PHOTOS: Al Chez & the Brothers of Funk Big Band at Allentown JazzFest

What. A. Show.

The musicians of Al Chez & the Brothers of Funk are so diverse in talent that it’s hard to classify what they do within a single genre. Jazz, rock, funk, you name it — there are probably elements of it within their music.

They’re one of the tightest bands you’ll ever hear. Crisp horns, smooth saxophones, blazing guitar riffs, and driving percussion come together to complement Chez’s abundant onstage charisma; soulful, gravely vocals; and world-class trumpeting.

The band’s high-energy, hour-and-40-minute set at the Renaissance Hotel Ballroom was the perfect selection to kick off Allentown JazzFest 2016.

Personally, I was very happy to finally check out the Brothers of Funk live. I know Al and his wife Cat from years of karaoke singing back in Jersey (yes, I’m originally from that side of the Delaware). I had always heard about the band — but now, I know about the band!

I’m also quite pleased with a lot of the shots from last night’s show. Check ’em out!

PHOTOS: Rofo Audio & Infinite Lives at The Originals Music Series

Last night proved to be a ridiculously good night of rock at The Originals Music Series, presented weekly at Chicago Restaurant’s Club Gravity by The Fyre & Ice Show.

Rofo Audio made their debut at the weekly showcase, while Infinite Lives returned. Both bands sounded incredibly seasoned and delighted all in attendance.

For us at Lehigh Valley Underground, it was a great start to 11 consecutive nights we’re going to spend out on the scene. Enjoy some photos!

Six Degrees: Allentown JazzFest 2016

The day has arrived! Allentown JazzFest begins tonight with a big night of music (and film) in the Lehigh Valley’s largest city. Lehigh Valley Underground will be at the festival throughout its duration to cover key performances and highlights.

As a proud, official media partner of Allentown JazzFest, we want to tell you what we’re most looking forward to over the course of the next ten days. For full information, please visit allentownjazzfest.org.


A ‘Funky’ BeginningTonight at 8 p.m., Al Chez & the Brothers of Funk kick off the festival at the Renaissance Ballroom. Chez, a world-class trumpeter whose performance history reads like a “Who’s Who” list, brings a rock and roll feel to big band music as he and his band roll into Allentown for a second consecutive year.

More Than Music – For the film aficionado in all of us, Allentown FilmFest receives its trial run at Civic Theater 514 during three of the festival’s ten days. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., FilmFest begins with the 1966 Antonioni film, Blowup. That will be followed by International Short Films on Sun., May 1 at 4 p.m. and A Night with the Experimental on Tues., May 3 at 7 p.m. Performing Arts Live! Filmmaker in Residence Stephanie Gardner will lead a discussion each night.

We’ve Got ‘Nerve’ Jojo Mayer and his trio Nerve will push the boundaries of jazz by intertwining it with their trademark genre-busting live electronica. This is sure to be one of the most unique performances associated not only with JazzFest, but the entire Lehigh Valley in 2016. It takes place Sat., Apr. 30 at Halo nightclub (22 N. 6th St.) beginning at 7 p.m.

I See London – After 15 years of touring, London-born singer Lucy Woodward makes her Lehigh Valley debut at Allentown JazzFest 2016. Lucy has toured with the likes of Rod Stewart and has major label credibility to her name. She’ll bring all of that and more to the Renaissance Ballroom on Thurs., May 5 at 8 p.m.

I See France Scott Tixier, a French violinist quickly gaining international fame, is coming to 187 Rue Principale for his JazzFest debut this Sun., May 1 at 7 p.m. Scott has worked with an incredible list of artists, and both his recordings and live show prove him to be a cut above the rest.

Homegrown Talent – Of course, what would a Lehigh Valley music festival be without plenty of our own on the bill? Regional favorite Hector Rosado will make a couple of appearances, and local music fans can enjoy performances from Joe Wagner, Tiffany Ly, Eric Mintel, and the Bryan Tuk Complex – to name a few – at different points throughout the festival.

QSLehighValley: Apr. 28, 2016

Before the show takes a week off to cover Allentown JazzFest, QSLehighValley, brought to you by The Valley Ledger, showcases more of the great artists populating eastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding area.

