Bless the reign – Best-selling rock group Toto brings 40 years of hits to Kirby Center

Bless the reign – Best-selling rock group Toto brings 40 years of hits to Kirby Center

When he looks back on the 40 years together as a band, Toto founding member David Paich said he still cannot believe the group’s success.
“It’s gone by so quickly,” Paich said in a recent phone interview. “We only thought we’d do it maybe 10 years if we were lucky, but because of the loyalty and our good fortune … We’ve had great fans that keep asking us to play globally and around the world. It’s gone by in the flash of a pan.”
The multi-Grammy Award-winning rock band visits F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, June 18, at 7:30 p.m. for “An Evening with Toto.”
Toto’s two-hour performance will feature repertoire from their latest studio album, “Toto XIV,” as well as classic hits and both band and fan favorites from their vast catalog, including singles like “Africa,” “Rosanna” and “Hold the Line.”
“We know we have to play some of our hits, but we’ll also reach back and do some of our deeper cuts,” Paich said. “For those who have been fans for the 40 years, we want something that someone hasn’t heard in a while. It won’t be the same show that we did last year. We do something different when we play in the same places. It’s new and fun and exciting for us, so it should be exciting for the crowd.”
Paich, who plays keyboards and sings for the American rock group, said the first time he fully realized the breadth of Toto’s fame when their eponymous debut album went double platinum.
“When we heard the words ‘double platinum,’ we were excited, like little kids,” Paich admitted. “Like it was our first day of the music business. Here we were, experienced professionals, calling each other on the phones about the radio. It couldn’t have been a more innocent or exciting time. Looking back on it, it was just a thrill.”
Throughout the years, Toto’s band members and ensemble have rotated and changed, but the group remained strong throughout. For the Wilkes-Barre show, the core members — Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams — will be joined by Lenny Castro, Shannon Forest, Shem von Schroeck and Warren Ham.
As individuals, the band members can be heard on a whopping 5,000 albums that together amass a sales history of half a billion albums. With four decades together and more than 14 studio albums, Toto remains one of the top-selling touring and recording acts in the world.
In 2015, they released the first new studio album in ten years, “Toto XIV,” which debuted Top 10 in nine countries around the world and became their most successful album since 1988 in the United States and the United Kingdom. But even with all of the success, Paich noted some minor changes he would have made when they first started touring.
“I wish, being the nature of the ’70s and ’80s, if I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself,” Paich said. “I wish we toured the United States more in the earlier days. We found that the U.S. was so big, we were having to be an opening act, whereas in Europe or Japan we were headlining. But we’re trying to make a speedy catch-up (in the states) now.”
Over the years, the band performed in top-ranked venues, ranging from Zenith Paris, the Forum and the Staples Center to smaller, local clubs in various countries around the world — all of which are considered “magical moments” for Paich and the rest of the group.
And even though Paich admits to disliking the business side of the music industry, he thinks that the current lineup has been performing better than ever, and he aims to keep it that way.
“I’ve got a band full of guys that are eager to get out there,” Paich said. “I can sit by the ocean and look for shells, myself … I will always love making music and playing for people, but the music business wears on you after a while.
“We’re going to do this as long as we can. We’re going to be having fun as long as our fans want us. When we’re on that stage, there’s nothing more fun than playing in a band like ours for people.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

Search no more – Bryan Adams brings “Get Up” tour to arena

Search no more – Bryan Adams brings “Get Up” tour to arena

The last time Bryan Adams visited Wilkes-Barre, he performed a solo acoustic set at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.
This time, his appearance calls for a bit more of a production.
The 57-year-old musician brings his “Get Up” tour to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza on Tuesday, June 13, at 8 p.m. as a part of a cross-promotion between the arena and the Kirby Center.
The Canadian singer-songwriter promised his show would feature a mix of his chart-topping hit songs like “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” and “Summer of ‘69,” as well as newer material from his latest album, for which the tour is named.
Over the years, Adams made a name for himself as one of the top hit-making artists in rock and pop, beginning with his eponymous debut album spanning to his 13th and most recent album, “Get Up.” This 2015 release features nine new songs plus four acoustic versions of those songs.
“The album was a series of demos I’d made with my songwriting partner, Jim Vallance, and we would send the parts one by one to Jeff Lynne (of Electric Light Orchestra), who turned them into records in his studio,” Adams said. “It wasn’t meant to be a record, it just turned into one.”
In the last four decades, Adams garnered a multitude of awards and prestige, with his worldwide sales topping more than 65 million albums. He was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011 and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and toured six continents. Adams also has been nominated for and won several Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Grammy Awards for his songs.
But those milestones and awards are not what he claims to be the cherry on top.
“It’s the freedom mostly, and knowing what I’m doing now is for my kids and building a legacy for them to be proud of,” he said.
Although Adams released thirteen studio albums, five compilation albums, two soundtracks, four live albums and 69 singles, he still wishes he could tell his 21-year-old self to release as much music as possible.
“I would have released more music, straight up,” Adams admitted. “I was too precious about not releasing too much. Now I wish I had.”
In 2014 and 2015, the singer celebrated the 30th anniversary of “Reckless,” which boasted hits like “Heaven” and “Run To You,” with a special reissue of the album and an anniversary tour around Europe, Canada and the United States.
After so many years in the spotlight, Adams maintains his drive to create and write as much as ever.
“Making the music was the highlight (over the years), creating the songs,” Adams said. “Even now, as I’m creating a musical for Broadway of the film ‘Pretty Woman,’ the joy of getting the right song in the right spot is a thrill.”
When asked why he continues to tour after his rousing success over the years, rather than retire, his response was simple:
“Well for starters, I’m not dead yet, and I quite enjoy singing,” he joked. “Also because I have an international following thanks to certain songs, which means I get invited to perform all over the world.”
For those hoping to discover more about the singer, he encourages fans to follow his Instagram account, @BryanAdams, which he calls his “diary” on both his music and his life.
— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Bryan Adams “Get Up” tour
When: Tuesday, June 13, 8 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 400 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets start at $19.69 and can be purchased at the NBT Bank Box Office at Mohegan Sun Arena, Kirby Center box office, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Paradise lost and found – Members of Fallen From Eden find success in comeback

Paradise lost and found – Members of Fallen From Eden find success in comeback

Sometimes, bands find success and thrive in the music industry. Other times, success cripples creativity and causes a rift between musicians.
For the founding members of Falling From Eden, prior success caused them to stay grounded in their current goals: to play music and enjoy the ride.
About a decade ago, Jay Green, Tom Godin and Brian McDonald formed a group called Absolution, which garned a decent following and allowed the trio to travel the country in hopes of obtaining a record deal.
“The band eventually separated for a few different reasons,” Godin explained. “It was a tough time for most of us and some of us didn’t really talk for a long time. After a few years, the three of us decided to start jamming again with the goal of just having fun with it and not really pushing for a career like we did in the past. Everything felt more natural and it was fun again.”
With Godin playing guitar, Green on guitar and vocals, McDonald on bass and newcomer Jordan Cross on drums, the group continued to jam and enjoy their time playing music. From the ashes of Absolution, Falling From Eden was born.

