Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Dickens of a Christmas

Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great grandson of revered British author and social reform advocate Charles Dickens, was recently back at Byers Choice in New Britain for an 11th consecutive year of giving a remarkable one-man performance of "A Christmas Carol" smack dab in the middle of the workshop where the highly-sought-after collectible Caroler and Kindle figurines are made.
Warming up the large crowds that came to see Dickens was the select choir from C.B. West High School:
video

G.C. Dickens' 2012 U.S. tour comes during a watermark year, the bicentennial of Charles Dickens birth. The Cake Boss himself even made a Dickens tribute cake for the occasion that's on display in the Byers Choice Christmas Museum.

Besides delighting audiences with acting out all of the distinct "Christmas Carol" characters himself, the shows have also partly been a fundraiser on behalf of the Dickens family to get a statue of the "Oliver Twist," "Great Expectations," "A Tale of Two Cities" and "David Copperfield" author erected in Portsmouth, England. Go figure -- there's a Dickens statue in Clark Park in Philadelphia, but no such tribute in his home country.

 The reason, said G.C. Dickens, is that his great-great grandfather specified in his Will that a grandiose memorial was not to be erected in his name because Charles Dickens, a champion of the poor and underprivileged, did not feel it was appropriate. Dickens and Byers Choice president Bob Byers Jr. explained that the bronze statue, which depicts Dickens holding a book and rising from a chair, is a far cry from the Baroque monuments of the 19th century, which went against what Charles Dickens believed in.  Check out the latest on the Dickens statue in England here.
Dickens said that he first became aware of his family heritage during a memorial service marking the 100th anniversary of Charles Dickens' death. He was 6 years old, and quite blown away to discover the Queen Mother sitting in the same pew as he was.
Bitten by the acting bug at age 9, when he was cast in a Nativity play, Dickens first started performing his solo "A Christmas Carol" in 1993 as request from a friend running a charity fundraiser.
Byers called G.C. Dickens' interpretation "The best version of 'A Christmas Carol' I've ever seen."
Bob Byers of Byers Choice gets a new Charles Dickens Caroler signed by Gerald Charles Dickens.


G.C. Dickens, Talk About the Passion photographer Anne Monappella and yours truly.




Monday, November 19, 2012

Music that puts Amanda in the mood

Reporter Community Engagement Editor Amanda Piccirilli is Talk About the Passion's first ever guest blogger. Post a comment or hit me up at bbingaman@thereporteronline.com if you have a great story about how music moves you. Take it away, Amanda!

Like millions of other Americans, and as the band LMFAO puts it, “I work out!”

 


When it comes to a work out, I can’t live without music … or that is at least what I thought.
During April of 2011 I came up with the crazy idea to run a marathon. I’ve been an athlete all of my life; I head to the gym frequently and I’m always doing some kind of activity (whether it be biking, running, walking my pup or playing soccer.) So as a bucket list item I figured now is my time to run a marathon before I get too old and will never be able to do it.
So here I was, starting a marathon training regimen that would get me prepared for my first marathon which took place in January 2012 in Walt Disney World.
Week after week, month after month, I hit the streets of Lansdale, tackling everything from three-mile training runs to 20-mile training runs.
With my shoes tied tight, iPod strapped on my arm and water bottle in hand, it was time to run.
Run after run I was always coming up with a new playlist, usually techno music that would give me a beat that would allow me to keep a solid stride and mentally pick me up when the run started to get tough.
Listening to music was always a must because like other runners, I’m a bit of a head case without it (Or maybe I am one all the time … Brian can maybe answer that haha). When I can hear myself breathing I mentally start to fumble a bit, questioning myself: “Amanda, are you going to be able to make it the whole time?” or “Geez, your breathing is getting harder, you should probably quit.”
I’m not the fasted runner in the world so I was often trying to come up with hours worth of music to fill my iPod, which is a struggle in itself. So here I was, a few nights before my marathon trying to make a playlist that would allow me to kick Disney’s Marathon ASS. Techno, hard rock and some old school classics were ready to buzz through my ears.
Here were a couple go-to songs:






