Kudos to Paul Green for once again assembling a fine group of All-Stars to back Jon Anderson. These young performers make it look easy, but don't be fooled - it is a lot of hard work to meet the challenges that are put before them.
Though I was mistaken about Downingtown's CJ Tywoniak still performing with the group, Downingtown is still represented by Andy Zimmermann, one of several performers who is a repeat All-Star. His older sister, Sarah Zimmermann (myspace.com/sarahzimm), a former All-Star standout, graduated from the school last year but was brought back for this mini-tour by Green to utilize her exceptional skill on slide guitar. You can see Ms. Zimmermann at Milkboy Coffee in Ardmore tonight: 610-645-5269; milkboycoffee.com. She will also return to Chaplin's The Music Cafe (610-792-4110; chaplinsthemusiccafe.com) on March 23 to once again accompany fellow Downingtown teenager Liz Longley (lizlongley.com). More about that show in my column on March 22.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention the extraordinary performance by Jon Anderson with the All-Stars. I was in the lobby during the intermission, reflecting on the evening's first half of music. I overheard someone say "Jon still sounds like he's 12 years old." He did not mean that Anderson is a novice with an undeveloped voice. The gentleman was referring to Anderson's pure, vibrato-free soprano - not a falsetto - that never deepened at puberty and hasn't weakened after 40+ years of performing.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23: Classical Music Recital at Rose Hall, Camphill Village at Kimberton Hills, 1601 Pughtown Road, Kimberton, 7:30 p.m., $5 minimum donation. For more information: 610-935-0300; camphillkimberton.org.
A classical music recital will take place to benefit Oakwood, a new Camphill affiliate in Missouri. Camphill and Oakwood are both communities that support adults with developmental disabilities. They provide a home-based living environment as well as social and vocational activities in the community.
The evening's concert will feature Sarah Schneider and her mother Justine Schneider singing duets by Henry Purcell, Leo Delibes, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Felix Mendelssohn. They will be accompanied by Veronika Roemer on piano, and she will also play viola.
In addition, The Trio Sibellius (Deborah Wright on bassoon, Margo Ketchum on oboe and Joel Bartlett on oboe and English horn) and Dr. Richard Fried on piano will feature selections by Jean Sibelius, J.S. Bach and Ruth Liberatore.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23: Gillian Grassie, Amanda Kaletsky and Lauren Adams at Chaplin's The Music Cafe, 66 N. Main St., Spring City, 8:00 p.m., $10 advance, $12 day of show. For more information: 610-792-4110; chaplinsthemusiccafe.com.
It's Ladies Night at Chaplin's. Three of the area's finest young performers will share the night and offer their own individual styles of music.
Gillian Grassie (gilliangrassie.com) is from Philadelphia and is a singer, songwriter and Celtic harpist. But unlike others who play the Celtic harp, she doesn't offer strictly traditional Celtic fare. She combines elements of folk, rock, pop, jazz, Latin and Celtic to create her own unique sound.
In addition to playing frequently in the area, Grassie is a full-time student at Bryn Mawr College. During her winter break she recorded her second CD, which will hopefully be available soon. Meanwhile, check out her debut EP To an Unwitting Muse (2005). You will surely want to hear more. Keep reading this column for more on Grassie and her forthcoming album.
Phoenixville's Amanda Kaletsky (myspace.com/amandakaletsky) has appeared at Chaplin's several times, and for good reason: she is a young talent destined for bigger things. Her style is pop, but strengths that set her apart from others in that genre include singing and songwriting skills, not to mention musicianship. She is a classically trained violinist and she taught herself to play piano and guitar. She collaborated with noted producer Ritchie Rubini on her debut EP Wait (2005). The single "Shower Song" has gotten airplay on local radio stations.
Lauren Adams (laurenadamsmusic.com) is a very talented musician from Chester Springs. She started playing music at a young age, no doubt influenced by her father Chris Adams (chrisadamsmusic.com), a mostly folky singer-songwriter-guitarist, who will himself appear at Chaplin's on April 6.
Lauren began her musical odyssey on piano at age 5, but switched to guitar at age 13, and shortly thereafter began writing music. She played her first gig at 15, and recorded her first album at 16. Her second album proved to be more challenging as her vision had grown and she sought "perfection." Perfection is a subjective term but Lauren is a true innovator with a sense of self that belies her young age. I look forward to hearing more from Lauren as she continues to grow and develop.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23: Manatawny Creek Ramblers and Painted Blue at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville. 8:30 p.m., $10 advance, $12 day of show. For more information: 610-933-4043; steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
Yet another bluegrass show in the area! The Manatawny Creek Ramblers (manatawnycreekramblers.com) are a bluegrass trio based in Reading. The band comprises the group's founder Daniel Bower on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Paul Thiessen on banjo and vocals; and Randy Kaster on upright bass and vocals.
Painted Blue (myspace.com/paintedbluegrass) plays a style that they refer to as "jam grass." Each member of this quartet brings their own musical influences to this project. Together they play bluegrass that's heavy on improvisation, making every show a new experience. Although they focus on their original music, they also throw in some Grateful Dead covers for familiarity.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24: Graham Parker at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 8:30 p.m., $23 advance, $25 day of show. For more information: 610-933-4043; steelcitycoffeehouse.com.
Graham Parker (grahamparker.net) returns to Steel City for another solo performance. Parker burst onto the scene in the mid-'70s with his band The Rumour. Their songs "Hold Back the Night" (1976) and "Don't Ask Me Questions" (1977) both reached the top 20 in the U.K.
The Rumour broke up after releasing their 1980 album The Up Escalator, despite it too being a big hit in the U.K. and around the world. Parker then began a solo career. He released a number of albums since then including his most recent, Songs of No Consequence (2005), recorded with his occasional touring band The Figgs. Parker continues to write and tour frequently.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24: The John Grecia Band and David Janes at Chaplin's The Music Cafe, 66 N. Main St., Spring City, 8:00 p.m., $10 advance, $12 day of show. For more information: 610-792-4110; chaplinsthemusiccafe.com.
The John Grecia Band (johngreciaband.com) is a Philadelphia-area quartet specializing in rock, pop and progressive music. Grecia assembled a diverse crew to support his piano-driven original music. He is accompanied by Christopher Stober on bass and vocals; Ben Wax on guitar; and Mike A. Windish on drums and vocals.
David Janes (myspace.com/daveyjanes) was born in Nashville and raised in various parts of Pennsylvania before he settled in Philadelphia a few years ago. The move seems to have worked. He recently "grabbed hold of the sound (he) was looking for." His Kill a Man Sessions was released in 2006.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28: Steel City Sessions at Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. FREE! For more information: 610-933-4043; steelcitycoffeehouse.com. This week: Phyllis Chapell and the Dirk Quinn Band.
For show information, feedback, etc. please contact Fern at firstname.lastname@example.org and put Sounds Around Town in the subject line. To access previous issues of Sounds Around Town, see my blog at: http://blog.myspace.com/purplefurnace. Thank you.