Q: Where did your band name come from?
Tom Godin: We kicked a few ideas around but nothing really stuck. For some reason I thought the word Eden was cool, more so for literal definition not necessarily religious context. Jay came up with Falling From Eden and we all really liked it. A lot of the lyrical content can be tied back to a theme of losing something or falling from a place of beauty, so it kind of fits with everything.

Q: How did you each get involved in music?
TG: Since I was a toddler, my dad had a drum set in the house that he just messed around with … I feel like it was always a part of my life. When I was in high school, I was really shy about doing things in front of people and a couple of these kids found out I played drums and asked me to jam with them. I was so nervous, I wouldn’t even look up at anybody while I played. I was probably 13 or 14 at the time. From that moment until I was about 26, music was the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life and I learned everything I could about how to make a successful career out of it. Eventually my priorities evolved as I got older, and I took a step back and just made it more of an outlet or hobby for me, which I am now content with.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed in public together?
TG: In this band, being really nervous about my first time playing guitar on stage. The nerves started to wear off after a few songs, and I was just happy that the crowd seemed to enjoy what we were doing.

Q: Do you write your own music or do you perform covers? What is the process like for writing your music and choosing the songs you cover?
Jay Green: A mixture of both. We usually write collectively together. Myself or Tom may come into practice with a guitar riff that either of us were jamming or working on or just came up with spontaneously on the spot and then the song is built from there. Or it may be a drum beat that Jordan plays, or a bass line that Brian plays that sparks interest and a song is created. We normally choose (cover) songs from bands that we love and follow and that have influenced us as well as playing songs that not many bands would play or attempt to play based on difficulty or popularity.

Q: How have you changed as musicians over the years?
JG: I think we have all grown as musicians over the years. For myself, Tom and Brian, we have challenged ourselves each with our own instruments, and some of us, with other instruments besides our current instrument. Jordan, although still somewhat new to this project, is making great strides and continually learning and making great music on his instrument.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories as a part of this band?
JG: Our first show. The nerves, the jitters, the years of missing that feeling of being on stage and performing in front of a crowd and rocking out together and having fun. Also, making new memories together, making new friends, gaining new fans and having our music be heard — to see where our music takes us.

Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
All: The NEPA music scene is not the same as it use to be years ago … People used to go out and support original music or cover bands in NEPA, but it seems that the bars or night clubs or bigger venues have closed, or have been forced to close, causing bands to not have a place to play locally. Some popular local NEPA bands throughout the years have disbanded due to the scene not being what it once was. But, we think that the local NEPA music will make its comeback. We just don’t know when … But, there are still great places for bands to play in NEPA, that support the local NEPA music scene and bands or artists themselves.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a musician?
All: Finding time to practice. Although, we do make up for missed time or days that we can’t practice. Practice only makes yourself — and your band — tighter and better at what you do.

Q: What are your future goals for the band?
TG: Make killer music and have fun.

Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add that is important for people to know about your band?
All: We are just four guys writing, creating and playing music and doing what we love to do. As a career, as a hobby, or just for fun. We don’t know where this project will take us, but we are excited to see where.
— charlotte l. jacobson

Meet the band
Band members: Jay Green, guitar and vocals; Tom Godin, guitar and backup vocals; Brian McDonald, bass; and Jordan Cross, drums
Genre: Hard rock/metal
For fans of: Sevendust, Alter Bridge, Static X, Korn, A Skylit Drive
Online: Falling From Eden on Facebook;

Big Easy taste – The French Quarter brings flavors of New Orleans to Nanticoke

Big Easy taste – The French Quarter brings flavors of New Orleans to Nanticoke

In less than two months, Nanticoke residents welcomed their newest neighbors at the French Quarter restaurant with open arms.
Owner and chef Kelli Fritz worried that opening a restaurant far away from her Berwick home might be a disadvantage to the business, but the locals proved her wrong.
“I know my people (in Berwick) will follow me here to eat, but I don’t have many friends up here,” she said. “But through word of mouth, we’ve been busy.”
The restaurant hugs the corners of South Walnut and East Union streets, which sat vacant for four years prior. Customers who enter the establishment are immediately greeted by the scent of Cajun spices and a cozy atmosphere. A menu full of variety sits on the chalkboard wall with different options written in brightly colored chalk, and Mardi Gras-themed decor covers the restaurant in the signature green, purple and gold color scheme.
Fritz said after so many years working for other people she decided it was finally time to open her own restaurant, with her style of food.
“I lived in New Orleans until I was eight, and my uncle had a restaurant down there,” she said. “For years, people told my mom and I to open a New Orleans-styled restaurant, but we’d been busy working for other people, making them money.”
In November, an opportunity to lease the restaurant South Walnut Street presented itself to Fritz and her husband, Larry, and they couldn’t pass it up.
“It was a long time coming,” Fritz said.
But she couldn’t do it alone. With help from her family and friends, they opened the restaurant after five months of revamping the interior and decorating it to their liking.
Now, the restaurant specializes in various New Orleans- and Cajun-styled cuisine, from the famous Po’Boys — both hot and cold — to Crawfish Etouffee and Jambalaya. But most notably, the French Quarter serves Alligator Bites as an appetizer, to really bring something new to the area.
“We allow people to have samples of gator before ordering,” Fritz said. “And 90 percent of people like it.”
“It’s like a fishy chicken with a steak texture,” her husband added.
Although they are still a budding restaurant, the food spoke for itself when it came to Facebook reviews, which have been mostly five-stars. Fritz said she fears the day they receive a bad review, but said, “you can’t please everyone.”
Even with the more unique dishes, the couple said locals keep returning to the restaurant to try new things. Within the few months they’ve been open, they said many people are repeat customers, from the 911 call center employees that order lunch to the neighbors across the street that eat dinner at the restaurant several times a week.
“The best part is meeting all of the new people, from the people across the street to any new customer that walks in daily,” Fritz said.
— charlotte l. jacobson

The French Quarter
Address: 701 S. Walnut St., Nanticoke
Phone: 570-258-2795
Owners: Kelli and Larry Fritz
Cuisine: New Orleans-styled sandwiches and dinner entrees
Hours: Mondays, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 11 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 8 p.m.
Online: Visit the French Quarter on Facebook.

Folk artist releases album,  plans on more music to come

Folk artist releases album, plans on more music to come

Pianist and songwriter Chuck Paul found himself hooked on music from the moment he saw the Beatles on television in the 1960s.
“Sunday evening, 8 p.m. on Feb. 9, 1964, I saw the Beatles on ‘Ed Sullivan,’” Paul said. “The fate of the skinny little kid with the crewcut was sealed forever.”
Now the musician finds himself pumping out music, ranging from folk to Christian rock.
The Pittston resident recently spoke about his method of song writing, the release of his fourth album “LONEWOLF” and his future goals in music.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed in public?
A: How good it felt. The feeling overpowered the performance, and thank God, because it sounded like a train wreck. We didn’t know what we were doing, but it was OK, because the audience didn’t know what they were hearing.

