Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Can't be any older than 16, yet they're damn good

I'm working on a story about the way-under-the-radar Rock Cafe in Vernfield in the former Nyce Printing building at 857 Main St., Harleysville.
I recently attended a multiple local act CD release party for the band Earl & Raine at the Rock, which featured Lansdale's Brian Medlin, plus Eric Lee Burkert, Former Belle, and this duo that just knocked me out called Among Trees.
These young guys have the souls of old folkies. How many dudes, as young as they, are incorporating BANJO into their songwriting (besides Mumford and Sons)? Here's some all-too-short video of their song "I Don't Wanna Suffer (I Don't Wanna Sing the Blues)."
It's a shame their entourage started lining up to grab free copies of their CD and talk their ears off right after their set, because I would have liked to know more about them.
You heard it here first. Xtreme Folk Scene and/or the Philly Folksong Society needs to hear Among Trees and get them into their festivals ... yesterday.


video

Monday, October 17, 2011

Young and old

Heck of a weekend, musically speaking.
*Last Saturday, some youth musicians from the Upper Bucks Alliance for Creative Expression entertained at a Salford Valley Winery event benefiting epilepsy awareness. It turns out they have a concert saluting "classic progressive rock" at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Pennridge High School, 1228 N. Fifth St. in Perkasie. Tickets are $17.50 at the door, $15 in advance, $12 for seniors and $10 for students.
A fun time was had by all. It had been three years since the winery had held an event, and I think Brenda and Ed Staehle could use some encouragement to not wait another three years to open up the barn for tastings. So click on the link to their site right now. I'll wait.
*The Lansdale Community Concerts series has always been a maddening thing for me. It's a subscription series that's forever sold out. You can't get tickets to individual concerts; you have to purchase a season subscription. And in order to get a subscription, you have to be put on a waiting list.
Also, judging by the sea of white hair in the audience at North Penn High School for these things, it looks like it's a requirement that you have to be old to attend. Or maybe it's the wait to get off the waiting list that ages you?
So through my connections, I got a pair of unused LCC tickets to see Chespeake, Va.'s Hunt Family Saturday night. Wickedly talented stepdancers, songwriters and musicians, with a mom, dad and seven kids, ages 13-21.
Younger audiences would have loved this concert. They played songs by Mumford & Sons and Jason Mraz, for goodness sake! However, for some reason, LCC seems unfairly hellbent on keeping these events exclusive to the silver-haired set.
As my girlfriend pointed out in the concert program, the organization's biggest patron is Elm Terrace Gardens. Of the other 13 major contributors, five of them are retirement communities.
When Sandy Hunt, the mother of the brood, mentioned that you could follow The Hunt Family on Facebook, she asked if anybody in the audience used Facebook. A big laugh went up from the predominantly senior audience. Yeah, you can take that as a "no," Sandy.
*Dirty Jerzees? Sounds like the name of a strip club!
Crazy Train? Sounds like the name of an Ozzy Osbourne tribute band! And there actually is an Ozzy tribute band by that name.
However, this venue is the new sports bar that's in the same building as Clubhouse Too in Upper Gwynedd, and this Crazy Train is a nice 'n' tight classic rock cover band. Check out my video.

