By: Rachel Rocks
It’s hard to believe Spring has sprung and we are finally crawling out of our Winter hibernation. There are lots of exciting things happening around Harrisburg and beyond. Flip through the magazine and check out our new advertisers! A few bands and a few VENUES! Not to mention all of the amazing advertisers that have been with us for YEARS! Everything from the bands to the music stores, we are all just one big family, family that needs each other for support. Speaking of support I was able to get away a few times this month to support some awesome bands and events.
My first stop of the month was at Double K to see Smokin Gunnz. If you’ve ever read my articles before you know how much I love these guys. They graced our cover last month, so I was able to take them the magazine and let them see it. It’s always stressful writing a cover story, but I’m glad they liked it. Smokin Gunnz has a great following at the Double K. That place is always standing room only and you can barely squeeze thru people to walk around! It’s awesome to see how much Zach just fits right in and keeps the show rockin’! Mike’s been stepping up and singing more songs, and Rick is doing a great job singing harmonies! Bob is still holding down the fort behind the kit, singing most of the songs flawlessly and effortlessly. It’s cool hearing them cover some new songs, it’s awesome to see them still continuing to grow even after 20 years!
The next night I headed down to Lancaster for the Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival. I was thoroughly impressed once again by the whole event. When I checked in I was given a VIP Press pass that allowed me access to anywhere! It was super nice and super convenient to be able to get up close and personal to some truly amazing musicians! Thank to Rich Ruoff for not only hosting such an amazing event, but finding all of the talent to play and entertain the masses of people. One of my favorite parts of this music festival is you can park your car and just walk to all of the venues. If the walking was too much for you, they also had a free shuttle service by Lexus vans, or there was always Uber.
Even while I was standing at the check-in table I already heard amazing music coming from the Main Stage inside the ballroom of the Marriott. I followed the music and found Kenny Neal and his band rockin’ the stage. It was a great set up with tons of chairs for people to sit and enjoy the music and a dance floor for those people like myself that like to get up close and personal. When I first walked in Kenny was wailing away on the harp, but then he switched to shredding on the guitar. Only the first band, but I was already so excited! Kenny Neal came up all the way from Louisiana, again Rich looks far and wide to make sure he brings in the best talent. The room was packed, all the chairs were filled, the dance floor was packed! I always love seeing so many people out supporting music, I just often wonder where are they the rest of the year!
Next I squeezed my body into the back stage at Tellus360. The Ron Holloway Band was on stage, holy saxophone player!! He was definitely jaw dropping to hear him wailing on the Saxophone! The sax is definitely one of those instruments you don’t see very much of in this area, and it was a special treat for sure. Ron Holloway and his band came up from the DC area to grace us with their presence, and I’m glad they did.
Next I walked a couple blocks up to the Chameleon Club for the Peterson Brothers from Austin, TX. You can’t let their age fool you, even at the young age of 18 and 20, their talent is well beyond their years and they were having a blast on the stage, playing to a packed house! Luckily I know some secret back ways to go from level to level in the Chameleon or there would’ve been no way to squeeze myself up to the front for the pics I got. It didn’t matter where or when, every venue was slam packed! The Peterson Brothers had an amazing stage presence, not only were they crazy good musicians, but their dance moves and just overall charisma on stage was just so awesome and refreshing to watch!
After a few songs I took a quick walk up to The Village to see Magic Dick and Shun Ng from Boston. It sounded like quite the combo by just the name, but inside The Village they were like a match made in heaven. It’s hard to believe a harmonica player and one guitar can be entertaining enough to call themselves a band, but I was truly impressed. Magic Dick can wail on that harp, and Shun Ng is a world-class guitarist and vocalist. With the two of them, it’s amazing the sound they can create. It was awesome to see so many people in The Village enjoying the music. While I was there Shun Ng even had his own solo time breaking out some Prince! His guitar licks were just crazy. I never saw someone’s hand move so crazy and fast up and down the frets! Add that in with his voice and it was just awesome! Before I got too mesmerized I wanted to get back to the main stage for Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers.
