By Dan Williams
Saturday night, World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington was packed with an audience ready for something special. In anticipation of the 2016 Ladybug Festival this summer, four pairs of sisters (“Sisterbugs”) were slated to showcase their shared talents. It was a special three hours of music from these regional acts.
First up were the folky twins, The Lallunas. The ladies worked through originals with two delicate and endearing voices and one guitar. The audience enjoyed their quiet and entertaining banter between songs as they explained the motivation for each tune. They played a solid forty-minute set to an appreciative audience.
Next up were the renowned Danielle & Jennifer. They and their indie singer/songwriter melodies are well known and loved throughout the Mid-Atlantic. They maintain dual residences in both Philly and NYC. Why? Because years ago when she was five, Danielle played two-and-a-half years starring as Cosette in Les Miserables on Broadway. While they are not twins, the sisters are inseparable and forging a successful performance career as a duet performing original tunes.
While Jennifer handles guitar, Danielle plays keyboards and ukulele…sometimes behind her head! They are building their reputation one show at a time in venues of all sizes. It seems they are everywhere! On Saturday night, they captivated the crowd with their energetic performance.
Well known performer Joy Ike took the stage with her talented sister Peace on percussion. Joy performs often on her own, but occasionally we see Peace with her, and as a duo, they are incomparable.
Ike’s songs are personal and autobiographical. They are thoughtful and thought-provoking. When she and Peace perform together, there are hilarious moments as they subtly nudge each other as only sisters can do. Peace brings virtuoso skills on percussion while Joy plays keys and guitar. After their set, I mentioned to Peace that she seems to have a melodic approach to drumming. She explained it is because she was trained first as a pianist. Together, they are a very talented force.
This is the third time I have seen Joy Ike perform. Her masterpiece is “Promised Land” with African rhythms and deeply personal lyrics. She is a committed full-time artist who is frequently hired to perform house concerts, a growing trend for local musicians.
The show ended with Nalani & Sarina. The Bolton Sisters are twins with enormous, high-energy talent. I had the pleasure of interviewing the girls last year. The twins are part Filipino and enjoy telling stories about their family and heritage. But when they play, they are showstoppers with their free-wheeling, road-tested professionalism. They hail from Flemington, NJ and are frequently seen on stages in NYC (The Bitter End), Philly (recently at Milkboy) and Delaware (The Queen). Both play keys, guitar, ukuleles, Hammond organ and any number of instruments.
Their original songs are catchy pop with large doses of funk, soul and classic rock. Their songwriting has matured over the last year with a recent EP release of deeply personal songs about friends and social issues. Now, that doesn’t translate to preachy or boring. Their hook-laden songwriting style forces one to listen and enjoy the ride. Their stage presence is unsurpassed and engaging. It was exactly that on Saturday night.
As the evening began to wind down, I asked promoter Jeremy Hebbel of Gable Music Ventures about his impression of the show. He gushed about all four acts and said that in his five years of multiple shows each week, this one may have been his favorite.
Find out more about the Ladybug Festival, coming to 2nd and LOMA in Wilmington on July 21.