BEST BETS: Catanzaro to share songs and stories in Dover

With a multiple-octave range and a voice compared to Robert Plant and Janis Joplin, singer/songwriter Cassidy Catanzaro has turned a lot of heads in the music world over the past two decades.

As the lead singer of the alt-country female band Antigone Rising from 1999 to 2008, Ms. Catanzaro, who goes by

Singer-songwriter Cassidy Catanzaro, former lead singer of Antigone Rising who has written songs for Demi Lovato, among others, will appear with Sol Knopf and Patty Blee at Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse in Dover Sunday at 3 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Cassidy on stage, has sold close to 2 million records, toured with The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Dave Matthews and has shared the stage with Gregg Allman and Journey’s Steve Perry, among others.

As a songwriter, she has penned tunes with Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 and helped write the Demi Lovato single “For You” off of Ms. Lovato’s 2015 Grammy-nominated album “Confident.”

Talking about her stage presence, Dover native and Smyrna musician Sol Knopf recalled a moment while performing with her.

“During her first performance with us (in Millsboro in 2016), she got a standing ovation in the MIDDLE of the show,” he said. “That’s Cassidy.”

Ms. Catanzaro is back in Delaware this weekend, performing with Mr. Knopf and Patty Blee in another installment of Mr. Knopf’s popular “Songwriters and Storytellers” series Sunday at 3 p.m. This time around, they will be singing and telling tales at Kent County Theatre Guild’s 100-seat Patchwork Playhouse in Dover.

Ms. Catanzaro and Mr. Knopf have established a musical bond since she first heard about him from a sound man at Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach, where she was performing a couple of years ago.

“It’s so rare that you find someone who wants to connect you and they do it and it ends up great. We’ve ended up doing shows together and he’s become a great friend,” said Ms. Catanzaro, who has also shared the stage with Mr. Knopf at Dover’s former Schwartz Center for the Arts and recently in Morristown, New Jersey.

“He played a song the other day on stage and I said to him, that’s a smash hit. It was a great song.”

It’s a mutual admiration society between the two.

“The first time Cassidy and I spoke on the phone, I knew within 10 seconds that we were going to be friends forever. There is an authenticity and kindness about her that is unmistakable,” he said.

“Sharing the stage with her has been a real thrill. She has total command of her voice. Within the same song she can move you to tears at a whisper and then blow the roof off with her power and range. There aren’t too many people in the world who can do that.”

Ms. Catanzaro has become a fan of Mr. Knopf’s music as well and knows all too well how hard breaking in to the mainstream as a songwriter can be.

“I spent years in Los Angeles writing songs every day full-time and willing and available to do every session until I got placed with big artists,” she said.

“But not everyone can afford to do that. I struggled for a long time. Not everyone has the luxury to park themselves in the middle of the city. There’s certainly luck involved and whether you make it or not is certainly no reflection of your talent.”

She said, these days, the success of a song is not necessarily tied to its virtue.

“The quality of a song is not always what’s going to break through. Sometimes it’s if an artist needs an uptempo song or a certain hook, or even a lyric can be a factor if they think it’s going to be a hit or not,” she said.

“We still have great songwriters who have a whole audience who wants great music. Just because they aren’t on the Grammys or the CMAs doesn’t mean they don’t have great careers. There’s always commerce for great songs and great artists.”

Her “big break” came in 1999 when she was recruited by Antigone Rising to be their lead singer.

“They were a band that had never been signed to a label that had been playing around New York City. I came in and started writing songs and they got a record deal,” she said of Lava Records, an offshoot of Atlantic Records.

“People started understanding me more and I got put right away in co-writing sessions with industry people. It was a blessing. Appointments became a lot easier. Even after I left the band, I would get called and told you have a fan over here or a fan over there if a song is needed for something.”

Although it happened a decade ago, she still lights up when thinking about that tour with The Rolling Stones.

“It was a real pinch-me moment. I don’t talk about it much but if it comes up when I’m sitting in a local bar and a friend mentions it to someone else, I can feel my toes curl and my face goes crimson and I think ‘Yeah, I toured with The Rolling Stones,’” she said.

“We were the first all-female band to tour with them. So that’s one for the grandkids right there. You feel like you can hang up your cleats right after that. They were all so lovely to us. Keith (Richards) would watch the show every night. Mick (Jagger) would keep to himself a little bit more but he was still super nice.

“They were the biggest arenas we ever played. They rolled in a small city of 10 trucks from town to town. It was a master class in the way you want to tour.”

These days, Ms. Catanzaro who recently moved back to her native New Jersey, finds herself touring the world with a show entitled “Women Rock.” She is joined by fellow performers Katrina Dideriksen and Shayna Steele in a salute to female singer-songwriters, such as Carole King, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Pat Benatar, and Carly Simon.

