singer-songwriters

Seven days and nights of music with over 40 performers on a cruise ship.

Sunday, 2.5.12: As we boarded the ship for the 7-night journey through song, we were treated to the music of Beth Wood performing. WPA played their first of three scheduled shows. Glen Phillips noted that this cruise is really the only gig WPA plays and that their genre of music is “sad”. Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show) and Rhett Miller (Old 97’s) also joined WPA which included Sean & Sara Watkins, Sebastian Steinberg, Jerry Roe and Greg Leisz (who was much in demand throughout the week to play dobro and pedal steel with many other artists). Luke Bulla was not on the cruise, but WPA still performed a couple of his songs. I briefly went to see Levi Lowrey perform and he mentioned being on board in 2009 with the Zac Brown Band. He went looking for a slot to play and that he was honored to be back on board again. Next, it was a Rhett Miller solo set. Miller really puts his whole body into his performances, swaying and sweating through his shirt by the end of the hour. I was amazed at the depth of his songwriting, he looks too young to have written so many songs in his growing catalog of music. His most recent release is a cover CD The Interpreter: Live At Largo and he performed quite a few tracks in his sets including American Girl and the Wilco song California Stars. We caught a little bit of the married couple Sarah Lee (Guthrie) and Johnny (Irion)’s set as well as a couple of tunes by Sarah Jaffe. The evening of music ended for us with 90 minutes of songwriter Chuck Cannon (introduced by Shawn Mullins), whose latest CD Symphony of Scars was only available on the ship for now. Cannon was joined by Shawn Mullins and Nashville based country singer Sarah Buxton.

Greg Leisz, Sara Watkins & Glen Phillips - WPA

Monday, 2.6.12: Our first day at Sea. The music began at 12:30 pm and probably went well past 2:00 am, as we sailed into the Atlantic time zone. Winterbloom (Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton, Meg Hutchinson & Natalia Zuckerman) started out on the pool deck, but their set was shortened due to the windy conditions. I went to get a seat in the lounge early for Shawn Mullins’ first performance. Mullins does not travel with his full band on the road (Patrick Blanchard, Gerry Hansen, Davis Causey, and Tom ‘Panda’ Ryan), but they sounded very tight especially on the extended Beautiful Wreck jam. He was also joined by the talented British singer-songwriter Callaghan (Mullins produced her CD Life in Full Colour to be released on 5/1) who headlined her own show later in the week. Mullins shared a few new songs She Completes Me, Hold on Love and Sunshine, which sounded just great. He talked about 3-chord pop songs and how his songs do not often end on a chord, instead they fade out with a deceptive cadence. Meanwhile, Mr. Barb went to see Sara Watkins first solo show then to see the Ryan Montbleau Band. After Mullins, I stayed to see Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp perform. They each took a turn signing one of their songs, often co-written by the other. Great stories - Sharp talked about her song Red Dress turning into an Irish drinking song thanks to a male fan that was familiar with it at a past show and started singing along. Sharp has a new CD coming out in the summer. I met Mr. Barb in the atrium where we saw the end of Joe Purdy’s show. I also went to check out Bobby Long (definitely resembles Rhett Miller). Holly Williams has noticeably improved as a performed since her first cruise in 2008 (she also relayed the story of how she missed getting back on the boat at a port stop, when she didn’t change her watch to ship time and learned a valuable lesson that she wanted to pass along). It was our first time seeing James McMurtry and it was quite an upbeat rocking set of long songs. After that set it was another show from WPA. Sarah & Christian Dugas (The Duhks) hosted a throw down jam with musical guests that extended into the early morning hours. Shawn Mullins covered a Kris Kristofferson song, while the Watkins’ sang a Linda Ronstadt song.

