Monday, March 2, 2015

From the Notebook - Looking Back At 25 Shades with Dirty Dollhouse - Their Rise, The EP Release Show & More

"From the Notebook" is a new series at Root Down In The Shadow, that will explore great experiences with bands and events that didn't make it to the web within a normal deadline, but were too good not to share.  If all goes well we'll let that original moment simmer and provide some additional insight beyond our first take.  Our first subject: Dirty Dollhouse.

Chelsea Mitchell
All Photos by Lindsey Borgman unless noted 

Chelsea Mitchell

Dirty Dollhouse

Who is Dirty Dollhouse?
Who is Dirty Dollhouse?  Officially Dirty Dollhouse is the all-beautiful, all-female Chelsea Mitchell-Amber Twait-Vanessa Winters trio.  The lush harmonies of these long-time friends are the crux of any Dirty Dollhouse tune.  But which band is really Dirty Dollhouse?  Is it only the trio? Or, is it a full-band extravaganza? 

Chelsea Mitchell
Some fans already caught their first glimpse of Dirty Dollhouse at one of their rare shows in 2014.  The ladies had been playing intimate shows like Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia, Church of Kong, and their popular ECR Studio Session.  Until the release show at Bourbon and Branch on December 5th for the exciting 25 Shades EP Release party, their highest profile show was the June 2014 Communion Club Night at Underground Arts with Tutlie, Katie Frank and the Pheromones, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Desert Noises

Folks that have been following Chelsea Mitchell have often seen her solo with her guitar or ukulele.  Occasionally, Chelsea Mitchell (the band) would appear as a rowdier bunch, such as their show opening for Kalob Griffin Band at Johnny Brenda's in October 2013The full band consisted of Vanessa Winters, Amber Twait, Peter Joseph on electric guitar and banjo, Christopher Davis-Shannon on upright bass, and Sarah Larsen on fiddle.  During this particular show, as the band tuned up for "Nobody's Daughter," Mitchell mentioned they were about to play a Dirty Dollhouse song.

So when we see Dirty Dollhouse next (March 20th at Milkboy) which line-up will we get?  Heading into this 25 Shades release show, few knew what to expect. Would it be Chelsea Mitchell and her soaring vocals in a solo+friends atmosphere, the lovely trio, or the rowdy full band? No matter, though: any of them would have you walking away happy.

Dirty Dollhouse

A photo posted by Root Down In The Shadow (@rootdownintheshadow) on

25 Shades Release
The 25 Shades  EP release show was an amazing night.  To start the evening, Brian Dale Allen Strouse (#BDAS) of the Lawsuits proved once again that he is among Philly's most talented and endearing songwriters.  Ordinarily playing frontman for the Lawsuits and easily the biggest name on the all-local bill, Strouse treated Bourbon & Branch to a rare solo set.   As he moved gracefully through a set of covers and originals, the crowd was happy to acknowledge their joy by singing along and filling in the infectious ooh's on "Dreaming #26"

Wilmington's New Sweden was up next.  Known for their playful, high-engery performances, the rowdy cousin of Philly's music scene brought folk magic to the small Bourbon & Branch stage.  They played all the favorites and made sure every body in the room was ready to dance!

Chelsea Mitchell and Dirty Dollhouse gave the performance of their blossoming careers. Their set was a full catalog tour, taking fans through soon-to-be hits, gems, and unreleased tunes.  The band was made up of the earlier mentioned trio with the addition of their EP engineers (Strouse and Josh Friedman of the Lawsuits) and bassist Brendan Cunningham (also of the Lawsuits).  Songs ranged from electric to emotionally-rocking sheer joy. The brand new tunes making their full -band debut excited and delighted, while Mitchell's solo set brought some to tears.  Two songs ("My Old Man" &  "Dreams and Dreams of You") were dedicated to her late father, an excellent guitarist and avid music fan.  The full band was fabulous, and a tease to the great heights that Dirty Dollhouse has awaiting them.

