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Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass
21 minutes | Apr 4, 2018
Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Peter White
Peter White is a perennial favorite at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. His Christmas Show has become a tradition for many and whets the audience appetite for more Peter White music during the annual Berks Jazz Fest. Peter says the first music he ever played at the ripe old age of 7 was Christmas music on the piano. His Dad taught him how to play and introduced him to Christmas favorites. Growing up in England in the 60’s it was the Beatles that started him on his guitar journey. A journey that led him to Abbey Road Studio at the age of 20 to record ‘The Year Of The Cat’ with Rod Stewart. That was followed by a tour that brought him to America at age 21 performing with Rod Stewart at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Listening to another English Band, ‘Acoustic Alchemy’, he was inspired to continue writing his own music and pursue a solo career. Peter talks about the power and challenge of collaborative work with other artists and the gratitude he feels when audience members share their own stories of the impact of hearing his music. For Peter playing and writing music is all about listening!
22 minutes | Mar 26, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Carl Zeplin & Chris Gallagher
Carl Zeplin is a Kutztown Area High School Music Teacher and Chris Gallagher is a member of the Berks County All Star Jazz Band and will be performing at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. Chris was one of Carl’s students when he was in middle school. Chris says he learned determination and how to ‘keep moving forward’ from Mr Zeplin. Carl’s favorite age group is the middle school students. He says they don’t put up barriers and are willing to take risks. Both talk about the benefits and opportunities that jazz music has provided in their lives. Tune in and find out how jazz influenced their life path.
13 minutes | Mar 15, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring the Cullen Brothers, Matt and Dave! Part 2
Matt and Dave Cullen answer the 5-question lightning round that is the hallmark of each Backstage Pass for the 2018 Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. Some of the musical roots they discussed in part one of the Cullen Brothers Backstage Pass come up again in their responses. Their insights allow a peak into the impact of jazz music and the opportunities that are presented when music is a key part of your life. Tune in to find out their favorite Jazz Fest Memories, their mentors and their legacies. You’ll enjoy this story and the Cullen & Company show on April 12 when Craig Thatcher, Chico Huff, Cliff Starkey and Pete Fluck join Matt and Dave Cullen at the Inn At Reading. Don’t miss it!
17 minutes | Mar 15, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring the Cullen Brothers, Matt and Dave! Part 1
We have been going backstage but this time we went back home with the Cullen Brothers, Matt and Dave! They reminisce about the favorite rooms in their house and how those settings set the stage for their musical careers. They talk about growing up with 10 kids in a home that was really a garden where musical seeds were planted and all 10 kids had their moment on a variety of instruments including piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, French horn and drums. This family rivals the VonTrappe Family when it comes to sharing music. As joy and unabashed smiles dance across their faces, they share their memories and admiration for the other’s talents. They talk about the musicians that make up Cullen & Company with excited anticipation that is quite contagious.
16 minutes | Mar 8, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Mike Eben
An important component of school music programs is the opportunity to introduce students to all types of music including jazz. They are the future consumers of music and will keep it alive! A great interview and a great addition to Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest!
18 minutes | Feb 28, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Bennie Sims
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest does not start until the Groovemasters take the stage at The Peanut Bar. This marks the 27th year you will find Bennie Sims at the helm of The Groovemasters. Bennie Sims is a self taught musician who couldn’t read music, but he could hear and ‘feel’ the music. He picked up a guitar and his career was launched! Bennie takes a stroll down memory lane with us sharing stories about the evolution of his career, his mentor, and lots of musicians he has worked with and continues to make music with today. In addition to performing internationally Bennie is a sought-after producer who is also writing his own music and performing. There is a new song in the works right now! Bennie is currently producing Erich Cawalla’s first solo album, “The Great American Songbook” and will also be part of Erich’s quartet on stage with The Reading Pops. Bennie says “It’s breathtaking to be part of the music on stage with an orchestra”. Bennie talks about ‘feeling’ the music in whatever setting he finds himself: as a writer, producer, or part of a quartet or a large orchestra. The Groovemasters only play about 3 or 4 times a year these days. So it’s pretty special when they re-group for the start of the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. That’s when these old friends get together and exhale and enjoy some time on the playground. Bennie says it’s like ‘home’. Enjoy this conversation and make your plans now to come home with Bennie Sims at the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest.
