This blog was originally published 8/22/13 as last summer ended. I promised to re-publish twelve of my favorite blogs in the first twelve nights of April to celebrate Gigspots’ anniversary. Then The Districts and Toy Soldiers played The Chameleon Club Thursday 4/3 and blogging duties were shunned. I’d have to say the “young lions” I named have done pretty well.
The Districts just finished a second national tour and released an ep with Fat Possum records. They logged numerous appearances in RollingStone.com and will be touring the US and UK all summer.
Bumpin Uglies has toured the US twice, played scores of festivals, played a Rombello cruise and opened for some serious national acts. This May they play The Fifth Annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival. Maximum respect due, mon!
SEEDS finished their first studio album, Questioned By a Ghost, to many positive reviews including my own. This band really rocks! Then they sold out of it and all their t-shirts and other swag. In short, people can’t get enough of this band and they now headline shows all over the region.
The Wayfarer Experiment continues to go through changes. I saw a five-piece version open for Cabinet this fall. I’ve seen Bjorn Jacobsen match licks and growls with some mighty players at open mics and jams across the state. I’ve seen Bjorn and Robin Chambers draw a crowd away from other stages at festivals. Bjorn, Robin, Nathan Arndt and Matthew King played a killer set at Lancaster Roots and Blues and then percussionist Matt quit the band. Word around the campfire is that Bjorn and Robin just spent four days squirreled away with an unnamed producer and recorded the band’s fourth album. Bjorn says it’s his masterpiece so I’m a bit freaked because the first three are damn fine works…………………………………….
I see a ton of bands and this summer has been filled with great music! I haven’t forsaken my favorite bands of 2012: Kalob Griffin Band, Pasadena, Lovebettie, Sweet Leda, Toy Soldiers, The Slackwater News and Cabinet. But you must be tired of hearing me praise them in every blog and all those bands have begun reaching national audiences. August’s sign is Leo so let me spout about some of the young lions roaring on the scene right now.
I’m totally high on The Wayfarer Experiment. This band has featured different players almost every time I’ve seen them (hence “experiment”) but the current lineup is a bonfire. Matthew King on percussion and Nathan Arndt on guitar and xylophone have been playing together since middle school. They are tight as tequila. Robin Chambers on violin is some kind of gypsy/faerie madwoman and ohhh, look out for her sultry side. Then there’s Bjorn Jacobsen. He plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica. He sings like a mix of Jim Morrison and Tom Waits. They call their music “dark folk and gypsy blues” and you will get it. I have all three of their albums and a ton of videos here. They don’t have a website, Twitter, Instagram or any of those fancy promotional tools. They just enchant you and haunt you.
Bumpin Uglies plays “white-boy reggae” and hails from Annapolis, MD. They play lots of songs about girls, weed and trying to make it as musicians as you might expect. What you might not be ready for is how well they play, how sincere and clever the songs are, and how groovy their grooves are. They will likely remind you of Sublime in the best ways. Front-man, guitarist and principal writer Brandon Hardesty is a focused, talented guy and I predict big things for this crew. I like EVERY song on their latest cd Ninjah: Reggae Assassins and they are touring nationally to support it.
SEEDS is a brand new band with their first album almost completed. Their website just went live. They are a rock band, no doubt, but their sound is definitely influenced by Wynton Huddle’s sitar training. He’s a nut, too, so their songs are funny, tragic, scary, weird, sexy, you name it. I’ve been a Wynton fan since he played high school talent shows and have followed him across several bands. This lineup (with Hunter Root sharing guitar duties, Alex Aument smashing drums and Tyler Smith thumping bass) looks like a keeper. Their tag line: “We’ll grow on you.”
Do I need to mention The Districts? Hell yes, even if your room is wallpapered with their posters. You rarely see a band find so much success so fast, especially when they just graduated high school in June! Their first two albums really rock in a real rock sort of way. Think early Aerosmith or Black Crowes for the vibe if you’re my age; think Spoon or Cold War Kids if you’re under 30. If you haven’t caught up with this band yet, crawl from under your rock and go see them. It will be easy to find them. They just opened the Marina Stage at XPoNential Music Festival (thanks WXPN!) then departed on a national tour. They will be based in Philly next month as they all head off to Temple University. We’ll see if textbooks or touring win out.
There is no reason you can’t find bands to love on your own. I barely scratched the surface of all the fine young/new acts in central PA. Tell me who you love and who needs to be on my short list to see!