Archive | February, 2013

Whose Line stars coming to New Bedford for night of ‘goofy fun’

19 Feb
Colin & Brad

Colin & Brad

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

 “We like to say it’s like a live version of Whose Line without the tall guy, black guy, and rich guy,” said comedian Colin Mochrie, formerly of the Emmy-nominated improvisational show Whose Line is it Anyway? 

Mochrie is explaining the side-splitting show he’s doing with Brad Sherwood, another Whose Line star, as the funny boys have teamed up for the “Colin & Brad: Two Man Group” tour. The comedians will be visiting the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford on Feb. 23. The fun begins at 8 p.m.

The dynamic duo have been doing shows as a pair for nine years, performing anywhere from 50 to 100 shows each year. With more than 20 years as comedians apiece, that’s a whole lot of laughs.

“It’s actually more interactive than the television show was,” Mochrie said. “Every scene starts with a suggestion from the audience and we have audience members on stage with us for about 80 percent of the show. It’s just a wacky free-for-all.”

Sherwood agreed.

“We basically hand the car keys to the audience and they drive us wherever they want us to go,” he said. “We have no idea what the people are going to do when we bring them on stage or what their suggestions will be. I have no idea what Colin’s going to say during the entire show and he has no idea what I’m going to say. Everything is going wrong and that’s what makes the show right.”

And that’s the way they like it. Mochrie recalls a time when an intoxicated woman in the crowd began walking down the isle and shouting at them to do a song about menopause.

“Brad immediately went into a rap song about menopause, so it worked out,” he said. “Those little hiccups make the show interesting.”

But picking topics for sketches, as well as participants from the crowd, can be tricky, said Mochrie. While they don’t want someone who is going to try to take over the scene and use it as their audition, they also don’t want someone to be nervous and too quiet.

“It’s always a crapshoot,” he said. “There are times you pick someone who’s drunk, which makes it difficult explaining the games to them, but I can’t think of any time we’ve been destroyed by audience members. We take very good care of the audience that comes up because they are there to help us. We try to make it as fun as we can. Usually the scenes where we can get ourselves into the most trouble are the ones we have the most fun.”

As noted, Mochrie and Sherwood agree that not having anything planned is the beauty of the show. Typically, they fly in the day of the show, get together for sound check and create a list of games they’re going to play. That’s pretty much it for preparation.

“But once we’re out there it somehow always works,” Mochrie said. “I’m not sure how, but it does. It keeps you on edge and makes you work a little harder. It’s the closest to death defying as I’ll get.”

Sherwood added, “It always plays out pretty darn well because we’re always in a state of, ‘Oh, my God. What’s going to happen?’ It’s always exciting.”

Mochrie and Sherwood first became acquainted in the early 1990s while appearing on the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? They continued being co-workers and friends through the show’s eight-year run on ABC, a stint that earned the show an Emmy nomination.

“It was the best gig in the world,” Mochrie said. “Getting the chance to work with world-class improvisers, British and American, was just fun. This wasn’t a career when I was a kid and I’m still shocked that I get to do it and am getting paid for it. Whose Line made that possible.”

Sherwood, who earned a degree in acting from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, got the idea to do a two-man show with Mochrie shortly after Whose Line stopped filming in 2004. He had been performing as a two-man group with a friend before approaching Mochrie, also a professionally trained actor, as he graduated from Studio 58, a theatre training school located in Vancouver.

“We decided to give it a try,” Sherwood said. “We did a two week tour and it worked so well that we never stopped doing it.”

Their DVD, Two Man Group: Live and Dangerous Comedy, hit stores in 2011.

The same year, the “Whose Line?” cast was reunited in Vegas for Drew Carey’s Improv-a-Ganza, a series that aired for one season on the Game Show Network.

“It’s always nice to get together with everybody,” Morchrie said. “It’s really a good group. Everybody gets along so well.”