11 minutes | Feb 22, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Raeann Rowlin and Grant Fickes
Education is a key component and part of the mission of the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. Raeann Rowlin is a Commercial Music Major and Grant Fickes is a Mathematics Major at Kutztown University. Both will be performing with the KU Jazz Ensemble at the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest at The GoggleWorks. Raeann plays trumpet and has always played jazz music. Grant started playing traditional classical music on the alto sax. Both students were introduced to music in the Fourth Grade. These students personify the impact of the ‘Music In The Schools’ Program. Raeann and Grant have a great deal of passion for Music and Jazz in particular. They discuss their mentors, and talk about what jazz music means to them and how it impacts their life. Look out music fans, here they come!
15 minutes | Feb 14, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Levi Landis
Levi Landis, Executive Director of The GoggleWorks Center For The Arts has long staged the Juried Art Exhibit in the Schmidt Gallery on the Second Floor. That’s the visual arts component of the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. This year The GoggleWorks will showcase the performing arts as well. Levi always asks, “How can we be a resource for the local community. The GoggleWorks is a beautiful space to see events, go to weddings. Now we will bring the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest to our stage.” Levi brings his experience working with music festivals to the mix. He says, “Any time anyone thinks about the arts in the community The GoggleWorks wants to be part of the conversation. And now part of the music!” If you’ve never stopped in to The GoggleWorks, here’s another reason to visit … The Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest will stage the KU Jazz Ensemble in The GoggleWorks Boscov’s Film Theatre. The performance will start with a student group followed by a faculty group from Kutztown University. It is an intersection of education, arts and music at The GoggleWorks in Downtown Reading.
12 minutes | Feb 7, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Marvanne Kouvaros
Marvanne Kouvaros wants “everyone to have a smile on their face and a tummy that is full”! When you go backstage at the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest you are bound to find Marvanne Kouvaros. She was a school teacher and working with RHS Marching Band when she was first invited to volunteer with Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest to help move equipment. She wasn’t sure she could do it but was told, “Sure you can! You’re a teacher who works with children. Children need to be corralled and so do musicians at times!” That was over 20 years ago. Today Marvanne Kouvaros is the Head of Hospitality and works closely with Gary Spencer and the production team making sure every venue is staffed and stocked with the proper necessities for each of the musicians. While food is her main concern she has been known to go above and beyond that job description. If an artist needs something and she can make it happen she does. Marvanne Kouvaros recalls making special elixirs and even taking musicians on shopping sprees. At Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest, everyone really is one big happy family!
12 minutes | Jan 31, 2018
WCR Center for the Arts is a new jazz destination this year. Josh Taylor and Cammie Harris share the story.
Lots of ‘Firsts’ in this #BackstagePass for the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. Cammie Harris, Executive Director of the Women’s Club of Reading Center for the Arts, makes a connection with Josh Taylor, guitarist with The Hot Club Of Reading, to stage a gypsy jazz event at the WCR Center for the Arts. The character and history of the building meshes with the passion and history of gypsy jazz kept alive by the Hot Club Of Reading. Josh Taylor talks about the impact of this music in particular the way Josiah Taylor, his son, has caught the jazz bug and the ripe old age of 16! Cammie is equally passionate about preserving and promoting the WCR Center for the Arts as an intimate venue to celebrate the music in Berks County. Find out what drives their passion in this #BackstagePass.
19 minutes | Jan 25, 2018
Jazzin’ Up The Pops!
Erich Cawalla and Will Rapp discuss how music charted the course of their lives and careers. They discuss their musical journey, mentors and legacy and the ways jazz music influences their performances. Lots of insight is shared in this Backstage Pass. Check it out and save the date … April 8. That’s when Erich Cawalla and his quartet partner with Will Rapp and The Reading Pops for a special Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest performance called ‘Jazzin’ Up The Pops’.
