Tag Archives: The Grape Room

@ The Grape Room, 8/14/13

A solid night of indie rock took place at The Grape Room on August 14. It was my first visit to the Manayunk venue in months. I was drawn to the showcase hearing that Alex Kelly and Kelsey Warren (Pillow Theory) would do some acoustic music. I hadn’t seen Kelsey in years. Alex and I had been in touch for about a year, and I had spun her music plus interviewed her over Skype in January.  I ended up pretty early to the venue, getting there shortly after doors. Alex and Kelsey didn’t arrive until about midway through the evening. Frankly I wasn’t sure who was scheduled to perform and the venue’s website didn’t give me further indication. Nevertheless, everyone was present and accounted for. 

The Living have just released an EP, and their drummer Cori Barger was kind to give me a download card with their latest music. Hailing from Brooklyn, they clalm to have a folk-rock sound. Hearing the power between the 4 members, it resembled rock-folk…putting the power of rock into their songwriter-oriented material. If it was pop, I’d call it power-pop, but that’s not the case here. The music from their songs online are definitely more folk-oriented, tho the live performance gives a bit more of an edge to it, thanks to Cori’s solid drumming. Talking with him before the show, he mentions that the band has already played notables venues in NYC such as Piano’s and Rockwood Music Hall, and have done some regional touring in the Northeast.


Two bands who split time between Dublin and New York City were sharing bills, including a show at Mercury Lounge in NYC on August 15. First of these two bands were Empire Circus, a band I had not heard of, but reportedly was a project from another band. I learned after the show that, in fact, two of their members were also in the band Stand, a band I had given airplay to in the past! Stand stood out to me for having a great anthemic sound, not unlike their countrymen in the band U2. Empire Circus have an insistent sound, pushed forth by their lead vox and bassist. Good headbobbing music, quick, a bit of pop here and there but thoroughly rocking. Yes, reminiscent of Stand’s glory days, but Empire Circus’s material is even more accessible.

The same level of music can be said about Von Shakes, fellow Dubliners who help represent the best of the indies in that city (Delorentos is another such band that I’ve given airplay to). Von Shakes are an exciting 4 piece led by vox/guitar Paddy Brazel, who sported a short Morrissey-like (or is that Joe Strummer) pompadour. Similar to Empire Circus, the guitars rock out and the drummer is super solid. Hugh O’Reilly is on guitar and keys. On one song, Paddy and bassist Cillian help with the drum fills while drummer Ryan blasts away. Gaining a buzz in the world outside the States, it was a treat to see and hear two bands giving it their all on the Grape Room’s small stage. “My Side” I recognized from the band’s website, and it’s an electric tune, a nod to sounds of postpunk and thoroughly modern indie rock alongsides.

Alex and Kelly opted to play a short acoustic set following all that rock. I stayed for most of that set, as Kelsey strummed a Fender, and Alex poured out seductive soulful sound from her vocals. “Orange Circle”, one song they cowrote, was my favorite of the songs, which is also the title of her CD.

Lots more photos on Facebook. 

Video of Alex and Kelsey will be linked here, subject to approval.


@ The Grape Room 10/16/12

Earlier on Tuesday I traveled to NYC to get my point-and-shoot camera to get a general cleaning and to replace a battery door. The work took all of 10 minutes. Photogs, if you want solid service, please patronize the good folks at PhotoTech in Union Square.
Having mucho time to kill before my Megabus ride back to the Illadelph, I did a lot of walking, along with window shopping between Union Sq and Herald Sq. It didn’t take long for me to get my NY walking stride going, instincts fully in street-smart mode.
Suffice to say I almost couldn’t tend Tuesday’s show, had I not had the healed camera in my clutches. But the Fujifilm camera is just fine, and works like new. I was in attendance to see Brooklyn’s Freddy Hall & The Best Intentions, along with Denver’s Flashbulb Fires. There was a rather small but eager cheering section for both bands. Freddy is a young, humble songwriter with a Zen attitude to music. He’s equally capable of a an acoustic folk-rock Dave Matthews-like tune, and then turn the song inside out and bring in some audial pyrotechnics. Freddy’s guitar is versatile, between ripping up chords and being poignant on acoustic, changing moods within a song. He sports a clever use of words and lyrics, and a bit entertaining with the stage banter. Their drummer Marques Walls was particuarly hard hitting, and added occasional percussion with most of the song. Their bassist (name unknown to me at this moment) wailed away alongside through the show. Their next show is at Bar Matchless (whose performance space closely resembles The Fire here in Philly) is on 10/21, just after the CMJ Marathon madness.

