Updates from the East Coast Refugee!

Have another hit of fresh air

posted Jul 8, 2018, 11:27 AM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jul 8, 2018, 11:42 AM ]

Whenever summer rolls around, for musicians it means the prospect of playing outdoor shows. On one hand, you could be running the risk of your gig might be a balmy, sweaty mess. An outdoor show I played from 2 to 4 last Saturday with Words In Flight was one of those scorchers.

On the other hand, your outdoor gig could be cool and breezy — like the pleasant experience I had yesterday with The Flamin’ Caucasians as we made our debut at LaCosta in Sea Isle City, N.J.

We were on from 5 to 9, playing to a crowd of mainly twenty-somethings. The energy level was not unlike some of the riotous college parties we’ve played. We fielded requests for “Twist and Shout” and just plain-ol’ “Shout,” plus “Piano Man” with a lot of audience participation. A favorite of ours at shows like this is “Louie Louie.” As our drummer, Dave Consono, has been fond to say (and I think he’s quoting NRBQ), the people accepted it with glee, and there was much rejoicing.

So I’m hoping that in the coming weeks, it’ll be as nice out as it was yesterday.

My schedule is filled with open-air entertainment, including the following.

Sunday, July 8 - AM Radio Tribute Band plays the Elmwood Park Summer Concert Series at the Band Shell, Norristown, PA

Tuesday, July 10 - AM Radio Tribute Band plays the Whites Road Park Summer Concert Series in Lansdale, PA

Wednesday, July 11 - AM Radio Tribute Band plays the Narberth Park Summer Concert Series at in Narberth, PA

Sunday, July 15 - AM Radio Tribute Band plays the Mount Carmel Festival in Plymouth Meeting, PA

Thursday, July 19 - AM Radio Tribute Band plays the Towamencin Summer Concert Series at Fischer’s Park in Lansdale, PA

Friday, July 27 - The Flamin’ Caucasians returns to LaCosta in Sea Isle City, NJ

Thursday, Aug. 9 - AM Radio Tribute Band plays the Whitpain Concert Series in Blue Bell, PA

Some indoor shows this month:

Friday, July 13 - The Flamin’ Caucasians at the Crab Shack, Morton, PA

Saturday, July 21 - AM Radio Tribute Band at Tom N Jerry’s, Woodlyn, PA

Saturday, July 28 - AM Radio Tribute Band at the Whitpain Tavern, Blue Bell, PA

Crabby places and more spring events

posted Apr 30, 2018, 9:07 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Apr 30, 2018, 9:09 PM ]

Well, spring’s been here for over a month now, but it still wasn’t quite feeling like it today. One of my friends thinks he’ll be able to put away his winter coat now. I hope he’s right. What I do know is that I’m playing two venues this month that both have “Crab” in their names. I’ve never been to either one of them before.

There’s the Hilltop Crabhouse in Toughkenamon (which I’m still learning how to pronounce); that gig will be this Friday, May 4. This will actually be the first time I’m sitting in with Big Daddy & the Fender Benders. They also have me on Friday, May 11 at Creekside in Royersford.

The other crab place is the Crab Shack in Morton, where I’m playing with The Flamin’ Caucasians on Friday, May 18. (You can also catch The Flamin’ Caucasians at Pepper’s Italian Restaurant & Bar in King of Prussia on Sunday, May 20. We do have a Lehigh Valley date as well: The band’s on the Molten stage at Sands Casino in Bethlehem on Tuesday, May 22.

Apart from my crabby news are these items of possible interest…

AM Radio Tribute Band plays Bridgeport Ribhouse shows on both Mother’s Day (May 13) and Father’s Day (June 17), so stay tuned for more info about both days. The Ribhouse usually offers dinner and drink specials on these holidays, possibly with brunch options and other live music.

AM Radio Tribute Band will be providing entertainment for the first time at Brittingham’s Pub in Lafayette Hill on Saturday, June 2. We’re returning to the great new concert venue 118 North in Wayne on Friday, June 1. There will also be AM Radio Tribute Band shows at JD McGillicuddy’s Roxborough (May 25), DaVinci’s Pub in Collegeville (May 26), and Tom N Jerry’s in Woodlyn (June 16).

