On Stage: Heather Gillis brings big talent to The Flash

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Heather Gillis

Kennett Flash will be rocking this Friday night.

Heather Gillis, a Nashville-based blues rocker from Florida, will make her Chester County debut on July 12 at Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org).

Gillis is primarily a guitarist/vocalist but is much more than that. She is an amazingly versatile player and performer — guitar player, lap steel player, singer, songwriter, and arranger. She and her band have the stage presence and confidence to appeal to a variety of musical tastes — rock, blues, soul, jazz, roots or gospel.

“I grew up in Brooksville, Florida,” said Gillis, during a phone interview Wednesday evening from a tour stop in Norwalk, Connecticut. “I graduated from Florida State University in 2017. I lived in Atlanta for two years and then moved to Nashville about eight months ago. I like it here a lot. People are really nice.”

Gillis’ interest in guitar goes back to her middle school days.

“My dad had a guitar around the house when I was growing up, but he didn’t play it,” said Gillis. “When I was in middle school, a friend of mine took guitar lessons and that inspired me. So, I started taking lessons too. That was when I was in seventh or eighth grade.”

When Gillis moved on to Hernando High School in Brooksville, she took it to another level.

“I started taking guitar seriously when I was in high school,” said Gillis. “Initially, I was learning blues tunes. That’s what made me fall in love with the music – Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Albert King.

“Then, I heard Howlin’ Wolf and that just cut so deep. I never got cut so deep like that before. After three years, I started playing guitar gigs in Brooksville.  Then, I went to college in Tallahassee. That’s when I met Butch Trucks.”

In 2015, Gillis was recruited by legendary Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks to be a member of his touring outfit, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band (2015-2017). During this time people saw that Trucks had a secret weapon in his band and a buzz started about Gillis’ talents.

In early 2017, The Freight Train Band had a full touring schedule and Gillis had planned to spend most of her time on the road touring with them throughout the year. That’s when she received the shocking news of Trucks’ untimely death.

“Butch invited me to come to an audition, four years ago,” said Gillis. “Then, I played with him for almost two years until he passed away. He was a great mentor.”

Trucks died on January 24, 2017 and was 69 years old at the time of his death.

Without warning, Gillis had to switch gears and come up with a game plan. She relocated from the Tampa area to Atlanta and put together an all new band. Now, she has settled in with the music community in Nashville.

“I’ve been working on new stuff – cutting demos and getting to know people around town,” said Gillis. “My music now is a little less blues and a little more rock and roll – Hendrix, the Beatles and other psychedelic stuff.

“I was never really a blues writer – but my music is still based in traditional American music. It’s whatever I’m writing at the time.

“My songs come to me in different ways. Sometimes, I’ll be walking around the house and I start singing. Then, I’ll add a melody later. Other songs might start with just a riff.

“My live show is mostly originals. I do play two covers – songs by Willie (Nelson) and Waylon (Jennings). I’m touring now with a four-piece band – bass, drums, a second guitar player and me. It’s a really good band.”

Video link for Heather Gillis — https://youtu.be/-EIG3-X94N0.

The show at Kennett Flash starring Heather Gillis with The Blues Reincarnation Project as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming Kennett Flash shows are Charlie Hunter & Lucy Woodward on July 14 and a free event at Anson B. Nixon Park on July 17 at 7 p.m. featuring LowDown Brass Band.

*repeat repeat

Another Nashville-based act that originated in part of the country other than “Music City” will be playing the area on July 12 when *repeat repeat headline a show at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com). *repeat repeat is the husband-and-wife duo Jared and Kristyn Corder.

“Kristyn is from Houston, Texas and I’m from Phoenix, Arizona,” said Jared Corder, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a “Scheetz” on the border of Kentucky and West Virginia.

“I studied classical guitar at Arizona State University. I graduated in 2009. I moved to Nashville in 2013 to be in music. I started a band once I was there.

