BEST BETS: Wakefield gives ‘Voice’ to Smyrna at Night

Country singer Jeff Fasano plays Friday night’s Smyrna at Night on the main stage on Market Street. (Submitted photo/Gary Fasano)

Friday’s annual Smyrna at Night townwide music and beer festival will go national with the addition of headliner Adam Wakefield.

Direct from Nashville, the rock-country singer/songwriter was the Season 10 runner-up on the hit NBC talent show “The Voice” and has toured from coast to coast on the heels of a 2017 self-titled EP and a full-length album in the works.

A native of New Hampshire, Mr. Wakefield spent 10 years in Baltimore in a band with his brother called Old Man Brown. The band was managed toward the end of their span by Gable Music Ventures of Wilmington, producers of Smyrna at Night.

“We went through different stages. We were Southern rock and then we went further into soul but then we were also New Orleans-sounding. We were probably a marketing nightmare,” he said with a laugh by phone on his way to Rehoboth Beach Tuesday afternoon.

“We did whatever we needed to do. We were writing music we wanted to play, like a lot of bands. It was a good way to cut your teeth.”

That variety of music genres has been a hallmark of Mr. Wakefield’s musical career.

“My family was pretty eclectic musically. We listened to everything from John Lee Hooker to James Taylor. There was a lot of great Motown soul stuff. And then there was the singer-songwriter stuff like John Prine, Crosby Stills and Nash and Willie Nelson,” he said.

He started playing classical music on the piano when he was 4 years old.

“We had a piano and I decided I wanted to play it. I remember we had show and tell in the first grade. These girls would play classical music and I thought ‘I can do that better than them,’” he said.

After a while learning classical music he hooked up with a teacher “who was more of a jazz guy,” he said. So he dabbled in that for a while.

Around 16 years of age, he started playing guitar after his parents divorced and his father didn’t have a piano.

Through it all, music was a constant.

“I’ve really wanted to be a musician for most of my life. With the band in Baltimore, I was the lead singer. I quickly realized how bad I was and worked really hard to get better. We started writing songs and kind of popped from one thing to another. That’s probably why it’s taken me so long to pursue a solo career,” said the 36-year-old.

Moving to Nashville in 2013 with his girlfriend Jenny Leigh got him into the country mode.

“She sings country music so I went with her and checked it out. I realized that Baltimore and Nashville are very different. Nashville is such an industry town. I thought if I went there, I could make it happen. And if I didn’t go there, Jenny was going to go anyway,” he said.

While in Nashville, he established a bluegrass band called The Copperheads and developed his country-rock sound, playing in area spots.

He also filled in as lead singer of Chris Stapleton’s bluegrass band, The SteelDrivers, for a couple of months.

“Nashville has such great songwriters and I’ve been trying to establish myself in that way and trying to sponge everything,” he said.

It was in Nashville where he was approached by a producer from “The Voice,” asking him if he would like to audition.

“They have talent scouts in every major city looking for people to have private auditions. They have to keep their eye out,” he said.

“Good singers know other good singers and word gets around.”

He was mentored by Blake Shelton and finished second behind winner Alisan Porter. He ended up with a No. 1 song on iTunes, “Lonesome, Broken and Blue,” which he wrote and performed on the show.

He said the exposure he received helped him to get noticed.

“It really did. I was pretty surprised. I got a good solid, small band of loyal fans out of it. It definitely helped. And with new songs and help from a label (Average Joes Entertainment), it’s going to help build that fan base,” Mr. Wakefield said.

His partnership with Average Joes helped produce his newest single, an offbeat song called “Ducks,” which features label mate country rapper Colt Ford.

“It’s a funny song that I never thought I would put out. I thought somebody else would scoop it up. With the label I signed up with, I could put it out myself,” Mr. Wakefield said.

He has two more singles coming out soon from his upcoming album. One song, “Cheap Whiskey and Bad Cocaine,” he describes as a George Jones-type song and “Dry Days,” he says is reminiscent of tunes by Little Feat.

“That’s the nice thing about having an eclectic background, having done a bunch of Southern rock, bluegrass and jazz. I have a lot of tools at my disposal,” he said.