Flashbulb Fires, like Freddy and the band, are a trio who are on a cross-country tour; they started this tour in Lincoln NE on 10/10. Their  CMJ gig is at the venerable Rockwood Music Hallon 10/20. The trio are Patrick on synth, Michael on lead guitar and Chris on drums. They kept the instrumentation relatively sparse but one wonders how they actually conceived and produced such amazing beautiful noisy sound for studio and on stage. I did spot an large aluminum pan between Michael’s stomp boxes, which he did use as extra sneaky percussion. I was immediately reminded of shoegaze types, those with a minimal of haunting words and a lot of strong chords and arpeggios plus a bit of electronics but not overpowering or taken away from Chris’s own strength there. Michael would bend forward at times getting into the music, Patrick would gesture with hands and slight wails as he involved himself at the lead. The synth was magical with a church-like Rhodes sound, and other times resembling Mark’s own guitar. There needed to be more of a light show with their presentation but they had plenty on stage, what with an amp decked out in Patrick’s synth whose front was covered in dark curtain and more flashbulbs.

Before leaving for the bus back to the civilization that is South Philly, I picked up CDs from both bands, plus a free one by local outfit The Defog, a rather conceptual, experimental band that had performed at The Grape Room on 10/6. Near the stack of CDs was a sports cap plus a sticky from an event promoter inquiring about gigs.
I had to dodge various wandering happy drunks on Manayunk’s Main Street. Is it a class thing? The idea that the higher in social class you are, the wilder and happier drunk you become? That’s how it appears to go in Manayunk.

Lots more photos on my Facebook gallery.

Radio Crystal Blue 10/7/12 news

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RCB Novus Ordo will also air separately. On this show I spin one song from
8 songs in one sitting and give you background info of each artist.
TWITTER FIVE TO FOLLOW: @PixelFishMedia @ajdowning @jenningsmusic @ComoBrosBand @danandfaith

So you know the word by now: Vance Gilbert scored another #1 finish in the Quaterly Charts. There are about 20 other artists who mathematically have a chance to reach the Artist of the Year title. I’ll reveal that chart, and similar ones, just after Christmas. Quarterly chart is at the top of the Chart page: https://radiocrystalblue.net/chart-page/

Had a pretty good time at The Grape Room, seeing Jeff Campbell and his band for the first time. Review of the evening at https://radiocrystalblue.net/2012/09/30/the-grape-room-92912/

This week I began courses in digital video production and production management. Digital video production is introducing yours truly to the Canon Vidia camera, which is what’s used for cablecasting.

I do audio interviews along with photos, video, and audio of live events.
You can see and hear evidence across my Facebook and YouTube channels, plus
the field recording FeedPlayer.Time, location and expense will be taken into
account before taking on a job. I’ve done this work for free, but that may
change soon. Also, with the video skills I’m learning, I might do more
video oriented work in the future.

10/6: Beaucoup Blue are at Ortlieb’s Lounge www.beaucoupblue.com
10/16: Post-punk alt-country songwriter Freddy Hall (The Best Intentions)
performs at The Grape Room www.freddyhallmusic.com
10/22: The Blakes www.theblakesband.com perform at Ortlieb’s Lounge
11/3: Katie Barbato, Ginger Coyle, Danielle Miraglia at Sine Studios
www.katiebarbato.com www.gingercoyle.com www.daniellem.com

