Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#CoverClub - Hezekiah Jones covers Johnny Miles

The Hezekiah Jones Cover Club session had been in the works for over a year when it was recorded in early April of this year at Cambridge Sound Studios. Since it was first discussed, a lot has changed in that time, but one thing that hasn’t is Johnny Miles place among the band as a favorite artist.

According to Raph of Hezekiah Jones, “Johnny Miles is a songwriting hero and I am honored to also call him a friend. It was hard to pick just one song from such a prolific and talented writer.” Raph explained, “Sailors” is off of Sign of the Times; one of my all time favorite albums. Johnny Miles’ lyrics melt me.

The session was recorded in April at Jim Salamone‘s Cambridge Sound Studios with Matthew Phillips, Todd Mecaughey, and Alex Kopertowski.

Cover Club: Hezekiah Jones "Sailors" (Johnny Miles Cover)

In less than two weeks, patron fans who supported the band via their PledgeMusic campaign will be receiving their digital downloads for new music!!!! The Pledge Release is set(if all goes well!) for July 17th Digital and end of July/early August for receiving Physical Copies of In Loving Memory of oosi Lockjaw. Fear not, if you are digging your early taste of the album with the Cover Club version of “Spare the Wicked”, the last day to go to Pledgemusic.com and pledge for any special orders is July 17th. If not, after that you wait til November. A few final options remain, but signed copies of In Loving Memory of oosi Lockjaw, signed vinyl of ‘Have You Seen Our New Fort?‘ and , signed typed lyrics are still available.

In Loving Memory of oosi Lockjaw, which was recorded at/mixed with Matt Muir, Andrew Lipke, Brian McTear, Chris Dell’Osa, and Jim Salamone at Kawari, The Record Lounge, Miner Street, Haverhouse, and Cambridge Sound Studios respectively. is meant as a gently loving exorcism(letting go) of the peaceful/wrathful, latent/active, ghosts/demons(impressions/false understandings), that haunt our subtler bodies(spirit/astral/psychic) and which are yearning to be free from us as well.

The Cover Club Session original “Spare the Wicked”, gives a taste of the first Hezekiah Jones full length in about 3 1/2 years since Have You Seen Our New Fort? For fans that didn’t jump on the opportunity to pledge for the new album this will be the first new Hezekiah Jones material since the two instrumentals for the Multimedia book ‘Slice of Life‘ last year. Written by Raphael Cutrufello, he explains “Spare the wicked” asks to spare us all. There is not a being on this planet that doesn’t struggle and is not worth redeeming.”

Cover Club | Hezekiah Jones "Spare the Wicked"

Find all the videos and recaps at CoverClubPhilly.com

Check out more at HezekiahJones.com

For more Bob Sweeney directed videos :

For more info on Cambridge Sound Studios:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From The Notebook - Arc Divers by Wayne Gallagher

As a editor of Root Down In The Shadow, I make all the decisions about deadlines and features and such.  I also get stuck sometime and fail to put a piece out.  Maybe it wasn't the right time, maybe a "dealine" is missed.  Whatever the case is sometimes things just don't happen.  But, the musicians didn't fail to play the show, the contributors don't fail to show up.  There's always a good time to post a review, even if it is eight months later.  So, I present another piece "FROM THE NOTEBOOK."

Divers, now know as Arc Divers play tomorrow for what stands to be an amazing show with Israel Nash at the Malvern Summer Stage.  So, there's no better time than now to share Wayne's free flowing piece. 

Arc Divers - Photo by Wayne Gallagher

Presented in it's original form:

Johnny Brenda's.
Friday night in Fishtown Philadelphia.

I arrive early, too early. The sun is still out, the street bounces with people on their way out or coming back home. I park my 1998 jeep cherokee sport with the fabric coming off the ceiling, bad tires and on the wrong side of 200000 miles next to a nice little park where some of the natives play with their kids and drink coffee and chat. These are the times I love living and being apart of Philadelphia before the moon goes up and the c.h.u.d.s. (cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers) come out ooorrrr maybe that's my favorite time to be in Philadelphia. We aren't the prettiest city, and yes we have some people here who may take themselves to seriously but god dammit we know how to have fun and we aren't full of shit like some other places. And we have world class music venue here.. Johnny Brenda's. god I love this place, pool table downstairs, good food, good evolving beer list, just that would make me want to come here. The upstairs is a cathedral to music. 2 stories of bar and sparse seating house all to see the new up and coming artist of the world, those who have grown too big to play the small clubs. but wait Johnny Brenda's is pretty small I mean it's not a huge room capacity must only be about 200( and I am making a very loose ballpark number on this) but it has a big feeling to it, you know that you are going to be apart of something special there even if there are 5 people there or 500(another ballpark number to throw out there).