“I knew Kristyn had a great voice, so I asked her to join the band. Touring wasn’t a problem for her because she does graphic design and cam work from anywhere. I had her sing on a few demos and it clicked. I write love songs and couldn’t sing them to anybody else. We will have been together for eight years in October and we’ve never spent a night apart.”

Corder reflected on how he and his future wife met.

“Once I got to Nashville, I hopped around different bands. One of them was a funk-rock party band. In one of our shows, I was dressed in costume dressed as Tom Cruise in ‘Risky Business’ – white t-shirt and no pants. She came up and introduced herself.

“We started the band and got signed to a label – Dangerbird Records – in 2016. We released our first album, “Floral Canyon,’ in September 2017. We recorded it a year before we got signed and had been shopping it around.”

Still with Dangerbird, * repeat repeat released its sophomore album, “Glazed,” on May 31, 2019. It’s sugary, had sweet hooks and is built on a base of catchy rhythms and snarling guitars.

“Glazed” is the next evolutionary advancement for *repeat repeat, who have been touring steadily for most of the last three years. The band’s 2018 debut at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival inspired Rolling Stone to call the group “Most Enthusiastic Rockers.”

On “Glazed,” *repeat repeat worked with producer Patrick Carney (drummer for The Black Keys and producer for Arctic Monkeys, Black Lips, and more). They cut the record at his Audio Eagle Studio, which was relocated from Akron, Ohio to Nashville in 2010.

“We met with Patrick and he agreed to do one song,” said Corder. “That turned into two songs. Then, we got a call at 3 a.m. one morning from him asking if he could do the whole record. We recorded ‘Glazed’ last July with Patrick at his studio which is next to his house.

“He really got immersed in the album and pushed us until he felt everything was right. We spent a lot of time making the album – 20 12-hour days. All that work paid off.’

The album is a showcase for the band’s creativity and a display of the juxtaposition of each member’s influences – Jared, a former punk-rock kid raised on Bad Religion and Black Flag, and Kristyn, a Texas-born California girl who grew up on the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas.

“With ‘Glazed,’ at first we tried to hit on different themes and get topical,” said Corder. “We had written love songs all along and our producer on ‘Glazed’ pushed us back to those love songs. He said we didn’t need any of this ‘Philosophy 101’ bullshit. The theme all over ‘Glazed’ is joyful, honest spirit – fun and energetic.”

Video link for *repeat repeat — https://youtu.be/r9TzG-ELgw0.

The show at MilkBoy Philadelphia, which has Flipturn as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming acts at the venue are Proxima Paradise on June 13, Diamante Electrico on June 14, and Quiet Hollers on June 17.

For those with eclectic music tastes, there will be a show at The Rotunda (4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, http://firemuseumpresents.com) on July 12 that will be sure to please them.

Lau Nau

Headlining the show is Lau Nau, one of Finland’s top avant-garde musicians. The bill also features Special Guests, Jeffrey Alexander and Derek Moneypeny.

“I used to play a lot abroad but not that much now,” said Lau Nau, during a trans-Atlantic phone interview last week from Bologna, Italy. “I play a lot in Finland, Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.”

Lau Nau is a composer, producer and musician who grew up in Helsinki, Finland. She also performs in Bye/Fredriksson/Kosminen/Naukkarinen and has a solo synth/violin project Subatlantti. She has been playing in various improv bands such as Maailma, Hertta Lussu Ässä, Kiila, Avarus, the Anaksimandros, Päivänsäde, Kemialliset Ystävät, Chamellows and IAX, a band formed with Kuupuu and Tsembla.

Lau Nau, who is a is a visiting member of The Matti Bye Ensemble, was also a member of free improv and psychedelic folk bands Kiila, Päivänsäde, the Anaksimandros, Avarus, Maailma, and the trio Hertta Lussu Ässä with Islaja and Kuupuu.

