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Updates from the East Coast Refugee!

Fly, Eagles, fly!

posted Jan 2, 2018, 10:13 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jan 17, 2018, 1:54 AM ]

December 2017 was an amazing month full of holiday parties. One highlight was playing a children's Christmas party with We Kids Rock at the Kennett Flash. (The same venue was hosting Tony Levin just a few hours ago; wish I could have been there for that.)

Somehow, throughout a demanding December schedule, I’ve muddled through to usher in 2018, and here are some of the things on tap in the very near future:
  • Jan. 6 is “Sock It To Me Saturday” at Tom-n-Jerry’s in Folsom, a venue that has been very kind to AM Radio.
  • Jan. 7 is “First Sunday” at the Bridgeport Ribhouse. Paul Sinclair’s Sunday night Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith tribute finally returns. “It’s been a long time,” as is often said.
  • Jan. 14 is “Sunday Slice” at the Bridgeport Ribhouse, the home base of AM Radio.
  • Jan. 21 is coming together as we speak. The Flamin’ Caucasians are prepared to play dance party music at Peppers Italian Restaurant & Bar whenever we have to, in order not to conflict with our important football game viewing that day. Go Birds! (Update: Peppers opted out of hosting The Flamin' Caucasians that day, but AM Radio will play a pre-game afternoon show at Bridgeport Ribhouse.)
  • Jan. 26 is another “Far Out Friday” at Ardmore Music Hall, only this time, AM Radio gets the honor of opening for Broken Arrow - The Music of Neil YoungDoors 7:30 p.m. | Show 8 p.m. | EVENT INFO | TICKET LINK | Neat concert poster
  • Jan. 27 is “Drive-In Saturday” at DaVinci’s Pub in Collegeville, a great venue for dancing to AM Radio tunes.
  • Jan. 30 is a Tuesday night gamble with The Flamin’ Caucasians on the Molten Lounge stage at Sands Casino in Bethlehem.
On another note, I revived an old newsletter of mine for one day. It was the Jan. 2 edition of "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History" because this year is going to be an exciting one for Led Zeppelin fans. The band is going to turn 50 years old this summer, and it's always fun looking back.

Double whammy day

posted Nov 27, 2017, 7:59 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Nov 27, 2017, 8:29 PM ]

It was an honor to take the stage of the Sellersville Theater yesterday, where AM Radio played sets opening the afternoon and evening performances of Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone.

AM Radio performs Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" during the evening show at Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, Pa., on Nov. 26, 2017.

Peter Noone made an amazing cameo during the same set. When he heard us starting a song by Herman's Hermits, he put a stop to it and hilarity ensued. My favorite line was Kevin Burk's admission that he thought the song was by the Dave Clark Five. The spot was planned but improvised.

AM Radio's evening performance at Sellersville Theater is interrupted by Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits.

When I got home from Sellersville, I found a copy of Lancaster's Sunday newspaper dropped off earlier by my dad. Featured in the entertainment section is a column reviewing recent performances by two area tribute bands and an interview with two of my bandmates in Presence, A Tribute to Led Zeppelin. It's a really nice read as it pertains to being meticulous and showing good judgment in your playing. The online edition even has two photos of our band.

Cramming in the last of my summer fun

posted Sep 6, 2017, 12:23 AM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 12:31 AM ]

August has come and gone. As the month began, I was in Massachusetts playing the best annual sets yet with the Building Science Boogie Band. After six nights in Massachusetts, I came home and played back-to-back nights with Lancaster band Memory Laps(e) and AM Radio. Both The Sofa Kings and AM Radio remained very active throughout the month with me on keys whenever our schedules worked out.

August included two open-air show dates that especially stood out for me. The first was Musikfest on Aug. 11 where I played the Festplatz stage with The Sofa Kings -- which even got me on TV (check out this news coverage). That show had to end early due to a thunderstorm hitting Bethlehem, but it was worth it to see a crowd that size dancing to everything.

