Posted by Brenda on Jan 6, 2011 in Events
January 6, 2011 ~Brenda Brosius
The King Street Coffee House is celebrating its 16th anniversary this month, and to commemorate this accomplishment they are offering music every Friday night.
I can’t think of a better way to chase your winter blues away than a Friday night out with dinner and music.
The coffee house has a new location this year at The Townside Garden Café 2 located at 253 Front Street, Northumberland, PA. Their doors open at 5:30pm and you can purchase dinner from The Townside Garden Café for a mere $11. The music goes from 7-10 pm.
I asked Ed Rhoades a few years ago why he enjoys playing here each season and he stated “Because it’s a listening audience, the kind of place where original and obscure favorites are welcomed by the audiences, unlike most bars and clubs where the performers provide background music. There is a genuine camaraderie among the performers and a contagious enthusiasm and appreciation of the music. I have formed friendships with musicians I’ve met there. We have helped each other at other gigs and with recording projects. Having numerous favorites that have performed at the coffee house, he feels that the anniversary show with Frank Wicher, Nate Myers & Tom Rosencrans is one of the best of the year. His thought on why the coffee house has had continued success over the years is because it’s such a favorite place to play, they get great acts and it’s an honor to play there. It has a built in audience who has to come to expect quality entertainment.
Other performers that have graced the stage over the years have been: V.E. Paul from Dallas, PA, the bold young musician who took the 2008 Billtown Blues Challenge,/em> by storm and won the Solo/Duo Category and opportunity to attend the Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN
Ann Kerstetter, Forbidden Fruit, Gift-Troutman-Gift, Kimbo, Don Mease, Flint Zeigler, Rich Ahern, Don Shapelle, Lester Hirsh, Antares Barr, Hugh Ross, The Midlife Cowboys, and one of my all time favorites Doug McMinn. Listening to Doug perform is like sipping on good brandy. It goes down real smooth and warms you up inside.
The coffee house has made some location changes over the past 16 years, but the one constant in this endeavor that never changes has been the tireless efforts of the volunteers and organizers who put this all together. The recipe for the success of this venue is in the planning. It start’s months before the coffee house season ever begins.
The dedication of Paul & Barb Shaffer, Al & Jean Lumpkin, Bruce Barr (operating the sound board) are just a few of the key ingredients. Add in the people who have donated their time helping to plan the seasons’ list of performers, the people who set up and tear down for the night, the wonderful folks at The Townside Garden Café who graciously host this event and you the music enthusiast who continually comes back year after year to support live local music in the central Susquehanna Valley.
January 7, 2011 will kick on the merriment with:
Ed and Kim Rhoads
Kim and Ed Rhoades are a husband/wife musical duo. They perform original and cover songs. Their style is eclectic, with satisfying helpings of blues, pop, and folk, seasoned with some jazz and country influences. In the past it was Ed who was the one in the spotlight, but over the past several years Kim has taken that place. Her soft yet vivacious voice has been described as, soulful, and expressive. For the King Street Coffeehouse show, they will be joined by the talented young Michi Egger.
Kathryn Brosky -fiddle, violin, viola and Carl Kirby – guitar &percussion
If you enjoy toe-tapping, foot stomping, high energy Celtic music, Lux Bridge is the acoustic band for you! Lux Bridge’s infectious sound and spirit are sure to bring out the Irish in anyone!
Kevin Neidig with Henry Koretsky-Two fine musician who entertain their audiences with original folk music.
On January 14, 2011 the lineup is as follows:
Steve Quelet-Steve is a singer songwriter whose songs are gaining airplay and recognition in the American and Blues communities
Buc Hill Aces- A Folk and Bluegrass Band
Johnny Blair- Known for his innovative brand of “pop music with a twist”
The Anniversary show on January 21, 2011
Key of V
The lovely LaCerra sisters, Val and Erin make their second appearance at the coffee house.
Val LaCerra on guitar and lead vocals. Erin LaCerra on viola, vocals, percussion, tin whistle.
The up and coming duo draw some of their influence from Rasputina, Kate Nash, Nuetral Milk Hotel, Joanna Newsom; Kimya Dawson to name a few.
Fans enjoy the sibling ingenuous in Key of V’s close harmonies, and the poignant yet frank (and sometimes mildly inappropriate) content in Val LaCerra’s lyrics, which are, like the stage presence, as open and honest as a private journal entry.
They have a new album they are releasing this month.
THINGS WE DREW FROM THE TREACLE WELL (2011) – Key of V’s new album, Things We Drew From the Treacle Well, is packed full of digitally mastered home and live recordings, consistent with Key of V’s DIY, lo-fi approach. It is their first professionally-printed CD and contains several of their live favorites plus a few new before heard songs containing piano, electric guitar, and spoken word.
Tom and Nate-Where ever you have Tom Rosencrans and Nate Myers playing you can find a highly entertained crowd. Their on the front porch style of performing makes you sit back and relax.
Frank Wicher -The sometimes slightly cheeky but always engaging Mr. Wicher will be performing original and country music.
The show on Jan 28, 2011 will feature:
Alf-AJ Bashore-The areas’ master on the Dulcimer will not only entertain you with his music, but also his anecdotes.