Shawn Mullins

Tuesday, 2.7.12: Cayo Levantado. We stayed on board the ship. A nice discovery for us was Willie Watson, who had his own set. He commented that he was on board with WPA, then saw he was given a solo slot. He did a variety of songs on the banjo and guitar; joined on stage at times by Greg Leisz, as well as Sara & Sean Watkins. Mr. Barb stayed in his seat and saw Angie Aparo (he has quite a vocal range and uses one of those microphones that amplifies his speaking voice). I went out on the pool deck for Enter the Haggis. It was evident they fully absorbed all they could on their first voyage the previous year and took what they learned and put it into their current release Whitelake. Panda from the Shawn Mullins band joined them on saxophone & bass. Mr. Barb was really looking forward to seeing Iris Dement and he made sure to catch all of her shows as well as those of her husband, Greg Brown. I again went to see Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp – they were joined by Rhett Miller, the Watkins’ and the Dugas’. McCain and Sharp recorded Uncharted in a Holiday Inn on Sharp’s laptop, liked that version and put it on McCain’s Mercy Bound release (it sounded great live). We then enjoyed another set by the Ryan Montbleau Band. Afterwards “The Time Bandits” (the Shawn Mullins band with multiple guests) jammed in the atrium into the early morning hours with covers such as Ophelia, Statesboro Blues, Easy and Dreams.

Edwin McCain

Wednesday, 2.8.12: St. Maarten. Philipsburg is a beautiful city, we really enjoyed walking around. It was warm and sunny, in the upper 70’s, with a breeze. Once back on the ship, it was our first opportunity to see Mr. Buddy Miller. His guest was Jim Lauderdale, who wore an Elvis Presley like red sequenced jump suit and performed with Miller three George Jones songs. We saw the end of Shawn Mullins’ show on the pool deck, then went to see David Ryan Harris (who is simply captivating). I checked out Shannon McNally and Bobby Long (he tells great stories and is quite a developing young talent), while Mr. Barb stayed to see Greg Brown. In the midnight hour, I went to see songwriter’s talk about their songs and perform them. It was a stellar line up that could have gone on for hours. Edwin McCain was the host and he was joined by Rhett Miller, Angie Aparo, Joe Purdy and Jim Lauderdale. Miller told a story about trying to get Waylon Jennings to pronounce the word elixir correctly. McCain did an impassioned version of White Crosses. You could see the respect they had for each other and it is always interesting to hear the stories behind the songs. Mr. Barb went to see the duo of Aurora Belle.

Jim Lauderdale

Thursday, 2.9.12: St. Barts. One of the most beautiful port cities we have visited – where they speak French, use the Euro and tolerate visitors from a cruise ship walking around their village of Gustavia. It rained briefly, which only added to the ambience. I had to balance my time between seeing Edwin McCain & Maia Sharp (on keyboard & guitar) then to the final WPA show. We had two more Buddy Miller shows. At one show he had the drummer from Lucinda Williams band and Miller also had the upright bass player from the John Prine band accompany him and of course Greg Leisz on pedal steel. He had Richard Thompson as a guest at his last show – Mr. Miller was in awe of Thompson’s guitar playing. We caught a bit of Chuck Cannon’s show in between the Miller shows. We saw Sarah Buxton (married to a great guitarist, Tom Bukovac –who also sat in with Chuck Cannon and others). The evening ended with Enter The Haggis playing in the atrium into the morning.

Buddy Miller

Friday, 2.10.12: A day at sea. The music started at 12:30 p.m. and went past 2:00 a.m. We went to the pool deck to see the Ryan Montbleau Band. Hard to categorize their music, but we like it. I attended a beer tasting hosted by Glen Phillips. I learned a lot about the different types of beer with Phillips sharing some trivia and he even performed a song. Next it was to a very interesting songwriting workshop hosted by Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon (who did a signing in the merch store afterwards), while Mr. Barb was seeing Iris Dement. As we were walking into the main theater for a seat, we were treated to Loudon Wainwright III singing Dead Skunk (in the middle of the road).  We found a seat and finally got to see Keb’ Mo’. His special guest was Maia Sharp – she co-wrote All the Way on his current CD The Reflection, which they sang together. I have yet to hear a song by Keb’ Mo’ that I did not like. While Mr. Barb stayed to see Greg Brown, I went to see a Glen Phillips solo show (his guest was Ruby Amanfu, who can be heard on the new Jack White (solo) track Love Interruption). Then to see parts of shows by Bobby Long, and Sarah Buxton, before wrapping up the evening with The Watkins Family Hour - hosted by siblings Sara & Sean Watson. They normally do not perform the Watkins Family Hour outside of Largo, so this was a treat. Special guests included Buddy Miller and Glen Phillips, among others.

