On Stage: Kategory 5 steps up for Candlelight benefit show

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Kategory 5

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is a non-profit theater nestled in the village of Ardentown, Delaware — a picturesque artistic community established in 1900.

The Candlelight presents a season of great – and well-attended — shows every year but it is still a non-profit theater featuring talented actors working on a volunteer basis.

One of the things that keeps the theater running smoothly is its annual fundraiser concert. This year’s concert will be held on May 3 and will feature Kategory 5 — the winner of the 2016 102.9 MGK House Band Competition.

Local favorite Kategory 5, which has performed several times at Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, features Kat Pigliacampi (lead vocals, keyboards), Al Mullins (drums, vocals), Brian Becker (lead guitar, vocals), Chris Lewis (guitar), Kyle Frederick (bass guitar) and John Cassidy (synthesizer).

Kategory 5 is a classic rock band covering the best of rock, blues, R & B and pop music from the 1970s (give or take a decade). With female and male lead vocals, keyboards, dual lead guitarists and a powerful rhythm section, Kategory 5 is able to perform the most challenging music from the classic rock era.

“We play mostly music from the 70s — pop, rock, one-hit wonders, and classic rock,” said Pigliacampi, during a phone interview from her home in Unionville. “We do songs by Kansas, Boston, Led Zeppelin and Abba. I think we’re the only band around that plays Abba and Led Zep in the same show. People really enjoy being taken back to that era.”

Kategory 5 Band is a cover band featuring a diverse group of veteran musicians.

“All of us have played music in the area for decades,” said Pigliacampi. “Previously, I had done acoustic shows with both Chris and John. I went to Dickenson High and three of the guys went to high school together at William Penn High. John, Kyle and Al used to be in a band together called 13th Floor.

“We have a big fan base from our solo work. We’re all in our 40s and 50s and wanted to do the music we loved. We took 70s and 80s songs that aren’t necessarily mainstream and brought them back to life. We’re mixing it up.

Pigliacampi listed some of the bands whose songs Kategory 5 would be playing — a diverse list that ranges from Journey to the Beatles.

“We’re playing classic rock with an edge,” said Pigliacampi. “Our goal is to play a really good mixture of nostalgia. We are all good singers, so we have a lot of four-part and five-part harmonies. Al calls it ear candy.”

Kategory 5 has amassed many devoted fans in the area. The band has performed regularly at Dover Downs Casino and The Queen and has also played the World Café Live in Philadelphia. The band is known for its “Rewind 2 Vinyl” shows.

“We’ve been recording original material lately,” said Pigliacampi. “Our goal was to have an EP out in 2018 but that didn’t happen. When you start writing, you all must be onboard. We had to feel our way through the process. Right now, we have five or six originals recorded. We’re going to release them as singles.

“Our ‘Rewind 2 Vinyl’ show is a tribute to an era. Our original stuff is a different thing.”

What fans hear from Kategory 5 depends on where they hear the band play.

“I change the set list depending on the venue,” said Pigliacampi. “When we played Dover Downs, they had a dance floor so that called for a certain type of songs. The show at Candlelight is more a concert. We’ll do more prog rock – Yes, Kansas, Boston. We have more than 50 songs we can do so we can mix or match.”

Kategory 5’s repertoire includes songs by a diverse group of music acts including Abba, Led Zeppelin, Heart, Journey, Dave Mason, REO Speedwagon, the Doobie Brothers, Foreigner, America and the Beatles.

Friday night’s show will be just the start of an ultra-busy weekend for Pigliacampi.

“My daughter is getting married on Sunday,” said Pigliacampi, referring to her daughter Sierra, a Unionville High School grad. “She lives in St. Louis, but the wedding is here at Rockwood Carriage House. It definitely is going to be a hectic weekend. We’ll all relax together on Monday.”

Prior to that, Pigliacampi and her bandmates will be rocking hard at the Candlelight.

Video link for Kategory 5 – https://youtu.be/llUOYionTTM.

The doors at the Candlelight Theater will open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $25. There will be a cash bar and food may be purchased from the food trucks on the premises. Seating is general admission.

If you quickly say the names of the two acts playing May 3 at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com), it might sound like a grandfather in Belarus cursing out his pesky grandchildren or someone in Philly clearing out phlegm from a mid-winter post-nasal drip – Ecce Shnak and Pelekh.

Pelekh is Boris Pelekh – an innovative guitarist who is in the band Gogol Bordello and has his own band called Hey Guy. The show on Friday night at MilkBoy will feature Hey Guy, a provocative and theatrical indie rock band from New York City.

