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A lot of Fight
In celebration of Title Fight’s new record, Hyperview, the Kingston punk-rock outfit are set to perform a toned-down set at Joe Nardone’s Gallery of Sound, 186 Mundy St., Wilkes-Barre, on Tuesday, Feb. 3. By pre-ordering the new CD ($9.99) or vinyl ($17.99, black) through the Gallery of Sound in-store or online, attendees will receive a wristband for guaranteed entry to the show. Space is limited and pre-orders are encouraged. Items will be available for pickup all day at the Mundy Street store.
Title Fight is comprised of bassist/vocalist Ned Russin, guitarist/vocalist Jamie Rhoden, guitarist Shane Moran and drummer Ben Russin.
Hyperview is Title Fight’s third album and inaugural with record label Anti- (Wilco, The Balck Keys, Mavis Staples). Recorded in the summer of 2014, Hyperview features tracks such as: “Murder Your Memory,” “Chlorine,” “Hypernight,” “Mrahc,” “Your Pain Is Mine Now,” “Rose of Sharon,” “Trace Me Onto,” “You,” “Liar’s Love,” “Dizzy” and “New Vision.”
Previous releases from Title Fight include their first full-length Shed (2011), Floral Green (2012) and Spring Songs EP (2013). Title Fight has been featured on numerous festivals like Chaos in Tejas, FYF Fest, Warped Tour, Riot Fest and Coachella. For more information, visit titlefight.tumblr.com or facebook.com/titlefight.

Give Me some Space
Greetings Scrantonians! Brian Langan and Conor McGuigan, the dynamic and dancing duo behind the Panked! dance parties, are ready get the dance floor full of cosmic sweat and out-of-this-word dance moves. Space Age Panked! takes place this Thursday, Jan. 29, at The Bog, 341 Adams Ave., Scranton. The event kicks off at 9 p.m. Robots are also welcome. As usual, there will be unique prizes and drink specials.
For more information, visit facebook.com/panked.danceparty.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Primus They Can’t All Be Zingers (Interscope Records) 2006.

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Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham

 

Concerts: Church, Horror Metal and The Dead
• Country crooner Eric Church brings “The Outsiders World Tour” to Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre on Friday, March 13. Tickets go on sale this Friday, Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. at the box office at Mohegan Sun Arena and ticketmaster.com. Drive-By Truckers are slated to open the show.
Church’s current album, The Outsiders, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and the Billboard Country Albums Chart earlier this year, featuring his No. 1 hit “Give Me Back My Hometown” and his current single “Talladega.” The Outsiders is the follow-up to Church’s Platinum-certified album Chief, (named the 2012 Album of the Year by both CMA and ACM, and GRAMMY-nominated for Best Country Album).
To learn more about Eric Church, visit ericchurch.com and facebook.com/ericchurch.
• Slipknot announced its “Prepare for Hell” world tour, featuring special guests Hatebreed, which features a stop at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton on Wednesday, May 13 at 8 p.m.
Tickets go on sale this Friday, Jan. 23 at 10 a.m., while presales are available now via slipknot1.com.
Slipknot will headline several major festivals this year, including Florida’s Fort Rock, Welcome to Rockville, Carolina Rebellion, Northern Invasion and Rock on the Range.
The “Prepare for Hell” tour follows last year’s release of .5: The Gray Chapter, Slipknot’s fifth studio album and first since 2008’s RIAA platinum certified chart-topper “All Hope Is Gone.” The album made a stunning chart debut upon its October arrival, entering the SoundScan/Billboard 200 chart at No. 1
The album was No. 1 on both Revolver’s “20 Best Albums of 2014” and Guitar World’s “50 Best Albums of 2014” rankings, while also earning inclusion on Rolling Stone and Loudwire’s “20 Best Metal Albums of 2014” rankings.
• To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir will reunite at Chicago’s Soldier Field, nearly 20 years to the day of the last-ever Grateful Dead concert, which took place at the same venue. “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” takes place over three nights — July 3, 4 and 5, 2015 — and marks the original members’ last-ever performance together. The band will be joined by Trey Anastasio (Guitar), Jeff Chimenti (Keyboards) and Bruce Hornsby (Piano) and will perform two sets of music each night.
In the tradition of the original Grateful Dead Ticketing Service (gdtstoo.com), tickets are now available via a mail order system, followed by an online pre-sale through Dead Online Ticketing Feb. 12 and will be available online to the general public on Feb. 14 via Ticketmaster.
There will be a general admission pit directly in front of the stage ($99.50). Reserved tickets range from $59.50-$199.50.
The Grateful Dead are considered one of the most important bands of the psychedelic era and among the most groundbreaking acts in rock and roll history.
The 1995 death of band leader Jerry Garcia abruptly put an end to the Grateful Dead, though various members subsequently regrouped as the Other Ones, The Dead and Furthur.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Ben Howard I Forget Where We Were (Republic) 2014.