About two times a year, The Confessionals get reunited for fundraisers at Lancaster Catholic High School. The next one of these events is on Saturday, May 12. Doors open at 7 p.m. Music and dancing commence at 7:30. Attendees must be 21+. RSVPs are due soon; contact LCHS’s Fine & Performing Arts Department or see this flyer for more info.

The sorrow before Easter

posted Mar 28, 2018, 7:20 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Mar 28, 2018, 7:23 PM ]

The first time music at church really got to me, it was on Good Friday. The day has a lot of sorrow and the music to match, where the joy of Easter is just around the corner. A few weeks ago, I played piano at a moving prayer vigil that tells the sorrowful story. The music was directed by Helen McMonagle, and high school students provided the acting. If you're so inclined, watch, meditate, and pray along.

Influential classic rock

posted Mar 11, 2018, 7:49 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Mar 11, 2018, 7:52 PM ]

Sorry, I just want to say something about "Free Bird." Put away your lighters and deal with it.

This guy on TV just said how the song is a surprise because when you first hear it, you think it's another ballad and isn't this nice. But then it just starts rocking your socks off. Surprise!

The guy is right. I remember having that reaction the first time I ever heard the song. I remember it clearly. I know exactly where I was WHEN I first heard the song.

For the record, I was driving when the song came on the radio. I arrived at my destination and didn't want to turn off the radio. Where was this song going next? This was amazing! I could have turned off the radio and gotten out of the car and gone on with my day, but -- but -- this song was amazing and I had to hear the rest of it. And holy crap, I wondered, exactly how much more of this song IS there? How long can they keep this up!?

My destination was a Negative Space rehearsal. Drummer extraordinaire Sean Sultzbach and virtuoso guitarist BJ Huss were up a flight of stairs. They were already rocking their brains out by the time I got up there. What I don't remember for sure is how badly I embarrassed myself that day by asking them if they had ever heard of this song "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Hint for my mother-in-law: The song is ubiquitous; you would make me really happy if you look it up sometime.)

In a similar way, I remember vividly my first time hearing "Fool in the Rain" by Led Zeppelin. Disclaimer: It probably wasn't the absolute first time I was ever exposed to "Fool in the Rain," but it was definitely the first time I ever paid close attention to and was mesmerized by "Fool in the Rain."

This also takes place in my car, driving while the song is on, arriving at my destination while the song is still going on. I'd arrived early at high school, so I thought I'd be good on time if I listened to the whole song.

After a couple of verses of the laid-back shuffle, there's a whole new uptempo Latin rhythm and you have to wonder how John Bonham is doing what he is doing. John Paul Jones is cleverly delivering these simple piano chords on all white notes. Robert Plant's voice wails and interweaves through the mix.

Jimmy Page plays such a great guitar solo, every note duplicated two octaves below, and lo and behold, every note he plays is from that same C Major scale as the piano. Bonzo's drum sound through it all is impeccable. This guitar solo might never end. I hope it doesn't -- oh wait, I do have to make it inside the school eventually... maybe it'll end soon... Jimmy Page's playing is a flurry of notes and then a moment later he becomes choosy about what notes are coming next. He's holding back. I'm hanging on his every note. He finally throws it back over to the singer, and the song never ceases to carry my interest.

Some may mock me for saying so, but I think it's Jimmy's finest recorded guitar solo from the Led Zeppelin catalog.

Sleepless nights

posted Feb 25, 2018, 11:35 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Feb 25, 2018, 11:36 PM ]

Over the past few days, my hectic musician's schedule has had me waking up early in the morning for rehearsals and then playing gigs late at night. This allowed me to take a quick afternoon nap whenever possible but only a few hours of sleep overnight before I'd have to wake up again. It's probably not healthy, but now that my body is used to sleeping for only a short period of time, I can't sleep when I have enough time in my schedule to allow me a full night's sleep. My body thinks I should be out playing a gig and driving home for another hour afterwards.