Q: What is the process like for writing your music?
A: I don’t consider myself a “songwriter.” A song receiver is more accurate. Almost every song I’ve written just comes to me. I rarely sit and tinker around with lyrics or chords. I’ll be doing something unrelated and I’ll get a rush of melody and/or lyrics, then I’ll sit and run with it. How can I take credit for composing something that’s given to me? I don’t believe in writer’s block, either. I believe you have to stay open to receive the work. If you do, it’ll come. Not in your timing, but when it’s ready. That’s why I speak highly of my mate
rial. It’s not ego, because I don’t feel it came from me. It came from the outside, it’s a gift that was given to me. My name is on it for identification purposes only. I can write songs that I battle for, but they’re never as good as when I open my mouth like a baby bird and receive it.

Q: How have you changed as a musician over the years?
A: Well, if you’re serious about your music, as I am, one naturally gets better as the years go by. Not just in your abilities as a musician, but in your outlook.

Q: Are you working on new material?
A: Yes. I have enough music to release a full-length album every quarter for the year. Some are in the can, but as I’ve stated, it’s up to the fates. If the songs keep flowing as they have been, I’ll meet that goal.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories as a musician?
A: It was probably the solo performance I gave on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in front of a packed house, sitting at their beautiful grand piano performing an original Christian song. Afterwards, I had to tell the stage manager that my little cheat sheet fell in the piano and I couldn’t get it out. Most embarrassing!
Q: How has the music scene changed over the years?
A: One thing is consistent— there has always been, and still is, a giant pool of great talent. But when you talk about a scene, it conjures up a sense of unity. This has never happened here. There has always been cliques, not unity. No widespread acceptance and respect. This area could very easily be another Liverpool, Seattle, Athens, etc., but it never will, for the simple reason that we have great talent, but we’ve always lacked a unifying heart.

Q: Who has influenced you over the years?
A: It’s always been the Beatles first, but I’ve got a great love for the singer/songwriters. Jim Croce is my favorite, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, John Prine. I also love big band music. I’m very impressed with their melodies and orchestral arrangements.

Q: What are your future goals for your music?
A: To keep moving, to always shoot for the next level. There’s an element of mystery in music. Some call it magic. You never know what’s ahead. This profession doesn’t tolerate stagnation. If you keep moving and don’t shoot yourself in the foot, great things happen.

— charlotte l. jacobson

Many Happy Returns – Folk singer Tom Rush revisits NEPA to headline Fine Arts Fiesta in Wilkes-Barre

Many Happy Returns – Folk singer Tom Rush revisits NEPA to headline Fine Arts Fiesta in Wilkes-Barre

The last time folk and blues singer Tom Rush visited Wilkes-Barre, snow covered the downtown region.
“What I remember is that it was winter, there had just been a huge snowstorm that hadn’t been cleared yet and there was no parking for miles,” he recalled in a recent interview. “The show went up quite late, and about half the folks who bought tickets couldn’t get there. But those that did seemed to have a really good time.”
This time, Rush returns as the headlining musical act for the 62nd annual Fine Arts Fiesta on Saturday, May 20, at 7 p.m. on Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre, and there’s no sign of snow stopping fans from enjoying the show.
“I’m very blessed to have been able to make a good living doing something I love to do — and would probably do for free, but don’t let that get around,” Rush joked. “I love performing, I love writing songs and discovering little-known songs that others have written. I love recording. The hard part, and getting harder, is the travel, but it’s worth it.”
The 76-year-old musician began performing in the early 1960s while studying English literature at Harvard University, and released two albums while a student. After graduating, Rush’s impact on the American folk music revival exploded, melding his knack for finding wonderful songs to perform along with writing his own.
Many of his folk hits have been reworked into country, heavy metal and rap: a testimony to the widespread appeal of his music and its themes.
“You have to be inventive these days to connect with your audience — there is so much noise out there, so many people yammering for your attention that it’s hard to get anyone to focus,” Rush said.
In order to combat the noise, Rush recently recorded a new album in Nashville, which he said is slated to be released by the fall. To subsidize the project, he set up a crowdfunding platform through PledgeMusic, where people may choose from rewards like the album, old and out-of-print recordings, a Naked Lady guitar like the one Rush plays and even a private concert. Fans interested in participating can find it one his website,
Although Rush said he experienced too many memories over the years to pinpoint one as a highlight, he agreed that his performance at the Fine Arts Fiesta would be one for the books.
“I’ll be trying out some new songs and doing some of my old favorites, sprinkled with a liberal helping of stories that are all absolutely true, to one extent or another,” he said.
— charlotte l. jacobson

Fine Arts Fiesta Main Stage Performance Schedule
Thursday, May 18
10 a.m. — Wyoming Valley West High School Chorus
11 a.m. — Wyoming Valley West High School Orchestra
noon — Fine Arts Fiesta opening ceremonies
12:30 p.m. — Wyoming Valley West Middle School Jazz Band
1:30 p.m. — Coughlin High School Jazz and Concert Band
2:30 p.m. — Wilkes-Barre Orchestra
3 p.m. — Holy Redeemer Royal Singers
4 p.m. — Wyoming Valley West High School Jazz Band
5 p.m. — Scott Edmunds Jazz Quintet
6:30 p.m. — Fine Arts Fiesta awards ceremony
7:15 p.m. — Perfect Harmony Center for the Arts

Friday, May 19
10 a.m. — Wyoming Valley Middle School Orchestra
11 a.m. — Wyoming Valley West Middle School Chorus
noon — Dallas Middle School Select Chorus
1 p.m. — The Treble Makers
2 p.m. — Anthony Natiello
4 p.m. — Wilkes-Barre Academy Glee Club
5:15 p.m. — Nitya Rhythm Dance Academy
6:30 p.m. — Flaxy Morgan

Saturday, May 20
11 a.m. — Joan Harris Dance Center
noon — YOUniversal Suzuki Strings
1 p.m. — The Mozart Club
2 p.m. — Dance Theater of Wilkes-Barre
3 p.m. — Rising Stars Performing Arts
4 p.m. — Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre
5 p.m. — Conservatory of Dance
7 p.m. — Tom Rush

Sunday, May 21
11 a.m. — The Poetry Society
noon — NEPA Academy of Dancing
1:30 p.m. — Tri-Cities Opera (in memory of Jane Groh)
3:15 p.m. — Keystone Kids
4:15 p.m. — The I-tations — A Tribute to George Wesley

Comic Relief – Local shops celebrate Free Comic Book Day with special releases, events