Track listing:
REVEL 9 – All I’ve Become (Opening theme)
Alpha Zero Three – Waiting on Myself
Rofo Audio – Blame
Mo7s – Gift Horse
Roi & the Secret People – Phoenix
Alex Radus – We Can’t Play Like Django
The Wayside Shakeup – Love is Temporary
Meghan Cary – Wind
Wet Dentist – In Order to Ascend
Duke Maroon – Heart Attack
This Way to the Egress – Devil’s Breath
Something Like a Monument – Auditory Seizure

Review: Mo7s – Gift Horse

Artist: Mo7s
Album: Gift Horse (LISTEN)
Released: April 2016
Genre: Rock & Roll

Mo7s has been hard at work since the last time we checked in with them. The duo has worked on more original material to support key holdovers from its previous album, “Hate Mail from a Love Child,” and the end result is the focused, soulful “Gift Horse.”

In addition to updated versions of “Hate Mail…” staples “Pretty Good Year,” “Sweet Young Kid,” “Think of You,” and “Why,” “Gift Horse” features new tracks cut from a similar cloth. Vocalist Amy Tomaszewski’s low, vibrating alto is delivered effectively, and serves as a great complement to the bluesy emotion brought forth by Dave Lewis’ guitar work on tracks like album opener, “Next to You.” The pair teams up well again on “So Important,” delivering brooding vocal harmonies on an anthem written in opposition of society’s comparative nature.

Crisp vocal harmonies and strong guitar work are a signature of “Gift Horse,” and are again on-point on the album’s title track, a barn-burning rocker also featuring a blazing solo from Lewis. Each of those elements to Mo7s’ music translates just as well to the searching balladry of album closer, “State of Mind.”

On “Gift Horse,” Mo7s appears to have found its voice. With a strengthening reputation for great live shows and a defined musical direction, the band has an album that could very well lead to big things.

Track listing

  1. Next to You
  2. You Have the Power
  3. So Important
  4. Pretty Good Year
  5. I Still Love You
  6. Sweet Young Kid
  7. Gift Horse
  8. Think of You
  9. Why
  10. State of Mind

Review: Alex Radus – Jewels & Tinware

Artist: Alex Radus
Album: Jewels & Tinware (LISTEN)
Released: 2014
Genre: Variable

Alex Radus is a versatile artist, capable of writing and playing across styles that range from modern jazz-pop to old-time country folksongs. He does this on his latest album, “Jewels & Tinware,” with an obvious knowledge of and respect for the history of modern music.

Most of “Jewels and Tinware” relies on expert guitar work to set the mood for each song. It is perhaps at is best and most beautifully intricate on “We Can’t Play Like Django,” an ode to the guitar superpowers of Django Rinehardt that features the stylings of featured artist Dave Cahill. Alex is no slouch, either – album closer “Disorganized Religion” is a fast-paced acoustic joyride that couples the artist’s smooth, multi-genre vocal punch with modern country rhythms.

Alex’s blues and jazz sensibilities are clear on “Jewels & Tinware,” with funky album opener “Genius” showcasing his vocal abilities right off the bat. A bit later on “Someday,” Alex slows things down while keeping things super-smooth in this romantic ode to anticipation.

Alex expands his horizons on “Jewels & Tinware,” and the chances he takes pay off. One example as the tastefully-done “Shoveling Stone,” an old-time country folksong right down to its lo-fi production, minimalist instrumentation and vocal harmonies. Also intriguing is the captivating story behind “Soldier of the Devil,” a rugged folk-country song that tells the tale of a World War II soldier who can’t turn back from his deeds.

If you appreciate versatility and a taste of history with your music, you’ll appreciate Alex Radus’ “Jewels & Tinware.” You’d be hard-pressed to argue that the album doesn’t contain a little something for everyone.

Track listing

  • Genius
  • We Can’t Play Like Django
  • I Haven’t Missed You
  • My Funny Valentine
  • Someday
  • Baptism Sketches
  • Never Get Lonely
  • I’m a Pistol
  • Soldier of the Devil
  • Law of Lonesome Hearts
  • Shoveling Stone
  • Disorganized Religion

PHOTOS: Scott Marshall & Marshall’s Highway ‘Sounding Out Against Heroin’

On Saturday night, local mainstay Scott Marshall brought his band, Marshall’s Highway, to the stage of the ArtsQuest Center’s Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem with a very important mission: to raise awareness and stop the use of heroin in our region.

