Weekend of local rock volume 72

July 8, 2018 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 72 

Normally this (more and more) occasional series talks about local groups in a local setting, but it’s not unprecedented for me to discuss a group that’s from outside our region. Such is the case with the subject of this particular volume, which featured a new venue to me and a somewhat different style than I’m used to. But it all worked out in the end.

Let’s start with a little bit of backstory. A few weeks back 88.7 The Bridge (a local Christian music radio station) began promoting an outdoor concert which would be held at Trap Pond State Park just outside Laurel, Delaware. As it turns out, this was just one of a weekly series of concerts the park hosts there each Saturday night, weather permitting. (Other Delaware state parks have concerts on other nights of the week.) So this was a chance for the station to come out and greet some of their listeners, too.

The Bridge had its van, tent, and swag all set to go. Certainly they were pleased with the results.

Perhaps it was an opportunity or just happenstance, but the group Consumed By Fire decided to come up from their native Oklahoma to play this one-off show. And I would have to say it was a rousing success, based on the crowd.

Not surprisingly, at a gathering of Christians at dinnertime the Chick-fil-A line was long.

This isn’t the best crowd shot I had, either. According to The Bridge, over a thousand people were at this show.

About a half-hour into the show I went to the front (stage right) and took this shot.

To warm the crowd up, Mark Dickey of The Bridge went up to introduce the band and toss out some spare swag.

The Bridge’s Mark Dickey came up to introduce the band, which started right on time.

The band itself is a trio of brothers, with the oldest being lead guitarist Joshua Ward.

Lead guitarist Joshua Ward. He was sort of the Bill Wyman of the group – then again, he is the oldest.

Jordan Ward is normally the drummer, but he also came out from behind the kit for reasons I’ll get into in a bit.

Jordan started out behind the drums, but took center stage when it was time to deliver the message.

You would know these three are children of a pastor once you heard them get going. Most outspoken was middle brother Jordan.

Youngest is keyboardist and acoustic man Caleb Ward.

For the first several songs Caleb sang from behind the keyboard.

Then for the acoustic part of the set, he made the band a two-guitar trio.

Much of what they played came off their latest release “Giving Over,” which came out in 2016. The band also did an EP a year earlier called “Lean On Me,” the title track of which was the song that led off the show.

As I alluded to in the caption for Caleb above, the first five songs or so were done with him on keyboard before Caleb shifted to acoustic guitar and Jordan stepped out to play a beat box.

A shot of the full band. This photo is by Kim Corkran.

After a trio of songs, including one with a great story behind it called Hold The Rain, we found out that preaching is a talent that can be passed on.

The message was from Hebrews 8, which coincidentally was also the subject of our sermon at my church last week – it’s the chapter that describes the new covenant between man and God.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all that know me, from the least to the greatest.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:10-13, KJV)

It’s interesting how that works, and becomes another sign of the day’s blessings and presence.

First of all, for the entire week beforehand they were calling for showers and thunderstorms for most of that Saturday. It did rain a little that day and threatened for much of the afternoon, but by the time we left for the show it was a very pleasant evening. Wonder why?

Next, after we arrived and got settled in, we chatted with our “neighbors” who were sitting next to us. Since the lady had brought the umbrella, I commented to this complete stranger “well, now we don’t have to worry about Murphy’s Law.” Ask yourself what the odds are of their last name actually being… Murphy? With that icebreaker out of the way, we found out my wife and her had another commonality as they are both nurses.

Maybe the only bad thing about the show was its relative briefness – Consumed By Fire was done before 7:45 after a 6:30 start. But they made up for it by hanging out at a crowded merch table.

Lot of shorts, CDs, and bags were sold from this table. I suspect gas money back to Oklahoma was no problem.

So out of all this we got some nice swag, my wife has a photo with and autographed CD from the band, we made a couple new friends, and – most importantly – according to The Bridge over 20 people came to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior as a result of the show. In terms of achievement, that is a good evening all around because the people went home happy.

Weekend of local rock volume 71

November 4, 2017 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · 2 Comments 

To tell you how long I have been out of circulation regarding the local music scene, consider this is my first WLR post in over a year. Sometimes things in life change, and honestly I haven’t been in the same frame of mind in the last few years as I was when I built up a lot of this series.