Secondly, Lakefest on Aug. 27 was a really great day, where I played sets with both AM Radio and The Sofa Kings, while also checking out the musical talent on two other stages. I deepened my appreciation for Danielle & Jennifer and Rhodes Less Traveled, and learned about an up-and-coming performing artist named Jesse Lopez.

After all of these experiences in August, Labor Day really felt like the end of summer for me. I couldn’t have imagined more beautiful weather for a show on the beach where I was playing in Brigantine, New Jersey. Michael Allman fronted the Mile High Club, and we played two sets of Allman Brothers Band songs and whatever else we liked in our common repertoire. It was a private party, so we were quick to play requests and welcome several special guests sitting in.

It was my second Jersey shore date in three days. Labor Day weekend had started with me sitting in with The Sofa Kings at the Princeton in Avalon, NJ. On the day in between I had to make it back to Pennsylvania to play an afternoon church wedding, an evening AM Radio gig at Bridgeport Ribhouse, and three Sunday morning church services. I wound up driving about 600 miles in three days. I spent more time on the road than I did sleeping, but thankfully, I played music way longer than all that driving.

Zeptember is now in full swing. Everybody’s back in school, and some people might be stuffing all their white pants in a remote drawer where they intend to be reunited with them next June. But technically, summer won’t be over for another two weeks. I have three more concert appearances scheduled over this time:

Saturday, Sept. 9 - AM Radio at Puck Live, Doylestown, PA

Sunday, Sept. 10 - Back to Amy, A Tribute to Amy Winehouse at Bridgeport Ribhouse, Bridgeport, PA

Friday, Sept. 15 - The Sofa Kings at Twenty9 Restaurant & Bar, Malvern, PA

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

posted Jul 26, 2017, 11:42 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jul 26, 2017, 11:45 PM ]

The Flamin' Caucasians have released a free MP3 download of Pharrell Williams's song "Happy" featuring me on lead vocals. Visit http://tinyurl.com/FChappy or click here to download the song. We hope you download this, listen to it and shake your hips — because we want you to STAR IN OUR VIDEO!

Think back to 2013, when Pharrell unleashed his dance grenade and earned a gazillion YouTube hits.
That's the type of video we'd like to recreate — not because we think we can get that many people to watch ours, but because we want to spread some "Happy" to our fanbase.

This video concept depends on your help. We want to feature fan-submitted footage. So smile, shake your hips, and clap along. All we need are a few seconds we can edit in, but if you want to dance to the whole song that would be cool too. We won’t be using your audio, just your visuals, so grab a friend and get movin'!

Be creative with locations. Headed to the shore this weekend? Great, the original video has a beach in it, too! It also shows giant staircases and escalators, train stations, buses and convertibles, parks and bowling alleys, places with trophies and gospel choirs.

Now don't feel obligated to hit these particular spots. If you're reading this in your cubicle, that'll do just fine. If you work at a candy store or your next errand is the flower shop, film yourself there! Just look happy, and clap along as the song says!

To participate, film a video and send it via Facebook Messenger to The Flamin' Caucasians page at http://tinyurl.com/FCpageSubmission deadline is Wednesday, August 9. Thanks in advance for helping us make an entertaining video!

Hold onto your hats, it’s time for Summer Camp

posted Jul 25, 2017, 12:19 AM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jul 25, 2017, 12:28 PM ]

Monday’s gig was at a park amphitheater in Hatfield Township. Kevin Burk estimated the crowd to be about 300 people. For him and most of AM Radio, the gig was within 15 minutes of home, but for me, an hour and a half. We played under the shelter of the wooden amphitheater, our audience facing us seated on the lawn chairs they brought.

The show went very well for almost two hours until the threat of rain acted as promised. Once we heard thunder, we had to pronounce we’d just played our last song. The thunder didn't persist, but the rain got pretty heavy during our tear-down and the drive home. Now I’m dealing with some pretty wet equipment that I’ll have to dry out before my next big trip.

That trip comes later this week as I drive all day up to New England for an annual conference where I’m leading my own band. The conference attracts a Hatfield Township-sized crowd of its own, and the Building Science Boogie Band formed around me to become the house band at the conference afterparties. So what that this conference is a bunch of engineers and architects discussing the finer points of solar paneling and underfloor ventilation!