Tom and Jina Rosencrans-Old time folk, blues and country. Jina’s style and voice will take you back to a time when family’s still spent time together and singing was one of the family’s favorite pastimes.
Gypsy Lizards- Paul Farnham & Steve Catania
Paul and Steve will entertain you with a smattering of everything.
So mark this on your calendar and plan to attend!
Posted by Karyn on Sep 26, 2010 in Artists
September 25, 2010
Overtime Sports Bar, Hershey, Pa.
On this first Saturday night of Autumn, music fans were treated to a great show in Hershey by three solid bands. No, we’re not talking about Nickleback, Buckcherry, and Three Days Grace at Hersheypark Stadium. We’re talking about a show about a mile away at Overtime Sports Bar featuring The Badlees with Pan.a.ce.a and TT Max.
The show was great and the crowd seemed to have a good time. But not everything was perfect. It would take some serious entertaining skills and improvisation to shield most of the audience from the technical difficulties in the background.
TT Max got things started, with a tight set of classic heavy metal, including an excellent rendition of Alice In Chain’s “Man In the Box”. The Harrisburg-area band includes longtime Badlees sound engineer Keith Barshinger along with Todd Eric Bender, Robert Scott, Mike Nixon, and Doug Geyer. This is a very good band for fans – male and female alike – who enjoy that late 80’s, early 90’s style of heavy rock.
The middle act was Wilkes-Barre’s Pan.a.ce.a, another hard rock band, but with a more modern edge. Their set of entirely original music kicked off with “Too Little Too Late” which was hindered by sound problems – there were no stage monitors and the bass cut out halfway through the first set. Front man Tim Farley chatted up the audience while the technical difficulties were being sorted out. Eventually, they resigned to continue the show in spite of the technical problems and delivered a solid performance, ending strong with the title song from their last album We the Broken.
A new album of acoustic songs by Pan.a.ce.a named Bare Bones will be available soon, and some songs are currently available on iTunes.
In an evening plagued by sound system issues, The Badlees, the headliners of the show, proved they can rise above adversity and deliver an entertaining show. The enthusiasm of the crowd was unaffected by the random cutting out of bass, vocals and even the drums. Most of the frolicking crowd was unaware of the technical difficulties going on behind the scenes. No one seemed to notice band members disappearing and reappearing to personally tweak the soundboard. The band played on and improvised for some long extended periods, especially during the songs “Silly Little Man” and “I Liked You Better When You Hated Yourself”.
Beyond the technical issues, the show itself was unique as The Badlees played an extended set that spanned their decades of material, including a couple of rareties from Renew and several deep tracks from River Songs. In fact, they will play River Songs front to back at their next show a special daytime, all ages show in Jim Thorpe, Pa. on Sunday, October 3rd.
Our affiliated site, Modern Rock Review, will publish an in-depth profile of The Badlees when the site officially launches on October 10th.
If anything, this night showed that technical difficulties can befall even the most professional acts, but how these difficulties are handled– through ad-libbing and keeping it interesting while working on these issues behind the scenes, takes an extraordinary level of professionalism, quick thinking, and hard work.
On this night, The Badlees and their quality supporting acts truly worked “Overtime”.
Posted by Karyn on Mar 7, 2010 in Events
In a move to preserve and celebrate the magical power that songs, and the artists who write and perform them, can have over listeners, Music on the Mountain is born.
Orrtanna, Pa March 4, 2010 – Music on the Mountain will host it’s first event on Saturday, March 27th, 2010 from 1pm-6pm. 10 singer/songwriters will come together to perform their songs, in a barn, located on the eastern slopes of the South Mountain range, in Adams County, Pa (419 Plantation Road, Orrtanna PA).
The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.
The list of performers include: Pete Kenney, Brian Labs, Jon Skiff, Ryan Peters, Joey Wood, Michael Males, Steven Courtney, Michael James Anderson, Mark DeRose & Rhyne McCormick. Each artist will perform a 25 minutes set of original music, either as an acoustic solo or duo.
For more information and directions please visit our webpage:
Posted by Karyn on Sep 30, 2009 in Artists
October 9, 2009
Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar Bookstore treated fans to an intimate show with Brad Yoder. Guests enjoyed the ambience of sipping coffee from hand made mugs amongst the stacks of vintage books. It was akin to hearing a concert while comfortably lounging in your living room except for the soaring ceilings and awesome acoustics. Brad Yoder is well known to Pittsburgh coffeehouse audiences. His quirky poetry set to pop tunes lends itself nicely to an acoustic performance.
The only instruments tonight are Brad’s versatile voice and his guitar. He sounds as though he’d be just as comfortable singing children’s songs as the pop/folk he is performing today. Early in the first set, Brad plays a song he wrote for a songwriting contest sponsored by Paul Lloyd. The song is called, “I Was a Terrible Waiter”. The lyrics are fun and delivered with a bit of self deprecating humor, “…Yeah, I was the guy the boss would’ve fired if he could’ve found a monkey who would take my place…,” We didn’t know it at the time, but we were listening to the contest winner!