Keb' Mo'

Saturday, 2.11.12: Another day at sea with well over 13 hours of performances scheduled on the last full day of the cruise. We began on the pool deck with Chuck Cannon. We had front row tickets to see Shawn Mullins in the main theater. It was a highlight. Rhett Miller’s pool deck show got moved inside to the atrium, due to rain, so he just picked up where he left off on song #6, and guests included Sarah Lee & Johnny and Sarah Jaffee. Mr. Barb went to see another solo Sara Watkins snow. Enter the Haggis was the last show of the cruise on the pool deck. Mr. Barb went to see Iris Dement again. I caught a little bit of Antje Duvekot and then we saw Michael McDermott – who only did two shows – he is definitely an artist that we would like to hear more of. We attend Native Run’s last show – the trio singing Luke Brindley’s Wrecking Ball being a highlight each performance. Then to check out Anne Heaton followed by Levi Lowrey. The final show on the cruise was with David Ryan Harris, Edwin McCain and Angie Aparo each talking about and singing their songs and that turned into another jam session as guests joined them.

Shawn Mullins with his band

It was smooth sailing with wonderful weather and beautiful port stops. With over 40 performers and collaborations, these journeys through song continue to amaze us. The amount of talent on board a ship for 7 nights would be hard to fully duplicate on land. The performers seem to enjoy the cruise as much as we music fans do – since they normally do not get to see each other and perform together due to touring and recording. Saying it’s amazing does not seem to fully capture the experience. You get to interact with the performers – who you are in awe of and they are in turn in awe of the other performers on board. The artists say at their shows that it is an honor to be a part of this journey through song with all of us.

Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host

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During the first full week of February, Mr. Barb and I embark on our 5th journey through song.  For the 2nd year our floating sold-out home is The Pearl.  Almost 2,400 passengers on a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise, with three days at sea and ports-of-call that include St. Maarten & St. Barthelemy.  There are over 40 performers.

Returning Headliners are:  Lyle Lovett , John Hiatt (Lovett & Hiatt will be performing together with Hiatt also performing solo), John Prine , Buddy Miller , Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III .  New on board: Lucinda Williams and Keb’ Mo’.

Other returning acts include:  Shawn Mullins (a 5-time cruiser), Chuck Cannon , Enter the Haggis , David Ryan Harris , Edwin McCain , Holly Williams , Aslyn , Levi Lowrey , Beth Wood , Sarah & Christian Dugas (The Duhks) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) (WPA will include Glen Phillips , Sean Watkins , Sara Watkins,Greg Liesz on pedal steel, and Willie Watson from Old Crow Medicine Show).

New on the journey through song will be: Grammy nominated duo The Civil Wars , Greg Brown , Iris DeMent , The Belle Brigade , James McMurtry , Maia Sharp (who will be performing with Edwin McCain), Rhett Miller (of the Old 97’s) , Joe Purdy , Michael McDermott , Sarah Buxton & Tom Bukovac , Angie Aparo , Winterbloom (Antje Duvekot , Anne Heaton , Meg Hutchinson & Natalia Zuckerman ), Shannon McNally , Ryan Montbleau Band , Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion , Sarah Jaffe , Native Run (a trio comprised of Rachel Beauregard , Bryan Dawley and Luke Brindley ) Bobby Long , and Aurora Belle .

In advance of the cruise, we were able to download 37 songs from the artists scheduled to be on the 2012 voyage.