Comic Relief – Local shops celebrate Free Comic Book Day with special releases, events

Holy comics, Batman — it’s that time of year again.
Free Comic Book Day soars into local stores on Saturday, May 6, where comic book fans can choose from nearly 50 different books.
The annual event began in 2002 as a way to promote comics and thank buyers as well as introduce the books to new fans. Publishers produce dozens of special editions and reprints, and offer the books to retailers at cost. Shops release these books to the public during the event, which usually conincides with the big comic book-based film of the summer.
This year, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” hits the silver screen just two days before Free Comic Book Day, and an all-new “Guardians of the Galaxy” comic hits stands on Saturday, May 6.
Rubber Mallet Comics, 802 Wyoming Ave., West Pittston, joined in on the free comic fun in 2012, about a month after the store opened, according to owner Chuck Rowles. This year marks the sixth Free Comic Book Day in which the store has participated, and the fifth anniversary of the store opening.
“Honestly, it’s become a celebratory atmosphere,” Rowles said. “A lot of my customers wait until Comic Book Day to come out. All of the people who help out in the store come and we’ll all hang out. It’s become a really fun day for us.”
In addition to having characters in costume — Deadpool and Thor included — Peter and Jean Brubaker from the Suzuki School for Strings will perform comic book-themed cello music throughout the event, which begins at 10 a.m.
Rowles allows each person to choose three of the free books as soon as they enter the store, and an additional three with any purchase. Graphic novels, back issues, action figures and statues also are marked down during the event.
For David Romeo and the staff at Comics on the Green, 307 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, this event remains a positive one for them. After 25 years in business, and 15 years participating in the event, they know how to make sure it runs smoothly.
“There are almost 50 books to choose from,” Romeo said, who recieved a shipment of about 700 pounds of free comics for the event. “For the past decade we’ve allowed people to take three or four books, which gives everybody a chance and a good selection to choose from, while still making sure that there are things for people who come in a bit later.” Comics on the Green opens its doors at 11 a.m., with free comic books, discounted products, free face painting for children and DC Comics artist Tom Derenick on site to sign books and sketch a limited number of commissioned pieces.
According to Romeo, some comics to look out for include a “Doctor Who” comic that features four doctors, “Legend of Zelda,” “Rick and Morty” and ”Wonder Woman.”
“DC has the ‘Wonder Woman’ movie coming out this year, so they are really pushing the ‘Wonder Woman’ products,” he said. “They have a lot of stuff coming out for young readers. Kids come in and get a free comic and love it. That’s what it’s meant to do — get them excited about reading.”
Like the summer blockbuster movies they inspire, comic books continue to gain popularity year after year, Romeo added.
“I think some of the best comic books that have ever been written are being done now,” Rowles said. “People just now getting into comics are amazed at the variety. It’s not just superheroes, but it’s history, science. Anything that you’d be interested in reading a comic about, there’s most certainly a comic about it.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

Free Comic Book Day
Rubber Mallet Comics
802 Wyoming Ave., West Pittston
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Special event: Peter and Jean Brubaker perform comic book-themed cello music
Contact: 570-655-5522 or

Comics on the Green
307 N. Washington Ave., Scranton
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Special events: DC Comics artist Tom Derenick signing and sketches; free face painting for children
Contact: 570-342-5960 or

“Pet Sounds”: One More Time

“Pet Sounds”: One More Time

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson brings final ‘Pet Sounds’ tour to Kirby Center

Fifty years after the release of “Pet Sounds,” the album’s composer and primary vocalist treats fans to a tour full of good vibrations before muting the record.
Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson kicked off an international tour of the 1966 album at the beginning of last year, only to extend the tour for an additional 37 shows this year.
And Wilkes-Barre made the cut.
Wilson brings his “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances” tour to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday, May 2, at 8 p.m. as a part of the venue’s PNC Celebrity Series.
“We do it on stage exactly like the record,” Wilson said in a recent phone interview. “We duplicate it.”
For longtime Beach Boys fans, this concert will be one for the ages, as Wilson said this is the last tour he will perform “Pet Sounds” in full. Joining him on the tour are former Beach Boys members Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin.
Although the tour marks the 50th anniversary of the album, Wilson said it feels like just yesterday when it was released.
“I think the harmonies and the melodies are what people like most,” he said.
According to the California native, the trio performs “Pet Sounds” in full during each show, while also highlighting a number of other Beach Boys favorites, including favorites such as “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “God Only Knows” and “Caroline, No.”
Due to his unique approach to song composition, Wilson is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential figures in popular music. He co-wrote, arranged, produced and performed more than two dozen Top 40 hits with the Beach Boys. “Pet Sounds” was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, along with the singles “I Get Around” in 2017, “California Girls” in 2011, “In My Room” in 1999 and “Good Vibrations” in 1994.
“The day we recorded ‘Good Vibrations’ was the highlight of my life,” Wilson said. “The guys said, ‘Hey Brian, this is going to be a No. 1 record.’”
Wilson’s life was recently documented in the critically-acclaimed 2014 film, “Love & Mercy,” starring Paul Dano and John Cusack. The 74-year-old also released his second book in October, “I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir.”
He said he still pulls inspiration from people and music around him, including his wife, Paul McCartney and the late Chuck Berry. Even though this tour marks the final one for “Pet Sounds,” Wilson said he is nowhere near ready to retire from performing.
“Well I have to do something to look good,” he joked. “I might record a record later on this year. I haven’t written for a few years, but I’m going to be getting back into it soon.”

— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Pet Sounds: The Final Performances featuring Brian Wilson
When: Tuesday, May 2;
doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $59.50 to $125, available through the box office, 570-826-1100 or For more information,


Behind the Grey returns with new lineup

Behind the Grey returns with new lineup

Behind the Grey is coming back strong Friday at the Other Side, Wilkes-Barre, with a new lineup and fresh music down the pipe. The metal band consists of, from left: Grant Williams, bass; Mike Boniewicz, drums; Dom Vito, vocals; Will Perna, guitar; and Daniel McDonald, guitar.

Nothing can stop Behind the Grey from doing what it loves — making music and performing for its fans.
And after a year of ups and downs for the band, both personally and professionally, the group is coming back strong with a new lineup and fresh music down the pipe.
The lineup consists of original members Will Perna on guitar, Mike Boniewicz on drums and Daniel McDonald on guitar plus new vocalist Dom Vito and new bassist Grant Williams. The group also recently signed with the Inner Light Agency and manager Damon Moreno to help with its development and to rebrand the band after the recent changes. According to Perna, the management agency will help with the release of Behind the Grey’s next album by helping it get its music out to labels, booking agencies and other media.
Behind the Grey went On the Record to discuss the new lineup, upcoming music and more.