Brad Yoder’s songs range from light-hearted fun like “Hair Loss Blues”, “…it’s a tragedy, if you know what I mean, I was born Mr. Yoder, I’ve become Mr. Clean…,” and “Lite Brite” which brings back memories of a favorite childhood game ( another songwriting contest gem) to poetry set to a breathtakingly beautiful melody in “School Together”, “…everything will fall into place, someday or never, it hardly matters, when forever comes apart, I’ll gather pieces of my scattered heart…,” and stories like the fan favorite, “Skyler”. Brad explains during the show that “Skyler” is a true story and his most frequently requested song. He adds that he is happy to play any song for us – as long as he wrote it.
When asked how he got started writing and performing, Brad explains, “I did get a music degree, but the songwriting thing was something I started doing more seriously after college. I just fell in love with making songs, really, and having the chance to play them for others.”
While taking in this show, it is apparent that there is a connection between the performer and audience – each song finishes to a round of appreciative applause. The lyrics of the song “I’m Not Setting the World On Fire” seem especially appropriate; “…I play this coffee shop for tips and one free drink, and on nights like this, I wonder what the hell I’m thinkin’ but this room’s so live, I’ll fill it like your average choir…” Brad confesses, “My proudest accomplishment is that I’m still writing songs in 2009 that matter to me, and going out and playing them for people. That’s the biggest reward – just to be able to keep doing that.”
Brad Yoder released his first CD, Best Sunday Heart in 1997 and followed it up with the live CD, Talk to Total Strangers in 1999, Used in 2002 and Someday Or Never in 2007. You can purchase copies of these CD’s or listen to the songs on Brad’s super cool website, www.BradYoder.com .
Be on the lookout for when Brad Yoder stops in your town. It is a performance you won’t want to miss!
NOTE: Brad Yoder donated the song "Any Day" to the Dollars for Diane compilation. Check out his profile page.
Posted by Karyn on Aug 27, 2009 in Events
No Regrets Music Fest (NRMF) is an annual event held to raise money for the Friends of Megan Bolton Memorial Scholarship Fund. Megan Bolton was just seventeen when she was tragically killed in a car accident in July of 2003. Her friends and family have chosen to honor her memory and keep her spirit alive through this scholarship fund. “No Regrets” was Megan’s motto. According to her friends, she brightened your day just by being there and had a knack for spreading happiness. “You could be having the worst day ever and she would make you feel better.” According to friend and event organizer, Tarah Cordier, Megan would sing, crack jokes and do whatever goofy thing she could think of to make her friends smile. She loved music and always worried about how she was going to pay for college herself. Honoring her memory with a music festival to raise money for a scholarship fund is a fitting tribute.
This year’s festival was organized by Megan’s friends Tarah and Erica Cordier and was held at Gullifty’s Underground in Camp Hill from 2PM to 2AM. For a ten dollar donation, festival goers were treated to performances from ten local bands. Performing were; Troponin, LaFours, Animal Society, Tuckahoe Ridge, A Public Betrayal, Nasty Nate and the Sexual Offenders, Tripp McNeely, FDR and the New Deal, The Human Wall and 1000 Earth Years.
Some highlights included Troponin’s rocked-out rendition of the Kris Kross song “Jump”, a high energy performance from LaFours, Animal Society’s air-tight performance of their original “California”, Tuckahoe Ridge blew us all away with their all around cool bluegrass performance, A Public Betrayal’s on stage channeling of Angus Young, Nasty Nate’s – well- nastiness- but in a good way, Tripp McNeely’s tight performance of their hook laden blues-rock originals, FDR’s rendition of “Mountain Jam”, The Human Wall – when you can shred like that – who needs a vocalist, and 1000 Earth Years won the prize for the coolest looking drum kit of the night.
Thanks to all the talented bands who donated their time and the folks who came to rock with them, Gullifty’s was alive with music and an appreciative crowd. Megan would like that. But best of all, another deserving senior from Megan’s high school will have a little less worry about paying college tuition. Megan would like that too
Posted by Karyn on Jun 3, 2009 in Artists
Rhyne McCormick is very easy to listen to, but calling his music “Easy Listening” wouldn’t be right. His mix of pop melodies and thoughtful inspirational lyrics goes down like a glass of cold lemonade on a hot day, sweet but with just the right amount of refreshing crispness.
We caught up with Rhyne during one of his monthly performances at Granfalloons, a cozy bar/restaurant located in a historic building at 41 E Princess Street in downtown York. The charm of the building and the accommodating staff made us feel like regulars even though this was our first time there – a genuine neighborhood bar atmosphere. The bar is on the first level and a deck on the second level. The bands perform in a corner of the bar area making for an intimate performance.
On this night, Rhyne is performing an acoustic set with Seth Ryan on percussion and guitarist Mike Morrison. Before the show, Rhyne explained they were planning to do mostly covers during their set with a few originals mixed in, but as the night went on the crowd of regulars did start yelling for originals. Rhyne’s covers of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Oasis and others revved up the crowd with several young ladies dancing early on during the first set. The folks gathered around the bar were enjoying the music as some were singing along and most were actually paying attention to the band.
A couple of weeks earlier, Rhyne played to a sold out crowd with The Mark Derose Band at The Capital Theatre in York. Rhyne said that he may release a compilation of these live recordings on CD. You can listen to a preview of some of the tracks on Rhyne’s website: www.rhynemccormick.net.