I’ve heard lots of good things about Tommy Conwell and when I got back to the main stage I could tell I wasn’t the only one. The place was insanely packed, you could hardly get in the ballroom doors! I hung out in the back for a while just enjoying the show, but after just a few songs I couldn’t resist, I had to make my way to the front. Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers played all over the midstate in the 80s and 90s. They actually signed with Columbia Records at one point, and had a #1 hit, “I’m Not Your Man.” They rarely play together any more, except for the occasional show, but obviously they still have some fans, ready to show up to hear them, whenever and wherever! Eric Hoffman told me that Tommy was the main reason he wanted to come down to the Festival, and I saw him, front and center when I got up there.
Once again I was impressed with the organization and all of the bands at the Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival. You can already buy tickets for next year’s festival. He only sells so many VIP tickets, and like I said before they are well worth it. I just really love walking around the streets of Lancaster and listening to all of the great music along the way. You definitely can’t see music like this every day, but one nice thing with technology is checking them all out on YouTube. Thanks Rich Ruoff for bringing such amazing talent to the area, it is greatly appreciated.
On my drive home I had to stop for an Energy drink to stay awake, so by the time I got off my exit I had plenty of energy, so I decided to swing out to Double K to finish off the night with Banished For Life. Doug, Sam, and Steve are always entertaining to say the least! For only a three-piece these guys really know how to rock a stage! They’ve been playing so long together it’s amazing to see how they gel and play together. I love how they play songs that most bands don’t play, but they are the songs everyone loves. Kudos to whoever writes up their set lists! After ending the night with a bunch of wild shenanigans it was finally time to go home and get some sleep. What a long, but very entertaining day!
I usually fly by the seat of my pants and never really know where I’m going on a typical Friday or Saturday night, but occasionally bigger shows catch my eye that I get excited about. One of those shows was a special Sunday night show at HMAC. The headliner was Buckcherry, which I was intrigued about, but the main band I was excited about was New Day Dawn. I met them quite a few years ago when they came to play the MMC, I loved them right from the start. They are crazy amazing musicians and just super cool people. I almost completely missed their show because I wasn’t expecting them to play second, but thanks to my super awesome spy Karen, she texted me to let me know the line-up, I made it there in time! Unfortunately, Buckcherry stage crew cut their set super short! It was rather depressing when they don’t even give them any type of warning, like one more song, or anything, they just cut all power to the stage and told them they were done. I told Dawn they must’ve been intimidated by their greatness! Luckily I did get to hear a few songs and snag a few pics before they were cut off.
The next opener was Emily’s Toybox. It was crazy to see them only play a 40 minute set, it’s like the show just got started and it was over. In true merch fashion ETB took full advantage of every second on stage and put forth their best effort to make the crowd love them, they were throwing out free t-shirts, and even throwing out drum heads like frisbees, drum sticks, picks, whatever. The crowd loved it! They of course also played their song that went viral on the internet, “My D*** Smells Like Chapstick,” which also had the crowd excited. They did a great job getting the crowd excited for Buckcherry.
I was actually pretty surprised when I heard Buckcherry’s set, I never really followed them, but I’ve heard their big hit “Crazy Bi***” too many times to count. Quite a few of their songs were a lot slower than I thought they would be, and they even sang a ballad! I was surprised at how packed HMAC was for a Sunday night show. The Capital Room is a nice big room, I think it can hold somewhere over 1,000 people, there weren’t quite 1,000 people there for this show, but it was still a great turn out.
