On Stage: The End of America brings harmony to a troubled world

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

The End of America

There is a band playing this weekend at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com) that is definitely a band from the states. The band’s name is The End of America and there is no way a group from Europe or anywhere else in the world could have that name and not get a huge amount of flak from American audiences.

The End of America is not some grand political statement – it is a band of friends, singers and travelers who blend three-part harmony with rock and Americana. The Philadelphia-based trio achieves a style that resonates with fans of Ryan Adams, CSNY, and Dawes.

On August 23, the group will be part of a special event at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com) – “25th Anniversary of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ featuring The End Of America, Naaemah Maddox, and special guests.”

The night kicks off with a Jeff Buckley documentary screening, followed by some of favorite local Philly artists performing Buckley’s celebrated album its entirety. Naaemah Maddox and The End Of America will be the house bands, joined by rotating special guests — Curtis Cooper, Matt Duke, members of Hardwork Movement and Ruby The Hatchet, and more.

The band has released several EPs and singles since its inception in 2010.

All front men of previous bands, Brendon Thomas, James Downes and Trevor Leonard met on tour in 2005. They went on to form a trio that highlights their vocal chemistry and captures the raw honesty of their performances.

“This is our 10th anniversary,” said Thomas, during a recent phone interview from his Philly home. “We released our first record in 2010 but we were writing songs in 2009.

“We all met while we were touring in other bands – front men and songwriters for different bands. James was in a band named Call It Arson. Trevor was in a band called Procession Came Opposite and I was in a band called Forever In Motion.

“We just got along like brothers. There was a certain attraction we found. Songwriting came easily and the harmonies were there.”

It took a while for the three musicians to come together geographically.

“In 2009, we were still spread out,” said Thomas. “James and I were living in New York City and Trevor was in Washington, D.C.

“Eventually, Trevor moved to Philly and we came later. James and I lived together while Trevor and his wife bought a home in Fishtown. I moved back to Vermont this year, but Philly is still my home base.”

The End of America (TEOA) caught the attention of the industry and fans alike with its debut release “Steep Bay” (2010). The trio followed up with its sophomore LP “Shakey” (2012) and the critically acclaimed eponymous album in 2016.

TEOA’s new single “Break Away” was released June 7, 2019 on all digital and streaming platforms and is also available as a limited edition 7” vinyl. It features a version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” on the B-side. Recorded at a barn cabin and produced by the band and mixed by Trevor Leonard, “Break Away” takes The End of America in a new bold direction — morphing acoustic instrumentation with drum loops and the bands’ signature harmonies.

“Break Away” is the first in a series of new songs that will be released by TEOA in 2019. The band will be releasing a new song each month for the remainder of 2019.

“For now, we’re just doing singles because of the change in the music industry,” said Thomas. “It takes a while to make an album. You can get just as much a buzz with a single.

“We write together and maintain a balance. We’re equal songwriters. We have sessions where we’ll do six songs and we’ll each take two songs to work on.

“Sometimes, we’ll bring full songs and other times it will be songs that are partially done that we’ll work on together. We’ve been working most recently at Gradwell House Recording in Haddon Heights, New Jersey.”

Video link for The End of America — https://youtu.be/GRY3L0uIb-U.

The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are HuffPost: Here To Make Friends Live! and Ashley Spivey of The Bachelor 15 on August 22, La Misa Negra and A Day Without Love on  August 24, Marialy Pacheco on August 27, and The Muckers and Buddie on August 28.

Rod DeGeorge

Guitar virtuoso Rod DeGeorge will be playing a hometown show (of sorts) when he headlines a show on August 22 at 118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com).

The veteran guitarist, who now lives in Bend, Oregon, lists his hometown as Reading, Pennsylvania – which is less than an hour west of Philly’s Main Line.

“I grew up in Reading – the Mount Penn area – and then later we moved to Fleetwood,” said DeGeorge, during a phone interview from Oregon last week.

“But I went back to Reading for high school – to Reading Central Catholic because my school didn’t have a football team. I was fullback and outside linebacker on the RCC team that was the district champion.

“At the same time, I was also into music. I was always into music – always listening to music. When I heard distorted guitar for the first time, I went – ‘whoa.’ I really got into bands like Led Zeppelin, Rush, the Yardbirds, Yes, Kansas, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream.

“When I was a kid, we never could find a singer or a bass player, so it was always jamming with guitar and drums. After high school, I played in several regional bands including Burnt Sienna.”

DeGeorge soon forgot about football and embarked on a career as a rock guitarist – a very successful career.

Over the course of his career as an axeman, DeGeorge has created an impressive CV. He performed at Inaugural Balls for two US Presidents, at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C and has done multiple performances at NFL Halftime and pre-game shows.

DeGeorge has been seen or heard on VH1, MTV, E!, Fox and in the 2011 film “Mayor Cupcake,” starring Leah Thompson and Judd Nelson. He also has been featured in major International publications such as Guitar Player, Hammer World and Guitar Player Brazil.