Oh well, I'm using this time instead to look ahead at what's coming up on my schedule over the next month. Coming off of the busiest February I think I've ever had in my life, March might just give me more of a chance to rest. I'll be volunteering at the Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival on March 9-11 so I don't have any public gigs of my own to promote that weekend. The public gigs I'm playing next month are these:
  • AM Radio Tribute Band will be at the Bridgeport Ribhouse twice this month: first on Sunday, March 4, and again on Tuesday, March 20. Our home base has become a fertile ground for us to try out new songs, so come to these gigs and let us know how we're doing.
  • AM Radio Tribute Band returns to JD McGillicuddy's Roxborough in Philadelphia on Friday, March 16. We enjoyed reaching a new audience there this past Thursday night; it'll be great to play JD's on a Friday to see how well we can fill the room.
  • For your evening entertainment on St. Patrick's Day, look no further than DaVinci's Pub in Collegeville for a performance by AM Radio Tribute Band. That’s Saturday, March 17.
  • The Flamin' Caucasians are at Peppers Italian Restaurant & Bar in King of Prussia on Sunday, March 18. We are ever pumped to play this room because the hearty dance crowd never fails to disappoint.
  • Last but not least, AM Radio Tribute Band returns to Tom N Jerry's in Milmont Park on Saturday, March 24. We can hardly believe what a turnout this place delivers because when we started playing there, it was in a nearly empty room. But the venue believed in us and stuck with us, and it has paid off immensely.

Funeral for a friend

posted Feb 23, 2018, 5:00 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Feb 25, 2018, 11:22 PM ]

This one’s for you, Darlene.
AM Radio Tribute Band performs Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” live on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, at JD McGillicuddy’s Roxborough in Philadelphia, Pa.

Your 2018 NFC champions, the Philadelphia Eagles

posted Jan 22, 2018, 9:15 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Jan 22, 2018, 9:16 PM ]

Both Eagles playoff games were well timed so that I could play gigs warming up ahead of the sporting event. AM Radio were in the middle of “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan on Jan. 14 when a Saints win seemed inevitable and the Vikings suddenly came out on top, much to everybody’s surprise. The next night, the Sofa Kings were on break for a surprise birthday party when we got to watch the Eagles’ win over the Falcons and go out to play what had now become a victory party.

AM Radio performs the "Devil with a Blue Dress On"/"Good Golly Miss Molly" medley popularized by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, followed by the Eagles' fight song, at the conclusion of a tailgate party at the Bridgeport Ribhouse, Bridgeport, PA, on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2018.

On Sunday, after an AM Radio tailgate party, I retired to the home of a local musician who was having a birthday party with the Eagles-Vikings NFC championship game on a big screen. I watched as the Eagles' pick-six tied up the game at 7 in the first quarter, but I went downstairs and played a solo piano rendition of the Jimmy Page guitar instrumental “White Summer” in the presence of a guitarist who plays Led Zeppelin songs for a living. Then I marched my way through a gutsy rendition of “Send Me On My Way” accompanied by a drummer who plays Rusted Root songs for a living. An ensemble jam session borrowed my attention for the rest of the night. I did break away in time for the game’s final two minutes. All I knew before I saw the score, thanks to everybody who'd come down bearing good news, was that the Eagles had scored further touchdowns. I wondered how many times the Vikings had scored that weren't being celebrated in the same fashion. But there was a very good reason that no Vikings score updates were happening; they didn’t score anything else the whole time I’d been down there jamming! Final score: 38-7 in favor of your 2018 NFC champions, the Philadelphia Eagles!

There are three more public gigs on my schedule this month. Next up is this Friday, Jan. 26, at Ardmore Music Hall, with AM Radio opening for Broken Arrow, a tribute to Neil Young. One night later, on Saturday, Jan. 27, you can catch three AM Radio sets at DaVinci’s Pub in Collegeville on Saturday, Jan. 27. Finally, The Flamin’ Caucasians will be at the Molten lounge stage at Sands Casino in Bethlehem next Tuesday, Jan. 30.

Not sure yet where I’ll be during the big game on Sunday, Feb. 4, but I can tell you one place I’ll be on Friday, Feb. 16. I’ll be joining the lineup of Dead Flowers, a tribute to the Rolling Stones, for their show at the Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, PA. I just love playing parts originally performed by Ian Stuart, Nicky Hopkins and Ian McLagan. At Sunday night’s party, there was a lot of jamming in the Stones-Faces-Zeppelin vibe, with four other guys from the Dead Flowers show there. I played my fair share of honky tonk piano all night long, including on Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” Hey, it was a good choice in the moment.

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

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