This was an extremely busy week because another very anticipated show was Monday night, The Dropkick Murphys at the Sherman Theatre! I’ve never seen them live before and I was excited!! SLP Concerts hooked my friend Holly and I up with tickets which I am extremely grateful for. SLP Concerts brings so many amazing acts into the area. I know one of the bigger ones coming soon is Slayer!!!! They will be playing at the Santander Arena in Reading. And another big favorite of the PA Musician Magazine fans, Halestorm is coming in May also to the Santander Arena! Check out all of their concerts at www.slpconcerts.com, you can also check out their ad in this issue for more details. This month you can WIN a pair of FREE TICKETS to SLP Concerts listed on their ad by Emailing your request to INFO@SLPCONCERTS.NET by APRIL 15th. Do it now…back to our adventure…
It was our first time at the Sherman Theatre and it was a sold out show, so we had no idea what to expect, but I was thoroughly impressed! They had plenty of security doing searches and checking IDs that there wasn’t even a line, but we also got there after the opening bands already started, so I’m sure that helped. Then after Holly checked in to the venue we got a tap on our shoulders with VIP Skybox Passes!!! WHAT!!! YES!!! Matt Byers, a wonderful super amazing friend that I graduated High School with happened to be at the show, and happened to have extra Skybox Passes.. Have I mentioned how wonderful Matt Byers is yet?!? If you know him please tell him how awesome he is… anywho.. Obviously the Skybox is the way to see a Sold Out, Standing Room Only, Dropkick Murphys show, unless of course you are one of those wild mosh pit kind of people, then I guess maybe you’d like to be down in the mix.
When we got settled one of the openers, Agnostic Front was still on stage. I heard from friends that they are a good band, but they did an amazing job at getting everyone rowdy and ready for the show. They are from New York, but I’ve heard they’ve traveled thru our area quite a bit, I’m surprised our paths haven’t crossed before because they definitely play my kind of music.
Then, it was finally time for Dropkick Murphys!!!! If you’ve never seen them live, I highly suggest it. The energy that they have is completely overwhelming, and all of the instruments on the stage was super awesome. Obviously the bagpipes, but the keys, the banjo, guitars, everybody!! I couldn’t believe how fast they were all playing, you could hardly see their hands they were moving so fast!!! And they were that intense the entire show. They hardly stopped to take a breath. When they came out for the encore instead of just playing one more song… they played like 5! Definitely a great show and what a band to see the week of St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks again to SLP Concerts, Stan and Tim, for getting us in the show, and super thanks to Matt Byers that hooked us up with the Skybox seats!! What an experience! Stroudsburg was an awesome little town. We stayed overnight in the Hampton Inn, a nice little walk to the theatre, by far the closest hotel to the venue. Just be careful if you walk there, I swear that sidewalk just jumped up and attacked me!
It took a few days to recover from that super crazy weekend, I was glad I had a trip to Ohio to relax with family over St. Patty’s Day so I didn’t get myself into any more trouble. The following weekend started out Friday night with Frayed Nott at Chick’s Tavern in Hummelstown. Getting “Notty” on Fridays is always fun! It’s always nice to let loose after a long week of work! The venues are fewer and further in between for bands like Frayed Nott. Luckily Chick’s is in their hometown so it’s easy for them to always draw a crowd there. There was quite a bit of “Notty” stuff going on especially with talks of wearing the bigger “strap-on” next time! You just never know what’s going to happen at a Frayed Nott show, you better get out there and come check it out for yourself. Check out their ad in this issue and come on out and get “Notty!”
The next night was a long, yet delightful one. It started out at the State Pennsylvania Moose Association Meeting where they were having a state-wide karaoke contest, and me, Jen Shade from 105.7 the X Morning Show, and a Middle School Choral Teacher, Becky. I felt like we were all really fair judges. It was by far one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time. I couldn’t believe all of the talent! It started with 10 contestants, then 6, 3, and then 1 final winner. It was a real nail biter! The winner only won by a ½ a point! The final 3 contestants were so completely different, it was hard to believe we had to judge them all the same, when they were each amazing in their own way. For me in the end it was all about stage presence. Stage presence is huge to me whether you are a singer, speaker, etc. If you want me to pay attention to you, you need to pay attention to me (your fan). I’m thankful to Imelda for inviting me to judge at the event. It was tons of fun. I hadn’t seen Jen Shade in quite a while, and I always love hanging out with her.