So what that I never understood residential energy efficiency or indoor air quality when I was the editor of trade publications about those topics! But at least being a journalist got me in the door at this conference my first time there, and it was the best-ever twist of fate when I sat down at the house piano to focus on something other than having to talk to another engineer.

I started playing music, hoping I could avoid talking to people. Well, people kept talking to me anyway. The difference was now it was tolerable to me, even thrilling, because now they were talking to me about music. All of a sudden, somebody asked me if I could play Pink Floyd, so to prove that I could, I played the entire album The Dark Side of the Moon. It was my way of showing them I was a geek too!

Next thing I knew, somebody else was coming up to tell me he wanted to play guitar with me and see if I could jam on some reggae tunes. Well, that’s precisely what we did, and he quickly became my first bandmate in what wound up being the Building Science Boogie Band. And these are science-minded guys in the rest of the band, not professional musicians. There are some great guys in the bunch who don’t mind playing “Margaritaville” because they’ve come up with their own nifty lyrics about the telltale signs of moisture damage. Last year they wrote a new parody song every night. Amazing stuff!

So long, Pennsylvania. I’ll see you when I’m back from Summer Camp. On Friday, Aug. 4, I’ll be at Riverside Camping Association in Lancaster playing keyboards for Memory Laps(e). Then on Saturday, Aug. 5, I’ll be at Tom N Jerry’s in Milmont Park, back with AM Radio.

Casting a wide net

posted Jul 15, 2017, 2:11 AM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jul 24, 2017, 8:03 PM ]

Man, I love getting up on a stage and jamming. Sat in with Cynical 'Stache and did some far-out stuff incorporating Fiona Apple, Herbie Hancock, Henry Mancini, Traffic, Ted Nugent, James Brown, Bon Jovi, Joe Zawinul, Keb Mo, Poison, Raconteurs... Just wingin' it on a Friday night!
Cynical 'Stache performs "Mustang Sally" (okay, everybody plays this...) at AmVets Post 19, Lancaster, Pa., July 14, 2017.

What else did this Cynical 'Stache show incorporate? Let's see; I'm just getting started. There's Prince, Uriah Heap, Delbert McClinton (see below), Joe Cocker, Stevie Wonder, Doors (actually, plenty o' Doors), Black Keys, the Buckinghams, Chuck Brown, Huey Lewis & The News, Stray Cats, Santana, Parliament, the amazing "fifth" Beatle Billy Preston... and, oh yeah, the Beatles. Gotta love a band with such a far-reaching repertoire!
Cynical 'Stache performs "Shaky Ground" by Delbert McClinton at AmVets Post 19, Lancaster, Pa., July 14, 2017.

A ‘Rush’ to judgment

posted Jul 2, 2017, 9:02 AM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jul 27, 2017, 6:37 PM ]

With a Saturday night where I didn’t have to go play a gig, I showed up at Tellus360 to catch the performance by Solar Federation. They’re a renowned tribute band performing the music of Rush. Within the first few songs, I realized a few things: For one, there are probably way more Rush songs that I don’t know compared to the ones I do, and I felt outnumbered in that regard. The fans up front, and those sitting on the sidelines too, knew exactly what rhythmic changes were coming next as they sang along, shook, bopped their heads and cheered in all the right places.

Something else I observed early on in the show, and again and again throughout, is how well the band members themselves executed all their parts. They all shine, but one member stood out in particular to me. Maybe I’m biased since he is a very dear friend, but I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with this: Solar Federation is such a great vehicle for showing off the mad skills of Mike Bitts on bass. I don’t think I ever fully appreciated how crucial that instrument is to Rush music, not until I saw Mike playing it last night. He is a friend of mine as well as somebody I look forward to playing alongside quite often, but I wasn’t ready for just how much of a monster he is on the bass within the context of this band. My hat is WAY off to this guy.

