There is a myth that exists in the Lehigh Valley, and it goes a little something like this: the music scene dries up when summer ends. As the sun begins to set earlier in the day, so, too, does it set on the active season in our arts and culture community.
That notion could not be further from the truth.
Between festivals, showcases, and our typical haunts, our dance card is already filling up for the fall, and will likely keep us out of the pumpkin patches and absorbing the sights and sounds as the autumn chill permeates the air. Here’s what’s on our radar.
Dates: Now through Oct. 2 Location: Cedar Beach Park, Allentown Description: ArtsFest 2016 features more than 300 artists, vendors, musicians, buskers and performers. All admission and entertainment is FREE for all ages.
Dates: Now through Oct. 2; Oct. 7-9 Location: SteelStacks, Bethlehem Description: Music isn’t all Oktoberfest has to offer, with games, dachshund races, food and, of course, plenty of great beer. If you’re looking for tunes, though, Scott Marshall (10/1, 9 p.m.), The Moondogs (10/8, 4 p.m.), and Truth & Soul (10/9, 12 p.m.) are among the highlights that stand out to us.
Thirteen Butterflies Productions’ Annual Anti-Bullying Show
Date: Sat., Oct. 29 Time: 4 p.m. Location: Allentown Masonic Temple, 1524 W. Linden St., Allentown Description: Craig Thatcher, Friar’s Point Band, Taylor Ash, and many more artists cap Anti-Bullying Awareness Month with an all-star jam.
PA Bacon Fest 2016 Date: Nov. 5-6 Location: Center Square, Easton Description: 100+ vendors, 10+ musical acts, and bacon. Lots and lots of bacon.
Nestled in Allentown’s 10th Ward is a quaint, quirky space where art, music and community collide.
I’m talking about Coffee House Without Limits, a Queen City gem that has begun to make a name for itself in artistic circles. Located at 707 N. 4th St., Coffee House Without Limits serves up hot beverages and cool vibes with equal ease, sharing a conjoining door with the popular Alternative Gallery.
On a rainy Thursday night, I had the opportunity to visit Coffee House Without Limits for the first time, which was packed with patrons young and old to see The Bryan Tuk Complex. It was the perfect night for some intricate, experimental jazz from the always-on-point Tuk and his band, which consisted on this night of B.D. Lenz on guitar, Bill Warfield on trumpet, and Tony Marino on bass. The evening also served, to me, as a microcosm of what our scene can be, every night of the week: people of all ages, demographics, and backgrounds, coming together at a cool, upstart venue for the sake of enjoying some original tunes.
Perhaps this diversity is a byproduct of the many offerings Coffee House Without Limits gives to the community at any given moment. Artists can work with Coffee House Without Limits to schedule music, poetry, or other performances, or participate in open mic nights. Coffee House Without Limits also offers performers “CWOL Sessions;” opportunities to tape intimate, in-house performances, akin to NPR’s Tiny Desk sessions. A full schedule of events can be found on CWOL’s homepage.
Coffee House without limits is no longer a secret to me, and I look forward to heading back, sooner rather than later.
We enjoyed our Musikfest rendezvous with the Greater Lehigh Valley Music Association so much, we’ve decided it’s time for another round!
Lehigh Valley Underground is proud to sponsor the Third Annual Arts on the Move, taking place on Saturday, November 12 at Touchstone Theater, 321 E. 4th St. in Bethlehem.
Arts on the Move is a fundraiser for the GLVMA, with all proceeds funding the organization’s scholarships, to be awarded at the 18th Annual Lehigh Valley Music Awards on March 5, 2017. The evening will feature live music from local performers Triple G, Project 32, Jordyn Kenzie, and Erin Kelly. In addition, Arts on the Move will host an auction of unique instruments donated by local musicians and styled by local visual artists.
Last Saturday was a beautiful day for an All-American good time. That’s what Slatington Volunteer Fire Company provided its town’s residents with the fourth annual Slatington Bike Night.
This “night” actually began at noon, and featured food, beer, vendors, bikes, cars and, of course, music. Our friends at The Fyre & Ice Show put the day’s entertainment together, with five local bands rocking a blend of covers and originals throughout the day. First up was Wicked Beaver, who featured a setlist of familiar classic rock hits to get things warmed up.
Next, Bethlehem-based Eighteenth Hour came to the stage, switching things up and turning heads with their well-crafted rock originals.
By the time Eighteenth Hour concluded, it was the middle of an laid-back weekend afternoon. Our musical lineup had just the thing for such a relaxing atmosphere: father-daughter duo AVYLON, who came through with some new originals and a jukebox of covers.
Crowds had begun to gather in larger numbers as AVYLON’s set went on. While this was, no doubt, because of the duo’s acoustic stylings, it was also due to the fact that the ever-popular CA/CD — an AC/DC tribute band, as you might guess — was up next. The band’s renditions of songs like “Thunderstruck” and “Dirty Deeds” were on-point, as was its onstage presence throughout the set.