video

Monday, October 10, 2011

Foodies and locavores rejoice

With the number of food scares in recent years -- including a recent outbreak of listeria linked to Colorado-grown cantaloupes -- local artisanal food matters. And there's loads of it in Bucks County.
A food blogger and an employee of NFL Films, who attend the same New Hope synagogue, have teamed up to bring you an impressive array of sustainable, organic foods in off-the-beaten-path locations with Bucks County Food Tours.This new venture from Lynne Goldman and Alan Brown takes five hours (10-3 Fridays through Sundays; other times by appointment) to fully appreciate as they chauffeur you, take you to lunch, and personally introduce you to the proprietors of family farms, orchards, bakeries, and ice cream makers that insist on locally produced ingredients.
"Bring your camera and your cooler," said Goldman, noting that once you get an appreciation (and maybe a sample) of the difference grass-fed beef, artisanal ice cream or raw milk makes, you'll want to buy and take some home the day of your tour.
There are also special interest tours available, such as "Meat and Greet," which focuses on butchers, "Seize the Cheese," and "Vegan Voyage."
The "Mixed Bag of Bucks" tour that my girlfriend (who took the terrific pictures) and I hit on a crisp fall day began with "Sticky Buns 101" with Roseann and Kerry Burns of the Town Crier Bakery at Peddlers Village in Lahaska.
Three Newtown area locations followed.
Be advised that you will need sturdy footwear to negotiate the pastures at Birchwood Farms. It's worth it to have a taste of the flavorful, raw milk garlic cheddar cheese.
Also the hairy, boar-like breed of pigs, which are later rendered as organically certified, grass-fed pork, like to give "love bites." Hoping that I might be carrying a chicken egg snack like the ones farmer Mike Tierney was tossing about, one of them nipped my knee.
This guy didn't bite...


These guys do, however.

The curious cows at Birchwood will also walk right up to you as you don blue booties over your shoes to prevent the spread of any animal diseases.
The Milk House Farm Market, which has been in the same family since 1813, grows 42 varieties of tomatoes, every kind of squash you can think of, 75 hens, muscovy ducks, two alpacas, a llama ... but no partridge in a pear tree.
Peppers at Milk House Farm Market.

Brown claims Ely Farm Products has "the best bacon in Bucks County." Their different kinds of bologna are pretty darn good.
"Nationwide, we're in an arc of learning and an awareness of our food. The cream really rises to the top," Brown said.
The lunch portion of the tour involved a trek across the Delaware River to Frenchtown, N.J. to the Lovin' Oven. The locally sourced, three course meal changes. Ours consisted of an heirloom acorn squash soup that was too heavy on the ginger, a Swallow Hill Farm mixed greens salad with red beet matchsticks (yum) and Appetehikan Farm goat cheese, and either an omelet or an open faced sandwich. The sandwich, which had hearty bread, brie and a honey/balsamic reduction, featured slices of apples from the next destination, Manoff Market Gardens, in a bucolic section of Solebury Township.
Feng shui with pumpkins at Manoff Market Gardens.

Manoff grows 26 different kinds of apples, five of them go into their apple cider.
"This is a problem. We need to grow them with their names on them (so people know the difference)," joked Amy Manoff.
Manoff's canned peaches are also popular.
"Once we discovered (Manoff Market Gardens), we had to keep coming back," commented Warminster resident Judy Miller.
OWowCow Creamery at the Carousel Village in Wrightstown makes a point of using locally sourced, organic cream, free range eggs, and local honey, fruits and berries, to make small-batch ice cream. They have some of the strangest flavors ever -- chocolate jalaLinkpeno, sweet potato wasabi, rose water cardamon ... There's three different flavors of VANILLA, for cryin' out loud. "It's the flavor that hits you first, and the intensity of the flavor," said Goldman, noting that you don't find chunks of anything in OWowCow's ice cream.
Owner John Fezzuoglio described ice cream making as a personal voyage of self discovery after sensing a lack of sense of community in his native Brooklyn.
Bucks County Food Tours cost $95 per person. Call (215) 794-4191 or (215) 598-3979.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chris Brown ... come on, man

I'll admit to being a hater.
When Chris Brown broke onto the scene with "Run It" at the age of 16, it smacked of a Hanson- or Aaron Carter-like fast track to oblivion.

Then there was that whole regrettable chapter with Rihanna.

And then came this song


Yeah, it's supposed to be a Michael Jackson tribute. But the song actually sounds more like SWV's "Right Here/Human Nature."