But Kim and I had an invite we decided to take and as it developed I decided a post was in order. The band in question was a band I’ve seen 3/4 of on several different occasions, the most recent at the last (to date, anyway) Concert for a Random Soldier held in 2016. (That event wasn’t held in 2017 due to a venue issue – otherwise I would have done a WLR sooner.)

So here we were, traveling an hour to hang with a batch of Kim’s co-workers and friends at this nice place.

I’ll add more commentary about the venue at the end, but let me first introduce you to a band you probably already know if you’re from the area, Nothin’ But Trouble.

There are many, many hundreds of bands around the country who toil on a nightly basis playing other peoples’ songs. But the ones who stick out in your mind are the ones that play things you may not hear every day and play them well – or, they play a song you don’t know too much about and make it entertaining. The point where I decided to make this a post was the latter.

In the seldom-played depths of my CD collection is the second release from BulletBoys, called “Freakshow.” (That was the follow-up to the self-titled debut with Smooth Up In Ya.) On it is a song called Talk To Your Daughter which, as I rapidly figured out from the fact these guys were playing it, wasn’t written by them. (It was written in the 1950s by blues guitarist J.B. Lenoir.) There are literally thousands of songs out there like this a band could adopt as their own, and NBT took a few for themselves. Hey, if George Thorogood can do it…actually, there was someone there last night with a GT shirt on.

Then when they sang one of my favorite opening lyric lines in rock: “I pulled into Nazareth/I was feelin’ ’bout a half past dead” (a song from The Band called The Weight) I figured this would be an enjoyable evening. A late dinner turned into most of their three-hour scheduled gig with no break and songs like Crossroads (with a slow-tempo open), Folsom Prison Blues interlaced with Man Of Constant Sorrow, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Pride And Joy, and so forth. No doubt: these weren’t paint-by-numbers renditions.

So count me in as a fan. And Kim said afterward “I wondered if you would like that type of music.” Well, since rock and metal are predominantly blues-based, of course I would. They’ve been stealing the chords and progressions for a half-century or more.

I don’t know if this belongs to the venue or the band, but the sound was well-done. It was audible but you could talk at your table without screaming, and we were basically 40 feet from the stage. They had a series of ceiling-mounted acoustic dampeners which helped because the place is pretty much hard-surfaced otherwise.

The other selling point to Bethany Blues?

As I pointed out on social media, any place that has 16 Mile Blues Golden Ale on tap is a winner in my book. The food was good, too.

So who knows? Maybe I won’t go a year until my next installment – although, in the interest of full disclosure, my recent phone issues negated a planned post on bands at the Good Beer Festival last month.

Weekend of local rock volume 70

July 24, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 70 

As I did from last month, I’m building on 3rd Friday to provide another edition of WLR. But in this installment I’ll profile a local group doing good through music.

The “official” 3rd Friday group playing on the Plaza stage was a Salisbury University-based group called The Benchwarmers, who I would say had more of a jazz feel than straight up rock. But they won the right to play through a battle of the bands, so here they were.

I still haven’t figured out the idea of the painting being created behind the group, but to each his or her own, I guess.

Now if you stood in just the right spot, you could hear the Plaza stage in one ear while Alex & Shiloh played in the other one, outside at Roadie Joe’s.

The management at Roadie Joe’s has definitely picked up on the concept of having outside live music during 3rd Friday and bringing in business, as the outside tables are generally filled. (Kim and I ate there last month, as I noted in WLR 69.) It’s nice because if the main stage doesn’t strike your fancy you can browse on over to that end of the Plaza.

I didn’t stay for the Roadie Joe’s nightcap act this time because I knew I would be back downtown the next night for a benefit called “Fire Up the Bands,” sponsored by the Maryland-8 chapter of Hogs and Heroes, a motorcycling group dedicated to supporting military and first responders.

While there were originally three bands on the bill, a late change cut things down to two. Meanwhile, there was a silent auction going on and the leadership of Hogs and Heroes was giving away door prizes between bands.

But the evening began with a group I had just seen at the Concert for a Random Soldier a couple months back, Scrapple.

After noting the sudden passing of Lewes firefighter Tim McClanahan in a training accident, Scrapple played a hard-rocking set that featured songs like the Black Crowes’ Remedy, Love Removal Machine from The Cult, Godsmack’s Keep Away, and Pearl Jam’s Even Flow, just to name a few. They also found time for an original song of theirs, which I thought was cool.

