Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Five (Philly) Questions with Anthony D'Amato

Photo by Lindsey Borgman
Fresh off of a stunning Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia performance Anthony D'Amato joins Arc Iris at the Tin Angel, this Thursday. 

Before the show, here are five things Philly music fans need to know about Anthony D'Amato.

1. Anthony hails from Blairstown, NJ and has spent lots of time in the NJ & Philly area.  His first show in Philly was actually at the Tin Angel, featuring Francis Dunnery and David Sancious with Birdie Busch opening."

2.  D'Amato was featured on a World Cafe Next from WXPN in 2011 with David Dye.

Anthony D'Amato: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

3. The second show Anthony ever played as a solo artist was at the Tin Angel opening for Jesse Malin.

Anthony D'Amato - Good and Ready [Official Video] 4.  Anthony's favorite show in Philadelpahia was Bright Eyes at the Academy of Music touring for I'm Wide Awake It's Morning

5.  His favorite "now" Philly band is Strand of Oaks.  He loves Heal, "it completely bowled me over listening to it on headphones the first time, walking through the city at night"

To purchase tickets, click here

The Shipwreck From The Shore, is out now on New West Records, released September 2, 2014 in the U.S.

WIll The Tin Angel be covered in glitter when Arc Iris comes to town? Get the Scoop from Zachary Tenorio-Miller of Arc Iris

Next Thursday, Arc Iris is featured on a co-bill with Anthony D’Amato at the Philadelphia intimate venue The Tin Angel. Having caught Arc Iris now five-or-so times in Philly, each time they conceptually get more expansive and bolder, I couldn't wait until Thursday to find out what Arc Iris had in store for the Tin Angel guests. With all of the wonderful buzz circulating around Arc Iris seemingly focusing on the bands matriarch Jocie Adams, I felt it was time to get some perspective from the other half of its creative mind Zachary Tenorio-Miller.  Zachary and I chatted about meeting Jocie, the birth of Arc Iris, and what is coming next!

Zachary Miller-Tenorio or Storm Trooper?

Root Down In The Shadow:  When did you first start making music with Jocie Adams?
Zachary Tenorio-Miller: It all started when I first met Jocie.  We had like a million mutual friends back when I had been playing with members of Elvis Perkins in Dearland in an off-shoot band Diamond Doves.  The Low Anthem [who Jocie used to play in] had toured with Elvis way back and one of the members, of Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Brigham Brough recorded Jocie's first record [Bed of Notions].   We were playing in Providence in April 2012, and she came out to see us play.  I had heard a lot about her and had heard a lot about the Low Anthem.  In my mind she was this sort of pseudo-celebrity or whatever.  So, I was really excited to meet her and talk to her and we ended up talking for a bit.

I asked about playing together sometime, after we each just played a show earlier.  We were clearly different from what she was used to.  I am used to being a keyboard player who likes to shred, for lack of a better word.  She had a look on her face and said "that sounds great but I like to have as little notes as possible." 

It was pretty entertaining to see Jocie's reaction, but it ended up working.  We ended up playing together a few weeks later, and it was a magical fit.  Her songwriting is exactly the kind of song that works for me the way I approach music, it's just a natural fit.  Within the next year, Jocie and I sort of quit our bands around the same time and together we created Arc Iris along with Ray Belli, Robin Ryczek, Max Johnson, Charlie Rose, and Mike Irwin.

RDITS: In the last few years, you've been doing a lot of touring, who else have you been on the road with?
ZMT:  I have been on the road with A.C. Newman of New Pornographers, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Nicole Atkins, and Aaron Freeman.

RDITS: Some of those tours have been double duty, playing in Arc Iris and also playing with Freeman, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Nicole Atkins.   What's harder, the experienced band with rabid fans and high expectations or cutting teeth with Arc Iris?
ZMT: The real challenge is really building a band from the ground up and gaining fans and figuring out ways to keep your band alive by any means necessary.  It is the hardest time to be in the industry now more than ever 'cause no one buys records.  So we have to figure out ways to make money and it's hard. It's like one big puzzle we're all trying to figure out.  It's doable; we have many friends that have done it. There's hope for sure, but it's very challenging.

RDITS: Any highs or lows to share from your double duty experiences (Nicole Atkins, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Freeman)
ZMT:  The coolest thing was the last double duty tour I did was with Freeman, being able to work with someone like him.  It's been a wonderful learning experience.  He really knows how to command a rock band, and a really weird rock band at that.  Ween songs are not normal songs and his fans are not normal people, it was really fascinating to work with him.  But that being said, pulling double-duty also means double sound checks, you've got to get to the venue early, you're working pretty much for six hours straight of non-stop, and shoveling dinners in your mouth because you have five minutes to do that.  It can be stressful, but it's really worth it.  When Arc Iris does an opening set, and it's only 35-40 min usually you want to play more. It’s nice that I am able to get to play more, not just a little tease.

