Scranton band ‘Dour’ stays true to its name, looks forward to creating new music

Scranton band ‘Dour’ stays true to its name, looks forward to creating new music

Dour — as classified in the dictionary — is an adjective that refers to something that is relentlessly severe, stern or gloomy in manner or appearance.
Chadd Jenkins of Scranton thinks that word suits his metal and punk band perfectly.
“It’s a very fitting name for the band and its lyrical and musical content,” Jenkins said.
The five-piece punk outfit includes Jenkins on guitar and vocals; vocalist Bobby Keller; Billy Breen on guitar, bassist Cory Casey and drummer Chris Baranowski. Guitarist Jenkins recently went On the Record to discuss the band’s first performance together and how the Northeast Pennsylvania music scene influenced its sound over the years.

Q: How did you all meet?

A: We all met through the punk scene in Scranton years ago. The bands we have played in were Alfhole, Dead Radical, Bob and the Sagets and Cell 13, to name a few.

Q: How did you each get involved in music?
A: We have been in bands for a while.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed in public together?
A: The first time we ever played out as DOUR was the day we released our self-titled demo. We played two shows in one day. First in Wilkes-Barre at Curry Donuts and the other was at the Irish Wolf Pub in Scranton. No one heard us until these two shows. The reaction was very positive.

Q: What is your songwriting process?
A: One of the guitar players bring a riff to practice, and we build off of it. So, the input from each member is there. It’s definitely a group effort.

Q: How have you changed as musicians over the years?
A: We would have to say we haven’t changed that much, but we definitely excelled with our capabilities as musicians.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories as a part of this band?
A: Between shows and recording, and even just practice, it’s an adventure with us. It’s hard to say memories because we don’t really look back, we just keep moving forward.

Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
A: The music scene has changed quite a bit over the past years. There (aren’t) too many bands who are unique anymore. A lot of it sounds the same. But at the same time, there are really good bands in this area. Everyone just has to look harder.

Q: What music do you listen to — either for inspiration or that you just enjoy listening to?
A: We all listen to different things and some of the same; a lot of metal, punk, hardcore, grindcore — stuff like that.

Q: Have you faced any major challenges as a rising band?
A: No challenges. If we keep working as hard as we do, we’ll get to where we want to be.

Q: What are your future goals for the band?
A: We are going into the studio sometime in the spring to record a seven- inch, and then going on a small weekend tour in April with local shows scattered in the spring and summer.

Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add that is important for people to know about the group?
A: Support local underground music.

 

BTL brings Broadway classic ‘A Chorus Line’ to Electric City for quartet of shows

BTL brings Broadway classic ‘A Chorus Line’ to Electric City for quartet of shows

Broadway’s singular sensation “A Chorus Line” swings into Scranton this weekend.
Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania presents the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Theater fans will have four opportunities to see the show: Friday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m.
Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com and at the cultural center box office.
The musical focuses on 17 dancers auditioning for a role in a chorus line. As the show progresses, the characters share their personal stories and struggles through song and dance, shedding light on the “glamour and grind” of show business.
Audiences can expect to hear classics like “One,” “I Hope I Get It,” “What I Did for Love” and more.
Frank Blasi, BTL’s executive director, said the production will feature the same choreography, music and costumes as the original “A Chorus Line” production that premiered in the 1970s.
Until “Chicago” beat it out, “A Chorus Line” held the record for the longest-running American musical, Blasi said.
“At the time, it really changed the face of Broadway,” Blasi said.
Additionally, Baayork Lee, who starred as Connie Wong in original productions of “A Chorus Line,” serves as the tour’s director and choreographer.
Ryan Koerber, who plays Bobby in the musical, said the characters take after real Broadway actors. He said his role is based on the life of Thommie Walsh, who played Bobby in the original productions after inspiring the character.
“It’s truly the full show you would see on a Broadway stage in New York,” Koerber promised.
Koerber also noted that audiences can expect to hear funny monologues from Bobby in addition to seeing his character’s passion and perseverance, which he hopes people will find relatable.
“I hope people are reminded of things that happened in their life through adolescence and adulthood, and that they leave the show with something resonating inside of them,” Koerber said. 
Blasi said each year, BTL brings in a combination of both new and classic touring shows, and that “A Chorus Line” last visited Scranton about seven or eight years ago.
“The new tour had a lot of excitement and buzz in the Broadway community,” Blasi said.

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If you go
What: Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania presents “A Chorus Line”
When: Friday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets are $37 to $69 plus fees, available at ticketmaster.com and at the cultural center’s box office.

— Brooke Williams

Cold Spell – Glide into the realm of ‘Harry Potter’ during Clarks Summit Festival of Ice

Cold Spell – Glide into the realm of ‘Harry Potter’ during Clarks Summit Festival of Ice

Glacius!
A freezing spell falls over Clarks Summit Festival of Ice as it kicks off its 14th year with a magical theme.
In the festival’s 14th year, visitors of “The Wizarding World of Ice” can participate in a variety of “Harry Potter”-themed activities. They also can enjoy more than 50 ice sculptures, live ice-carving demonstrations, horse-drawn carriage rides, live entertainment and more.
The festival begins on Friday, Feb. 16, and closes on Monday, Feb. 19. Admission and parking for the festival are free all weekend.
Attendees can fly into the world of The Boy Who Lived and visit Gringott’s Bank, go shopping in Diagon Alley or get sorted into a Hogwarts house.
The festival will also offer a “golden snitch” scavenger hunt and a hashtag contest throughout the weekend.

Laura Ancherani, executive director of the Abington Business & Professional Association, said this year’s festival is based off the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” theme park in Universal Studios in Florida and California.
“I was so mesmerized by the Diagon Alley that they created in Universal. It was so magical and it stayed with me,” she said of the Sunshine State’s park. “I wanted to bring that feeling here, and it’s great for people who can’t go to Universal, so that’s exciting.”
Ancherani said more than 20 businesses are participating, and stores will be named after shops in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade from J.K. Rowling’s stories and films for the weekend. Additionally, art students from Abington Heights School District are painting windows throughout the town.
Ancherani said the festival shows those who attend what the town has to offer.
“I’ve heard over the years a lot of retailers say they look forward to it every year, not only because it helps their sales in a time where it’s relatively quiet, but because it makes people aware that they’re there and they make it a point to come back throughout the year,” she said.
Over the years, the festival has drawn in 25,000 to 40,000 people for the whole weekend, but if the weather holds up, Ancherani said they could have “record-breaking attendance” this year.
Visit Clarks Summit Fesitval of Ice page on Facebook for the festival’s map and list of sculptures. More information also is available on theabingtons.org.