Pelekh, who was born Boris Fridrikhovich Pelekh, is a Russian-born singer, composer and guitarist who has been the guitarist of the Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello since 2015.

“I came to America in 1991 with my family when I was nine,” said Pelekh, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Queens, New York. “A Jewish organization helped us get out of Russia.

Fortunately, Pelekh was raised in a family that was able to afford clothes, food, and music lessons. His older brother introduced him to rock music via dubbed cassettes from the West, which were illegal, but they leaked onto the black market. At this time, he studied classical guitar technique from the age of six to nine then emigrated to the United States.

“In 2013, I went back to Russia with Hey Guy,” said Pelekh. “We did a few shows there and I visited an old friend. We played shows in St. Petersburg and Moscow.”

In 1994, Pelekh secured a full scholarship to one of the best music schools in New York City after auditioning in front of a committee. He auditioned at LaGuardia High School for guitar and was the only student in his junior high to nail the audition.  Once he discovered that he could adapt his classical training to learn Metallica songs, he found his calling. He learned a huge amount of metal and rock songs and was convinced that it was the only thing that he ever wanted to do in life.

At age 15, his group Demur headlined the LaGuardia High School “Rising Stars 3” performances (featured in the film “Fame”) in front of 3,000 people. The band was offered a record deal from Arista Records at the end of the show. Demur never followed up on the offer because Pelekh opted to attend Berklee College of Music to hone his craft. He ended up receiving a scholarship to Berklee at age 17 and went on to study jazz guitar and composition for three years. Immediately after graduating he began touring.

“With Hey Guy, I’ve been writing songs under that name since 2014,” said Pelekh. “The quartet that I have now came together three or four years ago. I’ve also been really busy with Broadway and other things. I’ve been the guitar player in big Broadway shows and I toured with ‘American Idol’ for a few years.”

Hey Guy

Hey Guy is a rare modern rock act that pairs haunting melodies and fierce stage energy with infectious humor, defining their own genre as “serious music with a sense of humor.”

Keeping with an expressive sonic approach and stage presence, the aptly-named Hey Guy is as bold and memorable as their name. The band’s catchy songs are cunningly layered, exhibiting a knack for uncanny melodies coupled with fierce riffs and sprawling atmospherics.

Hey Guy features Boris Pelekh, Oskar Hagdahl, Gill Alexandre, and Georgios Pefios.

“There is a well-oiled musical scene in North Astoria, Queens and that’s where we all met,” said Pelekh. “Oskar, our drummer, is from Finland. Gill, who plays bass and sings, is from Brazil. Georgios, who also plays guitar, is from Bulgaria and I’m Russian. I’ve had this band for a while, and I joined Gogol Bordello in 2015.”

Gogol Bordello is an American gypsy punk band from the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The group, which was formed in 1999 by lead singer Eugene Hütz, is known for theatrical stage shows and persistent touring. Much of the band’s sound is inspired by Gypsy music mixed with punk and dub.

“My life is now basically split between Gogol Bordello for five months a year and Hey Guy for seven months a year,” said Pelekh. “I structure work with Hey Guy around Gogol Bordello tours. I’m heavily involved with Gogol Bordello – more than just guitar. I help run it.

“The first Hey Guy full-length came out in 2011. Then, I did multi-media releases from 2011-2015. We wanted to do everything live in the studio on camera. Then, we did a four-song EP in 2015.

“Now, we’re releasing a new album – single by single. I like it better this way because recording an album with 11 tracks is such a huge undertaking. The new single – ‘Stereo’ – was just released on March 1. It’s also available at our merch table as a red flexi-disc.

“Our live set now is almost all new stuff and maybe two favorites form the past. What we’re playing onstage is all the stuff we’re going to put out throughout this year.”

Video link for Hey Guy – https://youtu.be/Frfia0GP70c.

Ecce Shnak

Ecce Shnak is a seven-person band with two guitarists, two “chamber singers,” a bassist and drummer. It was assembled to play the music David Roush composes note-for-note. Ecce Shnak, which is pronounced “Eh-kay sh-knock,” will release two new efforts this year – “Joke Oso,” which came out on April 5, and “Metamorphejawns,” which is slated for release this summer.

“Ecce Shnak started in Philadelphia in 2011,” said Roush, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Manhattan. “So, it’s quite an old project.

