On Stage: Cherry plays on Pa. roots

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


There are three shows tonight in the area featuring bands from around the country and all three have Pennsylvania connections.

The band with the most local connection is Cherry, which is headlining a show on October 7 at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com).

Cherry’s new album “Dumbness” was just released on September 29 on Lame-O Records. The Philadelphia indie rock project features ex-Kite Party members Russell Edling and Justin Fox, current Three Man Cannon bassist Spencer Colmbs, and Lame-O Records owner Eric Osman on drums.

“I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania – in Tamaqua,” said Edling, during a phone interview Friday as the band was driving to a gig in Columbus, Ohio.

“I went to Temple with an English major and then switched to art. Now, I work as a graphic designer. Cherry is based in Philadelphia. I was in another band before Cherry called Kite Party. That band was breaking up and I wanted to continue doing music.

“I initially thought I’d write songs and record them myself. I didn’t have a band. But, in order to play the songs live, I needed to put a band together.

“The music community in Philadelphia is so tight-knit that it was easy to find great musicians. Justin was in Kite Party. Spencer was in Three Man Cannon. Jesse I met through another project and Eric runs the label. Our first gig as Cherry was at Everybody Hits in August 2015.”

Cherry is a band created with the intention of engaging in pure exploration. In the final days of Kite Party, Edling started to notice that the more serious they began to take their art, the less is started to mean.

As this was happening, Edling experienced a major life event that put the silliness of that seriousness into perspective, and forced him to re-asses how he felt about the band and music.

He started Cherry in an attempt to look at his art in a different way — to write a record that the band members enjoyed, and that never got too caught up in the gravity of trying to be an artist.

The album’s first lyrical idea comes in the form of “Everybody’s dumb / go and ask anyone.”

According to Edling, “The great equalizer of universal human foolishness. We all take ourselves too seriously, we are too precious, too self-obsessed as we walk down the street thinking about cheeseburgers, dog shit clinging to the treads in our business casual footwear.”

Musically, “Dumbness” covers a lot of ground musically and also is a meditation on the great equalizing force of human foolishness.

“With ‘Dumbness,’ I’d write stuff and do demos on my computer, show the band and then hash them out at practice. I was coming up with the basic framework.

“The album does have a theme. There was just this sense – a realization that people take themselves too seriously. The songs deal with coming to terms with that – that it’s not that important, that it’s O.K., that there is no logic to all of it.

“We recorded a lot of the album at Jesse’s spot,” said Edling. “He did a lot of the initial tracking. We finished the rest of the tracking with producer Matt Schimelsenic at his studio in the Poconos – The Bunk in Tannersville. It was nice to have someone with a different perspective get in on the process.”

Video link for Cherry – https://youtu.be/SuRbXvyILBk

The show at Boot and Saddle, which has Yankee Bluff and Clasp as openers, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.dww


SINK IN just released its debut album “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things.” Co-incidentally, the album was also released on September 29.

And, like Cherry, SINK IN will have a “CD Release Party” on October 7.  The band’s show will be at the Rusty Nail (2580 Haverford Road, Ardmore, 610-649-6245, http://www.thenail1.com).

With an energetic blend of soaring melodies and driving rhythms, SINK IN — Tighe Eshleman, vocals; Cobrette Bardole, guitar; Brett Latorre, bass, vocals; Stefano Pigliapoco, drums, vocals — is the definition of the DIY underground band turned pop/rock powerhouse.

SINK IN kicked off in 2015 by recording its debut EP “Wide Eyes” and embarked on a full US touring schedule. In 2016, the band released a single called “Castaway,” which amassed over half a million views on YouTube.

SINK IN entered the studio once again in the winter of 2016 to record its first full-length album “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things.”

“They list the band as being from Hershey and L.A. but I’m the only one from Hershey,” said Eshleman, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon from Providence, Rhode Island.

“I was touring in a different band – a band from Lebanon called Wings to Save – and met my new bandmates when the old band split up.”