Headphones: Jan. 15, 2015

This is just a Tribute

 
Tribute bands are on the rise and it looks like they are here to stay. After reading this week’s piece on The Idol Kings, a Journey/Mellencamp/Tom Petty tribute act set to play the Scranton Cultural Center, and seeing photos of the Neil Diamond tribute last weekend at River Street Jazz Cafe, the wheels inside my noggin started turning at an ever-increasing rate. Our area already has a celebrated Tom Petty tribute act (The Tom Petty Appreciation Band) which doesn’t incorporate look-a-like shtick or wigs. They play the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with a few more random gems thrown into to the mix. Journey just played The Pavilion at Montage Mountain last summer to a packed house.
 
Do we really need another tribute act?
The 570 has also seen more than one Pearl Jam tribute act pop up in the last few months. I don’t know if bands see tribute acts as an easy way to play bigger rooms and receive bigger paychecks, or if they really love the targeted artist so much, they want to “BE” them.
I do know that if I had my way, we would be able to go out and see the following tribute acts every weekend in our area — with massive amounts of tongue-in-cheek shtick included.
 
The White Stripes
Suggested tribute act name:

Fake Brother-Sister Love
Tips: Everything from the guitars to the drums should be white-and-red swirled. Must have black hair. Drummer must be female (absolutely no exception) and look utterly bored at all times.
 
Misfits
Suggested tribute act name:

Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight
Tips: A lot of black clothes and make-up. Must have plenty of stamina and must know how to count to three really, really fast.
 
R.E.M.
Suggested tribute act name:

Automatic for the People
Gear needed: Band should consist of an animated lead singer, a guitar player with a Rickenbacker, a drummer with caterpillars for eyebrows and a bass player who could double for a kindergarten teacher.
 
GWAR
Suggested tribute act name:

Catch the Blood
Tips: Must have access to a spaceship and drugs.
 
The Kinks
Suggested tribute act name:

Kinks in the Amour
Tips: The Davies brothers come alive in this show which must feature onstage animosity and copious amounts of verbal jabs.
 
Ike and Tina
Suggested tribute act name:

Proud Mary and Steve
Tips: Tina must be a ringer. Ike can be anyone, but I would prefer if he looks something like Mr. Magoo to achieve the ultimate dramatic contrast.
 
Tenacious D
Suggested tribute act name: Rigg-a-doo

Tips: Two dudes and two guitars. One guitarist has to be able to carry the entire duo.
 
Rush/ZZ Top
Suggested tribute act name: YYZZ Top

Tips: Three beards, a drummer, a bassist that sings like a coyote in heat and a mute guitarist. And lasers. Lots of lasers.
 
The Cure
Suggested tribute act name:

Running Mascara
Tips: Black. A whole lotta black.
 
Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: The Decemberists What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World (Capitol) 2015.
 
Editor Tom Graham is a musician and singer/songwriter rooted in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Send email to: tgraham@timesshamrock.com.

