"OK, let's see, I grew up on Long Island, New York and then moved upstate to Ulster County to go to college at SUNYNew Paltz where I studied Public Relations and started my first band. I kind of fell in love with the area and I've lived in Ulster County ever since where I've played a lot of music in a lot of bands throughout the years and about 10 years ago I started playing with this band; not all the same members but The Ark-Tones formed around 2011/2012 I believe and since then we have released three albums of original material, have toured extensively around the country, a little bit in Europe and just put out our third studio album. My husband and I also play as a duo called The Gold Hope Duo and we released a live album a couple of years back."
Lara Hope is the undisputed front of the band which bears her name; with her retro look, sex appeal and stage presence, she is the bow that sits atop of the fun, rockabilly, rock 'n' roll package know as Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones.
Lara and crew's recent release, "Here To Tell The Tale" is a full length album which according to Lara was a work in progress which happened to finish up at the opportune time.
"Here To Tell The Tale" is 11 tracks; all original," she began with sounds of relief and enthusiasm in her voice. "I personally like an album but what I keep hearing is that singles are the future now; everybody likes singles. I don't know, I don't get it, I wanted an album but to each their own I suppose. There is kind of a running theme on the album that wasn't even necessarily something that happened intentionally; it just kind of unfolded that way. The album was written over the course of two or three years and I realized when more and more songs were written; the title track kind of encompasses the theme. It is ironic that we recorded this before the pandemic because I feel that the message is even more true in a post-pandemic world. Before the pandemic, I feel like so many people were living this virtual life and staying in more because there was so much access to Hulu, Netflix and computers and people weren't necessarily going out as much as they used to and appreciating in-person events. So, "Here To Tell The Tale" is about putting that aside, actually going out, having real-life experiences; they're not all going to be good but whether they are good or bad; just making your own memories and basically having your own tale to tell. Now, post-pandemic I feel like people may have a new appreciation of the arts that they may have not even realized after not having access to them for 16 months. I'm hoping that people are excited to get out and make their own tales and make up for lost time now."
In all bands, there is usually a leader; someone who casts the tie-breaking vote or deals with the business end of things but when it comes to songwriting or material choices those lines can become blurred. So, with Lara being the face of the band; who is the principal when it comes to writing or choosing material?
"My husband is the upright bass player, I play rhythm guitar and write songs, I really like to not tell anybody what to do; we are a team," she stated emphatically. "I won't lie, I do have the final say on our songs for the most part but I am really happy that I get everybody in on it; it's really important to me that everybody is happy. There have been cases where things vary from song to song but there are certainly some songs that I am confident in the arrangement and have already had it in my head the way I want it to be recorded and in that case I'll come in and say to Eddie, or sing a lead line for him but as many times as that happens, I'll come in and say, please; what do ya' got? What are your ideas? What do you think of the arrangement? Where do you think the solo should go? Let's work on the arrangement; so, yeah that varies from song to song."
Given the current climate of home studios and recording software being all the rage; where did they choose to record the record and why the wait on the release date?
"We went into a professional studio; we live in the city of Kingston which is right near Woodstock and we recorded in Catskill. We recorded with an engineer named Scott Petito and it was our first time working with him; he's pretty well known in the jazz world and he's a jazz bass player and he records a lot of bigger name jazz players like Jack DeJohnette but he's very eclectic and does all sorts of stuff. He's got a great studio called NRS and we spent 10 days in the studio with him at the beginning of 2020 and we thought that we were going to release the album later in 2020 in the summer but then because of everything that happened we decided to just hold off until the time felt right and that time is now."
"Now," is always a good time, no time like the present; right? Considering the unit has been sitting on this record for quite a while and the pandemic being the reason; the fact that it, "Felt right" can only come from the gut. So, what did they do while the record was percolating? Ah but being the fun-loving group they are; they found ways to keep busy.