RDITS: Tell me about some of the experiences when you were younger you were in a rock school.
ZTM: I was in the Paul Green School of Rock.  It originally started in Philadelphia, there were four locations and I was in the location at the South Hackensack, NJ.  Now there are 150+ around the world.  Back when I was 16, I played with Aaron Freeman and Dave Dreiwitz, the bass player from Ween, and Jon Anderson from Yes.

RDITS: Anyone that you've met since then that was in School Of Rock?

ZTM: I haven't met anyone that I didn't realize, but when I was there it was a pretty tight-knit community.  There was a group of us called the School of Rocks All-Stars, approximately 60 that I knew pretty well. I knew Eric Slick of Dr. Dog from my time there. 

RDTIS: Recent musical discoveries on the road?
ZTM: We played a show in London at the Union Chapel, part of a Bella Union Showcase, and played with a band named Tiny RuinsThey have a really sweet, quiet sound with fantastic lady harmonies

It's kind of tough to see other bands on the road.  We've seen Iron & Wine a couple of times but everyone knows about Iron & Wine.

RDITS: Who's your little stage friend?
ZTM:  He's been there with me for about 5 or 6 years.  He's just a good luck charm.  His name is Max Rebo.  My brother got me the little plush doll, when I was 7 years old when he went to Japan.  As a kid, I was really obsessed with Star Wars.  I became obsessed with one character from Star Wars; he's the keyboard player from Jaba the Hutt's palace.  I don't know why as a kid I was obsessed with him, even before I became a keyboard player.  I've gone through three of them now, as fans seem to want to take him.  I feel like some people have good luck pals, when he's there I just feel comfy.

(pardon the crappy cell video, but you've got to see this insanity)

RDITS: Each show for Arc Iris in Philly has been exponentially wilder and wilder. More set pieces, costumes, and crazier songs. What can we expect at the Tin Angel?
ZTM: We're in the early stages of playing through a concept for the new album.  We in-vision playing a world that people can visit, something glittery & glammy, and of course that will take place in a giant disco ball.  We of course will invite people in, especially because people have a secret urge to wear a shiny shirt.  This will take a while to perfect, especially our giant Disco Ball, our "Def Glamosphere".  For this show, like any other Arc Iris show, we like to make it an event.  Let's just assume there will be lots of glitter.

TO BUY TICKETS Click here for the Tin Angel

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Best of 2014 List For Your Consideration

Written by contributor Mariel Lorenz

With only a few hours left of 2014 around and seeing other end of year/best of music lists, I thought why didn't I put together my favorite songs/albums/concerts of 2014. Fortunately, my friend Michael had done one and was kind enough to let me share his.

Michael Hochman is a marketing expert, writer, ex TV programmer, and a huge fan of many bands from Canada. For the last couple of years he has put together his own year end lists (50 in alphabetical order) which you can see here and here. He adds his own thoughts to why a particular song made his list and he includes a You Tube playlist of all the songs, so you can start listening instantly.

For 2014, Michael found that there were only 40 songs he wanted to include this year and he had ranked them. We talk about music a lot and certainly we will talk about this list. But isn't that's what so great about having other friends passionate about music? When you both like a band, you will equally contribute positives and when you disagree you will defend the artists like a mamma lion defends her cubs. 

So with that -THE MPH 50 (-10): THE 40 BEST INDIE/ALT SONGS OF 2014

Thanks to Dan for letting me share this. Hope everyone has a safe and healthy new year!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mat Burke Wants To Bleed All Over You at Kung Fu Necktie Dec 19th - Still Bleeding EP Release Show

This Friday, Mat Burke will be gracing the Kung Fu Necktie stage for the Still Bleeding EP release show.  Joined by some of the most exciting rockers in Philly: The Rivals, Penrose, and August John Lutz II of Levee Drivers; it stands to be a wild night of music.  

Mat Burke - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe

If the album title is any indication, Philadelphia's Mat Burke will be ready to bleed for us.  With his new EP Still Bleeding he's visiting a theme he's been capturing for some time.  According to Mat, "everyone bleeds not only in a physical sense but a singer bleeds every time he steps on stage, a teacher bleeds every time she talks to a class, an artist bleeds with every stroke of a brush."  Burke normally plays solo so this makes total sense that he's "still bleeding," sharing his stories as he takes the full brunt of talkative crowds without support of band mates.

Theme aside, on his new EP his music is taken to new heights.  Thoughts of suicide, self-worth, failed relationships, loss of innocence, and of course "still bleeding" are reflective topics he takes on with the new music.  Mat Burke describes it as "hands down the darkest and most personal work I've ever created. Brian [Dale Allen Strouse], Josh [Friedman] and I created something totally diff than anything I've ever done. I was out of my comfort zone on this one and learned that space and emptiness can be a beautiful thing."