The music is all backed by a philharmonic orchestra.

“I’m singing with these amazing singers and a wonderful orchestra. The first night I got so caught up in the music, I just started crying,” she said.

She is also involved in the supergroup Underground Thieves.

“It’s people who all have established careers who came together. We’re putting out one single a month until the end of the year when we will put out an album of all of the songs,” she said.

“We want to be like The Band and have a big traveling circus of musicians rotating in and out.”

On top of her musical endeavors, Ms. Catanzaro is also an actress and performed in improv comedy troupes while living in Los Angeles. She said she would like to get back to acting.

“I’ve been watching ‘Peaky Blinders’ on Netflix and it makes me want to act again. I did a few commercials and a play in LA and that was an incredible experience and a great opportunity. If I put it out in the universe, maybe it will happen again,” she said.

Through it all, she is thankful for her success in the music world.

“I love performing, being on stage and writing songs. My dream has always been to be a full-time musician and songwriter and I’ve managed to do that for 20 years,” she said.

“And that’s been a miracle in itself. I’m grateful for that and I’m just marching ahead and going with the flow. It’s really my calling.”

At Sunday’s show, Ms. Catanzaro and Mr. Knopf will be joined by Ms. Blee, who has shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen and Soozie Tyrell and has opened for the likes of Martina McBride, Pat Benatar and Blake Shelton. She will be joined by Ernie Trionfo on guitar.

Tickets for the show are $20 and can be obtained at SolKnopf.com and at the door. The Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 Roosevelt Ave., Dover.

Chowdown for Charity

The southern chapter of The Next Generation (Next Gen South) of the Delaware Community Foundation will hold Chowdown for Charity at Maple Dale Country Club, at 180 Maple Dale Road, Dover, tonight from 6 to 9.

Guests will enjoy beer and wine while local restaurant chefs prep gourmet signature dishes to sample. The restaurants with the most votes will be crowned the “2018 Chowdown for Charity Chefs Champion”.

DJ Jammin Jeff will be playing all the favorites while attendees get to bid on auction items. Attendees will also be able to give their luck a chance in the Wall of Wine, which holds a variety of red and white wines disguised in foil. One lucky winner will take home the hidden bottle of Dom Pérignon.

Next Gen South, a giving circle of the Delaware Community Foundation, is a philanthropic organization that was created and is directed by young professionals living and working in Sussex and Kent counties.

Next Gen South is raising funds to support grants for programs providing addiction and support services for families in Southern Delaware.

For more information about Next Gen South or to participate in Chowdown for Charity, visit www.facebook.com/TNGSoDel.

Tickets to the event can be purchased by visiting Eventbrite.com and searching using the keyword: Chowdown for Charity.

Lights of Life

The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s Lights of Life gala will take place Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. This year’s 70s-themed celebration “Light of Lights Goes Disco Nights” will be an evening of living and giving in support of those affected by breast cancer.

For the first time, two levels of tickets will be offered, the VIP solid gold experience for $125 per person; and silver mirror ball dessert and dancing for $50 per person. The VIP experience will take place from 6 to 11 p.m. and includes admission, access to silent and live auctions, fashion show, open bar, dinner, dessert and dancing.

The silver mirror ball ticket will be offered from 8 to 11 p.m. and includes access to the fashion show, auction, two drinks and dancing. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Un33k from Spinjocs Entertainment.

The fashion show will feature local breast cancer survivors.

For tickets, call (302) 778-1102 Ext. 1011 or at the door.

Poetry Out Loud

From a competitive field of 20 Delaware high school students, 12 remain to compete at Poetry Out Loud, the statewide recitation competition that will be held at a new location this year, Dover High School Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The finalists will compete for the opportunity to represent Delaware and advance to the National Finals in Washington from April 24-25, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

The finalists comprise the following: Chelsea Anokye-Agyei, Hodgson Vo-Tech High School; Matthew Byer, Wilmington Friends School; Avery Chambers, Caravel Academy; Julian Clark, Middletown High School; Andrew Dingwall, Wilmington Christian School; Whitney Grinnage-Cassidy, Ursuline Academy; Melina Hudson, Milford Senior High School; Tyler Keeler, Laurel High School; Giovani Malcolm, Concord High School; Richard Matthews, Dover High School; Samuel McGarvey, Tall Oaks Classical School; and Dounya Ramadan, Newark Charter Jr./Sr. High School.

The competition encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest is sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the action-comedy “Game Night,” the romance film “Every Day” and the sci-fi fantasy “Annihilation.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated “Coco,” the remake of “Murder on the Orient Express” and the acclaimed films “Darkest Hour” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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