BEST BETS: Single Origin doubles up on the music at Old State House

Dover twins Shannen, left, and Sean Norris make up the musical duo of Single Origin. The pair will play a free concert at the Old State House on the Green in Dover March 9. (Submitted photo)

When finding someone to make music with, Dover’s Shannen Norris didn’t have to look far. For the last five years, Mr. Norris and his twin brother Sean have formed the duo Single Origin.

Attracting a local following with their smooth sounds, Single Origin will play a free concert at Dover’s Old State House March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

When describing the type of music the two play, Shannen takes a pause.

“I don’t even know what we play myself,” he said with a laugh.

“The closest thing Sean and I can come up with is a combination of folk, blues and jazz. Someone came up with a description of ‘neo soul’ once and I liked that.”

Both self-taught guitarists, Shannen said he and his brother grew up listening to a lot of music.

“Sean always had these three-way speakers and we listened to a lot of Motown at first,” he said.

“Eventually when we both had jobs and could buy our own stuff, we could not stop buying CDs. I bought hundreds and put them in a book I still have.”

Now 26 years old, the brothers were born and raised in Dover with a father in the Air Force. Shannen graduated from Dover High School while Sean got his degree from Polytech.

Both took the influence from those scores of CDs and became musicians separately at first.

Shannen started writing songs before he ever learned how to play the guitar.

“I had all these ideas for songs and actual music in my head. I figured it was time to buy a guitar and learn how to play. I bought a friend’s bass who needed money to pay for a traffic ticket. So it worked out for both of us,” he said.

“I felt silly early on. I heard an interview with Pearl Jam where they said they had tried something new. They wrote the lyrics before the music. I thought ‘Have I been doing this wrong for the last three years?’ No wonder my music sounds so weird. But then I realized that there is truly no one way to do it.”

Shannen started playing out at local coffeehouse open mics, eventually garnering a following.

“My early shows were pretty short, maybe an hour. I had to first learn to get over my stage fright. I ran into one of my largest influences on anything I’ve ever done (local musician) Jeremy Bursich. He said to me ‘I really like your music but I can’t hear what you’re saying. You have to stop mumbling.’ So I had to work on that as well,” Mr. Norris aid.

Meanwhile Sean was working on his music at the same time.

“I remember seeing him out one night and thinking ‘What the heck am I doing with my life? Sean can really play.’” Shannen said.

“He’s really good. For God’s sake we’re twins. We might as well get together and see what happens.”

Shannen said the first couple of years were spent just learning each other’s songs.

“I had this insanely huge catalogue of stuff so it took a lot of time just getting it all down,” he said.

The two’s influences are varied, from Radiohead to The Roots, from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Miles Davis and from Kendrick Lamar to Jack White.

“We shared music growing up so our influences are all the same,” Shannen said.

“We heard different music but fell in love with it the same way. Radiohead’s album ‘In Rainbows’ was the first aha moment I had in music. And it was more of how they approached the music and the idea behind the music. You don’t want to sit around and try and sound like what you hear on the radio. You want to focus on new and challenging music at the end of the day.”

Shannen said their writing process is very give and take, with each contributing lyrics and music.

“We could be having a conversation out over a whiskey and just talking about why a certain thing happens and that conversation could serve as a basis for song,” he said.

“In writing songs, I have a motto that if you make something sacred then nothing is sacred. I’ve destroyed entire stanzas in order to make a song better.”

Shannen said they have re-recorded their initial EP three times now, searching for the right sound but thinks now is the time to finally release it to the public.

“We just have to realize that it’s not going to be perfect. We have to let it fly and grow wings,” he said.

“We’re getting to the point where we have to have something to physically put in someone’s hands. It doesn’t matter how artistic you want to be, you’d have to be a fool to ignore the business side of things. You just have to come to terms with it.”

As for the future, Shannen said he and his brother hope to expand regionally and perhaps add a percussionist to the mix.

“It’s not necessarily our goal to become big and famous. We just want to make the best stuff we can and move to an area like Philly or New York or Atlanta where original music is played and you can make a living do it.”

But first, they have that State House show coming up next week.

“I love the look of the place. I remember visiting it as a little kid in elementary school. They wouldn’t let me touch anything and now we’re playing music here” Shannen said.

“That’s really cool.”

This will be the final show in the Friends of Folk 2017-18 concert series, inside the Old State House on The Green in Dover.

The series is produced in cooperation with the First State Heritage Park and is supported by a grant from the Kent County Fund for the Arts.

Seating is limited for the free one-hour show.

‘School of Rock’

Aside from “Kiss Me Kate” at Polytech featured elsewhere in this section, two other productions are being staged in the days ahead at area high schools.

Milford High School and Milford Central Academy students will present “School of Rock: The Musical” this weekend.

This production follows Dewey, a failed rock musician posing as a substitute teacher, as he tries to turn a group of straight-A students into a rock band capable of winning the Battle of the Bands. The musical is based on the hit movie starring Jack Black, and it has additional songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Performances are tonight and Saturday at 7. There will also be an afternoon matinée on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Tickets are available at the door for $5 for students age 18 or younger; $6 for seniors 60 or older; $8 for all others. A $1 discount will be given to those who bring a ticket stub from the Lions Club spaghetti dinner (4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday in the MHS cafeteria).

For additional information, contact producer Erica Snyder at (302) 422-1610 or esnyder@msd.k12.de.us.

‘The Music Man’

“The Music Man” hits the Caesar Rodney High School stage starting Thursday and March 9 and 10 at 7 p.m.

“The Music Man” is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey.

The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive Midwestern townsfolk, promising to train the members of the new band. Harold is no musician, however, and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons.

Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love.

Tickets will be available at the door only for each performance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and students. Questions can be directed to the Caesar Rodney High School Stage Crew & Thespians Box Office at 302-697-2161.

‘Beer on Ice’ event

The Centre Ice Rink at The Delaware State Fair’s “Beer on Ice” event will be held at the rink Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. Ticket prices range from $15 to $35.

In addition to a craft beer tasting it will also offer patrons a chance to experience keg curling and unlimited rides on the fair’s new bumper cars on ice.

The craft beer tasting will include tastings from Delaware and regional craft breweries, including Dogfish Head, 3rd Wave, 16 Mile, Fordham & Dominion, Blue Earl, Mispillion River Brewing and Brimming Horn Meadery. Food items will be available for purchase from Bethany Blues, Mojo Loco and Coach’s Cafe.

General admission tickets are $30 if bought in advance and include a souvenir mug and six tasting tickets. Designated driver tickets are available for $15 and includes two soda tickets and one hot dog from Coach’s Cafe. Tickets can be purchased online at www.delawarestatefair.com or in person at the rink. Tickets will be $35 the day of the event.

It is open to participants 21 years of age and older.

For more information, contact The Centre Ice Rink at 398-5900.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow” and Bruce Willis in a remake of “Death Wish.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the Marvel film “Thor: Ragnarok,” the Oscar-nominated “Lady Bird” and “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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