On Stage: The Mavericks just keeping getting better

Also: Superstars headlining Made in America in Philly

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


The Mevericks have been together for more than 25 years and like a fine wine, get better with age. They perform this weekend in Reading.

There are few American rock bands that have the staying power — or the consistency of excellence — of The Mavericks.

The band came together in Miami just over 25 years ago and immediately built a strong following with its eclectic mix of rock, country, Latin, rockabilly, standards and cowpunk.

Despite personnel changes, financial difficulties, internal conflicts, a few periods in limbo and a variety of other challenges, The Mavericks are still going strong more than a quarter-century later.

In February, the group just released its eighth studio album “Mono” (The Valory Music Co — Big Machine Label Group).

Now, The Mavericks are touring in support of their new disc — a tour that brings them to this area for a show this weekend. On September 4, the “Mono Mundo Tour” will touch down at the Santander Performing Arts Center (136 North Sixth Street, Reading, 610-898-7469, santander-arena.com).

The current line-up of The Mavericks includes founding members Raul Malo (vocals) and Paul Deakin (drums). Jerry Dale McFadden has been the band’s keyboardist since 1994 and guitarist Edie Perez joined in 2003.

“We’ve been out touring ever since ‘Mono’ came out,” said Malo during a phone interview last week from his home in Nashville. “And, we’ll be touring through the end of the year. I don’t think we’ll be making a new record anytime soon.”

After releasing an eponymous album in 2003, the band did a support tour and then split up. From 2006-2010, Malo built a strong solo career and released several albums on his own. In 2011, a reunion, which was eagerly anticipated by fans, took place and The Mavericks have been on a roll ever since.

“What was the catalyst for the reunion,” said Malo. “The short of it, I had a collection of songs that sounded like they should be a Mavericks record. And, people had been asking us to get back together. Also, we missed playing with each other. That was a big part of it.

“When I made my solo albums — I did four solo albums — I missed playing with a band. When we first got back together, it was going to be just a tour. But, I had this music and that changed it all — changed the mission statement. We were excited for the new music — for the new record. We just knew it was the right thing to do.

“We played a lot of new songs on that tour. Our fans luckily liked our new music. We didn’t have to just play the old stuff. A lot of bands have songs from their catalogues that they have to play. The Mavericks didn’t really have to do that. We never had a huge Number One song. We’re not prisoners to our songs”

The Mavericks may not have had a chart-topping hit back in their initial incarnation but they still racked up a lot of impressive accolades — Academy of Country Music Awards’ “Top New Vocal Group” (1994) and “Top Vocal Group” (1994 and 1995), Country Music Association Awards’ “Vocal Group of the Year” (1995 and 1996) and Grammy Awards’ “Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal” (1995).

“When we came back, we wanted to play this new music,” said Malo. “We’ve enjoyed this era of The Mavericks more than any other. No strings attaches, no agendas — it was all up to us.

“Valory-Big Machine has been great. When Scott (Borchetta, founder of the label) and I originally got together about making records for the label, he told us to do whatever we wanted to do. It’s been a great relationship.”

The Mavericks released their first record on Valory-Big Machine — “In Time” — on February 26, 2013. “Mono” was released two years later almost to the date — February 17, 2015.

“We recorded ‘Mono’ last summer and it came out earlier this year,” said Malo. “We recorded the album here in Nashville. I wrote or co-wrote all the songs. Actually, I wrote most of them by myself.

“With songwriting for me, it’s whenever the muse comes –hopefully when I’m awake. I’m not that disciplined to say — I’m going to get up and write. And, I don’t really write on the road but I will get ideas and inspirations when we’re on tour. The songs can start a lot of different ways. Sometimes, it might just be a phrase. Usually, it’s a melody and a riff.”

“Mono” is not only the title of the new album. The Mavericks have never shied away from bucking tradition.

While in the studio to record the new album, the band realized that the songs required a different approach. They felt drawn toward the idea of creating an album that shines through its songwriting and instrumentation in a singular mindset.

So, instead of recording the new album in stereo with all the studio tricks that go along with stereo, the band made the new album in mono — monaural with just one channel. It was an experiment not without risk. But, the final result shows that it was a risk well worth taking.

