Weekend of local rock volume 63

November 2, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off 

Unlike its younger brother the Good Beer Festival, this year the Autumn Wine Festival had more local bands – and arguably more rock – than the GBF. It is also much easier to compile this summary, as the AWF only had one stage and just three bands daily, as the photo below will show.

One other advantage to this system was that we could hear all the bands. So we could attest that the Soulful Tones Band indeed lived up to its name, with a heavy emphasis on that musical style.

As I noted in volume 62, Such Fools played both the GBF and AWF with a unique blend of instruments.

But Anything Goes did its usual outstanding job of closing Saturday’s festivities with a cornucopia of classics. It was strange being done while it was still light out, though.

On Sunday morning, well before the advertised 11 a.m. opening, the traditional Backfin Banjo Band got things underway. And when I say traditional, I don’t just mean they always seem to be the Sunday morning staple at the AWF.

So when Picnic took the stage, it reminded me that fully half the groups also played the AWF last year. In fact, Picnic played in the same slot, too.

But what was needed on a chilly, windy afternoon was someone to get the crowd moving and On The Edge was just the ticket.

Yet there’s even a political side to this post. Near the end of their set the band introduced “our Senator” Jim Mathias, a politician the OTE lead singer enthusiastically endorsed from the stage. (If Jim was there, he didn’t stop by our space.) Obviously Mathias is a familiar figure in Ocean City, where OTE frequently plays.

As I suggested in my initial report on the AWF, I think a two-stage system is in order for this event. Not only would it move the crowd around a little for the vendors, but it would enable more bands to play for the generally larger crowd – try as it might, the Good Beer Festival hasn’t caught up to the Autumn Wine Festival yet. Since the participants in the AWF are generally the same because it’s a Maryland wine festival, there may need to be an additional entertainment option to promote further growth in the event.

That’s my two cents, anyway.

Weekend of local rock volume 62

October 19, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · 1 Comment 

This year’s Good Beer Festival entertainment lineup featured an eclectic collection of bands, so let’s take a look.

One thing I should caution you about: my reviews of the bands are somewhat limited because I was actually working during the time, and I really couldn’t hear much from the main stage. On the other hand, I have more of an idea what was going on at the bar stage. Here’s the lineup.

It meant GBF veteran John Emil Montagino and his unique bluesy guitar got the proceedings underway.

There was a lot of jamming during the set, the mournful guitar matching the dreary day. On the other side of the festival they were getting ready to use this bass.

It belongs to Cool Hand and the Swagger, who opened up the main stage.

Back at the bar stage, it was the acoustic stylings of Lauren Ventura, who had a more conventional guitar and country influence.

Children of a Vivid Eden performed next on the main stage. I think they were here last year as well.

Things got funky on our bar stage end when Uprizing took the stage. Anyone like to twerk for a shirt? They were asking, but I wasn’t taking those photos.

As you can tell, it was lightly raining at the time but they had energy to spare.

The final band of Saturday was The Stickers. From what I gathered they were a country-rock band, but overall I couldn’t really tell from my distant vantage point.

Generally the band which plays last on Saturday is the biggest name draw, as they try and select an up-and-coming artist. In this case, the Pennsylvania-based band has made some impact on the country scene. But there weren’t a huge number of people left around to see them on a chilly, drizzly day.

Sunday began with Landing Mary, which did a great job of constantly re-introducing themselves (which made sense, as people were arriving as they were playing) and noting they were proud enough of their home state to use it in their name. The music wasn’t half-bad either, sort of a 90s alternative groove.

On the main stage to begin were Such Fools.

Since they also played the Autumn Wine Festival yesterday I can tell you they interpret classic songs in a unique fashion given their instrumentation.

Don Adler was the requisite second acoustic act on the bar stage.

What’s sort of sad is that he played nearby yet I really don’t recall a lot of it because I was moving around at the time. Apparently he’s a guitarist of some repute.