"It came out on June 25 and our website is the easiest place to find it," Lara continued. "During the pandemic I did mostly three things; I mentioned already that my husband is my bass player and we closed on our first home on March 11, 2020. So, basically the day the world shutdown; we were planning on leaving that same evening for a six-week national tour. So, needless to say, we closed on our house and as we were packing the tour got cancelled. So, we had this new home and now basically a lot of time to unpack, settle in, paint, make it ours and just enjoy being home. We've been on the road so much this past decade that it was like, alright, we've got all of this time and we've got this space where we're happy to be so, let's enjoy it. We also spent those first few months writing and home-recording a duo EP called, "Songs In The KeyOf Quarantine" which we released in July of 2020. We toured often before the pandemic, now we've also started doing a Monday night livestream since the pandemic hit and we've continued to do it every single Monday night since March of 2020 and it can be found on our Facebook page and YouTube pages Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones from 7-8 p.m. Eastern Time. Our connection with our fans is important to me and I really feel that the connection is stronger than it's ever been as a result of the livestream. I would have the livestream up and I'd have the computer open and read the chat and what people were saying and in between songs we would talk; we'd talk back and forth and the fans would talk amongst themselves. We actually formed this really tight-knit community of people that have tuned in every single Monday for the last 16 months; we even started calling them "The Monday Knights" and we made their own Facebook page called "The Monday Knights." We've made our own line of merchandise; one is Joan of Ark wearing the red-framed glasses called "The Tone of Ark" tee-shirt (laughs) and we've had this great community. There are people who pop in from all over the world and I'm sure there are others who only watch once or twice but there are a lot of people who are really diehards and these people have become friends with each other just because it's like this one thing that when everything in the world was so unknown; everybody would know, every Monday night at 7 p.m. grab your drink, sit down and let's all hang out together and that's how it felt. We had one of our Monday nights recently and because of them we made a strong connection in Michigan and during the livestream I said almost in jest, if anybody who is watching wants to come for our album release party; you can stay with us. I was kind of kidding but one of our Monday Knights who I only remember from once or twice while touring in Michigan reached out and said, "If I fly in from Michigan; can I stay with you?" "So, this woman that I don't really know just spent two nights at our house for our album release party on June 26; I joked that I finally gave birth to this album because it was finally out there."
Fun, danceable, maybe even slightly quirky but always extremely enjoyable, Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones are a great add to anyone's collection and to discover more about them; please visit www.larahopeandtheark-tones.com.
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!
This week's event listings