Chris Brown ... come on, man. We've already heard this song ... twice!
It's true that top-of-his-game MJ (who is now back in the news because of his doctor going on trial) gave that SWV song a chance to be a hit in the first place. But "She Ain't You" seems to have every bit to do with SWV as it does Michael Jackson because Chris Brown flat out steals the "Right Here" melody.
Why no love for the Sistahs With Voices, Chris?
Link

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fighting back against stalking and bullying

Props to my man, Randy Alexander for letting me know about this song.
In TAYLOR BRIGHT’S “PSYCHO,” the 1st single from her forthcoming EP, Mixtape Love,the 18-year-old Philly pop artist encourages her peers to take the power back from bullies and stalkers and adopt more of a “We’re not gonna take it,” attitude. It was written by RoboPop (Maroon 5, Gym Class Heroes) and the video was shot at West Chester University.

"By embracing that nervous energy and ultimately taking back the power, the stalker has failed and gets a taste of his own medicine," Bright says.
This speaks to my life because I have a female one of these who has sent unspeakably hurtful and untrue messages to my girlfriend and a previous girlfriend. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

WHAT THE FOLK IS GOING ON!?

The Philadelphia Folk Festival brings out the weirdest in people. It made my girlfriend want to walk the Perkiomen Trail at 12:20 a.m. the Saturday night of the Fest. For whatever reason, she was convinced I was going to stumble upon some major scoop; never mind that it was dark and I wouldn't be able to take notes. "What kind of reporter are you?," she said, baiting me.
Groan! Somebody watches entirely too much Nancy Grace.
To my surprise, a good many festers were indeed on the part of the trail that crosses the Perkiomen Creek and Haim Road, going toward Spring Mount. At almost 1 a.m.? You betcha -- with glow sticks and LED lights, yet. That is, except for the not-too-bright bicyclists with no headlights that almost ran several people over.
The late night hikers were most definitely festing because they all were friendly. I always say that if everybody had the mindset of people at the Folk Fest, the world would be a nicer place.
Once the trail led to the Folk Fest site, I was surprised to observe how raucously loud the campgrounds were at that time of the night. How the heck does anybody sleep when they camp at the Fest?! Wish I had brought my Flip camera so I could have posted video.
Maybe it had something to do with being rained on Thursday and Friday night?
You always hear about how cool it is camping at the Folk Fest, and about how fun it is to party there. I decided that night that it was not for me.
Among the interesting sights on our late night hike were campfires, down a ravine, on the side of the trail opposite the Folk Fest grounds. Apparently people camp there too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why radio still rules

Scanning the radio dial frequency by frequency turns up the darndest things.
106.7-FM in Harrisburg, which was known for the longest time as Mix 106.7, has an eyebrow-raising new persona: CHANNEL 106.7, HIP-HOP, HAIR BANDS AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN!

A segue from "Jump Jump" by Kriss Kross ....




into "Down Boys" by Warrant....



was WIGGITY-WIGGITY-WIGGITY WACK, yo!!!

Variety in radio can be like a loaded gun sometimes. It was extreme music style shifts like that that killed top 40 radio circa 1988 through about 1994.
But I said something similar back when 95.7 Ben-FM hit the airwaves in Philly. "A format for radio nerds? It'll never sell," I scoffed. Well, they're still there, so what do I know?
Props to Channel 106.7 for taking a chance with this experiment. With satellite radio, all those iTunes channels, Pandora, and more competing for people's ears, you have to do something to stand out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Enunciate, please!

Amy Winehouse, who over the weekend joined what Kurt Cobain's mom referred to as "that stupid club," got me thinking about that group of stars that perished at the age of 27.
Jim Morrison, whose larger than life mystique Amy Winehouse will never reach (she probably will in England, but the Brits are weird), was a tremendous writer and showman (or is it shaman?) but didn't always articulate his lyrics. Just what exactly is he singing in the opening line of "L.A. Woman?"
To encourage more commenting interaction here at Talk about the Passion, I'm posting a poll.

WHO HAS THE SLOPPIEST DICTION/ENUNCIATION IN ROCK?

A.) J. Mo.