It’s a treat to see so many returning performers; and like always we will definitely become fans of the new acts on board.  There will be solo performances by members of WPA - Glen Phillips (who will be also, again, be hosting a beer tasting), Sara Watkins, and Willie Watson.  The Watkins Family Hour one evening at Midnight.  A Songwriting Workshop with Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon.  Shawn Mullins will be headlining a concert in the main theater (for which, again, we have front row seats!).  There’s Tai Chi, Name that Tune, Bingo, Wine and Beer Tasting, Karaoke, Guitar Workshop and Open Mics with the performers in addition to the shows.  We will start the journey with WPA and can end it with David Ryan Harris: The Band – The First Waltz.

We again chose the earliest headliner seated show time of 6:00 PM; many of the shows are general admission, even in the main theater.  The schedule starts as early as 10 AM and can extend to 1:30 AM.

We expect plenty of sunshine, permanent smiles on our faces, unexpected impromptu collaborations (which is what this journey though song is really all about), and to add to our CD collection.  I’ll have lots of stories to share upon our return via the WYEP Music blog (the lap top is staying home this year).  And we’re packing the sun block to prevent sunburn in the winter.

Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host

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It is hard to believe that Darrell Scott’s first solo performance in Pittsburgh was Tuesday night.  Mr. Scott was here with Robert Plant as part of the Band of Joy in January, and in October 2000 with Tim O’Brien; but never alone on stage.  There is a Pittsburgh connection however; his daughter Mahala is a student at Chatham University.

I discovered Mr. Scott’s music a couple of years ago when he was one of the acts on a singer-songwriter cruise.  He is a gifted songwriter – his songs have been covered by the likes of The Dixie Chicks, Keb’ Mo’, Sam Bush, Faith Hill, Brad Paisley and Travis Tritt.  He is also a multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, guitar, accordion, pedal, lap steel and banjo).

All Mr. Scott needed for his “evening with” performance was one guitar and an octave mandolin.  He only used the mandolin once, to sing a song about the history of the banjo called Banjo Clark, which included a demonstration of his mastery of the mandolin.

Mr. Scott does not work with a set list.  It’s based on how he feels that evening, the crowd, the city he is in.  He did honor one request You’ll Never Leave Harlon Alive.  From his 2010 double CD release A Crooked Road, he sang The Day Before Thanksgiving and A Father’s Song – for which he wrote the lyrics, but “borrowed” the music from one of his dad’s (the late Wayne Scott) songs.  Mr. Scott talked about living in East Gary, Indiana until 4th grade and how he never heard of a city changing its name (it’s now called Lake Station), so he wrote a song about it - East of Gary which he also related to Pittsburgh because of the steel mills.  We also joined in on the chorus to Mahala, as his daughter was in the audience.

The 90 minutes (there was a one song encore) goes by very quickly when you’re watching a professional with a velvety voice singing his songs and playing his guitar so effortlessly.  Darrell Scott will be releasing a new CD on January 31, 2012.  I’m already expecting it to be on my best of CD list for 2012.

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Toad the Wet Sprocket is on the last leg of a tour before they head back into the studio to record their first new album in well over 15 years... so I thought I'd check them out live one more time, Monday night at The Kent Stage, in Kent, OH.

In 1998 Toad the Wet Sprocket parted ways and I didn't have my first opportunity to see them until 2009.  Thus; I don't know what their shows were like in the 1990's.  What I do know, however; is that I overheard other concert goers at the venue say that it was like listening to their records...that this was an awesome show...that they still sound great.  This was from both first timers and from those who've seen Toad perform many times over the years.

For about 1 hour and 45 minutes Toad delivered 23 songs, 3 of which came in the encore.  It was a live cranked-up version of their music catalog: Something's Always Wrong, Whatever I Fear, Good Intentions, Stupid, Windmills, All I Want, Crazy Life, Nightingale Song, Come Down, I Will Not Take These Things for Granted and Come Back Down.  In the middle of the set they tried out two new songs (which they also did at the show in Pittsburgh back in April): The Moment and Friendly Fire - they already sound like old Toad favorites. To me the overall mood seemed to trend a bit more moody and darker than the other concerts I've attended.  As part of the encore, Toad did an amazing version of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie) and then slowed things down with their final song Walk on the Ocean.