Arts Council of Princeton 102 Witherspoon Street Princeton (609) 924-8777 Thurs. 5:30 p.m. Artist Talk with Robin Resch (FREE and located in Dohm Alley next to Starbucks on Nassau St.) Fri. 6 p.m. "Summer Nights" Concert Series feat. Mural Dedication Concert: "You May Be Right" A Billy Joel Tribute (Takes place at Princeton Shopping Center 301 North Harrison Street) Bill's Olde Tavern 2694 Nottingham Way Hamilton (609) 586-0192 Fri. 7 p.m. Tom Craig Tues./Wed. 8 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ "Super" Dave Curtis Ages 21+ Blend Bar & Bistro 911 Highway 33 Hamilton (609) 245-8887 Thurs. 6:30 p.m. Bob Banka Sat. 7 p.m. Deep ReleaseBowman's Tavern 1600 River Road New Hope, PA (215) 862-2972 Thurs. 6:30 p.m. PJ Parker Trio Fri. 8 p.m. Bob Egan Sat. 7 p.m. Wendy Simon Trio Sun. 6 p.m. Lorenzo Wed. 6 p.m. Andy PrescottBroken Goblet Brewing 2500 State Road Bensalem, PA (267) 812-5653 Thurs. 7 p.m. Mike Estabrook Fri. 8:30 p.m. Pearl Jam Tribute w/ "The Ledbetters" Sat.8:30 p.m. Stems and Seeds Wed. 8 p.m. Open Mic w/ Cara Cartney All Shows 21+Candlelight Lounge 24 Passaic Street Trenton (609) 695-9612 Thurs. 6 p.m. Thursday Night Blues Jam Hosted by The Mojo Gypsies. $5 (Includes hot buffet) Championship Bar 931 Chambers street Trenton (609) 396-5457 Tuesday 8 p.m. "Jam Night" Hosted by Nikki & Caleb Ages 21+City Streets 510 Highway 130 South East Windsor (609) 426-9400 Fri. 8:30 p.m. Kindred Spirit Duo Mon. 9 p.m. "Malibu Mondays" Clubhouse at Mountain View (The Patio) 850 Bear Tavern Road Ewing (609) 771-0400 Fri. 7 p.m. Radio Fiction DuoCOARadio.com 125 South Main Street Hightstown (609) 241-7103 Sun. 7 p.m. "Rock On Radio" feat. Natalie Farrell and Lou PanicoCooper's Riverview 50 Riverview Plaza Trenton (609) 393-7300 Thurs. (7 p.m.) Time Peace (9 p.m.) Club Night feat. Rotating DJs (inside event) Fri. (5 p.m.) "It's 5 O'clock Somewhere Happy Hour" (8 p.m.) The Pinheads Sat. 8 p.m. No Way Out Sun. 11 a.m. " Sunday Latin Jazz Brunch" w/ Victor Tarassov Mon. 7 p.m. "Sunny Monday Blues Jam" Tues. 7 p.m. Karaoke w/ Karen and Mark Wed. 12 p.m. "Wine Down Wednesdays" All Events Ages 21+Cream Ridge Winery 145 Route 539 Cream Ridge (609) 259-9797 Fri. 6 p.m. Deadhead Night w/ Gratefulmen. $5 Sun. 1:30 p.m. Sangria Sunday w/ Ronnie BrandtDacey's Pub 215 West Philadelphia Avenue Morrisville, PA (215) 295-4838 Fri. 6 p.m. Acoustic Music Night Wed. 8 p.m. Quizzo Dadz Bar and Grill 744 Main Street Lumberton (609)267-4344 Thurs. 7 p.m. Open Mic Night Sat. 6 p.m. Banned for a DayDempster's Pub 437 Pine Street Mount Holly (609) 261-0500 Thurs. 9 p.m. "Throwback Thursday/Ladies Night" w/ DJ entertainment feat. retro 70's, 80's and 90's music. Fri. / Sat. 9 p.m. DJ entertainmentEddington House Bensalem 2813 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem, PA (215) 639-1220 Fri. 8 p.m. Jonathan Hesbol Sat. 8 p.m. Dale CiccarelliEscape Resort, Restaurant & Bar 120 Pheasant Run Road Newtown, PA (215) 968-0600 Fri. 6 p.m. Tubetop MamaGerman American Society 215 Uncle Pete's Road Hamilton (609) 585-5200 Fri. 7 p.m. The Sounds of Billy Joel w/ Chris PinellaGleason's Bar 6700 Mill Creek Road Levittown, PA (215) 943-4781 Thurs. 7 p.m. Weekly Corn Hole Tournament Fri. 6 p.m. "Happy Hour" Sat. 8 p.m. Karaoke Wed. 5:30 p.m. Family Fun Night w/ "Gina the Balloon Girl" Greenhouse 90 South Main Street New Hope, PA (215) 693-1657 Thurs. 8 p.m. "Musicians Night Out" Hosted by Lovelight Tues. 8 p.m. Open Mic Hosted by Sam Ryan Wed. 8 p.m. Trivia Hosted by Dwayne DunlevyGrover's Mill Coffee House Princeton-Hightstown Road Princeton Junction (609) 716-8771 Sat. 11 a.m. Rodney & EvaHavana New Hope 105 S. Main Street New Hope, PA. (215) 862-9897 Thurs. 7 p.m. Funk n' Blues Jam Fri. 9:30 p.m. DJ Dance Party Sat. 9:30 p.m. DJ Dance Party Sun. 1 p.m. Midnight Sun Orchestra Mon. (9 p.m.) "Lipstick Mondays Drag Show" (11 p.m.) Karaoke w/ Dwayne Hopewell Valley Vineyards 46 Yard Avenue Pennington (609) 737-4465 Fri. 4 p.m. "Music & Merlot" feat. (5:30 p.m.) Bad Hombres Sat. (1 p.m.) Just Us (5:30 p.m.) "Music & Merlot" feat. Craig Leach Group Sun. 1:30 p.m. "Jazzy Sundays" feat. Ashley PettetIron Plow Vineyards 26750 Mount Pleasant Road Columbus (732) 306-9111 Fri. 6:30 p.m. Jim Gaven Sat. 6:30 p.m. Spoondrift Sun. 2 p.m. Same Old AnticsIron Plow Vineyards Tasting Room 61 High Street Mt. Holly (732) 306-9111 Fri. 6:30 p.m. IPV 2nd Anniversary Event feat. Wayne Palmer Trio Sat. 6:30 p.m. IPV 2nd Anniversary Event feat. Steve Guyger & Filthy RichIvy Tavern 3108 S. Broad Street, Hamilton (609) 888-1435 Thurs. 