But I will tell you who sounded from our end like they were jamming, and that was Eastern Electric.

They were a bright spot to a dreary day, at least to the lady in the foreground who was dancing.

Wrapping up the bar stage for the GBF was the multi-instrumental duo of Smoking Flowers. Yes, she broke out the accordion.

And she can play guitar. And there was actual sunshine, too.

Another country-tinged act, they seemed to play best when she got behind the drums.

Finishing up the Good Beer Festival was perhaps the most eclectic band of the lot, Community Center.

Alas, what they played didn’t seem to hold the interest of a quickly dwindling crowd. But there’s always someone who enjoys the music.

This year the Good Beer Festival leaned heavily on a country sound, drawing some acts from Nashville itself while reserving the top billing for a regionally-known act. In many respects, my title is a misnomer because it wasn’t all that local and not much of it was rock.

It just didn’t seem to me that the musical selections were that great. I know most of the couple thousand who come to the GBF are really not there for the bands, but I think they have picked a lot better in years past. It wasn’t just the weather that was a disappointment.

Weekend of local rock volume 61

September 21, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

Delmarva Bike Week traditions are many: lots of bikes, loud pipes, and long nights in the local haunts and watering holes. But one tradition has a charitable side: each year the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition benefits from (Save the) Breast Fest, which this year marked its sixth anniversary.

As always there were raffles, drawings, and various people selling their wares to donate to the BreastFest cause, which has raised thousands of dollars over its run.

The lovely Iris pictured above is one of several volunteers who help the organizer, local musician, DJ, and breast cancer survivor Michele Hogsett.

Giving a big assist is her husband Jim, who emcees the event and helps with the details.

These bands and the sound man donated their time to the event. So how did they sound?

Leading off the classic rock fest was Front Page News, which got an A+ for expanding the stage.

Front Page News leaned on the older classics, although they threw a couple more recent ones in there. It was a good warmup and helped attract a crowd.

It was something Fuzzbox Piranha kept around as they kept the mainstream classics coming.

Then it was time for the ladies to hit the stage. Witches Brew has the distinction of playing all six editions of BreastFest. And if you weren’t aware of their presence, there’s just something about these guitars that say things will get a little heavier.

Obviously I’ve seen Susan and the boys enough to know most of their set pretty well, but they create a strong presence nonetheless. It’s not difficult with the songs they chose.

You’ve seen them here many times as Semiblind, but the recently-rechristened Something Grey took the fourth slot on the bill. They’ve been around long enough to know their audience, so the set was red meat classic rock punctuated with Jim’s guitar work.

We went back to a little harder edge with Chainbreak, although they had a fill-in drummer who incidentally is also a cancer survivor.

I think they were having a couple sound issues – “Flirtin’ With Disaster” was a mainly three-piece and I had a hard time hearing the lead guitar. It was better by the time they got to Led Zeppelin.

Finally, we got to Native Grave, who I really liked for one reason: they weren’t afraid to play a few originals. And yes, they were heavy because the guitarist is indeed the same one who plays for Witches Brew.

The true challenge for the 1 a.m. band is to keep the dwindling crowd there and Native Grave did a fine job in that regard – the place was still fairly crowded for last call.

Not only is the event a good way to raise awareness for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, but it seems to be holding its own as far as an attraction for the increasing number of people who like a little music with their Bike Week festivities. Considering BreastFest was up against Travis Tritt at the OC Bike Fest stage and Slaughter at the Soundwave Music Festival outside Berlin, not to mention entertainment at other area venues, they did pretty well.

Look for the seventh edition next year.

Pig and a Jig 2014 in pictures and text

June 2, 2014 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off 

Okay, let’s face it. I like ribs, and when they come with live music so much the better. So just a few weeks after Pork in the Park blew out of town we went on Saturday to its Snow Hill-based little sibling called Pig and a Jig, This year’s event was the second annual, and a change in the calendar date from one end of May to the other provided for simply awesome weather.

