Reading Bluesfest: back to the roots

blues-fest-logo-white.jpgGoing back to my roots. On November 18th I’ll be performing at Grill then Chill as part of the Reading BluesFest. Grill then Chill is at 400 Woodward Street, Reading PA 19601.

I’ll be performing with Lamont Bates (bass), Roger Harris (guitar), and David Williams (drums). Also performing with me will be Angie of the Honeybees, and the fabulous Maria Damore.

Starts at 2pm on Sunday, Nov. 18th


Can’t wait to do this performance. Its’ been a long time coming!

Who’s who

The Divas

Angie Ezell began fronting cover bands at the age of 17 before diving into the rewarding experience of writing and performing music with two of the areas most memorable original bands, Frozen Poet and Big Beat Tornado.  More recently, she has been exploring the Classic sounds of the great Jazz, Blues and Soul singers in a project called the “HoneyBeez.” This experience has allowed her to work with some talented local artists including Lars Potteiger and Andy Burasz. Angie & the HoneyBeez have been featured in last year’s Blues Fest as well as the last few years Boscov’s Jazz Fest in Reading.

Maria Damore is one of the most versatile singers in Berks County. She has a fabulous voice and was one of the actors in Reading Theater Project’s 2016 Da Ponte opera about the life and times of Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist for Mozart’s best operas. She is noted for her strong, clear vocals and versatile style in covering pop, jazz, soft rock, 50s-60s-70s music, standards, Broadway, classical, and Greek folk music. She’s a featured singer in Sue Lange’s short film, Traffic Opera. Her daughter Olivia and son Jimmy are also featured.

Sue Lange is a writer, singer, and flautist. She played her unique blues-rock style of music throughout the 90s in New York City. She’s been on hiatus since the turn of the new century, but now is back with a vengeance.

The Boys in the Band

Lamont Bates (bass): After hearing stories of his father’s experiences playing as a professional drummer on the road and seeing his hero Thomas Jenkins play the bass, Lamont decided he was going to be a bass guitar. He started lessons at the age of nine and played in the school band on the Acoustic Bass. After being away from music during high school and after while serving three years in the Army, he picked the bass back up. After listening to such bass guitar heroes as Bennie Sims, Victor Bailey, John Pattitucci, and Stanley Clark perform on albums and at live shows he got inspired to start playing the Electric Bass. Since then he’s been performing in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida for 25 years. For thirteen of those years he’s been with the Uptown Band. Performances include stints at CNBC studio in Times Square, New York city, the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, and the Berks Jazz Festival.

Roger Harris (guitar) played variety roadshows full time from the early seventies  through the mid nineties as vocalist, guitarist and electric violinist, for acts including the David Grayson Show, Kaleidoscope, and Roger Harris and Diamond. Music has taken him through most of the US, parts of Canada, and Puerto Rico. He spent much of the eighties in Atlantic City and the Poconos resort areas both as a featured vocalist/instrumentalist and as a solo act. After leaving the road, he moved to Reading PA to settle with his wife Cynthia, whom he met during her stint as a professional costumer for many of the Atlantic City casino bands. Since moving here he has worked steadily both solo and with area acts like Neil Wright, Erich Cawalla’s Uptown Band, and Josh Squared, (Josh Tindall and Josh Duma), as well as Hershey-based Wave and his own trio, LunaCity Jazz. Throughout his eclectic career, Roger has played pop, blues, jazz, rock, and country, as well as broadway and big band, and has done session work on east and west coasts.

David E. Williams (drums) has been playing drums for many years. He co-started the Coatesville based G2 band and also played with The Blind Date Band. He is currently the Musical Director for Doxa ensemble of Reading Pa. His group has opened up for various artists such as Grammy award winner John Legend, the legendary Patti Labelle, and a variety of gospel recording artists. He’s played with many musicians in the Berks, Delaware, and Chester county areas. He feels being humble and listening makes him a better drummer and collaborating with other musicians.

Singularity Watch Takes a Vacation

I’m officially removing myself from the cloud for a time. I’m taking a vacation to New Orleans. I intend on gorging myself on gumbo and anything pan-blackened. When I get tired of intellectual jazz, I’ll find a hole in the wall and dig on some blues/zydeco. Maybe I’ll help out with the cleanup. One thing I won’t be doing is regarding anything rendered in a rgb color scheme.