B.) Mick Jagger



C.) Elton John



D.) John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)


E.) Michael Stipe (R.E.M.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free (quality) beer in the mail :-)


It sounded too good to be true.
A beer company, for some reason, needed public relations help in getting the word out about its new brew, and my new friends, KKPR in upstate Pa., wanted ME to have a look at a press kit. Two weeks later, the package from East Coast Beer Company in Point Pleasant, N.J. arrived with three bottles of Beach Haus "classic American pilsner."
My expression here says it all. A crumb had fallen from God's table.
Smooth - check. Golden - check. Full-bodied - check. It's a craft brew without being too pretentious - a difficult balance to strike.
Even more scintillating is the two guys that run East Coast wanted Beach Haus to be something you'd want to leisurely sip at the beach, and something that hearkened back to the German-American type beers that were made before prohibition.
Prohibition was truly a dark time in American history. But then after our nation came to its senses, and the 21st Amendment legalized alcoholic beverages, beers were made with rice and corn. These ingredients did their job in the fermentation process, but made the mass produced American beers decidedly bland.
The skinny on Beach Haus is East Coast Beer Company is finally branching out from being Jersey-only, and into Pennsylvania and New York. I can't wait to get my hands on a case of this at local distributors!
Better still, East Coast's Beach Haus has a spinoff blog site, www.celebratetherealjerseyshore.com.
Haha - take that, MTV!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh those kooky kids!

Chester County sisters Cassandra, Anna Christie and Beatrice Sadler have been singing in one way or another since they were little. The three sisters - Sisters 3 - also have five other siblings, and Cassandra once told me in 2008 that she and her two younger sisters started singing as a way to keep all those young'uns entertained or lull them to sleep.
Released this month on the New York-based indie record label Modern Vintage Recordings is Sisters 3's second formal album, "Coruscate at the Meadow Gate." The group's quirky, vocal based, alternative folk/pop moves in rather esoteric directions at times, but the first five tracks on this CD are surprisingly accessible. The sisters' harmonies are tight and gorgeous and the production is first rate.
"You are the truest blue I ever knew/Never saw a shooting star fall as pretty as you do," they sing on "Wolfpack."
It's only with track 6, "Apocalypse," where things start veering off in odd lyrical and musical directions. Sisters 3's trademark weirdness comes to a crescendo with "Alien Baby," which ends with the sisters harmonizing the pat-a-cake/jump rope song "Miss Mary Mack," and breaking down in hysterical laughter (guess you had to be there). Closing tracks "My Little Heart" and "Pleased to Meet You" restore order once more.
Gotta give Sisters 3 props for being so fiercely original and individualistic.
Listen to The Sisters 3's "Coruscate at the Meadow Gate" here

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Scribbles in my notebook

As The Reporter's Page One Editor, Dan Sharer, recently said, "No journalist enjoys covering Election Day."
However, the primary that was just held contained a chance meeting that sparked a new fire in what I do.
In chatting up Lansdale resident Herman Ahrens on his way in to vote, his wife (whose name escapes me) saw my press badge and recognized my name from reading The Reporter.
She said: "They should give you a column and run your picture with it." Evidently she thinks I'm a handsome fellow.
Not knowing if this charming senior couple that I had engaged were blog readers or not, I said that I already do, sort of, with Talk about the Passion.
I learned that not only did the Ahrens' son write for a newspaper in Ohio, but that at one point, he was blogging daily, comparing and contrasting Christianity, Islam and Judaism, when he was abroad in Spain, Egypt and Israel. The elder Ahrens is an old school journo himself, having gone through the University of Missouri Journalism program in the 1940s.
Mr. Ahrens asked about my career path, remarked that The Reporter's editorial cartoons sometimes don't have much of a point, and almost shared what sounded like were going to be strong opinions on the primary election. That was when his wife gently censored him and guided him toward the voting booths.
"She's my best editor," Ahrens said.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Good old-fashioned bluegrass jamming

Since 2003, the Doylestown Jam has brought live bluegrass music every Wednesday evening to the Hilltown German Hungarian Sportmen's Club, 1622 Hilltown Pike, Hilltown.

Acoustic instrument players of all levels of experience are invited to join in, starting at 7:30 p.m., to pick 'n' grin through bluegrass, roots and Americana tunes. And it's free.

How cool is that? You don't have to be a seasoned musician - just show up. That's true folk music ethos, right there!

