Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham


I listen to Spotify from time to time, mainly to revisit an old record that has been lost in a move or an old cassette that my car stereo decided to eat at the end of a long road trip. Spotify is great for listening to an artist’s back catalogues. I find it also great for discovering new music. Unfortunately, the new bands don’t really make enough money from its royalty pay outs to make ends meet, as it is such a small fraction per play.
So why the hell did Taylor Swift decide it was time to pull her entire catalogue from the music service earlier this month? Let’s look a little closer …
Taylor Swift claims: “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”
Dave Grohl, the new self-appointed spokesman for “big rock,” countered: “You want people to (bleeping) listen to your music? Give them your music. And then go play a show. They like hearing your music? They’ll go see a show. To me it’s that simple, and I think it used to work that way. When we were young and in really noisy, crappy punk rock bands there was no career opportunity and we loved doing it and people loved (bleeping) watching it and the delivery was completely face to face and personal. That’s what got people really excited about (bleep). Nowadays there’s so much focus on technology that it doesn’t really matter.”
Easy to say if you’re in the hottest rock and roll band in the world (Foo Fighters) and the former drummer of one of history’s most recognized anti-establishment bands (Nirvana).
That brings us to Billy Bragg, who scoffed at Ms. Swift’s move as “nothing more than a corporate power play.”
“She should just be honest with her fans and say ‘sorry, but Sergey Brin gave me a huge amount of money to be the headline name on the marquee for the launch of YouTube Music Key and so I’ve sold my soul to Google. If Ms. Swift was truly concerned about perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free, she should be removing her material from YouTube, not cosying up to it. The de facto biggest streaming service in the world, with all the content available free, YouTube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service.”

The enemy of my enemy is my … I’m still confused.

All of this back in forth between musicians not only brought back images of local artists going at each other’s throats time after time (which still happens today), but forced me to dig up some legendary musician-to-musician bashing.

David Lee Roth on Elvis Costello
“Music journalists like Elvis Costello because music journalists look like Elvis Costello.”

Kurt Cobain on Guns N’ Roses
“They’re really talentless people, and they write crap music, and they’re the most popular rock band on the earth right now. I can’t believe it.”

Noel Gallagher on Jack White
“He looks like Zorro on doughnuts.”

Robert Smith on Morrissey
“If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’ll eat meat — that’s how much I hate Morrissey.”

Anton Newcombe (Brian Johnstown Massacre) on Eric Clapton
“People talk about Eric Clapton. What has he ever done except throw his baby off a (bleeping) ledge and write a song about it?”

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Damien Rice My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Vector Recordings/Warner Bros.) 2014



Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham



The V Spot Celebrates Four Years of Chuggin’ Beers

Vinnie Archer, co-owner of The V Spot, 906 Providence Rd., Scranton, can never be described as “a man of few words.” I’ve known Archer for quite some time and when he’s not busy blessing someone’s dinner rolls, filling up multiple shot glasses or telling someone a story of his infamous “Rock and Roll days,” he’s a dedicated family man who recently took time between running some errands for his wife and operating a leaf blower to sit down and talk to me.
Here’s what Archer had to say about four years of The V Spot.

Talk about The V Spot being open for four long years.
It’s true what they say about the bar business — you’ll be married to it. It’s a fact. It’s been mostly a lot of ups and very few downs. The joy of the business is the customers. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t want to continue, but it is fun because of the customers who come to see us. I’m certainly not interested in opening The V Spot 2 or another location. One bar is enough for me — that’s for sure! We’re open seven days a week, which creates a distraction in regards to my personal life, but I’m very grateful for being as successful as we have been.

What are some of your favorite memories at the bar so far?
Major highlights have been the holidays. Christmas time at the bar with all of the decorations seems to bring out the best in people. I also like to play “The 12 days of Christmas” by the Muppets and John Denver. That song can bring out the best in even the crankiest of customers. When we first opened, we had crowds. We would have 200 people paying to get in during the weekend. The turn outs for the bands, still to this day, continue to amaze me. The memorable things are the huge crowds that come out for all of the special events, the holidays and the bands.
I also love when we get the floors waxed because we don’t do that all the time. But every three months, we get the floor shined up real nice and that brings out the best in everyone too.