Rhyne grew up surrounded by music at home, in church and even summer camp. Though he admits to asking for his first guitar at age four, he didn’t initially choose music as his career. Instead, after high school, Rhyne headed to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA intending to become a youth pastor. His passion for music would have been a part of that. However, Rhyne says, “After a few semesters, I became pretty frustrated with organized religion. So, I quit school and joined the Air Force.“
He spent the next nine years as a computer programmer for the Air Force stationed in places like Omaha, Nebraska and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Omaha is where Rhyne started writing a lot of music and playing in bars and coffee shops. He still plays the occasional gig in Virginia Beach. After leaving the service, Rhyne decided he could no longer spend his days enclosed in an office cubicle and made music his full time pursuit.
Rhyne chose to perform, write and take lessons to hone his skills as a musician and songwriter. He has recorded three CD’s. The first two are out of print, but digital copies of “Soul Dust” are available on iTunes and CDBaby. (Though I did spot a copy of “Spin the Bottle” – the first CD- in an on-line auction selling for around forty dollars.) So, for the moment, the best way to hear Rhyne is LIVE at a local venue near you!
Rhyne’s soulful vocals and heartfelt delivery energize his performances drawing in his audience with catchy hooks and instrumental harmonies that stick in your head long after the song is over. Like many singer/songwriters, he draws from personal experiences when writing. Some songs like “Soul Dust” seem autobiographical with lyrics like, “If I don’t do just what I want, I won’t be who I am.” and “You may not know who I am, but just listen to where I’ve been.” In “Through These Eyes” he sings, “I’ve seen everything through these eyes… there’s no disguising me”.
“Deeper” is a song which Rhyne quips was inspired by seasonal affective disorder- or that down in the dumps feeling you get in the depths of winter from lack of sunshine. The song starts by describing the malaise, “the funk in your head keeps you in bed. “ But continues on to encourage the listener with, “You don’t have to go real far to find your inspiration…..dig a little deeper deep down in your soul…” And a “miracle will come from deep down inside.”
Rhyne says “Train Song”, about a cousin he lost to a heroin overdose, is a favorite because “it has touched so many people. To me that’s what songwriting is all about, telling a story and touching someone with it.” Choices are a theme in this song and how once a choice is made, it’s sometimes tough to change directions. “Trains are full of people going places they don’t want to be. When that train leaves the station you can not stop it all the time.”
Rhyne’s guitar is covered with stickers much like a well-traveled suitcase. It seems fitting since he plays an average of four to five shows weekly throughout Central PA. His busy gig schedule should make it easier to get out there and catch a happy hour solo show or a show with one of the many fine local musicians Rhyne regularly teams up with like Dave San Soucie, Jon Skiff, Mike Morrison, Randy Servello, Aaron Bossinger, Jim Gross and Seth Ryan. Go on! Shake that dust off your soul!
NOTE: Rhyne’s album Live At the Capitol Theatre was released in 2010
For more info on Rhyne McCormick:
Rhyne mcCormick donated his song “Deeper” to the Dollars for Diane Compilation CD.
Check out his DAMES of PA Profile.
Posted by Karyn on Apr 30, 2009 in Artists
A wiry figure with long wispy hair leans into the microphone, eyes closed, strumming an acoustic guitar, gritty vocals with just a hint of a country boy twang singing his version of the old Barry McGuire song, “Eve of Destruction.” Shawn Z is performing at The Mifflinburg Hotel/The Scarlet D Tavern as “Gypsy – Unplugged” with drummer/percussionist Ron Simasek. Ron is keeping the beat, perched behind a set of tall conga drums. He’s innovatively using his hands, brushes and drumsticks to produce a full, percussive sound to perfectly complement Shawn’s acoustic guitar.
The duo performs covers ranging from John Lennon, Warren Zevon and Buffalo Springfield to the Violent Femmes and Nirvana along with original songs from Shawn Z’s collection. Though tonight is a duo, Gypsy might also include guitarist/vocalist Bret Alexander as well as bassists Paul Smith or Firp Edmunds. The band’s lineup, set list and lyrics, are all flexible and prone to improvisation. When venturing out to a Gypsy show, you just never know what you may experience! What you can count on is Shawn Z’s unique view of life and relaxed but quick witted humor making every show a great time.
An experienced performer, Shawn has opened for Willie Nelson, John Fogarty and Toby Keith and is well known to viewers of WNEP Channel 16 in Wilkes Barre. Shawn and fellow Gypsy, Ron have been recurrent guests of weatherman Joe Snedeker doing acoustic performances during the morning forecast. Ron is also a renowned session drummer and is best known for being the drummer for The Badlees and The Cellarbirds.
Shawn says being a musician is in his blood, “My dad was a touring musician, my mom sings and had music playing nonstop through my childhood. I’m still going through therapy.” Shawn credits his dad, who passed away in 2007, as an inspiration saying that they had musical magic between them. While he admits he’s also been influenced by Steve Earle, Shawn says there’s no truth to the rumor that he is his long lost son, though he is flattered by the comparison. Aside from 15 years spent in radio, writing and performing music has been Shawn Z’s life’s work though he adds that he did take a typing class – just in case this music thing doesn’t work out.