Best Kept Secret will play Friday night’s Smyrna at Night beer and music festival. (Submitted photo)

Friday at Smyrna at Night, he will perform at 9 p.m. on the main stage on Market Street. He is looking forward to the show.

“We’ll do a combination of stuff. We’ll do our original stuff from the EP and a bunch of new ones, along with some fun covers. We’ll jam it out,” he said.

This year’s Smyrna at Night, held during Smyrna’s 250th anniversary year, is bigger than ever.

Twenty-six musical artists will perform from 5 to 10 p.m. on 13 stages in 10 venues.

Headliners also include country band Highway 309, Americana duo Scot Sax and Suzie Brown and popular party band Best Kept Secret.

Local acts include Sara Ann Garrison, Judy Sings the Blues, Single Origin, The Blues Reincarnation Project and Dayne Melvin.

Eventgoers should see an expanded variety of at least 18 food trucks. A change will also be made to the biergarten.

“Instead of the biergarten taking place next to Town Hall, the entire event grounds have been covered for a liquor license so there will be two outdoor bars serving (beer from)Painted Stave and Blue Earl, and guests will be able to move around the event grounds with their beverages,” said Jeremy Hebbel of Gable Music Ventures.

Children’s activities will also be included in the free evening.

‘The Sisters Rosensweig’

This is your last weekend to see Wendy Wasserstein’s romantic comedy “The Sisters Rosensweig” presented by the Kent County Theatre Guild.

It is the story of Sara Goode, an enormously successful American woman working as the British representative of a major Hong Kong bank, about to celebrate her 54th birthday, and she isn’t exactly too happy about it. Firmly ensconced in her lovely London home, she leads a quiet, almost cold, expatriate life with her daughter, Tess.

For the birthday celebration, her two sisters, Gorgeous Teitelbaum and Pfeni Rosensweig, are expected to arrive at any moment. As if this weren’t causing Sara enough stress, Mervyn Kant shows up at her door, and she doesn’t even know the man, who, at first sight, is instantly smitten with her.

After her sisters arrive for the celebration, Tess, and her boyfriend, Tom, turn up and advise her that they’re planning on rushing off to his ancestral Lithuania for reasons of political protest.

It will be staged tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 (adult), $18 (senior citizens, students and military), and $17 (guild members). This show is not recommended for children under 13.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.kctg.org, by phone at 302-674-3568 or by email at tickets@kctg.org.

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

Library concerts

As summer gets into full swing, libraries across the state are filling with the sound of music with the “Libraries Rock!” summer reading program.

In Sussex County, the Division of Libraries is joining in the fun with a summer concert series.

The all-female blues group Shades of Blue will play all summer long at a number of engagements.

They’ll play Monday at the South Coastal Public Library and Thursday, July 12, at the Selbyville Public Library, with both performances beginning at 6 p.m. They will make stops at the Bridgeville Public Library on Tuesday, Aug. 7, and the Frankford Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Both of those performances take place at 6:30 p.m.

The Overtime Duo, playing classic and modern rock, will perform at the Georgetown Public Library Wednesday, July 11, at 6 p.m.

Package Deal, an acoustic duo performing a variety of genres, will play at the Rehoboth Beach Public Library on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 11 a.m.

Local duo Kindred Spirits will perform at the Delmar Public Library on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 6:30 p.m. and the Greenwood Public Library on Monday, Aug. 13, at 6:30 p.m.

Cathy Gorman, specializing in songs by the likes of Patsy Cline, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra, will perform at the Milford Public Library on Wednesday, July 18, at 7 p.m., at the Lewes Public Library on Friday, Aug. 3, and then again at the South Coastal Public Library on Monday, Aug. 6. Both of those performances start at 6 p.m.

Rounding out the concert dates is a performance by youth ensemble Sankofa Strings from Dover, taking place at the Laurel Public Library on Saturday, Aug. 11, at noon. To close the series, the Downtown Dixieland Band will bring its southern sound to the Selbyville Public Library on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m.

All of these concerts are free, made possible by grant awards from both the Sussex County Department of Libraries and the Delaware Division of Libraries.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the suspense sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and the basketball comedy “Uncle Drew.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the comedy “Blockers” and the political thrillers “Beirut” and “7 Days in Entebbe.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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