The gun went off around 5:30 a.m. at the Disney Marathon, and in all honesty, I can only remember listening to maybe 10 songs out of the HUNDREDS I added to my iPod. The excitement and commotion that took place during race day kept me so distracted that music wasn’t even in the forefront of my mind. 
The sounds of cheers and the overall noise as we ran through all the Disney parks were enough to keep my mind filled and my breathing out of sight.
So for all you runners out there who are worried about filling up your iPod with music for race day, take it from me, the girl who NEEDED music to run – you will survive without it. But just in case, fill that puppy up because it’s gonna be a LONG run.
I’m Amanda Piccirilli, the Community Engagement Editor at The Reporter. Please feel free to follow me on my blog, http://takeyourpicamanda.blogspot.com, or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AmandaPiccirilliReporter.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Go to a play, get a CD?

Sept. 28-30 is the final weekend for the funny and heartwarming "Almost, Maine" at dcp theatre in Salford Township. We're season ticketholders this year, and my fiancee says it's the very best of the bunch.
Pay attention to the recorded curtain and scene change music by North Carolina duo The Elftones. Yeah, Mara Shea and Roger Gold need a name that evokes Appalachian, Celtic and contra guitar and fiddle music -- which is what they do -- instead of awful Christmas lounge music, which is what their name sounds like they do.
The gentle waltzes from their "Mist-Covered Mountains" CD, in the words of the "Almost, Maine" playbill program, adds "a special dimension to this production," and makes for some terrific, instrumental, folk, chill out music. It rather belies the "fiery" and "high energy dance music" tags on their website.
Don't know how the dcp folks matched this music with the show, but it sure works. Some of the tunes are centuries old, like the timeless search for love and belonging that runs through all of the vignettes of the play, set in a fictional, remote New England town.  
 The album is available for $15 at the theater at 795 Ridge Road for the remaining shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Paying the cost to be the Boss

So I was feeling pretty proud of myself for getting a hot tip via Twitter and snagging tickets to Bruce Springsteen. My fervor for what man does was reignited by the exhibit "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land" at the National Constitution Center
But shortly thereafter Jay-Z had to steal the spotlight by announcing the Made in America concerts on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Nonetheless it was not going to keep me from enjoying my first Bruce concert.
Why the long hold out, you ask?
Since the turn of the century, I had questioned whether the price of a Bruce Springsteen ticket was worth it. Surely the 62-year-old Springsteen didn't have the same touch that made his concerts of the '70s and '80s the epic stuff of legend. That assumption was quite incorrect, and I could tell simply by following Bruce's Twitter feed @springsteen. Augmented by a formidable horn section, The E Street Band can still play for four solid hours without stopping, even after the deaths of Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici.  Bruce still fearlessly crowd surfs while singing several times during the show and directly engages his fans like nobody else you have ever seen, while continuing to release new music.
I was also surprised at the depth of the devotion of his Philly fans, seemingly knowing every lyric, even off of the new "Wrecking Ball" album.
The lone chink in Bruce's ironclad performance came while drumming up support for Philabundance and explaining the origins of the new song "We Are Alive." He repeated himself during the monologue to the point where someone near my section blurted out: "Get on with it!"     


SET LIST FROM BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN WRECKING BALL TOUR SEPT. 2, 2012 AT CITIZEN'S BANK PARK, PHILADELPHIA:

Summertime Blues
Out in the Street
Sherry Darling
Hungry Heart
We Take Care of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
Death to My Hometown
Lost in the Flood
My City of Ruins
Spirit in the Night
Good Rockin' Tonight
Cadillac Ranch
I'm on Fire
Candy's Room
Mona/She's the One
Jack of All Trades
Human Touch
Working on the Highway
Shackled and Drawn
Waiting on a Sunny Day
Jersey Girl
The Rising
Badlands
Land of Hope and Dreams/People Get Ready
ENCORE:
We Are Alive
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Rosalita
Dancing in the Dark
10th Avenue Freeze Out
You Can't Sit Down
Twist and Shout

In case you missed the link, here's some *wow* Philly concert photos:  http://brucespringsteen.net/news/2012/jo-lopez-shares-photos-from-philadelphia.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Philadelphia Folk Festival's inner sanctum

Most people see the Philadelphia Folk Festival from this side:

Chris Kasper and some of his former bandmates from The Lowlands at the 2012 Folk Fest.