9:30 p.m. "Thursday Night Dance Party" Fri. 8 p.m. Shameless All shows 21+ John & Peter's 96 S. Main Street New Hope, Pa (215) 862-5981 Mon. 9 p.m. Open Mic (Sign-ups start at 8 p.m.) Wed. 9 p.m. The Invitational All shows 21+ Killarney's Publick House 1644 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road Hamilton (609) 586-1166 Thurs. 7 p.m. Radio Fiction Laurita Winery 85 Archertown Road New Egypt (609) 752-0200 Thurs. 7 p.m. "Laurita Junior Idol 2021" Tryouts Fri. (12 p.m.) "Wine In The Grove Friday" (5 p.m.) "Cornhole Tournament" (6 p.m.) BBQ Grill Night Sat. 12 p.m. Winery Weekend feat. (1 p.m.) Roundabout Trio Sun. 12 p.m. Winery Weekend feat. (1 p.m.) The BergersLawrenceville Main Street 17 Phillips Avenue Lawrenceville (609) 219-9300 Thurs. 6 p.m. "Music In The Park" feat. Kindred Spirit. (Weeden Park FREE admission)Makefield Highlands Golf Club 1418 Woodside Road Yardley, PA (215) 321-7000 Fri. 5 p.m. Larry Hinkes Jazzy TrioMarie's Kozy Korner 111 Trenton Road Fairless Hills, PA (215) 943-3131 Fri. 7 p.m. Hind SightMcGuinn's Place 1781 Brunswick Avenue Lawrence (609) 392-0599 Tues. 9 p.m. Karaoke Ages 21+ McStews Irish Sports Pub 5316 New Falls Road Levittown, PA (215) 949-9570 Sat. 9 p.m. TroublemakerzMercer County Park Festival Grounds Hughes Drive/Old Trenton Road West Windsor (609) 448-1947 Fri. 6 p.m. Summer Concert Series: "Motown Night" feat. The Sensational Soul Cruiser/The Discoteks, $5 (Parking fee) Sat. (10 a.m.) Mercer County 4-H Fair (6 p.m.) Summer Concert Series: "Jersey Shore Night" w/ Best Of The Eagles / Reock and Roll Revue. $5 (Parking Fee) Sun. 10 a.m. Mercer County 4-H Fair (1 p.m.) Crown Acoustic Millhill Basement 300 S. Broad Street Trenton (609) 989-1600 Sat. 9 p.m. "Millhill Returns From the Dead" feat. Breaklite, Worst Ones, Hateful Scarecrows, Bury Your Brother. Ages 21+, $5More Than Q 13 Klines Court Lambertville (609) 773-0072 Sun. 11 a.m. Gospel Brunch Open MicMusic Mountain Theater 1483 Route 179 Lambertville (609)397-3337 Fri. 8 p.m. Matilda Sat./Sun. 3 p.m. MatildaMusic On Main 25 East Main Street Yardley, PA Sat. 6 p.m. Peter Veteska & Blues TrainNew Hope Solebury High School 184 West Bridge Street New Hope, PA Sat. 7 p.m. Calla Bere and the Attitude. (FREE event)New Hope Winery 6123 Lower York Road New Hope, PA (215) 794-2331 Fri. 8 p.m. "Into The Mystic" The Van Morrison Experience Sat. 8 p.m. "Into The Mystic" The Van Morrison ExperienceNewtown Brewing Company 103 Penns Trail Newtown, PA (215) 944-8609 Thurs. 7:30 p.m. Harry Potter Trivia Night Sat. 7 p.m. Jake Bracey Sun. 12 p.m. Local Artisan Craft FairNick's Roast Beef 4501 Woodhaven Road West Philadelphia, PA (215) 637-5151 Fri. 8 p.m. The Naturals Sat. 8 p.m. Kenny Raye Band Sun. 4 p.m. AJ Slick Wed. 7 p.m. LeCompt Acoustic DuoO'Fowley's Tavern & Grill 200 State Road Croydon, PA (215) 785-6998 Fri. 8 p.m. DJ EntertainmentOld Hights Brewing 123 West Ward Street Hightstown (609) 469-5976 Thurs. 7 p.m. Trivia Olde Liberty Tavern 2114 Liberty Street Trenton (609) 396-2262 Sat. 8:30 p.m. Sara and the SoundOld Town Pub 135 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown (609) 291-9232 Thurs. 7 p.m. Quizzoholics Trivia Palmer Square 40 Nassau Street Princeton Thurs. 