Shawn Z has released two CD’s of original material since 2004. Both Wishful Drinkin’ (2004) and Saint Jude Avenue (2008) were recorded at Saturation Acres with producer (and fellow gypsy) Bret Alexander. Wishful Drinkin’ has received national airplay on Sirius XM Radio and had a respectable showing on the Americana charts reaching number eleven. Songs from Saint Jude Avenue can be heard and are available for purchase through Shawn Z’s MySpace page.
The themes of Shawn’s songs range from Arlo Guthrie like storytelling to reflections on life with a wandering soul in search of redemption as a recurring theme. The music often has a familiar feel reminiscent of Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle and Bob Dylan. The lyrics, however, are distinctively Shawn Z . He says, “I’ve been cursed with writing straight from my heart.” His stories are based on his experiences and people he has known. “Sadly enough, I don’t write fiction. All songs I write are personal….some are sad, some are funny … some are just plain odd, but that’s me.”
Philosophical nuggets like the introspective “I’m halfway between the man that I was and the man that I’d like to be,” and , “Life goes on…even if you don’t” make you think. While songs like, “Hey Judge Judy” and “Talkin’ Cover Band Blues” make you smile with lines like, “The girlfriend left but I still got her kid, maybe I‘ll put him on eBay and get the highest bid…well what would you do? Times is tough!” Shawn shows us his more serious side with tracks like” Uncle Willie.“ Uncle Willie is a war veteran who comes home but is still fighting the battle in his mind years later. The strong steady beat with a wild guitar marches along like the character, “Watch out, here comes Uncle Willie, fightin’ for the USA…”
The song, “Better Than Me,” about a man living on the street reminds us that things aren’t always as they appear. While most of us would think a homeless guy was down on his luck, he says, “I don’t mind livin’ out on the street, at least I’m a livin’ free and there ain’t nobody got it better than me.” A fan favorite is “Half Baked”. With a rollicking country vibe and lyrics like, “She’s hotter than a pig at a pork roast,” and, “she likes to drink her beer from a funnel and then go grocery shopping in the nude.” it captures attention and gets the party going!
Shawn Z and Gypsy have just started wandering out of the Northeastern PA area into Central PA and have received a warm reception from audiences in the Danville and Mifflinburg areas where they’ve played to sellout crowds in clubs like the Pub II. Shawn is actively looking for help booking more stops for this Gypsy train in Central PA. Check the schedules posted on the Gypsy MySpace page often and tell your favorite club that you want the Gypsies to stop in your town!
Thanks to both Shawn Z and Ron Simasek for spending time with me (Karyn from DamesOfPa.org) at the Scarlet D Tavern – where else can you catch a great show AND see a horse and buggy trot down the main street?
Shawn Z donated his song “One End of the Candle” to the Dollars for Diane compilation.
Check out his DAMES of PA Profile.
Posted by Karyn on Mar 12, 2009 in Artists
As we arrived at the Fieldhouse in Etters, PA, we discovered the rather large parking lot was full, not a single spot left in the main lot. After parking in the overflow section on the hill above the restaurant, we made our way inside. It was standing room only at the bar. In the dining area, tables close to the stage were filling quickly. No doubt that this crowd was there in anticipation of a great show from the night’s entertainment, Giants of Despair (sometimes abbreviated as G.O.D.).
The band, whose name is derived from a steep hill in the Laurel Run section of Wilkes Barre, PA, are Bret Alexander (vocals, guitars, and mandolin), Jeremy Hummel (drums), and Jason Shaffer (bass) and occasionally, Nyke Van Wyke on violin. The band plays a mix of classic covers from bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater Revival and Johnny Cash along with some original songs from Bret Alexander.
The credentials of the gentlemen in this band are quite noteworthy. Alexander is best known as a founding member/chief songwriter of the Badlees and recording engineer/producer of Saturation Acres studio. Hummel was an original member of Breaking Benjamin. His drumming is on their first two albums and he toured the country twice with the band. He is currently in great demand as a session drummer and drum instructor as well as a contributing writer for Modern Drummer. Shaffer was part of the popular local band, Grantham Road who once opened for Hootie and the Blowfish and released an album (Parade) which received national airplay. Shaffer has also built a solid reputation as a recording engineer working out of After 7 Studios in Mechanicsburg, PA. Van Wyke has a demanding schedule as a highly sought after session musician and was unfortunately not available for this show.
The result of this combo is a crowd-pleasing bar band with experienced
showmanship and classic style. The band started the first set with “Uncommonly Blue” from The Cellarbirds’ Perfect Smile album. More than a few fans in the crowd knew all the words and were singing along. This is what really made this “bar band” stand out from the rest – original music as well as the superior musicianship of the band. The clear difference between this band and other talented local bands is Bret’s original music. The quality and craftsmanship of his songs were the driving force of the Badlees success and what has built a loyal base of local fans that support him in his various
According to Bret, he wanted to be a musician since his early teens taking up the trumpet in school and then learning guitar. His first band gig was in high school with a local band from his hometown of Canton PA. Bret explained that he got the spot because the previous guitarist had gotten into some trouble with the law and his mother took his guitar away. In the late 80’s, Bret along with guitarist Jeff Feltenberger and drummer Ron Simasek formed “Bad Lee White” eventually adding singer/front man Pete Palladino and bassist Paul Smith. Fans shortened the band’s name to The Badlees and it stuck. The Badlees were the vehicle for Bret’s songwriting throughout the 1990’s spawning the hits “Angeline is Coming Home” and “Fear of Falling” from River Songs in 1995. While these may be the songs for which Bret has received the most commercial success, they offer only a glimpse of the true ability of this songwriter to touch his listeners.