And this side:
 Folk Fest volunteers Bryan Edwards and Lindsay Kuzara dance to the band Cabinet.

While I was interviewing the charming pair mentioned above, up comes a professional acquaintance from the PennSuburban Chamber of Commerce and Moyer Indoor/Outdoor. He was rather reluctant about being quoted in a story (Perhaps they don't know about his Folk Fest side outside of work?), but was excited to show me this area backstage where I had never been in all my years of covering the Folk Fest.
"Prepare to have your mind officially blown," said one of the backstage gatekeepers on the Dulcimer Grove side of the stage. 
To be more exact, it's under the main stage. This is the secret domain of the Philadelphia Folksong Society's Archive Committee, where audio and video recording of the main stage concerts takes place.

Dig those lava lamps in the back! The woman in the back is Joyce Lieberman, a sound mixer from WHYY.


To hear Hatfield resident James Fox tell it, there are gobs and gobs of archival reel to reel tape recordings going back to the earliest days of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, which is now in its 51st year. There are even recordings and photographs that pre-date the Folk Fest. The Folksong Society was founded in 1957.
Sadly the archive, which includes one-of-a-kind Folk Festival live jam sessions led by instigators like David Bromberg and Tom Paxton, is kept under wraps and can not be accessed by the general public for fear of bootlegging, or drawing the ire of music publishers ASCAP and BMI. However, access has been granted to Godfather of Folk Gene Shay and authors researching singers Stan Rogers and Steve Goodman.
"We had the only live video recordings of him," Fox said of Rogers, who passed away in 1983.
Fox said the society is working on getting a grant to digitize the analog audio archives, which promises to be a very time-consuming and expensive venture.
Thirty-year festival attendee Gary Schuman of Reading shared that he also had a serendipitous backstage access experience 20 years ago at the Folk Fest when he met The Holmes Brothers, who are back at the festival this year.   

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Musikfest: A Most Happy Place

I first started attending Musikfest in Bethlehem when I returned to the area in 1998. It is the biggest free, 10-day music festival in America, according to the Musikfest organizers.
It's a large-scale party held around the beginning of August that shuts down the major thoroughfares of the City of Bethlehem, and is something that has to be experienced to be believed!
 I've seen Starship with Micky Thomas (a surprisingly good concert), The B-52s and Robert Hazard there.
As my fiancee and I were waiting to gain access to a port-a-potty (an inescapable reality of the festival), a stranger remarked how impressive it is that alcohol is served on this grand of a scale and everybody gets along. Well that's the unifying power of music for you.
An exciting development that's come along is ArtsQuest's takeover of the festival. Within the breathtaking remains of Bethlehem Steel, the platzes (stages) have been reorganized so there are now South Bethlehem venues at Steel Stax, the magnificent new ArtsQuest performing arts center. The Eric Steckel Band played an electrifying set at the Americaplatz stage, which is now at Steel Stax.
A jaw-dropping difference since the last time I attended Musikfest is the relocation of the main stage. In the old format, it was hidden away in a creekside location prone to lots of bugs. Now located on the Steel Stax campus, you can clearly hear the music and glimpse the video screens of the main stage concerts without actually having to pay for a ticket. The bit of Boston we caught as we waited for the yellow school bus to take us back to North Bethlehem was rather cool. 
Perhaps the biggest Musikfest buzz was the armless guitarist (!) that opens for The Goo Goo Dolls joining the band to perform "Iris."
One suggestion for ArtsQuest that arose when I brought my fiancee there for her first Musikfest experience: Have somebody sell batteries. This Talk About the Passion post would have been so much better if she could have taken pictures. The batteries in her camera mysteriously died.
Here's what she managed to take with her phone:



Oh and the one stage on Main Street needs much more seating. An entertaining group called Gangstagrass was playing there on Aug. 12 and there was no place to sit down.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why female singers rock