One of the big differences between the inaugural event last year and this year’s rendition was KCBS certification, so there were over 30 teams vying for the prize money and hardware.

They were set up where we parked last year, with parking now across the road and a shuttle service provided. Unfortunately, the access over there wasn’t as easy and the competition was just wrapping up anyway so I didn’t wander over there to scope things out. While it was nice to have a shuttle bus, I would suggest securing the same trailers they use for the county fair and several tractors – it would make for less waiting.

The other addition was rides for the kids.

Between that and the space for cornhole, it left a modest midway section.

There were still a small number of food vendors, with a couple traveling some distance to be here.

This was at one stand called Kloby’s. Not sure what it would taste like, but it looked interesting.

I suppose, though, it had most of what I ended up having within the Mason jar.

Aside from the beans, which I found a touch too spicy – Kim liked them, though – the meal was pretty good, although I think I would have liked the other half of the rack better. The North Carolina-style sauce was tasty, though.

Meanwhile, we were listening to our friends from Something Grey.

Since I only saw the one band, I won’t do a Weekend of Local Rock feature. But they had a number of bands come back from last year, so they must be treating them right.

I’m not sure just how much property Preston owns, but they probably need more space to make this event bigger and better in 2015. Certainly the local Snow Hill schools would like it to be an ongoing success, and if they can keep KCBS certification they may end up with a big hit on their hands.

And by the way, the reason the photos turned out the way they did was that there was something on my lens. I have no idea how it happened, but it messed up several of these photos and may have scratched the camera lens. For that I’m an unhappy camper, although the camera is an old model which has basically been supplanted by my cell phone. I just like it because it fits easily in my pocket.

Weekend of local rock volume 60

May 31, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off 

In lieu of a review this week, my WLR feature is hitting the big six-oh with some scenes from last weekend’s Concert for a Random Soldier, which occurred at American Legion Post 28 in Oak Orchard, Delaware (close by Long Neck.) This is one of a handful of local fundraising concerts that have become a tradition, with another I generally frequent being (Save the) Breastfest in September during Bike Week.

There were actually eight bands and four acoustic acts on the CFARS bill, with the latter reserved for set changes. We arrived later than planned, so we missed exactly half – these were mainly the oldies acts (Oh Boy, 33 1/3, The Runner-Ups, and The Funsters) and two acoustic ones (The Volcanoes and Bryan Scar.) In fact, we arrived just as the Mari Hill Band was closing up shop.

Since there was no acoustic act slotted after Mari Hill, I wandered around a bit. Earlier in the day there was a car show, but by the time I got photos this old guy was pretty much all that was left.

As a little bit of history, the CFARS was set up in memory of Chad Clifton, a Delaware native who was killed in Iraq in 2005. A foundation was set up in his name, with this particular event benefiting an organization called Guitars for Vets.

In keeping with the veteran theme, the Veterans United Outreach of Delaware had a trailer full of information as needed.

After all that, the hard rock of Factor was ready to hit the stage. They definitely appealed more to the Iraq and Afghanistan set than the Vietnam-era veterans.

Unlike the other groups, they slammed out a diet of originals with the exception of a song Chad often requested from them, “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones. Their version was a little more amped-up, though.

So it seemed a little jarring to hear the acoustic duo called Dog and Butterfly, playing a variety of lighter classics. Jim and Michele Hogsett have honed this act for several years as a side project to the former Semiblind.

They played while Judy Sings The Blues set up. And Judy was exactly as advertised.

If you don’t believe me, here’s their set list.

The day’s final acoustic act was Captain Mike and Joe Garvilla, who had fun with some easily-adapted songs like “Jack and Diane.”

I noted earlier that Jim and Michele Hogsett were in “the former Semiblind.” Over the winter they decided to change the name to Something Grey.

It was many of the same staples that Semiblind did so well, except for some issues which affected their sound – the bass kept cutting out. I happened to see their set list afterward as well – the stage area was littered with them.