Video link for The Mavericks — https://youtu.be/94xEZ_cqFFI

The show in Reading will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $59, $49 and $35.



This weekend, Philadelphia will be the site of one of the biggest street music events in the country. On September 5 and 6, the Budweiser Made in America will be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City Philadelphia.

The festival will offer a tasty mix of music styles and genres — a mix of older established acts such as Beyonce, Death Cab for Cutie and Santigold and new acts such as Creepoid, Omen and Strand of Oaks.

The full roster of acts for the two-day festival includes Modest Mouse, Grits & Biscuits, The Struts, Flatbush Zombies, Lola Wolf, Death Cab For Cutie, Banks, Axwell & Ingrosso, J. Cole, Bassnectar, Meek Mill, Big Sean, A-Trak, Duke Dumont, Saint Motel, Strand of Oaks, Bas, Cozz, Omen, Santigold, Nick Jonas, Jacob Plant, Gryffn, Halsey, Metric, De La Soul, Remy Banks, Mick Jenkins, Marian Hill, Post Malone, Mayaeni, G-Eazy, Future, GTA, Young Rising Sons, Creepoid, Superheaven, Earl Sweatshirt, Fabolous, Vic Mensa, Hop Along, Waxahatchee, Claude VonStroke, Action Bronson, DJ Mustard and, of course, Beyonce.

One of the new bands that appears poised to break out in a big way is The Struts — a talented young British band that has one foot in glam rock and the other in indie rock. The foursome, which got its start in Derby, England, features Luke Spiller (vocals), Adam Slack (guitar), Jed Elliott (bass) and Gethin Davies (drums).

Fans of the rocking quartet don’t have to brave the crowds along the Parkway to hear The Struts perform this weekend. On September 4, the quartet will headline a show at the Chameleon Club (223 North Water Street, Lancaster, 717-299-9684, http://www.chameleonclub.net).

the struts

The Struts

“We flew into New York last night,” said Spiller, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “It’s nice to be here. We’re looking forward to playing for audiences here in the states.”

Spiller, who hails from Clevedon in southern England, and Slack, a native of Derby, a town in the Midlands, first hooked up in 2009.

“Me and Adam met six years ago,” said Spiller. “We were both with the same management and our bands were falling apart. I went up to Derby. We started writing songs together and it clicked. We got together on weekends and eventually moved in together. Then, we got a band house in Derby and just started jamming out. We met our original bass player and drummer — Jamie Binns and Rafe Thomas — through mutual friends. We found Jed and Gethin in a similar way four years later.”

The band released its first single “I Just Know” in June 2012. The song was picked up by international fashion retailer Primark and used as the soundtrack for Primark’s “Denim Co” ad campaign. The single was also named as XFM’s “Record of the Week.”

Next came the recording of the Struts’ debut EP “Kiss This,” which came out in April 2014 on Virgin EMI. The band followed with its latest EP “Have You Heard,” which was released last August on Interscope Records.

“The songs on the latest EP had been around for awhile,” said Spiller. “After we recorded the EPs, we were just playing shows relentlessly across the U.K. — a lot of sold-out shows.”

The expected attendance at Made in America is around 100,000. Even though The Struts are a relatively new band, they already have experience playing in front of a massive audience.

“Last year, we opened for the Rolling Stones at opened for The Rolling Stones in front of 75,000 fans at the Stade de France in Paris,” said Spiller. “Large festivals are fun. I love playing festivals where you have to win over the crowd.

“Our influences are Queen, Bowie and Aerosmith. But, we always try to be ourselves. We’ve been working on a new album. Anytime we’re not playing live shows, we’re in the studio working piously to come up with the strongest album we can. We know everybody will like it.”

Video link for The Struts — https://youtu.be/9GuUbziASwE.

The all-ages show at the Chameleon will start at 7 p.m. with Highly Suspect as the opening act. Tickets are $5.07.



On September 5, the Chameleon will present an evening of metal music with Revocation as the headline act.

Revocation is metal band that got its start in Boston almost a decade ago. It features guitarist/vocalist David Davidson, guitarist/vocalist Dan Gargiulo, drummer Ash Pearson and bassist/vocalist Brett Bamberger.