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Schedule
Live ice-carving demonstrations occur in various locations throughout the festival. For updated schedule, visit Clarks Summit Fesitval of Ice page on Facebook.
Friday, Feb. 16
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Treasure at Gringott’s Bank Vault 713, Fidelity Deposit & Discount Bank, 1311 Morgan Highway, South Abington Twp.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Mini Triwizard Tournament, PS Bank, 100 Old Lackawanna Trail
11 a.m. to noon: Live ice-carving demonstration
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Harry Potter selfie station and children’s “Amortentia Potion Station,” NOTE Fragrances, 312 S. State St.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Outdoor wizard chess, State Street Grill, 114 S. State St.
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Jacob Cole and Mark Woodyatt Citizens Savings Bank, 538 S. State St.
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration
3 to 7 p.m.: “Half-Blood Prince Blood Drive,” Abington Community Library, 1200 W. Grove St.
5 to 6 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Revolution Trio, La Tonalteca, 821 Northern Blvd.
5 to 7 p.m.: Live music by Brenda Fernandes and trunk show with Lisi Lerch, Golden Coast, 535 S. State St.
5 to 7 p.m.: Complimentary trolley tour of the festival with stops at Everything Natural, 426 S. State St.; Abington Community Library; Depot Street; and First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, 300 School St.
5 to 7:30 p.m.: “Care of Magical Creatures,” Abington Community Library
5 to 9 p.m.: Wine tasting with Mucciolo Family Wines, wine tent, 317 Davis St.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: “Hogwarts 101,” Abington Community Library
6 to 7:30 p.m.: Art show and photography exhibit, First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit
6 to 8:30 p.m.: Family fun fair with storytelling, face painting, juggling, DJ and more, The Gathering Place, 304 S State St.
7:30 p.m.: Festival of Ice parade through downtown Clarks Summit, along South State Street

Saturday, Feb. 17 
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Harry Potter movie screenings, local fan art, magical puzzles, take-home crafts for kids, Abington Community Library
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Live music by Wayne Smith, People’s Security Bank & Trust, 1100 Northern Blvd., South Abington Twp.
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Mini Triwizard Tournament, PS Bank
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Treasure at Gringott’s Bank Vault 713, Fidelity Deposit & Discount Bank
11 a.m. to noon: Live ice-carving demonstration, People’s Security Bank & Trust
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Live music by Mike Waskovich & Steve Kurilla, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Potions class, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.: Sorting hat, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Art show featuring parishioners and local artists, photography exhibit by Northeast Photography Club, First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Diagon Alley, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Harry Potter selfie station and children’s “Amortentia Potion Station,” NOTE Fragrances
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Defense Against the Dark Arts crafts and Dementor selfie station, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Outdoor wizard chess, State Street Grill
Noon to 1 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse and carriage rides, The Gathering Place
Noon to 6 p.m.: Wine tasting with Mucciolo Family Wines, wine tent
1 to 3 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration and live music by Bill Carter and Presby-Bop
1 to 2 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m.: Silk scarves divination, The Gathering Place
2 p.m.: Damian the Magician, The Gathering Place
2 to 3 p.m.: Magic show with Eddy Ray, First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit
2 to 4 p.m.: Live music by Mike Waskovich, Clel’s Place, 120 Barrett St.
2 to 4 p.m.: Live music by Lights Out, Weis Market
3 to 5 p.m.: Live music by Tom Rogo, NOTE Fragrances
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration
4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Live ice-carving demonstration

Sunday, Feb. 18
9 a.m. to noon: Art show featuring parishioners and local artists, photography exhibit by Northeast Photography Club, First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit
11 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Live music by Brass Reflections, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Bird education station at “Eeylops Owl Emporium” in Diagon Alley, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m.: Sorting Hat, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Diagon Alley, Harry Potter trivia, Defense Against the Dark Arts crafts, dementor selfie station and magical science demonstrations throughout the day, The Gathering Place
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Harry Potter selfie station and children’s “Amortentia Potion Station,” NOTE Fragrances
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Outdoor wizard chess, State Street Grill
Noon to 5 p.m.: Horse and carriage rides, The Gathering Place
Noon to 5 p.m.: Wine tasting with Mucciolo Family Wines, wine tent
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: Raptors Rule: Live Birds of Prey Show, The Gathering Place
1 to 3 p.m.: Live music by Dixieland Allstarsat, Gerrity’s Market
2:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Live music by Joe Cole & Ken McGrawat, Abington Community Library