Two of the member of SINK IN are the products of Pennsylvania high aswchools – Eshleman from Hershey High and Bardole from Susquenita High in Duncannon.

“Brett is from Sparta, New Jersey and Stefano is from L.A.,” said Eshleman. “And, our tour guitarist Joshua Lambczyk is from St. Louis.

“We recorded our first EP as SINK IN around Christmas 2015. Then, we relocated to L.A. to develop and to meet the right people. L.A. is tough financially.

“Cobrette and I were living out of the band van when we were trying to earn enough money to get to the next show. We hit Wal-Mart parking lots and had a full set-up with tents off the trailer at night.

“It took a while to get things going after the first EP. We toured a lot. It was a slow growth because we were doing everything on our own.”

Things progressed and now SINK IN has its debut album and a record label to release it — StandBy Records.

“We started recording the album in 2015 in Florida with a big-name producer and it wasn’t working right,” said Eshleman.

“So, we came back to Pennsylvania to work with Frankie Davis as our producer – the same guy we used on ‘Wide Eyes.’ We spent a lot of tine working on it at his studio Seven Dwarfs and finished it in May 2017.

“Everybody in the band writes. In the beginning, Stefano and I sat together in L.A. – Stefano on guitar and me on vocals. We got the structure down on the songs and sent them to Cobrette. All four of us sing. Our goal is to pull it off live.”

Video link for SINK IN – https://youtu.be/PgGsTFCYRFQ

The show at the Rusty Nail, which also features Forever At Last, Perennial, Ashes To Vanity and Trauma Bravo, will start at 8 p.m.

Lucky Chops

Fans heading to see either of Gogol Bordello’s shows this weekend – October 7 and 8 at Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) – should make the effort to get to the club early enough to hear the opening band – Lucky Chops.

The line-up of instruments for Lucky Chops includes trombone, tenor sax, trumpet, sousaphone and drums. It’s a mix of instruments that gets people up-and-dancing.

With no electric instruments, the band can set up and play virtually anywhere – from a town plaza in a seaside city in Italy to a subway platform in New York City.

Lucky Chops have played both of those locations and, it was in the subways stations of Manhattan that the band developed its initial following.

Lucky Chops features Josh Holcomb-Trombone, Daro Behroozi-Tenor Sax, Joshua Gawel-Trumpet, Charles Sams IV-Drums and
Raphael Buyo-Sousaphone.

“The band started 11 years ago,” said Gawel, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “I grew in in Berks County and went to Daniel Boone High School in Birdsboro. The rest of the guys are from New York City. I went to New York after I graduated high school.

“I moved from a small town to New York City to study at the Manhattan School of music. I met the trombone player in college.

The band started when they were in high school and three of the originals are still with the band. It’s been a stable line-up for the last three years.”

Holcomb said, “We met when we were in high school in Manhattan. We all went to La Guardia High School 10 years ago. It’s a specialized arts high school.”

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts is a high school specializing in teaching visual arts and performing arts. Situated near Lincoln Center in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of the Upper West Side, it was founded by Mayor LaGuardia.

In 1948, a similar institution – the School of Performing Arts – was created to harness students’ talents in dance. The schools merged on paper in 1961. The 1980 dramatic film “Fame” was based on student life at the School of Performing Arts prior to its merger into LaGuardia High School.

“When we began, we started playing in the streets and subways stations in New York,” said Holcomb. “We just all started playing our instruments prior to high school.”

Lucky Chops might be one of the few bands in America to hone its chops on the subway platforms beneath Grand Central Station.

“Play three hours on a subway station in New York and, if you’re good, you can make enough money to sustain yourself,” said Holcomb. “It helps you learn how to captivate an audience.”

Gawel said, “We also started doing club gigs. When we played in the subway stations, we handed out business cards and started getting offers to do weddings and upscale corporate gigs.’