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Assorted declarations from Editor Tom Graham

 

Lonely Songs re-released
An Autumn Sunrise is musical project of local musician Bryan Brophy. To date, Brophy has released three albums under the moniker — When Words Speak Louder Than Actions, Songs for a Lonely Night (acoustic) and Look Toward Tomorrow.
Brophy is reissuing his acoustic album, Songs For A Lonely Night, on Jan. 20 with the addition of bonus material and brand new cover art. He is currently taking pre-orders for the album on An Autumn Sunrise’s Bandcamp Site.
Brophy, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, provides all of the guitars, keyboards, piano, percussion and vocals on Songs, as well as on all of his other albums. All of the music was recorded in Bryan’s home studio in his parent’s basement in 2009 (except for the live tracks). Several tracks were engineered, mixed and mastered by Brophy, while several other tracks were mixed and mastered by Chris Hludzik. Several tracks were also mastered by Tom Borthwick from SI Studios in Old Forge.
An intimate acoustic show will be announced soon to celebrate the album’s release. Plans are also in the works for the release of a brand new full length album sometime next year.
To find out more about An Autumn Sunrise, visit anautumnsunrise.bandcamp.com.
If you pre-order Songs for a Lonely Night, you will be able to instantly download four tracks from the album.

Festival Season is coming
Coachella 2015 — held in Indio, California in April — just announced it’s lineup. The unofficial start to the summer festival season boasts performances by AC/DC, Tame Impala, Interpol, Steely Dan, Alesso, Alabama Shakes, Jack White, Alt-J, Belle and Sebastian, Ratatat, Hozier, Flosstradamus, Bad Religion, Father John Misty, Drake, Florence + the Machine, Ryan Adams, St. Vincent and much more.
Hopefully, this means we will be getting the festival lineups for local festivals like Peach Music Festival, The Susquehanna Breakdown and the ever-popular Vans Warped Tour very soon.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Josh Rouse The Best of the Rykodisc Years

 

 

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Assorted declarations from Editor Tom Graham

 

Docs that Roc
I’ll be looking at some much-needed downtime in January. Although my days will be peppered with dog walks and guitar cleaning, I recently re-upped my Netflix account for one reason and one reason only: music documentaries. As a devout fan of music docs, here are some of my favorites — some of which you can still stream on Netflix. To see some others, you may have to do some searching.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston
The film tells the story of Daniel Johnston, a mentally ill singer/songwriter whose music has been recorded by Beck, Wilco, Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam. Diagnosed with manic depression complicated by delusions of grandeur, Daniel battles the illness for decades — all while achieving great musical success and trying to stay out of mental hospitals. The film weaves his remarkable story through home movies, interviews, archived music tapes and live performance footage.

EC01HEAD_1_WEBI Think We’re Alone Now
I Think We’re Alone Now is a documentary that focuses on two individuals, Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick, who claim they adore ’80s pop singer Tiffany.
Turner, a 50-year-old man with Asperger’s syndrome, lives his life as Tiffany’s greatest fan, while 35-year-old McCormick claims to have been friends with Tiffany as a teenager. She credits Tiffany as “the shining star who has motivated her to do everything in her life.” Both are considered stalkers by the media and other Tiffany fans. The doc takes a look into the strange lives of these two somewhat lost souls.

The History of the Eagles
Featuring rare archival material, concert footage and unseen home movies explore the rise, fall and return of one of America’s favorite bands.
The documentary features in-depth interviews with Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit.

Shut Up and Play the Hits
Shut Up and Play the Hits is a 2012 documentary film that follows LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy over a 48-hour period, from the day of the band’s final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after the show. Live performances feature Reggie Watts and Arcade Fire (the film’s title is a reference to the moment Win Butler of Arcade Fire shouts “shut up and play the hits” as Murphy introduces the song).
A complete audio recording of this concert was released in April, entitled The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden.