With the band only have four, "official release" songs on the 25 Shades EP, let's use the set list as your guide to Dirty Dollhouse music. Follow along on the set list clicking links for each album to get the full sonic tour:

25 Shades EP Release show set list 
Bourbon & Branch Dec 5th, 2015

1. 25 Shades                                                25 Shades EP
2. Married in the Aviary                             Married in the Aviary EP
3. Old Fires                                                 25 Shades EP
4. Shake All Over                                       25 Shades EP
5. Ain't Got No Blues                                 Live at East Coast Recording
6. Nobody's Daughter                                 Married in the Aviary EP
7. My Man                                                  Live at East Coast Recording
8. AnnaLee                                                 25 Shades EP
9. My Old Man                                           WXPN Key Studio Session
11. Party Dress                                           Party Dress - Single
12. Sidecar                                                  Unreleased Original
13. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree     Holiday Traditional

Fireside Session
At the Fireside Session in January for Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest the trio was back and thoroughly impressed the large crowd of new fans! Amber Twait, who usually provides the lush lower harmonies for the group, could not attend; therefore the unofficial "Fourth Doll" Kate Bernhardt filled in for her and performed beautifully. The band absolutely made some new fans that night. The makeshift stage was pushed into the corner at the temporary tent at the Delaware River waterfront, there was some game on the big screens, it was friggin cold out that night, and people were there to socialize and ice skate; but the attention was clearly on the musical ladies up front.

Maybe it was the up-front "super-fan" section that came out to support, or perhaps it was the many people approaching the girls with congratulations after the show; in any case, all signs indicate the tide has turned for Dirty Dollhouse.  With a slew of great performances and a fantastic EP under their belt Dirty Dollhouse have proven they can turn with more than gimmicks or a catchy name.  As the bard Shakespeare once said "No legacy is so rich as honesty. No matter which line-upor how intimate or all encompassing the sound, their songs bear a truth of heart and spirit that will leave a long legacy for this talented group. 

Milkboy Philadelphia 3/20
So, the question remains.  Which will group will it be when we see Dirty Dollhouse on March 20th at Milkboy? One thing can be sure, all of the bands will be ready to impress.  Come see for yourself; Brad Hinton, Dirty Dollhouse, and Caroline Reese and the Drifting 5th.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vita and the Woolf / Cover Club Session - Season 2 / Original Track / "Springtime Foxes"

Welcome to Season Two of Philly-centric video series, Cover Club. Cover Club is best conceptualized as “A special brand of Philly covers”, akin to The Onion’s AV Undercover series but with one caveat: the song being covered must originally be from a Philly artist. 

Vita and the Woolf - photo by Lindsey Borgman

Jennifer Pague- Photo by Dan McGurk

It's an exciting time for the young band Vita and the Woolf!  Last fall they released their debut EP Fang Song, played a Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia, kicked ass at the Communion Club Night, recorded a Key Session, took part in Philly Sings Philly, played all over town, and were featured in an in-depth interview with WXPN's the Key.

If that cross-section of their recent schedule wasn't enough, on-tap is an even crazier next month.  According to Jennifer Pague, the principal member of the band, "What's next is March Tour down to SXSW. We are hitting 10 states and playing a bunch of shows. Then we are going into the studio in April and recording a 7 song EP Tunnels. That is if we raise the necessary funds for our Kickstarter which will launch in March."

One song that wasn't on Fang Song and isn't planned to be a part of Tunnels, is set regular "Springtime Foxes".  Before being lost forever to recording purgatory, it made a new home as a Cover Club Session original track when Vita and the Woolf came to Cambridge Sound Studios in early February!

Cover Club | Vita and the Woolf "Springtime Foxes"

Be sure to visit Soundcloud for the Vita and the Wolf Cover Club original track "Springtime Foxes"

Also head to the Audio page for more songs from this session/series

 Catch Vita and the Woolf this Friday

Catch Vita and the Woolf on tour

Vita and the Woolf cover Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Satan Said Dance" for Cover Club Season Two

Welcome to Season Two of Philly-centric video series, Cover Club. Cover Club is best conceptualized as “A special brand of Philly covers”, akin to The Onion’s AV Undercover series but with one caveat: the song being covered must originally be from a Philly artist.

Vita and the Woolf joined by Tutlie for #CoverClub - photo by Lindsey Borgman

We're ready to reveal the final band of Season Two of CoverClub. Wrapping up our second recording session at Cambridge Sound Studios in South Philly, young rising stars Vita and the Woolf tackled the exciting Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!  In the video, Jennifer Pague grabs the bass and leads her band and session-mates Tutlie as her chorus! 

