Above: Seven years after their last performance at The Queen, Adam Weiner and his band Low Cut Connie return as headliners for Wilmo Rock Circus.
By Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald
As the New Year rolls on, our music scene heats up with two of the town’s favorite “showcase” performances taking over The Queen this month and next.
Wilmo Rock Circus
First up is the much-anticipated return of Wilmo Rock Circus presented by Gable Music Ventures. After a six-year hiatus, Gable brought the multi-act show back in a smaller “test-run” last February. Now, these ringmasters are going full-tilt, taking over every space of The Queen with themed entertainment, drinks and food, and a white-hot lineup that includes Philly-based rockers Low Cut Connie in the headlining slot.
The Gable team is ecstatic to bring Low Cut to the bill. “We were fortunate to have Low Cut Connie at Rockabilly Rumble in 2014, so we thought it’d be great to host them again as a headliner,” says Nathalie Antonov, Gable’s events manager. “It fit our desire to celebrate the regional scene while having an electrifying act with national appeal.”
Low Cut Connie frontman, pianist, and songwriter Adam Weiner shares in the excitement of returning to Delaware as the Circus’ main attraction.
“We had such a killer time a buncha years ago playing for the Rockabilly Rumble,” he says. “Those were the really early days of the band, and we loved that whole day. It’s really cool to be back…as a headliner. We’re gonna get everyone’s hair messed up that night!”
Joining them on the roster are former Ladybug headliners Sweet Lizzy Project along with American Trappist, Pawnshop Roses, MONTE, Genesis Z & The Black Mambas, Lauren & The Homewreckers, Gunpowder Milkshake, The Collingwood, The Side Chicks and The Last Word.
“We threw the net a little wider this year, beyond the Wilmington/Philadelphia scene,” says Gable booking manager Joe Trainor. “Having bands from Nashville and New York just enhances the lineup. We’re excited about how diverse this will be stylistically — something for fans of all kinds of rock.”
Gayle Dillman, Gable Music CEO, says they’re proud to help keep the dynamic music scene growing in our community.
“There’s a special magic that happens when artists and people come together to experience a music event,” she says.
IF YOU GO: WILMO ROCK CIRCUS
Date: Saturday, February 18, 2023, 6pm
Venue: The Queen, 500 N. Market Street, Wilm.
Tickets: $35 GA; $70 VIP at ticketmaster.com
Shine a Light on 1983
Shine a Light — now in its 11th year as one of Wilmington’s hottest tickets — is prepping a totally gnarly set of sonic nostalgia from one of the most varied and creative years in the Decade of Excess: 1983.
“Every song will spark a memory [for our audience],” says Tony Cappella, Shine a Light’s director. “Moreover, it’s exciting to see younger artists in our lineup take on songs from a year when they didn’t even exist!”
1983 not only saw the rise of the synthesizer in music, but it also saw MTV hit its stride, adding more diversity to its rotation (i.e., black artists, acts from throughout Europe).
Cappella is excited about the choice. “This year  is an amazing one for music. It was a year of drum machines and synthesizers. Studio production reached a new level. The synth became the dominant instrument in the studio, and it was innovative and cool.”
The concert, he says, will have all the synth “flair” of the era, but with the instincts and personality of real musicians.
“You’ll also see new, young faces on the stage this year,” Cappella says. “Wilmington has so much young talent that needs to be recognized.”
One of those new faces is Ty Mathis, a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter who’ll take on a variety of genres and artists in his turn at the Shine a Light mic.
Mathis is a huge fan of many icons of the era — Prince, David Bowie, John Mellencamp, Tears for Fears, Talking Heads, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and David Gilmour among others.
“I love how boundless the music is,” he says when asked what speaks to him about the sounds of ’83. “It has such a bold, fearless, imaginative essence! The songs have great lyrics that give you a glimpse into the world at that time, and the music and the lyrics are still very relevant today.”
Mathis also notes that you can hear how pop music today was shaped by that decade.
“When I was younger, I went to Shine a Light 1975, and it was unforgettable!” he recalls. “What really made me want to be a part of this year was the chance to connect with amazing local musicians; perform music from a beautiful time in music history; and play for a such a great cause.”
The most rewarding part of the show, Cappella agrees, is knowing where the money is going. The mission of the event is to raise funds for existing music education programs that impact our underserved youth. Last year, Shine a Light raised more than $30,000 to benefit three such organizations serving our community — Christina Cultural Arts Center, Kingswood Community Center, and Reed’s Refuge.
“I’m hoping to see young musicians that benefitted from our efforts performing in the show,” Cappella says. “We already have one, but I want to see many more.”
“It’s also rewarding to watch it all come together,” he says. “Take 60+ musicians — most that never met each other before — and prepare them to perform one of the greatest shows in our area!”
IF YOU GO: SHINE A LIGHT ON 1983
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2023, 7pm
Venue: The Queen, 500 N. Market Street, Wilm.
Tickets: $65 general admission; $115 general admission seated; $250 VIP; $300 VIP balcony seated at eventbrite.com