BEST BETS: Music in the air at Patchwork Playhouse

Singer-songwriter Paul Donovan will join Jim Rezac, Sol Knopf and Joey Fulkerson for a show of original music Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Patchwork Playhouse in Dover. (Submitted photo)

The Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse is offering two chances this weekend for local musicians to show off their original music.

The multi-genre power-rock trio Wall of Cain, led by Wyoming’s Chris Kirby, plays the Dover venue tonight while local musicians Sol Knopf, Joey Fulkerson and Jim Rezac along with former Delaware resident Paul Donovan perform an acoustic songwriters’ circle show Sunday afternoon.

Similar shows have been done before at the playhouse and it’s been the proverbial win-win situation for everyone.

“We do feel that having these shows is a good use of the theater when plays are not in progress, as it gives us exposure to people in our community whose interest may not necessarily be in theater but in other performing art forms,” said Kent County Theatre Guild Board Chairman John Muller.

“This exposure has generated better ticket sales for our plays. Several performances (this year) of “Twelve Angry Men” and all of the performances for “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” were sold out. It’s been a while since this has happened, so I think we have to attribute some of that to more people knowing who and where we are.

For musicians like Mr. Knopf, of Smyrna, it’s just great to have a place to play. Sunday’s show will be in the round.

“It’s nice to have a little, intimate room with 100 seats. You don’t have everyone spread out over a big theater. Everybody is in there together. It’s like a big family,” he said.

Mr. Muller said a recent renovation of the theater from tiered seating to portable chairs has allowed shows like this to happen.

“One of the reasons for the renovation was to allow us to change the atmosphere of the house for other types of performing arts events, concerts being just one. It was less about ‘in the round’ as it was about having the option to allow people to move more freely,” he said.

Wall of Cain, the main event for today’s 8 p.m. show, is a new band featuring Mr. Kirby on bass and vocals, Nathan Ames on guitar and drummer Chris Leslie.

Mr. Kirby said tonight’s audience will “be taken on a journey.”

“All three of us have different musical influences and we pull from those influences when we write our tunes,” he said.

“For example, I may come up with a tune that reminds me of a 70s rock song. Chris gives it a listen and instead of a traditional 70s rock beat on drums, his approach may be something like Stewart Copeland from The Police. Nate may come up with something on guitar that has a Gary Moore feel to it.

“Their approach takes the song to the next level and that’s what you have to be able to do — come up with a good tune, polish it and make it better.”

Mr. Kirby hopes tonight’s show at Patchwork will allow more folks to come hear his new band.

“I could not imagine playing music with any other guys. We’ve been friends for a long time and we trust each other. We’re able to laugh at our screw-ups and offer up opinions without egos getting in the way,” he said.

Sunday’s show featuring Mr. Knopf, Mr. Rezac, Mr. Fulkerson and Mr. Donovan is a chance for

The power-rock trio plays the Patchwork Playhouse in Dover tonight at 8 p.m. (Submitted photo)

them to show off a different side that many of their longtime fans may not have ever seen.

“It’s a great opportunity to get a chance to do our original music,” Mr. Knopf said.

“A lot of time we are all out doing the same old songs that everybody knows and we don’t have a venue for an all-original show.”

Sunday’s 3 p.m. concert will follow the same format of Mr. Knopf’s Songwriters and Storytellers programs that have featured himself along with top national songwriters performing their music and telling the audience how these songs came to pass.

“We all have core groups of followers. Joey plays locally a lot. Jim Rezac performs locally and is a guitar teacher from whom a lot of people take lessons. I grew up in this area. Paul spent time here. Most of us raised our families here. It’s just a nice chance for all of us to perform together,” Mr. Knopf said.

For Mr. Donovan, it’s a bit of a homecoming. He spent about 12 years in Delaware, living in Milton, Rehoboth Beach and Middletown starting in 2003.

He’s played different types of music, from heavy metal to jazz to contemporary Christian for years all over the country.