Weather permitting, the Doylestown Jam is held outside, otherwise it's in the club's banquet room.

Go to www.myspace.com/thedoylestownjam or e-mail hilltown5string@yahoo.com to learn more.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Philadelphia Folk Festival lineup announced

Fifty years is a long time to be doing anything!

It's been a half-century for the Philly Folk Fest, the longest continuously running festival of its kind in North America, they say.

The Golden Anniversary edition takes place August 19-21 at the Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township, and will very much pay tribute to its musical roots.

“We looked to a theme of 'Past, Present and Future',” says Lisa Schwartz, President of the Philadelphia Folksong Society, which produces and presents the annual summer festival. “We really want to honor our musical lineage and highlight not only the heritage artists, but also the new traditionalists who will help to teach future generations to love folk music.”

Among the top attractions at the 50th Annual PHILADELPHIA FOLK FESTIVAL celebration is:

Arlo Guthrie – David Bromberg Big Band – Jorma Kaukonen
The Campbell Brothers – The Kennedys – Angel Band
Joel Plaskett Emergency – The Wood Brothers
Tom Paxton – Tom Rush – Dala – Tempest – Madison Violet
Give & Take Jugglers – The Great Groove Band – Dan Bern
Justin Townes Earle – John Hartford String Band – David Amram – The Battlefield Band John Flynn – Elizabeth Butters – Alexis P. Suter Band
Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys – Runa
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen – Wilderness of Manitoba
Kim & Reggie Harris – Roy Book Binder – Footworks – Caitlin Rose
Brad Hinton – Burning Bridget Cleary – The Berrys
and more to be announced at a later date!

“Collaboration will be the key focus this year,” said the festival's artistic director, Richard Kardon.

“Imagine the possibilities,” said the other artistic director, Jesse Lundy.

Indeed. What if Arlo was joined on stage by the David Bromberg Big Band?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nice work if you can get it

The Philadelphia Orchestra dropped a bombshell over the weekend by announcing it was declaring bankruptcy.
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where the orchestra's home base is, issued a statement today. Here is part of it, in the words of the center's president and CEO Anne Ewers:

"This is a difficult day for all of us in the Philadelphia arts community. And it is an understandably anxious moment for the employees and performers whose dedication and talent make the orchestra so extraordinary. But it is our hope, and our confident belief, that today’s action will prove to be, not an epilogue, but the beginning of the long-term recovery of one of the nation’s great orchestras. We know the able leadership of the orchestra is focused solely upon the best interests of the orchestra and its patrons in making this difficult judgment.

While the financial-management options made available through bankruptcy now can be explored, we know that a sustainable solution will require sacrifice and enhanced support from the entire orchestra community of family and friends – and the Kimmel Center proudly counts itself among them. Indeed, we currently subsidize our resident companies and we have already accepted substantial reductions in the orchestra’s rent obligations to the Kimmel Center this fiscal year. Moreover, we have communicated to the orchestra board that we stand ready to discuss their request for further accommodations."


This comes a few short days after I talked with five vivacious musicians from the Curtis Institute of Music, who gave educational assemblies to students at Inglewood Elementary School in Towamencin. These twentysomethings are all hoping to one day get a job with a major orchestra like the Philadelphia Orchestra ... and that goal just became significantly muddled.
Here's the video I shot from that day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Analog angst

Being 40 years old, I've amassed a sizable collection of cassette tapes. In an ongoing process of digitally converting my old tunes, I've noticed something mortally depressing.
With many tapes in my collection at least - gulp - 25 years of age, I'm frequently finding that I open a cassette case to discover that the felt square in the cassette mechanism, where the tape meets the playback head of the cassette player, has disappeared, as if it somehow disintegrated. If it had just fallen off, I could glue it back in place. But nope, it's gone. Is it faulty manufacturing, leaving them in a hot/cold car, or the tape deck on my '01 Chevy Cavalier eating them (after 2003, cars with a tapedeck were dead as dinosaurs!)? I don't get it.
Call me old school, but I'm not a fan of having to buy an album (another antiquated notion) a second time. Digital downloads are OK, but it's not the same thing as holding the music - be it vinyl, cassette or CD - in my hands.
I'm the same way with newspapers - put it in my hand, so that it's tangible and real.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Aw man! I'm slightly too old for this ...