I was pleased to hear them bring back “Sweet Emotion,” which was one they had on the shelf for awhile. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d heard “Her Strut,” which shows how they massage their songlist as time goes on.

So as the sun set on a beautiful night and the crowd went home, we looked back on a gorgeous day.

Next year (May 24, 2015) will be the 10th annual event, and it seems like they’ve found a good formula for success – good enough that they ran out of chicken to grill because so many came. If I can make it, I’ll be there and so should you.

Weekend of local rock volume 59

May 10, 2014 · Posted in Local Music · 1 Comment 

Normally I do things in a different order when I cover multifaceted events, but this week I found myself in a little bit of a quandry with no new release to review from my musical patron and some thoughts on what I heard last night. So instead of saving the “weekend of local rock” feature to fall a few days after the main coverage of Pork in the Park, this time I will lead with it.

Last night I heard two of the many bands slated for this weekend at Winterplace Park – since the forecast for today was iffy, my list of things to do this weekend was rather long, and we had a somewhat rare evening sans a 14-year-old, we decided to instead make a Friday night of it. Ironically, our teenager’s musical tastes would have made the night’s headliner very palatable to her, but let’s talk about the Bonedaddies first.

The Bonedaddies play at Pork in the Park, May 9, 2014.

These guys are like a comfortable pair of old shoes – you know what to expect when you put them on. In the case of the Bonedaddies, it’s a steady diet of classic rock stretching from ZZ Top (they were playing “I Thank You” as we walked in) to their closing number from Tom Petty, “Runnin’ Down A Dream.” And there must be a law which now states any cover band must play Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally.”

So we caught perhaps the last 45 minutes of their show, which had some interest but a lot of empty space in front of the stage. One thing which is different about Pork in the Park this year is the lack of any seating close to the stage – in years prior the stage was set up perhaps 25 to 30 yards from a pavilion, but not this year. Most people who wanted to sit either had to bring their own chairs or sit about 50-60 yards away.

A good portion of the open space filled for the headliner, as you’ll see.

First of all, if you wonder why the photos are so dark, this is what happened when I set my night setting.

So deal with the dark. Anyway, Charlie Worsham is an up-and-coming country artist who is doing one last weekend of shows before a tour opening for Brad Paisley.

I will gladly admit country music is not my cup of tea, so suffice to say I didn’t really recognize Worsham’s originals – but they were well-received by the several hundred people around the stage.

Unfortunately, having just one album to his credit and about 90 minutes of stage time to fill meant that he had to play a few covers. So can I ask a question – why is it that country artists feel the need to cover rock songs?

I will grant that my friends from Semiblind, who have graced many a WLR volume, can take a country song they like and supercharge it to make it listenable and sometimes even really enjoyable for a metalhead like me. But it doesn’t work as well the other way – no country singer can be as urban as “Billie Jean” needs to sound nor can “Crazy Train” have justice done to it with a banjo. Cover Lynard Skynard or the Allman Brothers – no problem for a country band. Surely they can even pull off “Mustang Sally.” So while I hate to be so critical, I must say that version of “Crazy Train” was brutal.

On the other hand, working as an opening act will give them a chance to write and perform what they’re best at, leaving “Crazy Train” for someone else. Their mini-tour began in Houston yesterday in a performance for a local radio station before coming to Salisbury and moving on to Chesterfield, Virginia tomorrow before joining up with Paisley later next week. Those sorts of logistics are fascinating to me.

Assuming the weather doesn’t intervene, the lineup for today is rather promising. If you hurry, you can catch the Barren Creek Band at 10, with Picnic following at 12.

Veterans of Pork in the Park and a welcome Pennsylvania import follow at 2:30.

Smokin’ Gunnz is always a crowd favorite, as evidenced by the number of views this four-year-old video still gets on a monthly basis.

Another local favorite is bluesman Tom Larsen, who will serve as the opening act for Jimmie Van Zandt once the awards are over around 5:30 or so.

