Corrections or additions?
This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the October 4, 2000
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Never Wrong, Ever Quirky
They’re the Sons of the Never Wrong and they’ve been
called "turbo-charged folk." They’re based in Chicago, but
forget the "windy part." These singer-songwriters, two of
whom are women, live at a safe distance from Boston’s folk cradle.
And Chicago arts — whether in music, painting, or theater —
don’t subscribe to coastal fashion. In a city notorious for its edgy
arts, the group’s music has a driving force and quirky lyrics; it
veers from lush folk straight ahead toward inventive, edgy rock.
Sons of the Never Wrong help Concerts at the Crossing and Saje
celebrate their fifth anniversary with a concert at the Unitarian
Church in Titusville on Saturday, October 7, at 8 p.m.
Trio members Bruce Roper, Sue Demel, and Deborah Lader describe
as "mixed-up adults of perfect parents of a bygone era, just crazy
enough to think they can break new ground singing (and dancing) for
their future." Their third and latest album is "One If By
Rich three-part vocal harmonies over mandolin and guitar-driven tunes
are Sons of the Never Wrong’s stock in trade. They may make you may
think Peter, Paul and Mary — but only for a moment. This trio
has too much uninhibited urban energy to ever be confused with their
Flower Children forebears.
All three members write songs, although the lion’s share is Bruce
Roper’s. And his sensibility is decidedly odd. On "One If By
the opening words of the opening cut, "Hello, hello it’s me. I’m
calling from a phone in Tennessee," is typical of Roper’s
tone. Then, as he asks the person on the other end of the line to
dry her tears, you think this is just another worker’s sob story.
But then you learn, "I’ve taken a good job working in a cocoon
for Madame Butterfly. She says if I work real hard in the spring it’ll
be divine." And it doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Roper’s fractured love songs that make you wonder how anyone could
have imagined this could work out. And besides, nasty touches of
— like a cancer diagnosis — tend to creep into these odd but
endearing story songs. Although they often deal with sadness and
the overall effect is upbeat. As one critic comments, these three-part
harmonies "will tickle your ears, bring a smile to your face,
and remind you why you started listening to folk music in the first
The same could be said for Concerts at the Crossing producer Scott
Cullen, celebrating the start of the fifth year for Saje Productions,
a family producing enterprise that takes place at and through the
Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing in Titusville.
Cullen says it’s no fluke that he chose the quirky Sons of the Never
Wrong to celebrate his series’ longevity.
"I think the Sons of the Never Wrong are the kind of group that
exemplifies what our concert series is all about," says Cullen,
a technical writer by trade, from his home office. "We try to
bring in as many unique acts as possible." Wife Julie Cullen is
part of the producing team, but less so since she, too, holds down
a full-time job, and the couple are parents of a three-year-old son.
Cullen says he and his wife first heard the act at Godfrey Daniels
three years ago. "Back then we had only heard one song of theirs
on a sampler CD, but it turned out to be one of the best live concert
series experiences we’ve had since we’ve been in this business. Their
live performance is captivating. We became huge fans and we’ve been
trying to get them ever since."
Cullen notes that booking acts that will draw a good crowd to his
300-seat venue is a hit and miss affair. But for the anniversary
he wanted to stick with principle. "We could have gone the easy
route and brought in one of the bigger names, like Christine Lavin
or Patty Larkin, and guaranteed a big house. But it’s the people who
aren’t as well known that keep me doing this. They are what makes
it fun and interesting to do."
Among the big(ish) names that have done well at Concerts at the
have been Lavin, Larkin, John Sebastian, and Iris de Ment. In
the season opening show by Roche sisters, Suzzy and Maggie, drew a
big crowd, and the sisters’ show rates among one of Cullen’s
"I really like quirky, edgy stuff," says Cullen, adding that
his musical interests are not limited to folk. "I’ve got so many
guilty pleasures," he admits. "I was weaned on bubble gum
music at an early age. I love ’50s doo-wop, I’m probably the only
person who can sing Tommy Roe’s, `Sweet Pea.’ I’ve even got some Patty
Duke CDs around here."
Launched in September, 1996, Concerts at the Crossing averages about
150 people per show. Three or four volunteers help. The profits, about
$2,000 for each of the past four seasons, go to the church.
The unpredictability of promoting folk is something Cullen has yet
to get used to. "We never know until the night of the show how
it’s going to do. Some shows have had 90 walk ins," he says.
the Mollys last May, 159 people came to hear an act that maybe six
people had heard of before."
"The reason I can bring in these lesser-known acts is because
I can balance them off against the sure things," he says. "But
it’s taken me four years to realize I can still have a good time even
when I don’t have a big audience."
— Nicole Plett
Unitarian Church at Washington Crossing, Titusville, 215-862-1917.
$15. Saturday, October 7, 8 p.m.
Also coming this season: Lynn Miles with guest artist Tom
November 4; Grey Eye Glances, December 2; Tanya Savory &
Erica Wheeler, March 10; Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem, with guest
LisaBeth Weber, May 12; and Jonathan Edwards, with guest Irene
Kelly, June 9.
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