15 minutes | Jan 18, 2018
Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass featuring Michael Tozzi
Meet the ‘VOICE’ of Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest – Michael Tozzi! He shares his jazz journey and talks about how it morphed along with the evolution of commercial radio. Michael is a versatile entrepreneur with many talents that have opened doors along the way. Michael talks about his mentors, his own jazz legacy and some favorite moments from past Berks Jazz Fest events. Enjoy the first story in this Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Backstage Pass Series made possible by the Berks Arts Council.
16 minutes | Mar 27, 2017
A Tale of Remarkable Collective Talent Backing up the Bands at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest
Three talented musicians that got together Because of The Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest a performer was looking for a horn section to back him up while in Reading. Mike Anderson said OK and then recruited more players. This first show was so successful word spread and the Berks Horns was born. Musicians know when they come to Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest there is a talented trio (more if necessary) to back them up. Yet another bonus of Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest All three of these guys started playing an instrument in fourth grade and they talk about how that led them each on a diverse musical journey filled with opportunity Tune in and hear about the side Opportunity for musicians appearing at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Opportunity for these guys to add to their resume… The collective talent is remarkable, sometimes they get the music beforehand and other it all changes on the spot! Discipline, adaptability, improvising… It’s one big package and now you know the story behind the Berks Horns, go check them out on stage.
14 minutes | Mar 20, 2017
This Is How Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Made Its Way To Schuylkill County
Meet Dave Clews owner of 12 Volt Dave’s Audio in Pottsville is an audio purist who happens to love Jazz music. Dave heard about this jazz concert at Bldg 24 and decided to check it out. It was a chance meeting with John Ernesto at that concert that started the ball rolling. The Bldg 24 experience made a fan out of Dave Clews. His wheels started spinning. He thought, “Wow only ½ hour away, small venue, great music… Hmmm how can we get this up in Pottsville”? He used his own background staging events in the community and Had a contest in Schuylkill County want to expose Schuylkill county to jazz and the blues. He shares the story of a renovated ski lodge and how The Lodge At Sharp Mountain came to be the place for the first show. This year ‘Greg Hatza and the ORGANization’ will share a taste of Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest in Schuylkill County. Learn more about the stories of Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest
14 minutes | Mar 7, 2017
Making Music is Fun And So Much More for Gerald Veasley
Gerald Veasley is a world re-known Bassist and a big part of the fabric of the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. His performances always WOW the crowd. Gerald is also instrumental helping to establish and coordinate educational programs and Bass Bootcamps. That’s what most know about Gerald but in this story he shares with Jo Painter some things that are little known. Gerald Veasley shares his musical journey and reveals the motivation behind his life’s work. It all started on his 12th Birthday. His Dad gave him a Bass. At the University of Pennsylvania he got serious and studied Engineering, Political Science and Philosophy. It was an unexpected event during his college years that brought that Bass front and center in his life again. Gerald says he discovered music as a vocation and thought “Wouldn’t it be cool to be somebody who makes that music that helps people sort of get through tough times”. Gerald has fun with music and does it with a much bigger purpose. He shares his intention and his latest endeavor, the ‘Unscripted Jazz Series’ at South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor in Philadelphia. He calls it an opportunity for musicians to play music ‘outside their box’, an adventure for both musician and audience! South Jazz Parlor will be replicated at the DoubleTree this year during Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest and of course the now legendary Midnight Jams will be headed up by Gerald Veasley … Don’t miss it!