Kiss’ Paul Stanley was quoted as saying about DeGeorge’s playing — “Awesome! Reminds me of Jeff Beck!,” which is like John Madden talking about a young quarterback saying — “Awesome! Reminds me of Tom Brady.”

DeGeorge presents the following list of influences — Randy Rhoads, Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Yes, Rush, Steely Dan, Elliot Randall, Denny Dias, Jeff Baxter, Kansas, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Brian May, UFO, Uriah Heep, Jason Becker, Uli Roth, Eric Johnson, Allan Holdsworth, Greg Howe, Frank Gambale, Mozart, Paganini, John Coltrane, Beatles, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, John Petrucci, and Paul Gilbert.

The show at 118 North is billed as Rod DeGeorge’s Guitar Gods Review and is described as, “a tribute Show celebrating the music of “Guitar Greats” such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen, Prince and more!”

“My first solo release – ‘Cosmic Playground’ was in 2008,” said DeGeorge. “It was all instrumental and Guitar Player magazine picked it up. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental.

“My next album was ‘Quantum Dancing’ four years ago and that was all instrumental too. Right now, I’m working on a vocal album. I have a home studio in Oregon where I record all my music and produce records for other people.”

DeGeorge will also be playing a “real” hometown show on August 24 at Goodnites Lounge at the Crowne Plaza Reading. Between the two “Guitar Gods” shows, DeGeorge will also be part of a “Burnt Sienna Reunion” at the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach, Delaware on August 23.

Video link for Rod DeGeorge — https://youtu.be/LCIi3hRWsaA.

The show at 118 North on August 22 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Other upcoming shows at 118 North are The Quixote Project and Midnight Flyer Bluegrass on August 23, and The Core (Eric Clapton tribute) on August 24.

The Ocean Blue

Moving slightly west in Pennsylvania, you’ll find the home of The Ocean Blue.

The Ocean Blue is an indie rock band that got its start in the Harrisburg area and built a strong following at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster.

On August 23, The Ocean Blue — David Schelzel, Oed Ronne, Bobby Mittan, Peter Anderson — will visit Philly for a show at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, http://undergroundarts.org).

“Central Pennsylvania is still our home base,” said Schelzel, during a recent phone interview from his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“The Chameleon – there wasn’t a venue that played more of an important role in our career. Early in our career, (Chameleon’s) Rich Ruoff gave us a lot of all-ages shows.”

The Ocean Blue certainly doesn’t need all-ages shows for its fans now. Actually, many of the band’s early fans probably have kids old enough to drink legally in the state.

The band got its start in 1986 and released its debut album, “The Ocean Blue,” on Sire Records in 1989. It followed with two more on Sire – “Cerulean” in 1991 and “Beneath the Rhythm & Sound” in 1993.

The Ocean Blue switched to Mercury/Polydor Records for its 1996 release, “See The Ocean Blue,” and then put out “Davy Jones’ Locker” in 1999 on March Records.

The group’s latest two LPs are on it own label – Korda Records. “Utramarine” came out in 2013 and “Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves” was just released on June 21.

Schelzel discussed the decade-plus gap between “Davy Jones’ Locker” and “Utramarine.”

“We never really disbanded,” said Schelzel, who now works as a civil lawyer in the “Land of Purple” (Minnesota Vikings and Prince).

“I took a break to go back to school in the early 2000s. I was till thinking about music and working on it. There was a long time between releases because we all had a lot of things going on with our lives.

“There was a period of time as a teenager and in my early 20s that I devoted a lot of time to music. But I still had other things. I went to college and got my undergrad degree at Penn State and my law degree at the University of Minnesota.”

After a long break, The Ocean Blue rose again to the surface with “Ultramarine.”

“It had gotten to a point where we had written enough songs and had enough recordings for an album,” said Schelzel, who loves cold weather and thinks winter in Minnesota is beautiful.

“Another catalyst was forming an indie record label Korda Records, which is a co-op with ex-pats from other bands. We formed Korda at the end of 2012 and we have 20 releases by various bands — including Innocence Mission, our old friends from Lancaster.

“‘Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves’ was recorded mostly in our home studio. Recording technology has changed so much. We learned so much from recording in big studios in the past.

“We recorded one track in Buenos Aires, Argentina – ‘Paraguay My Love.’ We’ve played Asuncion many times and some of our biggest South American shows were there.

“The new album is our most mature album to date while ‘Ultramarine’ fit right in with our earlier releases. ‘Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves’ is more weighty. It captures where we’re at now. We think that the art form of an album is a collection of songs that relate to each other. Lyrically, it’s our heaviest album to date.”

Video link for The Ocean Blue — https://youtu.be/avmz3ct2XUU.

The show at Underground Arts, which has Riverside as the opening act, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17.

Vandoliers

If you’re looking for a band that mixes honky tonk with punk influences, look no further than Vandoliers.