— Brooke Williams

Wailin’ Jennys bring three-part harmonies, mix of originals and covers to Dallas

Wailin’ Jennys bring three-part harmonies, mix of originals and covers to Dallas

The Wailin’ Jennys began as a one-night-only show in a Winnipeg guitar store. Sixteen years later, they continue to tour as a prominent folk group, releasing albums and performing all over the world.
The international folk trio, made up of Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse, brings its national tour to Misericordia University on Monday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m., in support of its first new album in six years.
Founding member Moody explained that because they tour constantly, the concept of releasing an album was out of reach for quiet some time.
“We’ve sort of been trying to record an album for a long time,” Moody said. “Our touring schedule has been pretty intense for the last few years… It’s been an interesting challenge to juggle everything, both our professional lives and our family lives. It just became difficult to actually schedule recording.”
When they took time off of touring for Moody’s pregnancy, they decided to seize the opportunity to write an album. With only about five days to record, the trio decided an album of covers fit the bill. Thus, “Fifteen” was born.
“It seemed like a fun and more lighthearted way to celebrate our anniversary, just because it’s different to arrange someone else’s song. There’s something a little less serious about arranging covers,” she said. “You can get kind of bogged down when it’s all original materials. We just thought let’s keep this fun.”
This new album features covers of Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” Paul Simon’s classic, “Love Me Like A Rock” and Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers,” among others. Attendees at the upcoming Dallas show can expect to hear many songs from this new album, combined with a slew of the Wailin’ Jennys originals, Moody said.
“The three-part harmony is the signature aspect of what we do,” Moody said. “It’s a hard thing to put words to, but I think there’s just something complete about three voices together — and especially three women. That’s what I hear anyway… it’s a transcendent kind of sound for people. We sure feel it when we’re singing together, we feel those vibrations. We’re especially lucky because our voices sit well together and blend really nicely. There’s a natural blend that makes it so that it really feels good to sing together.”
This signature three-part harmony stands out among other folk bands, but each vocalist also brings a diverse musical background to the trio that adds something more to their sound.
Moody, who plays guitar, accordion, banjo and bodhrán, is a classically trained vocalist and pianist who started her career singing and writing Celtic music, while Mehta is a classically trained dancer who was raised on ’70s radio hits and found herself heavily influenced by alternative pop. Mehta also plays guitar, harmonica, drums and ukulele. Then there’s Masse, who learned how to play upright bass while practicing with the Jennys, and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music after studying jazz vocals.
Prior to Masse joining the group in 2007, the Wailin’ Jennys were primarily seen as an acoustic outfit. But, since creating the current lineup of the trio, the women have truly “found their home” together, Moody said.
“We’ve all pushed ourselves and pushed each other musically,” she added. “When Heather joined the band, she didn’t really play an instrument, but always wanted to play bass. We encouraged her to play. Two months later she was playing bass on stage. Nicky was inspired by that and decided to learn drums. So for that first show with Heather, all of a sudden we had a rhythm section. I learned how to play banjo around the same time… We’re always trying to stretch ourselves as writers and as singers.”
Individually, the ladies forged their way into the music industry, but together, the trio continues to cross new boundaries to create a unique flavor of music for people to enjoy for years to come.

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If you go
What: Wailin’ Jennys folk trio
Where: Lemmond Theater at Misericordia University, 301 Lake St., Dallas
When: Monday, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.; doors at 6:30 p.m.
Details: Tickets cost $30 for premium seating and $20 for general admission. To purchase tickets, call the university box office at 570-674-6719 or visit misericordia.edu.
Online: thewailinjennys.com

— charlotte l. jacobson

Max-D’s Eichelberger ready to roll into arena at  Monster Jam

Max-D’s Eichelberger ready to roll into arena at Monster Jam

Jared Eichelberger grew up in the Monster Jam family.
Eichelberger’s father, Tom Meents, reigns as the most successful driver in Monster Jam World Finals history and runs Monster Jam University, a training institution for potential drivers. So it was no surprise when he ditched his degree in agriculture and turned to monster trucks nearly three years ago.
Eichelberger and Monster Jam cruises into Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp. from Friday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, Feb. 11. Tickets start at $15 and are available at ticketmaster.com, the arena box office or by calling 800-745-3000.
Prior to becoming a driver for Max-D, Eichelberger worked as a crew member, mechanic and crew chief for both his father and his younger brother, Colton, who started driving a year before he did. When the 29-year-old finally got the opportunity to test, he jumped on the chance.
Now, the three all drive for the Max-D team and assist one another throughout each show.
“Our dad is our biggest teacher,” Eichelberger said. “I idolize him and try to drive like him. He’s given us a lot of tips and helpful instruction, from interviewing to driving to just associating with fans and to helping out everyone at the show. It’s a big team project. We all have to work together to accommodate to make it work and give a good performance. Working with them is pretty neat… When the weekend is over we’ll have Monday dinner together to talk about the weekend and talk about how we can improve.”
Max-D, formerly known as Maximum Destruction, can easily be spotted on the track with its orange and silver paint and spikes protruding from the truck’s body. According to Eichelberger, Max-D really shines during the Two-Wheel Skill Competition, as performing tricks and balancing acts such as nose wheelies.
Super fans better not miss the two pit parties prior to the matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. These parties give fans the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Monster Jam trucks and drivers.
Even though Eichelberger barely hit three years as a driver, he has driven in more than 100 shows. The driver has become very comfortable in the trucks and arenas, he said, but there is always more to learn from his father and other veteran drivers.
“Just having a great coach at home has really been beneficial,” Eichelberger said. “We have Monster Jam University in my hometown; my dad trains drivers and I work there when I’m not on the road.” 
Although Eichelberger admitted that staying at the top of the game is a major challenge he faces, the constant pressure to live up to his father’s legacy brings the most pressure.
“There’s a lot of pressure to compete and to be as good as him, to represent him and to represent the brand Max-D,” he said. “I take that pressure and I use it for my advantage out on the track. ”

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If you go
What: Monster Jam
When: Friday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 10, 1 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 11, 1 p.m.
Where: 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets start at $15 and are available at the arena’s NBT Bank Box Office, by calling 800-745-3000 or at ticketmaster.com. There is a $10 fee to park in the arena’s lot. Tickets for pit parties are $10, and can only be purchased by those with show tickets.
Online: monsterjam.com

— Charlotte l. Jacobson

About Face John Kascht shows 30 years of portraits with retrospective  exhibit at Everhart Museum

About Face John Kascht shows 30 years of portraits with retrospective exhibit at Everhart Museum

John Kascht started his art career at the age of 14 in his hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin.
This weekend, 30 years of his work comes together in an exhibit in his adopted home of Northeast Pennsylvania.
The caricature artist presents retrospective exhibit “Making Faces: Portraits by John Kascht,” which opens Friday, Feb. 2, at Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St. Kascht will be in the gift shop from 5 to 8 p.m. to meet patrons and sign posters on the opening day.
As a young teenager, Kascht drew political cartoons for a newspaper in Waukesha. Eventually, he realized he preferred portraits over politics and pursued a different path.
“I realized at some point that I wasn’t interested in politics or being a political commentator, but people and drawing portraits,” Kascht said. “In spite of early beginnings as a political cartoonist, I split from that and went in the direction of portraits and caricatures.”
After years of working in illustrator and designer positions at different newspapers across the country, Kascht became a freelance artist and created caricatures for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post and more.
Throughout his career, Kascht has created caricatures of numerous politicians and celebrities, many of which will be on display at the Everhart. 