“The band was formed in 2006,” said Davidson, during a phone interview last week from his home in Boston. “We were high school buddies that played shows in the Boston area. I still live in Boston. The other guys are in New York and New Jersey except for our drummer who is from Vancouver.

“Our old drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne is from the Boston area but he decided to leave the band. Ash is our new addition. We had toured with 3 Inches of Blood. Ash was their drummer and we just hit it off. We were looking for a drummer and he came to mind right away.

“3 Inches of Blood was breaking up so he was a free agent. Ash pretty much keeps the drumming the same and Phil. The song structures are so important. But, Ash adds some flair. He’ll be on the upcoming record — which we’ll make whenever we get around to it.”

Revocation’s music is aggressive, relentless and not for the faint of heart. A look at the band’s album titles offers a good idea of what to expect from the music. The quartet has released five studio albums — “Empire of the Obscene” (2008), “Existence Is Futile” (2009), “Chaos of Forms” (2011), “Revocation” (2013) and “Deathless” (2014).

A little over a year ago, Revocation signed a recording deal with Metal Blade Records. The band’s first album for the label was “Deathless” which came out in October 2014.

“Deathless” reached #124 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, #10 on the Billboard Hard Music Albums Chart (Current), #114 on the Billboard Top Current Albums Chart, and #1 on the Billboard New Artist Chart. The album was recorded with acclaimed producer Zeuss at Planet Z studios in Massachusetts.

“It’s the end of our cycle for that one (“Deathless”),” said Davidson. “We’ve worked it for over a year. We don’t have any new songs to play live. It’s very loose at this point. The plan for the fall is to cut from the ‘Deathless’ cycle and then sit back and write. I write most of the songs but Dan also writes.

“When we’re in the studio, we do the drum tracks and then layer the guitars and then add the bass and vocals. It’s the game we play. Almost every band does it the same way. That way, you get the clearest sound. We want our production to be raw and yet still have clarity.”

Video link for Revocation — https://vimeo.com/135373590

The all-ages show Saturday at the Chameleon, which has a 6 p.m. start time, also features Cannabis Corpse, Archspire, Black Fast, Thousand Pound Destruction and Almost Honest. Tickets are $15. 



The Struts won’t be the only band from across the Atlantic still introducing itself to American audiences that will have a show in the area this weekend. Pugwash, which hails from Dublin, Ireland, will headline a show on September 6 at the Tin Angel (20 South Second Street, Philadelphia, 215-928-0770, http://www.tinangel.com).

Pugwash, a quartet that includes Thomas Walsh, Tosh Flood, Shaun McGee and Joey Fitzgerald, was formed just before the turn of the century in Dublin. Initially a solo project by Walsh, Pugwash morphed into a band in 1999.

Since then, Pugwash has released five albums — “Almond Tea” (1999),  “Almanac” (2002), “Jollity” (2005), “Eleven Modern Antiquities” (2008) and “The Olympus Sound” (2011).  On September 4, the band will release its new album “Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends).”

“The album was made last December in wet, snowy London,” said Walsh, during a phone interview Wednesday from a tour stop in Memphis. “It was recorded n four weeks at Konk Studios.”

Konk is the legendary recording studio owned by the Kinks’ Ray Davies — the studio where many of the Kinks’ all-time classic songs were recorded.

“This was our first time to record at Konk,” said Walsh. “It was completely by accident. We had plans to record at a studio in Dublin. Then, they fell through and a friend got us into Konk to do the record.

“Ray Davies usually comes into the studio every two days. He heard what we were doing and asaid he liked what he heard. He even came in one day and sang with me on one of the songs — ‘Oh Happy Days.’

“Having Ray Davies sing on one of our songs was incredible. We all went to the pub together after the recording session. We drank and sang songs. The Kinks have always been a big influence so we sang some of their more obscure songs for Ray. It was a great night.”

Like Davies with the Kinks, Walsh is the predominant songwriter for his band.

“I wrote all the songs on the new album except for one that was written by our guitar player,” said Walsh. “When I’m writing, I never get lyrics first. It’s always a melody. There might be a little seed of a lyric — one word or one line.

