I just finished two very exciting but very different weeks. The week of Feb 11-17 carried me to big cities for wild times and a wide variety of music. The week of Feb 18-24 brought me back to the country for more rootsy, traditional sounds. I continue to be amazed at the scope of musical adventures I can find within 100 miles of Lancaster.
State College isn’t really a big city but it’s a big deal in PA. The Kalob Griffin Band has been a big deal there since 2010 so I visited their birthplace, Café 210 West, to get a feel for their roots. It’s a great venue with cheap, delicious food and beer. Every college town should have a place like this. The band was rousing, their fans carousing and the ladies just wouldn’t leave this band alone.
Lancaster isn’t a big city but it has everything a big one does; it’s “A City Authentic.” I got to see KGB in the place I met them: The Lancaster Dispensing Company, aka DipCo. The band sounded great but I called it a night early to save energy for Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday night carried me to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, namely Rams Head Live for Pirate Rob’s Birthday Bash. Sixteen bands performed for over 800 people and as a sponsor, I had all-access passes. This is not something I would recommend for the faint of heart. These people party like they’re on the Mayan calendar. You can still download a 19-song sampler from the Birthday Bash artists on my Gigspots.com homepage. If you think you can hang in any rock show situation, mark your calendar for next year.
Sunday night meant Philly for The TriStateIndie.com Music Awards at World Café Live. I’ve never been to the Grammy’s but I doubt they are more efficient or fun than TSI’s show. Ron Gallo as emcee and Dirk Quinn Band as house band made the beautiful World Café Live feel like a giant house party.
I documented much more about this weekend in my last blog where I also discussed turning fifty.
Country weekends still kick off on Thursdays. I slipped up to Elizabethtown’s Lynden Gallery for an intimate, acoustic round. Sarah Blacker, Jessica Smucker and Eric White traded songs accompanied by Eran Shaysh on percussion. The quiet while they performed enrobed their songs. The direct connection between artists and audience crackled. The show closed with a transcendent rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” that left me breathless. I will never forget it.
I left that show and drove six miles closer to home before stopping at The Watering Trough. The Wayfarer Experiment had a late show I just couldn’t pass up. This trio is knocking me out: raw talent and wild abandon in every show. It was a pretty late Thursday night even by my standards!
There were too many shows to choose from Friday night but the one I regret missing the most was Mike McMonagle and The Vulcans playing Lancaster’s newest interesting venue, “Live From the Cellar.” Keep your eye on their page to be sure you don’t miss something extraordinary and intimate.
Saturday night was another double-header. I began with a scrumptious dinner with my wife at Black Gryphon in Elizabethtown. Serenading our dessert/beer course were the dynamic duo of Leo DiSanto and Jeff Bryson from Vinegar Creek Constituency. Part one of the evening was delicious and satisfying to all senses.
Part two of Saturday night took me to The Depot in York, PA for some rowdy country and rockabilly! My pals American Hollar opened the night and showed off plenty of new material. The sooner you catch up to this band, the better. Mike Males has a new electric guitar that’s pumping up the sound and word has it that Jeff Hostetter (resonator) is considering a move to Florida. You can catch them March 28 at World Café Live at The Queen in Wilmington, DE as part of a great lineup as Central PA invades DE.
Carrie and the Dirty Pillows played an energetic set to transition from straight-up country to a rockabilly sound. Then came DiDi Deluxe and The Dirty Devils, Fly Magazine (Harrisburg)’s cover band for March. I must say, this band knows their stuff! You have no chance of sitting still when they crank up their rockabilly. They are an eye-popping, ear-splitting, foot-moving machine.
It’s hard to find time to write when you’re always going to shows but I’m trying! Keep the invitations coming and I’ll do my best to catch your shows next!