Photo by A. Greg Raymond

“People can expect to see an overload of wrinkles, jowls, foreheads, slouches and posture. People can expect a fun show,” Kascht said. “One of the things I’m pleased about is that it’s enjoyable. Anybody, even people who don’t like art, can go and have a good time.”
Opening day of the exhibition is free and open to the public. The exhibit remains on display until Monday, May 7. According to Kascht, “Making Faces” will not just feature “funny pictures,” but explanations of the “work and sincere thinking” that went into the process of creating them.
“I think caricatures are often seen as a negative art form that makes fun of people, but that’s not how I approach it. It’s seeing what makes a person unique and bringing out those characteristics. Hopefully it’s a show that celebrates us and celebrates humanity.”
Kascht said he never decided to be a caricaturist; it’s just always been with him. As a child, he used to follow his parents and friends around, mimicking the way they walked and talked. His interests in impersonation and drawing merged, he said.
“I had an instinct to impersonate people,” he said. “Caricatures are a visual form of impersonation, and my interest grew out of that instinct to mimic or impersonate the people around me.”
Additionally, watching his father, a forensic scientist, perform autopsies had an influence on his art and taught him about human anatomy and physiology while he was growing up. While it isn’t obvious at first glance, natural science and caricatures can overlap, he said.
“People think of it as cartooning, but there’s really a kind of scientific mindset,” he said. “You look at a face or body and what makes it unique. Like a scientist, you think ‘what’s going on here?’”
Kascht will be part of upcoming events at the museum. He will conduct tours of his exhibition at the Everhart on Thursday, March 22. This event costs $25 per person and includes light refreshments at 6 p.m. Tours will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. On Saturday, April 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., Kascht will be one of the presenters in a new, free monthly series at the Everhart, “Tête-à-Tête: An Everhart Conversation.”
When the exhibit closes in Scranton, “Making Faces” will travel to Kascht’s hometown of Waukesha and then move its way out west. While he’s been involved with group exhibitions, this is his first solo and traveling exhibition.
“I’m really excited about this exhibition,” he said. “I love the Everhart Museum and I think it’s gonna be great. I’m pleased to open to the hometown crowd and be starting it here.”

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If You Go
What: The Everhart Museum presents the exhibition “Making Faces: Portraits by John Kascht”
Where: The Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St.
When: Friday, Feb. 2 through May 7
Details: Kascht will meet patrons and sign posters on opening day from 5 to 8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit everhart-museum.org.

— Brooke Williams

‘Dirty Dancing’ musical spins into Kirby Center with new moves, familiar tunes

‘Dirty Dancing’ musical spins into Kirby Center with new moves, familiar tunes

Nobody puts “Dirty Dancing” in the corner.
Thirty years after the film hit theaters for the first time, the story continues to draw new viewership across all generations. Now, those same viewers can see their favorite scenes live on stage.
The staged production of the classic film, “Dirty Dancing” twirls into the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Wilkes-Barre for two performances, Wednesday, Jan. 31, and Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Leading a company of 24 is Aaron Patrick Craven as Johnny Castle and Kaleigh Courts as Frances “Baby” Houseman. As in the celebrated film, written by Eleanor Bergstein, the story follows the young love between Johnny and Baby during a summer at a Catskills resort in 1963. When Baby stumbles upon the staff quarters, rowdy with an all-night dance party in full swing, she becomes enamored with the raunchy dance moves and pounding rhythms. Her life is forever changed as she is thrown in the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady, both on- and off-stage.
The film version experienced waves of popularity over the years, beginning with the original film’s release in 1987, starring Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze. As of 2009, the film earned over $214 million worldwide, and became the first film to sell more than a million copies on home video.
For the live production, Bergstein wrote 20 additional scenes, which includes musical numbers to classic hits like “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me” and, of course, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” A total of 36 musical numbers are performed throughout the show by a live band, and nine styles of ballroom dance are featured, along with the “dirty dancing” styles famous in the film.
“The film has been transformed for stage with more scenes, more music and more dancing,” Craven said. “All the famous characters and classic lines are represented. … The extra scenes delve into a richer, more complex story and a deeper understanding of the characters and their relationships.”
The added scenes lend to the audience learning more about the time period in which the show takes place, Craven added, primarily the changes in social climate. Fans also can feel more connected to their favorite characters, especially Johnny and Baby, who have additional scenes written specifically to explore the pair’s relationship and personalities.
This theme, along with the music, coming-of-age aspects and tale of love resonate strongly with both Craven and most audiences, which has secured the story’s place in pop culture over the past three decades.
“Even if you know the movie by heart, nothing can compare to seeing this unfold live on stage,” Craven said.

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If you go
What: “Dirty Dancing” live
on stage
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, and Thursday, Feb. 1; 7:30 p.m.
Details: Tickets start at $45, and can be purchased at the Kirby Center box office, by calling 570-826-1100 or at kirbycenter.org.
Online: www.dirtydancingontour.com