In addition to composing and producing her own albums, Lau Nau accompanies silent films live and composes music for feature films, theatre plays, dance and sound installations. Her instrumentation ranges from everyday objects to classical instruments and analog synthesizers.

Lau Nau’s first solo albums were released in the United States on Locust Music in 2005 and 2008. The debut album, “Kuutarha,” won acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork and Dusted, with The Wire naming the LP in their top 50 albums of 2005 and citing her Philadelphia show of that year amongst “60 concerts that shook the world.”

In 2017, Lau Nau’s fifth album “Poseidon” was released in three continents (Europe, USA, Japan). The album has garnered a wide acclaim across media and fans, won the main prize of Femma-gala and was nominated for the Emma prize.

“I’m from Helsinki but I now live on a West Coast archipelago rural island — Kimito Island,” said Lau Nau. “I moved there 14 years ago with my husband. I have a studio in the attic with views of an apple garden.”

Lau Nau explained her path into the world of music.

“I was a punk rocker when I was 14,” said Lau Nau. “I think my attitude came from that. I always just want to make my own music. In the beginning, I was into Finnish experimental bands.

“All if Kraut Rock has been an inspiration. Another big influence has been Tony Conrad, an early minimalist from America. What attracts me to minimalism is that you can get so much out of so little. You can concentrate so much on pure element. Listening to music like that helps to cope with a world that has so much going on.”

Lau Nau is one of the more interesting figures in the contemporary music scene in Finland. Her songs are imbued with a cinematic breadth of vision and her idiosyncratic, finely honed sound world builds on fragile, spectral otherness. She works using both acoustic and electronic instruments, from field recordings to analogue synthesizers, from vocals and traditional instruments to musique concrete and found objects.

“When I play live, I use a modular synth and I sing,” said Lau Nau. “In the past, I used to play more electric guitar, violin and piano in my live shows.

“When I record, I play a lot of instruments. I also play a lot of live accompaniment to silent films. I love playing to film.

“I had been making records with soundscapes with a lot going on. Now, for the last three years, it’s been more minimalist. I felt tired using the same song form.”

The bill at The Rotunda also features: “Special Guests,” the trio of Tara Burke (Fursaxa), Brooke Sietinsons (Espers) and Nathalie Shapiro performing homespun drone music with vocals, harmonium & guitar; Jeffrey Alexander, founding member of The Iditarod, BF/BS, and Dire Wolves; and Derek Monypeny, a Joshua Tree, California-based guitarist and oud player who has played in the bands Oaxacan, ALTO!, and Sir Richard Bishop’s Freak Of Araby Ensemble.

Video link for Lau Nau — https://youtu.be/z57lGmwS37E.

The show at The Rotunda will start at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free with donation requested.

Cannabis Corpse

It’s safe to say that there is only one marijuana-themed death metal band in the world and that band is Cannabis Corpse. Formed in 2006 in Richmond, Virginia, Cannabis Corpse has released three albums and one EP.

On July 11, Cannabis Corpse will visit the area for a show at Kung Fu Necktie (1248 North Front Street, Philadelphia, 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com).

The band features members of Municipal Waste, GWAR, and Antietam 1862. The band’s name originates from a parody of the name for veteran death metal band Cannibal Corpse.

The band delivers a deadly dose of brutal death metal with its most recent LP “Left Hand Pass” – an album which also features guitarist Ray Suhy.

Under the influence of the genre legends who preceded them, the three musicians give rise to unrelenting piece of crushing, weed-themed death replete with their signature, THC-fueled, horror fiction lyrics.

While the Cannabis Corpse songs are fully original, the group’s album and song titles are parodies of many other death metal bands’ album and song titles – for example, “Tube of the Resinated” from Cannibal Corpse’s “Tomb of the Mutilated.”

Philip “Landphil” Hall and his brother Josh “HallHammer” Hall along with Andy “Weedgrinder” Horn recorded a demo which eventually became “Blunted at Birth” and the band signed with Richmond, Virginia-based Forcefield Records.

