On Stage: Bonet brings different take to violin

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Deni Bonet and Chris Flynn

Deni Bonet has become one of the favorites for music fans at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com).

After two scintillating shows last year, Bonet is returning to the popular venue in Delaware County for a concert on June 15.
According to Jamey’s website, “Whenever Deni plays our room, the fire department is on high alert as she is incredibly smoking hot on that trademark blue fiddle. A must see!”

At Jamey’s this weekend, Bonet will perform with her musical partner – guitarist Chris Flynn.
“Chris and I have been busy,” said Bonet, during a phone interview Monday from her home in Upper Manhattan. “We just got back from a road trip to D.C. and Virginia.
“Chris and I have been doing great. We’re going to Ireland from July 1 to July 9. We’ve got some amazing concerts – Wexford, Donegal, Cork and a date in Northern Ireland. And we’re playing a big festival in Ireland.”
Bonet takes the violin to places most musicians don’t even dream about – and gladly takes listeners along for the ride.
Bonet will be taking the audience at Jamey’s along for the ride – a thrilling ride that spans musical genres and gets audience members out of their seats.
Bonet can rock a violin like nobody’s business and writes memorable songs that make you want to listen again and again. For years, Bonet has been honing her craft as a violinist, singer, songwriter and performer. Her style ranges from pop to roots rock to new folk.
On her most recent album release “Bright Shiny Objects,” she delivers ultra-high voltage, genre-defying brilliance, with pure classical training and precision playing.
“Bright Shiny Objects” was recorded in New York City with the cream of New York musicians, including Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel’s drummer of 30 years), Graham Maby (Joe Jackson), Shawn Pelton (SNL, Rod Stewart), Will Lee (Letterman, Mick Jagger), Steve Holley (Paul McCartney), Ben Butler (Chris Botti) and Matt Beck (Matchbox 20).
This was Bonet’s first all-instrumental album, and it shows off her skills as a virtuoso violin player, composer and arranger.
A new album is on the way.
“We have a new album but we’re just putting it out track by track,” said Bonet. “The full album is available at our live shows.
“We finished the album last year. But the way the music business is right now, we don’t need to put it out as an album. I was offered a deal with the label from my previous album, but I wasn’t interested.
“I’m really proud of this record. We played with a symphony orchestra – my music. And we had many great players – Will Lee, Andy York, Leland Sklar, Shawn Pelton and most of the Spin Doctors.  They’re buddies. Everybody helped me out.
“I worked with this guy named James Frazee. I produced the album, and it was mixed by James and Chris.
“The first track was started before the pandemic – and then the plague hit. I have a studio and I’ve been recording remote for years.
“So far, I’ve put out four singles from the album – ‘Why Not You,’ ‘Off the Record,’ ‘Always Come Home’ and ‘I Am In Love,’ which is a Crowded House cover.”
Music has taken Bonet around the world to much acclaim and yet she still remains very grounded.
“I’ve had a very interesting career,” said Bonet. “I grew up in northern Virginia – Woodbridge – and got a full ride to West Virginia University.
“Right out of school, I got on Mountain Stage. I was part of the original cast. A cool thing – I went back recently as a full guest.”
Bonet first came to widespread attention as a founding member of National Public Radio’s premier music show, Mountain Stage, where she built a following as a member of the broadcast’s house band along with singing and playing in her own right and backing up artists as diverse as the Indigo Girls, Richard Thompson and Allen Toussaint.
In the 90s, Bonet relocated to London, where she worked with alternative rock legend, Robyn Hitchcock, including a series of concerts as a duo that won praise from USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. She played on Hitchcock’s album “Moss Elixir,” and even appeared in the Jonathan Demme concert film, “Storefront Hitchcock.”
Eventually, Bonet decided it was time to go solo – well, almost solo. For several years, Bonet has been performing as a duo with Chris Flynn.