4 p.m. "Locals Night" w/ Live "Strolling" Musician Sat.12 p.m. David Alastre & LatineoPasquale's Sports Bar 9078 Mill Creek Road Levittown, PA (267) 202-6268 Fri. 5 p.m. Happy Hour feat. (TBA) Sat. 8 p.m. DJ or Live Band Entertainment Tues. 7:30 p.m. Quizzo Wed. 7 p.m. Open MicPatriots Crossing 1339 River Road Titusville (609) 737-2780 Thurs. 8 p.m. Open Mic Night Sat. 8 p.m. The Brooks Brothers Wed. 7 p.m. "Quizzo" Restart The Arts 407 High Street Burlington Sat.1 p.m. Acoustic Linda with Bryan CooperRevere Restaurant 802 River Road Ewing (609) 882-6365 Fri. 6 p.m. Paul Plumeri Duo Sat. 6 p.m. Brian Elliot Wed. 7 p.m. David BoydRosedale Mills 101 Route 31 North Pennington (609) 737-2008 Sat. 1 p.m. Outdoor Line Dancing. $10 (Rain date Sundays 12 p.m.)Sandy's Beef & Ale 2028 E. Old Lincoln Highway Langhorne, PA (2670 852-2333 Thurs. 8 p.m. QuizzoSav'Aged Designs 110 South Main Street New Hope, PA (609) 937-6104 Sat. 10 a.m. The Art of Adriana GrozaSherman Theater/Penn Community Bank Amphitheater 2400 Byberry Road Bensalem, PA Wed. 7 p.m. "Best Friend's Girl" A Cars Tribute. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m., tickets available online)Small World Coffee 14 Witherspoon Street Princeton (609) 924-4377 x2 Thurs. 8 p.m. "The Fluid Acrylics of Adriana Groza" (Runs 7 days a week thru 8/3)Stars & Stripes Harley Davidson 600 South Flowers Mill Road Langhorne, PA (215) 752-9400 Thurs. 5 p.m. "Wet & Wild Bike Night" Sat. 11 a.m. Customer Appreciation Day "Bikini Bike Wash and BBQ"Stumpy's Hatchet House (Princeton) 745 Alexander Road Princeton (609) 436-9737 Sat. 3 p.m. Asylum ChoirTara's Tavern 1 Cookstown-New Egypt Road, Wrightstown (609) 286-2300 Fri. 9 p.m. Mike & Karly Sat. 9 p.m. Zach TrucksessTavern On The Lake 101 Main Street Hightstown (609) 426-9345 Wed. 9 p.m. KaraokeTemperance House 5 South State Street Newtown, PA (215) 944-8050 Thurs. 7p.m. "Blues Night" w/ Steve Guyger Tues. 8 p.m. Trivia w/ Righteous Jolly Wed. 7 p.m. Open Mic Night w/ Cara CartneyTerhune Orchards 330 Cold Soil Road Princeton (609) 924-2310 Fri. 4 p.m. "Sips & Sounds Friday" feat. Bill O'Neal and Andy Koontz Sat. 1 p.m. "Weekend Music Series" feat. Acoustic DuoVerThe Bog (Cranbury Golf Club) 49 Southfield Road West Windsor (609) 799-0341 Sat. 7 p.m. Guns 4 HireThe Buck Hotel 1200 Buck Road Feasterville, PA (215) 396-2002 Thurs. 7 p.m. Kevin Kirko Fri. 7 p.m. Love Junk Sat. 9 p.m. Danny Lynch DuoThe Cool Cricket 216 Burlington Street Fieldsboro (609) 291-9110 Fri. 8 p.m. Karaoke Sat. 8:30 p.m. UnleashedThe Dubliner 34 North Main Street New Hope, PA (215) 693-1816 Fri./Sat. 7 p.m. Gerry Timlin Sun. 3 p.m. "Traditional Irish Session" The Five Four Bar & Grill 8919 New Falls Road Levittown, PA (215) 547-5525 Sat. 9:30 p.m. The Polish NanniesThe Morrisville Tavern 376 West Trenton Avenue Morrisville, PA (215) 295-5310 Fri. 7 p.m. Dan Ward Mon. 7 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ Tim Tues. 7 p.m. Open Mic Wed. 7 p.m. Trivia NightThe Sycamore Grill 255 North Sycamore Street Newtown, PA (215) 908-6326 Fri. 8 p.m. Kickbax Acoustic TrioTriumph Brewing Company (New Hope, Pa. Location) 400 Union Square New Hope, Pa. (215) 862-8300 Thurs. 8 p.m. Trivia Sun. 7 p.m. Open Stage All shows 21+ Vault Tap Room 19 West College Avenue Yardley, PA (267) 907-8550 Thurs. 7 p.m. Comedy Night w/ Fri. 7 p.m. BoondaShark Sat. 7 p.m. Brieann WallWilson's Pub 1870 Brownsville Road Trevose Heights, PA (215) 355-4739 Fri. 7 p.m. Keep The ChangeWorking Dog Winery 610 Windsor Perrineville Road Hightstown (609) 371-6000 Sat. 1 p.m. Roger Gardella Sun. 1 p.m. The WilliamsboyWWFM 89.1 FM HD2 Radio MCCC Old Trenton Road West Windsor Jazzon2.org Mon. 7 p.m. "Danny Coleman's Got The Blues" Yankee Doodle Tap Room 10 Palmer Square Princeton (609) 921-7500 Thurs. 6 p.m. Dueling Piano Night (Palmer Square)
Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.