An alt-country band with punk roots, Vandoliers seamlessly blends influences from two very different worlds.

The Texas-based band has a different sound — mixing raw, rough-edged roots music with the focused, fiery storytelling of frontman Joshua Fleming. Rounded out by bassist Mark Moncrieff, drummer Guyton Sanders, fiddler Travis Curry, electric guitarist Dustin Fleming and multi-instrumentalist Cory Graves, the skilled band has logged more than a decade in punk and folk bands between them. 

Vandoliers was formed in 2015 by Joshua Fleming, following the dissolution of his Fort Worth-based punk trio The Phuss, and an eye infection that left him nearly blind for eight weeks. During his recovery period, he discovered The Marty Stuart Show and the similarities between punk and country. During this time, he wrote the material that would go on to become the Vandoliers’ debut album, “Ameri-Kinda.”

With help from producer John Pedigo, Fleming put together a Dallas-Fort Worth supergroup featuring members of well-known local folk and metal groups Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Vinyl, Revolution Nine and Armadillo Creek.

The following year, the band signed to State Fair Records, and in October 2016, the label re-released the album. Its follow-up, “The Native,” also on State Fair Records, was recorded in the same studio where Willie Nelson made Red Headed Stranger, and was released in May 2017.

Vandoliers, who are billed as the next wave of Texas music, just released their third album, “Forever”, and are touring in support of the new disc. The tour will bring them to MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com) on August 22.

“We recorded ‘Forever” at American Recording Studios in Memphis,” said Fleming, during a phone interview last week as the band travelled from Atlanta to a gig in Charleston, South Carolina.

“The album was produced and recorded by Adam Hill, who has also produced bands like Low Cut Connie and Deer Tick. We were in limbo between our last label and Bloodshot. We recorded it in August 2018, and it came out this February.”

It is the band’s third album and first with Bloodshot Records. The LP is a mix of defiant punk, rugged Red Dirt country, and vibrant Tejano. The full-length’s 10 songs blend emblematic rock ‘n’ roll with bold horns, violin, and a slather of twang reflecting where the band is from.

“I wrote about 50 tunes for this record,” said Fleming. “It wasn’t hard selecting the songs to use on the album. You just kind of know. Some sings define the sound of the band. It is a band. It’s a democracy. It’s not me saying – this is the record. I’m not a musician — I’m a songwriter. I just try to sue the guitar a little. And, our keyboard player Cory also writes.”

The band has continually gotten tighter and more adventuresome in its brief existence.
“We’ve been together four years with this same line-up and we’re still based in the Dallas-Forth Worth area,” said Fleming. “We went to Bloodshot Records because we felt it was right. We still love State Fair. It’s a great local label. But the band felt that Bloodshot was where we needed to go as a group.

The album pays tribute to their home state, Texas, by putting a new spin on a storied history. Vandoliers are certainly telling a rock and roll story, but with a twist –delivered with a wink of the eye and a bang of the head. It’s twang and tattoos, grit and guitars, honky-tonk and horns, Tejano and Telecasters.

“I stared playing music in punk bands and I’ve always tried to do everything honestly,” said Fleming. “I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to do. The country influence came in because I’m from Texas. I don’t think country music is for teenagers. I didn’t relate to it until I got older. I just write my stories and play the way I play. To me, it’s just rock and roll.”

Area fans will get their first taste of Vandoliers performing live when they play MilkBoy on August 22.

“This will be our first time to play Philadelphia.” Said Fleming. “Actually, it’s our first time to go up the East Coast.”

Video link for Vandoliers —https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2I_I0txGUI.

The show at MilkBoy, which also features Rylan Brooks, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8.

Other upcoming shows at MilkBoy Philly are Soraia on August 23 and The Western Den and Rosu Lup on August 24.

Rachel Folmar

The New Summer Sounds Music Series will present its final show at Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) on August 24. The show features weekly winners — Congrat, an indie rock band from West Chester; Rachel Folmar, a singer/songwriter who is an incoming Senior at Unionville High School; Jac Conner, a local musician from Nottingham who attends Oxford High School; and  Felicia Berrier, a 16-year old singer/songwriter from Kennett Square.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host Grunge Puppy, Egocentric Plastic Men, and Trycheck on August 23 and the Mark Evans Band om August 24.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Jellyroll on August 23, Splintered Sunlight on August 24, Big Something on August 25, and Danielle Nicole Band on August 28.

Wednesday, 8/28 – 7:30pm

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents “The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Experience” on August 22, Electric Hot Tuna and Dave Mason August 23, and The Wallflowers on August 25.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will present Walter Trout with Scoville Blues on August 22, Adrian Belew with Saul Zonana on August 23, Mary Fahl on August 24, and Larry, Steve & Rudy: The Gatlin Brothers on August 25.

The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331, www.thequeenwilmington.com) will host “WSTW Presents Hanson: The Help Our Kids Concert benefitting Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children” on August 22.

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