As I walk up the steps I spill my coffee all over myself, oh thank you thy god for bestowing this gift unto me. I make way in, I've never been on a guest list before...felt good.

I sit at the bar. 2 goals: enjoy the show and don't get too drunk.

Satellite hearts start of this evening, these guys are amazing, energetic and spontaneous. In line with the other acts tonight they have been playing together for a long time and it shows, one of my favorite moments tonight was when their guitar player and lead singer needed to run backstage to grab a guitar and the other 2/3rds of the band played a jaunty little waiting around tune(ala jeopardy or a vaudevillian number played between acts) And after a few bars he was back on strange plugged in and they jumped immediately into the next song. This is what I love about music, it isn't perfect, shit happens it's how you roll with it and how you take it which sets the real pros apart and these guys slayed it thoroughly.

Purples... I've never heard of them till I got into the show(how prepared am I!!!), I had introduced myself to a couple of the members before the show and as my own personally mysterious dark horse of the evening was genuinely excited to hear them for the first time( little did I known that they are a band I should totally be aware of and are an evolution of the very well known band "the teeth"a fact of which was revealed to me after the show). Tight harmonies, grooving, fast paced, this band was electric sugar and I loved it, fuck I would go back for seconds.

Hmmmm  a feeling begins to creep over me, familiar and warm, I'm happy but maybe a little bit to happy....my god I've broken my 2nd oath of the evening..I'm drunk, like real drunk(let me step outside the evening and say looking onto my notes while typing this up that I had kept a long linear line of conscious thought writing throughout the entire evening, this profanity ridden and rambling manifesto this will most likely be burned after I piece together the greatest hits from them). I start to sober up after purples and have about 20 min of guzzling water and walking around to have a clear head to complete my main objective cover divers set.

Now, I made it my intention to not binge listen to "divers"before this. I wanted to be fresh, I wanted this to be the first time I've ever really got to listen to them: full band good venue beautiful crowd untainted by any feeling or any pre-conceived thought of what they will sound like or be like.

Lights go down, Lights go up, I accidentally get another beer(whoops!) but Jesus what a great set. I didn't want this article to be a play by play of their set just a an analysis of the experience I had and what I felt during the show.

This feeling was bliss, the band was tight, like really tight. They played simple and sparse, the space that was left was filled with the haunting and beautiful voice of their lead singer Emily. Now yeah, they fucking rocked, they were everything stompy, risk taking and chaotic I love about rock music. But there was something else there a spiritual and harmonious feeling in the music. The songs were anthemic, moving, vulnerable, hypnotic I felt like for that hour or so they played I wasn't in a crowd of people but all alone in there and that I was witnessing something special. I loved every second of it. The way their set moved and weaved from song to song even sprinkling in a stones cover which was almost unrecognizable in the best way, they made it their own, this is what I'm talking about creating a mood or setting the tone for the evening and they did it flawlessly. It was fun, it rocked and I was genuinely moved by the whole evening.

That is how I wanted to walk away from it, that's how anyone should or who have had the pleasure of seeing live music feel after seeing a great show.

Fuck it's late, I check my phone, almost midnight....well I guess I could grab another drink a nightcap perhaps..... I can't wait to hear their album.

Yours truly,

Wayne Everett Gallagher

Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia - Best of 2015.. so far

Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia, where has the year gone?  Already the June show has come and gone and already the July and August shows are being planned.  Too much time has passed without a recap; so with no further ado: Best of Sounds: Philadelphia 2015 ... so far... (plus Dec 2014).

December 2014: Brian Dale Allen Strouse (of the Lawsuits) /
Dominic Angelella (of DRGN King) / 
The Naked Sun / The Kalob Griffin Band
Photo by Julie McGurk
Poster by Jennifer Prough

Photo by Lindsey Borgman

The December '14 Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia show was one of the best on record.  Ugly Sweaters, food donations for Philabundance, and an all local-lineup at this super cool Fishtown  former candy shop turned apartment.  For this holiday show, each band was asked to be prepared with a holiday song each. Just as each Sofar show is typically extra special with stripped down instrumentation and personnel, the holiday song choices for the event were also non-standard.  Brian Dale Allen Strouse, was probably the safest with a rendition of "Blue Christmas", while The Naked Sun performed "Christmas Lights (Paul Baribeau cover) and Dominic Angelella did a Vince Guaraldi medley.  Two Root Down In The Shadow favorite front men, Dominic Angelella and Brian Dale Allen Strouse, both played stripped down & heart felt sets, but it was the raucous set by Kalob Griffin Band that stole the show.  They absolutely had the performance of the night with their Paul Kelly cover of "How To Make Gravy", the quintessential song about writing home from jail during the holidays.  KGB was had a super tight set, even with most of the band just learning the "gravy" cover earlier that day.  Be sure to check out their "Full Love" performance added below!