After the karaoke contest it was time to go let loose and enjoy the rest of the night and the best place to do that is at Double K with Steel. I only stayed for a few songs because I was truly exhausted, but it was nice to relax and see everyone. It was JoAnne Jones, (Joanie’s Mom) 79th birthday! She was still up on the dance floor out dancing all of us! We also celebrated Dave and Linda’s birthdays too. Happy Birthday everyone!! Steel is always a rockin’ good time and this night was no different! If you want to check out Steel for yourself, check out their ad in this issue and get out there rockin’ with them!
I don’t ususally cover upcoming shows but Jim is bringing some great shows to the Racehorse Tavern. Jim at Racehorse has been putting in his schedule a while now and even tho I’ve only been down there a handful of times, I have a blast every time! His April ad is once again stacked with bands every Friday and Saturday night. One band in particular that caught my eye is Lovebettie on April 14th!! I met them years ago at the MMC and I was instantly impressed as were many otherres there, Alexandra’s voice is so distinct and amazing! I was thrilled to see that her and her fellow band-mate and husband C.T. have started a side project Willow Hill where they play as a pop-country duo! Lovebettie is also one of Jim’s favorite and rightly so. Following is from their “About” page on facebook and it’s worth a share so it will peak your interest and get you to the Racehorse to see them live for they are garnering interest in Nashville and continue to pursue an international career in music and when that happens you won’t catch them up close and personal like now — Recently named Rolling Stone’s “Band to watch” and selected in the top 3 out of 20,000 artists to perform at the Grammys, Lovebettie has performed at Milwaukee’s Summerfest as direct support for Pat Benetar and Rick Springfield. The band was also a mainstage headliner at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 2014 on a triple headlining bill with Queensryche and The Cult, and headlined the second stage at Rocklahoma 2015 immediately following Linkin Park and returned again in 2016). Lovebettie has also performed on Van’s Warped Tour, South By Southwest, and The Official Lady Gaga Afterparty for her Monsters Ball Tour. The band was personally selected by Jon Bon Jovi as one of three bands to contend for a tour opening spot, and has shared bills with multitudes of national acts including: Lifehouse, Hinder, 311, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Joy Formidable, Fuel, Hanson, Imagine Dragons, and many more. Their accomplishments are pretty impressive and well deserved. They perform all over so it’s great that Jim brings them to PA for us all to enjoy their great music and talent.
Also coming to the Racehorse is a benefit for Scott Golden. Scott is in Disorderly Conduct and has been performing for many years. This past winter he got sick and needs the music community’s help and because Scott has always helped out when called upon Jim and his crew are holding a benefit for him April 27th and 28th. Two days of great local musicians coming together to help out a fellow musician. They’re asking for a $5 donation but you know you can always give more. Bands include Disorderly Conduct, Y2Kids, Radio Bravo, Conviction, Willie Dikker, In Theory, Anicca, Hit or Miss, Dog Pound and probably more. Be sure to check out Racehorse’s schedule and support live music where it’s happening.
There is a new venue in Harrisburg called Club XL. They officially kick off their first event with a Dance Party April 13th to introduce to you their amazing set up. On Saturday, April 14th they will be bringing in Honey Pump and Smooth Like Clyde (two area favorites) at no charge. Then on Sunday, April 15th 105.7 the X is presenting The Redemption Tour with Puddle of Mud, Saving Abel, Tantric, Inherit the Earth and Small Town Titans. You must be 21 and advance tickets are $10.57 get your tickets now. Check out their entire schedule in our pages. They are bringing in some great music and the club itself is amazing and they promise to have the shows on their big screens. No cost was spared to bring Harrisburg a top notch club for the public to enjoy.
Well that’s all for this month. Plenty of music to see and hear this month. Check out all of the ads!! Get out there be safe, and if no one wants to be the DD at least call an Uber! If you have any questions or comments, hit me up at RachelRocks@pamusician.net. Have a rockin month!! And make sure and Support Local Music!!!