Jonatham Kingham with Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Jonathan Kingham pulled double duty.  Playing keys and other instruments for Toad, and opening the show. Mr. Kingham, who now lives in Nashville and resembles Keith Urban, immediately developed a rapport with the audience that carried him through his brief 5 song, 40 minute set.  The highlight was when Mr. Kingham did a free styling rap in the middle of Every Little Step (Bobby Brown).  He has this natural ability to improvise - encompassing everything that he talked about during his set into the rap.  The audience showed their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation before he did his final song Grace.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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(Photo by Mr. Barb)

Lucinda Williams and Amos Lee performed on the North Shore Sunday Night.

Amos Lee may be from Philadelphia, but he knew he was on the other side of the commonwealth and felt comfortable enough to refer to us as “yinzers” by the end of his 14 song 1-hour and 15-minute set. Mr. Lee brought a larger band with him than did Lucinda Williams. Pedal Steel, banjo, upright and electric bass, drums, electric guitars, keys and male and female back-up singers; while he stood center stage switching between electric and acoustic guitars. Mercifully, the stage and seating area were in the shade by the time Mr. Lee took the stage at 8 p.m. Mr. Lee began with El Camino and showed versatility though out the evening with gospel, country-tinged songs - varying the tempo to bring the crowd into his performance (those who had never heard of Amos Lee before this show, surely knew who he was afterwards.) There was the title track of Supply and Demand, (2006) Flower from Mission Bell (2011), along with Truth, Street Corner Preacher from Last Days at the Lodge (2008). One of his backup singers, “Angel” (Mutlu), came out all in white to do a song reminiscent of Soul Train circa 1976 (Shower with Love) as he sang about cereal and shampoo – it was hilarious. Ms. Williams joined Mr. Lee on Clear Blue Eyes. He ended his set with Windows Are Rolled Down.

Lucinda Williams performed 16 songs (including 2 in the encore) with her 3–piece band (bass, drums, guitar) in a 1-hour and 20-minute set. A few new songs off of her current CD Blessed (including the title track as part of the encore): I Don’t Know How You’re Livin’, Copenhagen, Born to Be Loved and Buttercup. Ms. Williams never stood still, bouncing around and swaying even when she was just at the microphone without her guitar. She told us that a couple of people (her brother and a person in jail) were subjects in her songs previously. There was Pineloa (about poet Frank Stanford) and Metal Firecracker. Also Joy and Honey Bee. All delivered with passion and wrapped up neatly by 11 p.m on a warm night in Pittsburgh.

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

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Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald proved to be a dynamic duo Saturday night.

Michael McDonald kicked off the evening with the sun beating directly down on him as he sat center stage with his keyboard.  Despite the heat, Mr. McDonald delivered a 14-song. 65-minute fast paced set.  After the third song, Mr. McDonald said he better introduce the band and 2 female back-up singers before he got "heat stroke" (the band pulled double duty, supporting Boz Scaggs as well.)  From my seat, I was only able to see the back-up singers and Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, so I will take Mr. McDonald's word for it that the band was made up of "middle-aged ugliness" - although I couldn't see them, the band sounded good on guitar, drums, bass, keys, Hammond B-3 organ, and sax.  Mr. McDonald started out strong with Doobie Brothers classics You Belong to Me and It Keeps You Runnin'.  He recorded three albums for Motown and sang soulful versions of I Made It Through the Grapevine, Aint No Mountain High Enough and Living in the City.  From his solo work he reached back for I Keep Forgettin', Sweet Freedom and Yah Mo B There.  During Minute by Minute a train roared by and Mr. McDonald said that was probably a comment from the Doobie Brothers management.  This segment of the show ended, as it began, with another Doobie Brothers song What A Fool Believes.