13 minutes | Mar 3, 2017
Boscovs Berks Jazz Fest | Meet Keiko Matsui
Keiko Matsui talks about her deep connection to her fans and understanding how music connects us spiritually. Keiko Matsui is delightful, humble, playful and spiritual. It all comes through in her music! She recalls her childhood and says her first love was sports, gymnastics and soccer. She says she was very competitive. Keiko’s Mom is a traditional Japanese dance teacher but Keiko showed no interest in dance so her Mom sent her off to piano lessons. Thank You Mom ! Keiko started playing piano at 5 years old. She shares the story of competing as a piano student and thinking that after the competition she would quit and write instead. But she says after that competition she somehow started to receive the melodies instead of writing. 17 albums later she still receives the music. “I stop everything on tour and lock myself in a room and instead of writing I wait for the music to come to me …. And it does”. She draws inspiration from everyday life, her thoughts about life and where we came from and from nature. Her ‘Journey to the Heart’ and ‘Soul Quest’ albums are indicative of a personal search. Her music reflects that, her creation of music is very spiritual. She attributes much of her success to her fans. She says, “My music is a journey to my fan’s heart --- because of you I can come this far”.
13 minutes | Feb 23, 2017
A conversation with Jeff Duperon … his passion for jazz is contagious
Jeff Duperon is your Jazz Host Saturday and Sunday evenings on WRTI. He is drawn to public radio because of the community aspect, That connection to the community is important to Jeff Duperon and to WRTI. He says that is why WRTI has been connected with the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest since it began. The Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest is strongly connected to the community too. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Jeff will be in Reading again this year hosting his show live on WRTI from Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. He enjoys interviewing performers and sharing the Fest with listeners through his eyes. Jeff is passionate about bringing a younger audience into the Jazz scene. He notes that “Jazz is the only original artform created in the United States … a heritage going on for over 100 years”. He gets excited as he talks about preserving, presenting and promoting this great American artform. He’s also excited about the new feature at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest this year, the mini replica of South Jazz Parlor in the DoubleTree Hotel on Penn Street. There will be 13 concerts featured there showcasing all different styles of Jazz music.
15 minutes | Feb 8, 2017
Matt Cullen Moves From Backstage to Center Stage at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest
Matt spent 20 years on the production crew at Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest. He recalls how and why he got involved and how his involvement with the Fest on a volunteer basis led to some pretty cool opportunities. He now heads up his own production team at Bldg 24 during the Fest. Matt is a teacher by day and a drummer by night. He shares the story of picking the drum for his instrument of choice and how he cultivated his craft with the Holy Name Band when he was only in 7th grade. His band … ‘Cullen & Company’ will be performing at the Festival this year. It will be an Evening Of Grateful Dead Music and music from Jazz Is Dead, which features jazz instrumental versions of Grateful Dead music. His brother Dave Cullen will be featured in this particular Cullen & Company Show and he is pretty excited about that.
13 minutes | Jan 25, 2017
Hosting Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest is like being in the playground for 10 days
Craig Poole General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading in Downtown. The DoubleTree is the main venue this year hosting 26 events. Craig talks about The South Jazz Parlor at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading. It will be a full time club that is open the entire length of the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest this year. Craig talks about the pre-planning that took place when building the hotel. The appropriate accommodations for staging the Berks Jazz Fest were put in place as the architectural plans were drawn up. Craig was able to draw from his prior experience owning and operating one of the top jazz clubs in Pittsburgh. All of this was put into place due to the economic impact on Reading and Berks County. Craig says, “The Fest puts Reading and Berks County on the map. As a result we have new year-round visitors!
13 minutes | Jan 12, 2017
It's A Musical Life, What's Not To Like!
Mike Eben has spent over 3 decades teaching music and playing music. It all started in the High School Jazz Band with Hank Hoffman playing Count Basie’s music. That sort of exposure is what can ignite the musical passion and set a career trajectory in music. Mike says you first need to know what it is you want to get into – performing, teaching, or the music business. Mike says it was Doc Mulligan that nudged him to begin arranging and writing music Mike’s group ‘From The Hip’ will be transformed from a 6 piece to a nine piece band, a sort of small Big Band for Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Performances this year. You will hear musical arrangements by Mike Eben and his original Jazz Music as well. A big joy is to have a former student, Greg Wilson, join the band with his saxophone. Mike says Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest brings a world of opportunity when world-class musicians converge on Berks County for 10 days. Educational events are built around the Fest as well which provide students the opportunity to rub elbows with professional musicians and learn from them and play with them. That is an invaluable opportunity
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