Principal Dancer Arantxa Ochoa and former Soloist Meredith Rainey in "Agon," choreography by George Balanchine (c) The George Balanchine Trust. Photo: Paul Kolnik. "Building on Balanchine" is at the Merriam Theater April 14-17.


Ballet is not just for the white-haired set.

Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Ballet has just formed a Young Friends organization for professionals ages 21-39.

“The next generation of ballet supporters will ensure this vibrant art form thrives for years to come,” said the company's artistic director Roy Kaiser in a press release. “Pennsylvania Ballet Young Friends will be an invaluable asset to the company.”

Members of Pennsylvania Ballet Young Friends will be offered distinctive opportunities to expand their understanding and enjoyment of the Pennsylvania Ballet's productions through special events with exclusive, behind-the-scenes perks, like parties with Pennsylvania Ballet dancers and invitations to studio rehearsals. Membership begins with an annual donation of $100. For a full list of benefits or to join Pennsylvania Ballet Young Friends, visit www.paballet.org/young-friends.html.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish YouTube sensations !?

The Corrigan Brothers, an Irish band that has a song called “There’s No one as Irish as Barack Obama” (!), has released a witty ditty called "Saint Patrick's Day (Everybody's Irish)."



Here's some of the lyrics:

ME GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER

SHE CAME FROM SKIBEREEN

AND I CAN SING GALWAY BAY

AND 40 SHADES OF GREEN

AND I KNOW THERE’S A LITTLE BIT

OF IRISH INSIDE ME

SURE TWICE I’VE BEEN TO RIVERDANCE

AND I BOUGHT THE DVD


IN AUSTIN AND IN BOSTON

5TH AVENUE NEW YORK

IN BEIJING AND HELSINKI

FROM BELFAST DOWN TO CORK

THE EMERALD ISLE IS OUT IN STYLE

AND IT’S FAIR ENOUGH TO SAY

OH EVERYBODY'S IRISH

ON SAINT PATRICK'S DAY


THERE'S MURPHYS OUT IN MOSCOW AND IN OHIO

O'NEILLS OUT IN OSAKA AND IN TOKYO

THERE'S KELLYS OUT IN KENWAY

AND CLANCYS IN NORWAY

THE 40 SHADES OF GREEN ARE EVERYWHERE ON PATRICK'S DAY

PARADES OUT IN AUSTRALIA, IN CHINA AND IN SPAIN

AND TEAMS OF IRISH DANCERS STEP IT OUT AGAIN

AND OUT IN HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS THEY ALWAYS HAVE A BALL

WHEN THEY HOST THE WORLD'S SHORTEST PATRICK'S DAY PARADE OF ALL

Friday, March 4, 2011

Outerwear bias at North Penn?


This photo, taken in The Reporter newsroom by Amanda Piccirilli, shows how suspicious I probably looked March 3.