According to Holcomb, “Two years ago, we got more serious about Lucky Chops. With the other bands around the world in swing dance, there was a lack of energy. None of them have the energy that Lucky Chops does.

“The reason we started pursuing it more seriously as a career was pour desire to expose more people to the instrumentalization and music.

“We have an unusual lineup and we want people to hear the type of music we play. There are five of us and we play 15 instruments between us. We like to keep it interesting.”

Recently, Lucky Chops joined the “1Million Club” on Facebook and celebrated by releasing and eight-bit video for their song “Temple of Boom,” which is the band’s first-ever animated music video.
The eight-bit animated video mimics Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers and Activision’s Pitfall, with each band member tackling different arcade challenges and teaming up to battle a five-eyed creature with their musical instruments as their lethal weapons.

“After the video went viral, we got interest from management,” said Gawel. “And, we went on the road a lot. We’ve played in 27 countries since May 2016 – mostly in Europe. Now, we’re opening for Gogol Bordello.”

Video link for Lucky Chops – https://youtu.be/J4TL54hPFE0.

The shows at Union Transfer will start at 8:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $27.50.

Fans of modern jazz are in a great mood this weekend when Philadelphia hosts The October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music (www.theoctoberrevolution.org).


The four-day (Oct. 5-8) music festival presented by Ars Nova Workshop in partnership with FringeArts, features some of the biggest names in jazz, experimental and new classical music.

One of those acts is Ballister, which will be performing on October 8 at Christ Church (Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street, Philadelphia, 215-922-1695).

Ballister, the powerhouse trans-Atlantic trio featuring Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis, Chicago anti-cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, is touring in support of its recent Aerophonic Records release “Slag,” and its recent Dropa Disc release “Low Level Stink.”

This free-wheeling grouping was an idea discussed for several years by the band members before they eventually met at a closed session in 2009.

“Back in 2009, we felt this trio could be a good fit,” said Rempis, during a phone interview Thursday from a tour stop in Columbia, South Carolina.

Since the session felt great, they went ahead with some live dates in 2010, also self-releasing the limited edition live recording “Bastard String” that year.

“We did about 10 concerts in 2010 and they went really well. Since then, we’ve toured the states five times and Europe three times.”

Ballister has released five other recordings – “Mechanisms” (Clean Feed Records, 2012), “Mi Casa es en Fuego” (self-released, 2013), “Both Ends” (Bocian Records, 2014) and “Worse For The Wear” (Aerophonic Records, 2015).

The trio’s most recent release, “Slag” came out on Aerophonic Records in January, and was soon joined by a limited edition LP/DVD combo titled “Low Level Stink” on the Belgian imprint Dropa Disc.

“We recorded ‘Slag’ in March 2015 in London on a tour we were doing then,” said Rempis. “It came out on my label Aerophonic Records earlier this year.

“We try to combine releases with other live work. Every two years, we go out for a few tours. It’s a cycle of balancing a lot of different things. All three of us are also involved in a variety of other projects.”

Ballister is a hard-hitting group. The unabashed energy of Rempis and Nilssen-Love, coupled with the electrified cello antics of Lonberg-Holm, make for a powerful listening experience that combines driving grooves with noisy textures and occasional melodic interjections.

These sliding and overlapping rhythms often give the music a feeling as if a rug is slowly being pulled out from underneath the listener while the music still maintains a strong forward momentum.

“Slag,” which was recorded live at the renowned Café Oto in London in March of 2015, finds a well-honed working unit that has settled into a deep groove in the middle of a long European tour.

“On ‘Slag,’ everything is free improvised music,” said Rempis. “There are certain areas we gravitate toward musically but we don’t set out to re-create anything we’ve played before. It’s more organic.

“Ideally, if the band is playing well, we’re all on the same page where the music is going. The music is a vessel. We’re not asking questions about how to continue. We just let it flow.”

Video link for Ballister — https://youtu.be/oTgbt7BSu5Q.

The show at Christ Church will start at 6:30 p.m.

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