One of Talk About the Passion's most avid readers, Joe Digney, appeared with his band Trigger Happy recently at the Blue Dog Family Tavern in New Britain, which has live music Saturday nights. Seeing is believing -- having a woman singer allows a band to do some nifty songs, such as Pink's "Get The Party Started." Check out my video. Apologies for the dark lighting, but the it's the audio that really counts.
How many of the songs you can name? ID them in the comment section, if you please.
Also, see if you can spot my fiancee inadvertently walk into the shot  - ha ha.
video

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Live music @ the YMCA

The North Penn YMCA in Lansdale, 608 E. Main St., has never been very good with publicizing when they're having concerts. So I'm giving you the heads up straight from the Lansdale Local Facebook page. Doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday April 28 for a show with Dugout, SkumPunch, Meddling Kids, NCA Irish Punk Rock, Wake Up Call and Not That Average. Cover is $5. The Y's number is (215) 368-1601.
While these guys would likely not playing their songs on acoustic guitars, I'm hoping to get a series of Reporteronline acoustic online performances of area musicians from The Reporter's Community Media Lab at 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale. Available from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays? E-mail me at bbingaman@thereporteronline.com. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Originator of rock journalism @ Montgomery Mall

Rolling Stone magazine's first chief photographer, Baron Wolman, was in the right place at the right time a lot during the classic rock era.
A story from my conversation with him is coming to The Reporter soon.
Wolman will be signing copies of his remarkable book "The Rolling Stone Years" from 1-5 p.m. Saturday March 31 and Sunday April 1 at the 102.9 WMGK Classic Rock Art Show & Sale at the Montgomery Mall, Routes 309 and 202, Montgomery Township. It's by the Sears lower level entrance, in the spot where Eastern Mountain Sports used to be.
The show opened March 23 and is on view free during mall hours through Sunday. Warning: it's a feast for the eyes, but the merchandise is (of course) pricy.
Here's a sample of how awesome Wolman's work is. There are prints of many of these images for sale.
AC/DC's Angus Young (COPYRIGHT Baron Wolman)


Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane/Starship ... in Girl Scout attire? (COPYRIGHT Baron Wolman)

Ike & Tina Turner (COPYRIGHT Baron Wolman)

Wow! Johnny and June Cash in a candid moment (COPYRIGHT Baron Wolman)

Miles Davis (COPYRIGHT Baron Wolman)

The Who's Pete Townshend in deep thought with a beer (COPYRIGHT Baron Wolman)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

They Made a Monkee out of Me

That was the title of Davy Jones' tell-all autobiography from the '80s.



Shortly after Jones died from a heart attack at the age of 66 on Feb. 29, Peter Tork bade a fond farewell to "the Manchester Cowboy" in a statement on Facebook.
Micky Dolenz had a sleepless night the previous night, which he took to be a sign that something very bad was going to happen.
Heck, even Maureen "Marcia Brady" McCormick had something to say.


Mike Nesmith - who's looking especially grandfatherly these days - posted a very thoughtful and heavy metaphysical response on Facebook:
All the lovely people. Where do they all come from?
So many lovely and heartfelt messages of condolence and sympathy, I don’t know what to say, except my sincere thank you to all. I share and appreciate your feelings.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
While it is jarring, and sometimes seems unjust, or strange, this transition we call dying and death is a constant in the mortal experience that we know almost nothing about. I am of the mind that it is a transition and I carry with me a certainty of the continuity of existence. While I don’t exactly know what happens in these times, there is an ongoing sense of life that reaches in my mind out far beyond the near horizons of mortality and into the reaches of infinity.
That David has stepped beyond my view causes me the sadness that it does many of you. I will miss him, but I won’t abandon him to mortality. I will think of him as existing within the animating life that insures existence. I will think of him and his family with that gentle regard in spite of all the contrary appearances on the mortal plane.
David’s spirit and soul live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many, including us.
I have fond memories. I wish him safe travels.

Check out this equally interesting e-mail conversation that Nez had with Rolling Stone.
While it's a no-brainer to pick "Daydream Believer" as one's favorite Davy song, what's kind of amusing in this video is Nesmith's indifferent body language. Maybe the rock hipsters that he mentioned in the interview were getting to him at the time?