Once Scrapple finished, I went outside to stretch my legs, see some bikes, and watch the sun set over a cloudy downtown. There was a rain shower that passed harmlessly by during the show.

The second band on the bill was Lime Green, which I know has a number of originals to its credit based on their online presence. But they chose to play just one, their most recent called Pemberton Park.

Yet Lime Green still had a lot of unique musical ideas, like buttressing the old Pink Panther Theme into Pink Floyd, playing forgotten classics like The Ballad of Curtis Loew by Lynard Skynard or Snortin’ Whiskey by the Pat Travers Band, and absolutely blowing me away with their closer originally done by Rush. I never thought I would hear the first part of 2112 done as a cover, but they did Overture/The Temples of Syrinx. Damn, that was cool. I’m still smiling thinking about it.

Because the original intention was to have three bands, Scrapple came out and played a second set that started with Rush as well. But as they did when I saw them previously, they took Working Man and transitioned it into War Pigs by Black Sabbath. Their second set was heavier and more modern, with songs from Buckcherry, Marilyn Manson, Staind, and Tool among the selections.

But they got a little help when they went retro blues and did One Way Out, a song made popular by the Allman Brothers.

There was also a fun drum solo toward the end.

If I have one thing to say about Headquarters Live as a venue, though, I have to say that taking pictures in there is a royal pain with a cell phone camera. Unless you catch the lights just right, they come out awful. The best pics I had were with the doors open when it was still light out, which is why you get one photo of Lime Green.

But my night wasn’t done. A friend of mine has been bugging me to see his band, so I went back over to Roadie Joe’s to catch Copious Poor.

While they admitted they needed to get a sound person, the selection of songs was pretty good. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of a song I have occasionally used the video from on this site, Bound for the Floor by Local H. (You may see it again November 9.)

So once again it was a good weekend of local rock for firefighters that can always use a helping hand. It reminded me that local bands are among the quickest to respond when there’s a need to lend their talents for a good cause – or just to make an evening a little better.

Weekend of local rock volume 69

June 26, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 69 

Unlike a number of the most recent previous renditions for this long-running series, this will feature four performers at three different venues in and around downtown Salisbury on consecutive days last weekend. It would have been five but the featured group from the local Academy of Music Performance was just wrapping up when we arrived.

So I wasn’t intending to do a WLR when we decided to eat outside at Roadie Joe’s afterward, but it turned out Kaleb Brown was playing and you know me – I like listening to music and taking pictures.

So it was just Kaleb, his guitar, and his beatbox (that would drive some of the dogs still around from 3rd Friday crazy) and that reggae sound he likes to do. Good dinner music on a lovely summer evening.

I think the band wasn’t supposed to start until 10 but they got an early start. We had just finished our dinner and were ready to leave when we decided to stay for a couple songs from Naked Nation that turned into half a set.

Naked Nation seemed to have a little different playlist than other cover bands, doing a wide range of songs that are not really classic rock and range more toward Top 40 alternative stuff. But the people were getting into it.

So Saturday came and I decided to head back downtown for the Salisbury Shore Craft Beer Festival. Headlining the event was Eastern Electric.

Now I like Eastern Electric, but it didn’t dawn on me that there was a band also playing in Headquarters Live called Billy Earl and the Pink Flamingos. So I checked out the location and the band.

Admittedly, their style of music isn’t my cup of tea – but it does allow them to put a different flavor on songs like Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. They can still make it sound hauntingly lonely.

Meanwhile, back at the Beer Fest Eastern Electric was doing their set mixing covers from several eras and some originals.

One of those was their closing song (and one I really like) called To Heaven Before The Devil. “I hope to get to Heaven/Before the Devil knows I’m dead.” It’s a rollicking mix of rock, blues, and country that represents the band pretty well. And as Eastern Electric singer Nate Clendenen put it, last Saturday was a nice occasion to hang out downtown – they’ve been trying to redevelop it “since I was in fifth or sixth grade” and it finally is taking root.

So it was truly a weekend of local rock, as all the bands came from this part of Delmarva. It’s worth reminding people that our little corner of the world has musical talent. All it needs now is the audience to appreciate it.