“I write every sporadically. The writing of the songs for the new album went very quickly — 22 songs in 24 days last February. Then, we narrowed it down to the 12 we have on the album.”

Pugwash’s venture into the states had injected new energy into the band’s career.

“We’ve been around for a long time but last year was the first time we played in the states,” said Walsh. “Now, we’ve been back three times. We’ve played so much in Ireland and England that we’re in the autumn of our musical years there. We’ve been struggling at home and not much in England either. Now, it seems like we’re starting fresh here in the states. There is still so much potential for our music in America.

“For this tour, we have six records to draw from. So, we do an 18-20 track set. We’re doing some of the new songs and at least two from each of our previous albums. It’s a good mix.”

Video link for Pugwash — https://youtu.be/dPOCX7G5WhA.

The Point Entertainment show featuring Pugwash will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Tin Angel with Cliff Hills as the opener. Tickets are $15. This weekend, the Tin Angel will also host the Pam Knight Show on September 5 at 8 p.m.

There will also be Point Entertainment shows on September 3 at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) featuring Fishbone with special guest The Racket Boys and on September 9 at the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) featuring The Milk Caron Kids.

If your taste in music has a warm spot for vocal harmonies, then Simon and Garfunkel are probably at or near the top of your list of favorite artists. And, if you’ve ever listened to The Milk Carton Kids, they too are probably in a lofty position in your list of favorites.

the milk carton kids

The Milk Carton Kids

The Milk Carton Kids are all about harmony and their voices blend as sweetly as the Everly Brothers or the original Beach Boys. The two musicians — Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale — are like a modern-day incarnation of Simon and Garfunkel.

“We’ve never played the Keswick Theater before,” said Ryan, during a phone interview last week. “We had never even heard of it. We just know that it’s near Philadelphia but not in the city.

“For better or worse, not a lot of people are coming to the show just for something to do like they might at a venue in the city. At our shows, you just sit and listen and enjoy the show. If you want a great show, you have to suggest to people that it’s a listening event.”

In the two years since the release of their last album, the critical heralded “The Ash & Clay,” The Milk Carton Kids have earned a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album, won Duo/Group of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, were standout performers in T Bone Burnett & the Coen Brothers’ concert documentary “Another Day/Another Time” and completed a sold-out 55-city North American tour. 

This past year, The Milk Carton Kids were invited to pay tribute to Johnny Cash & Emmylou Harris — Cash on the Joe Henry-produced remake of “Bitter Tears,” and Harris at the tribute concert “The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris.” Now, the two singer-songwriters are touring in support of their new album “Monterey.”

“We recorded ‘Monterey’ on our last tour,” said Ryan. “We didn’t want to go into a studio so we made it in theaters. We went to venues four hours early.

“We figured that we’d write and play all day for 55 shows and we’d have a record. We did half the songs on the album that way and went to Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville to do the other half. That was over the course of last spring.

“Touring is a tragic waste of everybody’s time except for the 90 minutes you’re onstage. You get bored and get on each other’s nerves. This way, it made sense because Kenneth and I could spend productive time with each other.

“Prior to this, we had never captured the cohesiveness, fearlessness and spontaneity of the way we played together. We just took all the pressure off — took away the microscope you’re under in the studio. Also, there was no pressure because we had so many versions of each song. You always figure that if it’s not quite right, you’ll always have another shot at it.”

The two guitarists/vocalists have been performing together since 2011. Ryan and Pattengale formed a duo after Ryan attended a solo performance by Pattengale at a club in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.

“The project came together over a song Kenneth wrote,” said Ryan. “We were both unsuccessful solo artists for years. Friends told me that I should go see Kenneth play.

“He played this great song he wrote called ‘Memoirs of an Owned Dog’ — a song from the perspective of a dead dog recently hit by a car. I introduced myself. A few weeks later, he invited me to come over and play with him on his porch.”

That was the event that set in motion the creation of the Milk Carton Kids.

The Milk Carton Kids with special guest Kacy & Clayton.

Video link for The Milk Carton Kids — https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-hQZyeMLMag.