Perfect Smile from the Cellarbirds and Gentleman East, a solo CD, are testaments to the depth and range of Bret’s writing. Such lyrics as – “My heart’s a gnarled tree wrapped inside of me / looking for the light that seldom shows” – from the title song Perfect Smile, paint a stunningly beautiful image both visually and emotionally while the aural vibe is reminiscent of the Beatles.
Gentleman East, Bret’s solo effort released in 2004 was a clear departure from the pop styling of the Badlees and the classic rock and roll sounds of The Cellarbirds. The influences of Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and John Lennon are apparent throughout the songwriting and stripped down instrumentation. Bret cites “I Want to Win in This World”, performed with just an acoustic guitar and deep, earthy vocals, as one of his personal favorites on the album. A longtime fan of Bret’s songs attests,” I listen to his stuff over and over again and find the many layers he has built into a seemingly simple song. Each time I discover something new. I think that’s one of the big things. At first blush some of the songs sound deceptively simple, but when you really listen, you realize how amazingly complex they are. By the same token there is great beauty in simplicity.”
When Bret isn’t writing, performing and recording his own music, he can be found in his studio, Saturation Acres, co-founded with Badlees bassist, Paul Smith. Saturation Acres has grown into one of the finest recording studios in the area. Having recorded and produced for a diverse assortment of artists such as Breaking Benjamin, Panacea, K8, Jared Campbell and John Blair, Bret says he enjoys collaborative work. “When you run out of new ideas of your own it is a good idea to get other perspectives….which fuels your solo work. It’s a circle. Whatever keeps me making music is where I go.”
It has now been nearly five years since we’ve had an extended album from Bret Alexander with many promises along the way of something new to come. In that time span, he has played live gigs with many different lineups from the three-piece Cellarbirds, to two-man collaboration with drummer Jeremy Hummel, to playing solo, to this latest lineup with Giants of Despair. There have been occasional new songs that have trickled out such as the moody, syncopated “Don’t Ever Let Me Down” and the pop-oriented “Well Laid Plans”, but we eagerly await another collection.
At the end of the night as we trekked back to our car parked in the outer reaches of the parking area, we talked about what we enjoyed most about the show. The band played a wide variety of covers which went over well with the crowd but we agreed that the brightest parts of the evening were when they played songs from Bret Alexander’s own collection. I was looking forward to popping in a Perfect Smile CD to listen to on the way home when I heard the opening notes of Uncommonly Blue blaring from a car pulling out of the lot. Someone else was also hungry for more!
So what can we expect from Bret Alexander in the near future? Giants of Despair will be playing a light schedule this spring and plans are forming for a studio project in the future. The Cellarbirds have a few shows booked over the summer. The Badlees have a new album in the works expected to be completed this spring and plan to reunite for a few gigs this summer.
Posted by Brenda on Feb 10, 2009 in Events
Jeremiah’s at The Bullfrog Brewery in downtown Williamsport will play host to “Four On The Floor: A Drum Symposium” on Sunday, November 15th, at 5PM. Covering topics ranging from technique to performance and musicianship to the music business, the clinic will feature solo performances and percussive philosophies from four of Pennsylvania’s finest drummers, with a collective musical background spanning four decades across the globe … but all four of whom have roots in the area.
The drum clinicians will be Keith Bashnick (John Oliver & The Distinguished, The Red Rocket All-Stars, Tony Levin, Chuck Mangione), Shaun Gilmour (Grimace, The New Alcindors, The Dirty Nickels, Gary Burton, The Happy Accidents), Joel B Vincent (The Blind Chitlin Kahunas, Bo Diddley, Tino Gonzales, Joan Osborne, Rubber Soul) and Grammy-winner Steve Mitchell (Vince Guaraldi, Phil Lesh, Van Morrison, Leon Russell, Mose Allison, Lou Rawls). Friends all, each drummer will first offer individual segments to perform and discuss various topics, as well as to share stories from their experiences in the music industry, and the evening will culminate with a four-man drum solo that will surely rattle the rafters of The Bullfrog Brewery. With excellent acoustics and an intimate atmosphere, Jeremiah’s Listening Room above The Bullfrog Brewery is the perfect venue for this intimate evening of percussive passions shared.
