Best Bets: Dover-based Awake at Last takes on music world

From left, drummer Jon Finney, guitarist Imran Xhelili, lead singer Vincent Torres and guitarist Eric Blackway form the Dover-based rock band Awake at Last. The group recently released its new single “Dead Generation” and comes out with their first full-length album “The Change” in early summer. (Submitted photo)

After a busy 2018, Dover-based rock band Awake at Last is looking at even more schedule-packed 2019.

While last year saw the four-member group play a stint on the final run of the Warped Tour and at the iMatter Festival alongside bands such as Underoath and August Burns Red as well as opening for Asking Alexandria in Louisville, Kentucky, this year has Awake at Last rolling out its first full-length album in early summer as well as performing at shows and festivals across the country.

It’s latest single “Dead Generation” was released earlier this month, and like “Purgatorium,” off of their 2017 EP “Life/Death/Rebirth, it has received steady airplay on Sirius XM Octane satellite radio.

“When ‘Purgatorium’ managed to get on Sirius XM Octane, that really jump started our fan base out there. Then we recorded our first full-length album ‘The Change,’ and that was a long process. So that got us wondering if we were just a flash in the pan. But it was a big accomplishment to get ‘Dead Generation’ on the radio and it let us know that we were going in the right direction,” said lead singer Vincent Torres.

Together for eight years, the band has gotten serious about taking their music to a new level for the last five years.

“The cool thing about Delaware is that it’s withing two-and-a-half to four or five hours of a lot of cool cities where we could put together these schedules and weekend runs and kind of compare and contrast the reception we get in these places outside of the area,” Mr. Torres said.

“I think we always knew we wanted to pursue it professionally and that it had to be done. We love being on the road because it makes us feel independent where we can do our own thing and build up our fan base.”

The band, which also includes guitarists Eric Blackway and Imran Xhelili and drummer Jon Finney, just returned from a 10-day tour, which started in Virginia and wound its way through Florida and Georgia.

They’ll head back out on the road at the end of the March, going through the Midwest and then getting out as far as Texas for the first time in April.

Festivals such as Renegade in Michigan and INKCarceration in Ohio will follow in July.

Three of its members grew up downstate, so that Delaware pride shines through as they take their music across the country.

“I think when we tell people we are from Delaware, it catches them a bit off guard,” Mr. Torres said.

“They’ll either ask if we are from Delaware County since a lot of states have a Delaware County or they’ll start quoting that scene from ‘Wayne’s World’. I think it also surprises people because you don’t see many bands from Delaware out there on the road. The only one I can think of George Thorogood and that’s going back a ways.”

The future touring schedule will be done in support of “The Change.” It was recorded in two weeks last summer in Greensboro, North Carolina.

It serves as a sequel of sorts to the EP, following the same character on a journey through multiple lives.

“We worked with some really good producers who challenged us and fine-tuned us to turn us into more polished musicians,” Mr. Torres said.

Being able to double the amount of tracks on the album as opposed to an EP gave the band a “larger palette to work with,” Mr. Torres said.

“Instead of having to do six straight-ahead rock songs, we could also throw in some ballads, which gave us a chance to write some different stuff and then decide to throw in a slow song here and there.”

He said the band plans to have an album release party in the Dover area in a few months where they would have the chance to play the songs in the order they appear on the album.

“With the way the music industry is these days, it’s like driving down the highway 70 miles an hour and the songs are like billboards you speed past,” Mr. Torres said.

“Someone might catch a single here and a single there. I think attention spans are getting smaller these days where people, except your hardcore fans, don’t sit down and really lock into a full-length album.”

He’s excited for people to hear the record though.

“There’s been a lot of planning and a lot of strategizing for it. It was rough at the end of last year when we were still sitting on it and getting anxious for it to come out,” Mr. Torres said.

“But now things are starting to pick up steam and it’s starting to be really rewarding and worth the wait.”

The attention that the single “Dead Generation” is already getting is part of that process. The song is a wake-up call to stand up and speak with your own voice rather than joining the “Dead Generation.”

The songs of hope on the album are part of a bigger, longstanding effort by the band to reach out to those dealing with mental health issues.