In addition to Whose Line, Mochrie and Sherwood have worked on other projects: Mochrie has been heavily involved in independent and small movies. He is an affiliate of The Movie Co-op, a Canadian venture to help produce great Canadian movies funded and run by the artists themselves.

Of course, he has appeared in commercials as the Nabisco Snack Fairy. He plans to release a book later this year.

For Sherwood, who in the last fifteen years has guest starred on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno more than 100 times, and made several appearances on VH-1’s I Love The 80’s’ & 90’s, and Talk Soup, recently served as a guest announcer on the Price is Right.

“I did it for a month and it was really cool because I grew up watching the show,” Sherwood said. “Saying, ‘come on down’ or ‘a new car,’ was just crazy. It was like being a part of TV history.”

When he’s not onstage, Sherwood is playing guitar. He said while he likes hard rock and country, he enjoys writing folk music in his spare time. He also likes to sample Mochrie’s food, as Mochrie loves to cook.

“My wife hasn’t cooked since 1990,” Mochrie said. “I find it really relaxing. I wake up and the first thing I think of is, ‘Ok. What are we having for dinner?’ I plan what I’m going out to buy. I’m always learning new stuff and experimenting with cooking.”

But for the most part, they just want to make people laugh.

“Come see the show,” Mochrie said. “It’s just goofy fun.”

Tickets, which range in price from $45.50 to $47.50, can be purchased at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center Box Office, located at 684 Purchase Street in New Bedford, Mass., by phone at 508-994-2900, or online at www.zeiteiron.org.

 

Blues sensation Ruthie Foster ready to ‘Let It Burn” in New Bedford

12 Feb
Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Foster

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Grab your sweetheart – and a pair of concert tickets – for Valentine’s Day, as Grammy-nominated blues and gospel artist Ruthie Foster is set to play at the Zeiterion Theatre this Friday, Feb. 15, with Grammy Award-winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Mavis Staples.

Foster, who attended Sunday’s 55th Grammy Award celebration in Los Angeles, CA, said the nomination was “a nice surprise.”

“It’s validating more than anything,” said Foster. Her 2012 recording, Let It Burn, was up for Best Blues Album.

On Dec. 5, the day the nominees were released, Foster was spending time with family in her hometown of Gause, Texas, a small town just north of Austin. Later that night, her manager called her to share the good news.

“I spent the day with my sister and brother just getting back to my roots and then I got that call,” Foster said. “It was pretty cool. It all came together full circle.”

Foster also talked about something else that excites her: the fact that Staples will be joining her for the show.

“I love her to pieces,” said Foster, noting that she channeled Staples when recording a few songs for Let It Burn. “I brought her sound into a couple tunes, mainly the Los Lobos song, because it’s in a register I don’t sing in much.”

With the exception of two songs, Let It Burn consists of 11 soulful covers, including “This Time,” by Los Lobos, as well as Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” John Martyn’s “Don’t Want to Know,” plus hits by The Band, Pete Seeger, Crosby, Stills & Nash and more.

She recorded it in New Orleans with producer John Chelew, another Grammy-Award winner, who suggested Foster cover these particular songs.

“He brought a lot of new tunes to me from different genres for this album that I hadn’t really got into until then,” Foster said. “I wasn’t familiar with John Martyn until I did this album and now I’m a fanatic for his stuff. I just can’t find enough of it. I’m chasing everything he’s got. It’s sad he’s no longer here.”

The CD features an array of artists, such as The Blind Boys of Alabama, soul legend William Bell and the rhythm section of The Funky Meters.

It also includes New Orleans-bred guitarist Dave Easley, renowned saxophonist James Rivers and Ike Stubblefield on organ.

Foster said The Blind Boys brought a lot of “earthiness,” as well as a “spiritual side” to the recording. Growing up with a group of uncles who all sang, she said hearing them brought her back to her childhood.

“They were real close to that sound I was so familiar with, so having the chance to put it on one of my albums was just a huge opportunity,” said Foster. “I wasn’t sure what the songs really meant until these guys started singing on them. They really just made the song ‘Welcome Home’ shine.”