Cover Club: Vita and the Woolf "Satan Said Dance" (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)

Last November for Philly Sings Philly Jennifer Pague covered Dr. Dog's "Shadow People" to a positive response so it was a logical choice for Cover Club.  Until a few days before our second session at Cambridge Sound Studios in early February, that was going to be the cover choice.  A few days prior Pague called an audible and switched picks to a perfect match for her outrageousness, choosing "Satan Said Dance" from the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah '07 album Some Loud Thunder.

On the day of the session, I asked her why this song, her response was classic, "That song is bad-ass."  The full response was actually a little more eloquent as she explained, "I chose "Satan Said Dance" because the song is crazy awesome and reminds me of bad-ass rock n' roll. It was also performed by my friend's band, I Am Love, who do an amazing cover of that song. We played a lot of shows together back in the day and they always covered that song and it rocked the crowd every time."

Check out the original via the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah page

See Vita and The Woolf & Tutlie this Friday!!!

Tutlie / Cover Club Session - Season 2 / Original Track / "Frejya"

Welcome to Season Two of Philly-centric video series, Cover Club.  Cover Club is best conceptualized as “A special brand of Philly covers”, akin to The Onion’s AV Undercover series but with one caveat: the song being covered must originally be from a Philly artist. 
Mark Cruttenden of Tutlie

Rebecca Way of Tutlie

Just two weeks ago, Tutlie came to Cambridge Sound Studios for their Cover Club session. All six members came ready to lay down an awesome session. It could have been chaotic, but the Tutlie team came ready to rock. Warming up with their original, "Frejya" the session started off great. Hailing from their debut LP Young Cries,  this amazing track shines in their video, directed by Bob Sweeney.

Cover Club | Tutlie - "Frejya"

Check out the Tutlie original "Frejya" via

Head over to the audio page for more songs from this session/series

Tutlie will be playing a full set for their tour kick-off show this Friday!  Joined by The River Breaks, Vita and the Woolf, Emily Danger, and Tia & Tamara at the Berks Warehouse.  And just announced, Tutlie will be one of the peformers at the 4th Annual Tri State Indie Awards on March 1st!  Don't miss your opportunity for both, a headlining set and featured set in the same weekend!

And for our friends across the country, catch Tutlie on tour!!!

Tutlie Covers Patti Labelle and The Bluebelles "All or Nothing" for Cover Club Season Two

Welcome to Season Two of Philly-centric video series, Cover Club.  Cover Club is best conceptualized as “A special brand of Philly covers”, akin to The Onion’s AV Undercover series but with one caveat: the song being covered must originally be from a Philly artist.

Director Bob Sweeney in action filming Tutlie at Cambridge Sound Studio - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

Tutlie is hands down one of the most exciting bands I've had the chance to work with in the last year.  In a year where I had to pick & chose which shows to go to, as I had a newborn at home; it was great to see Tutlie continually popping up on the radar.  First it was the Communion label "Club Night" at Underground Arts and later at Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia.  I was thrilled when we were able to sit down to talk about "who" they were.   As I got to know them, one thing was sure; they had to be a part of Cover Club.  When we started booking for Season Two, they were a must to include!

Jessie Radlow of Tutlie
We wanted to know, "Why Patti Labelle and The Bluebelles?" and "Was it hard picking a cover when 6 people are in the band?"

Jessie Radlow was nice enough to explain: "We were all so incredibly tempted to do a cover of a Philly modern artist today, but we all have such vast music tastes, which makes it great but also difficult to agree upon. One thing we all have in common as a band is our love for classic throwbacks. We were thinking about something from the 90's hip-hop era but instead decided on a song from the 60's. Patti Labelle and the Bluebells' harmonies are just so on point; we had to give it a try because as everybody knows, harmonies rule. Plus the song, not quite a B-side but a song they performed that didn't get them the fame they thought they'd receive is just a classic underdog situation. And I believe this is hands down their best. Also I just really really wanted an excuse to sing diva doo-wop, you caught me."

Cover Club | Tutlie - "All Or Nothing" (Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles)

Jessie continued, " "All or nothing" was the perfect song choice from the Bluebells collection because it was so upbeat and empowering compared to their other songs which are more slow and a little lax. "Can't take no more I'm telling you it's all or nothing, baby- nothing at all" was super fun to sing, especially when you think about what you're actually singing. Labelle rings true; never accept anything less than you're worth."

Rebecca Way and Asher Brooks of Tutlie - photo by Bob Sweeney

Compare to the original version of "All or Nothing" by Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles:

Find Tutlie this weekend as they kick off their tour!