By: Chris Rider
Did you know that before Small Town Titans sang it, “You’re a Mean One Mr Grinch” was originally sung by Tony the Tiger? It’s true…at least according to the interwebs. Voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft, famously known for “They’re grrrreat!” originally sang the Grinch. “Jingle Bells” was the first song performed in space. On December 16th, 1965, astronauts aboard Gemini 6 performed the song with a harmonica and bells after reporting a “UFO” going North to South…a command module, and eight smaller modules in front. The astronauts produced a harmonica and bells they’d stashed aboard the space capsule and played “Jingle Bells” in a performance that Mission Control was unaware was going to happen. “Do you hear what I hear” is a beautiful Christmas song…but it was first written as a prayer for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Grandma got run over by a Reindeer” was originally written as a joke by a veterinarian…a joke that produced more than 40 million copies since it was written in 1978. Some random Christmas music facts that you didn’t need to know. They’re probably even true, I looked them up on the internet very carefully LOL. December was a busy month for everyone, along with all the “normal” holiday stuff, there was music everywhere…here’s a recap and a few images of what I got out to see this month.
My first stop was at the Abbey Bar. The opening band was Jelli, a 4 piece band described by percussionist Shelli Merrifield as “Hippy Funk Rock”. First time I’ve ever heard that description of a band, but it fit. I will say this is the first time I’ve seen a log saw used as a musical instrument…it had a very strange, etherial and eerie but beautiful sound to it that really fit their music choices. They played a variety of originals and covers including a really sweet version of Pink Floyd’s “The Machine”. Headlining the show was Medusa’s Disco. I think at this point, my psychedelic friend’s don’t really need any introduction here anymore. These guys put on yet another energetic and fun show of originals and covers including The Who’s “My Generation” that absolutely wow’d the crowd. Don’t believe me? Check out their first live album on any of the major sites including Itunes and Bandcamp for only $8 and hear an entire set of The Who by these guys.
My next stop was back to the Abbey Bar for a night of music with a group of friends that are huge fans (and it’s tough to blame them really) of the Mighty River Band. These folks always put on a great show covering a wide range of music from the Grateful Dead, and this night was no exception. If you’re a Dead fan and you’re in the area, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you have yet to see them. They play out a lot, so there’s really no excuse. Oh, and if you see them (or any other great music act that they bring in to the Abbey Bar), try their grapefruit hefeweizen.
A few nights later, I headed down to Carlisle for my maiden visit to the Molly Pitcher Brewery to see Rascal Revival play. Going down, I was unaware that there was an opening act so I was pleasantly surprised to find Jessi Adams of Hanover take the stage first. Jessi has a great voice, plays a multitude of instruments for a mix of her own original music and covers including “Hey now Hey now” by Crowded House as well as a mashup of I Can’t Dance by Genesis and the White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army”. I don’t think I’d have ever thought those two would go into a mashup…but she made it work and I really enjoyed it. Go check out her Debut EP “CALL ME HOME” on Itunes, Cdbaby, and Amazon Music. Rascal Revival took the stage next with their new bassist to play a set of their originals (including some new ones), as well as some covers including a mashup of Hakuna Matata & Don’t Worry Be Happy.
After leaving Molly Pitcher, I called a last minute audible as I saw on Facebook that Shine Delphi was playing at JB Lovedrafts in Harrisburg. I’ve heard Shine’s music but had yet to see him play yet, and also hadn’t been to JB’s yet so it was a bit of a two-fer for me I guess you’d say. First, I’ll say this – JB’s has a great beer list which for some reason surprised me for a pretty small place like this. Shine took the stage and was just damn impressive from the start. He’s a super skilled guitarist that sings heartfelt and relatable lyrics and he just looks like he’s having a blast on stage regardless of the size of the crowd or their participation. Turns out, I was actually there for JB Lovedrafts’ “Songwriter Showcase” which they’re hosting the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. Shine brought a fellow up by the name of Peter Stone, a solo folk singer-songwriter from the Harrisburg area that had a solid American style with some blues mixed in for each of his original songs. You can catch his act in at Molly Pitcher Brewing on January 9th along with Cumberland Honey.
Next up for me was a trip to HMAC. My original thought was to be there for 2 performances on the Herr St. Stage by 2 friends of mine…but it turned out there was a metal show with 3 bands up in the Capital Room that I just couldn’t pass up. This resulted in a little back & forth between the stages, but I needed the exercise anyhow and it was totally worth it. First up was Michael Cullin on the Herr St. Stage playing a mix of blues, rock & jam music including “Call Me the Breeze”. Not only is Michael a talented musician, he’s also a physics professor up at Lock Haven. I’m not sure if being a science whiz helps make him a good musician…but it doesn’t hurt. Next up on the Herr St. Stage was my friend John Westford. I know, this is a music magazine, why am I covering a magic act? Because I can 🙂 John brings an awesome act of magic, sleight of hand, hilarious comedy and illusion to the stage, his second time at HMAC. John has performed all over the world and I highly recommend seeing his act. Now on to the Capital Room for something a little heavier: First up was Gram Hetrick, a new Harrisburg self-described “Fuzz Rock” band. They may be new, but they played with skill and passion and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for them in the future to see how they progress. Second up was Illusions of Grandeur, a Lancaster based band that describes themselves as a “Theatrical Hard Rock/Fantasy Metal band”. This band hit the stage with an energy, power and ferocity that simply did not quit for their whole set. They look great, they sound great, and they put on one hell of a show. It looks like they’ll be back at HMAC on February 13th for a show and you really, really want to be there to catch it. Headlining the show for the evening was Reign of Z. When I was invited to cover this show, I didn’t have much time to do more than listen to a track or two from Reign of Z, and didn’t even get a chance to preview the 1st two bands (sorry!). Look Reign of Z’s “Reflections” up on you tube, and you’ll see pretty quickly why I had to see this show. I can’t speak highly enough of the opportunity I had this evening to see two bands with powerful female lead vocals (which I absolutely love by the way!). Reign of Z came on stage and kicked ass. They hail from the Pittsburgh area and recently released their debut EP, which I had to pick up after the show. I’m not sure when they’ll be back in the area again, but I hope it’s soon.
The last show I hit up for the month was at River City Blues & Darts in Harrisburg. A few years (ok, maybe more than a few) ago, I remember hearing the Middleton Bros. on WTPA when Coffee & The Jammer would play them, but I never got to see them. When I saw they were playing a rare show in town, I had no choice but to pay a visit and couldn’t be more glad that I did. Speaking to Charlie Middleton before the show, I found him to be just a down to earth nice guy that was more than happy to talk about music and the local scene that we have here, and he was nice enough to gift me a cd titled “Canned Lightning”. Thanks again Charlie! The guys then went on stage to play 3 sets of music with a truly wide variety including, but not limited to: Marshall Tucker Band, Grand Funk Railroad, Crosby Still & Nash, Merle Haggard, and two songs that Jimi Hendrix wrote and/or made famous: “Red House” and “All Along The Watchtower”. Two of my very favorite songs, and their performance of both was just downright magical for me. This was just a great night of music to end the month for me and I really appreciate all the work they put into the show.
So, there you have it, another month of music from my point of view. Got a show coming up that I should see? Send me an invite, shoot me an email or a message, let me know about it. 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 I hope you all have/had a great holiday season and I look forward to seeing you out there supporting all of the live music we’ve got in this area!