Front Page News is the final band to take the stage early Sunday afternoon, as that day is mainly given over to the wing-eating contest.

So music fans aren’t left wanting by the lineup – the question becomes whether Mother Nature will cooperate today.

And now for something completely different…

March 14, 2014 · Posted in Local Music, Personal stuff · 2 Comments 

Every so often something comes along which puts me at the intersection of doing something I enjoy because I find it interesting, being able to write about it, and making a little bit of money. Tomorrow will be the first of what I hope are many of these features.

If you’ve been reading here since about 2006 or so, you’ll have noticed I’ve done an occasional feature I call “Weekend of local rock.” I also had a Friday tradition called “Friday Night Videos” that I did for a couple years as well, and toward the end of the that series I abandoned the original premise of news videos and went to an all-music format. It seemed more appropriate for enjoyment over the weekend.

Thus. tomorrow I’m debuting a new regular feature. I haven’t thought of a catchier title than “monoblogue music”, so I’ll go with it. But in my occasional forays into attempting to find new writing clients, I came across an entrepreneur who was looking for people with a critical ear and existing media outlet to help promote his stable of musical artists by reviewing their work. So I contacted this gentleman and we have come to an agreement, the first installment of which will be up tomorrow afternoon. I like it because I get to listen to some different music than the formulaic crap which seems to plague the airwaves, from up-and-coming artists who may be enticed to come to this region. I’m sure he likes the fact I have a sub-200k world Alexa rank, but I think this can work to broaden my audience for the political end of my site as well. So it could be a win-win.

In speaking with this gentleman, it was made clear that my reviews didn’t have to be positive, which is fine. But I asked him to steer those artists my way who are either based on the East Coast or tour through the area. (The latter covers tomorrow’s first feature, as they are Australian-based but plan a U.S. tour later this year – on their previous tour they mainly played along the West Coast but I suspect this will be their breakout year and they will come this way.)

So while this may seem to be an unusual step – particularly for a political blog in an election year – bear in mind that I’ve always branched out into other realms because to write about politics on a daily basis would eventually burn me out. I look forward to what I hope will be a productive relationship on both ends, and one you the reader will enjoy.

Weekend of local rock volume 58

October 26, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off 

As is often the case, when I do this post for the Autumn Wine Festival the definition of “rock” is tossed out the window. Much of the musical selection there would be classified as jazz, with a few other genres thrown in. Moreover, with just six bands playing on one stage the menu is more limited and this post will be appreciably shorter than the last one.

And yes I said six bands, which I’ll explain in due course.

The jazz theme was firmly established early on with the group Sideways.

And while it was music which would make the aficionados of the genre happy, I have to point out that I have never heard an instrumental jazz version of Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ before. It was an interesting take on what is probably among my top 10 favorite songs.

They gave way to a more traditional classic rock and pop cover band in Naked Blue.

It may not show up in the smaller resolution I use for the site, but those vertical streaks in the photo are raindrops, as we battled a steady drizzle to light shower through most of the day.

It only dampened the crowd a little for the main attraction, TR3.

Most famous for his collaboration with Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds (top) and his band of bassist Mick Vaughn (center) and drummer Dan Martier (bottom) stopped by the AWF in the midst of a brief East Coast tour which had them over in Cambridge the night before and in New York City the following evening before more stops in New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. (The last stop is tonight in Ridgefield, Connecticut.)

Buoyed by a number of originals, TR3 also put its stamp on rock classics like ‘Kashmir’ and the old Focus song ‘Hocus Pocus.’ Yes, they yodeled to close out the show.

So when Sunday dawned I wasn’t expecting any yodeling from the traditional Sunday opening act, the Backfin Banjo Band.

Instead, theirs was a collection of traditional music. As you can see, the day turned out much brighter as well. It was a good day for a picnic, and Picnic indeed was the middle band of the Sunday trio.