How did you each find your way to music?
Will Perna: I got into music later in my teens. I didn’t start playing guitar till I was 16 or 17 years old. A friend of mine introduced me to a band called Deftones, and I was hooked. Once I saw them, I said, “I want to do that for the rest of my life.”
Grant Williams: Dad was a guitar player, but I was never interested. When he died, I picked up music almost as a way to repay some kind of debt I owed him. Trying instruments led me to bass, and I knew it was where I belonged almost instantly. 
Dom Vito: My great-grandfather was a vocalist and a guitar player. He inspired me at a young age and was my motivation to initially become a musician.
Daniel McDonald: Seeing a cover band in the ’90s got me into wanting to play, and around that time my oldest brother started playing in a band. I was bit by the music bug. 
Mike Boniewicz: I was a drum tech/roadie for a cover band when I was 13. It pushed me to want to play.

How are you feeling about your first performance together as a full band?
WP: We’ve all played together for years, but this will be the first time we’ve been in a collective project together. We’re very excited to get out and play for everyone. We’re going to come out swinging!
DV: (Friday) will be our first time performing alongside of Grant on stage. It’s a very exciting feeling to have such a great and reputable musician in this group. Also very excited to showcase some of the new music we’ve been working on.

Is your next album going to be very similar musically to “Through the Grip of Tyrants,” or are you taking it in a new direction?
WP: The new material still has “our sound,” but it has grown. Personally, I really wanted to push the envelop with the new material. I wanted the heavy to be heavier and the big choruses to be bigger. We don’t have a title or release date yet. We’re very much in the beginning stages, so we’re just not there yet.
DV: The writing process has been going very smoothly with the new lineup. Our music isn’t changing; however, we have been experimenting with a slightly different feel for the new material as well as trying to progress and mature as musicians in the process. We’re trying to simply present a new flavor to our music while keeping our original sound as the foundation.

How have you changed as a musician over the years? 
WP: I’d like to think I’ve grown as a songwriter. Being able to “cut the fate” out of a song and make it as strong as it can be. I’ve been trying my best to look at our music and songs as a whole rather then just sections and take the listener into account more. 
GW: I’ve exposed myself to more genres of music. You’ve gotta get out of your comfort zone to do any kind of growing. Music is certainly no exception.
DV: I’ve progressed as a musician more then I ever have over the past few years. On my down time, I’ve been recording my own solo album while also writing/recording various songs and experimenting with different genres of music for the sake of becoming a better writer and a solid player of the instruments I do play. Music is my life. It’s all I ever do with myself.
DM: I started as a blues-style guitarist to a more hard rock/metal guy. Then I stopped for five years. When I started back up, I was trying to learn all the stuff I never learned. I am now where I want to be.
MB: I’m definitely open to more styles of music and trying anything to learn more about any of these to help grow.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a musician? 
WP: Money and time will always be against you as a musician, no matter where you’re from. It feels like you have your whole life to write your first album, then the pressure comes and feels like you have just a small window of time to write the follow-up and make it better then the first. Plus, recording and releasing albums is expensive.
DM: Meeting people that understand what that means and what it takes to be (a musician). … It usually means working a full-time job and practicing three time a week, plus shows. Everything else is family. I’m not a slacker like others like to think.
MB: Money, places to play and finding people worth playing with.
DV: Confidence was always my biggest issue. I went through stages of doubting myself, whether or not I was cut out for doing this. However, the more I beat myself up, the harder I worked.

What are your future goals for your music? Do you have anything else you’d like to add that is important for people to know about the band?
WP: We have plans to release new music in the near future, just to give a taste of what the new album will hold.
DV: I can only hope to someday make a living off of doing what I love to do most, which is indeed music. I want to tour and write/record as much as possible, and I’m hoping to do so alongside my brothers in this band.
DM: I  just want to be able to keep playing until I die. If I can make a living, that is a plus. My band is the greatest group of friends; we always have each other’s backs. 
MB: Make and release new music, get on the road and see where it goes from there.

— charlotte l. jacobson


Meet the band
Founded: 2013
Genre: Hard rock/Metal
Based out of: Scranton
Members: Dom Vito, vocals; Mike Boniewicz, drums; Daniel McDonald, guitar; Will Perna, guitar; and Grant Williams, bass
For fans of: Deftones, Sevendust and Killswitch Engage
Online:, Behind the Grey on Facebook
Up next: Friday, 7 p.m., the Other Side, Wilkes-Barre
April 22, 1 to 5 p.m., Misericordia Spring Jam,
Wells Fargo Amphitheater, Dallas; May 6, 9 p.m., The V-Spot, Scranton

Meet filmmakers, see variety at Dietrich Movie Festival

Meet filmmakers, see variety at Dietrich Movie Festival

Travel through Kolkata via Google Earth to figure out a young boy’s past, take a deeper look into a black family torn apart by generational divides and racial inequality in 1950s Pittsburgh, or learn more about the stray cats of Istanbul at this year’s Dietrich Theater Spring Film Festival.
The annual event kicks off Friday at the Tunkhannock theater and runs through April 27, screening 23 films ranging from Oscar nominees to foreign films to documentaries. Tickets are $8.50.
“The biggest challenge, personally, is picking the films,” said Ronnie Harvey, the theater’s assistant general manager. “It’s hard to get it down to those core films, while getting advice from patrons coming to the films and other people that work with me.”
Harvey noticed the festivals’ appeal to not only regulars who enjoy the films chosen each time but also new people looking for something different from the superhero flicks and children’s movies often on the marquee.

“Before the Flood”

“I think they like that they can see all of these really well put-together films in a package,” Harvey said. “They turn it into a kind of game for them, to see how many (films) they can see in the festival. They do really like to be able to see quality films that other places in the area aren’t showing or, if they do, it’s only for a very short period of time.”
An opening night gala kicks off the festival with screenings of “Lion” and “20th Century Women”; a buffet of hors d’oeuvres from Twigs Cafe, Epicurean Delight, the Fireplace Restaurant and Ma Greenley’s BBQ; wine and beer provided by Nimble Hill; and dessert by Epicurean Delight. Gala tickets are $40 and must be reserved in advance.
Among the films chosen for this edition of the festival, three — “Land of Mine,” “The Salesman” and “Toni Erdmann” — were nominated for best foreign language film at the Academy Awards. Also slated are two films with local ties: “All in Time,” directed by Wilkes-Barre native Chris Fetchko, who will host a question-and-answer session after each screening, and “Completely Normal,” co-written by Scranton native Heather Davis, who will answer questions at the April 20 showing.
In honor of Earth Day, a question-and-answer session with Dr. Susan Kenehan follows the April 22 screening of “Before the Flood,” which examines climate change around the world and features Leonardo DiCaprio.
Other films set to screen include “Elle,” “Fences,” “The Founder,” “I, Claude Monet,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” “Jackie,” “Julieta,” “Kedi: The Cats of Istanbul,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Neruda,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Paterson,” “Things To Come,” “A United Kingdom” and “Year by the Sea.”
A post-festival film discussion takes place Friday, April 28, at 1 p.m., and gives people a chance to discuss the films with other enthusiasts. Harvey will facilitate the discussion.
“My favorite part is seeing the people who really enjoy what they are seeing and talking about it,” he said. “I love seeing people after a showing, seeing strangers who have become friends and having discussions. It just shows that movies are the great American art form. You can change a mind, you can impact someone’s life in the positive, just from a movie.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Spring Film Festival Opening Night Gala
Where: Dietrich Theater,
60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock
When: Friday, doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Details: Tickets are $40, and reservations are required. Call 570-996-1500. For more information, visit