Weekend of local rock volume 67

January 16, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 67 

Over the years I’ve noticed the local music community is more than willing to help out and I’ve been to several of these benefits over the years. But last Saturday it was time to assist one of their own and pay tribute to a special woman who was a great example of this willingness to help out her community.

In December Michele Hogsett finished her seven-year battle with breast cancer. Some may know her as the lead singer of Semiblind and the duo Dog & Butterfly, others as DJ Siren, and still others as the woman who put together the annual (Save the) BreastFest until this past year when she became too ill to continue. But four bands volunteered their time to help her husband Jim out with all the expenses incurred.

The board I began the post with was one of several that were placed in the venue. They are a great memorial in photos to Michele’s life so I’ll use them to divide this piece up.

I got there about a half-hour late, so I arrived about halfway through Fish Whistle’s set.

The trio, which has a former member of Semiblind in drummer Mike Edgerton, played a set heavy with Pink Floyd and Van Halen, among a host of other favorites. They set a good tone for the rest of the show.

If you can’t read the banner behind them, I’ll let you know Black Tide Rising was the next band up.

They were a little heavier on 1970s stuff, but they had help from Susan Witchey (who sings for the band Witches Brew) on the old Grand Funk Railroad classic I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home).

BTR also included some songs you don’t hear every day, such as Silent Running by Mike & the Mechanics. It was funny because he said he’d buy a drink for anyone who knew the song – I could remember the title but had to Google the band.

The Breakers were the penultimate band for the evening. They went back another decade, starting out with a Beatles song. Soon after, Susan was helping them out with much of the set.

Speaking of cool cover tunes, I seem to recall their last song was Hymn 43 by Jethro Tull. Years ago a friend of mine gave me the record – still have that vinyl somewhere in a closet.

There were a few cool things available in a silent auction, too.

Between these and the 50/50 raffles, there was a nice amount raised. During the breaks, we also heard from some friends of Michele and Jim who gave testimonials to her character. One piece of news that cheered me was the vow to bring back BreastFest after last year’s hiatus. It was a great part of Delmarva Bike Week and had become a recognized auxiliary event.

The last band of the night was Lime Green. Is this shot rock and roll or what?

I just love that dry ice fog machine.

I will also tell you that the lighting and sound at the OC House of Rock was very well done. They really, really loved that green lighting for Lime Green (naturally.)

Lime Green did a veritable potpourri of songs, everything from TLC’s Waterfalls to Folsom Prison Blues. Susan jumped in for some on their set as well.

They also played an original they’re planning on shooting a video for this spring at Pemberton Park outside Salisbury. So what is it called? Pemberton Park, of course.

Afterward, a lot of people stuck around to wish Michele’s husband Jim well. Jim didn’t bring his guitar for this show, but I’m hopeful he can carry on with his music as the grieving process continues. While Semiblind was better known as a cover band, Jim and Michele wrote and recorded a number of originals as well. Maybe Michele’s legacy can carry on as the inspiration for new music.

No use letting cancer defeat two talents, I say.

Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2015

December 24, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off on Wishes for a Merry Christmas 2015 

This year I write this message with a heavy heart.

It’s not because the world seems to have gone more haywire or the political world is its normal maddening self. Instead, it’s because a member of the extended monoblogue family is no longer with us.

Traditionally I have left the site dark on Christmas Day and I take the time a day or two before to write a Christmas message to put up on the morning of Christmas Eve. I’m not going to depart from that tradition, but the voice that made this Christmas post special for many years has been stilled.

In the video below, which I used last year for the first time, you would never know that Michele Hogsett (the woman singing) was at the time waging a vigorous fight against breast cancer. Alas, she ran the last of her seven-year race back on December 8 and the celebration of her life (which featured this song) was last Sunday.

I call Michele part of the extended monoblogue family because she graced these pages a fair number of times for my long-running Weekend of Local Rock segment. Over the last few years it’s dwindled to an extent but two of the staple events I’ve used to keep it going were the Concert for a Random Soldier where Michele and her husband Jim regularly played and the (Save the…) BreastFest which had a six-year run from 2009 to last year as a part of Delmarva Bike Week. Sadly, Michele was simply too ill to make a go of it this year.