Working at B&B Music in Camden with Mr. Knopf in the late 2000s, Mr. Donovan had taken a bit of break from the tunes until Mr. Knopf gave him another kick start.

“I was kind of burned out on it at the time. I would play for myself and maybe do some church-related stuff. I kind of put the performing aside for the most part,” Mr. Donovan said.

“But then I started backing Sol up at a bunch of shows and the more we would do it, the more he would encourage me to sing a couple up front and that led me to get back out on my own.

“Now I play about 80 to 100 gigs a year and if it wasn’t for Sol, I wouldn’t be doing it again.”

Mr. Knopf says Mr. Donovan is a bit of a “hidden secret.”

“He’s an amazing guitar player, an outstanding writer and a great singer. He has this nice high range and can still hit the high notes that the rest of us can’t get. People have no idea how gifted and talented he is.”

His second EP “Glow” was recorded in Nashville and he is looking to do another in 2017.

Like the others, he relishes the chance to perform original music and talk about it.

“I love this format. Behind the scenes, I was one of those kids who would read every credit on every album and would love to hear the inside stories on what inspired them to write the songs,” said Mr. Donovan, a Pennsylvania native, who now lives in Ewing, New Jersey.

“In most of the gigs I do all year long, I do cover tunes and I’ll sneak in my originals here and there. But these are the kinds of shows I really want to do.

“Plus, all these guys are so talented. I’ve worked with Sol and Jim before but I’ve never worked with Joey before. And of course everyone knows what a local legend he is.

“I’ll have the best seat in the house. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tickets for tonight’s Wall of Cain show can be purchased for $15 by visiting kctg.org, calling 674-3568 or at the door.

Tickets for Sunday’s show are also $15 and can be purchased at solknopf.com or at the door.

The Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 E. Roosevelt Ave., Dover.

A Jazzy Holiday Jam

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Denise King

For those in the holiday spirit, Philadelphia native Denise King will perform A Jazzy Holiday Jam full of seasonal favorites Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Schwartz Center for the Arts.

Ms. King performed a straight-ahead jazz show at the Schwartz at the beginning of this year with trumpeter Duane Eubanks and will be back in Dover Saturday.

Tickets are $22 to $25 and can be purchased by visiting schwartzcenter.com, calling 678-5152 or stopping by the box office at 678-5152.

The Schwartz Center is at 226 S. State St., Dover.

First State Symphonic Band in Smyrna

At the Smyrna Opera House, the holiday season will be celebrated with a concert by the First State Symphonic Band featuring favorite Christmas and holiday music tonight at 7:30

Selections include Tchaikovsky’s “Suite” from “The Nutcracker,” “Symphonic Prelude” on “Adeste Fidelis” and medleys of popular and traditional Christmas carols. The concert will conclude with two Leroy Anderson Christmas classics: “A Christmas Festival” and “Sleigh Ride.”

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:45. A cash bar will be available.

Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 SOH members, senior citizens, and military, and $8 for children 12 and under.

They can be purchased at smyrnaoperahouse.org, calling 653-4236 or at the box office at 7 W. South St., Smyrna.

Grants available

The Delaware Division of the Arts has opened its annual online application process to apply for grants to support arts programming and projects taking place during fiscal year 2018 (September 2017 – August 2018). Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

The guidelines and applications for all grant programs have been revised and streamlined, and a new grant category, Arts Access, was added to the list of offerings beginning this year. Past and new applicants should read the guidelines carefully and call division staff with any questions at (302) 577-8278.

“We always advise prospective applicants to contact the division staff before submitting an application, especially for the first time,” said Paul Weagraff, division director. “Staff members can help an applicant determine which grant program is the best fit for their planned project, and can also answer questions about the application and review process.”

Visit www.artsdel.org/grants to access the full guidelines for each program and a description of the grant review process.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the highly anticipated “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 3D” and Will Smith in “Collateral Beauty.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Tom Hanks in “Sully,” the animated “Storks” and the remake of “The Magnificent Seven.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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