Noon: “Land of Mine”
2:15 p.m: “Completely Normal”
4:15 p.m: “Jackie”
7 p.m.: “Fences”
9:45 p.m.: “Elle”

Noon: “Before the Flood”
2 p.m.: “Lion”
4:30 p.m.: “20th Century Women”
7 p.m.: “Paterson”

Noon: “Kedi: The Cats of Istanbul”
Noon: “The Salesman”
2 p.m.: “Neruda”
2:30 p.m.: “Julieta”
4:30 p.m.: “Things To Come”
7 p.m.: “All in Time”

Noon: “The Founder”
Noon: “Manchester by the Sea”
2:30 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
2:45 p.m.: “Elle”
5 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”
7:30 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”

Noon: “I, Claude Monet”
2 p.m.: “Paterson”
4:30 p.m.: “Fences”
7:15 p.m.: “Land of Mine”

Thursday, April 13
Noon: “I Am Not Your Negro”
Noon: “Lion”
2 p.m.: “Jackie”
2:30 p.m.: “Toni Erdmann”
4:30 p.m.: “Kedi: The Cats
of Istanbul”
7 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”

Friday, April 14
Noon: “Fences”
Noon: “Neruda”
2:15 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
2:45 p.m.: “Before the Flood”
4:45 p.m.: “Paterson”
7:15 p.m.: “The Salesman”
9:30 p.m.: “Nocturnal Animals”

Saturday, April 15
Noon: “20th Century Women”
2:30 p.m.: “Julieta”
4:45: “Lion”
7:15 p.m.: “All in Time”
9:30 p.m.: “The Founder”

Sunday, April 16
Noon: “Manchester by the Sea”
2:45 p.m.: “The Salesman”
5:15 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”
7:15 p.m.: “Toni Erdmann”

Monday, April 17
Noon: “Land of Mine”
Noon: “Things To Come”
2:15 p.m.: “Elle”
2:30 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”
5 p.m.: “Julieta”
7:15 p.m.: “20th Century Women”

Tuesday, April 18
Noon: “Before the Flood”
Noon: “Neruda”
2:15 p.m.: “The Founder”
2:30 p.m.: “Kedi: The Cats
of Istanbul”
4:30 p.m.: “I, Claude Monet”
7 p.m.: “Lion”

Wednesday, April 19
Noon: “Land of Mine”
2:15 p.m.: “Nocturnal Animals”
5 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”
7 p.m.: “Jackie”

Thursday, April 20
Noon: “Elle”
Noon: “Fences”
2:45 p.m.: “The Salesman”
2:45 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
5 p.m.: “Julieta”
7:15 p.m.: “Completely Normal”

Friday, April 21
Noon: “20th Century Women”
Noon: “The Founder”
2:30 p.m.: “Jackie”
2:30 p.m.: “Lion”
4:45 p.m.: “Neruda”
7 p.m.: “Manchester by the Sea”
9:45 p.m.: “Paterson”

Saturday, April 22
Noon: “Before the Flood”
2:15 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”
4:30 p.m.: “Land of Mine”
7 p.m.: “Elle”
9:45 p.m.: “Nocturnal Animals”

Sunday, April 23
Noon: “Jackie”
2:15 p.m.: “Fences”
5 p.m.: “All in Time”
7 p.m.: “Lion”

Monday, April 24
Noon: “Neruda”
Noon: “Toni Erdmann”
2:15 p.m.: “Manchester by the Sea”
3:30 p.m.: “Jackie”
5 p.m.: “Completely Normal”
7 p.m.: “Things To Come”

Tuesday, April 25
Noon: “I Am Not Your Negro”
Noon: “A United Kingdom”
2:15 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
2:30 p.m.: “Paterson”
5 p.m.: “I, Claude Monet”
7 p.m.: “The Salesman”

Wednesday, April 26
Noon: “Julieta”
2:15 p.m.: “Things To Come”
4:30 p.m.: “Kedi: The Cats
of Istanbul”
7 p.m.: “20th Century Women”

Thursday, April 27
Noon: “The Founder”
Noon: “Jackie”
2:15 p.m.: “Fences”
2:30 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”
4:30 p.m.: “Toni Erdmann”
7:30 p.m.: “Lion”

Friday, April 28
1 p.m.: Post-festival discussion

‘Greatest Show’ says goodbye

‘Greatest Show’ says goodbye

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus brings farewell tour to arena

Ivan Vargas didn’t run away with the circus — he grew up in it.
The sixth-generation circus performer said that out of his 26 years of life, he spent less than three years outside Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.
But at the end of May, Vargas’ streak ends when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey disassembles the Big Top permanently. Locals will have a chance to say goodbye when Ringling’s world-renowned Circus XTREME tumbles into Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza from April 6 to 9 for its final round of performances.
Part of the circus’ Clown Alley, Vargas never thought Ringling Bros. would close entirely but rather that it would adapt and evolve into a different type of circus. But even he noticed the decline in attendance in recent years, far from the days when the circus would to turn away people from sold-out shows.
“It’s been my home,” Vargas said. “I want people to come experience this, even if it’s for a few hours. Coming to the circus is magical. It’s been around for 146 years, and I’m so happy to be a part of that; I want to share that with everyone. There are only a couple months left, and I want everyone to see this great institution before there’s no more. It’s like inviting people into my home one last time.”
Growing up in the circus didn’t seem strange for Vargas, but he knew it was something special.
“I’d go to school and walk past 12 elephants, and then get out of school and go practice,” Vargas said. “We’d play (to see) who can do the highest back flip or jump off the highest apparatus. My monkey bars were the trapeze.”
Vargas carries on family tradition as the sixth generation of circus performers on his father’s side and fifth generation on his mother’s. His family formerly performed with the Flying Vargas trapeze troupe, which toured with Ringling Bros. When the troupe disbanded, Vargas’ parents stayed with the massive show — his father working with the animals and his mother helping with costumes.
“Obviously I wanted to follow in my family’s footsteps because it’s such a fun lifestyle,” Vargas said. “It’s so different than what I would consider somebody else’s norm. … My passion was always to perform, ever since I was 3, 4 years old, dancing to Michael Jackson music videos for my family. I always wanted to entertain. I love to entertain.”
Families attending the last performances of “The Greatest Show on Earth” can expect to see acrobats fly high in the air, sit at the edge of their seats to view the exotic animals and laugh along with Vargas and the rest of Clown Alley.
Although the circus maintains the same structure for each performance, being a clown allows flexibility depending on audience interaction. Vargas explained that the clowns are both audience members and performers because of the way they react to the other circus performers.
“It is the last chance to see Ringling Bros., and it’s still a great show,” he said. “Even though it has changed from when parents or grandparents came to the show, we still have a ringmaster, animals and acrobats. There isn’t anything like Ringling. It’s such a unique experience that you don’t want to miss out on it.”
Between living on the circus train and traveling across the country to meeting new people each time performers join the show, the change in lifestyle coming later this spring likely will be a hard adjustment for Vargas at first. But no matter what, the performer said, he wants to continue to entertain people in some way after Ringling closes.
“I’ll definitely miss being a part of Clown Alley — even if somewhere else I’m a clown,” he said. “Waking up early in the morning and then going to the arena or the venue to put on your makeup — there’s 12 friends there. We’re all from different backgrounds, have different life lessons, but we’re all there because we all love being clowns. I’ll miss hanging out with those silly people. We’ll make each other laugh, and we’ll get into character as we’re putting on our costumes. We start our circus day way before the first audience member enters the arena.”
— charlotte l. jacobson