The Milk Carton Kids show is scheduled to get underway at 8 p.m. with tickets priced at $29.50 and $39.50.

dengue fever

Dengue Fever

If  Dengue Fever applied the same classification for naming for their Asian-based pop music as they do in Korea (K-Pop) and Japan (J-Pop), the band’s music would have to be classified as C-Pop — as in “Cambodian Pop.”

Dengue Fever, which has a show September 9 at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com), is a rock band from Los Angeles that plays a hybrid style of Cambodian pop/American rock music.

It should not be confused with dengue fever, also known as bonecrusher disease, which is a flu-like viral disease that is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes and features severe headache, muscle and joint pains and rashes.

Dengue Fever fronted by Ch’hom Nimol, a Cambodian pop chanteuse who sings in Khmer (the language spoken in Cambodia). The band also features Ethan Holtzman (organ), Zac Holtzman (guitar), David Ralicke (sax), Senon Williams (bass) and Paul Smith (drums).

The band’s debut album “Dengue Fever” was filled with covers of Cambodian pop classics. The second album “Escape From Dragon House” in 2005 integrated styles with lots of multi-tracking and a somewhat psychedelic vibe.

The Cambodian link started when Ethan Holtzman was backpacking around Southeast Asia in the late 1990s.

“When I went to Cambodia, it just blew my mind,” said Holtzman, during a phone interview last week from his home in Los Angeles. “It was so different — the music especially. It was 60s Cambodian rock and I really liked it. I spent extra time there.

“My brother Zac was living in San Francisco at the time. He had a friend who worked at Aquarius Records and my brother bought a lot of records there. He bought some Cambodian records there. Later, he moved to L.A. and we were living together. One day, I heard him playing one of the albums and I knew the music. I had the same album.”

In 2007, Dengue Fever released a DVD titled “Sleepwalking Through The Mekong.”

It chronicled Dengue Fever’s travels around Cambodia, including the band’s performance on a popular nationally-televised variety show, its gig in a tiny club, its songwriting sessions with the surviving Cambodian Master Musicians and its performance at the shanty town of Tonle Bassac. Stll available, it comes with a companion CD that features the band performing with Cambodian musicians.

The band is now touring in support of its brand-new album “The Deepest Lake.”

“We recorded the album about two years ago,” said Holtzman. “We approached the recording a little differently this time. We wrote together and collaborated in the studio. We’d go to the studio — three of us at a time.

“We started by getting ideas down. Then, we’d lay down some rhythm tracks. We’d then come back and develop it more. After that, we’d stop and listen again. We did it because it’s on our own label and we wanted to make something we’re really proud of. On each track, we knew when to stop. We were able to tell when it sounded right.

“In our current show, we’re doing four songs from ‘The Deepest Lake’ — ‘Tokay,’ ‘Still Waters Run Deep,’ ‘No Sudden Moves’ and ‘Rom Say Sok.’ We’re also doing about five old songs from previous albums and four or five Cambodian songs.”

Video link for Dengue Fever — https://youtu.be/jz0EJTuacf8.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s will start at 9 p.m. with the opening act The Downtown Club. Tickets are $14.


The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present “An Intimate Evening of Pink Floyd with ECHOES” on September 4.


Harrah’s Philadelphia (777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Chester, 484-490-1800, https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-philly) will present “Dance Queens of the ‘90s” featuring Lil Suzy and Crystal Waters on September 5 starting at 8 PM at the casino’s new entertainment center The Block.

Lil Suzy is best known for her hit songs “Take Me In Your Arms,” “Promise Me” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind.” Waters, who is also an established dance artist, is widely recognized for her songs “Gypsy Woman” and “100 % Pure Love”.  Tickets for the show are $25.


The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Barleyjuice Trio on September 4.


Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will have Bluegrass jam on September 3; Broadening the Daylight, Cortana, Buried in the Walls and I Feel a Presence on September 4; and Black Mesa, Pansy, and Ryan Tyco Conroy on September 5.


Melodies Café (2 East Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, 610-645-5269, www.melodiescafe.com) will host The Band of Rivals and The Chip Breakers on September 4, The Bumperyachts and Rachel Eve on September 5, and Nathan Earl & Rachel Joy on September 8.

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