On Stage: Turkey’d out? Now feast of great music

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Gretchen Emery Band

The day after Thanksgiving often demands extra motivation from those who are prone to sitting around the house recovering from the day before.

November 24 is the day after Thanksgiving this year and there is definite motivation to get out and hear live music performed by a pair of top-flight acts — the Gretchen Emery Band and Greg Sover.

On Friday night, Stoney’s Pub (3007 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, www.stoneyspub.com) will present a performance by the Gretchen Emery Band, one of the premier new bands in the Delaware Valley.

The night at Stoney’s will also feature a treat for the taste buds with a menu featuring tasty authentic British Pub food.

Vocal powerhouse Emery was recently honored with the 2023 award for “Best Lead Singer” by Delaware Valley Hometown Heroes. Her husband Kenny Windle is the band’s guitarist and Emery’s co-writer. The band also features Randy Waters (bass), Mike Leger (drums), and Frank Donato (keys).

The Gretchen Emery Band has toured steadily in the Mid-Atlantic region over the last four years. The band released its debut EP, “If Love Were Enough,” in July 2022.

The EP, which was released on a/i/r records, has been described as a “rootsy, soul-fueled mix of rockin’ R&B…. blending both traditional and contemporary influences, creating something that feels instantly familiar yet excitingly fresh at the same time.”

“My husband and I write together,” said Emery, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from her home in Newark, Delaware.

“He comes up with the chord structure and I develop the melody. Then, I take care of the lyrics.

“‘If Love Were Enough’ was the first one where we achieved the result that we were really happy with.

“We recorded it at BarnSound Studio in Newtown Square. It’s Derek Chafin’s studio which he has now moved to Chester Springs.

“We used Derek Chafin as our producer for the EP. He made all the difference for us.

“We brought him the song ‘If Love Were Enough’ to listen to. He liked it and agreed to produce us. We had never used a producer before. Now, we’re working on a full-length with him. The new album won’t be out until? – when we’re all done.”

Both Emery and her husband grew up in Dover, Delaware.

“I stayed in Dover for college and went to Wesley College,” said Emery, who spent more than two decades as a pediatric nurse. “My mom was a professor there.

“I went to nursing school and got my degree. I worked as a nurse for a long time. Now, I work for the V.A. in Philly. I’m in administration so fortunately I can work from home.

“When I was growing up, music was obligatory in our home. Everyone is musical. My mom has been a singer since she was really young. My dad played the clarinet and his brother played organ and piano. I started singing in church. In school, I played flute in the band and sang.”

Emery, who has been involved in quite a few bands over the years, now has found the right sound and the right mixture of players.

“We had a band called Gretchen Emery Band and Dirty Boots,” said Emery. “We competed in the IBC (International Blues Competition) in 2013 and then broke up a year later.

“Kenny and I stopped playing for a while. Then, we realized we can’t not play.”

One of the places that Emery and her band “can’t not play” is Stoney’s.

Stoney’s is a stand-alone bar/restaurant along Concord Pike just south of the state line.

Close your eyes and you could imagine being in a pub along the River Aire in Leeds. Open them and the vibe is the same but the football pennants on the wall are for Philadelphia Union not Leeds United. Stoney’s features real British food like bangers-and-mash and Beef Wellington along with a mega-list of brews from the British Isles.

It’s only natural that owner Mike Stone presents live music several nights a week. He worked in the music industry in England in the 60s and 70s. The wall of his pub is adorned with shots of him with such artists as Rod Stewart and Keith Richards.

“We love playing shows at Stoney’s,” said Emery. “Stoney’s was the first place we played during the pandemic – three outdoor shows in 2021.

“Stoney’s has sort of become our home. Stoney is the most supportive guy. And I love his wall pictures – especially Tina Turner, Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt.”

For those of you who like British food (or want to try something really different), Stoney’s will have an authentic Feast of St. Andrew Celebration on December 3 complete with haggis, neeps and tatties.

Video link for the Gretchen Emery Band – https://youtu.be/yUWijOc-OuM.

The show at Stoney’s Pub on November 24, which has free admission, will start at 7 p.m.

Greg Sover

On November 24, Greg Sover will be making a return appearance in the area with a show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com).

In the bigger picture, Sover is making another return – a return to some of the music that was his earliest influences.