Marshall, his band, and a few hundred of their closest friends went the distance — about three-and-a-half hours — for this cause, on an evening highlighted by great music, as well as stories from parents and addiction survivors. It was a night that was as emotional as it was unifying. Those in attendance drew strength and inspiration from each other.

Local contributor Lisa Robinson captured the event on behalf of Lehigh Valley Underground. Enjoy the shots!

The Quinn Spinn: Apr. 25, 2016

This week’s episode of The Quinn Spinn features new and interesting music for your Monday. All but three artists heard on this episode are brand new to Quinn Spinn programming, and none of these songs — aside from the obvious — have been played on one of our shows before.

Track listing:
REVEL 9 – All I’ve Become (Opening theme)
Crying Steel – Steel Defender
Norse Super Band – Seven Knots
Angels or Insects – War Machine
21 Grams – Phoenix
Cold Snap – Carnival
Mayfly – Infidel Castro
Wet Dentist – Community Piano
Alpha Zero Three – My Signal
Piqued Jacks – Reign of Clouds
The Howling Tongues – Vivian
Project Octane – Funktown Groovin’

Can’t-Miss Shows of the Week: Apr. 25-May 1

Guess what?

As April gives way to May this week, we can look forward to the return of this popular video meme. In any other week, that would have been enough, but we’re excited for a different reason: Allentown JazzFest!

We’re stoked to be an official media partner of this year’s festival, and you can be sure that we’ll be there quite a bit this week and next. In addition, there’s plenty more music where that came from!

Let that be your preface as we present the…

Can’t-Miss Shows of the Week!

Thurs., Apr. 28 | 7 p.m.
The Originals Music Series
Venue: Chicago Restaurant, 1179 Airport Road, Allentown
Admission: FREE
Description: Rofo Audio and Infinite Lives are the bands chosen to rock the stage at Chicago Restaurant’s Club Gravity this week.

Fri., Apr. 29 | 8 p.m.
Al Chez & The Brothers of Funk (AJF2016)
Venue: The Renaissance Ballroom, Allentown
Admission: $30 general admission, $60 VIP
Description: World-class trumpeter Al Chez brings his big band’s high-energy show to the opening night of Allentown JazzFest

Sat., Apr. 30 | 8 p.m.
JoJo Mayer/Nerve (AJF2016)
Venue: HALO, 22 N. 6th St., Allentown
Admission: $35
Description: Nerve helps open HALO after its brand of electronic, dance-infused jazz proved to be one of the big hits of last year’s Allentown JazzFest.

Sun., May 1 | 6 p.m.
WMUH Allentown and Alternative Gallery present: Gather in the Gallery
Venue: 707 N 4th St, Ste 103, Allentown
Admission: FREE
Description: Pete Hill, VoirVoir, CRUISR, and Cheerleader highlight this Sunday show for all ages.

Sun., May 1 | 7 p.m.
Scott Tixier (AJF2016)
Venue: 187 Rue Principale, 187 Main St., Emmaus
Admission: $25
Description: Scott Tixier, an award-winning French jazz violinist and a recording artist, makes his Allentown JazzFest debut.

Sunday Thought Series: The #UndergroundSwell Grows

In three months…

…and we’re just getting warmed up!

When I first hatched the idea for Lehigh Valley Underground, I did it because I believed in the talent and passion of our music community. I knew that our original music scene was on the verge of exploding, and it just needed some unifying forces to make the people aware of everything happening in their backyards.

We have a lot of work still to do. However, I must say that, in three months, I’m impressed with and inspired by how far we’ve come together.

Through Lehigh Valley Underground, artists have become aware of opportunities to perform and have their music heard by local and worldwide audiences. Lesser-known venues have received some much-needed and deserved spotlight. There was always a strong arts community here in the Lehigh Valley, but I would like to think that LVU has made it just a little bit closer-knit. So far, so good – we’re adhering to our mission, and we have big ideas to make this resource even better in the months to come.

Of course, it all starts with the beginning of another week. A new episode of The Quinn Spinn will hit sometime tomorrow and you’ll hear about the week’s Can’t-Miss Shows. In those two instances alone, you’re guaranteed to learn something you didn’t know before.

This isn’t any ordinary week, though. Allentown JazzFest kicks off Friday night with Al Chez & the Brothers of Funk. As an official media partner of the festival, you can be sure that we’ll be at that show and many others over the course of ten days.

Thank you for joining us as our #UndergroundSwell continues to grow. Stick with us, because the best is yet to come!