Brian Dale Allen Strouse "Trying To Forget You"

Dominic Angelella - "Undertow"

The Naked Sun - "Cosmic Winds"

 Kalob Griffin Band - "Full Love"

January 2015:  The Upperfields  / The Yetis  / Anthony D'Amato
Poster by Jennifer Prough
Upperfields - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

The January show kicked off 2015 in style.  At a hip center-city apartment, fans were happy to get out of the cold and squeeze together for some music.  This all out-of-towner lineup featured The Yetis from Allentown, The Upperfields from Ottsville, PA (Bucks County), and Anthony D'Amato from NYC. 

New songs were the norm of the night, but Sofar alumni Anthony D'Amato took this to new heights.  On the way to the show, he mentioned to that he had a new song he had been writing on the train down to Philly.  He must have been excited to exercise it from his head, as it was easy to convince him to debut it live that night.  Minutes after making some writing the final verse and making alterations in a bedroom amongst some winter coats, D'Amato debuted "Oh My Goodness" to the Sofar Sounds crowd.

Upperfields - "Untethered Bells"

The Yetis - "Where You Goin' "

Anthony D'Amato - "Oh My Goodness"

February 2015: 
Quincy Mumford / Ladybird / Bill McCloskey  / Shark Tape
Poster by Jennifer Prough

Sofar Sounds stands for Songs for a room.  But not all rooms are created equal.  Most Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia shows have been what you would expect for a secret "house show", but the February 2015 took this idea and twisted it a little.  Sure, lots of the Sofar shows across the globe have been in galleries and arty spaces, but what about the "living room" of a music studio?  Lots of studios have a fun space to step away from the music for a little bit.  In this case, the Cambridge Sound Studios "living room" is were we stepped into, to get into the music. 

This diverse lineup took us through memory lane.  Soul-crooner Quincy Mumford reminded fans of recent alums Caleb Hawley or Aaron Parnell Brown, Ladybird took us back to some traditional bluegrass, and Bill McCloskey, took us back to the previous set as he enlisted Sarah Larsen from Ladybird to be in his band.  To his credit the Sofar Philly and Sofar Austin veteran, reminisced a little to past shows and also included fellow Sofar alum, John Hildenbrand of Kalob Griffin Band, in his band.

Shark Tape capped it off with some straight-forward rock.  In one of the most rocking-est sets in recent Sofar memory. The band comfortable with live recording, showed off some hits and new tunes, through it's five song set.

Ladybird at Cambridge Sound Studios - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

Quincy Mumford - "Home"

Bill McClosey - "You Are a Babe, Babe

Ladybird - "Red Rocking Chair"

Shark Tape - "Marathon"

March 2015: 
The Vulcans / Work Drugs / Beans on Toast / Desert Noises

Poster by Jennifer Prough

The March 2015 Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia show is the perfect example of why you shouldn't go into a show with pre-set expectations.  While fans coming to the Sofar Sounds secret shows don't know the bands until arrival there was still plenty of time to form some opinions once you get the playbill upon arrival   First there was The Vulcans, the central PA folk trio.  Without the stylistic trappings of most folk-grass outfits, these musicians showed off their skills and some serious harmonies.

Work Drugs, an electronic Philly band showed up with two guitars.  It isn't a total stretch with some of the songs being written on piano and guitar, but it was Tom's first Work Drugs set behind a guitar.

Beans on Toast - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

Beans on Toast was a total enigma.  Most fans had no idea what to expect from this single artist with a weird moniker and a traveling posse and fans that followed.  His first song he did from a what seemed like a stool, but it was more like a flimsy table.  His folk raps were filled with spot on wit and had a certain whimsical charm.  "Fuck You Nashville" has to be in every tour managers arsenal to play for any cranky touring musician having a bad night.  Be sure to catch it below.