This is just in the nick of time. I can feel a fist-sized tumor developing in the logic processing section of my brain. I don’t need an mri to find it; the heat emanating from an egg-sized section of my head just behind my right ear is raising the level of the oceans a centimeter. Not sure why five days off requires three months of work to be done during the week prior, buts that’s the way it is in my corner of Data Shuffling Central.

Because I’m not going to be around next week, I’m putting up my contribution over at Book View Café here now. It’s on a totally real-world, non-virtual subject: lawn mowing. The post is part of my Weird and Wonderful series over there.

See you in a week.

Weird and Wonderful: Mowing the Lawn

Under normal circumstances, no one in their right mind would consider mowing the lawn either weird or wonderful, but life is not made of normal circumstances. And in fact mowing the lawn is not only not wonderful, it’s a sin against nature. Nevertheless, we must stiffen our upper lip and carry on with our mandate: the defoliation of our personal spaces and the disruption of their normal evolution.

My neighbors mow with an aggressive neatness that does Martha Stewart proud. No blade is left to grow longer than a quarter of an inch above standard. Each neighbor lives on an acre of sterile Kentucky blue against which an untamed edge of forest forever threatens. They mow religiously, once a week, just before church. They grab their hymnals in one hand and their gas can in the other and righteously tame the wanton brambles and locust saplings chomping at their yards. “Keeps the ticks and the ragweed down,” they insist.

I’m sure they’re right, but I subscribe to a less formal maintenance plan. I mow about once a month. And I only do about half the 3 acres my house sits on. I plant natives, they fail or take over as they are wont. I weed the woods, removing the garlic mustard and multiflora roses as religiously as the neighbors mow their patches. I dislike telling nature how to behave. I only mow around the horse fencing. That way I can actually find the broken boards when I get around to mending, which someday I will. When I mow, I never pick up the fallen branches beforehand. I expect the blades on my mowers to cowboy the eff up and take the pain.

One of my mowers, the John Deere, just got back from Mitch’s. Mitch is the repair guy, good friend of the family. We see him a lot. The John Deere is really old and it costs us more to maintain than it did to buy it. It belches, backfires, squeals when the grass is too high to be cut in one sitting. We refuse to raise the height of the deck to give it some relief. Toughens the mower in my opinion. Mitch stands behind all his work, but he won’t give us a service contract for the Deere. “Don’t need it,” he says. “Nothing runs like a Deere,” he says, while running like a deer in the opposite direction.

The John Deere is back from Mitch’s now, belching and backfiring, cutting half the grass and leaving the rest for next time. Suits my style.

I inherited the mowing pattern of my property from the folks we bought it from. They were more like the neighbors: afraid of ticks and pollen. They mowed everything within a thousand feet of the house. Needless to say I do not follow the former tenants’ pattern.

There’s a path behind the house that goes back to the Little Northkill which lies as a boundary between us and the neighbors on the other side of the woods whom I’ve never met. The path should be mowed regularly to keep the saplings down. With my less formal maintenance plan, however, if I mow it once a year I’m lucky.

I had intended on the yearly path clearance last weekend, but once around the horse fence seemed good enough for me and I left the path for another time. Instead I decided to sit in the path rather than mow it. There’s a wild grass with a killer fragrance that grows right down the middle of it. This fragrance is incredibly strong. On warm days when I open my office windows the smell of this grass reaches all the way up to me on the second floor. I close my eyes, lean back and breath in through my nose. It warms and relaxes me.

I don’t know what the grass is or how to describe it. The best I can say is that it has a rich, nutty odor. “Nutty” is a terrible descriptor. It’s what is always used to describe something that is supposed to be gourmetish or high brow. Exceptional wine has a nutty flavor, as does exceptional grains, exceptional vegetables, exceptional spouses. The black walnuts around my house taste like grape Koolaid, so I assume the wine, the grain, the vegetables, and the husband all have that flavor.

This grass does not smell like grape Koolaid. It has a warm, savory fragrance that I’ve never smelled anywhere else and from now on will associate with warm spring days of the kind where I can open my 2nd floor office window and remember that not everyone is stuck in front of a monitor. Some people are actually out enjoying their lawns and their ticks and their multiflora roses.

Sue Lange
Sue Lange’s bookshelf at Book View Café