Pop music legend Bobby Rydell at last night's book signing in North Philly. A real gentleman that has lived the dream!
Friday, October 28, 2016
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Deb Callahan playing to a packed Steel City Coffee House (Phoenixville, PA) 10/22/16. Photos by Rob Nagy
Friday, October 21, 2016
Progressive Rock Artist Mike Keneally
at Kennett Flash
By Rob Nagy
Standing the shadows of Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, progressive rock guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and composer Mike Keneally is symbolic of unlimited musical possibilities.
With dozens of solo and collaborative album releases to his credit, Keneally’s latest effort, a two- disc release entitled “Scambot 2,” once again pushes his creative genius to the outer limits.
This is the sequel to “Scambot 1,” says Keneally, from his home in Southern California. “The first one came out in 2009 so this one was years in coming. I’ve done a lot of different sorts of albums over the years. Some have been more song based and some have been more instrumentally oriented. Scambot 1 was mostly instrumental, very dense and quite abstract in large measure. Some people found it a bit unapproachable. With Scambot 2, there’s a storyline with characters and a plot. There’s a concept going over the whole Scambot idea of clearing away clutter and just getting distractions and complications out of the way and trying to hone in on something more essential. Scambot 2 kind of describes that, because it starts with the craziest most intricate piece of music, which is “In The Trees” and then, over the course of the album, a little more air gets let in. It gets more spacious and more approachable.”
Standout tracks include “The Trees,” “Forget About,” “Constructed,” “Proceed,” “Scambot,” “Race The Stars” and “Construction.”
Relocating from Long Island, New York to San Diego at an early age, Keneally became a fixture in the Southern California music scene. An established artist, as the founding member of the cult band “Drop Control,” Keneally, while still in his early 20’s, took a calculated risk when he approached the legendary Frank Zappa.
“I called his office and asked for a job, which I didn’t expect would actually lead to anything,” recalls Keneally. “It just so happened I called at a time he needed somebody in his band. I called saying, ‘I play guitar, keyboards and I sing and I know all of your music.’ He had musicians leave the band without warning the week that I called. It was fortuitous timing. Frank always claimed in interviews that his band was the one touring band that anyone could get into if they could cut the gig. Frank was always on the lookout because his music was so specialized and difficult to perform. Back then, it was shocking to find somebody that could play his stuff. To have the guy who was the end all of the kind of music that I loved say, ‘You belong in my band,’ that was unbelievable!”
"On the phone the day before the audition, Frank had told me to have "What's New In Baltimore?" and "Sinister Footwear" ready for the next day's audition,” adds Keneally. On the way to the audition Keneally practiced the aforementioned songs, as well as "Little House I Used To Live In" and "every single Zappa melody I could think of, kind of as an exercise for my memory."
“I was 25 when I joined his band,” says Keneally. “We rehearsed for four months and toured for four months, and then I ended up staying involved with the Zappa family doing various jobs for them. Then Frank passed away. I continued working with his sons, Dweezil and Ahmet. They had a band together, and I was in that band for five years. So my Zappa involvement started in late ’87 and continued on until 1996.”
Keneally's command of Zappa's challenging repertoire has since led to opportunities to work with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Andy Partridge (XTC), among others, while establishing his solo career.
“I just do what sounds good to me and definitely my own listening habits are a little bit unusual,” says Keneally. “I’ve always craved a lot of content in my music, and I always craved music that paved repeated listening. The more you listen, the more you find. That’s what excites me and what excites the people who enjoy my stuff. Hopefully, they want to go back to my music again and again and peel away the layers to see what’s there.”
“I would love for more people to get to know my solo music, but at the same time I’m grateful that I’ve had guys over the years who felt that I had something that they’d like to have in their own bands,” adds Keneally. “It’s those types of guys who have managed to keep me gainfully employed while I’ve continued dealing with my own musical obsessions in my solo career. I’m really grateful for that and that anybody knows about me at all.”
Mike Keneally and Beer For Dolphins will perform at the Kennett Flash, 102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, PA 19348, Friday October 28, 2016 at 8:00 P.M. For tickets and information, visit www.kennettflash.org.
To stay up to date with Mike Keneally, visit www.keneally.com.
Philly Favorite Ryley Walker
returns to the Boot & Saddle
By Rob Nagy
If you haven’t heard of Indie singer songwriter Ryley Walker, you soon will. The 27 year-old Chicago native is one of contemporary music’s more profound artists with a sound and style that immediately clicks.
Influenced by Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Black Flag, John Coltrane and the Doors, Walker has recently released “Golden Sings That Have Been Sung” (2016) (on the heels of his 2015 masterpiece “Primrose Green”). Exemplifying his musical diversity and creative genius, Walker, who has already struck a chord with European audiences, is finally gaining traction on his home turf.