Beware of Mr. Baker
Best known for his work with Eric Clapton in Cream and Blind Faith, Ginger Baker has seen a bunch. The doc tells the story of Baker’s pattern of divorces, self-destruction and music. Chain smoking and on morphine, the 73-year-old reflects back on his life as we watch. In his own words, “God is punishing me for my past wickedness by keeping me alive and in as much pain as he can. I wasn’t planning on living this long!”

Use Your Van – Mason Jennings
Independent musician Mason Jennings brings cameras into the studio and onto the stage following the singer’s 11-month journey to bring his music to his fans. Concert performance footage features over a dozen songs including “Butterfly,” “Lonely Computer Screen,” “Fourteen Pictures” and “Killer’s Creek.”

Amaray Wrap.EPSLast Days Here
Bobby Liebling has spent more than 36 years as the lead singer of the band Pentagram. Broke and living for decades in his parents’ basement, Liebling is finally discovered by the heavy metal underground. With the help of Sean ‘Pellet’ Pelletier, his friend and manager, Bobby struggles to overcome his demons.

Glenn Tilbrook – One for the Road
This film follows a 2001 solo American tour by Glenn Tilbrook, lead singer of British new wave group Squeeze. One for the Road shows Tilbrook attempting a month-long US tour using an old mobile home instead of a tour bus and hotels. The film focuses on Tilbrook’s fantastic personality as he wows crowds and battles vehicle breakdowns. The film features Tilbrook performing “Tempted,” “Hourglass,” “Take Me I’m Yours,” “Up the Junction,” “Goodbye Girl” and “By The Light of the Cash Machine.”

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?
The doc follows Harry Nilsson from childhood to death, chronicling the highs and lows along with him, from Grammy wins through divorce and substance abuse.
The film features original interviews Micky Dolenz, Eric Idle, Randy Newman, Yoko Ono, Paul Williams, Robin Williams, Brian Wilson and The Smothers Brothers. Also included are interviews with Nilsson’s family, including his wives and children.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid (Geffen Records) 2008.

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Jam in the Burg
Electronica jam band Dopapod is celebrating the arrival of a new record with a show at The Sherman Theater, 524 Main St. Stroudsburg, on Tuesday, Dec. 30. Local act Rogue Chimp opens the show along with Native Maze. Tickets to the all ages show are $10 in advance, $13 at the door.
The band’s sound is as varied and diverse as the many influences the band attributes. The band’s fourth album, Never Odd or Even is the quartet’s most fully realized work to date. The new songs attempt to embody the energy and cohesion the members of Dopapod have developed from playing live as well as an increasing comfort and familiarity while in the studio.
“The Never Odd or Even sessions cultivated a serious growth in the band’s creativity,” explains guitarist Rob Compa. “Each person stepped up to the plate and put out great creativity and passionate playing, while inspiring everybody else involved in the project to do the same.”
Dopapod has appeared at larger-scale music festivals such as Bonnaroo, Burning Man, Camp Bisco, Mountain Jam, Gathering Of the Vibes, Catskill Chill, Bear Creek, The Big Up, Rootwire and more. Dopapod is Eli Winderman (keyboards), Rob Compa (guitar), Chuck Jones (bass) and Scotty Zwang (drums).
For more information, visit dopapod.com.

 

New Tunes
2015 is looking to be yet anther exciting year for new music. Whether you’re streaming new release, downloading or purchasing hard copies, here’s a few releases I’m looking forward to in January 2015.

Sleater-Kinney
No Cities To Love
They’re back with the band’s first album in 10 years. Carrie Brownstein has been busy with the recent success of Portlandia and Janet Weiss formed Wild Flag, a rocking act in its own regard. Throw Corin Tucker into the mix and we have Sleater-Kinney once again. They’ll be touring in 2015 as well.