Mat Burke - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe

Still Bleeding is a vast mix of singer songwriter personal touches, with touches of punk rock.  "I can't Be What You Want Me To Be" is the best of the full-band songs with the grinding rock, Mat's heart on his sleeve, over Strouse's oohs and ahhs.  "Box of Pine", which had debuted first for Burke's Cover Club Session is impressive with the full arrangement, so he can be glad he didn't succumb to dark thoughts while stuck at a truck stop on tour years ago.  The live set on Friday stands to match with a "Mat Burke and friends" lineup planned.

August John Lutz II (front) and Ben Plotnick (rear) of Levee Drivers - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe
Mat Burke won't be the only one unveiling new tunes.  The Rivals have been teasing new singles to fans, while August John Lutz II's band Levee Drivers is sooooooo close to putting out their new album.   Closing out the nights are the brothers Murphy of Penrose. 

Penrose - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sofar Sounds Philadelphia 3rd Anniversary Celebration - Recap

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Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia celebrated a fabulous 3 years this November!  With an as-always diverse
line-up the super-secret house concert showcase continued to delight fans.  From burgeoning talent, to genre hopping to the unexpected, the November show was a night to remember!

First up was Matt Phillips, a young pup hailing from North Carolina.  While he looks young enough to have ridden his BMX to the show, he's got the chops of an old-timer.  Nary opening his eyes during the whole set, his happiness was infectious as he played solo with his acoustic guitar.  "Move" was a vibrant number with his fingers all over the neck as he sang along.   His "Mediterranean Blues" had a simplistic vocal style reminiscent of James Taylor, while he played with a soulful innocence and his heart on his sleeve.

Matt Phillips

November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Coffee                               unreleased original
Move                                 unreleased original
Mediterranean Blues         unreleased original
Bluegrass                          Bones
If You Want Me to Stay   (Sly and the Family Stone Cover)

Furious George

Furious George had his turn next.  With barely talking to the audience, he went right into his set.  The Spoken Word luminary was intense.  There was no moment to look away, every word connected to the next.  His choreography down to his perfectly timed breathing was just as important.  And just like that, the 4 piece set was done. 

November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Crazy Like Me
The Man Who Made Me
Computer Love
All Four of My Grands

Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf
Keeping with the theme of youthful and talented, Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf gave a spirited solo performance.  She started off in her normal position behind her synth, but was happy to take some turns behind her acoustic guitar.  She took us through a stroll of the Vita and the Woolf catalog, playing "Mary" from their debut Fang Song and a few unreleased tracks.  The crowd was happy to sing along with the Yeah Yeah Yeah's cover of "Maps", but none of the crowd compared to the vocal range Jennifer showed off during the set.

VITA & THE WOOLF - Setlist
November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Qiet                  The Key Studio Sessions 09.10.14
Bury You          The Key Studio Sessions 09.10.14
Maps                (Yeah Yeah Yeah's Cover)
Mary                            Fang Song
Heaven              unreleased original

Vita and the Woolf - Maps from Bob Sweeney on Vimeo.

Jesse representing Locksley

Jesse Laz one fourth of the Madison, Wisconsin band Locksley joined Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia for the anniversary showcase.  Representing the experienced side of the line-up, Jesse took the opportunity to do several things that ironically he'd never done before.  Why not, it was his first solo show after a decade or so of playing with Locksley.  His decision to move to the middle of the room and ask the seated crowd to stand up was par for the course.  The performance was delightful and downright moving when he sang "Lullaby 2" to his young daughter in attendance. 

JESSE representing LOCKSLEY - Setlist
November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia

Take Me To The Fair
Dedication As Lovers
Whisper of the Season
Lullaby 2

Jesse representing Locksley

Commonwealth Choir
To end the night of the Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia anniversary showcase, fan favorites Commonwealth Choir were also ready to defy expectations.  The "Golden Age Indie Rock" band played all new songs, and played musical chairs with the instruments. This fan was ready to watch William Chamuris lay down some spirited tambourine, but alas - no tambo.  Will started off on accordion, and Nick Cislak was on drums for "Moon".  The surprises kept coming with Will moving over to melodica for "Simple Song".   Davis Howley slapped on the bass, while Maurizio Mazza and Chamuris had the acoustic guitars on "Do".  The enthusiastic Philadelphia fellas, by way of Doylestown, rocked the night gaining that elusive Sofar Sounds encore with new song "Gunman".  

November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Moon                        unreleased original
More                         unreleased original
Simple Song             unreleased original
Do                            unreleased original
Gunman                   unreleased original

Commonwealth Choir