SNOW DATE  ALT 92.1’s show storms into F.M. Kirby Center with homegrown talent

SNOW DATE ALT 92.1’s show storms into F.M. Kirby Center with homegrown talent

In her teens, Brianna Collins sang along to Dashboard Confessional’s impassioned lyrics and felt moved by the band’s stirring melodies.
This weekend, Collins, along with fellow Tigers Jaw band member Ben Walsh, will share a stage with Dashboard Confessional during the inaugural ALT 92.1 Snow Show.
The show takes place Sunday, Jan. 28, at 6:15 p.m. at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre. Tickets to the Times-Shamrock Communications radio station’s concert are $20 to $35 general admission or $92.10 for VIP and Meet and Greet. Tickets can be purchased at kirbycenter.org.
In addition to Dashboard Confessional and Scranton-borne Tigers Jaw, acts on the show also include indie pop band AJR and one-man project SYML.
Dashboard Confessional’s music became synonymous with young love and heartbreak in the 2000s, thanks to its songs — including “Hands Down” and “Vindicated” — appearing on teen TV dramas and movie soundtracks of the time. Walsh became friends with Dashboard’s Chris Carrabba some years ago, Collins said, but this is Tiger Jaw’s first time performing on the same bill as the band.
“It’s just very cool to play with a band you grew up listening to that still makes great music,” Collins said during a recent phone interview from her home in Kingston. “To do it in Wilkes-Barre and have that be a hometown show, that makes it even better.” 
Though Tigers Jaw is based out of the region, the band tours throughout the country and parts of the world. Aside from the annual NEPA Holiday Show with fellow natives the Menzingers, Collins said she and Walsh don’t get the chance to play to their hometown crowd often.
“I’m just excited to play the Kirby Center,” she said. “It’s nice to play at a venue that’s literally across the bridge from where I live.”
Tigers Jaw released their fifth studio album “Spin” last spring, which Collins said, after lineup changes, is the first that only included she and Walsh. They’re eager to play songs from their new album, she said, but the band also doesn’t want to disappoint those who enjoy their earlier music. Fans can expect a good mix of both old and new at the Kirby Center stop.
“We’re overall just ecstatic to have new music out and play shows and play the news songs,” Collins said, adding “Spin” also marks the first album she wrote for. “That’s always fun and special to get to do.”
After their hometown gig, Tigers Jaw will get ready to embark on a European tour. When not touring, Collins said she and Walsh (who lives in Philadelphia) are typically working on things to promote the band, which doesn’t allow for much downtime.
Their hard work pays off, however, as fans all over the world who enjoy the band’s melodic indie punk. Collins also recalled her brother, a local high school teacher, told her he notices his students wearing Tigers Jaw merchandise, which makes her happy.
“This is or full time job,” she said. “We’re living our dreams.”
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If you go
What: ALT 92.1 Snow Show featuring Dashboard Confessional, Tigers Jaw, AJR and SYML
When: Sunday, Jan. 28, 5 p.m. doors open, 6:15 p.m. show starts
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $20 to $35 general admission or $92.10 for VIP and Meet and Greet. Tickets can be purchased at kirbycenter.org.

Chillin’ Out: Annual Lake Wallenpaupack winter festival returns with frozen fun

Chillin’ Out: Annual Lake Wallenpaupack winter festival returns with frozen fun

Bundle up to tee up at Wally Ice Fest.
Looking to return after two years of warm weather prevented the festivities, the event features not only a golf tournament but also a pond hockey competition, golf-ball driving contest and curling demonstrations, all on the frozen surface of Lake Wallenpaupack.
Activities run Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28, on the ice outside Silver Birches, 205 Route 507, and the Boat House Restaurant, 141 Route 507, both in Palmyra Twp.
While a lack of enough ice kept the festival from going forward in recent years, this winter’s cold snap froze about a foot of the lake’s surface heading into last week’s warmer weather, said Keith Williams, Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors Center manager and one of the event organizers.
“Granted, ice doesn’t form uniformly across the entire lake, but it’s a really good start to the season. … We keep a close watch on it, so ideally we’re looking for 10 inches of ice for safety, to be able to handle the activity that we have planned on the ice,” he said.
If the lake does not freeze, enough, however, the pond hockey tournament and curling demonstrations will be moved to nearby Promised Land State Park for the weekend (the golf tournament and driving contest would be canceled). Organizers used to set aside an alternative date for the festival later in the season in the event of low ice levels, but with hockey players coming from outside the area to participate, Williams said, “it’s real difficult to shift people’s vacation schedule to accommodate” another date.
Under current plans, the adult pond hockey tournament will take place both days, and teams will play four-on-four games with two 15-minute periods and a five-minute intermission. Registration is $360 per team of four to six players, and teams are matched against one another based on skill level. Organizers will set up two rinks outside Silver Birches and four by the Boat House.
Long organized by Chamber of the Northern Poconos, the Ice Tee Golf Tournament runs Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and participants can register in advance for $20 and each day for $25.
“Sunday’s going to be the bigger day,” Williams said. “We’ll have some kind of prizes with craziest sled, craziest hat, those types of things.”
Golfers will compete on one of two nine-hole courses outside Silver Birches, where they will tee off from an artificial green and aim for a Christmas tree marking each extra-large hole (which do not go all the way through the ice).
Golfers will receive a colored golf ball, scorecard and map and should bring two clubs plus a putter.
“You don’t need any special shoes, although we recommend people dressing warm,” Williams said.
Throughout the weekend, Anthracite Curling Club of Wilkes-Barre will give free demonstrations of the Olympic sport near the Boat House and let visitors try it as well.
“That’s kind of another unique piece to (the weekend),” Williams said.
On Sunday, visitors can see how close they can hit a golf ball to a 6-foot-tall snowman dubbed Wally in a driving contest benefiting the chamber. The three hitters who come closest win prizes.
“You don’t have to play golf (in the tournament) to do that,” Williams said. “You can go down and just try.”
Participants and spectators are encouraged to park at lots off Route 507 across from Tanglwood Resort; East Shore Lodging, 2487 Route 6; the visitors center, 2512 Route 6; and Wallenpaupack Area High School, 2552 Route 6, all in Palmyra Twp., and take the shuttle bus to both event locations, since the restaurants have spaces reserved for patrons. Organizers estimate the trip will take about five minutes between each stop.
Visitors can watch the on-ice activities for free, and Williams said the festival also gives guests a chance to dine at local restaurants, visit cultural sites such as the Sculpted Ice Works Factory Tour & Ice Harvest Museum in Lakeville, which will provide ice sculptures at each tee and an ice bar at Silver Birches, plus other winter activities in an area known as a summer destination.
“We’ve got really great restaurants and pubs, and this is a really great way to bring business … to those folks,” he said.
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If you go
What: Wally Ice Fest, featuring pond hockey and Ice Tee Golf tournaments and curling demonstrations
When: Saturday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Jan. 28
Where: The Dock on Wallenpaupack and Silver Birches, 205 Route 507, Palmyra Twp., and The Boat House Restaurant, 141 Route 507, Palmyra Twp.
Details: Participation costs $360 per hockey team, and $20 in advance and $25 the day of the event for the golf tournament. Register for the adult pond hockey and Ice Tee Golf tournaments online at WallyIceFest.com. Curling demonstrations are free.