How important is it to you to have live music at The V Spot?
If we didn’t have live music, we would just be another corner bar. I believe that’s what separates us from the other bars. The V Spot has live entertainers six out of the seven days a week. People who have been to the bar before are coming back because they know they are being entertained. There is no cover four out of the six nights — the music is complimentary. Being a former musician, (I was known as “The Artist formerly known as Vince”), I love live music. If I was ever going to open a bar, it was going to have to be a rock and roll joint. I’m doing my best to fulfill the prophesy

Are you ever going to build a stage?
(Laughs.) Really great question! The answer is yes. We are in discussions with the people who built the World Trade Center to do something very special for us

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the last four years?
Save your money and build your business bigger and better. If you are always trying to do something to outdo yourself year after year, eventually you will. Look out for a revitalization of The V Spot in 2015. There’s a lot pressure in these questions.

Who would you like to see play at the bar?
2 Live Crew. They contacted me and their tour manager said they wanted to play at our place. I said “I don’t believe you understand what this club is all about.” They want to play it. I asked them if they were traveling through and they said, No. We’ll fly up from Florida.” It was the cutest conversation. I’d like Slipknot to come through, I know its tough to get eight guys on the stage.

You meant to say the floor.
Yes. The floor. We have the Jeffrey James Band play at the bar and they have eight guys in the band. If we can fit them in the bar, we can get Slipknot too.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Shovels & Rope Swimmin’ Time (Dualtone Records) 2014

Editor Tom Graham is a musician and singer/songwriter rooted in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Send email to tgraham@timesshamrock.com






Back by popular demand, the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts is bringing back its “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” concert series, which features one performance per month beginning in November and runs through April. Blues singer Alexis P. Suter kicks off the series this Saturday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. Norman Taylor opens the show.
Introduced last year, the intimate music series is held in the confines of the venue’s main lobby. The first series featured performances by Amy Helm, Joan Osborne and Alejandro Escovedo. This year, Cabinet will play a special two-night engagement on Friday, Dec. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 20 and the Craig Thatcher Band will bring its Eric Clapton Retrospective to the Kirby on Saturday, Jan. 31.
Michael Cloeren, founder of the Pocono/Pennsylvania Blues Festival and director of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, will serve as emcee for each performance, introducing the performers and conducting brief Q-&-A sessions between the artists and their fans.
When asked about Alexis P. Suter, B.B. King once said, “It’s a rare thing to share the stage with great talent like that young lady.” The late great Levon Helm of The Band said, “She is one of those wonderful spirits, she’s got her arms around you, you can feel that.”
The bass/baritone vocalist Suter and her band wowed audiences in the northeast as regular performers at Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Sessions in Woodstock, NY. Since then, they’ve been in constant demand at North American festivals including The Toronto Waterfront Blues Festival, The Cincinnati Blues Festival, FloydFest, Briggs Farm Blues Festival and The Pocono Blues Festival.
“My vocals are powerful,” Suter said in an recent interview with electric city and diamond city. “I know they are powerful; I have to own that. It’s daring and in your face; it’s like a megaphone and you want to get your message across. My voice was created to relay the message. We’re about love and I hope I get that message across with this voice. I’m glad I don’t sound like many of the female singers out there with my bass/baritone voice. It shocks people that I am a women and I have this voice that is so commanding, and I think more people listen in that regard.”
— tom graham

Tickets to “Live from the Chandelier Lobby” are available at the Kirby Center Box Office, online at kirbycenter.org and by phone at (570) 826-1100.


Headphones: Nov. 6, 2014

Headphones: Nov. 6, 2014

Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham

20 Years of Flaxy

Formed in 1994, local cover band Flaxy Morgan is celebrating 20 years this month with some very special events. The band will rock a couple of anniversary shows beginning this Saturday, Nov. 8, at The V Spot, Scranton, and next Saturday, Nov. 15, at Chackos, Wilkes-Barre. Flaxy Morgan’s current lineup includes: Richie “Rockstreet” Kossuth (drums), Krysten Montgomery (vocals), Steph Orell (bass and vocals) Frank Gruden (keyboards) and Jason “JBIRD” Santos (guitars and vocals).

I had the chance to catch up with Kossuth earlier this week and talk about 20 years of Flaxy Morgan

What are some changes you’ve seen in the local music scene over the past 20 years?
Oh boy. Where do I begin? (Laughs) The big clubs may be gone, but it’s still fun performing to people who come out to have a good time.

Was it hard for the band to break into the local scene at first?
When new bands form, there’s always a good vibe. It usually dies down. We started with well-known people and played music nobody else was doing.