More specifically, it is the music of Jimi Hendrix.

Sover, a singer, songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire, released his newest album, “HIS-Story,” on July 21 on Grounded Soul Records.  The 10-song album features a combination of original tunes — eight bluesy rockers – and a pair of songs by Hendrix.

On the two Hendrix compositions, Sover was joined by Band of Gypsies bassist Billy Cox — on Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” and rarely heard album cut, “Remember,” which was originally on the U.K. version of Hendrix’s debut album, “Are You Experienced.”
“It was great working with Billy Cox,” said Sover, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Abington. “It was an honor to play with him.

“I had wanted to do a version of ‘Manic Depression.’ My manager came up with a crazy idea — ‘I wonder if Billy would like to work on it.’

“We talked with Billy, and I told him that I wanted to record ‘Manic Depression’ and would he like to play on it.

“Billy agreed to play on the song. Then, he asked if I would record a little-known Hendrix song, “Remember” and include it on the album.”

The album was recorded with internationally acclaimed bass player Kenny Aaronson (Bob Dylan, Rick Derringer, the Yardbirds, Joan Jett) and drummer extraordinaire, The Hooters’ David Uosikkinen.

“I recorded the album at Cambridge Studio in South Philly,” said Sover. “I co-produced the album with Jim Salamone. It’s a nice studio – a lot of digital and some analog. I tried to stick with an authentic approach without relying on technology.

“Lyrically, it was the most personal album I’ve done. There were a lot of things I had — issues with what Greg Sover was going through.

“Also, I have a son now – Damian, who just turned one on Saturday. Having a son was an inspiration. I felt young. I felt motivated – more inspired.

“The album just came out on July 28. We’ve been getting a good reception. And the album is getting more radio play.”

Sover has another Hendrix connection. On June 17, he performed a show – “An Evening of Jimi Hendrix with Greg Sover” — at the Newton Theatre in Bucks County.

“It was a solo show – just me, no band,” said Sover. “I played two 50-minute sets of strictly Jimi Hendrix songs. I don’t think Jimi ever did two 50-minute sets in one night.

“I had a lot of fun and the audience loved it. It was a full house. Now, they want me to come back again. I’m thinking about putting together a Hendrix show to have in addition to my own shows.”

Sover is a blues/rock musician from Philly who is well known to Chester County audiences from shows at area venues – especially the Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville where he recorded a live show.

Sover’s most recent release before “HIS-Story” was “The Parade” in 2020.

“The Parade” featured five originals and the band’s interpretation of the Cream classic, “Politician.”  I

With heavier guitars, blazing solos and impactful lyrics, “The Parade” explores themes of personal evolution, staying true to oneself and perseverance.

Sover, who grew up in Philly and attended William Penn High, became fascinated with the guitar at age 13. His father taught him the French song “La Maladie d’Amour” and Sover took it from there. He taught himself how to play guitar, how to write songs and, eventually, how to sing.

“I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and my family moved to Philadelphia when I was 10,” said Sover, whose parent were from Haiti. “I was exposed to music when I was really young.  I had musicians on both sides of my family. My whole life I’ve had access to the guitar.

“With guitar, I started really knowing what I was doing when I was around 15. At the same time, I was playing electric bass at my church.”

Sover says his music doesn’t fit into one particular genre. It includes elements of “blues and rock with a dash of everything else.”

The Philly musician first attracted serious attention when he won the 2015 Hard Rock Rising competition at Philadelphia’s Hard Rock Cafe.

Over the last few years, the Greg Sover Band has opened for many renowned blues-rock artists including the Yardbirds, Jeffrey Gaines, Jimmy Vivino, Tommy Conwell & the Young Rumblers, Johnny A, Ana Popovic, Walter Trout, Sonny Landreth, Popa Chubby, Marcus King Band and Davy Knowles.

Now, it’s time for Sover to step into the spotlight and move forward as a headliner in his own right.

Video link for Greg Sover — https://youtu.be/4mWIXx9UbrU.

The show on November 24 at Jamey’s will start at 8 p.m.

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

Sover will also be playing earlier in the day in Philly on November 24.

“WXPN Free At Noon” will feature Sover and his current band — Kenny Aaronson on bass, Wally Smith on keyboards and Tommy Tsunami Keifer on drums.

