On Stage Extra: John Doe embracing folk at City Winery show

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

The John Doe Trio

John Doe, who is headlining a show at City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, citywinery.com) on June 15, is a modern day American Renaissance man. He is a singer, songwriter, actor, poet, guitarist, bass player and author.

Born John Nommensen Duchac in Decatur, Illinois, he grew in in Baltimore, Maryland – in the Lochearn suburb.

“I moved there in third grade and left in 1975,” said Doe, during a phone interview last week from his home in Austin, Texas. “I didn’t want to live in Baltimore.”

John Doe was born in 1977 when he arrived in Los Angeles. His previous life in Tennessee, Wisconsin and Maryland was a fertile time but new music and social changes led him to events that created a life in art. He graduated from Antioch College in Baltimore in 1975, worked as a roofer, aluminum siding mechanic, and ran a poetry reading series.

Doe is now touring with his folk trio, but his roots were in the L.A. punk rock scene. Doe was a founding member of the band X.

X achieved limited mainstream success but influenced various genres of music, including punk rock, Americana, and folk rock, and is considered one of the most influential bands of the era. In 2003, X’s first two studio albums, “Los Angeles” and “Wild Gift,” were ranked by Rolling Stone as being among the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The original members are vocalist Exene Cervenka, vocalist-bassist John Doe, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D. J. Bonebrake. X is touring again this summer with all four original members and will be in Philadelphia area on July 16 for a show at the Xcite Center in Bensalem.

For right now, Doe is focusing all his attention on the John Doe Folk Trio with Kevin Smith on bass and Conrad Choucroun on drums. The trio’s debut album was released on May 20 via Fat Possum Records. “Fables in a Foreign Land” features Doe’s tales that are set in a dusty desolate pre-Industrial Era – starting with the leadoff track, “Never Coming Back.”

“A folk trio – just more foolish insanity,” said Doe. “And we’re doing something really timely – a record about the 1890s. The songs just started coming out that way. When I got a handle on ‘Never Coming Back,’ I thought – this is the start of an album.”

Though most of the 13 songs were written over the last three years, the sound developed organically over the course of weekly acoustic outdoor jam sessions in bassist Smith’s Austin backyard.

“We played on Kevin’s back porch for a year-and-a-half because we had nothing else to do during the pandemic,” said Doe. “I give them a lot of credit for coming up with the sound. I think I had the idea for six or seven years.

“When I was a kid, I listened to a lot of folk music. My brother had a lot of Joan Baez music – which I still love. And my parents listened to a lot of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.

“We recorded the album in one of those lulls in spring 2021. We made it in Austin. We created it on Kevin’s porch and recorded it at Jim Eno’s studio. The studio has great acoustics. We just used a bunch of mics—no amplification. And there was no overdubbing – no edits or punch-ins.

“Most of the songs were written during the pandemic. It’s about a time when people realized there was an existential threat. It was real. People realized which things should be valued. It shows a need for empathy.”

Video link for John Doe — https://youtu.be/pa08vq3bhEo.

Sarah Borges

The opening act on June 15 will be Sarah Borges as a duo with Keith Voegele.

Borges, is a Boston guitarist/vocalist whose music has been described as “walking that fine line between punk and country.”

When Borges straps on her guitar and starts to sing, she rocks out – even in acoustic mode. There is country, punk, blues and rock in her musical DNA, but it is the rock element that stands out the most.

“In the live shows now, we’re playing a lot of new songs,” said Borges. “They’re re-issuing ‘Silver City’ (her debut album in 2005) so I’ll also be doing songs I haven’t played in 17 years.”

Borges’ old songs and new songs are all characterized by musical intensity.

“We love playing good, fast rock songs,” said Borges, who graduated from Emerson College with a degree in radio. “We keep evolving but we also keep playing some of the older songs. With so many songs I’ve recorded, it’s hard putting together a set list.

Video link for Sarah Borges – https://youtu.be/qaPzt9YteHU.

The show on Wednesday night will start at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the City Winery show range from $20-$30.

Tim Snider

Tim Snider, who will headline a show on June 14 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com), is also a very versatile entertainer.

Snider has been touring the world non-stop as the renowned violinist for the Pacific Northwest band Nahko and Medicine for the People — performing to sold-out crowds in amphitheaters like Red Rocks and The Greek. He has performed at some of the world’s biggest festivals, Bonnaroo, Byron Bay Blues, Caliroots, Glastonbury, and been direct support for Zack Brown Band, Dispatch, Rebelution, and Xavier Rudd.

When Snider takes the stage at Sellersville, he will be performing with his new band Tim Snider & Wolfgang Timber. There is a new record — “When The World Stops” — dropping in the fall and a catchy summer single, “By You Side,” will be serviced to radio soon.

Snider plays violin and guitar – and also loops guitar, percussion, and vocals into a sound that has been described as a “world-folk hybrid, aimed at the heart the head and the feet.” The group also features Zack Teran on bass and vocals, Miguel Jimines-Cruz on drums, Chance Utter on percussion and Lucas Arizu on guitars and flute.

“Violin was my first instrument,” said Snider, during a phone interview last week from his home in Reno, Nevada. “My great grandfather Theodore Post was a composer and a violinist. He studied violin at Julliard and Harvard and helped found the music department at University of Nevada Reno

“When I was born, my grandmother was dying of lung cancer. When I was two months old, my grandmother, who nearing her last days, held me in her arms and said, ‘Finally, I have my violinist.”’

“When I was three, I saw a performance by Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street and fell in love with the violin. I started studying classical violin when I was four.

“When I was a young teenager, I disconnected with violin. I got into rock and roll and learned to play anything with strings.”

Over the years other influences came into play — rock music, songwriting, African music, flamenco, jazz and salsa.

Eventually, he rediscovered his love of classical music and went back to the violin.

“I was listening to classical violinists like Jascha Heifetz,” said Snider. “Then, Stéphane Grappelli was the first time I heard a violinist improvise.

“I began hearing guys playing electric violin – guys like Jerry Goodman. I studied flamenco music in Spain – in Grenada and Sevilla. My wife is Brazilian, so I spent time there in Sao Paulo listening to Brazilian music.”

In 2003, Snider enrolled at University of Nevada – Reno and started Sol’Jibe, a group that blended American roots, world beat, and Latin rhythms into an inspired sound dubbed “World Rock.” Sol’Jibe was named Reno’s Best Local Band four years in a row.

“Sol’Jibe was a regional touring band,” said Snider. “After the band broke up, I did a lot of solo touring. I moved to the Pacific Northwest and played in a lot of bands in Portland and Seattle. The biggest band was Nahko and Medicine for the People.

“With my current band — Tim Snider & Wolfgang Timber – it’s 50/50 guitar and singing. I enjoy telling stories as a songwriter.

“I’m a singer/songwriter and also a violinist and instrumentalist. The instrument is the tool. What you’re trying to communicate is more important.”
Video link for Tim Snyder — https://youtu.be/oCV-JPmhJ8I.

The show at the Sellersville Theater, which has Jeremy & The Harlequins as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $29.50.

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