Why do you think Flaxy Morgan has been able to entertain people in the area for so long?
We always had the idea of playing songs that people like and keeping it danceable is the big plus. We’re a fun band and people see that.

Do you have any specific shows that Flaxy has been a part of that really stick out in your mind?
Of course! Our opening night was probably one of the best. Seeing all of our friends come out to support us. We play many church and fireman’s bazaars and fairs. The Tafton Fair is one of the best. We’ve played it 20 years in a row. We have played from Ithaca to Virginia due to playing (the Tafton Fair). There are really still a lot of shows now that are still great.

What are some of your favorite songs to play and why?
For me, anything that gets people dancing. We play anything from A to Z. Personally, I like to play anything.

Is there a song or songs that the band has played in the past that you look back at now and think “I can’t believe we played that!”?
I’m sure there are many, but one that sticks out the most to me was “September” by Earth Wind and Fire. We played it as a four-piece. We also played “Rock n Roll Band” by Boston.

What words of advice can you give up an coming bands looking to break into the local circuit?
Not sure if I want to answer this one. (Laughs) It depends on what they plan on doing. To make it in the club scene has to be what people want to hear, not what you want to play. Heck, I’d be doing a night of Steely Dan, Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd if I played what I wanted to! (Laughs)

What’s your favorite drummer joke?
None. They all cut us down. (Laughs)

Not only is Flaxy Morgan a local favorite, the band and yourself are often very involved in benefits and I know Rockstreet music has always been willing to lend a hand when others were in need. How important is it to you that Flaxy Morgan helps out when it can?
We have always been part of benefits when we can. I always look at what we were asked to do and know how fortunate we are and an hour of our time means a lot to them. We have one coming up next week at Chacko’s for a Toys for Tots. This is our third year playing it.

Where do you see Flaxy Morgan in 10 years?
Hopefully still playing the bazaars, weddings and private work. I plan on keeping the beat going as long as I can.

Cheers to you and the band and here’s to another 20!



Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham


Halloween Beards are a Bust
Beards are not the best during Halloween.
There are so many costumes that simply can not be executed due to the fact that I have a ginger man mane planted on my face. Aside from the Bearded Lady, a God-fearing, homophobic character from Duck Dynasty and an assortment of wispy wizards, this beard has held up the stop sign on plenty of great costume ideas.
And I simply cannot bring myself to go as Walker, Texas Ranger every year.
If I shaved tomorrow morning and it was time to dress up for the Halloween season, here is what you would see me parading around town as. But I’m not shaving, so don’t worry.

Pete Rose.
I’d throw on the old throwback jersey and carry my gambling book whilst placing bets all over town.

The Apparently Kid
Remember when being a slightly pudgy, little awkward and a totally straight-shooting ginger kid was completely adorable? No. I don’t either. It never was. Until The Apparently kid took that microphone out of Sofia Ojeda’s grasp and became a national sensation. I’d find myself a WNEP microphone cover, talk incessantly about my grandfather and my adoration of dinosaurs and win every best costume prize in the 570. Bonus: One of my friends could dress up like Ellen Degeneres and interview me at each party.
Pee Wee Herman
Pee Wee with a beard? It doesn’t work unless you’re James Brolin, (pictured above). And even that was a pretty lame beard.

Super Mario Brothers
I’m not about to go shaving a mustache for one night of living out my Nintendo dreams. Come to think of it, real mustache costumes are much easier to think of: Ron Burgundy, Magnum P.I., John Waters, Albert Einstein, Hulk Hogan, Borat, etc.

Sugar Skull or Zombie
It looks amazing when people sport the Day of the Dead sugar skull look on Halloween, but beards never seem to fit the look. Let’s say a bearded zombie comes crawling your way. Normally, your first reaction is to run away or scream, not say “Hey! Look! That zombie has a beard! Never saw that before! (Snaps selfie with bearded zombie in the background). Sweet!”

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: The Allman Brothers Band Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas  (Capricorn) 1976

Headphones: Oct. 16, 2014

Headphones: Oct. 16, 2014

Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham

I’m a Dead Man (fan)
As the countdown to Halloween marches on, I can’t help to feel the excitement growing inside. I’ve been bombarding my senses with all sorts of spooky surroundings and pumpkin spice overload. Unfortunately, I’m not into visiting haunted attractions anymore. I personally love hopping on a hayride and getting scared while in the pitch-black middle-of-nowhere. But years ago, when my wife decided she was going to threaten a hayride actor with bodily harm if he so much as looked at her again, I decided that my days of scare-seeking were over — strictly for the physical safety of the young part-time actors attempting to scare my wife.

