BEST BETS: Schoch shares songs at Friends of Folk coffeehouse

He didn’t mean to, but Kent Schoch says his father set him on a path to making music.

“My mom was a big country music fan but my dad was not a huge music fan at all,” he recalls.

“We had this console record player in the living room that he made me turn down so low that I had to press my ear

Lewes singer/songwriter Kent Schoch will join Butch Zito and Jim Rezac for a Delaware Friends of Folk coffeehouse Saturday in Dover.

really close to the speaker. I ended up listening to the music so intently because of that and picking up things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. So in a funny way, I guess it all backfired.”

Mr. Schoch, a Lewes singer/songwriter has gone on to record three albums, both as a solo artist and with his band Slinging Daisies.

He will be in Dover Saturday as Delaware Friends of Folk will present their monthly coffee house concert in the Bennett Chapel at Wesley College.

Saturday night’s 7:30 show will feature one performer from each county. Along with Mr. Schoch, from Sussex, also appearing will be New Castle County’s Butch Zito and Kent County’s Jim Rezac.

Mr. Schoch’s love of music started with Elvis Presley.

“I grew up a huge Elvis fan. In 1972, Elvis was no longer as cool as he was in the 50s but as an 8-year-old kid I got a 45 (single) of Elvis and fell in love with it,” he said of Mr. Presley’s last big hit “Burning Love.”

His tastes over the years progressed to artists such Kiss, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.

Since his mother listened to acts such as Loretta Lynn, Donna Fargo and Johnny Cash, he says he thinks country music has influenced him as well.

“In the 1970s, Elvis was leaning pretty country. I didn’t appreciate it at the time but there’s not a whole lot of difference between rock and country. You take a song like Tom Petty’s ‘Refugee’ and change the instrumentation and have someone like Johnny Cash sing it and it turns into a country tune,” Mr. Schoch said.

Born in Wilmington, growing up in Dover, graduating from Caesar Rodney High School and moving to the beach area in 1995, Mr. Schoch didn’t start playing the guitar until he reached his early 30s. Years of putting his ear right up to the speaker paid off as he taught himself how to play the instrument.

“It was right at the beginning of the internet and I found a sheet that showed chord shapes,” he said.

He wrote his first song at 38 years old.

“I don’t write as much as I used to but there was a period where I carried a notebook and a recorder everywhere I went,” Mr. Schoch said.

“I have stacks of notebooks two or three feet high in my basement that I really should go back and check out. I used to keep a folded notebook in my back pocket and would write down random thoughts and or things that I heard. Sometimes they would turn out to be parts of songs and sometimes they wouldn’t.”

He says the themes in his writing have stayed consistent over the years.

“The topic of a lot of songs are usually about things that I’m not very good at, like relationships,” he said with a laugh. “That’s probably the most common theme.”

His band, formed about four years ago, plays some of his originals along with cover tunes. They perform in area venues such as Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach and Mispillion River Brewing in Milford, where they will play March 3 from 8 to 10 p.m.

He is joined by lead guitarist John Clifton, drummer Adam Clifton and bass player Justin Cavagnaro.

“I had a solo gig once and wanted some of the guys to come with me. It’s turned out to be a good little thing. We kind of mesh well,” he said.

Along with the originals, the covers are a bit unusual.

“We do ‘Walk This Way’ but we turn it into a blues song or ‘Gimme Three Steps’ and play it as a New Orleans swing song,” he said.

“Early in Tom Petty’s career, he played with a band called Mudcrutch. We practiced one of their songs the other night.”

Also on Saturday’s bill, Mr. Zito’s musical trail started in Austin, Texas in the early 1980s when he formed Stackabones, a jam band who, over the years, have been featured at a number of festivals, including the Delmarva Folk Festival, produced by Delaware Friends of Folk. As a soloist, he has performed on the same bill as Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Pete Seeger, Michelle Shocked and David Bromberg.

Mr. Zito was the recipient of a Delaware Division of the Arts Established Artist Award in 2014. He used the award to help construct a performance space on his New Castle County farm where he and his wife regularly present their “Farm Music Series,” host benefits for Pacem in Terris, and produce the Xtianstock and Chickenstock festivals, which help underprivileged students buy musical instruments.