I also called Michele and Jim my friends. They were the ones who invited me (and later Kim and I) to share Thanksgiving with them for several years as part of their extended family. At her service, I heard from those affiliated with the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (the beneficiary of BreastFest) about how Michele was the first to interact with newly-diagnosed women and let them know what to expect, giving them pointers on how to best wage their own personal fight. In short, she was an asset to the community, and she is survived by her husband, the host of cats and dogs they kept, and the music she helped to create which brought joy to this listener. Someday we will see each other where the ocean meets the sky.

But even with this personal loss, the other sad part about this Christmas is that I can, almost word for word, rewrite what I wrote last year:

In the runup from Thanksgiving to Christmas… we’ve seen a lot of senseless tragedy. Unfortunately, much of it was brought about by hatred and evil – hatred over that last few layers of skin which determines its shade or of the belief system one follows, and the evil which justifies taking another’s life because of their chosen religion or profession. It’s very sad that in the time of season we celebrate life we should be advocating death. Once we stopped a world war to celebrate Christmas, but now…well, peace on earth seems but a quaint saying, and too many consider a successful Christmas as one where they got the biggest presents or threw the best party ever.

Fortunately, I can also conclude with:

In my case, this Christmas will probably provide neither of those worldly goals, but as I grow older I feel that I understand more about what Christmas is supposed to be. I’m not one to be prodded by the force-fed commercialism we now endure into what most consider “Christmas spirit” – in fact, when I was living on my own before I met Kim I didn’t even put up a Christmas tree – but in these final days before the holiday I can pause and take stock of the miracle and blessing of Christ’s birth and the Earth receiving its King.

Let’s all take stock of what we received in the city of David, and let’s take some time to be grateful for the gift of the company that family and friends can provide.

So from my rocking chair and laptop in Salisbury, Maryland, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. I’ll be back on Saturday.

Weekend of local rock volume 66

October 25, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 66 

(As opposed to Order 6-D6, a long-defunct local group I really liked.)

I’m not going to stretch the definition of local too much with this much more brief look back at the Autumn Wine Festival, but it will do a lot of bending to the rock part. Here’s the six-band lineup over the two days.

We  got things underway with alex&shiloh, who perhaps were the most conventional acoustic group there insofar as style and playlist. I think they have done the bar stage at the Good Beer Festival, which is a handy measuring stick for that sort of thing. You’ll have to deal with the sun-splashed photos – the stage faces more or less northwest so the sun is behind it most of the day.

They yielded to the familiar local strains of Randy Lee Ashcraft. He’s been around long enough to become a legend around these parts by being not quite country but not so much rock, either. Just good listening, I guess.

Last up on a pleasant Saturday was Front Page News, which cranked out a number of familiar tunes.

They had the biggest crowd of the weekend.

Sunday started with its perennial opening act, the Backfin Banjo Band. They always start out with standards and take requests.

Instead of playing the middle on Saturday as they did last year, Such Fools played their unique style on Sunday.

We wrapped things up with the danceable On The Edge, and we needed something to dance to just to stay warm as the temperature struggled to get above 50 and we endured a couple brief showers while they were up.

Originally I thought the Sunday lineup was exactly the same as last year, but upon further review I found Such Fools switched days. Still, out of six bands three were holdovers from 2014. In fact, it seems like the turnover for the event is shrinking, and the last non-local act they took a chance with was Tim Reynolds and TR3 two years ago. Certainly I’m the first to support local music, but variety is the spice of life and the AWF used to bring in some interesting acts – onetime Bad Company touring bassist Paul Cullen played here a few years back, as I recall.

By design the Autumn Wine Festival features many of the same Maryland-based vineyards year after year. But does it have to keep the same bands, too?

Weekend of local rock volume 65

October 23, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 65 

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, and what once was a monthly (or sometimes weekly) feature is down to two or three a year. As a guy I know would say, that’s a shame.

I also know it’s unusual to have WLR on a weekday, but this weekend I’m going to take a break from politics and do an all-music weekend – WLR today and Sunday sandwiching a music review tomorrow. Next week you may get the treat of two because I have a backlog of music to review. Besides a somewhat humdrum municipal election, it’s a quiet political time right now.

I’m starting with an event that’s become somewhat of a musical dynamo thanks to its two-stage setup, the Good Beer Festival. It featured twelve acts, with the bar stage primarily hosting acoustic acts while the main stage had full bands.

Bear in mind I also work the event so I don’t get to hear every song. Some of these are more detailed than others, but I always like to lead with the schedule to help keep track.

