On Stage: Another Wainwright makes her mark

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Sloan Wainwright

In the world of American singer/songwriters, there are a few families that stand out – especially the Taylors and the Wainwrights.

The Taylor clan features a number of top-selling international artists with James Taylor, Carly Simon, Sally Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Kate Taylor and Ben Taylor filling a two-generation roster.

The Wainwright clan also has a number of heavy hitters and one of them – Sloan Wainwright — is visiting the area on June 28 for a show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com).

Sloan Wainwright is the daughter of Loudon Wainwright Jr. and Martha Taylor. She is a younger sister to Loudon Wainwright III, and aunt to Canadian American musicians Martha Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright and American musician Lucy Wainwright Roche.

Sloan Wainwright has been plying her trade as a musician for more than a quarter-century.

“I started making records in 1993,” said Wainwright, during a phone interview Tuesday from her home in New York’s Westchester County. “I’ve been putting albums out every couple years. New material is always being generated.”

Wainwright’s most recent album release is “Bright Side Of A Rainy Day,” which was released on Derby Disc in 2016.

“Making records is a different art form,” said Wainwright. “For a musician, there are many art form – writing songs, making records, doing publicity, touring.

“I am an independent artist. I release my own records. I do everything on my own. I’m fiercely independent. I have my own label — Derby Disc. And, I’m my own booking agency. I have to watch how I spend my money.

“I’m a touring artist and sell my CDs at my shows.  Most of my CD sales come from my shows but all of my music is available on my website (www.sloanwainwright.com) to listen to – for free. As an artist, what is important for me is to get my music out there.”

With a line-up of Loudon Wainwright III, Martha Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche, it might seem that writing – especially songwriting – is in the family’s DNA.

“I can only speak from my point of view,” said Wainwright. “I feel lucky. In our family, it was an acceptable thing to be creative. My father Loudon Wainwright Jr. was a journalist with a weekly byline story in Life Magazine called ‘View From Here.’

“It was mostly topical. He was a great writer. He was very funny and brought a lot of emotion to his work – moving through the world in an expressive way. Both my dad and my mom were very creative.

“I think my attraction to be a writer was modeled behavior and genetic. In our home, it was easy for us to be creative. Writing songs was a natural way for me to express myself from the time I was eight years old. I’d watch my brother Loudon write a song and think – I can do that. I’m still on the path – learning new things, writing new songs and learning new instruments.

“In my live shows now, I play material from the last 10 years. At the show on Friday, I’ll be playing a lot of new stuff my fans haven’t heard before. I’m psyched to be coming back to Philly. The last time I played there was at the Tin Angel and that was a while ago.”

Video link for Sloan Wainwright – https://youtu.be/wbffpHsefWw.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music, which has Sharon Goldman as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are Venom Blues on June 29 and Marieme on July

The Weight Band

The average person might hear about The Weight Band and think it was something to wear around the waist to help shed unwanted pounds.

Music fans are more likely to know the real meaning of The Weight Band – but maybe not.

If you’re not familiar with this history of Bob Dylan and the music scene in Woodstock, New York, the following might sound a bit confusing.

The Weight Band is a band. “The Weight” is a song by The Band. The Weight Band is a band named after The Band’s song “The Weight.” The Weight Band is a band put together to keep alive the music of The Band.

On June 28, The Weight Band will visit the area for a show at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com).

The Band was a Canadian American rock group featuring Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson. In 1965, Dylan hired them as his touring band when he evolved from a solo folk artist to a folk-rock musician with a group behind him.

After a while, Roberston left to pursue a solo career and then later Manuel died. The remaining three members continued to tour and record albums with a succession of musicians filling the departed members’ roles. The final line-up included Richard Bell, Randy Ciarlante and Jim Weider.

Danko died of heart failure in 1999, after which the group broke up for good. Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 and continued to perform until cancer won the battle in 2012.

A passing wish of Helm was for the music and spirit of The Band to live on. The Weight Band was formed to do just that. The Weight Band came into existence to bring a live performance to fans of The Band — but not as a tribute band.

All of the members of The Weight Band — Jim Weider (guitar, mandolin & vocals), Michael Bram (drums & vocals), Brian Mitchell (keyboards & vocals), Albert Rogers (bass, vocals), Matt Zeiner (keyboard & vocals) — were either actual members in The Band, or are directly and deeply connected to the legacy of The Band.

The Band just might have been one of the tightest musical groups ever and replicating the music of The Band is no easy task. The Weight Band has proven equal to the task.

“A few years ago after we lost Levon, Randy Ciarlante and I put The Weight Band together with a couple other musicians,” said Weider, during a phone interview from his home in Woodstock. “We did songs of The Band and the shows sold out.

“Then, we got Marty Grebb. We did a few shows and it really started to take off. We added Brian Mitchell and Byron Isaacs. Now, Byron has left the group and we pulled in a new bass player — Albert Rogers. He had played in my band — the Jim Weider Band — in the ’90s.

The members all have other projects, but it is the music of The Band that binds them together.

“I started playing with Levon in the early ’80s in the Levon Helm Band,” said Weider. “Randy was in the band too. In 1985, when Richard and Garth moved to Woodstock, we toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash. We went out as The Band. That really changed my life.