For the first time in her recording career, Foster, who plays multiple instruments, including piano and guitar, didn’t play an instrument on Let It Burn. It gave her a chance to hone in on being a singer and get the chance to “channel” a variety of singers.

“It was different and very welcoming,” she said, adding that the recording process of the entire album was a pleasure. “Getting someone like George Porter, Jr. (of The Funky Meters) to be the first to say ‘yes’ to being a part of a group of guys that were going to lay down the tracks. Then, everybody else jumped on board. It was huge. My manager happens to be the manager to The Blind Boys, so all he had to do was make a phone call. We made it happen. It really came together well. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”

The Grammy-nomination marks her second, as The Truth According to Ruthie Foster was in the running for Best Contemporary Blues Album a few years ago. She also has a long list of nominations and awards, including three consecutive wins for the Blues Music Award in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

“All of them are special,” she said. “I have three Blues Awards, but it means something different each time.”

This year, she hopes to hit the studio again. Writing more and recording with Keb’ Mo’, a three-time American Grammy-Award winning blues musician, is a possibility.

In terms of her show at The Z next month, she plans on bringing a full band with her, as she will playing a lot of songs from the CD.

“It should be a good time,” she said. “I like getting the chance to be introduced to the audience. That’s what’s great about what I do.”

The Zeiterion is located at 684 Purchase Street in New Bedford, Mass. Tickets are priced at $40, $37.50 & $35. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 pm.., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. For more information, visit www.zeiterion.org or call 508-994-2900.

Lisa Guyer to receive Unsung Hero Award

11 Feb
Lisa Guyer

Lisa Guyer

Limelight Magazine is pleased to announce that singer-songwriter Lisa Guyer will receive the Unsung Hero Award at this year’s fifth annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards that will take place at the Rock Junction in Coventry, R.I., on March 16, 2013.

Guyer, who is the front woman for the band Mama Kicks and a vocalist on Sully Erna’s solo album Avalon, founded the Lisa Guyer Music Empowerment Program this past summer in New Hampshire for young adults between the ages of 13 and 18 to help them find their own “it” factor through music, movement and motivation. The five-day program encouraged participants to explore their own innate creativity by giving them access to the tools necessary to nurture their inner artist.

Limelight Magazine co-owner Jay Kenney felt that Guyer was the ideal person to be the first recipient of this award.

“By definition, the unsung hero award is given to a musician from New England who has made a significant contribution in the lives of others without asking for any reward in return,” said Kenney, who co-founded Limelight Magazine in 2006. “Lisa and her team touched the lives of many young adults this past summer, enabling them to become better people through music. I wish there was a program like this when I was growing up.”

The Limelight Magazine Music Awards honors bands and musicians from New England who were selected by readers of the magazine in an online poll. This year’s event will be hosted by singer-songwriter Sarah Blacker. Performers scheduled to appear are Samuel Bowen and Blue Cat Groove, Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch, Fly Kite Canvas, Brianna Grace, The Great Escape: A Tribute to Journey, Ashley Jordan, Satellites Fall and Carlin Tripp.

The Rock Junction is located at 731 Centre of New England Blvd. in Coventry, R.I. The venue has a full bar and dinner menu. Parking is free.

Tickets for the awards show are $10 each and $12 day of show. They can be purchased online through http://www.brownpapertickets.com.

Limelight Magazine started out as a quarterly publication, but has since moved its operations online. Visit their website at www.limelightmagazine.com. You can also like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/limelightmagazine.

