@ Sine Studios and Lickety Split, Philly, 2/15/12

I attended  two music events on Wednesday, one in the historic Rittenhouse Square area, another on South Street.
A perfect cool winter evening it was, walking through theSquare, hearing vesper chimes from a nearby church, bypassing lxuury houses and hotels.  I arrived at Sine Studios on South 22nd Street.  The studio was designed by Obie O’Brien of Bon Jovi. There are 3 floors of activity, with the main recording room on the top floor and control room on the second.  It’s a warm environment with parquet floor and a few dozen seats of various types. There are soft lights overhead plus wide lampshade designs with bonus lighting covering part of the walls. Also on display were bootleg album covers of classic rock albums we’ve all heard of.
There were CDs of the nights performers, and some lovely sweet desserts, plus plenty of Yuengling beer. I took a brew and one of the brownies (no, kids, not the magic type).
 Tonight was the first music event (invite-only) being held in the studio. Katie Barbato (The Sleepwells), wife of proprietor Matt Teacher, opened the show with five songs. One was from her latest CD “The Millay Tapes”. From that album she performed a “lesbian rock-anthem”, the name of which escapes me.  Assisting were two members of Ronstadt Generations: father Michael J. on guitar, and son Michael G. on cello  Katie is a heartfelt songstress, with music that is generally cinematic, putting the listener in a mythical time and space. Michael G. added some great fills on cello to Katie’s acoustic sound.

The featured performer tonight was Oxford, OH’s Lisa Biales.  Anchored with her trusty parlor guitar, Lisa performed about 10 songs including a few traditional ones and music from her 2010 album “Closet Hippie”. Katie was most curious about the song “Rainbow Jesus”. Lisa described it as a dream sequence in song (she attends a weekly dream workshop).  Lisa runs the Big Song Music House and hosts a house concert series there (Guy Davis headlines there in March). Along with this she is active in duo and trio shows across her native Ohio.  Lisa performed with great ease, a strong voice, and also was assisted by Ronstadt Generations for her appearance. They had just performed at the Arizona Best Festival in Phoenix (home to their family roots) plus a show in Tuscon before making the trek back to the East Coast.

I took the time to interview Lisa just after soundcheck.  She remarked how she’s looking forward to her newest album’s release, featuring more an electric sound alongside her acoustic blues based sound. Up until this album, Lisa had done all the work with putting together an album along with marketing and booking. This next album has an outside producer (EG Kight) and some help for booking and marketing.  I’ll have that interview available on the Web as soon as it’s fit to publish.
I stayed for two songs performed by Ronstadt Generations, who are Michael J.,  Michael G., and son #2 Petie (acoustic). They performed tight harmonies, both with a song referencing wagons (“Wagon Mound”), and a Spanish-flavored one, punctuated with foot-stomping on the chorus.
I ducked out on that note, said my good-byes and well-wishes to Matt and Katie, and took the #12 bus to Society Hill and walked over to South Street.  James Hearne, local acoustic songwriter, hosted an acoustic show at Lickety Split,  a 2-floor eatery laden with HD TV, a ton of exposed brick, comfy seating, and an impressive list of great food (not to mention some cocktails with G- and R- rated references!) I had a $3 Kensington brew, and a medium-heat small bowl of veggie chili accompanied with tiny white bread slices. The stage is shallow, probably holding 3 comfortably at best. It was a loose showcase affair, as James would play a few songs and let others join in for a few songs a time. I walked in while duo Venice Sunlight   did their thing. They performed mostly original songs, covering John Faye on one song (who was hosting his weekly open-mic at nearby Legendary Dobbs). The vocalist of the two has a strong voice, steeped in punk, and sings of everyday urban life and relationships. My favorite of the songs I heard was “Third and Washington”.   James performed songs from his own repertoire plus some from his local roots-rock outfit The Way Home. The band is are about to release a new album titled “On So Thin A Line”. They have gigs across NY, NJ and PA in the forthcoming weeks.  Another confident local songwriter, Douglas J. Lee, did a few songs (and gave me his 2008 CD). There was a young songwriter who did two songs, Tyler by name, who reminded me a bit of Mike Herrera and that guy from Dashboard Confessional.  Speaking of, I can imagine that the performers on the bill all grew up hearing those guys along with sound-alikes (thinking back to seeing Mike Herrera of MxPx back in April).  Perhaps this is the new Philly sound, along with the vintage roots-rock I’ve heard from a different camp of local artists.
Pictured below is the handwritten note warning bad tippers, and Venice Sunlight.

More photos at the latest Facebook gallery

One response to “@ Sine Studios and Lickety Split, Philly, 2/15/12

  1. Pingback: Radio Crystal Blue 2/19/12 news | radiocrystalblue

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