But even the holier-than-thou hipsters don't have a discouraging word to say about Davy Jones, who had homes in both Florida and Beavertown, Snyder County.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ant music for sex people



He's been described as kitsch and camp, but I disdain the negativity of both of those words.
One of the most eccentric - how d'ya like that? - characters of the '80s, Adam Ant, is set to play the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia Oct. 5. General admission tickets are $25. Call (215) 922-6888.
The show was originally supposed to be on Valentine's Day, but was rescheduled because of some snag with the release of a new album. Thought I saw something to that effect on Ant's website, but it's no longer there.
Hooo boy. I'm just hoping that's not Adam's bipolar disorder - which got him in some trouble in the '90s - flaring up.


One of three songs that charted in the U.S. top 40 for Stuart Goddard, aka Adam Ant. "Wonderful" was one of few bright spots for him in the '90s.

It was during the "Goody Two Shoes" period when I sat next to Denyel Trumbore in my seventh grade math class (wonder whatever happened to her?). She was obsessed with the guy. I was crushing on Denyel, so logically I sought out the unique post-punk sounds of Adam & The Ants, and Adam's more poppy, but equally quirky, solo material.
Dismiss the English new wave singer as a flash in the pan if you must, but Ant does have a distinctively oddball sensibility for both fashion and lyrics. I think of him as a theatrical missing link in music between David Bowie and Lady Gaga.

With the final Adam & The Ants record, Adam took Britain's New Romantic movement to a garish extreme.

Because of his accent, often slurred diction (which is ultra-weird considering all the acting he's done), and strange phrasing, half the time you swear he's singing in some unknown language (For being English, he does drop in quite a bit of French, and occasionally some Italian). In a bizarro, Adam Ant way, that's apropos for a man who sang about Antmusic, Ant people, and an insect nation.
Here's a medley of my favorite way-out-there lyrical Adam Ant-isms. Some are tongue-in-cheek. Some are witty. Some are mocking. Some don't make any friggin' sense at all!

"When I saw you kneeling,
crying words that you mean.
Opening the eyeballs, eyeballs
pretending that you're Al Green, Al Green."
--Goody Two Shoes

"An 18th century brain in a 21st century head."
--Room at the Top

"If I were kind and adoring,
how would that be?
Very boring.
Mr. press man, with your pen/knife,
always asking
about my sex life.
'And who with?'
'And how many times?'"
--Desperate But Not Serious

"We don't need to see what the butler saw,
or a mirrored room with a mirrored floor
All the sneaky looks gazing down on you
are no substitute for our rendezvous."
--Strip

"So what's the point of robbery,
when nothing is worth taking?"
--Stand and Deliver

"This gold on the teeth's no sense at all.
It only matters when it's on the wall.
In the naughty north and in the sexy south,
we're all singin'.
I have the mouth."
--Ant Rap

"Have you ever stopped to think
who's slave and who's the master?
And remember this -
You don't need anything
after an ice cream."
--Car Trouble

"So unplug the jukebox,
and do us all a favor.
That music's lost its taste
so try another flavor - Antmusic"
--Antmusic

These next 2, I think, are coded references to Ant's Romnichal heritage. They're more gypsies than indigenous peoples, but you get the idea.

"See a nation on its knees,
and its heritage dead.
See a nation needing 'civilization,'
just like a hole in the head.
One race! Today! One chant! Kick!
So now you're trying it on me,
but I'm aware of the plan.
To save the 'man' you have to kill the 'Indian,'
by simply shaking his hand."
--Kick

"I feel beneath the white.
There is a red skin
suffering from centuries of taming.
And even when you're healthy,
and your color schemes delight.
Down below those dandy clothes,
you're just a shade too white."
--Kings of the Wild Frontier

"After nine years in the army,
they took away his brain.
They tattooed 'defect' on his brow,
and signed him up again."
--Nine Plan Failed

"Don't like your stare.
Don't like the arm in the air.
Your style is so brash,
and that silly mustache...
The evil I see
sends bad vibrations through me.
And oh what a square
with your diagonal hair."
--Tabletalk