“It’s a fantastic record,” says Walker, from his home in Chicago. “I think it’s the best album I’ve done. I certainly think it’s the most inventive and weirdly smart and musically deep record that I’ve made. It’s a really different record from the last one. I like to change up the formula. It’s always important to update your formula.”
“We made it last December, which is a weird time to make a record,” adds Walker. “The whole world is clocked out, and you’re in the studio with no windows and a bunch of other musicians. The whole world was celebrating the birds of our origin while we were making freaky jams in the studio. We had a lot of fun. Everybody got along so well. The only complications were trying to get good takes. I think it’s doing really well. I’m really happy with it.”
Although the entire record is beautiful, standout tracks include “The Halfwit In Me,” “A Choir Apart,” “I Will Ask You Twice,” “The Roundabout” and “The Great and Undecided,”
Relocating from Rockford, Illinois to Chicago in 2010, Walker was determined to become a vibrant member of the windy city’s independent music scene. Following the release of a handful of cassette EP’s and a vinyl EP (“The Evidence of Things Unseen” (2011), “Of Deathly Premonitions” (with Daniel Bachman) (2011) and “West Wind” (2013)), Walker released his debut album, “All Kinds of You,” in 2014. It was Walker’s critically acclaimed sophomore effort, “Primrose Green” (2015), that earned rotation on alternative and college radio and established a wider audience for his music.
Looking for opportunities to challenge his creativity and reflect his broad musical pallet, Walker collaborated with fellow Chicago musician Bill MacKay, releasing an all-instrumental album “Land of Plenty” in 2015. Recorded live over two nights during their residency at The Whistler in Chicago, the album, a departure from his prior works, captures finger style ballads, psychedelic waltzes and raga-inspired blues.
“The mission objective is to always keep the vibe, but change up the music,” says Walker. “That comes from playing with so many people. I’ve played with so many different musicians. You get influenced by a lot of things.”
“I’ve struggled on and off for years,” adds Walker. “In Europe, we’ve done exponentially better every 6 months or so. I’m lucky.
I think the first time I went to Europe a few years back was a big turning point. In America it’s still a flat line. The mid-Atlantic and Midwest is where I’m strong. The east coast is where I’ve made the most tracks. It’s been a lot of hard labor getting traction on the east coast, especially in Philadelphia and New York. I’m happy to keep working to make that better.”
“I think if I could do a little better in America that would be great,” says Walker. “I’ve always done really well in Philadelphia supporting my music. I think if I can grow more and more to a higher level that would be great. I’d like to be able to make a living and give my band more money so they can have the opportunity to go out with me and people can experience a better show.”
Self defined as, “guitar with anxiety and inviting self deprecation; folk music for people who like to stay out too late,” Walker lives for the opportunity to spread his message to live audiences.
“The live show has always been our main goal,” says Walker. “I’m touring all the time. When you’re on stage, it all comes together and it’s well worth it. The greatest joy in my life is being able to play shows.”
“I want people to go away with the knowledge that they saw a really great show played differently every night, and the show was custom crafted for them,” adds Walker. “It’s like when you go to get a special dish in a kitchen somewhere that’s made just for that night. I craft everything in that context to that audience. I hope they have a powerful experience and they enjoy people having fun on stage and they have a lot of fun at the show.”
What is most intriguing about the shy and humble Walker that you meet off stage is the intense persona he projects on stage. Watching him visibly getting lost in his art while transcending to a level of intense creative energy, one can’t help but get drawn deeper into the music and Walker’s lyrical message.
“Most of it is me focused on listening to everybody in my band very intently,” says Walker. “I’m trying to feed off what they’re giving and them trying to feed off of what I’m giving. It kind of goes both ways. I’m really trying to make the music special and really be in sync with everybody. Playing live is always the best part of what I do.”
“I’m blown away that I even have fans,” adds Walker. “I just want to keep working and show everybody what I can do. If I can make a small living, it is important that I take it really seriously. I’m really grateful, that’s for sure.”
Ryley Walker will perform at Boot and Saddle, 1131 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, Thursday October 27, 2016 at 8:00 P.M.
To stay informed about future shows, visit www.bootandsaddlephilly.com.
To stay up to date with Ryley Walker, visit www.ryleywalker.com.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Thank you Jim Babjak and the rest of the Smithereens for the signed drum head for our Joseph's House homeless auction.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Friday, October 14, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
A big thank you to Greg Sover for the signed CD's for our homeless auction to benefit Joseph's House (Camden, NJ)