He was Alaska's resident radio deejay in the TV series, "Northern Exposure," and Carrie's boyfriend in "Sex and the City," and Toula’s boyfriend in the film, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." His voice became a regular for Applebee’s menu for the past four years and currently, for Walgreens "at the corner of Happy and Healthy." He's actor John Corbett, but seriously, this Wheeling, W.Va. native may have found his niche in country music with a new album richly drenched in Texas music.
The release of Corbett’s new album, "Leaving Nothin' Behind," on Feb. 5, comes on the heels of news that he's been cast in the lead role in CBS' "NCIS:LA" spinoff with a pilot episode later this season. Corbett's character, Roy Quaid, is described as a former NCIS special agent now working as an analyst and the senior member of the Red Team.
My phone interview last month with Corbett from the Santa Barbara, Calif., ranch he shares with girlfriend and accomplished photographer Bo Derek (she shot his album cover) came before the announcement and centered on his current album. Corbett and his band mates will be making a stop in our region on Sun., Feb. 24, with a 7:30 p.m. performance at the Sellersville Theater 1894 in Sellersville, Bucks Co. It's a return appearance at the venue for Corbett and fellow musicians – Tara Novick on guitar, David "the Hawk" Lopez on drums and Louie Vincent Ruiz on bass -- who performed there in August 2007, on tour with Corbett’s 2006 self-titled debut album. It had climbed to No. 42 on Billboard's Country Albums chart.
This time around, Corbett, 51, incorporated the help of Dallas-born musician, songwriter and producer Jon Randall Stewart (longtime Guy Clark collaborator), who wrote or co-wrote seven of the album’s 10 songs, and co-produced it with Gary Paczosa on Corbett’s own independent label, Funbone Records. Stewart also contributes guitars and harmonies, alongside talents including his wife, Jessi Alexander, and a multitude of other respected Nashville names. There are two tracks from non-Texans – "Rainy Windy Sunshine" by Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers, and "Tennessee Will" by Pat McLaughlin (the World Famous Headliners) and Adam Hood (Leon Russell). Corbett does a tribute to Jesse James with "Steal Your Heart," and with "Name on a Stone" gets personal as an only child reminded of his father's passing in 2011, a year after he suffered a stroke at age 72.
Corbett has made some major waves in country music, opening for such acts as ZZ Top and Charlie Daniels, and appearing on the Country Music Awards in Nashville with Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. He spoke of the intimacy he favors in playing smaller venues such as Sellersville and said he would like his audience to leave that evening "feeling like they got their money's worth and with a smile on their face. It's a big deal to go out for an evening, pay for a babysitter, dinner and parking. It's so easy to stay home and watch the box. I want them to feel like the evening was worth it and that it was a really good show."
Corbett recently appeared in TV's "United States of Tara" and "Parenthood." He said he wrapped up a film around Christmas, playing "a bad-guy role" in soon-to-be-released "The Lookalike," directed by Richard Gray. He also said he was excited to vote for the first time in this year's Academy Awards which, coincidentally, will be televised on the night of his Sellersville concert.
"I'm anxious to see if any of my votes win," he said, with a 'happy and healthy' laugh.
ACOR (African American Coalition of Reading) at GoggleWorks currently is presenting its 12th annual celebration of Black History Month with an art exhibit by students in grades 1-12 from the Reading School District. The exhibit can be seen through Feb. 28.
Also featured at the venue is a collection of pointillism portraits by ACOR president and curator Ed Terrell of Reading, on black pioneer baseball players such as Rube Foster and Jackie Robinson. Terrell said the title of the collection, "Moving Forward," reflects President Obama's second-term message to America and ACOR's mission in the Reading community in "moving forward" and educating through the arts. Terrell also has what he calls "an Afro-centric-type" collection of masks and paintings on display, having spent two years in Africa.
Calling himself a self-taught artist, Terrell attended Reading High School and since has worked around the world as an artist and interior designer. As president of ACOR, he has coordinated annual programs for Black History Month and has been involved in various community projects including painting murals. He currently is organizing a graffiti art talent contest in the community for April.
Reading's Genesius Theatre kicks off its 42nd season on Friday with the Greater Reading premier of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical classic, "Sunset Boulevard," about the darker side of Hollywood in the late 1940s. The show, directed by Christopher Sperat, runs through Feb. 24, and features a 15-piece orchestra led by Nicole Krick and Dave Neel. Choreographer is Jennifer Parker Scott. The cast includes Cathy Miller as Norma Desmond, Kevin Cooper as Max, Katie Ott as Betty and Jon Browning as Joe. According to Genesius, the production is rated PG-13, for ages 13 and up.
For further info: genesiustheatre.org
Composer Douglas Ovens is throwing his own 60th birthday party free and open to the public. Ovens, longtime chair of Muhlenberg College's Music Department, created a music showcase featuring 10 members of the teaching faculty, student performers, and an honored guest. The concert, titled "Love Songs and Other Wonders," will be presented Wednesday at 8 p.m., in the Empie Theater of the Baker Center for the Arts on campus.
Ovens, of Lower Macungie Twp., Lehigh Co., not only will be marking a milestone birthday but also a 23-year tenure at the college, the last 17 as chair of the music department that showed an increase in full-time faculty, an increase in music majors, and an offering of electronic music. And for that, Ovens said he officially will be stepping down as chair in June to devote more time to composing and performing. He already has an invitation to perform in Buenos Aires as a result of some of his pieces selected at a national competition in New York City. He said he also will remain on the Muhlenberg faculty teaching electronic music and composition.
"It’s a tradition for composers to have a concert for their birthday," Ovens said, describing the program as "a retrospective" with some of the works 30 years apart. "I look at it as a big party where I'll have a night making music with my colleagues, of whom I have tremendous respect," he said. "The audience will experience how music has changed through the years."
Ovens said it's the first time to do a whole night of vocal music, with the "love-songs portion" of the evening to begin with "Yours and Mine: Three Love Songs on Poems of Alice Fulton," featuring Megan Monaghan, soprano and Ovens on vibraphone. Continuing the theme will be “Three Love Songs on texts of Pablo Neruda,” sung by Brian Chu, baritone, with Vincent Trovato on piano.
Other vocal pieces to be performed are "Two American Songs: Dance Russe and Smell! (poems by William Carlos Williams)," sung by Steven Snow, tenor with Tony Simons, clarinet and bass clarinet, David Moulton, cello and Michael Schnack, piano, "She Sings… (poems by e.e.cummings)" sung by Lauren Madigan and “Schwarzgeburt (Black Birth),” sung by Brian Chu, Benjamin Doyle and Matthew Livigni, supported by a chamber ensemble comprised of James Thoma and Ryan Gross, percussion, Elaine Martin, flute and Schnack and Simons.
Ovens said some of the featured works have been presented in Berlin, Hiroshima, Paris, Los Angeles, New York City, and at festivals across the United States. The concert will close with "Sonata (for Idil)," performed by internationally-known pianist, Hanchien Lee. Ovens explained the piece was written for Idil Biret and given its premiere performance at Muhlenberg. He added that he is honored to have it performed by Lee, an artist who has presented at past Piano Series concerts at the college.
Ovens, originally from the West Coast, attended San Francisco State and completed graduate studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He and his family (wife Cindy and sons Mike and Tom) relocated to the Lehigh Valley in 1990, when he left a position at the University of North Carolina at Ashville for Allentown's Muhlenberg College.