The complete list of nominees:

N.E. Tribute Band of the Year

Beast over Boston: Tribute to Iron Maiden

The Great Escape: Tribute to Journey

Gun Powder Gelatine:Tribute to  Queen

Holy Diver: Tribute to Ronnie James Dio

Human Clay: Tribute to Creed

Klassik Kiss: Tribute to Kiss

Lotus Land: Tribute to Rush

LoveSexy: Tribute to Prince

Live Act of the Year

Awesome Express

Jeff Byrd & Dirty Finch

Indiana Handshake

Tony Jones & The Cretin 3

Lansdowne

Lisa Markovich & Beyond Blonde

Fly Kite Canvas (previously Scarlet)

Thurskills Vision

Female Vocalist of the Year

Lauren Bateman

Keturah Burgess

Dorian Havers

Tammy Laforest Schneider

Erin Elizabeth Ollis

Jessica Prouty

Jessica Scalese

Jenny White

Male Vocalist of the Year

Corey Amaral

Joseph L. Auger

Walter Barlow

Norman Bishop

Mark Cutler

Steven Scott Haidaichuk

Spogga Hash

Jesse Liam

Album/EP of the Year By Group

Closer Than We Appear – Evaluating Expressions

Fall and Bounce – Kickknack Avalanche

The Few – Headstock

Hemlok – A Cautionary Tale

Omega Reign – Arise

Satellites Fall – Lines On The Road

A Simple Complex – Come Undone

We Own Land – The Plan

Album/EP of the Year By Solo Act

Chris Allen – The Power of Chris Compels You

Sam Chase – Every Time I’m Home

Ian James – Grand Delusions

Brian Jarvis – Beautifully Broken

Ken Macy – Outlines

Jay Psaros – Simply

Hayley Reardon – Where The Artists Go

Sarah Swain – Every Little Bird

Metal Act of the Year

Bigtalkahh

A Dying Breed

The Folly of Man

Fuel of War

Nothing Left to Give

Omega Reign

Santagata

To Die This Night

Country Artist of the Year

Krista Angelucci

Dalton and the Sheriffs

Kiley Evans

Brianna Grace

Highway Ghosts

Shanna Jackman

Ashley Jordan

Erin Ollis

Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Closer Than We Appear

Consuelo’s Revenge

Tammy Laforest Schneider

Nymphidels

popALERT

Carlin Tripp

Weld Square

Zanois

Video of the Year

Krista Angelucci – “C R E E P”

Birch Hill Dam – “Fathom’s Below”

Sarah Blacker – “Knocked the Winds”

Brad Byrd – “On My Way Down”

Ashley Jordan – “Fading Away”

J. Kelley Band-“Shake You”

Greg Lato – “Help You Out”

PopALERT – “I Don’t’ Deserve It”

Singer-Songwriter of the Year

Joseph L. Auger

Samuel Bowen

Nick Duane

Joanne Lurgio

Amanda McCarthy

Danielle Miraglia

Hayley Reardon

Carly Tefft

Song of the Year

“Only Human” by Bigtalkahh

“One More Spin Around” by Kiley Evans

“Second Time Around” by Brianna Grace

“Wicked” by Sara Leketa

“Won’t Ever Quit” by Joanne Lurgio

“I Don’t Deserve It” by popALERT

“One Night” by Satellites Fall

“Silver Wishes” by Jenn Zapata and the Dan Kirouac Band

Band of the Year

City of Squares

Dead Nobodies

For the Love of Sloane

J. Kelley Band

Lisa Markovich & Beyond Blonde

The Mighty Good Boys

Grace Morrison and the SRO

Naked Stills

Rockapella ready to perform Motown classics and more

5 Feb

Rockapella Image

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

 Rockapella, a five-piece American a cappella group that formed in 1986 in New York City, will be coming to the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, Mass., this Sunday, Feb. 10 for “Motown and More,” a show featuring songs from their upcoming album of the same name.

USA Today sang their praises for Rockapella, as they reported, “The best musical instrument of all is the human voice – if you’ve seen Rockapella you know that’s the truth.”

Scott Leonard, the group’s primary songwriter, arranger and high tenor, said he anticipates the album will be available in the next few months, and that the show, which begins at 7 p.m., pays tribute to the music of Motown with one-of-a-kind versions of hits from his all-time favorites such as The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and more.