If you go
What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
present Circus XTREME
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.; Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, 1 and 5 p.m.
Details: Tickets start at $15 and are available at the arena box office, and
800-745-3000. For more information, visit or

Alexis Sings the Blues

Alexis Sings the Blues

Kirby Center hosts performer to celebrate release of live album

Alexis P. Suter said she got her start in music in the womb.
“My mother was, and still is, a singer,” she said. “She sang all over the world. My mother sang; she taught me to sing. All of us just started from very young with recitals at church, and we blossomed from that.”
The blues singer brings her bass/baritone vocals to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Friday at 8 p.m. to celebrate the release of the “Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound — Live from the Briggs Farm Blues Festival” album.
Citing musical influences ranging from Barry White to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Suter said she listened to everything she could when she was younger, including the music forbidden in her strict, religious childhood home.
“Music back then was very different than what it is today,” she said. “It was more based on love and care, and it was very easy to grasp, to let it hold onto you. Those were the types of songs that motivated me.”

The live album
Not only does Suter return to the Briggs Farm festival in Nescopeck year after year to perform but it also is among her top five favorite festivals, partly because the Briggs family always has treated her like family.
“There are so many things to love about that place,” she said. “If I was just a regular camper coming to see that festival, I would probably feel the same way. It’s so electrifying and nuturing. … The land itself is so beautiful. I would advise anyone to put it on their bucket list.”
And although Suter recorded live albums before, she said she had a different feeling when recording at the Briggs Farm Blues Festival.
“The audience participated in making what it is, the whole atmosphere of it,” Suter said. “The love that is shown when you’re there, you cannot fail. The energy in the CD reflects everything about that farm. Everything about that energy and the people that go there. It was just a beautiful experience.”
For the Kirby Center concert, the gospel and blues singer said she certainly will attempt to recreate the vibe of the Sunday morning gospel set at the festival, and maybe add in a couple bonus songs.
“People that come to see me know that my message is love, unity, understanding, confidence,” Suter said. “We have to love each other. We have to build with each other. There is so much going on in the world right now. This message is more important than anything ever. I’m not going to stray away from it.”
— charlotte l. jacobson


If you go
What: Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound
When: Friday, 8 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts,
71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show, avialable at the box office, 570-826-1100 and

Sex and the Stage

Sex and the Stage

Actress Kerry Ipema shares laughs during one-women parody

“Sex and the City” fans rejoice — a one-woman parody is coming to town.
Comedian and actress Kerry Ipema brings her show, “One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendship and Shoes,” to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts tonight at 8 as a part of the Live from the Chandelier Lobby series.
Under the creative direction of T.J. Dawe — known for his productions of “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” “One Man Lord of the Rings” and “PostSecret: The Show” — Ipema takes audiences through a one-woman version of all six season of the smash HBO television show.

Kerry Ipema rehearses her performance of One Woman Sex in the City, her debut show at this year’s Fringe Festival. July 12, 2016 (GREG GALLINGER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

“I play about 24 characters in the show,” she said. “It sounds exhausting, but it’s quite fun. I play all of the women, their boyfriends and the secondary characters.”
The production, which Dawe and Ipema co-wrote, pulls from each of the series’ 94 episodes and crams the important bits into an hour-and-a-half live display.
Ipema not only jokes her way through the show but also fuels part of it with audience participation. Audience members can write down their “deal breakers” and crazy date stories to give to the comedian, who then reads them live.
“We create this brunch-like atmosphere,” Ipema said. “There is this intimacy of sharing these stories and deal breakers.”
Although Ipema shares the first name of the main character Sarah Jessica Parker portrayed in the TV series with a slightly different spelling, her favorite of the show’s four leading ladies to play is Samantha.
“She is all sorts of fabulous and candor,” Ipema said. “She always has these really incredible one-liners. Every line she gets a big laugh and applause. It’s full of shock value. … She’s pretty sexually progressive, and that comes across. And she uses a lot of puns in the show. … It wouldn’t be a ‘Sex and the City’ parody without a lot of good puns.”
One woman approached her after the show one night to thank her, claiming to feel more empowered after watching the display of strong women. Allowing audiences to revisit the four girls became an outlet for women to laugh along with their favorite characters once more, while also strengthening their friendships, Ipema said.
“One reason I love the show, which is coming clear through touring, is how important ‘Sex and the City’ is to female friendships,” she added. “You see their personal relationships on that show, and it brings to light the importance of female friendships. The show was a huge beacon for women. People saw themselves in those four women — Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.”

— charlotte l. jacobson


If you go
What: “One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendship and Shoes”
When: March 23, 8 p.m.; doors at 6:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: $27.50 in advance; $30 day of show
Contact: 570-826-1100

