By: Chris Rider
August is about over in a flash…I’m not gonna lie, I’m not going to miss the heat. What a month of music though! I got out 6 or 7 nights and photographed 11 bands PLUS another 11 or 12 performers that showed up for the 3rd CPMHOF Open Mic. I got to capture one of my favorite bands, I got to capture my first ever “larger” country concert (and had a total blast doing it!). I got yet another reminder of one of the things I love the most about live music…seeing young people out there enjoying the show and having the time of their lives.
First night out was down to the HMAC Stage On Herr for a night of music that was the equivalent of a double shot of epinephrine. Starting out the night was Bloomsburg based hard rock/pop/punk trio Powder Keg Culture. These guys hit the stage hard and fast with a great sound. Next up was a band I’ve followed for a while now on the Book of Faces, but hadn’t had the chance to catch until now: Coffee With Lions. This York 4-piece punk rock band came out on stage with more energy than a feral pack of 4 year old’s after drinking their weight in Redbull’s (side note, I can’t stand Red Bull LOL). Their music was fast, hard and just had an awesome energy that was simply infectious. With their lead singer out on the floor belting out their entire set, spinning, thrashing with their fans (which by the way was incredibly difficult to capture, but awesome to see this interaction with the crowd!)…I absolutely loved their set and can’t wait to catch them again. Headlining the evening was celtic/pirate punk rock (think Dropkick with a twist) Harrisburg based Hold Fast. This is a genre that I’d like to catch more of (and WILL in the future without a doubt!). They played a ton of originals and a few covers that they twisted into their own even mashing up a few songs in ways I probably never would have thought of. I can’t stress this enough…if you like punk rock, you NEED to catch not one, but all three of these bands at some point…you won’t regret it. I did drive home thinking I should probably queue up some Barry Manilow or something just to slow my heart-rate to avoid a speeding ticket and hopefully have a chance of sleeping that night…note – I did not LOL.
My next trip out was back to HMAC to support the Central Pennsylvania Music Hall Of Fame’s Open Mic for their 3rd show. This week we had guest host Chris Auxt start the evening off with a few songs in a sort of mellow Americana style including a song he wrote about his love for Whiskey…definitely a subject I can get behind. We were then joined by a plethora of local musicians including Christy Rossi, Phil Goode, Matt Corson (who was in town on vacation from New Mexico and saw a Facebook post about the evening and just decided to show up!), Michael Curry, Keegan Finnerty, Timothy 3:13 Papaveli, Ari De Leo, Emily, Reg, John Rosseu & CPMHOF’s very own Brandon Valentine. I may have even missed a few names here, and if I did I truly apologize. It was an outstanding night of music!
A few days later Wendy and I headed down to the Roadhouse Pavilion on the Carlisle Pike at Appalachian Harley Davidson to see some good friends of mine perform, as well as some folks that I’ve known through Facebook for a while but had yet to actually meet. Starting off a great afternoon of music, Central-PA based Psycho City kicked it off with some great covers of 90’s rock including Alice In Chains, Audioslave, The Cult, AC/DC and many more. Butch Boyer is on vocals…we’ve been friends through FB for a while, but this was my first time catching him. What a great performance, I can’t wait to catch him again in the future either in this band or his other band Spinebelt. Following Butch and the guys was my friends in Stricken – A Disturbed Band. Playing all of Disturb’s popular hits, as well as their version of one of my favorite covers of all time “Sound Of Silence” which Dave Z does an outstanding job singing…it was a great afternoon of music.
The following day we headed over to the Shermans Creek Inn for some music out under their tent. Enjoying a Troy’s Heartattack Burger (bacon cheeseburger in a grilled cheese sammich on garlic bread…this thing is AMAZING!!!) and a few tasty beverages while finally catching Six Whiskey Revival was a perfect cap to the weekend. This 3 piece family band lead by father-son duo Mark Sutherland Jr & Sr, they are currently working recording on their first album. They covered a variety of tunes including Bad To The Bone, Are You Gonna Go My Way, and one of my favorite Hendrix tunes Red House all with their own great rock style.
The following week I got to photograph a show I’ve been waiting for since I last saw this headliner last year for my first time. Once again at HMAC (no, I’m not having my mail sent there yet, but I do seem to end up there a lot eh? LOL), one of my favorite bands: Palestine, Texas based rock band Blacktop Mojo. I got down to the Stage On Herr to catch Allentown based blues/rock band Johnny B And The Storytellers first. These guys played a great set that of blues and soul music that were written directly from the pages of their lives…deep songs with a lot of heart. Headlining the evening, as I mentioned, was Blacktop Mojo. You can find their music on all streaming platforms, tons of videos on Youtube, etc…and to put it simply, these guys just killed it. Playing an incredible setlist that included a number of my favorites like Can’t Sleep, Wicked Woman, It Won’t Last, Burn The Ships, and ending the evening with an awe-inspiring cover of Whole Lotta Love…this was a show I simply won’t forget. After the show was over, Matt and Catt (singer & bass players from the band) asked my friend Tracy and I to hang out and party with them at HMAC’s bar, and who am I to refuse such an offer? These guys are quite simply just awesome human beings. They bring incredible music and a beautiful connection to their fans, leaving nothing behind when they play. They love what they do, they love sharing it with their fans, and are living their best life.
My final show of the month was one that had me stepping out of my normal “box”…while I’ve covered a few small country shows, I traveled up to Sunbury to Spyglass Ridge Winery for my first “bigger” country concert. I was pretty excited to share this experience with Wendy as she’s a big country fan. Starting off the evening was Claudia Hoyser – a young female country singer performing a number of covers and originals including her song Duke Devlin, a song about an original Woodstock hippy that is still AT Woodstock. The video for this song is currently in the running on CMT’s 12-Pack Countdown. Following her was Camp Hill native Ben Gallaher who currently lives in Nashville. Ben played with an amazing energy and instantly connected with the crowd of well over 3500 people playing a great mix of originals with a few covers. Headlining the evening was Chase Rice, an up and coming country music star with over one million followers on Facebook. Chase plays a lot of songs (all originals) that are about life, love and drinking (it IS country afterall!) and it was very clear from the crowd’s reaction that he was very much loved. His crowd interaction was possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen, even bringing out a cooler of beer and tossing cans of Coors to many of his fans to share a drink with him. He spent probably 20 minutes at the end of the show taking shirts, hats and even boots from his adoring fans for signatures. At one point he was even handed up one fan’s dog to be held up in front of the crowd and walk around on stage! LOL He had fans there of all ages…and I have to mention a moment that happened for me during this show. I met a young fan of 10 years old named Carson who told me he was Chase’s biggest fan. Carson posed for a pic for me along the rail (he was on the rail the entire night!) with Chase in the background, which I posted today and within just a few short hours has turned into possibly my most popular single image on my photography page. I have mentioned this before, and I’ll keep saying it: I love seeing kids at concerts with their parents. These young fans are music’s future and there is nothing I love more than seeing them enjoying and partaking in our incredible music scene.
So there it is, my month of music through my eyes and ears. Just a reminder: if you’ve got a show coming up that I should see; make sure to send me an invite, shoot me an email or a message, let me know about it. Venues: please don’t hesitate to reach out to me as well. The majority of the shows that I go and shoot I find out about through invites from all of you or your friends. Hit me up on facebook: @chrisriderphotography or email: email@example.com, stop me if you see me out & around and say hi. Until next month…go find some live music and give them and the venue your support, they truly need it more now than they ever did.