beyond, and was inspired by his favorite artists all over again.

In the course of a year, Ellis had written over 200 new songs. He shared some of them with his fans with weekly online performances. He whittled the songs down to 10, and the result was his 2022 album “Devil May Care.”

According to Ellis, “The goal was to make the guitar sing.”

Ellis is among the blues world’s best loved, hardest working and most well-traveled statesmen. His album, “Winning Hand,” debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart when it was released in 2018.

Since his first Alligator album 30 years ago, Ellis has become a bona fide worldwide guitar hero. Ellis has performed in all 50 United States as well as in Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia and South America — picking up legions of fans with his guitar virtuosity, passionate vocals and memorable original songs.
“I started in 1979 so this is my 44th year on the road,” said Ellis. “It’s great to be playing shows. I think I’ll do it forever.”

Born in Atlanta in 1957, Ellis was raised in southern Florida. He found the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, The Rolling Stones and Southern rockers like The Allman Brothers. As he discovered the roots of these bands, he attended shows by B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and every other blues artist who came through town.
Already an accomplished teenaged musician, Ellis returned to Atlanta and started playing with local bands. In 1981, along with veteran blues singer and harpist Chicago Bob Nelson, Tinsley formed The Heartfixers, a group that would become Atlanta’s top-drawing blues band. After cutting three Heartfixers albums for the Landslide label, Ellis was ready to head out on his own.

Video link for Tinsley Ellis — https://youtu.be/22XotF7JHbM.

The show will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $31.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is presenting The Laugh Lounge
at Uptown! on March 28 at 7:30 p.m. with co-headliners David James and Mary Radzinski with host Brian Finnell.

On March 29 at 7:30 p.m. and March 30 at 1:30, the Uptown! is presenting “Danceology of Hip Hop.” On March 30, “Crazy Train: Ozzy Experience” will take the stage at 8 p.m.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is hosting “An Evening with Will Overman” on March 28, Callum with special guests Raina Mullen and Jac Conner on March 29, and Stackabone with Butch Zito on March 30.

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