Mr. Torres said everyone in the group has gone through some sort of a mental health challenge throughout his life and they do what they can to support others and also play for events that support mental health causes.

“We meet a lot of kids who are going through bullying or other kinds of problems and we really want to be a voice for them. We’re always willing to do shows that raise money for mental health awareness,” he said.

“A lot of fans message me and I try to give them the best advice I can about staying positive and we try to do what we can to lead by example through our words and songs that can hopefully help people get through those dark times.”

He said he and his band members are certainly staying positive about the future of Awake at Last.

“We’re looking to have that kind of impact where the music industry can’t ignore us. We’re going to continue to put out those positive vibes to move things forward and keep pursuing that dream.”

‘Kitsch in Synch’

“Kitsch in Synch” is Michael Fleishman’s first solo show in Delaware and represents an entire new medium for the Milford artist: cardboard.

On display from until Mar. 19 at the Mispillion Art League, in Milford, he colorful show was inspired by the 300 boxes it took to move Mr. Fleishman and his wife from Ohio to Delaware in 2015 after he retired as a college art professor.

With a MFA in Painting and Drawing, Mr. Fleishman has cycled through many artistic styles during his 40-year career, including editorial illustrations and cartooning. He has also authored eight books on illustration and design, including “Starting Your Career as an Illustrator,” published in 2016 by Allworth Press. He currently teaches art and cartoon classes for kids at MAL, and is an English Department writing tutor at Delaware Technical Community College in Dover.

Mr. Fleishman points out that while the material and cutout approach may be a change of pace, his “technique and subject matter are natural extensions of my love for drawing and painting ductwork, machinery, robotic, and mechanical stuff.”

Mr. Fleishman adds that his exhibit, funded in part by the Delaware Division of the Arts, taps into a material that is so ubiquitous and common, it’s often maligned as being inconsequential.

“I have always been into recycling and upcycling,” he said. “I was taught that you don’t need fancy tools or expensive papers to generate meaningful art. It’s my intention to manipulate this humble surface with ordinary tools to do just that.”

The opening reception for “Kitsch in Synch” is today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Mispillion Art League, 5 N. Walnut St., Milford.

Dinner, comedy show

St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church will be hosting a dinner and comedy show by Stanton’s 4th Wall on Saturday at the Great Hall.

Tickets are $35 per person. Cocktail hour will begin at 5 p.m. where there will be appetizers and a cash bar. Dinner at 6 p.m. will include a pasta station, mashed potato station, carving station, salad and rolls.

Stanton’s 4th Wall, a family friendly comedy act, will put on a two-hour comedy show consisting of TV comedy skits through the generations.

The Great Hall at St. Andrew’s is located at 425 N DuPont Highway, Dover. Tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite, or by calling Sarah at (302) 222-4886

Desegregation in Dover

The Friends of Old Dover, Dover’s local history and preservation society, will welcome Dr. Reba Hollingsworth, a 1945 graduate of Delaware State College High School for Colored Students and a guidance counselor at Dover High School for 22 years, to speak from her experience of how the Dover community went through the process of desegregating its public schools.

Her talk, which culminates Black History Month in Dover, will be held in the Dover Public Library, 35 Loockerman Plaza, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. There is no charge for admission.

Globetrotters on track

Looking ahead, The Harlem Globetrotters, the legendary basketball team that wows fans of all ages with its ball skills, trick shots, comedy and more, will perform free shows in Dover International Speedway’s FanZone on Sunday, May 5 as part of the Monster Mile’s 50th anniversary celebrations, track officials announced this week.

The Globetrotters will perform before that day’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at 2 p.m.

The May 3-5 NASCAR tripleheader weekend includes the NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash race on Saturday, May 4 and the JEGS 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race on Friday, May 3.

The Globetrotters, first organized in the 1926, perform more than 400 shows around the world each year with its distinctive red, white and blue uniforms. The exhibition team is known for its colorful personalities, audience interaction and supreme basketball skills.

Keep up to date on all 50th anniversary announcements and schedules by visiting DoverSpeedway.com or calling (800) 441-RACE.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is the animated sequel “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” and the wrestling comedy “Fighting With My Family.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the supernatural film “The Possession of Hannah Grace.”

To share news of your entertainment group, venue or event, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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