They went through a group of songs ranging from oldies to classic rock, but I think they improved once they added the female vocalist.

Oddly enough, it turned out they were the only Sunday band with a female singer, and this lent them a dimension missing from the initial songs.

The Larks were supposed to be the penultimate band on the posted schedule, but as late as the bands were running I think the posted schedule was in error and The Larks were supposed to be the closers.

While they had more of a “wall of sound” with the horn section, they took us back around full circle to that which Sideways had begun on Saturday, with a jazz-heavy final set punctuated with originals.

It’s interesting to me that both venues mixed a number of local or semi-local acts with one or two more nationally-recognized acts. This is a pattern which seems to work for the local festivals as they continue to be successful despite adverse weather for most of the four days they occupied this year.

Weekend of local rock volume 57

October 19, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off 

If you can’t tell the lineup without a scorecard, it’s probably good that I begin with this photo.

I always find it very helpful that the folks who run the Good Beer Festival put this board up, although I think I would prefer it arranged by day, with Main Stage as the left column and Bar Stage to the right. But it turned out there was a snafu regardless.

I’m not sure what happened with Lauren Ventura, but she ended up being placed between two acts on the Main Stage. So the first to play was actually Captain Blue’s Grass Band.

Captain Blue (aka C.J. Cutsail) is the host of the radio show “Local Produce.” But along with his co-host Josh Rose, they comprise 2/3 of this band that veers along the lines between bluegrass and acoustic rock. They reminded me of another group which didn’t make to our festivals this time around, Chester River Runoff.

Because Ventura was bumped over to the Main Stage, it meant Chad Abernathy opened the Bar Stage.

I didn’t catch too much of his show – the Bar Stage was on the other side from our location – but it seemed to be mostly originals performed acoustically. He had female accompaniment on some songs as well.

Meanwhile, Lauren Ventura got her show in. She’s a singer/songwriter from Nashville who seemed to embrace the conditions.

But since Abernathy and Ventura were playing at the same time on opposite ends of the park, neither had the benefit of full attention. Since she only had one instrument, though, Lauren could easily clear the way for Eastern Electric. That even became easier when it was just one performer.

I’m not sure just what happened with Eastern Electric, but this is what became of them.

That was a little disappointing, since I enjoyed their predecessor band (The Electric Co.) and thought I’d hear some familiar tunes.

I wasn’t disappointed with The Hot Meals, though. To me, their music sounds sort of like an old favorite from my FNV days, The Permilla Project. (The two bands have one common player, drummer Sean Miller.) Maybe one can call it “smooth rock” because there seems to be a little jazz element there.

But the final band of the day took the cake. This photo was from the sound check, when I said, “damn, who are these guys?” That was also before the rain began.

Well, they are called Bush Hawg, and they are an up-and-coming band in what I suppose is considered the “modern country” genre.

Now the song that attracted my attention in the sound check isn’t one I found on their website, so I may be wrong on the title – but the chorus line is “God save our country.” But they also played their single, “Crushin’” which is more of a ballad but has charted in the top 30 on the “Music Row Country Breakout Chart”, so it was sort of a shame so few were left after a soggy day in Maryland.

And it’s not like they didn’t know how to rock – not with a medley which took pieces from Guns N’ Roses, Queen, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, plus the full tracks of “Seven Nation Army” and the old Cars tune “Just What I Needed.” They also have a remake of “Fortunate Son” on their EP which they played.

So Saturday evening ended with their hard country. On Sunday, we had a cloudy and breezy day to greet music lovers. But all the bands played as scheduled, beginning with the one-man band, Kevin Poole.

It was a little guitar, a little singing, a little percussion, a little harmonica, and a little marketing.

Over on the Main Stage, Sunday began with power pop from Rew Smith.

It turned out that they were the most enjoyable act of the day for me; just simple, straight-ahead rock and roll.

The second of three acoustical acts over on the Bar Stage, Mike Weyrauch held court.