Belle & Sebastian
Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
It’s been five years since a new album from B&S, but the band is back with record No. nine. According to the band’s record label Matador, “the band — who have been listening to things like vintage Detroit techno and Giorgio Moroder — have brought a dance-party element (and a disco song about Sylvia Plath) into their gorgeous tales of sensitive souls navigating a world gone awry.” Sign me up.

Marilyn Manson
The Pale Emperor
2015 needs more shock-rock, right? Manson releases The Pale Emperor, his ninth studio album, after a successful run on the final season of FX’s Sons of Anarchy.

Justin Townes Earle
Absent Fathers
This record might be the one I’m looking forward to the most. Earle returns with more songs about god ol’ heartbreak and struggle with everyday life. What more can you ask for?

Panda Bear Panda
Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
The eagerly-anticipated follow-up to 2011’s Tomboy is one of the first to drop in the new year. Not much is know about the new record, but in a recent interview, the word “sci-fi” was dropped more than a few times.

The Decemberists
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World serves as The Decemberists’ seventh studio album and the follow-up to 2011’s The King Is Dead. The record features lead single “Make You Better.”  With lyrics like But we’re not so starry-eyed anymore /Like the perfect paramour you were in your letters / And won’t it all just come around to make you / Let it all unbreak you to the day you met her, I already pre-ordered this gem.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Possessed by Paul James There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely  (Hillgrass Bluebilly Records) 2013.

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Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham

 

Spotified
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.

Bashing
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

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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

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!

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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.

HEADPHONES

HEADPHONES

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

Headphones

Headphones

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

Headphones

Headphones

HEADPHONES
assorted declarations from editor tom graham

 

Vote for Your Favorites
Voting has begun for the inaugural Steamtown Music Awards, taking place Friday, Oct. 10 at the V Spot ( 906 Providence Road, Scranton) and will serve as the kickoff event for the 2014 Electric City Music Conference’s weekend of activities. The purpose of the awards event is to honor the region’s musicians and provide a night where local musicians can appreciate each other and network. The event will feature a red carpet walk, pictures, performances, awards and an after party set by Heavy Blonde.
A six-person committee has been assembled and will cast their votes for each category. The public can also vote now online at electriccitymusicconference.com. The public votes total will be equal to one vote from the committee. The committee consists of Jesse Vipond (formerly of The Can’t Help Its), Brad Beneski (former drummer of Pull the Pin), Mike Lello (Highway 81 Revisited), Jenn Sekelsky (The Keys), Mark Dennebaum (25/8 Productions) and Joe Caviston (Electric City Music Conference).
The award ceremony is free to all nominees and $5 for the public.

Blow Me a Kiss
Rock and Roll Hall of famers — and my least favorite band in the world—  KISS “rock and roll all nite” at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain this Saturday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. British rock legends Def Leppard are also on the bill.
Formed in 1973, KISS is best known for their wild stage show theatrics, spitting blood, pyrotechnics and plenty of make-up. The band, with only founding members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons remaining, are sure to deliver their classic rock hits such as “Detroit Rock City,” “Hard Luck Woman,” “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “Shout It Out Loud (live ‘96).”  The band last played the area in 2012 with Motley Crue.
Tickets are $50.85 to $208, available at the box office, online and at Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 800-745-3000.

The Great Blues Sky
Mountain Sky, 63 Stillmeadow Ln., Jermyn,  hosts Clarence Spady’s second annual Blues Festival this weekend, Aug. 8 and 9. Friday’s bands include Joe Kopicki Band, The Merchants Of Groove, Bushmaster Featuring Gary Brown and Preach Freedom & Connect. Saturday’s performers are Friends Of The Family, James Dalton, The Cinder Brothers, Phyllis Hopkins Band, Clarence Spady Band and Moodswing featuring Rahboo Sabb. Tickets are $35 dollars in advance, $45 day of the show. All tickets include free onsite camping. Kids under the age of 12 are free, and pets are welcome. There will also be a community fire pit and food and craft vendors. For more information, visit mountainsky.net.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Ray LaMontagne Supernova (RCA) 2014