That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the season in other ways. I love my scary movies. Classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street are some of my favorites and are usually readily available for my viewing pleasure on AMC, SyFy, OnDemand, etc. Unfortunately, these fright fest marathons seem to have lost some steam in recent years and are now just getting started, halfway through October. And some of these channels don’t really seem to know what horror is. Tremors? Aliens? Lake Placid? Come on!

When it comes to music, I always loved the shock-and-awe showmanship of Alice Cooper. Smoke, snakes and blood — all brought to you by the boogeyman. I must admit when Marilyn Manson took that persona, added a bit of the gore from the Saw movies with a dash of Evil Dead and serial killer lore, I was interested for a quick minute. But I never thought one of my favorite Halloween records would come from a genuine, certified Hollywood heartthrob.

Dead Man’s Bones was a collaboration between actors Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Driver, Blue Valentine, Lars and the Real Girl) and Zach Shields. In 2009, the duo released their self-titled debut album, Dead Man’s Bones. (Initially, the album was titled Never Let a Lack of Talent Get You Down, which I like much better.)

The two decided to involve a children’s choir in Dead Man’s Bones from the very beginning. The pair recruited a choir from the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a Los Angeles music education facility cofounded by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea. The choir members’ ages ranged from five to 17. The chorus adds yet another creepish layer to songs like “In the Room Where You Sleep,” “Buried in Water,” “My Body’s a Zombie for You,” and “ Flowers Grow Out of My Grave.” Other tracks on the record include the spoken word “Intro,” the cinematic build of “Dead Hearts,” and the indie-rocking groove number “Pa Pa Power.”

The duo has been silent since, leaving fans behind with little hope of hearing another record or the possibility of another live show.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think … if you dare.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Dead Man’s Bones Dead Man’s Bones (ANTI) 2009.
Editor Tom Graham is a musician and singer/songwriter rooted in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Send email to tgraham@timesshamrock.com.

Headphones: Oct. 9, 2014

Headphones: Oct. 9, 2014

Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham
Conference Time
The inaugural Electric City Music Conference takes place this weekend at multiple venues in Scranton, as well as Olyphant’s Thirst T’s Bar and Grill. The conference kicks off Friday, Oct. 10 at the V Spot, 906 Providence Rd., Scranton, with the Steamtown Music Awards. The award ceremony recognizes bands and individual players nominated in 15 different categories. Admission to the awards event is $5 (free to nominees) and includes performances by Graces Downfall, Gino Lispi, Jenn Johnson, Chris Fields, Brandon Stuch, Esta Coda and Family Animals.
During the conference, 146 acts will perform in multiple venues. Included in the roster lineup are some of the most popular bands in the area, as well as a number of national and regional acts. Venues participating in the conference are: The V Spot, Thirst T’s, Irish Wolf Pub, Twentyfiveeight Studios, Kildare’s Irish Pub, The New Penny, Mulligan’s, The Leonard, O’Leary’s Pub, The Keys,The Bog, The Backyard Ale House, Traxx and AFA Gallery.
The weekend also features a class by guitarist Charles Russello of the Russello Project and another by drummer Carl Canedy. Panels will also take place focusing on the following topics: music journalism; making the most of a music festival/conference; how to properly promote your band, what can a record label do for me?; and meet the booking agents.
Admission to each individual show is $5, while the conference’s hopper pass will get you into all of the shows for $10. For a complete conference schedule and more information, visit electriccitymusicconference.com.

Elijah Ford

Elijah Ford

Ford Tough
Guitarist Marc Ford brings his son Elijah Ford to the 570 for a night of music at Bart & Urby’s, 119 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre. Local acts MiZ, George Wesley and Justin Mazer are also set to perform. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $8 or $5 with a student ID.
Marc Ford is touring in support of his latest record, the Americana influenced Holy Ghost. Ford is known for his wide variety of musical projects, including: lead guitarist with the Black Crowes; at the helm of his own bands, such as the Neptune Blues Club and the Sinners; records and/or tours by acts from Govt. Mule, Izzy Stradlin, Booker T and Ben Harper; and as the producer of choice for artists such Ryan Bingham and Phantom Limb.
He will be visiting town with his son, Austin-based Elijah Ford. Ford put out his first solo record Upon Waking in 2011 and the EP Ashes in October of 2012. Elijah toured as part of Ford Sr’s Fuzz Machine at the age of 17 before getting the gig touring with Ryan Bingham until 2012.
Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Larry and His Flask All That We Know (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club) 2011.
Editor Tom Graham is a musician and singer/songwriter rooted in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Send email to tgraham@timesshamrock.com.