Mr. Rezac, a familiar face to Dover-area music fans, has been playing in country, rock, and rockabilly bands for over 30 years.

A sideman for most of that time, he honed his skills playing guitar, cigar-box slide and six-string banjo. Less than 10 years ago, he stepped out as a solo artist and that move has taken him to performances at the Avalon Theater in Easton, Md., the Grand Opera House in Wilmington and The Bitter End in New York City.

Mr. Rezac released his first solo CD in 2013 and is currently writing and recording a follow-up album. He has a teaching and performance space in Wyoming, where he offers lessons and hosts small concerts.

Admission is $5 for members of Delaware Friends of Folk, $7 for nonmembers, and those 12 and under are admitted free. Fresh-brewed coffee, baked cookies and other snacks will be available.

Bennett Chapel is at the corner of Division and North Bradford streets in Dover.

‘Putting it Together’

As we told you last week, the Kent County Theatre Guild stages the final weekend of the first show in its “Soarin’ ‘Round the World with KCTG” season, Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting It Together”

Under the direction of Nancy Muller and the music direction of Andrea Davis, “Putting It Together” is a musical revue showcasing the songs of Stephen Sondheim (“Sweeney Todd,” “Follies, “A Funny Thing Happened…”).

Drawing its title from a song in “Sunday In The Park With George,” it celebrates Mr. Sondheim’s career in musical theatre. Featuring nearly 30 Sondheim tunes, “Putting It Together” is performed by five people who are thrown together at a party in a Manhattan penthouse. With a bit of imagination, the guests transform the apartment into the stage of an abandoned theatre, an estate in Sweden, an island outside of Paris, a street off the Roman Forum, the woods of a fairy tale, and a mythical town in the Southwest.

This production will feature a live pit band.

The show runs today and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 (adult), $18 (senior citizen, military, student), $17 (KCTG member), and $10 (children under 12). Tickets can be purchased on KCTG’s website (www.kctg.org) or by phone at 302-674-3568. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more.

Billy Gardell at Dover Downs

Billy Gardell

As we also told you last week, Emmy-nominated comedian and actor Billy Gardell will perform at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino’s Rollins Center tonight at 9.

A very limited amount of tickets can still be purchased online at doverdowns.com or by contacting VIP Services at (800) 711-5882. Regular ticket prices range from $25 to $45.

Mr. Gardell, a Pittsburgh native, is best known for his six-season stint on the hit CBS comedy “Mike & Molly,” where he portrayed Officer Mike Biggs alongside Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy.

In 2016, Mr. Gardell earned an Emmy nomination for Best Game Show Host following his work with the show, “Monopoly Millionaires Club.”

This year, he is starring as Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s infamous manager, in the CMT drama “Sun Records.” Gardell’s other television credits include “Lucky,” “Yes Dear,” “Judging Amy,” “My Name Is Earl,” “The Practice,” “Monk,” and Gary the Rat.”

Daytona 500 party

Also at Dover Downs, Dover International Speedway’s Daytona 500 Watch Party will be Sunday at the Fire & Ice lounge in Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. The event is free for everyone. Children are welcome in the lounge but prohibited from the bar area.

Doors open at 1 p.m. and the race will start at approximately 2:30 p.m. The broadcast will be shown on Fire & Ice’s 20-foot high-definition movie projector screen in the lounge behind the bar, as well as many of the 39 HD TVs above the bar area.

Prize drawings, giveaways, games and more will be available. Food and Anheuser-Busch drink specials will be available inside Fire & Ice, with several $10.95 menu selections including buffalo chicken wings or tenders, All-American burgers, pulled pork nachos, and Philly cheesesteaks, as well as $2 drafts, $2.50 bottles and $4 cocktails.

Shakespeare readings

If you still have that Valentine’s Day spirit, Delaware Shakespeare actors will perform a mix of readings, sonnets, and songs at Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna
Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and include one drink (nonalcoholic drinks available).

Tickets can be purchased on the Delaware Shakespeare website at www.delshakes.org.

Now Showing

New this weekend is the much-anticipated superhero film “Black Panther”; the animated comedy “Early Man” and the action-adventure film “Samson”.

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the comedy “Daddy’s Home 2,” the animated “The Star” and the acclaimed film “The Florida Project.”

 

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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