"I could be religious if you didn't have to kneel down.
I could be religious if a god would say 'hello.'
I could be religious if an angel touched my shoulder.
I could be religious if they set the hymns to disco like this:
Holy, holy, holy,
Lord god almighty,
God in three persons,
Beloved trinity."
--The Idea

"I'll fill your bath with
the finest champagne.
I'll lick your skin dry.
I cherish your name.
The stakes get higher
as you dress sparsely.
So why did you have
to be so nasty?"
--Deutscher Girls

"Young Parisians are so French.
They love Patti S-mith."
--Young Parisians

"I'm a friend of Michael Jackson.
I'm a friend of Mr. Spock.
I'm a friend of Dr. Kildare.
I'm a friend of The Woodentops.
I'm an old friend of Charles Hawtrey.
I'm a friend of Michael Caine.
I'm a friend of Stanley Spencer.
I'm a friend of big John Wayne.
I'm a friend of Stevie Wonder.
I'm a friend of Eric Fromm.
I'm a friend of Bryan Ferry.
I'm a friend of Terence Stamp."
--Friends

"They cut you in half with a gun,
and they give you a Band-Aid."
--Killer in the Home

"Ladies can be captains and ladies can be chiefs.
Just like glorious amazons,
Ann Bonny, Mary Read.

A woman's wrath hath no man,
and this all men must fear.
These were ladies from hell,
carving crimson careers."
--5 Guns West

"A thrill a day keeps the chill away.
Love like a dagger and a sound like a wi-mo-weh."
--That Voodoo

"When you're a
pirouetting, high kicking,
thigh slapping cruiser.
When you're a
hip grinding, spellbinding,
clean cut seducer."
--Friend or Foe

"Marriages are made in heaven,
so what the hell happened to mine?"
--Made of Money

"You fight so hard to get your name.
Please don't eat my leg, grandma.
On every tongue, in every brain.
Please don't eat my leg, grandma.
How in the hell can you complain?
What a bore you pop stars are.
Privacy's gone down the drain."
--Cajun Twisters

"Bang bang, you're dead!
Did not! Did too!
Stop diddy-bopping buddy
bouncing Betty on you.
Well I've been where I'm was going,
and it's not Tom of Finland."
--Vive Le Rock

"Miss Thing, please tell me why
he says 'child' when he meets another guy.
Turn it up.
Have your fill.
Up in the treble,
with a voice like a power drill."
--Miss Thing

"Whoops-in-a whoops-in (Dress it up)
Jam-jam jammerin' (Dress it up, Dress it up)
Yabba-yabba-ding-ding (Dress it up)
Delta hey max Nine
We will be fine
Apollo Nine
Even though NASA say
'Way out of line.'"
--Apollo 9

"Crouched and trembling
with hate,
mixes both and dies
both ways.
Going round the twist with
heartbreak."
--Hell's Eight Acres

"Wanted:
-One big truck that brings me camp over Medusa
-One miniature ration freeze boot lucky cross and cigarette lighter combined
-$500 in Rubles
-Ten packs of chewing gum
-Four lipsticks
-Five pairs of black nylons and a hula-hula skirt, buddy.
-One .38 special fully automatic
-Five clips of ammunition
-One week's concentrated emergency rations containing one, two, three sample size morphine syringes
-Two Phantoms
-One B-57
-Four Chinooks
-One 79 grenade launcher and a U.E.U.
Geez, a fella can have a real mean-dog of a weekend with all that stuff.
Sh*t!
Yes sir, I've done some questionable things in my time
One more trick and you'll be dead.
No way to talk to a suicide head.
The chance to begin again.
Rebel in your time.
Have a better one,
Bye."
--P.O.E.