“I do play with a band occasionally,” said Bonet. “Since the plague hit, I go out mostly with Chris. It’s a duo. He’s not a side guy. We have a chemistry.
“We hooked up a few years back. I was asked to play the New York Irish Rock Review show at City Winery. I was in the house band and Chris was the musical director. The second year I did it, we hung out a little more and I asked him to do a gig with me. From then on, we started to work together. We’ve played Carnegie Hall four times.”
After moving to New York, Bonet released an initial EP (titled, simply, “EP”) and then her full-length debut, “Bigger Is Always Better.” The disc, which featured guest appearances from Hitchcock and The Soft Boys’ Kimberly Rew (writer of Katrina and the Waves’ classic hit “Walking On Sunshine”), garnered rave reviews.
Bonet has hosted her own cable TV show, “Duets With Deni,” a combination of music and chat featuring a series of all-star guests, which was the subject of a rave Billboard feature. She has performed highly regarded showcases at CMJ and SXSW, and took her act on the road with Lilith Fair.
And she’s remained one of the most in-demand session players and sidewomen around, adding her violin to albums by an impressive variety of artists — from the introspective Sarah McLachlan to techno-metal band Gravity Kills — and making TV appearances on The Today Show, SNL and Late Night With Conan O’Brien.
As she established herself as a solo act, Bonet impressed artists like Patti Smith, Lisa Loeb, Gin Blossoms, Cracker, Midnight Oil, The Saw Doctors, Fairport Convention, Marshall Crenshaw and Kansas, all of whom have invited her to open their shows. She spent several years touring the globe as the violinist in Cyndi Lauper’s band.
“I spent a couple years touring with Cyndi and that was a lot of fun,” said Bonet.
Bonet, a true globetrotter, also had a fun time in Zanzibar.
“I went to Africa – to Tanzania – on safari,” said Bonet. “It was on my bucket list. I was in Zanzibar for a week.
“On the next-to-last day, I met some musicians at a traditional dinner. I jammed with these musicians, gave a workshop to teachers, and performed a mini concert.
“They asked me to come back and do a residency. I got a nice size grant and went back to Stone Town for a month. I spent three-and-a-half weeks teaching rock-and-roll, songwriting and violin.”
In January 2020, Bonet returned to Zanzibar to record original music with local Tanzanian band Stone Town Rockerz.
Bonet plays the violin like no other. Although classically trained, Bonet quit the classical world because she hated having to wear black and sit still.
“I approach it more like a guitar than a violin,” said Bonet.
Bonet is also known for her signature bright blue violin.
“I was originally given the guitar from the company — Barcus-Berry – when I was touring with Cyndi,” said Bonet. “They gave me violins in every color. Blue is the one that sounds the best.”
Bonet’s show at Jamey’s will feature “something old” (songs from her early albums), “something new” (tracks from the new LP), “something borrowed” (a few covers” and “something blue” (her flashy violin).
“I’m playing quite a few songs from the new album,” said Bonet. “I have a lot of material – quite a few albums – to draw from. I also play a couple covers that are unusual like ‘Frankenstein’ by Edgar Winter.”
Video link for Deni Bonet – https://youtu.be/VkjZ7Y7rovs.
The show at Jamey’s on June 15 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The show will also be available on pay-per-view at a cost of $15.
“Jazz at Jamey’s” will be presented every Thursday. Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings.
On June 14, Jamey’s will present “Michael London & Friends—East Meets West.”
The show features London and his band along with Hindol Chattopadhyay, a master sitarist from India.

Michael London

London is a Philadelphia musician with a soulful voice and a great touch on acoustic and electric guitars. His latest recordings feature interpretations of classic folk, jazz and soul songs in his own expansive style.

London is also a passionate interpreter of Rumi’s poetry, the great 13th century Sufi poet. He offers us a musical window into the ecstatic poems, which reveal and make tangible our connection with the self, humanity, nature and beyond.