Now I’ve heard him on “Local Produce” and on his CD playing originals, but the couple songs he played while I was over there were covers. Hopefully he introduced that side of the GBF to his own stuff.

Some original instrumentation was the key to Children of a Vivid Eden, back on the Main Stage.

The same held true across the way as John Emil wrapped up over at the Bar Stage with some acoustic slide guitar.

Well, that and the percussion box he could tap his foot on.

Pressing Strings wrapped things up for a rapidly dwindling crowd. It seemed like people left early on Sunday. In all honesty, I think the Main Stage lineup would have worked better in reverse, with Pressing Strings being the opener and Rew Smith wrapping up. It’s nice to have an active band to finish, as Bush Hawg did the evening before.

One thing I like about the GBF is their willingness to go outside the area for different acts – for example, Lauren Ventura and Bush Hawg are Nashville-based and Emil hails from Florida but has mainly toured in Virginia and North Carolina this year (with a 16-stop European tour thrown in.) To me, it provides more of an attraction.

So now that I have this edition of WLR in the books, I’m working on the next while at the Autumn Wine Festival. Since there are only seven bands and one stage at the AWF, the next installment will be shorter than this was.

Weekend of local rock volume 56

October 6, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off 

It wasn’t quite a garden party, nor did I reminisce with old friends – I made a couple new acquaintances, though.

Regardless, the music was pretty good so I decided on the spot to make this volume 56 in the long-running series and place it the day after volume 55. Why not make a single weekend of it? Because the events happened 15 days apart, that’s why. And while Kim had mentioned there would be a band at the party, I just assumed it would be some cover band playing old standards. So I was pleasantly surprised by the difference from expectations.

Anyway, from what I read about Muskrat Sally, they are originally from here but they don’t often play here as they make a lot of appearances across the Bay.

Many of the songs they played while I was there I didn’t recognize as covers, but once I heard them I immediately thought of a much more well-known performer, George Thorogood. Like Muskrat Sally, it seemed that Thorogood plucked a number of retro blues tunes out of obscurity, put his own stamp on them, and sold them to the masses. In fact, their finale was a song Thorogood remade in the late 1970s, “Who Do You Love?” And they indeed played one standard – what band doesn’t know “Mustang Sally” by heart?

What makes Muskrat Sally different and unique from other similar local blues acts, such as Tom Larsen, was the female vocalist and performer. It also afforded more interesting banter between songs. (Interestingly, she’s not listed on the websites. Maybe this was an all-star band of sorts? It’s a private party, so why not?)

And since it was a party with presumably well-heeled clientele, why not make a little money on the side? (Literally.)

If you liked slide guitar and gritty old blues, this was the band for you. They had my toes tapping as I ate some barbecued pork (it was a pig roast, after all) and batches more food and homemade beer than I probably should have (just the food, not the beer. I could tell it was potent stuff.) Fortunately, there was still plenty left for the band when the sun went down and it became too dark to play out there. (Hence, the reason the photos are dark. My cell phone doesn’t do bright backgrounds.)

I’m certain that many a band has played an event like this – literally in someone’s backyard on the grass, with part of the pay being all the food you can eat. Sounds like a lot of fun, and if I’d thought about it maybe I would have dusted off my moribund YouTube channel for a video. Too bad we didn’t get there earlier when the light was better.

Since it’s likely we’ll have an invite next year, we’ll see if Muskrat Sally makes a return. They certainly played well enough to deserve one.

Weekend of local rock volume 55

October 5, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · 1 Comment 

Subtitled: the 5th Annual (Save the…) BreastFest edition.

I’ve been to all five of these events and I have to tell you this was probably the most successful. They finally got the two ingredients they needed to maximize success: a location in Ocean City and a Friday night slot during Bike Week – the last few StBFs were relegated to Thursday night.

But more on that in a bit. Let’s talk about the bands involved – by the way, all of them volunteered their time for the cause.