Keith Bashnick, originally from Williamsport but now residing in Rochester, NY, currently performs with the original rock act John Oliver & The Distinguished (www.jodband.com). Shaun Gilmour, now a Williamsport resident, can be found performing in the region with The Dirty Nickels (www.myspace.com/thedirtynickels), The Lynn & Farley 4 (www.myspace.com/thelynnandfarley4), jazz trio Blue Magnolia and his own fusion/drum-n-bass/breakbeat project, MonoRail. Joel B Vincent, a resident of Williamsport and also the creator & editor of BilltownLIVE.com, the area’s most popular arts & entertainment website, currently performs with The Blind Chitlin Kahunas (www.billtownlive.com/kahunas) and The Doug McMinn Jazz Quartet (www.billtownlive.com/dougmcminnjazz). The Doug McMinn Jazz Quartet can be found on the first Wednesday of every month at The Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport (7-10PM). Steve Mitchell can be heard these days with jazz trio Burgess, Mitchell & Seal, who perform regular weekly shows at several area venues, including Sundays at The Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport (12-4PM), Wednesdays at Puirseil’s irish Pub in Lewisburg (6-9PM) and Thursdays at La Fontana in Bloomsburg (6-9PM). Steve also performs often with Ann Rabson, Ann Kerstetter, Steve Adams, EG Kight, Sascha Feinstein, The Mid-Life Cowboys, Averie Clark and many others, as well as offering personal drum instruction to a handful of fortunate students.
For more biographical information and performance schedules for each of these talented and highly-respected drummers (all of whom have extensive, varied and impressive backgrounds in the music industry), please visit them online at the following addresses:
Keith Bashnick : http://www.myspace.com/keithdrums
Shaun Gilmour : http://www.myspace.com/csgilmour
Joel B Vincent : http://www.billtownlive.com/kahunas
Steve Mitchell : http://www.myspace.com/stevemitchelldrummer
Admission to the drum clinic is $5 (or $2 for students), and seating is first-come, first-serve. Dinner reservations before or after the clinic can be made at The Bullfrog Brewery by calling (570) 326-4700. The Bullfrog Brewery (and Jeremiah’s Listening Room) is located at 229 West Fourth Street in downtown Williamsport. More information about The Bullfrog Brewery can be found online at www.bullfrogbrewery.com.
Of worthwhile note, prior to the drum clinic (and every Sunday) from 12-4PM, the Bullfrog hosts the Sunday Jazz Brunch Workshop, which features the incredibly talented jazz trio Burgess, Mitchell & Seal (which includes “Four On The Floor” clinician Steve Mitchell) … and guest musicians are always abound. Make it a full day of music and “hop” into the Bullfrog early. The Jazz Brunch Workshop is a free show.
“Four On The Floor : A Drum Symposium” is graciously sponsored by Robert M. Sides Family Music Center (www.rmsides.com), BilltownLIVE.com (www.billtownlive.com) and Yoas Services (www.yoas.net).
Event information courtesy of www.billtownlive.com
Posted by DAMES of Pa on Jan 10, 2009 in Archives
June 2010 Noteworthy Musicians
A Farewell Rescue
A Farewell Rescue‘s release Never Meet Your Heroes is saccharin gooeyness, like getting your hands sticky in a bag of cotton candy, mixing equal parts sugar and razorblades.
The band’s debut on Snapdragon Records is sure to rock your tear-stained face off! Through hard work and sweat, AFR were able to team up with renowned producer and recording engineer Doug White (Gym Class Heroes, Every Time I Die, Psyopus, Sleepaway) at Watchmen Studios to put together an unforgettable album that caught the ears of Snapdragon, Milwaukee ‘s premier indie rock label.
Their Sophomore release, Radio Deadly (June 8, 2010) is available on Amazon.com
Joel Dobbins has been called “peculiar” and a “nifty songwriter” who balances simple, substantial lyrics with catchy, well-crafted music, resulting in a fresh listening experience listen after listen. Joel Dobbins grew up and discovered his passion for music in Maine and has spent the recent years writing and recording in Pennsylvania.
He is prolific, with over 100 original songs written and four albums released over the past three years. His most recent album, Investment was written and recorded in under two weeks.
His influences come from all over the place and, as a result, his music tends to be all over the place – in a good way.
May 2010 Noteworthy Musicians
Pop / Experimental / Electroacoustic
Crossing state lines with guitars, looping pedals, and all manner of percussive instrument in tow, Lucas Carpenter is a modern pop troubadour. With a beat heavy and melody rich sound that borrows from his love of folk songcraft, the colorfulness of pop, Nashville storytelling, and hip electronic production values, LC is remixing what it means to be a singer-songwriter.
Born into a tightly knit, small town community in Pennsylvania, he is the son of a funeral director and the much loved black sheep of a large family. A self-proclaimed “Art Kid From the Country”, Lucas began his creative journey in musical theater productions, choirs, and garage bands before moving first to Pittsburgh, then to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music (’06 Songwriting graduate), and on to Philadelphia where he currently resides when not on the road. His songs are colorful sonic tapestries, contrasting the mundane and often comic reality of life in rural America against the cultural diversity and fast pace of the cities he’s called home.
Since releasing the Art Kids From the Country EP 3 years ago, Lucas has played over 300 shows, sold over 3,000 albums and digital downloads completely independently, and created “The Pixelated Path” (2008), his most ambitious work to date. “The Path”, produced with Los Angeles based friend and producer Alder (Sean Kingston), ventured into new sonic territory, combining beats generated from samples of office equipment, classic synthesizer sounds, beatboxing, and even a desk chair rolling across the floor, with organic instrumentation that included fretless guitar, Irish tin whistles, nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed fiddle), and toy pianos.