The band for Friday’s show features Paul Butler on sax and clarinet, Larry Cohen on bass, Bill Marconi on drums and Hindol Chattopadhyay on sitar.
Chattopadhyay is considered one of the most engaging, intelligent and talented instrumentalists in contemporary Hindustani music. His masterly conception of the grand design and architecture of the raga has enabled him to innovate with in the instrumental form, and this is especially evident in his creative approach to inventing new ragas.
Chattopadhyay created two new ragas, “Pitambari” and “Ashrusinchan,” both of which were approved and introduced in Indian Classical music.
Video link for Michael London — https://youtu.be/kXuF78HjVmo.
The show at Jamey’s on June 14 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. The show will also be available on pay-per-view at a cost of $15.
If you’re a fan of top-flight bluegrass music performed in a live setting, you’re in luck this weekend.
International bluegrass music and country music superstar Ricky Skaggs will be returning to the area for two shows over the next few days – June 15 at the American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, www.AMTshows.com) and June 16 for a pair of shows at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, www.st94.com).
Bluegrass musician Skaggs has been making music for more than 50 years. A 15-time Grammy Award winning singer and multi-instrumentalist, Skaggs is a Grand Ole Opry member, CMA and ACM Award winner, and has 12 #1 songs to his credit, including “Heartbroke,” “Highway 40 Blues,” “Honey, Open That Door,” and “Country Boy.”
Skaggs played mandolin and sang on stage with bluegrass legend Bill Monroe when he was six years old. One year later, he appeared on television’s Martha White country music variety show, playing with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.
His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.
The versatile musician started playing mandolin over a half-century ago. Skaggs has had 13 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics — from “Bluegrass Rules!” in 1998 to “Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved” in 2010.
Skaggs said that there are plans for a live Kentucky Thunder album to be released om a yet-to-be-determined date.
Skaggs’ most recent album in “Hearts Like Ours,” which he recorded with his wife Sharon White and released on his Skaggs Family label.
“We recorded that album in 2013 and released it in October 2014,” said Skaggs, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
I’ve had my own studio since 2001 — Skaggs’ Place Studio in Hendersonville. We have a lot of analog gear — and ProTools and RADAR, which is still the best for going from analog to digital.
“We’ve been recording a lot at our studio. We plan to get a live record out and then get back in the studio to do a new album. I’ve been writing for a while – quite a few instrumentals.”
Skaggs got into bluegrass music early in his career.
By age 21, he was already considered a “recognized master” of one of America’s most demanding art forms, but his career took him in other directions — catapulting him to popularity and success in the mainstream of country music.  His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.
Skaggs struck his first chords on a mandolin more than 50 years ago and continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. Skaggs has led a life dedicated to playing music that is both fed by the soul and felt by the heart – and dedicated to Jesus.
“With the pandemic, we went from about 75-80 shows a year to just zero for a year-and-a-half,” said Skaggs.
“The Opry kept going. They never shut down. I did a few shows there – live on radio and TV – for the fans. Now, the Opry is back to full capacity.
“The pandemic really did affect us. Every year, Sharon (his wife Sharon White) was touring a lot with her band, The Whites, and I was touring a lot with my band, Kentucky Thunder. The good thing about being forced off tour is that we really had time to be together. It was the most we had been together in 40 years.
“Jesus told us to have faith and not fear. It’s great that we can now go out and play to bring hope and joy and faith to people. Jesus said – joy kills sorrow.”
Unlike many acts out on the road then Skaggs had no vaccination requirements for his audience members.
“I don’t believe in vaccines,” said Skaggs. “I took budesonide and ivermectin instead. Then, I was hospitalized for nine days with COVID — but I beat the virus.”
A few years, Skaggs underwent quadruple bypass surgery in Nashville.
“Everything is great now,” said Skaggs. “I feel really good.”
Once again, Skaggs has his own take on the medical world.