Desert Noises, had the best Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia set to date this year, and quite possibly the most captivating set all the way back to last April's Little Comets set.  Throwing a total curve ball to fans that know the band, including the fans who at coincidentally had seen them the night before, the normally rocking four-piece was a stripped down acoustic two-piece.  Having seen them myself two times prior the songs really connected on a lyrical level.  The rest of the band aren't too fond of just chilling while half of them play, so don't expect this too often. However, the were quite entertaining as well, with the "guitar solo goes here" type verbal cliff notes from the band.

Desert Noises - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

Vulcans - "Ready (Get Runnin')

Work Drugs - "Runaway"

Desert Noises - "Keys On The Table"

Beans On Toast - "Fuck You Nashville"

April 2015: The Burgeoning / Neulore / Sales / City Rain

The April  2015 Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia show was all about new songs and new impressions.  The Burgeoning on a two day blitz playing both Sofar Sounds & Communion were playing music that was to be recorded a few days later.

Neulore - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

Neulore came to town as part of Communion the year before and made a weird impression, being a little too rock-star for their own good. Fast-forward to Sofar and it was the complete opposite.  This time Neulore was engaging with the crowd, including a sing-a-long with a Sam Smith cover. 

While Sales stuck with the pedals and loops, City Rain stripped down and unplugged to give a simple three song acoustic set.  "Hearts" and "Mama I Wanna Go Home" were standouts from the 2014 LP Songs For A High School Dance LP, but they also played a raw take on brand-new song "Changes."

The Burgeoning - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

City Rain - Photo By Lindsey Borgman
City Rain - "Changes"

May 2015:  EmmettDrueding  / Kate Faust 
/ Brian Dunne  / Deal Casino / Palmas
Poster by Jennifer Prough
The May 2015 Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia show was an exciting show.  In the large meeting space for the Old Swedes Church, Pennsylvania's oldest church; five artists showed of their skills to the musical congregation.

Emmett Drueding - photo by Dan McGurk

If there was ever a home field advantage in music, Emmett Drueding had it.  At the church where he grew up playing, Emmett played his first Sofar Sounds show.  Playing a special two song set, the Elliott Smith influence was strong as you could really see he was feeling it deep down.

Kate Faust - Photo by Dan McGurk

Kate Faust was up next.  Often electronic, but still a singer-songwriter at heart, she gushed when she saw there was a piano at the venue, leaving her keyboard behind in the car.  Always a blast to see live, Kate played some new tunes, but wooed the crowd with her crowd-pleasing medley "Are You That Somebody/Feelin Good/So Good" by Aaliyah / Nina Simone / Destiny's Child.

Brian Dunne played some country-ish singer songwriter tunes.  The New Yorker was soft and soothing, not the trash-tonk of today's country-pop.

Deal Casino's Joe P was also solo, just chillin' on the piano bench in the front of the room.  While the Deal Casino tracks were pretty killer, it was the Pixies "Where is My Mind" cover that was instantly amazing.  It was spot on from the first notes, but probably even more amazing as Kate Faust picked up on it right away and was adding the critical oohs from the back of the room. 

Joe of Deal Casino - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

Palmas - Photo by Lindsey Borgman
Like a dreamy lounge band from back in the day, Palmas were having a blast while looking cool.  Sticking with the bench as a good place to sing from, the vocalist had an Adam Levine style without relying on the falsetto.  The first and only full band of the night, they didn't ruin things by going all loud. The guitarists kept it chill, sitting on their amps as they had a set completely tailored for Sofar.
Palmas - Photo By Dan McGurk


Check back later for more videos!

June 2015: 
AnnaChristie  / Louds / Suburban Living  / Pine Barons
Sofar Sounds: Philly returned to Cambridge Sound Studios for the June Show. Alum AnnaChristie also made her return, but for her it was to Philly after a West Coast relocation/haitus.  

Louds and Suburban Living made their Sofar Sounds debuts after making set altering equipment decisions upon arrival.

Pine Barons came back for their second Sofar appearance. With a lot of repeats from their 2014 Sofar set, the band continues to amaze with different mic techniques and just all around creativity.

More Pictures to follow

Check Back for more videos!!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ross Bellenoit - The Wreckage Release & More

Gallo, Bellenoit, D'Agostino @ Fergie's Pub
A few years back, I went to Fergie's Pub for a late night music hang.  It was still early into my indoctrination of the Philly music scene and really didn't know just how amazing those nights would/could actually be.  I just knew a friend or two were likely to play and my child and wife were already asleep.  Ron Gallo would be playing that night, and the lanky front-man was flanked by a guitarist who just walked in, a dude on bass, and the host of the night was at the drums.  There's no way it was going to be any good; Gallo and two random dudes?  It couldn't be good, right?  It was a Wednesday night, late as hell, and a bunch of jokers at the upstairs "dive" portion of a great Irish bar were about to rock out without a set list.  What could actually be good about this? What I didn't know was this host Jonas guy, was Jonas Oesterle (of Purples and other projects), the bassist was Phil D'Agostino (Hezekiah Jones & more) and that guitarist was Ross Bellenoit (Arc Divers, Birdie Busch & more).  Each song was amazing, no matter what the crowd and Ron Gallo would pick randomly to play, but the guitar parts always stood out.