 

Multimedia piece brings  Langston Hughes’  words to life

Multimedia piece brings Langston Hughes’ words to life

Jazz trumpeter Ron McCurdy picked up where poet Langston Hughes left off.
A former professor at University of Minnesota, McCurdy created an educational, multimedia piece for a Harlem Renaissance-themed exhibit there, and 20 years later, he continues to present it around the globe.
The Ron McCurdy Quartet, a multimedia concert involving spoken word and poetry, presents “The Langston Hughes Project — Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz,” at Misericordia University’s Lemmond Theater on Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m.
The concert’s spoken-word artistry, live music and images recreate Hughes’ vision of the global struggle for freedom from the Harlem Renaissance to the early 1960s. By way of videography, the performance links the words and music of Hughes’ poetry to topical images of people, places and events mentioned throughout the poem.
“It set out as an academic venture,” McCurdy said. “But now, we’re always modifying, tweaking it, making it relevant and keeping it entertaining. Originally, I was standing at a podium reading the poem. Now, it’s a bit more theatrical, less academic. Langston Hughes’ words are the same, but they are delivered in a more theatrical fashion.”
Hughes wrote “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz” in 1960 after he was asked to serve as the master of ceremonies for Newport Jazz Festival, where the likes of Muddy Waters, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald and more were set to appear. It was oversold by about 2,000 tickets and shut down when a riot ensued because people were not allowed in.
“Langston wrote this piece as a commentary on the struggle with African-Americans in the 1960s,” McCurdy said. “It’s very beautiful work.”
Originally, Hughes intended to collaborate with Charles Mingus and Randy Weston on the full performance of his masterwork, but it was only in the planning stages when the poet died in 1967. He wrote musical cues alongside the poem, however, which McCurdy used to create his multimedia performance.
McCurdy has faced the challenge of people not wanting to give the project a chance because it sounds too academic to them. But all of the effort seems worth it when “the light bulbs come on” in audiences’ brains and McCurdy notices them understanding and asking questions about the show, he said.
“The poem is so beautifully written,” McCurdy said. “It was written well over 50 years ago, but the text and the words are so relevant today, and they were relevant when we started doing this. … It was initially an academic presentation; we were using it as a teaching tool to help students think about their own core values.
“Langston was about bringing people together, and lord knows, given our political climate today, this is certainly a time we could use more connectivity between people from all different backgrounds. It’s important for us to understand that we are more alike than different.”

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If you go
What: The Langston Hughes Project presents “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz”
Where: Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall, Misericordia University, 301 Lake St., Dallas
When: Thursday, Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Details: Tickets cost $10 for general admission and are free to Misericordia staff and students. They can be purchased at the door or by calling the box office at 570-674-6719. For more information, visit
langstonhughesproject.org.

‘Disney on Ice’ glides into Mohegan Sun Arena for eight performances

‘Disney on Ice’ glides into Mohegan Sun Arena for eight performances

Believing is just the beginning when it comes to dreams.
Catch “Disney on Ice: Dream Big” when it glides into Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp., starting Thursday, Jan. 11, for an eight-performance run over five days.
“The show is for everyone,” skater Nelson Sanchez Leemet said. “There is an acrobat team that is flying, literally. There’s even a fire-breathing dragon. Honestly everyone will enjoy this show.”
With her magic pixie dust, Tinker Bell takes audiences on a journey through beloved Disney tales — focusing on princesses such as Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana, Jasmine, Aurora and Snow White — as they embark on adventures, determined to make their dreams come true.
Each Disney film has its moment to shine on the ice as the characters twirl, leap and glide around to favorite movie songs, from classics such as “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid” and “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast” to newer crowd-pleasers such as “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” “Down in New Orleans” from “Princess and the Frog” and “At Last I See the Light” from “Tangled.” One of the most popular portions of the show follows sisters Anna and Elsa and loveable snowman Olaf from “Frozen” as they learn that true love is the greatest magic of all.
Sanchez Leemet — who portrays Hans in the “Frozen” segment — hails from the Dominican Republic, so the idea of ice skating and winter were foreign to him when he moved to Montreal. After watching an ice show in Canada, he was hooked and signed up for lessons the following day.
“I get to travel the world and do my passion at the same time,” he said. “It’s not even a job, even though it is a job. Just going out there and performing, seeing all of the kids and families, and smiling and enjoying and being involved in the show is the best. I love being a part of this production that makes people have a good time.”
Although it may make her seem biased, Alexe Giles, who portrays Elsa, said the “Frozen” portion sticks out to her the most.
“‘Let It Go’ and the reprise are definitely up there,” she said. “The blizzards created with all of the snow, it’s so magical. There are lots of special, dazzling effects. I think it’s one of the best segments in our show. I definitely have a little soft spot in my heart for it.”
Giles grew up in a skating family in Colorado, and she always believed “Disney on Ice” would be a huge opportunity for her to take. So when the chance came to follow her dreams of joining the ice show, she didn’t hesitate to take it.
“Disney carries from generation to generation,” Giles added. “Everyone becomes happy (at Disney). … It’s always transforming itself to the new technology and adding the new movies so it doesn’t die out, and it’s not stagnant. It’s always new and exciting.”

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If you go
What: “Disney on Ice: Dream Big”
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
When: Thursday, Jan. 11, and Friday, Jan. 12, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 13, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 14, noon and 4 p.m.; and Monday, Jan. 15, 2 p.m.
Details: Tickets start at $18 and can be purchased at the box office, online at ticketmaster.com and by calling 800-745-3000.

Up Close & Personal – Justin Bradley

Up Close & Personal – Justin Bradley

Justin Bradley is a business account executive with Verizon, where he oversees health care-related businesses and nonprofits. He also is a property manager for his company, JWB Property Group LLC. He is a native of Susquehanna County and a graduate of Blue Ridge High School and Keystone College, where he earned a degree in corporate communications. He and his wife, Rae, have two children, Jackson, 5, and Vivian, 3. They live in Archbald.

Meet Justin Bradley…

Tell us a little about your work at Verizon.
I’ve been there almost 14 years. I work with health care-related businesses on any technology project that is going to help with efficiency, cellular connectivity and mobilizing their staff, employees, home health organizations and, now, even their landline business phones. As long as it involves technology, I can most likely point them in the right direction.