“I grew up in Connecticut. I moved to South Philly in 2007 and was a behavioral health care worker. Then, I moved to Manhattan in 2014. I spent the last several years finding musicians, finishing the recording, making videos and staying on top of the business part. The version of the band you see today is about three years old.

“It took a while finding the musicians to perform my compositions. I moved to New York to find the best network for musicians for the project. To find specific players, you have to cast a net as wide as you can.

“These days, we think of our music as ‘chamber punk’ – a mixture of punk, classical and pop. We’re one part pop music, another part classical music, and a third part punk music. Our songs are about love, sex, death, change, bravery, and food. Some of my main influences have been Clash, Gogol Bordello, Deerhoof, Harry Partch and the Roots.”

“Joke Oso” is Ecce Shnak’s follow-up EP to its 2013 self-released “Letters to German Vasquez Rubio.” It was released on released April 5, 2019 on Records, Man Records LLC.

According to Billboard magazine, “In the span of about 20 minutes, ‘Joke Oso’ encompasses punk, ska, twee indie rock a la Belle & Sebastian, rubbery goofball funk in the tradition of Frank Zappa and crunching, Meshuggah-esque math metal — all liberally sprinkled with humor.” 

“The EP is the result of five years intermittent work here and in Philadelphia,” said Roush. “I recorded it with Jeff Lucci. When I moved to New York, I had him finish some awesome mixes.”

“Joke Oso” was recorded and produced by Philadelphia-based engineer Jeff Lucci of Mo Lowda & The Humble in his living room, then remixed by Bryce Goggin (Pavement, The Apples in Stereo, Antony and the Johnsons). The original masters were by Sarah Register, and the final masters are by Fred Kevorkian (The White Stripes, Iggy Pop, The National, Phish).

“I didn’t have a story I meant to tell between the EP and the album,” said Roush. “Most of the songs were written in the last four years but some are 8-to-10 years old. There wasn’t an intentional theme, but a theme developed. The theme came out of what was there – comedy and tragedy at once as an interdependent process.”

Video ling for Ecce Shnak – https://youtu.be/KeumDE0LZAY.

The show at MilkBoy, which also features Creem Circus, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Other upcoming shows at MilkBoy are Fink & the Fury on May 2, Dave Patten on May 4, HomeGrown Open Mic Showcase on May 7, and LOLO & Garrison Starr on May 8.

Sacred Monsters

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will host Sacred Monsters on May 2, Lil’ Walter Harmonica Tribute on May 3, Terry Reid and the Cosmic American Derelicts on May 4, BLIND HOPE with Hive Mind, Strange Highways, and The Fainz on May 5, Open Mic with guest hosts Canadian Tuxedo on May 5, and We Kids Rock Guitar Showcase on May 8.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Open Mic Night on May 2,

First Friday Music Series @Steel City Coffeehouse & Brewery on May 3, and The Peace Creeps with Rob Dickenson on May 4.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will have its “Open Mic Talent Show” on May 4.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host Marco Benevento with special guest Sonni Shine on May 2, Valerie June with special guest Parker Gispert on May 3, Stephen Malkmus with special guest Eleanor Friedberger on May 4, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams with special guest Under the Oak on May 5, and Steve Earle & the Dukes with special guest The Mastersons on May 6.

 The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Marshall Tucker Band & The Outlaws on May 4.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will present Della Mae on May 2, Garnet Rogers with Natalia Zukerman & Crys Matthews on May 3, Graham Parker with Adam Ezra on May 4, Cinco De Mayo on May 5, Classic Albums Live Presents Beatles – Abbey Road on May 5, and Last In Line with Brand Of Julez on May 8.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) will present Early Elton Trio on May 3, Mary Fahl on May 4, and Wesley Stace: A Tribute to John Wesley Harding featuring Robert Lloyd on May 5.

The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331, www.thequeenwilmington.com) hosts Bowielive: The Ultimate David Bowie Tribute on May 3, My Chemical Slow Dance (Emo Prom) & Sugar We’re Goin’ Out (Speed Dating) on May 4, Pero Like…Cinco de Mayo on May 5, and Galactic Empire – Revenge Of The Sixth with special guests Lost Continent & Kitty Rotten on May 6.

Living Room (35 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, https://thelivingroomat35east.com) will host May 2, 2019 7:30 PM

Songwriters Night with Avi Wisnia, Amanda Duncan, Ian Flanigan, and Andrea Carlson on May 2, The LYNNeS on May 3, and Suzanne Lavine CD Release Party on May 4.

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