The free show will take place at World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, www.worldcafelive.com) at noon.

On November 25, Jamey’s will host The Cold Soil Drifters.

The Cold Soil Drifters, who play music drawn from the red clay of central New Jersey, is a central Jersey consortium of veteran musicians who came together in 2022 to create a unique musical experience. They quickly arranged and released their first album of original music, “Shanks Pony,” in the spring of 2023.

The genesis of the band began with a vision of longtime local singer/songwriter/guitarist Bump Yuchmow who was then joined by Danny Coffey (The Shaxe, The Fletchers) on guitar and vocals, Brian Quinn (The Shaxe) on lap steel, mandolin, harmonica, and vocals, Ryan Thornton (Chris Harford, RANA) on drums and vocals, and Matt Kohut (Chris Harford, formerly of Ween) on bass. Their music has been described as rooted in bluegrass with elements of calypso, funk, and “psycho-billy.”

The show on November 24 at Jamey’s will start at 8 p.m.

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

Many questions that were left unanswered in “The Wizard of Oz” were answered at a later date — questions such as what the witches of Oz were doing before they encountered Dorothy and how they got to be the way they were.

They were answered in “Wicked,” the hit musical based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire. “Wicked,” the fourth-longest running Broadway production,” is a winner of 15 major awards — including a Grammy Award and three Tony Awards. The show features the music and lyrics of Stephen Schwartz.

The musical, which has already had several sold-out runs in Philadelphia dating back to the early 2000s, is back for another hot-selling visit. “Wicked” is running now through November 26 at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, www.kimmelculturalcampus.org.)

“Wicked” is the winner of over 100 international awards, including Grammy® and Tony Awards®. Since opening in 2003, “Wicked” has been performed in over 100 cities in 16 countries around the world (U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, The Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, and China) and has thus far been translated into six languages: Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese. “Wicked” has been seen by over 60 million people worldwide and has amassed over $5 billion in global sales.

The production is directed by Tony Award® winner Joe Mantello with musical staging by Tony Award® winner Wayne Cilento. Wicked is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Stage Productions, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt, and David Stone.

The ultra-popular show depicts what the witches of Oz were doing before they encountered Dorothy and how they got to be the way they were.

“Wicked”, which carries the subtitle “the untold story of the witches of Oz”, tells the story of two girls who meet in the Land of Oz. The one born with emerald green skin is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular.

The show tells the tale of how these two unlikely friends end up as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch. Their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.”

Madame Morrible is the headmistress of Shiz University’s Crage Hall, which Elphaba and Glinda attend. Elphaba and her friends suspect Morrible to be responsible for the murder of Doctor Dillamond.

At one point, Madame Morrible proposes that Elphaba, Galinda, and Nessarose become future behind-the-scenes rulers in Oz, a proposal that they never willingly accept.

Elphaba suspects that Madame Morrible has at least some magical powers and may have indeed controlled the fates of the three women. It remains unknown whether Elphaba murdered her or if she died of natural causes minutes before Elphaba’s attempt.

The cast features Celia Hottenstein as Glenda, Olivia Valli as Elphaba and Kathy Fitzgerald as Madame Morrible.

With a thrilling score that includes the hits “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and “For Good,” “Wicked” has been hailed by The New York Times as “the defining musical of the decade” and by Time Magazine as “a magical Broadway musical with brains, heart, and courage.”  NBC Nightly News called the hit musical “the most successful Broadway show ever.”

With a thrilling score that includes the hits “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and “For Good,” Wicked has been hailed by The New York Times as “the defining musical of the decade” and by Time Magazine as “a magical Broadway musical with brains, heart, and courage.”  NBC Nightly News called the hit musical “the most successful Broadway show ever.”

It’s an amazing family show. It’s a great Broadway production. The songs are incredible. The dancing is amazing. It’s funny. It’s relatable. Everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz.

Video link for “Wicked” – https://youtu.be/WNIuOrz0Gt8.

“Wicked” is running now through November 26 at the Academy of Music. Ticket prices start at $30.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is presenting “Superunknown – A Tribute to the Legacy of Chris Cornell” on November 25.

The Living Room and Cricket Café (104 Cricket Avenue, Ardmore, livingroomardmore.com) will present Joseph Parsons on November 25.

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