And what about your work as a property investor and property manager?
That’s a real passion of mine. It takes up a lot of my spare time, in that I love the thrill of the hunt. Whether it’s a distressed property, or maybe someone that’s maybe had some down luck and they need to get rid of their property fairly quickly, I can help and take it over. Or, obviously, with a distressed property from a bank foreclosure, sheriff’s sale or tax sale, you can find a property fairly cheap and, with a few bucks, turn it around and maybe make a few bucks. For me, I like the rentals. I like renting the properties, whether it’s a duplex or a single-family home. I was recently told that the neighbors must love me, where I’m buying properties, because they’re not low-end properties. They’re kind of mid-range. And in a way, to some degree, it’s revitalizing Scranton. I would never want to be a slum lord. Investing a few bucks into these properties and then having a quality rental that’s going to last a long time is what I’m looking to do. 

At left, a submitted photo by Bradley shows the property in its very early stages of renovation. At right, the property is about a month away from completion.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 
A few years back, I took part in a boot-camp type of CrossFit program, and I learned a lot. I lost 50 pounds, stuck with it and joined CrossFit Vertex in Olyphant. Great community. Great owners. It’s one of those things where the camaraderie and the folks that are there kind of keep you accountable to keep coming back. And CrossFit is one of those things that keeps me coming. Going to a local gym and working out on your own, you don’t necessarily have that same motivation and drive to keep going back and working harder. This has a little bit of a different environment, which is appealing to me. The other thing that I like to do in my spare time, obviously, is to spend time with my kids and use my GoPro. My Instagram is “gopro_hero_dad,” which is just daily activities of me being a dad. It’s all of the cool things that I do with my family and kids, from a dad’s perspective. And my other account is “gopro.hero.wods.” And “wods” stands for workout of the day, which I use for CrossFit.

Any hobbies? Are you a collector?
Giants memorabilia. I love New York Giants football, and my basement consists of signed jerseys and special moments that I remember as a Giants fan. Everything is signed, authenticated and framed.

Favorite music?
I grew up on Breaking Benjamin. I’ve been a longtime fan. The day I turned 21 … I went out to Tink’s and saw them play, and a lot of the members of the current band are now friends of mine. I also like Motionless In White.

Favorite city?
I frequent Philadelphia, primarily because of work. So I’ve gotten to know the city fairly well. And I’m an old skateboarder at heart, and some of the concrete parks there are places I frequent. Even as an adult, I’ve taken my skateboard. Love Park is a place that I’ve visited, and I’ll just skate around the block and try to take it in, because they’re all monuments, as far as skateboarding history is concerned.

Favorite place to vacation?
Ocean City, Maryland. Every other year, my wife’s family has always gone to Ocean City. I never really went anywhere as a kid like that as a family, and so to marry into a family that likes to stay close-knit is nice. Now we take our kids, and it’s definitely enjoyable as a dad.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
All of my friends and family are here. I went to school here. There are lots of great things to like about Scranton. The La Festa Italiana is one of my favorite things. Parade Day was one of my favorite things to do in my 20s. There’s always something going on. And the people are hard-working, the people are artistic, and the people are passionate about what they do. And that’s something I can always appreciate.

Favorite food?
Pizza.

Favorite holiday?
These days, with a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, it’s got to be Christmas.

Favorite movie?
“Boiler Room.”

Favorite TV show?
“Sons of Anarchy.”

Favorite book?
“Property Management for Dummies.” (Laughs)

Favorite quote or catchphrase?
“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” I actually have it tattooed on my leg.

Biggest pet peeve?
Quitters.

Guilty pleasure?
Watching “Teen Mom.”

Is there anything about you that might surprise people?
I had a tough period, growing up. I was in foster care when I was in middle school, around sixth and seventh grade. I was also run over by a lawnmower when I was 14 months old. I lost a finger, and I had numerous surgeries throughout elementary school through high school. To this day, I have a big scar and a plate with four screws in my forearm. So I’m at a disadvantage at the CrossFit gym. (Laughs) But again, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 

Have you had a defining personal moment, or something that has really helped shape you into the person you are today?
Because of struggles that I had as a child, and the way I grew up, what’s defined me as a person is knowing what I don’t want to be as a parent, or as an adult. I want a better life for my kids. I don’t want to see them struggle through life. That’s something that’s important to me.

 

Photos by Emma Black

American dream  Tony winner, Hamilton’s Odom brings smooth, crisp sound to Wyoming Seminary stage

American dream Tony winner, Hamilton’s Odom brings smooth, crisp sound to Wyoming Seminary stage

Leslie Odom Jr. follows his passion. The man is non-stop.
The Tony Award-winning performer has been on a whirlwind since he rose to fame as Aaron Burr in hip-hop Broadway musical juggernaut “Hamilton.” Odom earned critical acclaim and several accolades including a Tony Award, for his portrayal of the charismatic, vulnerable and complicated founding father.
When he left the show in 2016, Odom kept pushing further, pursuing a solo career and touring to spread his love of performing to fans around the country.
He brings his multifaceted solo show to the area on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. when he performs at Wyoming Seminary’s Kirby Center for Creative Arts, 260 N. Sprague Ave., Kingston.
“I’m kind of lucky I get to bring as much of myself in able to into the work,” Odom said during a recent phone interview, enroute to travel from Los Angeles to Indianapolis. “It’s all deeply personal to me, touring and connecting with fans in a more open way. … I’m up there telling the stories about my life and singing songs I love.”
Since 2016, Odom put out two albums: a self-titled work of jazz standards, showtunes and originals he released just before his exit from Broadway and “Simply Christmas,” which is full the performer’s crisp, smooth take on seasonal classics.
These works can be expected during his stop in Kingston, but Odom promised fans that’s not all. He doesn’t believe in people leaving disappointed after a concert and will perform some songs from “Hamilton” plus selections from other work he’s known for, including NBC’s musical television show “Smash.”
Many of these songs take on different meanings for Odom during his concerts. When performing “Hamilton” songs, like “Dear Theodosia,” a ballad Burr and Hamilton sing about their children, or “Wait For It,” on Burr’s undying determination, he’s singing these as himself, which transports the music into a different realm.
“Songs from the show are really nice to perform out of context,” he explained. “Bringing it in to a concert, you get to color outside the lines. Some songs take on new meaning when it’s not Aaron Burr singing it.”
In between making music and touring, Odom’s kept busy acting, like appearing in last year’s “Murder on the Orient Express” alongside Daisy Ridley, and continues to pursue different avenues. His book, “Failing Up” is due out in March and is written in the style of a commencement speech. The narrative details how Odom’s greatest successes came from his greatest risks and how he allowed himself to be open to defeat.
“The better part of it is the story of how everything in my life turned around the first time I gave myself permission to fail,” he said. 
Odom worked as an actor on stage and television before landing his big break but admits it was a challenge. He kept working toward his goal and what made him feel alive but success didn’t happen immediately.
“That can be the biggest eye roll, ‘Yeah, but you had ‘Hamilton,’ but I didn’t know that seven or eight years ago, struggling, trying to get jobs,” Odom said with a laugh. “I didn’t know that the role of a lifetime would come to me. I was just following my passion and my heart. … and eventually found my way to ‘Hamilton.’”
Odom’s advice to young people finding their path echoes his own life. He encourages anyone to surround themselves with what makes them happiest. Whether it be a career in performing arts, math or medicine, keep moving toward it and be open to where it takes you.
“Read about, talk about it, learn as much as you can about it. Follow your passion and those things will love you back,” he said. “Keep walking toward those things that light you up. … I didn’t know take this step, then take this step. I just loved it, you know? I loved it and found a way to dream myself into the world I loved so much.”
Odom took the holidays to unplug and clear his mind and is coming into the new year feeling refreshed, focused and balanced. He’s ready to continue to challenge himself and to reach as many people as he can through his passion.
“(It’s) the fact that I got to express myself in such a way that felt total and complete and now get to sort of be the architect of the rest of my journey and go where my inspiration leads,” he said. “It’s that I get to go around the country and meet fans and people who didn’t have a chance to see the show and some that may never get to go to New York (City) to see the show. We get to bring it to them.”