I can laugh about it now, but I ran into an instance of TSA-like profiling at, of all places, North Penn High School.
The school district had invited the media to cover the high school's Family & Consumer Sciences fashion show March 3. I put in a courtesy RSVP phone call to Carol Fink at the ESC well in advance to let her know that I was going to cover it. As far as I'm concerned, the school district knows that I'm going to be there at that date and time.
Photographer Geoff Patton and I arrived at about the same time to sign in at the security desk, per procedure. We each asked if we needed an official visitor sticker to proceed to the auditorium, but for whatever reason, we were told to skip that procedure and go about our business. I thought that was a nice gesture because it shows that they know who we are, that we're there on professional business and to give positive media coverage for the school, and they wanted to make our jobs easier.
That all Reporter staff writers carry Flip video cameras should be news to no one. We've been shooting and posting video online for more than a year now. And the fashion show is an event that's just begging for video coverage to compliment the coverage in print.
It was more than 40 minutes into the fashion show, when a teacher asks why I don't have a visitor sticker -- never mind that I've been in the building for a good while and given authorization to be there -- and she insisted on escorting me back to the security desk, interrupting the performance of my job. As far as I could tell, I was not being disruptive, breaking any rule or doing anything inappropriate.
There were people taking pictures (and probably video too) all over the auditorium. The teacher didn't interrupt Geoff, who also did not have a sticker. Why was I singled out? It finally dawned on me when I returned to the newsroom afterward, and staff writer Dan Sokil quipped that I looked suspicious wearing a trenchcoat carrying a Flip camera.
The 1999 tragedy at Columbine still has people that freaked out about trenchcoats? Seriously? Honestly, does it make me look like a terrorist or a pedophile? What's the hangup here? I don't get it.
For the record, in the 11 years that I've been at The Reporter, my relationship with North Penn High School had been perfect ... until I was made to feel like a criminal for doing my job.
Anybody want my coat for free? Apparently I need something that makes me look less like a derelict in the eyes of the fashion police.
By the way, here's the video. I like the way it turned out.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ready to rock, girls?! I can't hear yoooouuu!




Girls Rock Philly, the only rock camp for girls (and taught by women) that I know of, has launched online registration for the 2011 camp at www.girlsrockphilly.org.
Now in its fifth year of teaching aspiring female rockers ages 9-17 the art of guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, DJing and rock singing, the week-long summer day camp is held Aug. 8–12 on the campus of Girard College, Girard and Corinthian avenues, Philadelphia.
Camp week culminates in an end-of-camp showcase, open to the public, on Saturday Aug. 13 (location TBD), followed by a professional recording studio experience to create a compilation CD. Last year’s camp served 75 girls from the Greater Philadelphia region. No prior musical experience is necessary and all equipment and instruments are provided. Campers form bands and write their own copyrighted songs, while working in a team setting.
The camp also features special guest performers and workshops, including the history of women in music, non-traditional instruments, sound and recording, and band art, where participants have the opportunity to create original band t-shirts and buttons.
For more information and to submit an application, click on the website link above or call (215) 789-4879. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hot night spot in downtown Lansdale

Carol Tweed at Molly Maguire's in Lansdale was pulling my leg.
Gathering information on a story I wrote in "Go" two weeks ago, she made it sound like the weekend night crowd wasn't what the Molly's team was hoping it would be.
Are you kidding me? Check out this video I shot from Friday Feb. 4 with the duo FunZaLuv.
So you think my story might have had something to do with this healthy crowd?



Note the creative lyric change in "Melt with You," and the singer standing on top of the bar during "Save the Last Dance for Me."
These guys have played at the Molly's in Phoenixville before, and the one dude mentioned that he's from the Lansdale area.
Although they are playing along with prerecorded karaoke backing tracks, the people are undeniably picking up what FunZaLuv is throwing down.
To find out who's entertaining at Molly's on Friday and Saturday nights, check www.mollymaguirespubs.com.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Singing is like praying twice

The Choristers are welcoming new singers to join them in rehearsal for a concert presentation of Antonin Dvorak's "Stabat Mater." Find out what they're about 7:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, Susquehanna Avenue and Butler Pike, Upper Dublin.
The Dvorak work was inspired by a 13th century poem meditating on the suffering of St. Mary during Jesus' crucifixion and everlasting life.
The concert date is 7:30 p.m. Saturday April 16, the Saturday before Palm Sunday.
Artistic director David Spitko requests a heads-up if you want to audition by calling (215) 542-7871 or e-mailing dspitko@thechoristers.org.
Visit www.thechoristers.org.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gifts that keep giving