11/15 Mr. Hunter returns to the East Coast, and to The Grape Room www.mrhunterband.com
From what I know about Ortlieb’s, it was was a jazz joint called Jazzhaus. Now it hosts DJ events, various genres represented, including a house blues band that plays every week, along with a weekly jazz jam, open mic and more. And Tex-Mex on the menu! www.ortliebslounge.com
I also do audio interviews at live events and also via Skype (cblue456)
Sending RCB love to those who promote the good word of RCB:
Outside of the US: Canada, Hungary, Hong Kong and UK have been the most frequent visitors to my website.
Most accessed photo from the last month is of Anjuli Josephine, when she performed at The Fire, on 8/22 https://radiocrystalblue.net/2012/08/24/the-fire-philadelphia-82212/dscf0747/
RCB Novus Ordo: First 3 artists heard on this edition are music by Philly metro-area songwriters/performers, all whom I had seen perform at Silk City , a lounge/diner venue in Northern Liberties. Corporate Hearts I had debuted for you last year, a duo of brothers who had opened for MxPx’s Mike Herrera at The Fire last year. Black Light White Light from Northern Europe have a wonderful dance/rock groove. . The Universal Thump is a most unique orchestral-pop concept by Greta Gertler and Adam D. Gold
RCB proper: Officially ended the 3rd quarter of airplay with this show, startign with my annual airing of “Song X” by Neil Young & Pearl Jam. This was teh first song I aired on my show back in late 2000. First segment featured artists who are performing at this year’s Folk Alliance Region Midwest Gathering, specifically artists who are on Performance Line during the week. One such artist is Chico Schwall, new to the rotation on RCB and who presents a tradiitonal song here. Chico mentions the legend of John Henry in his song; in turn I spun Andrew Calhoun’s reworking of that particular traditional song. Segment 2 starts with Kirsten Thien’s newer rendition of “Treat ‘Im Like A Man”. The original appears on her debut album from 2001, which I certainly did spin at the time of its release. A song similar in songwriting and energy by Deborah Lombardi was heard next. Segment 3: Spun a brand new tune by Social Hero, along with another great song by Blue Sour. Segment 4 includes songs musing on facing death and despair. Marybeth D’Amico’s “Der Grenzer” focuses on a soldier at the Berlin Wall. Paul Sachs follows this up with “Poor Man’s Out”, with powerful songwriting which opens his album “Oil Town”. Segment 5 includes another new song from Lee Feldman and a song from a new EP by newlywed Daniel Levi Goans.
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Dan Herman
Radio Crystal Blue
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Radio Crystal Blue
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@ The Grape Room 9/29/12

San Francisco-based songwriter Jeff Campbell highlighted a night of acoustic-oriented acts at The Grape Room on Saturday. I briefly chatted with owner Scooter outside; we had last met at Milkboy Coffee 2 weeks ago when he backed longtime bandmate Stephan (Steph) Hayes.
An acoustic trio doing various cover tunes opened. Billed as Hot Spoon Gilly, this local group serenaded the half-full venue with various cover songs. Someone in the audience was celebrating a birthday Some notable covers were Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up”, Cracker’s “Low”, OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and a song about mountains that I couldn’t quite place but really liked. The trio are Devon (lead vox, acoustic guitar), Ryan (2nd guitar) and Denise (vox). Devon mentions to me that the band is just starting out and are slowly learning some originals.

Reno Nevada’s Justin McMahon, touring with Jeff, was up next, doing a solo acoustic show. Justin’s voice has a certain Don Henley/Billy Joel warmth, a reserved high croon, and an earnest nature for telling stories. Each song was introduced with at least one anecdote. He mused openly about writing country songs, stating that there is only desert in Reno, and Reno is not exactly country territory, yet no one has yet come up with a definition for “desert music”.  During the set he performed two songs from his new album “Second Chances And Irreparable Mistakes”. “Pretty Words” in particular was notable for its life-affirming lyrics. He revealed a simple solid stance throwing himself into the lyrics. Justin began an East Coast tour 2 weeks ago and has performances ahead across NY State and New England before heading west again.

Jeff performed the majority of songs with his band, and did a few solo tunes, plus one with his drummer. Jeff has roots in Delaware County, and his family came out for this one. Most of the birthday crowd paraded upstairs to the lounge but more folks arrived downstairs. I was moved by “Laundry Day”, a song of a marked intensity beyond Jeff’s acoustic. The band performed one song from Pine and Battery, Jeff’s regular outfit at home. There wasn’t much banter during the set outside of his expressing gratefulness for the hometown turnout. I spoke with Jeff and his mom after the set. I’m told that Jeff does tour the East Coast every year, and will be around the area in October with shows in NYC and Williamsport. I’ve been spinning Jeff’s music on my show since his solo album “Stop And Go”, and will certainly add Pine And Battery’s music to the rotation.

I knew nothing of the final band on the bill, but it was evident that they had a very nice following. Long Walk Home, from what I’m told by several audience members are busy raising families and just don’t play out as often as before. In fact this was the first show together in 2 years for this five-piece alt/rock band. They played exactly 1 song before running into serious technical issues. It appeared to be an amp but I’m not absolutely sure. They spent at least 10 minutes on the issue, and by this time I had to catch the last bus out from Manayunk. The photos I have is from that 1 song.