Dustin Douglas celebrates new CD with a special release concert in the 570.


Singer/songwriter/guitarist Dustin Douglas is no stranger to the local music scene. After years of playing in the successful power trio Lemongelli, Douglas moved on to play numerous solo shows, duos, guitar for The Badlees and front his new project, Dustin Douglas and The Electric Gentlemen. Douglas will release his debut solo album Black Skies and Starlight with a special CD release show at the River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains, on Saturday, Oct. 4.
We caught up with Douglas and he told us about writing Black Skies and Starlight, his thoughts on the state of the local music scene and what to expect to see at the CD release party.

When did you decide it was time to move away from Lemongelli and focus on Dustin Douglas and the Electric Gentlemen?
It kind of was a choice made by the universe. A few years ago, after Lemongelli was winding down after supporting our record Vintage Vibes, I got the call to play guitar for The Badlees. Around that same time, Lemongelli’s bassist Jay was getting married, starting a family and all of our lives just started to go in different directions. I still love both Jamey and Jay to death. Maybe someday the three of us could do a Lemongelli show for old times’ sake. I’d love that.

EC02DUSTIN_4_WEBTalk about the writing process.
For me it just comes randomly. If I allot time to write, I’ll stare at the wall and come up empty. If it’s 10 minutes before going out for dinner, it’ll strike. Then I record the idea on my trusty iPhone and wind up being late for dinner. After some time, I’ll sift through all the fragments of riffs, choruses and melody ideas. I write a lot. Sometimes its overwhelming to organize.

Were all of the songs written specifically for this project or did you revisit songs from the past?
Pretty much everything was fresh. I like a record to reflect where I am at the moment. The song “In This to Win” was around in the Lemongelli days but never came to fruition.

Describe working with the band, whether it be in the studio or live setting?  
My great friends — Paul Young and Tommy Smallcomb — played on the record and jammed these tunes for months. Hats off to those guys because they absolutely killed these tracks. Then the live band (The Electric Gentlemen) is three completely different, killer cats who I admire as players and people. Josh Karis is on drums, Matt Gabriel is on bass and badass Justin Mazer on guitar. I am so thankful to have had the pleasure to work with such great guys and players for this recording process.

Was the River Street Jazz Cafe a no-brainer when it came time to have a CD release party?
In planning the release show, a few different venues were on the table. It’s sad how little venues there are to throw such an event these days. The Jazz Cafe is such a great room and just installed a killer new sound system. It’s kind of full circle for me because my first time playing guitar live on stage was at the Jazz Cafe as a very young pup.

Talk about some of your personal highlights on the new record?
For me this record was all about the songs. I learned a lot about songwriting from my tenure in The Badlees. Bret Alexander can write a tune — it’s no secret. Don’t get me wrong, I love ripping a killer solo, but songwriting for me is now my vice. When I wrote “Another Day in Disarray” for this new record, I knew I had something special. It just had a different vibe than anything I’ve ever written. I could talk about these new eight tracks for days.

What do you have planned next?
As much promotion and playing to get the word out about this new band and this new record. I want to play everywhere and for anyone who will listen. We’re going to build our following one person at a time. That’s all a musician can do anymore. Establishing a sustaining brand of great performances and killer tunes is the big picture for me. I’m already excited about recording the follow up. This is just the beginning for me and this new band.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the local music scene?
I honestly feel it’s on the rise. There’s some great things happening in both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre which is always a good, inspiring sign. Down to Six, Gentleman East, Suze, Graces Downfall — there are killer bands out there creating all different vibes of great music. Only the fans and the crowds have the ability to take it to the next level. Big crowds sustain the scene and a band’s career and longevity. It’s in their hands.

You play shows solo, with duos and full bands. Do you approach the shows differently?
I do. The solo gigs are a great opportunity to try out new tunes — either cover or original. Duo gigs are fun because they’re usually unrehearsed, forcing the players to be on their toes. I’ve played some great, exciting duo shows. The band situation is rehearsed and organized yet equally as exciting. I love it all. I just want to play.