Looky what I got for Christmas!
*Reporter account executive Scott Miller, who's also part of The Reporter's blogger community, has taken to making a mix CD for everybody at the paper every December. After the eclectic first 2 mixes, I was initially disappointed with the 2010 version because -- ready for this? -- there were too many songs I recognized. After being challenged to embrace erudite Miller picks from the likes of Marc Broussard, Duffy, MIA, Shelby Lynne, etc., somehow it seemed like a letdown to be getting "Joy to the World," "Imagine," "Windy" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which have been driven into the ground by radio for decades.
Now there was a twist to it. "White Rabbit" was a remake by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals ("Grace covering Grace," as Miller put it). The Fifth Dimension's "One Less Bell to Answer" was covered nicely by Sheryl Crow. The Gipsy Kings sped up "Hotel California" and sang it in Spanish. "Let It Be" is the version from the "Across the Universe" soundtrack (what a WEIRD flick that was - but that's another entry).
And I did, after all, get a huge kick out of hearing Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" and Golden Earring's "Radar Love."
Miller later explained to me that the compilation was an ode to favorite 45s he grew up listening to as a kid, a most appropriate theme for a Christmas gift mix.

*My musician uncle had been smitten by supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, with Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), and put their self-titled album under my tree. There's an irony here with Led Zep's bass player teaming up with the Nirvana drummer. The latter band had poked fun at so-called "cock rock" with a song called "Aero Zeppelin."
Holy cow, is this album LOUD! I'm still digesting this edgy brainchild, and for some reason, it sounds better on my computer than it does in my car.
I like the shades of '60s psychedelia that pop up every once in a while. Jamming to the electronic dance groove on the song "Gunman" right now.

*The Beatles' successful '70s retrospective double albums "1962-1966" and "1967-1970" were recently remastered and gifted to me. Gotta give that a strong thumbs-up as a gift. Since I already own all those songs on CD, I never would have thought about investing in remastered incarnations of "The Red Album" and "The Blue Album," which now have fresh liner notes (although there's some repetition on both albums) with cool photos, and nice artwork.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Philly folk flavor

Sellersville Theater is my favorite venue to see live music. There's nothing quite like the intimacy of the place. I rediscovered that at the Dec. 29 "Monsters of Philly Folk" concert with WXPN Philly Local darlings Chris Kasper, Hezekiah Jones (Everybody in the band has a fictitious Jones stage name, a la The Ramones), and Andrew Lipke & The Prospects.
During the big-voiced Lipke's set, he thanked the audience for braving the elements to make it to the theater. He was referring to the storm from Dec. 27. I murmured, what I thought was under my breath, "That was two days ago." From the D row, where I was sitting, it could be heard from the stage. This prompted cellist, Krista Nielsen, to look over at Lipke and crack a joke about not "living in the past."
Lipke's clearly an accomplished musician, but he has to work on not appearing so impressed by his own abilities. The eclectic selections switched gears from string quartet-heavy songs; while others took on a Jeff Buckley sonic mold; and others felt like Tears For Fears' mid-90s, esoteric material.
"Standing Over You" was a standout performance. Yet there were songs, like "Untitled Song #1," (Dude, always title your friggin' songs! #1? You mean there's going to be others without a title?) that make you scratch your head and wonder: "What does this guy want to be? A chamber music rocker? A pop singer/songwriter? Or what?"
The Sellersville crowd - many coming from Philly, judging by how late some of them arrived - loved him. I wonder how a New York audience would receive Lipke.



Hezekiah Jones, fronted by Raphael Cutrufello, has a way with turning a lyrical phrase that grabs your attention. "What was once a pickle is twice the cucumber" LOL
Seeing this clip of "Writing Letters in the Morning" confirms an observation I made at the show that Cutrufello doesn't like to directly face the audience - quite a quirk for a singer to have.
Dig the fiddler!


I first heard of Chris Kasper in 2006, thanks to Lansdale Catholic product Kate Gaffney. "And You Wait," "The Stoop," "Ain't No Saint" and "Baltimore Street" were some of the best performances of the night (Well that, and when all the musicians came together on stage and played John Lennon's "Instant Karma"). I was particularly impressed that his backup band included the likes of Philip D'Agostino and Kevin Killen, Philly Local picks in their own right. Check out this clip of Kasper & Gaffney together.


Even if you're seeing someone whose songs you don't know all that well, time at the Sellersville Theater is time well spent.