We arrived a little late so we only caught the tail end of Elwood. Hearing their last few songs, I was mentally kicking myself for not being ready to go a little sooner because they were solid. They also play a number of originals, which to me is a plus.

Chainbreak came on next and pleased the bikers with a collection of songs that included some Southern rock covers. If it’s Bike Week in Ocean City, you will hear something from Skynard, Molly Hatchet, or the Allman Brothers.

Veteran musician Lauren Glick and her Moodswingers were up next, and she belted out a number of old favorites.

Before I get much farther, I need to note the creator of the event, Michele Hogsett.

She’s the beauty and the brains behind the (Save the…) Breast Fest as a cancer survivor herself. And she shrewdly recruited her husband Jim to serve as the emcee of the event.

The reason I bring this up here is that they got a lot more busy once Lauren Glick cleared the stage. It was time for Semiblind.

Like Lauren Glick before them, Semiblind showed why they’re still a popular local group after nearly a decade of playing. I found this video from the event as the band jammed out on the Ted Nugent classic “Stranglehold.” That was their final song of the evening, but the rock wasn’t over by a long shot.

Like Semiblind, the next band has made all five StBF events, and they vowed to keep coming.

Now if you want to discuss a group which doesn’t compromise on being heavy, Witches Brew would be that group. They hammered out a lot of hard rock staples from the 70s through the 80s, and actually served as a good complement to the final band of the evening, Vivid Season.

If you add about a decade to Witches Brew’s playlist, you’d get Vivid Season. ¬†They concentrate on songs put out during the last 15 years or so – not to say they don’t throw in older stuff, but it’s arguably the most current of the groups who played. (Semiblind will play some more recent stuff in their extended shows and as I noted, Elwood does quite a few originals.)

Yet while all the music was going on, my friend Melissa was selling raffle tickets. This WAS a fundraiser, you know.

Each of these little bags represented a raffle prize, with everything from free hotel accommodations to golf to apparel to tattoos and bike accessories in the mix. The list of sponsors grows a little each year.

Now I didn’t take any photos of the contestants in their tattoo competition, but I did snap a shot of these luscious cupcakes.

Speaking of luscious cupcakes, it should be noted the event sponsor did quite well this year.

The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition raised $1,609 from the event, which Michele said doubled their take from last year. Going from Thursday night to Friday night was a lucrative move for the group, for whom StBF now seems to be settling in as an annual occurrence at Pickles Pub.

The last photo I’m throwing in for fun.

If they can hold their spot, you may want to pencil in September 12, 2014 on your calendar for the 6th annual event. With an attitude like that, it should be a good time.

Weekend of local rock volume 54

July 6, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off 

I’m actually a week overdue on this one, because I meant to post this the weekend after the Delmarva Chicken Festival. Hopefully Tom Larsen and his Lookin’ for Trouble band don’t mind the wait.

As I found out later, this was a special reunion show for Tom, bassist Elwood Bishop, and drummer Keith Brooks.

Of course, I expected them to play a lot of blues because I’ve seen TLB close the Good Beer Festival for both years since its inception, and probably here and there at similar events as well.

He even brought along his merchandise table.

But his show was a little different, as he had a lot longer time slot – or so he probably thought. This was when Larsen and his band started rolling.

About four or five songs in, his band had to take a break because there was a competing event across the way – the Worcester Children’s Theater show I alluded to in my main coverage. So they were sidelined for a good 45 minutes or so before resuming.

But resume they did, and shortly thereafter Tom found he had a young fan.

Those who were there also found out Tom can make almost anything work for a slide guitar.

I’m sure Cascading Carlos can work that into his act.

But above all, it looked like Tom and the band were having fun up there, playing a lot of original music to boot.

While he doesn’t play in the area all the time – Tom goes up and down the East Coast with some regularity – those who are fans of the blues locally should know who he is and where he plays. The folks at the Chicken Festival were treated to a doggone good show.

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