“With The Weight Band, we do everybody’s favorites such as ‘Up on Cripple Creek,’ ‘The Rumor’ and ‘Look Out Cleveland.’ We do stuff from the early records and tunes I never did with The Band. We try to change up the set list all the time to keep it fresh.

“We’re getting a real mixture in our audiences. Of course, there are a lot of older folks who want to hear the songs they know. But we’re also getting kids who have started listening to the Band’s music. This music is such a strong part of American music.”

Now, The Weight Band has even more to offer its fans – a new album.

Years of touring have seen The Weight Band revive “The Woodstock Sound,” keeping the spirit of Americana/Roots Rock alive for audiences of all ages.  They continue to keep the sound vibrant by releasing new music, evidenced by the album “World Gone Mad,” which was released in February 2018.

“We’ve been performing that record along with classic Band tunes,” said Weider, who is also a current member of Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band and his own group ProJECT Percolator.

“It blends right. We made a record that blends right in with other Band tunes. That was one reason we did the album. We also wanted to make an album of original songs from a real band. It’s like a new Band album that just came out.

“Getting the sound right wasn’t a challenge. Because of our heritage, we know how to get the “Woodstock Sound.’ Writing the songs was more difficult lyrically. I wanted to write songs to sound like what Levon would sing if he were still here. One of the songs on the new album – ‘Never Too Old to Rock and Roll’ – Levon co-wrote. Brian changed it up from the original demo.

“All the recording was done in Rhinebeck, New York at The Clubhouse. We recorded digital but we recorded very live. We tried to record the way the Band would record.”

Video link for The Weight — https://youtu.be/iJ0zMhCx01Q.

The show in Ardmore will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and $28 day of show.

Other upcoming shows at the Ardmore Music Hall are Badfish on June 27 and “Tribute to Darryl Ray” with Tommy Conwell, Dynagroove, Rocket 88, Matt Wallace and the Blues on June 30.

Savannah King

Savannah King, who will make a return appearance at Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) on June 28, is a talented young singer/songwriter with plenty of strong original material.

But she could open each show with a special cover song, and it would make perfect sense. That song is Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again.”

King is on the road a lot every year – touring, playing shows in venues all over America and seeing the country as a back-to-nature camper/hiker.

“I have always wanted to travel,” said King, during a phone interview Tuesday from her home in Wilson, New York – a town near Buffalo on Lake Ontario. “I’ve been travelling for the last three years.”

King lives for the song in the journey. A fast-moving, adventure-seeking life on the road in her 1987 Ford Coachman camper van provides just the inspiration. The road brings the stories and the songwriting showcases the wisdom only experience can provide. Armed with her four-wheeled camper van/home and an acoustic guitar, King has successfully completed three six-month long tours of the United States.

For the past several years, King and her boyfriend Drew Richter, who is also a musician, have been on the road playing music and seeing the real American as they rack up the miles in their “home on wheels.”

“Drew and I bought the van two years ago,” said King, a SUNY Fredonia grad. “Our main goal was to get somewhere warm. And, we wanted to play live music. It’s tough in Buffalo in the winter because of the weather. We wanted to be away touring in the winter.

“I put out two solo EPs many years ago. Then, I had a band with western New York musicians called Savannah and the Kings. We put out a full band album five years ago.”

Now, King is touring in support of her new solo album, “Cliffrose,” and its accompanying book of photos.

“‘Cliffrose’ still has full band arrangements, but I perform mostly solo acoustic,” said King. “This is my debut solo album.

“The whole album was inspired mostly by our trip to the Southwest. We were in the desert a lot but stayed comfortable because we have a good camper. Our van has a shower, hardwood floors, a sink, a toilet and solar panels for all our power needs. We spent a lot of time hiking and camping on on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.

“The desert is so different from where I grew up. I was endlessly fascinated. People are different. The landscape is different. We spent time on a Navajo Reservation.

“It was all very new and inspiring to me. All the songs were written in the Southwest. The lyrics came out in a more storytelling narrative way while the music came out lush and strong. Everything came in place with the way it played out in my head. When I was in the desert, I didn’t see nothingness. I saw things that adapted and survived.”

Video link for Savannah King – https://youtu.be/0_ep3UslTI0.

The show at Chaplin’s, which also features Stella Ruze and Shabbey Road, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Jordie Lane

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will host Jordie Lane with William Rose on June 28, The Fleetwood Mac Experience (formerly Rumourz) on June 29, “Films & Words – 200 Motels “on June 30.

Alyssa Dodge

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will present Vassal, Madeleine Anderson, Revelation, and Alyssa Dodge on June 29.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Buddy Guy on June 29.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have Quinn Sullivan with Greg Sover on June 27, Paula Poundstone on June 28, Creole For Kidz! With Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience on June 29, Antsy McClain (Of Trailer Park Troubadours) on June 29, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin on June 30, and Asleep At The Wheel with Michelle Lordi on July 3.

The Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia series’ 12-day run of “Cats” is coming to a close this weekend. The popular musical is running now through June 30 at the Forrest Theatre (1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org).

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