Among Rockapella favorites, which have rock, jazz, R&B and doo-wop elements, the concert will include songs like The Temptations’ “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” to The Jackson 5’s “Stop The Love You Save” and “Dancin’ Machine.”

“Songs from my childhood are the ones that really inspire me to make an arrangement,” Leonard said. “People have a connection to the music, so we’re already half way there. The songs are so great and we give a unique, new approach to them and that usually hits home pretty well. Rockapella and Motown is a good match.”

Leonard started singing in male groups in college, and joined the group in 1991. He said Rockapella has evolved through the years, as they’ve added a lot more staging, technology and choreography to the mix.

“We’re not a dance act by any means, but it’s the most energetic Rockapella show we’ve ever done,” he said. “We don’t want the dancing to distract from the sound and the experience, but you rarely see a cappella groups going at it like this.”

None of the founding members are still in the band, but as each of them retired, said Leonard, they were able to strengthen the group, as they handpicked replacements they were looking for. Aside from Leonard, the current line-up also features bass vocalist George Baldi III, tenors John K. Brown and Steven Dorian, plus vocal percussionist Jeff Thacher.

“This line-up has never been better,” Leonard said. “Rockapella is a band, we just don’t have the keyboards and rhythm guitars. We have two guys with voices picking up the background, and then you have the bass, drums and melody.”

Of Thatcher, Leonard said he’s basically a human drum set.

“He’s got a technique where he puts a microphone to his throat to pick up a lower, more full sound that you don’t usually hear from a human,” Leonard said. “And the jingle bells he does at Christmas shows really stun the audience. They are remarkable.”

To keep their voices in “remarkable” condition, Leonard said he drinks a lot of water. Unlike other vocalists who are backed by bands, there are no musical breaks or gaps in a cappella, so their vocal chords get little rest during performances.

Keeping a healthy cardiovascular system, plus a musical education, is important, too.

“I have a voice degree, so being able to correctly produce the sound really helps me because I’m screaming so high,” said Leonard, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Tampa. “If I didn’t do it right, or at least try to do it right all these years, I’d be horse by now.”

As the primary writer, Leonard uses a piano to write and make arrangements. He grew up singing at a piano with his mother and always adds his own twists to songs.

“If it’s a cover, I need a great idea to make it new and different,” he said. “I don’t just do a Beatles’ song because people will like it because it’s The Beatles – we want to offer something to the fans that’s new and deserves to exist.”

The group made a name for themselves in America in the early 1990s shortly after creating the theme song for the PBS hit show, “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” They appeared as the show’s vocal house band and resident comedy troupe. Leonard said the experience was a lot of fun, and to this day, they sing the theme song at every show.

They also penned the well-known Folgers commercial with the famous catch line, “The best Part of waking up is Folgers in your cup,” a Taco Bell commercial, starred in the television special “Do It A Cappella,” which was hosted by accomplished filmmaker Spike Lee, starred with Whoopi Goldberg and Denzel Washington in the HBO family series “Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child,” as well as opened for acts such as Chuck Berry, Styx, Billy Joel, and their a cappella idols The Persuasions.

Additionally, they performed on Jay Leno’s first New Year’s Eve episode of “The Tonight Show “in 1992. Since then, they’ve built quite the fan base.

“We have fans that have seen over 200 shows apiece,” Leonard said.

He’ll most likely see some of those fans within the month: the group recently booked a gig to perform on a cruise from Australia to Bali. He’s also hoping to see them at The Z Feb. 10.

“There’s a rumor surprise guests might be opening for Rockapella,” he said.

To learn more about the group or to download their music, visit http://www.rockapella.com.

The Zeiterion’s box office is located at 684 Purchase Street in New Bedford, Mass. Tickets are priced at $30.50. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 pm.., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. For more information, visit www.zeiterion.org or call 508-994-2900.

Editor’s Note: Since this interview, the surprise special guest alluded to by Mr. Leonard is the G-20 Chorus, an award-winning chorus group from Fall River, Mass.

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