This is Country Music

This is Country Music

Brad Paisley takes tour to Mohegan Sun Arena with Lindsey Ell, Chase Bryant

Canadian-born musician Lindsay Ell always admired Brad Paisley’s guitar skills. She event worked through the guitar solo of “Old Alabama” on repeat until she could play it perfectly.
“If you told me I would be standing on stage trading licks with Brad Paisley, even a few years ago, I wouldn’t believe it,” Ell said.
The Grammy Award-winning country superstar strums his way into the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza tonight with support acts Ell and Chase Bryant for a show chock-full of country music and spectacular guitar performances.
“People can definitely expect surprises throughout the show,” Ell, 27, said. “It’s a really cool concept. … We were talking backstage, and (Paisley) mentioned that it would be so cool to have a tour of just guitar players. I mean, who else has done that before? It’s a really special lineup. People can definitely expect to be well-entertained for the show.”
Paisley, 44, captured the nation’s attention after releasing his first album and receiving the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist of the Year award in 1999. Since then, the singer-songwriter added three Grammy awards, two American Music Awards, 13 Academy of Country Music Awards and 14 Country Music Association Awards to his shelf.
For Ell and Bryant, the chance to tour with Paisley immediately shot to the top of their favorite memories as musicians.
“We’re all nutcases on stage,” Bryant said. “If you’re not, it’s not fun. Most of my stuff is all high-energy on stage. We give people what they came to see.”
Like many musicians, Orange Grove, Texas, native Bryant, 23, grew up in a musical family. His grandfather played piano in Roy Orbison’s first two bands and later for Waylon Jennings, while his uncles co-founded the country group Ricochet.
“As a songwriter, going out every night, hearing the fans sing back to you and getting to play some of your favorite songs, including stuff you haven’t written, it’s always a fun thing to do,” Bryant said. “Playing songs that inspire you on a daily basis is great.”
Randy Bachman, founding member of the Guess Who, discovered Ell when she was just 15. Although she picked up the guitar at 8, she said Bachman truly taught her how to play it. Her musical tastes changed from country to jazz and blues during this time, but her style reverted back to her country roots after moving to Nashville eight years ago.
Now, the artist is working toward finishing her new record with Kristian Bush of Sugarland.
“I feel like I have been writing this album for the last 15 years,” Ell said. “The way we are putting this record together, I feel like I’m finally finding me and recording it in concrete.”
Although neither Bryant nor Ell experience true nerves when performing, they both agreed that the rush of adrenaline that comes from walking on stage is beyond thrilling.
“I feel very grateful to wake up every morning and do what I love,” Ell said. “To write about my life and have people connect with it — that’s a crazy concept to imagine, let alone live it.”
— charlotte l. jacobson


If you go
What: Brad Paisley with Lindsay Ell and
Chase Bryant
When: Tonight, 7:30
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets start at $39.50, available at the box office, 800-745-3000 and

Dietrich Film Festival looks to open viewers’ eyes

Dietrich Film Festival looks to open viewers’ eyes

Dietrich Theater’s second Winter Fest transports viewers through reality and fiction with its selection of independent and international movies.
The festival curators assured they would open audiences’ eyes to some lesser-known films while also presenting several Oscar-nominated pictures among the 14 films the Tunkhannock theater will screen from Friday, Feb. 17, through Thursday, March 2.
“We want to serve the community with the art and independent films that they are looking for,” assistant general manager Ronnie Harvey said. “By doing (festivals) seasonally, we are able to give people the product we may have not gotten to, that they would have missed out on seeing in theaters.”
The festival features Oscar and Golden Globe nominees, including “Hell or High Water,” “Moonlight” and “Loving.” Other festival films include “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week,” “The Brand New Testament,” “Denial,” “The Dressmaker,” “The Eagle Huntress,” “Embrace,” “Harry & Snowman,” “Peter and the Farm,” “Queen of Katwe” and “Seasons.” Tickets for matinee and evening screenings are $8.50, excluding the opening night gala and preview day, and do not require reservations.
“I’m personally excited about all of the films because I pick them, let’s be real,” Harvey joked. “But what we try to do with the film festival is to mix in a lot of different genres and a lot of different subject matters to appeal to a broad swath of people. There is something here for everyone.”
The gala kicks off the festival Friday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. and includes beer, wine, hors d’oeuvres and screenings of “A Man Called Ove” and “Loving,” with dessert during intermission. Tickets are $25 and must be reserved in advance.
A post-festival film discussion takes place Friday, March 3, at 1 p.m. and gives people a chance to discuss the films with other movie enthusiasts. Harvey will facilitate the discussion.
“I think what I like most is just seeing the reaction from the audience,” he said. “It validates that we’re doing the right thing and we’re giving them what they want. That’s why we’ll continue to do these festivals. They not only help us financially but also benefit the community.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Winter Fest
When: Feb. 17 to March 2; opening-night gala is Friday, 6 p.m., and $25 (advance only)
Where: Dietrich Theater, 60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock
Details: Tickets for matinee and evening screenings are $8.50. Call 570-996-1500 or visit for more information.

Saturday, Feb. 18
Noon: “Harry & Snowman”
2 p.m.: “Peter and the Farm”
4 p.m.: “The Eagle Huntress”
7 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
9:45 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
Sunday, Feb. 19
Noon: “Queen of Katwe”
2:30 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
5 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
7:45 p.m.: “Denial”
Monday, Feb. 20
Noon: “Seasons”
Noon: “Peter and the Farm”
2:15 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
2:30 p.m.: “Harry & Snowman”
5 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
7:15 p.m.: “The Brand New Testament”
Tuesday, Feb. 21
Noon: “The Eagle Huntress”
Noon: “A Man Called Ove”
2 p.m.: “Loving”
2:30 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
5 p.m.: “Embrace”
7 p.m.: “Harry & Snowman”
Wednesday, Feb. 22
Noon: “Peter and the Farm”
2:30 p.m.: “Loving”
5 p.m.: “Queen of Katwe”
7:30 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
Thursday, Feb. 23
Noon: “Harry & Snowman”
Noon: “Embrace”
2 p.m.: “Denial”
2:15 p.m.: “Moonlight”
4:30 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
7 p.m.: “Queen of Katwe”
Friday, Feb. 24
Noon: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
Noon: “The Dressmaker”
2:30 p.m.: “Loving”
2:45 p.m.: “The Brand New Testament”
5 p.m.: “Seasons”
7:15 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
9:30 p.m.: “Moonlight”
Saturday, Feb. 25
Noon: “Peter and the Farm”
2:15 p.m.: “Embrace”
4:15 p.m.: “The Eagle Huntress”
7 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
9:30 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
Sunday, Feb. 26
Noon: “Moonlight”
2:30 p.m.: “Queen Katwe”
5 p.m.: “Loving”
7:30 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
Monday, Feb. 27
Noon: “The Brand New Testament”
Noon: “Hell or High Water”
2:15 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
2:30 p.m.: “Denial”
5 p.m.: “Peter and the Farm”
7 p.m.: “A Man Called Ove”
Tuesday, Feb. 28
Noon: “Seasons”
Noon: “Loving”
2:30 p.m.: “The Dressmaker”
2:45 p.m.: “Harry & Snowman”
4:30 p.m.: “The Eagle Huntress”
7 p.m.: “Embrace”
Wednesday, March 1
Noon: “Moonlight”
2:30 p.m.: “Denial “
5 p.m.: “Queen of Katwe”
7:30 p.m.: “Hell or High Water”
Thursday, March 2
Noon: “A Man Called Ove”
Noon: “The Eagle Huntress”
2:15 p.m.: “The Brand New Testament”
2:30 p.m.: “Seasons”
4:30 p.m.: “The Beatles: 8 Days a Week”
7:15 p.m.: “Loving”
Friday, March 3
1 p.m.: Post-festival discussion