“Thankfully, I’m back to being a carnivore – beef, butter, bacon, eggs,” said Skaggs. “The cardiologists have it wrong. They have it all backwards.”
Skaggs is back to touring with gusto.
“2024 has been really good,” said Skaggs. “Touring is back to normal. People are finally getting to hear live music. We’ve had some really good crowds.”
Now, Skaggs is on a national tour with his latest incarnation of Kentucky Thunder.
“It’s pretty much a new band,” said Skaggs. “The tenor singer is brand new. The fiddle player is new since July. On the other hand, three or four of the guys have been with me for five years.
“It’s an amazing band. It’s pretty much like jumping into a Ferrari and just going. It’s amazing to play with such professional musicians.
“The band is right with me, and we play old-time, bluegrass, country, gospel and a lot of instrumentals.” We just love to play.”
Video link for Ricky Skaggs — https://youtu.be/hFXG3yV6Km4.
The show at the American Music Theatre on June 15 will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $39.
The shows at the Sellersville Theater are at 3 and 8 p.m. on June 16. Tickets start at $45.
Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are Andy Summers on June 13, Sal Valentinetti on June 14, Dana Fuchs on June 15, Nektar on June 18 and Bywater Call on June 19.
Mallow Hill will be making its Chester County debut with a show on June 16 at Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org).
The blues-rock quintet features Mikayla Joseph – Vocals, Danny Gwinn – Guitar, Mac Dignam – Keys, John Menefee – Drums, and Chris Reynolds – Bass, Harmonica, Vocals.
The Baltimore-based band is beginning to stretch out from its familiar turf in Baltimore and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“We’re playing a lot of gigs this summer,” said Gwinn, during a phone interview Monday afternoon from his home in Charm City. “We’re weekend warriors because we all still all have day jobs.
“We play a lot of shows in Eastern Shore, Maryland, D.C., Shelbyville, Delaware and Baltimore. This show at Kennett Flash will be our closest gig to Philly as of yet – this and a show at 118 North in July.”
The band channels an eclectic mix of musical inspiration, drawing from the likes of Gary Clark Jr, The Black Pumas, Marcus King Band, Led Zeppelin, and The Black Keys.
Mallow Hill is still a relatively new band.
“As Mallow Hill, we’ve been together almost four years,” said Gwinn. “We started in 2020 when COVID was coming to an end.
Mallow Hill is a street in the western end of Baltimore – not far from Catonsville.
“Mallow Hill is a street where we rehearse,” said Gwinn. “We have a place in our house and a lot of musicians and bands come around. We’ve been doing weekly and bi-weekly jam session for a while.”
Mallow Hill is a name borrowed from a street in Baltimore that pays homage to the group’s roots and origin story.  The street “Mallow Hill” has always served a purpose as a “headquarters” for music creation and collaboration, with an “open door” policy that has been established by band leader and founder, Danny Gwinn.
“The band has come together piece by piece,” said Gwinn. “Mac on keyboards and Chris on bass have been friends for a long time. Chris was in a band with John, and he brought him in. Mikayla was the only person I didn’t know. Now, she’s the singer.
“We’ve all been going at it ever since we decided to make music together. We never stopped. We work our asses off. We’re always working on it – especially me and Mikayla, who is now my fiancé.
“Mikayla was the last to join the band in 2020. Finding Mikayla was what we needed. She was the missing piece. She is what made the thing cohesive.”
Ever since they started working together, their shared goals and artistic vision has given the group a more defined direction to their creativity and original music. The two being heavily influenced by blues and soul music from all decades, have found a way to combine elements of a vintage feel with a modern production.
Mallow Hill has taken a big step forward with the recording of its debut album, “Soul Candy.”
“We made a full album last year,” said Gwinn. “We made two separate trips to Nashville to work with our friend Dex Green. He produced the album at his studio – Three Sirens. Jay Turner, a bass player we met a few years ago, recommended Dex.”
