A night filled with much anticipation went off well for everyone involved at The Legendary Dobbs on Wednesday, June 6. Dobbs and it’s booking partner, DVT Bookings, hosted its first industry showcase since the bar’s relaunch in January 2011. Bon Jovi was in the house to see the local Philadelphia band Soraia. Along with Bon Jovi were producer Obie O’Brien, Butcher Bros producer Phil Nicolo, and Pierre, Jaxon, & Markus from 93.3 WMMR.
The night was kicked off by local Philly scene veteran John Faye and one of his projects, John & Brittany. Their sound is built on complementary guitars, oozing with hooks, on top of a tight drum and bass section. The lyrics are catchy and clever. They tore through their set like only Jon’s vocals can. Vocals sharp like a knife, but rough like a dull serrated edge all at once. Their tones have blended well over the past year plus, with a new EP on the horizon.
Musically the night was closed out by Jackson Rider and their country/rhythm & roots/rock sound. An infectious, pleasing sound that causes onlookers to dance and groove regardless of their musical preferences. Seeing the band multiple times over the past few years, their growth has been measurable. Formed from the remnants of Whiskey Train, they have tightened their craft and widened their audience.
In between the opener and the closer was Soraia, for whom the evening was made. They hit the stage with their well-practiced pro act, much to the aplomb of the 150 plus people at Dobbs. These people were there to support one of the better stories of our beloved, local original music scene. Locally born and nationally weathered, Soraia has worked their ass off for the better part of a decade. Fronted by “alpha front-woman” ZouZou Mansour, Soraia demands attention from their viewing audience. With throwback tunes and throaty vocals, one is reminded of the some of the finer points of rock ‘n roll when listening to Soraia.
The main goal of the night was successfully accomplished. Soraia has opened for Bon Jovi in the past, but Jon has never had the opportunity to see their full live set. Through their work with producer Obie O’Brien, Zou and the band have come in contact with Jon Bon Jovi. It’s to the point where Jon has collaborated with them on their upcoming album. The issue was Jon had yet to fully see a live performance in a natural original music setting.
This showcase event first started to come together when Zou reached out to Jim Thorpe and Vince Volz from DVT Events and asked if she could do the showcase. Zou, Jim, and Vince have all gotten to know each other over the years. Jim has been working with Zou since he booked her at the Chestnut Room in 2005. Vince started working with her when he was booking at Doc Watson’s Pub. Both have had great experiences working with Zou and Soraia. Vince had this to say, “I don’t know if I’ve worked with someone as well rounded. She has it in every facet of the word. Talent. Stage presence. Voice. But she’s also very real, down to earth.” The tables have turned from Zou getting in-touch with Jim and Vince for shows, to them reaching out to her when they have a great line-up they want Soraia to be a part of. It has even gone a step further where Zou calls them to talk up other local bands. A further testament to Zou’s down-to-earth and genuine spirit happened amidst all the post-showcase buzz. She heard that Robyn Welsh of the PSPCA was putting together a Rock ‘n Roll for The Animals night and gladly offered to be part of the line-up. Soraia is joining up with local bands Mach 22, The Better Half, and more, to support this great cause on August 2nd at Dobbs.
Jim and Vince both have a great local, and even national, reputation for working with bands and treating them well. If their names sound familiar it’s because they have been major advocates and supporters of the local scene for years. DVT Events is a hybrid of their respective solo production/booking companies Double V Bookings and Jim Thorpe Productions.
Jim Thorpe, has been booking original music acts since the early 90’s. He has been an independent promoter for local clubs The Middle Eastern, The Khyber, JC Dobbs, The Grape St Pub, to name a few. Jim has been a director of the Dewey Beach Music Conference (DBMC) for the past eleven years. He currently sits on the board for the Philadelphia Grammy Chapter. He is also a co-founder, along with Vince, of the upcoming Liberty Music Fest running at Dobbs August 16-19.
Vince Volz has parlayed his former booking duties as a member of local band Phoenix Rise into his own company, Double V Bookings. The company was founded in 2005. He started booking at Doc Watson’s Pub in 2007. He was able to bring WMMR’s Local Shots to Doc Watson’s in January 2009. This worked out to be a very successful stretch for the Local Shot Series. Weekly shows every Tuesday regularly drew 70-100 people. It was a great way for four or five local bands to get in front of Jaxon, of WMMR, once a week. Bands worked these gigs, trying to make an impression. This has yet to be recaptured at Local Shots new home. It’s hard to blame the venue. Bands more recently had assumed these spots as free promotion instead of an opportunity to hustle and impress. Local Shots has evolved into a mini monthly showcase, where one band receives the station’s attention for a month. Still this new incarnation of Local Shots along with WMMR, willingly came along with Vince when Dobbs was relaunched in January 2011.
The execution of a showcase is not something new to DVT Events. In the past, Jim has showcased local bands Halestorm and Silvertide. Both showcases were very successful in their goals, getting local bands in front of record labels and industry people, and getting these bands signed. This again is the case with Soraia. Immediately after the showcase they were greeted offstage by Jon Bon Jovi, who was able to remain as inconspicuous as possible thanks to the staff at Dobbs. This overflowed to the second floor where a private area was set-up for the band and all interested parties. Bon Jovi’s faithful fans got hold of the Ustream video the next day, and Soraia was blowing up in the ‘twitterverse’. The industry rumblings are that a label supported album and tour will be forthcoming for Soraia sometime this Fall. It looks like this night will pay dividends in the future for Soraia, DVT Events, and The Legendary Dobbs.
by John Dempsey