After a brief 20-minute intermission, Boz Scaggs just casually walked on to the stage with his guitar for a 70-minute set of a dozen songs.  I felt transported back to my teen age years, listening to my 45 rpm records in the mid to late 1970s.  These were not the AM radio versions of the songs.  They sounded very true to the original recordings, only without the scratches and skips you'd often hear on a well worn vinyl record.  It amazed me that I still knew almost all the lyrics.  The setlist was a collection of Boz Scagg's greatest hits from the past 35 years: Jojo, Some Change, Lowdown, Breakdown Dead Ahead, Miss Sun, Look What You've Done to Me (a song that would be a must have on my MP3 player if ever I found myself stranded on a deserted island), Georgia and Lido Shuffle. One of the talented back up singers, Ms. Mone't, did an extended spirited version of Bonnie Raitt's Something to Talk About in the middle of the set.

Within 5-minutes, a keyboard was added to the stage and Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs returned to perform a 5-song encore that extended the concert to nearly 3-hours:  Hallelujah, Drowning in the Sea of Love, Ces't La Vie (Chuck Berry) and It's Alright with Mr. McDonald on accordion, and the final song of the night was Takin' it to the Streets.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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The fifth edition of the Songwriters Spotlight, took place Saturday night at The New Hazlett Theater.

Hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski. The guest songwriters this time were EMay, Greg Dutton (Lohio) and Melinda.

The format: Each singer-songwriter performs a few of their original songs, then each performs a cover of a song that they wish they wrote, and the two hours of music ends with a group collaboration / sing-a-long.

The hosts Mr. Grushecky and Mr. Witkoswki are at each end of a semi-circle with the guest singer-songwriters in the middle; like you’re in their living room for a songwriter’s roundtable. One of the topics during the evening was what came first during the writing process: the music or the lyrics; in some cases the answer was the title.

Mr. Grushecky offered "Le Ann" (East Carson Street) for his wife who was in the audience, "Homestead” (American Babylon) which he co-wrote (lyrics) with Bruce Springsteen (music) in 1993-94, "Labor of Love" (American Babylon), along with his cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love", featuring EMay on accordion. It was the first time he performed that Elvis song. Mr. Grushecky also related a story about almost getting fired from his day job, since he took time off to record with Mr. Springsteen.

Mr. Witkoswki sang a “piece for hire” from the Current TV show “Bar Karma” - "Reap What You Sow". In talking about songs that wrote themselves, he said an example was “Vitamin L” . He covered The Beatles “All You Need Is Love”; the first time performing this Beatles song.

EMay performed "Upon a Mountain" (with Mr. Grushecky on harmonica), "Don’t Lock the Door”, along with a cover of a song written by local musician, Rob Gray.

Greg Dutton choose a Lohio song “We’ll Hide Ourselves Underneath” along with a new song in the process without a title. Mr. Dutton did a stripped down version of The Flaming Lips “Do You Realize” as his cover.

Melinda’s songs included "Leave Your Key" and "Don’t Be Sweet" with a cover of “Me and Bobby McGee”, the first song she sang for an audience when she was a teenager.

The final group number was Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" with the audience accompanying the talented singer-songwriters each time on the chorus.

I look forward to future installments and discovering more local singer-songwriters.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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Ben Sollee returned to Pittsburgh in support of his recently released CD Inclusions.

The music on Ben Sollee's CDs sound lush, rich.  With 3 young and talented musicians on-stage, that robust sound and more was duplicated at Club Cafe Wednesday night.  Joining Ben Sollee (vocals, cello, guitar):  Phoebe Hunt (formerly of The Belleville Outfit) on vocals, violin and bass with Jordon Eillis on drums and percussion.  I was simply amazed at how electrifying the music was and how it filled the room and yet the concert was still very intimate.