“I formed the band in 2006 with my brother,” said Philip Hall, during a phone interview last week. “We’re twin brothers and we spend a lot of time together.”

 “We had a lot of the same experiences and we liked a lot of the same bands. We enjoy playing together and we were looking for some good technical death metal.

“We were making some death metal we liked, and it snowballed from there. It was well-received, so we decided to put a live band together. At first, all the guys were from Richmond. But band members have come and gone. In 10 years, we’ve really improved a lot.”

“Left Hand Pass,” which was released by Seasons of Mist, received a lot of positive reviews in the metal community.

“We were working on the album for two years,” said Hall. “Josh and I self-produce all our music. We do all the tracking and editing ourselves.

“Most of the tracks are ones I’ve written. Then, my brother and I record them and send them to Ray. We still live in Richmond while Ray lives in Red Bank, New Jersey.

“In our live show, we play a mix of everything. We just try to make our set as brutal as possible – brutal, old-school dark metal.”

There is good news for fans waiting for new music from Cannabis Corpse.

“We have a new album that’s getting mastered right now,” said Hall. “We’ve always self-produced our albums and it’s the same with this one. We have our own studio here in Richmond. It’s a good setup with ProTools and mics.

“Having our own studio lets us take our time when recording. We’re still with Seasons of Mist and they’ll be releasing it.

“The album sounds more raw – like old Cannabis Corpse. It’s getting mixed by Jarrett Pritchard, who has worked with Goatwhore. ‘Left Hand Pass’ got a little progressive. The new album is more old-school – like the 90s.”

Video link for Cannabis Corpse – https://youtu.be/kpIQ8uiGWZg.

The Cannabis Corpse show at Kung Fu Necktie, which has Moros and Caged as openers, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

The Sheila Divine on July 12, The Classic Hunt on July 13, Cherubs on July 14, Low Hum on July 15 and Spotlights on July 17.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host

“Blobfest Storytelling With Patient Creatures” on July 13 from 2-3 p.m..

The music lineup features The Death of Saul, Simple Fires and More Than Skies on July 13 and Philadelphia Main Line Ukulele Group on July 14.

The Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com) will present Aimee Mann with special guest Jonathan Coulton on July 16.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present Juliana Danese, Liz Greene and Eleanor Wanamaker on July 12 and Mulberry Hill and R. Douglas Davey on July 13.

​The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host Jimmie Vaughan on July 11, Eric Roberson with special guests Verticle Current, and Res on July 12, The New Mastersounds on July 13, and Osler Circle (Beatles Tribute) on July 14.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Ratt on July 13 and RuPaul’s Drag Race on July 17.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will present The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret on July 12, “GOD HELP US!” starring Ed Asner on July 13, “Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir Of The 60s & Beyond” on July 14,  Tim O’Brien Band with Katherine Rondeau on July 15, The Quebe Sisters with Cave Twins on July 16, and

Robert Randolph & The Family Band with Laura Cheadle on July 17.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) will host Chris Pureka with special guest Andrea Nardello on July 11 and Eilen Jewell with special guest Jimmy Scantron and his Cosmic Guilt on July 13.

The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331, www.thequeenwilmington.com) will host “Mas Musica & Latin Vibes Present Gasolina Reggaeton Party” on July 12, “Future Stars Show” on July 13 featuring HaHa Charade, Julia Zane, Polychromatics,Strange Highways, The Paynkiller, Garnet Rising, and Z’anna Ramirez aka Zglitterati, and “The Queen 2 Year Anniversary Celebration Featuring Almost Queen” on July 13.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, will have Marieme on July 12 and Tony “TNT” Jones Trio on July 13.

The Living Room (35 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, https://thelivingroomat35east.com) will present “An Evening with Robin Bullock” on July 12 and Gloria Galante, Jim Dragoni, and Rhenda Fearrington on July 13.

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