What are you currently listening to?
I pretty much wore out AM by the Arctic Monkeys and Lazaretto by Jack White. Tom Petty’s Hypnotic Eye is currently being abused. I just saw Petty and the Heartbreakers a few weeks ago with my dad. They’re just the best American rock and roll band. The Band has also been in heavy rotation lately.

Where do you see yourself and your music in five years?
Hands down — playing music full time and, most importantly, writing tons of music all day and playing all the time. What is better than making a living, traveling, all while playing and writing music? Nothing.

You’re known as a fantastic and versatile guitarist. What is your favorite guitar you own and why?
Ah man, now we’re talking! Anyone who really knows me knows I’m quite the gear purchaser. I just love guitars and amps. My Jerry Donahue Japanese Telecaster I bought with my 8th grade graduation money is still my No. 1. I have some great guitars, but you could throw that thing off a bridge then pick it up and it’d be in tune and somehow sound better. That and my OOO-C Martin are like family to me. But my other weapons aren’t too shabby either.

If you could swap solos with any guitarist, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you play?
That’s one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked! It’s a rough one to narrow down, but Jimmy Page and myself trading off bars on say, “You Shook Me” would be quite exciting for me. Mike Campbell too. The greatest thing with swapping solos is you feed of the intensity of your “opponent.” The better they are, the better you play! But there are so many. Hell, I’d love to swap solos with anyone.

What can fans expect to see at the record release party at the Jazz Cafe?
I just want it to feel like a concert in a club— a performance that can be larger, but is contained and ready to burst. Can you imagine seeing the Stones in a smokey club or Zep at the BBC. It would be intense! Pure rock n’ roll. That’s all I could ever hope for my shows to even come close to feeling like.
— tom graham

Back at it with Breaking Benjamin

Back at it with Breaking Benjamin

Breaking Benjamin took the stage in northeastern Pennsylvania for the first time since 2010 last Friday night at the first of two sold-out shows at the Gator Pub in Luzerne (formerly Brews Brothers West and The VooDoo Lounge). The Wilkes-Barre based band who recently re-formed with a new lineup — including Shaun Foist, Aaron Bruch, Jasen Rauch and KJ Wallen — backing frontman Ben Burnley.
The band played a powerful set to its 700 plus fans in attendance, including songs “So Cold,” “Follow,” “Unknown Soldier,” “Break My Fall,” “Simple Design,” “Blow Me Away,” “Saturate,” “Water,” “Natural Life,” “Polyamorous,” “Give Me A Sign,” “Home,” “Shallow Bay,” “Breath,” “I Will Not Bow” and “Until the End”.
It’s not known whether the band is releasing new material anytime soon, but look for updates at shallowbay.com and facebook.com/BreakingBenjamin for breaking news on Breaking Ben.


PHOTOS BY Jesse Faatz



Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham


The Apple of My Eye and the U2 in My
Personal space

At least it’s not a free @Fergie record lurking inside your device. #itcouldbeworse #freeU2

U2’s Bono is a charitable man. Over the years, he’s lent his support to causes such as Amnesty International, Chernobyl Children International, Clinton Global Initiative, Every Mother Counts, Food Bank For New York City, Global Fund, Greenpeace, Keep A Child Alive, Live 8, MusiCares, NAACP, Not On Our Watch, ONE Campaign, Oxfam, (RED), Red Cross and War Child, just to name a few.
But the man who puts so much of his time and effort into impacting the lives of others may have overstepped his rock star boundaries earlier this month by inserting himself and his band of Irish brothers into your Apple device, all without your much-needed consent.
On Sept. 9, Apple inserted the band’s Songs of Innocence into the online accounts of half a billion iTunes users. Like most, I really would have preferred being able to choose whether or not to add the new record to my account. Instead, it automatically shimmied its way into my library without my permission. To say the least, people were not too happy with the stunt.
Are we so jaded as a society that we don’t even like free stuff anymore ?
Is music still valuable and do you expect to pay for it?
Is the music industry so damaged that they can’t even give away music theses days?
This whole debacle comes down to the power of choice. People didn’t choose to give up their own assumed personal space (iPhone or iPad storage) for U2 to simply mosey on in and put their digital feet on the coffee table.
The biggest problem I see is that Apple made a very personal choice for us. They decided that U2 was exactly what we needed and most people would be pretty pumped about a new free album. It’s like going home, opening your closet and finding that Apple has decided to equip you with 30 neon-colored Bananarama T-shirts when you really would have preferred more flannel prints and durable denim.
I made the joke earlier that it could be worse — at least it wasn’t a new Fergie record. I only use Fergie as an example because she annoys me and I would never want one of her records eating up my storage, but the point isn’t about the artist in the crosshairs. It’s about the choice that was made for us.
Wouldn’t it have been better for Apple to provide its users a credit on their account so they could actually choose music, movies or apps they wanted in their lives?
Was Apple prepared for the U2 backlash? It sure doesn’t seem like the thought even crossed the company’s mind as it was forced to quickly come up with a way to remove the unwanted album from our devices.
Now, who’s going to come over to my place and get rid of these Bananarama shirts?