The record features some of Nashville’s best session players, including Jack Lawrence on bass (The Raconteurs, Dead Weather, Jack White), Meg Coleman on drums (Alison Russell, Brandi Carlisle, Jenny Lewis), Ray Jacildo (The Black Keys), Laura Mayo (backup vocals), Maureen Murphy (Zac Brown Band, Marcus King).  Engineered by Joe Costa (Ben Folds) and produced by Dex Green.
“Last Friday, we released the first single- ‘Thinkin’ Bout My Baby.’” Said Gwinn. “We’re going to release three or four more singles in the summer and fall. The next one will be ‘Smoke’ on July 19.
“The album shows a lot of different influences. Live, we’re pretty much just a rockin’ blues band. We like to be loud, and we like to move. In our shows now, we’re playing all the album tracks and a few choice covers.”
Video link for Mallow Hill – https://youtu.be/TxVm6vcn3A4.
The show at Kennett Flash will start at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
Other upcoming shows at Kennett Flash are Better Than Bacon on June 14 and School of Rock Hockessin on June 15.
The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, [http://www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org)%20/]www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting “Moon Over Buffalo” now through June 16.
“Moon Over Buffalo” is a 1995 comic play by Ken Ludwig set in Buffalo, New York in 1953. This play marked the return of Carol Burnett to the Broadway stage after a 30-year absence.
This madcap comedy by Ken Ludwig centers on George and Charlotte Hay, fading stars of the 1950s playing Private Lives and Cyrano de Bergerac in rep in Buffalo, New York. On the brink of a disastrous split-up caused by George’s dalliance with a young ingénue, they receive word that they might just have one last shot at stardom: Frank Capra is coming to town to see their matinee, and if he likes what he sees, he might cast them in his movie remake of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
“Moon Over Buffalo” relies heavily on situation comedy for its humor, as well as some sexual innuendo and a little slapstick. The actor who plays George, in particular, must be able to deliver a highly physical performance; George engages in a mock fencing match with Charlotte, a wrestling match with Howard, and a stunt fall into the orchestra pit.
The action and dialogue are fast paced, as the characters are constantly bickering or frantically trying to resolve some confusion. It bears numerous similarities to Ludwig’s previous farce, “Lend Me A Tenor” — period timeframe, Northeastern city, drinking-and-womanizing male star, justifiably jealous wife, young stage manager desperately trying to keep things together, important person(s) in the audience, at least one character who’s passed out and is believed missing, non-actors forced to go onstage, etc.
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 $70.50 for adults and $35 for children (ages 4-12).
If a rock band has survived for more than two decades, it has accepted the fact that there will be roadblocks and diversions along the way and has learned how to overcome obstacles.
Four years ago, HumblemanBand, one of the Philadelphia area’s longest-running rock bands, released its most recent album, “Beautiful Day.” The album officially dropped with a “HumblemanBand CD Release Party” at Rittenhouse Soundworks in November 2018.
In November 2019, HumblemanBand played a special area show at its favorite local haunt — the Mermaid Inn in Germantown. Little did they know it was to be their last show for an extended period of time.
Last summer, after a long layoff caused by COVID-19, HumblemanBand resumed live performances.
On June 14, the band is performing at Dawson Street Pub (100 Dawson St, Philadelphia, www.facebook.com/humblemanband).
T
he current band lineup features Wain Ballard – guitar, Buck Buchannan – drums, Charlie Cooper – vocals, guitar, Kim Alexander – vocals, and Boz Heinly – bass.
The HumblemanBand was formed in 1999,” said guitarist/songwriter/vocalist/founding member Charlie Cooper, during a phone interview from his home in Germantown.
We have been writing music, recording and performing for many years in Philly area, mostly in the Northwest section of the city. Our songs are mostly original ones we’ve written ourselves. In any given show we’ve also included covers by artists such as Gil Scot Heron, Amy Winehouse, Sade, Isley Brothers, Lake Street Drive, the Clash and others. Our songs can be heard on Bandcamp and the usual online locations.”