And that's how it was each time I came across Ross Bellenoit.  There was that time I saw Arc Divers, last fall in Boston and I was caught off guard by their killer guitar riffs.   Also last fall, when I saw Birdie Busch at the Communion Club Night over at Underground Arts, with Ross Bellenoit it was more spectacular guitar.   Fantastic music and great guitar.

The Wreckage by Ross Bellenoit (Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe)
So when I sat down with Ross Bellenoit this week to talk about his brand new album The Wreckage (released June 6th, 2015), I wanted to know with all this great music he's part of; Why the self-release?  He told me, "The Wreckage is written, vocals, and produced myself; all of it is done with my direction.  Other bands I'm in like Arc Divers, I've got input on arrangement and such, but this is a Ross product."

Turns out, presenting a "Ross product" is tougher than it seems.  The album has been done for about a year, with demos of the songs starting as early 2013.  But according to Ross "with other recording projects and bands in-play, it's a tough balancing act of when to release my own material."

Luckily for fans, now is the time to release Ross Bellenoit material.  First we have The Wreckage; a great listen with song after song chronicling one particular torrid affair and subsequent breakup.   With scene stars Joe Baldacci (DRGN King, Viv & The Revival on drums, Todd Erk (Hoots & Hellmouth, Birdie Busch) on bass, and featuring Sonya Sofya on vocals; it's lush, it's pop, it's passionate.  This wasn't your standard breakup album as this wasn't your standard relationship and break-up.  Ross explained "there was so much dark break-up stuff covering all the stages of the break-up, " making The Wreckage much more apt of a title.  Even single "Sayonara", started as "an attempt to write something goofy at a Maine songwriting retreat" according to Ross, but the end result was a "tongue-in-cheek telling of a date gone bad."

The Wreckage won't be the only Bellenoit release to look forward to this year.  The plan is that Ross will release 2 more LP's in 2015: next is an album of original Jazz material and later this year is a full length folk album.

If you're struggling to keep up on all things Ross Bellenoit, you can try out a new patronage vehicle Ross is using.  Bandcamp.com offers a subscription, but it's not to a gazillion artists, and songs.  This one is just for Ross.  You get the entire back catalog (including The Wreckage) and more!  To steal straight from his Bandcamp page:

Tonight come see Ross Bellenoit / Madalean Gauze / Morgan Pinkstone at Johnny Brenda's for the live release of The Wreckage!     Get Tickets HERE

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Caroline Rose Says "Fuck Fear" at World Cafe Live

Man, what can you say about Caroline Rose? She rocks. Really, Caroline Rose and band rock.  There's no banjo/mandolin/violin to be considered folk, too much pedal steel to be punk, somewhere in between rockabilly and old school country, the gritty Vermont rocker doesn't seem to care where she fits. 

When describing the tip jar at the merch booth to the crowd, she said "if you don't like us, give us some money so we can go get real jobs."  But seeing as her bandmates were all wearing Caroline's new "FUCK FEAR" t-shirts, I doubt she cares whether if the crowd approves too much. 

Fortunately, while opening for Pokey LaFarge on this tour, she's found a lot of new fans.  World Cafe Live - Philadelphia was the 2nd night of tour, criss-crossing the east coast for Pokey and his "nice fans."

The band impressed with their singles, jumping right into twanger "Blood On Your Bootheels" and steel heavy "Tightrope Walker." She mixed in some new material amongst the set and really got things hot with hit "America Religious" followed by two scorchers/new comers "Casino" and "Yip Yip Yow".  And just in case you forgot she was undaunted, the band ended with "I Will Not Be Afraid"
                              "So long as I got my heart a-beating / So long as I got my soul a-feeling / So long as I got that spirit in me / I will not be afraid"

Caroline Rose - World Cafe Live - Philadelphia
5/1/15 Setlist
1. Blood On Your Bootheels
2. Tightrope Walker
3. Bad Feeling
4. You're Going to Fall in love
5. Goodbye May
6. America Religious
7. Casino
8. Yip yip yow
9. I will not be afraid