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

Productions

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

themselves

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

Hand."

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

Hand,"

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

conversational

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

reality

— like a cancer diagnosis — tend to creep into these odd but

endearing story songs. Although they often deal with sadness and

longing,

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

place."

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

moment

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

Crossing

have been Lavin, Larkin, John Sebastian, and Iris de Ment. In

September,

the season opening show by Roche sisters, Suzzy and Maggie, drew a

big crowd, and the sisters’ show rates among one of Cullen’s

favorites.

"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.

"For

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

Sons of the Never Wrong, Concerts at the Crossing,

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

Prasada-Rao,

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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