The show began with Ben Sollee singing Carrie Bell a cappella.  The set was heavy on the new music from Inculsions, which has only been out on the streets for a little over a week.  I've only had the chance to preview the new CD, and hearing the songs live for the first time, makes me want to listen even more closely to the CD.  Can I add again how amazed I am that the songs really come to life during a live performance - you can see the passion and how the musicians are feeling Ben Sollee's music. Close to You, Embrace, The Globe, Bible Belt, and Electrified were among the songs performed from Inclusions.  There was It's Not Impossible (Boys Don't Cry) and How to See the Sun Rise (also featured in the TV show Weeds) from Learning to Bend. From his project with Daniel Martin Moore (Dear Companion) Mr. Sollee sang Try.  I've seen Mr. Sollee perform a couple of times and I was reminded how beautifully he plays the cello when he intros his songs with an extended instrumental.  Ms. Hunt treated us to one of her own tunes Fly On.  It didn't seem like Mr. Sollee wanted the music to end, even after an hour and forty-five minutes.  For the encore, everyone on stage, including Sean Rowe, huddled around one microphone to sing and then the final song, a cover of Cat Stevens Wild World, which got the audience to join in on the singing.

Ben Sollee with Phoebe Hunt and Jordon Ellis performed a Studio Session at WYEP earlier in the day, electrifying the space with music.

Opening was singer-songwriter Sean Rowe.  He reminds me a lot of Darrell Scott.  He played about a 45-minute set, using a couple of different guitars (which he could finger-pick very well).  His newest CD is Magic and we heard a few tasty tunes like: Jonathan, Wet (which mentions Pittsburgh, and Mr. Rowe was happy to sing it here), Old Black Dodge, Time to Think and American.  He included a cover of a Tom Waits song (Jesus Gonna Be Here) and ended with a cover of a Richard Thompson tune, both of which really suited his playing and singing style.  I am a new fan of  Sean Rowe's music.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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In December 2010 I was asking myself who is Jann Klose? After having the opportunity to interview him via email for the WYEP Music Blog I was able to answer that question and after seeing him in concert for the first time, I became even more aware of his music.  On Friday the 13th I again had the opportunity to experience the music of Jann Klose.

Jann Klose on vocals and guitar along with Lars Potteiger on keyboard, accordion and backing vocals performed original music for an hour at Club Cafe.  Mr. Klose even treated us to a few new songs, like The Kite.  Most of the songs were from his most recent release Reverie:  Mother Said Father Said (by request), Question of the Heart (usually with a harp, but this time with keys) Doing Time, Watching You Go and Hold Me Down.  The final song was an extended version of All These Rivers, when Mr. Klose invited Colter Harper and Preach Freedom back to the stage.  Mr. Klose has an engaging stage presence and is a talented songwriter.

Two members of Rusted Root began the early evening of music.  Colter Harper on baritone guitar and Preach Freedom on percussion and vocals.  Mr. Freedom sang covers of Bill Wither’s Sweet Wanomi and Use Me along with a cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.  There was also Unity and Identity. Very entertaining,

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

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The Solo and Low Down Tour brought Stephen Kellogg and Tift Merritt to a sold-out Club Café on Cinco de Mayo.



The petite and feisty Tift Merritt took the stage all in black.  With a lot of energy and spunk Ms. Merritt played the guitar and keyboards.  At only 5 feet tall, she commands the stage with her strong voice and musicianship.  She performed music from her catalog that included Broken and Mixtape, a song she wrote in France, Another Country, along with a couple of new songs and Good Hearted Man from her CD Tambourine, which was Grammy nominated in the Best Country Album category.

When you see Stephen Kellogg without the Sixers, it really makes you focus on his strong songwriting skills.  I found myself listening intently to all the lyrics.  He stayed center stage, playing the guitar and harmonica with a crate nearby acting as a table holding his mugs and various harmonicas.  Mr. Kellogg, tall and slim all in black, performed for about 70 minutes with mostly a mix of Sixers fan favorites.  There was one new song 1993 that will be on the upcoming Sixers CD due out in September.  It’s another love song, about meeting his wife and starting a family.  Among the songs:  A (With Love), 4th of July, Sweet Sophia, My Old Man.  Mr. Kellogg shared some quotes about life, romance, work and success.  Ms. Merritt joined Mr. Kellogg on stage for a duet on the Kenny Loggins penned Danny’s Song.  The 3-song encore included The Bear and Satisfied Man followed by a toast to the audience.

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

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