Currently, Lucas is on the road, sharing his high octane, electro-acoustic show with fans across the country. As a songwriter, a storyteller, a producer, and a performer Lucas Carpenter offers a new vision for the modern pop artist.
Ed Randazzo is a singer/songwriter from Northeastern, Pennsylvania. He has been writing and actively participating in music since age 14. Ed just released his first, full length record with Bret Alexander [The Badlees/Cellarbirds] titled See That My Grave Is Kept Clean – A ten song collection of folk/blues music, four of which were written by Randazzo.
” Though See That My Grave Is Kept Clean has dark themes, it’s far from being a downer. In fact, at times, it’s downright uplifting.”
- Alan K. Stout of The Weekender, Northeast, PA
February 2010 Noteworthy Musicians
Rock / Alternative Rock
All members of Soraia bring to the group a wide array of influences culminating into the unique sound and energy they release: Old, New bluesy, soulful, hard-hitting, ALIVE rock n’ roll. The spirit and tones are familiar, yet the integrity of their music and live performance are extraordinary: five unique personalities sharing passion for a harder, rawer rock sound.
This is a band that is on the road as much as possible, constantly improving upon their live shows and building following. They’ve found pockets of fans in most college towns, and continue to build on successes through hard work, focus, and passion for what they do. They’ve spent the last two years playing festivals, touring the Midwest and South, and working closely on songwriting and recording with producer, Obie O’Brien.
For videos and songs……
Check out Soraia on Myspace http://www.myspace.com/soraia and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Soraia.music
Key of V
Indie / Shoegaze / Acoustic
Sisters Val LaCerra (guitar, lead vocals), and Erin LaCerra (viola, tin whistle, keyboard, percussion) have been singing harmonies together since they were toddlers, but officially joined forces as indie duo Key of V in 2007. Inspired by an amalgamation of influences including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Bessie Smith and equipped with a Yamaha FX mixer and several pedals, Key of V has since been branching out to audiences across the state, winning hearts and breaking any preconceptions that duos cannot make big sounds.
Val’s solo album, Carbon Nation (2006), features the layered oddities and vocal harmonies that would follow into Key of V, but without the relief of upbeat tunes, and sprinkled with often sadistic-sounding laughter.
After the completion of Carbon Nation, Val experimented with looping found sound and layered vocal tracks that would later make their way onto Songs in the Key of V (2007), but not without keeping a few tracks, like Jill 5, stripped and bone-bearingly honest. Eventually V dumped the PC and started recording with a 4-track, recruiting her sister Erin and eventually playing on the street, where Key of V was noticed by shoppers, bar-goers, and eventually local venue owners, who invited them to entertain.
Since then Key of V has been branching out to surrounding metro-cities like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, York, and Pittsburgh. In June 2008 they helped organize and host a successful local music festival called Absorb, which featured over a dozen diverse local bands. In addition to Absorb, Key of V has organized other successful multi-band local shows and done all their own promotion and advertising.
They were named 2009 Billtown Bus Stop’s Artist of the Year!
To read more: http://www.northcentralpa.com/article/billtown-bus-stop-announces-music-awards
Check out Key of V on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/keyofv
January 2010 Noteworthy Musicians
Mr. Z & the Nightshift
He’s been doin’ it all his life, pretty much, starting with the gospel circuit in South Carolina at the age of five. Did you notice all the great ones started that way His first mentor, Grandma Johnson, plucked him from the choir and told him to show em what he could do. From what I hear, you just didn’t say no to Grandma. That dutiful child would move the congregation to jump up and applaud, sending the frightened little singer to run out, crying. Apparently he got over that and was a regular feature at several churches in the Greenville area where he used to tear up the service when he rocked “Jesus Loves Me”.
Later they moved To Wash. D.C. where musical ability abounded in this family of now legendary talent, including Aunt Ruth Brown and The Dixie Hummingbirds, who were frequent visitors, jamming in the parlor. Zee found his place on the street corners of D.C., blowin’ doo wop Harmony till Uncle Sam dropped him off in Lake Charles, L.A. Turns out, Zee’s got relatives in Creole country and in no time Richard Chenier had him hitting licks as a stand in zydeco keyboard player! From there he joined Phil Philips to record the original “Sea of Love”..no big deal, in those days after you sang backup, you collected your $15 and were on your way to Philly record hops, New York’s Apollo Theatre, Atlantic City Steel Pier, any venue with a paycheck. V-Tone and Maske record companies both cut singles with Zee & The Cruisers, (“Do the Fish” and “Somebody Cares”) but failed in the marketing and promotion….. more about Mr. Z & The Nightshift at http://www.myspace.com/mrzthenightshift
Jakesway is a group hailing from Carbondale / Scranton PA.
Original recordings consist of members / former members of Eternity, Nugget, Jeffrey James Band, Tom and Gary, Brothers Capone, jugdish, and featuring Tom Borthwick, John Zavacki, Rae Mear, and Stephanie Holmes. Read more and listen here; http://www.myspace.com/jakeswayband