"Shack-shoo-wow
boom-lagga-lagga-boom
lagga-boom-sha-boom!"
--Rough Stuff

"Keep your friends real close,
and keep your enemies closer.
And be a real Hoss Cartwright on the ponderosa."
--Young, Dumb and Full of It

Monday, February 20, 2012

Souderton's Main Street Java jams on second Fridays

After seeing the standing room only crowd that showed up to see a bill featuring the local ensemble Earl & Raine at Main Street Java in Souderton, I had to blog about it. video
From 6 to 9 p.m. the second Friday of the month, the fair trade coffee cafe at 117 N. Main St. offers free live music. Their paninis totally rock.
Here's Brian Medlin, who also played a set during the second Friday in February.

video
Wonder if it's this busy every month? Check out MSJ employee couple Ben and Hannah Randall, and Jessy Tomsko on March 9.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Found them on Facebook?

As the saga of what to do with 311 W. Main St. in Lansdale continues, there's a growing movement to the tune of 1,000+ petition signatures to turn the place into an all-ages music and arts venue.
The ethos behind it is to recapture the excitement of Lansdale's local music scene from the '90s. The long-gone Jumper's, near the Acme in Towamencin, was the epicenter of it, and since has been replaced by the VFW and the Third and Walnut.
It was definitely one of those you-had-to-be-there things. While I was not there, those who were can run down a laundry list of bands of local and international renown that have played shows in and around Lansdale.
Derek Calhoun of Boondocks Booking, and the originator of the Lansdale Local Facebook page, said at one of the 311 W. Main Street Task Force meetings that booking bands that young people will come to see will be easy.
While it remains to be seen if there's a viable business plan to get the building up to code and have such a venue survive long term, one glance at Lansdale Local and you notice that there is indeed a scene.
The next biggie at the VFW at 805 W. Second St. is $2 Bill Fest on Feb. 18 with an Animalhaus CD release party and bands Run For It, Troublesome, Stoked on Being Pumped, Bottom Feeder, Pleasant Living, Rough Justice, Get Railed, Dugout and Early Flight Home.
There's also info. on local music shows in Quakertown Feb. 23 and March 10 in Red Hill.
Social media's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Found in my inbox

Thanks to Steven Rosplock from Forge Recording Studio in Oreland for giving me the heads up on this. It puts me in the mood to listen to the Forge CD sampler that I got when I did a story on them.

Forge Recording Studio has teamed up with bands The Great Socio and Da Rezarekt to record a song to help Philadelphia guitarist Marisa Salazar, who has been fighting breast cancer. For 99 cents (or more if you wish), you can download the new track, “Fight” by Da Rezarekt. All proceeds will go to help Marisa, who hasn't been able to work while undergoing treatment.

We all know someone who has been in a situation like Marisa's.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Catapult Sound

The live room at Catapult Sound in North Wales.

Bill Schwartz of North Wales recording studio Catapult Sound describes what a recording studio is simply as "a place where you're gonna move air."
Conveniently, the studio shares the same space on Center Street where he and business partner Jason Murray operate their web development business, Catapultweb.
The Catapult thing comes from a song they recorded with their band, Winston's Dog, which also features Community Housing Services social worker Jon Robins on vocals.
In a recent session at Catapult, Murray is laying down some important guitar riffs to the Winston's Dog song "Hairless." The song got airplay on WSTW's "Hometown Heroes" radio show, but the band feels the song needs to be freshened up and re-tracked.
The song is a swaggering, to-the-point rocker that will be on the band's to-be-named next CD.
Besides Murray and Schwartz, bassist Pete
Mazzaccaro is present at the session.
Murray is playing a worn Fender Stratocaster plugged into an intimidating assortment of effects pedals and a reconstruction of a 1958 Fender Twin amp. He opts not to wear headphones while tracking his part, and does his first run-through sitting on the control room couch.


Proceeding takes are done in the control room rather than the Catapult live room. "This way I know they're not in here secretly making fun of me," Murray says.
Having their own studio allows the band to be meticulous in their recording approach. Take four finds Murray hitting his stride. Take five has to stop because of a guitar switch mishap, which is finally remedied by electrical tape.
Taking a break from the song, Schwartz calls up songs recorded by other local artists on the control rooms 42-inch monitor. There's rapper Trel Mack, sensitive rockers Spells and Curses, and singer/songwriter John McKeever, who lately has expanded his repertoire to include sketch comedy with the Bird Text Comedy Show.
"We're always here. Bands are always here," Schwartz said.