What’s more, it gives me great joy to break some news here. At an upcoming Solar Federation concert they will have as an opening act another band very dear to my heart: Presence - A Tribute to Led Zeppelin. In that group, Mike’s bass and my keyboards combine to complete the duties of John Paul Jones. In Solar Federation, it takes the efforts of Mike on bass AND synth (cough, cough), Joe Cin on additional keyboards, and Julie Schreiber on vocals to complete the duties of Geddy Lee. Mike will be pulling double duty that night, playing in both bands. The show is Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Pollock Center in Camp Hill, PA. I cannot wait! Further info will be announced in due time.

Bands with a sense of humor

posted Jun 23, 2017, 10:06 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jun 23, 2017, 10:36 PM ]


Have you gotten tuned in to AM Radio, and now you want to turn your friends on to the sound? We’ll be at Tom N Jerry’s ready to dig into a world of forgotten gems that ruled the radio world, all delivered with professionalism and a cheeky sense of humor. We’ve dabbled with the FM band as well, and we aren’t afraid to use it! Bring a friend to Tom N Jerry's today (Saturday, June 24).

Any Led Zeppelin tribute band is pure FM. One thing I particularly enjoy about the one-year-old band Presence is the sense of humor where one might not always expect it. We’ve discovered how well Jerry Lewis shtick goes with certain Zeppelin songs. We are diving headfirst into assorted aspects of the Led Zeppelin catalog tomorrow night (Sunday, June 25).

Going for it

posted Jun 21, 2017, 1:00 AM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jun 21, 2017, 1:37 AM ]

Back to Amy performed at the Ribhouse last Thursday, and this Amy Winehouse tribute will be today's final performer at Valley Forge Casino, at the closing of the Rotation Records industry mixer. We think we've got a pretty hot band, including a jazz quartet always "going for it" in the instrumental warm-ups before the brass section and our fearless singer Su Teears hit the stage. Last week we played material by George Benson, the Meters, Bobby Hebb, and a standard by George Gershwin. Who knows what we might try next?

AM Radio had its most productive concert in a long time at the Ribhouse on Father's Day, as we debuted several songs we'd all been listening to like crazy this week: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me," "Sunshine Superman," and "Call Me" to name a few. We had special guests drop in for a few unplanned songs: "What's Going On," "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Blue Sky." We fielded requests: "Top of the World," "Hush," and "White Rabbit." A video of me singing "Love Me Two Times" hit the YouTubes. There were a few more songs we were meaning to get to, but we were already going overtime. Everything new we attempted really paid off in a big way. It is great to be associated with another band that's constantly "going for it"!

In other news: During the acoustic show I played with Dan Zdilla last Wednesday at Tellus360, I glanced at my iPad to find out the next song of the set. It was called "Front Porch," and it was Dan's second time performing this song live that he hadn't yet gotten to record. From rehearsals, my understanding of the song is that it's very personal to Dan as it's about a pet he once had. Remembering this, I looked away from the iPad and toward Dan as I uttered his former dog's name to him. Maybe hearing Nelly's name might prompt him to tell a story before playing the song. Dan just smiled at me and told me that was the new name for the song. It's so simple, "Nelly" it is! Now his studio recording sessions have officially included "Nelly."

It's a wild weekend

posted Jun 12, 2017, 1:54 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jun 12, 2017, 1:55 PM ]

What a whirlwind of a weekend it was. On Friday it was rehearsal for this month's tribute show with Presence, A tribute to Led Zeppelin, followed by a couple of piano lessons for my students. Thank goodness I could enjoy that night off for once, because on Saturday it was family fun time twistin' by the pool at a country club with The Flamin' Caucasians, straight to the dingy atmosphere of The Nail where I played with a tribute to a Yngwie Malmsteen, Trial By Fire. Man, what a capper to that night!

But that's not all I did this weekend. All day Sunday I accompanied four church services, including one at a cathedral where I got to play a very decent grand piano with a well rehearsed choir. Straight from the post-service celebration in honor of a 50-year man of the cloth, I was off to rehearse with Dan Zdilla for his solo spotlight this Wednesday at Tellus360 opening for Daniel Romano. Now I'm home and I intend to stay that way for a while.

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