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: David Garza Overdub (Atlantic) 2001

P.S. I like U2, but Songs of Innocence is not a great U2 record. I don’t blame the band for taking a huge iCheck from Apple and setting it “free.”


Editor Tom Graham is a musician and singer/songwriter rooted in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Send email to tgraham@timesshamrock.com


Although it may be finally time for us to pack away our grilling utensils, deck furniture, inflatable pools and party jorts, it doesn’t mean that we have to mope sadly into the last chilly quarter of 2014. Luckily for our readers, voting for the electric city and diamond city Best Of 2014 awards will soon be heating up the online polls.
A tradition that began in the 90s, last year’s voting shattered previous campaigns as thousands of electric city and diamond city readers flooded the web. Voters cast their ballots for favorites within nine specific categories: Love and Romance, Eats and Drinks, Goods and Services, Arts and Entertainment, Nightlife, Media, Health and Recreation and Superstars. We also included a short Survey Says category to further pick the brains of our loyal readers (you hated twerking and blasted the government shutdown).
New this year, we will feature a number of voting updates — letting you know who may be running away from the pack or involved in a tightly contested race to the finish.
Will your favorite local group win Best Local Band in DC? Will there be a new Best Bartender in EC? Have your feelings changed about twerking? Who truly has the best wings in The 570?
Once again, you’ll have a chance to pick the winners during the electric city and diamond city Best Of 2014 voting. Keep your eyes peeled for more information as voting kicks off very soon.
— tom graham



Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham


Ben is Back
It was announced earlier this week that the newly realigned Breaking Benjamin will play two all-ages shows this weekend. On Friday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 20, the band returns to the stage of Gator’s Pub and Eatery (formerly Brews Brothers West/VooDoo Lounge), 75 Main St., Luzerne. The band recently announced its new lineup including founder Ben Burnley and new members Shaun Foist, Aaron Bruch, Jasen Rauch and KJ Wallen. Breaking Benjamin went on hiatus in 2010 citing Burnley’s heath concerns. Burnley has since been involved in a legal battle with former bassist Mark Klepaski and guitarist Aaron Fink over the rights to the band’s name. Both Klepaski, Fink and former drummer Chad Szeliga have kept very active within the local music scene since the band’s hiatus and breakup.
Tickets are very limited and are on sale now through the links below. Tickets are $35, only available in advance and limited to 700 per night. Tickets are available through Ticketfly (Friday ticketfly.com/purchase/event/685837 and Saturday at ticketfly.com/purchase/event/686829.

The Kings
Dragster Motor Kings celebrated the release of its new record with a special in-store performance at Joe Nardone’s Gallery Of Sound, Mundy Street, Wilkes-Barre. The band consists of Bill Lieback on vocals/drums and Eric Ritter on guitars, both formerly of local act, NewPastLife. All songs on the Dragster Motor Kings EP were written by Lieback and recorded at Windmill Agency Recording Studio in Mt. Cobb. Songs included on the debut include “Feels So Good,” “Morning Is Beautiful, “Bury Your Soul” and “Piggy.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/dragstermotorkings or dragstermotorkings.com.

A Crusade
An event in memory of Kathleen Cavanaugh Talerico, who died in January 2014 after falling victim to domestic violence, Kathleen’s Crusade takes place this Sunday, Sept. 21, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Radisson at Lackawanna Station Hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton. Admission to the event is $20, with all proceeds benefitting the Women’s Resource Center in honor of Talerico. The day features music from EJ the DJ and a photobooth provided by Mike Walton Productions.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: My Brightest Diamond This Is My Hand (Paper Bag/Asthmatic Kitty) 2014