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If you go
What: Sem Presents! featuring Leslie Odom Jr.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Wyoming Seminary’s Kirby Center for Creative Arts, 260 N. Sprague Ave., Kingston
Details: Tickets are $35-$70 and can be purchased online at wyomingseminary.org/arts/sempresents.

Deathcore bandmates form bond in childhood

Deathcore bandmates form bond in childhood

Melodic deathcore band With Words Unspoken began with two band T-shirts.
Guitarist Matthew Pilch and vocalist Jordan Teixeria were in third grade when they each wore a Kiss shirt to school, and “we were friends from then on,” Pilch said. “Music has given us a bond like a brotherhood.”
The melodic deathcore group also includes drummer Ryan Hargrave and guitarist Zachary Miller. The group will release its first EP on Tuesday, Jan. 16, and continue to write music and perform in and around Northeast Pennsylvania.

Q: Where did your band name come from?
Jordan Teixeria: The name comes from being about what you do, not what you say, because as the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” We’re hoping our actions speak and bring heavy music back around and make people move the way it was meant to be.

Q: How did you each get involved in music?
Ryan Hargrave: I got into it from my dad playing older heavy music, and I myself started getting into Danzig, Misfits, Strength for a Reason, Bury Your Dead, amongst other hardcore and death metal.
Matthew Pilch: I think I can say Kiss was definitely a start to myself and Jordan’s music lives. For us, they had everything that appealed to us: the amazing stage presence, the anthemic feel of the music, and the image stuck out for sure. I remember Jordan and I had gotten our faces painted as Kiss members back when we were young kids.
Zachary Miller: I can say for sure Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot (were) a big influence, and especially Rings of Saturn and Bullet for My Valentine. They got me playing the heavy yet melodic type of music.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed?
JT: Our first show as this group was a train wreck. Although it was a small hardcore house show, it was still a big deal to us as our debut. Our old drummer booked the show, didn’t tell us until after, and we only had three songs, so we needed to write at least a couple more in a very short amount of time. When we did, and it was show time, he backed out on us day of the show. Being that we weren’t going to trash our name because of his actions, we kept our word on showing up. Our guitarist Zach filled in on drums, and we played as a trio. It sucked, but as they say, the show must go on.

Q: What is your songwriting process like?
ZM: I usually just go over (to) our vocalist’s house. We just fool around with a few riffs together and feed off of each other going part by part. Then since Ryan and I are close, I go over, and the song starts to take form.
JT: For lyrics, I try to focus on real-life experiences as a vent for the struggles I go through that I know others can relate to as well.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories?
JT: We can all say that what stays in our heads is seeing people move and get into the music we play. It makes every dollar and second we put into it worth it. One show we played with a few comedians — we were the punchline to their jokes. Then at the end of our set, the same people joking about us were the same people coming to shake our hands.

Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed?
JT: As a whole, we think it’s gone down, but right now it’s at a perfect time to be revived. There was a time where all-ages shows were everywhere every weekend, in a bunch of towns. Now all the venues we knew when it was booming for us around 2008 or so are closed, so it gets harder just playing at bars since it’s age-restricted. We as a music community are very diverse, and it’s amazing to see. We’ve got it all in NEPA. … We as a music community have grown tremendously, but our venue choice has diminished, sadly. Hopefully people notice the growth of the music underground and start bringing all-ages shows back.

Q: What music do you listen to?
JT: We diversify in taste greatly, but at the same time, bond in heavy music, which brought us together. I know I can go from Dixie Chicks to Carnifex in the same five minutes. Matt varies with the Doors, the Dead, Wu Tang Clan and just as soon jams some Fit for an Autopsy. I know Ryan loves his old punk and hardcore and listens to some real ’90s rap when it actually had substance, and Zach I know loves classic rock as well as heavy music.

Q: Have you faced any major challenges?
JT: Just getting ourselves out there and accumulating a bigger fan base.

Q: What are your future goals for the band?
JT: I would like to see us perform more all-ages shows, get to play with some bigger heavy bands and hopefully see more of the world while playing our tunes for people across the nation.
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Meet With Words Unspoken
Members: Jordan Teixeira, vocals; Ryan Hargrave, drums; Zachary Miller, guitar; and Matthew Pilch, guitar
Based out of: Pittston
Established: June 2017
Genre: Deathcore
Online: With Words Unspoken can be found on Facebook.
Up next: Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8:30 p.m., Irish Wolf Pub, Scranton