So I begin with the acoustic stylings of Phil Portier, who opened up on the bar stage. I will say I knew the Joe Jackson song he opened with so I could insert the “where?” at the proper place.

On the other end as Phil wrapped up was Paper To Planes, an acoustic duo hailing all the way from Kansas City.

I believe Don Adler was playing the GBF for the second or third time. But I didn’t get to see him play the unusual instrument at his feet.

Sam Birchfield was the first group where I noticed the merch table.

The Coteries at the bar stage also had merch. The New Jersey-based trio was disappointed they didn’t get to enjoy more of the event because of New Jersey traffic. They have several shows set up, which you’ll see if you look closely.

Wrapping up things on Saturday were local favorites Uprizing.

Having a local group to close in the prime slot was a little unusual. Previously they had reserved it for an up-and-coming band touring the region. I’m not sure if this will be a trend, but I liked the old approach better.

Whiskeybelly got Sunday started with an acoustic/electric combo – and a couple broken strings, which they laughed about.

On the other side, the GBF went country with the local group Haleytown – population 5. (The sign is a neat touch.)

Chris Diller set CDs and stickers at each table, and hoped people would fill the guitar case.

It always intrigues me how a guy can play so many instruments at once – needless to say, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

On the main stage was the group I thought stole the show, Sub-Radio Standard. It was the group I would have expected to close out Saturday.

Ken Wenzel was the headliner, if you will, of the bar stage. He played songs off the CD.

The Will Overman Band did their country best to wrap things up. I wish I had slipped around backstage to get a photo of “Big Red” – a 1970 Chevy Suburban they tour in.

So I was a little loose with the definition of “rock” in this one. Next year may be the year to just put the rock bands on Saturday and the country stuff on Sunday, since it seems to be getting about equal billing now.

On Sunday I look at the music from the Autumn Wine Festival.

Weekend of local rock volume 64

May 30, 2015 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 64 

Last weekend was a good weekend for local music buffs, particularly in the Long Neck, Delaware area. I’ve often wondered if those people who live by American Legion Post 28 there sit outside on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and listen in. Of course they could just come on down, too.

Anyway, the Concert for a Random Soldier began at noon but since we were still in church at that time we were casually late enough to get there just in time for the longtime event staple 33 1/3 to wrap up; meanwhile, one of the acoustic acts played while we grabbed some lunch.

So band number one on my agenda was Pros from Dover.

Despite the name, none of them are from Dover. The name is actually a reference from the book version of M*A*S*H.

They played somewhat of a country-tinged set in song selection, which was fine for an event which generally works its way from oldies to classic rock to heavier and more modern as the day turns to evening.

Speaking of country, you can’t beat the unusual start to the set of Slinging Daisies.

It’s probably been 25 years since I heard the old C. W. McCall chestnut “Convoy” and it wasn’t a cover band that did it. They did a set that featured a handful of originals, but also played the song that’s tradition at the Concert for a Random Soldier: “Paint It Black” from the Rolling Stones.

The reason this song gets Terri Clifton onto the dance floor is that it was her son Chad’s favorite song.

Another band that’s been doing the CRS annually in recent years is Judy Sings the Blues. They come as advertised, playing a number of standards and one original about Judy’s fear of spiders.

One band that didn’t come as advertised was Semiblind. Due to an unfortunate series of mishaps, the band was truncated down to its founding members Jim and Michele Hogsett. These longtime staunch supporters of the CRS played instead as their acoustic duo Dog & Butterfly.

DSCF0994

Things then got a little funky, as Conjunction Funktion took the stage with some brass.

Again unusual for a cover band: how many would lead off with “Josie” by Steely Dan? These guys did.

Sadly, we had to leave as Conjunction Funksion played so I missed the band I would have liked to check out, Modern Day Addiction. Besides those guys and 33 1/3, other bands on the bill were Oh Boy, JB Duo, Beach Trip, Captain Mike, and The Runner-Ups. Several of these also have played the event in recent years, and they should be thanked for supporting the Guitars for Vets cause.

So next year, on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the 11th annual CRS will likely feature a number of these same acts for a day of music, food, and fun.

Weekend of local rock volume 63

November 2, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music · Comments Off on Weekend of local rock volume 63 

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 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.

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