In February this year, HumblemanBand released its newest video – “Homo Sapien.” Last August, the band released an EP, “Ruff Ups,” which included “Two Fires Burning,” “Summer 2020 (The Other Side of This)” and “Homo Sapien.”
Cooper talked about the band’s early days – almost a quarter-century ago.
“I was in a band with our drummer Buck Buchanan,” said Cooper. “Three of us were living near each other in South Philly and we gradually picked up people.
“The third guy was bassist Bruce Koch, who just died two years ago from a stroke. That was a real loss – as a friend and as a bandmate. We weren’t sure we were going to pick up the pieces. We were using hired hands to fill in. We then added a permanent bass player – Boz Heinly, who lives in Plymouth Meeting.
“Now, there are five of us in the band and we get along really well musically and as friends. We have a lot of respect for each other.”
The band also has had respect for COVID-19.
When COVID shut down things, we shut down,” said Cooper. “I was just laying low – playing guitar. We started up again in September 2021, but that didn’t last long because of omicron.
I went through a dry period during lockdown. Then I got introduced to ‘The Artist’s Way.’ You have to do writing exercises every day and it helped. I ended up writing three new songs.”
“The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” is a 1992 self-help book by American author Julia Cameron. The book was written to help people with artistic creative recovery, which teaches techniques and exercises to assist people in gaining self-confidence in harnessing their creative talents and skills. The program is focused on supporting relationships in removing artistic blocks and fostering confidence.
Things were chugging along and then our previous vocalist Kim Epson decided she wanted to do things elsewhere,” said Cooper. “So, we got a new singer.”
“We seem to have a cycle of putting out an album every five years,” said Cooper.  “We put out an album a few years ago called ‘Least Bad of Humbleman 1984-2009.’ That album was a 25-year compilation starting with our days in 1984 as a punk band called The Proles.
“Our most recent previous album was ‘Late Bloom’ in fall 2015 was self-produced – and mostly D.I.Y. “‘Beautiful Day’ was also self-produced – and also mostly D.I.Y. We recorded the album ourselves in our rhythm practice space and then did solos and vocals in my living room. For our previous album, we used CakeWalk. This time, we used REAPER.”
REAPER is a complete digital audio production application for computers, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset.
“After finishing recording it ourselves, we sent it out for the mixing,” said Cooper. “We had Scoops Dardaris do it. We were extremely happy with the mixing.
We mastered it at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Germantown. Jim Hamilton, a percussionist and tap dancer from the Kensington area of Philly who toured with Boyz II Men, put the studio together. He’s a terrific talent – and he knows an amazing amount of people in the music world.”
HumblemanBand, a rock quintet that is socially conscious, features songs that band members have written and arranged – songs with lyrics inspired by current events.
“We went out to Standing Rock (Indian Reservation) in North Dakota,” said Cooper. “That inspired a brand-new song – ‘AIM ’21.’ The title stands for ‘American Indian in the 21st century.’
“On ‘Beautiful Day,’ Kim wrote two songs, we did two covers, and I wrote the rest. The two covers were songs by the late Gil Scott-Heron – ‘Lady Day and John Coltrane’ and ‘Alien.’ Gil Scott-Heron was a very influential voice in music and activism and most-known for his song ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ and his poetry.
HumblemanBand, like Scott-Heron, has consistently delivered social commentary and positive messages, often with humor and a light touch, using spoken word lyrics, and generally delivered with dance beat arrangement. His influence upon the band has been strong.
Video link for Humbleman Band – https://youtu.be/q5eNAM8OuJg.
The show at Dawson Street Pub, which also features Schist Creek Stompers, will start at 9 p.m.
T
ickets are $10.
Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) will present KVNB Jazz on June 13 and the musical “Footloose” from June 14-23.

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