Finally, as night has begun to creep its way into Slatington Bike Night, those who stuck around were in for a real treat, as Long Island-based REVEL 9 had made their way to the Valley for the occasion. It was my first time seeing the hard rockers — unbelievable, considering their song, “All I’ve Become,” has been my podcast’s theme song for two years — and they did not disappoint! With blazing guitars, REVEL 9 presented songs off of its two albums, “The Razorblade Diaries” and “The Reality Crush,” as well as unreleased tracks and a couple of well-timed covers. Frontman DJ Pearlman even stuck around afterwards to give CDs to the kids who had stayed to rock out, ensuring a love of music in the next generation.
With the day in the books, there was a good feeling in the air. It was one of gratitude, and of a unity through music. Thanks to The Fyre & Ice Show for including us, and for putting the day’s great lineup together.
One hot summer day earlier this year, I was on the phone with John Scargall, touring country artist and #GoodFriendoftheShow. John and I talk to catch up on each other’s projects every so often, and to bounce ideas off of one another.
As this particular conversation went on, John told me about his upcoming Music Industry Master Mind podcast. The series features John interviewing “some of the music industry’s top executives and minds to find out what makes them tick; [and] the beliefs and strategies they use in order to achieve tremendous success.”
John’s Music Industry Master Mind guest list includes CEOs and top industry A&R executives, and provides valuable industry insight to anybody passionate about making music their life’s mission.
Now, I am ecstatic and humbled to tell you that Music Industry Master Mind also features the story of Lehigh Valley Underground!
John extended the offer to me to share my experience of building Lehigh Valley Underground, from fledgling blog to local online music powerhouse(?). To have my name — and, especially, Lehigh Valley Underground’s — listed alongside some of the top executives in the music industry today is a tremendous honor, and to share my thoughts on John’s amazing platform is something for which I’m incredibly grateful.
Thanks to John for including me! Please have a listen to the podcast to learn our origin story (Spoilers: The Quinn Spinn is involved), what it takes to succeed, and my hopes for LVU’s future.
It ain’t live, but it will do! This week, The Dark Matter Trio joins us to talk about their album, “The Puzzle With No Pieces.” Learn about the band, their process, and how they’ve come to their unique place in the musical landscape.
Plus, we have plenty more great music, Stupid News, Somethin’ Good, and a brief tribute to Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.
REVEL 9 – All I’ve Become (Opening theme)
Lemonade Kid – Bully
The Dark Matter Trio – Brenda Lea / Myrtle Likes to Swing / All Hallows Eve
The Dark Matter Trio – The Puzzle Wth No Pieces
The Everglows – She’s a Mystery
UVTraveler – When the Sun Gets In Your Eyes
John Hufford – Hideaway (Promote next Monday)
Lauren Marsh – Dear Love
AVYLON – Don’t Look Back
Elwood James Band – Black Cherry
Joe Scheller – Two Weeks Notice
Sunsets North – out_of_CTRL
Slumlord Radio – Bullwhip
Doctor Ransom – Hook & Cross
Art is all around us, and it comes in many forms. It can happen just about anywhere, and this week is no exception.
Don’t believe us? Well, then check out these…
Can’t-Miss Shows of the Week!
Thurs., Sept. 29 | 6 p.m. Abdu Ali and Joy Postell
Venue:Consolidated Cardboard Admission: $7-10 donation; 21+ BYOB Description: Really want to #GoUnderground? Start your weekend early with a house show featuring out-of-state artists!
Thurs., Sept. 29 | 7 p.m. Experimental Jazz with the Bryan Tuk Complex Venue: Coffeehouse Without Limits, 707 N. 4th St., Allentown Admission: FREE Description: Consider it a JazzFest preview as Bryan Tuk brings a four-piece to expand musical boundaries.
Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Allentown ArtsFest Venue: Cedar Beach Park, Allentown Admission: FREE Description: Enjoy three stages of entertainment, vendors, artwork and more, all weekend long!
Sat., Oct. 1 | 2 p.m. Scott Marshall & Marshall’s Highway Venue: Pinnacle Ridge Winery, 407 Old Route 22, Kutztown Admission: FREE Description: Join our friends for some music that’s good for the soul. Speaking of soul…
Sat., Oct. 1 | 8 p.m. Not For Coltrane & Soul Folks Venue: Unicorn Theater, 417 Front St., Catasauqua Admission: $8 Description: Come enjoy the moving folk music of Not For Coltrane and the harmonic bliss of soul folks for a truly memorable listening room experience.
I’ve known Pat for a long time, and I’ve seen him grow through a series of different artistic styles and modes of expression – all of them intelligent, usually emotionally fervent, always deeply personal, and often confrontational. Many of the best shows I went to at Secret Art Space and around the Valley from c. 2009-c. 2013 involved Pat singing – or screaming, pushing his guitar up to the amp until it squealed and bled feedback, sinking to his knees and rocking back and forth in some dark exaltation. Pat’s bands were always theatrical, and their albums and live shows alike narrative-driven. I’m excited he’s back with new music and, as always, I’m excited to chat with him. – A.T.
You spent a few years away from music – specifically ,from recording and performing – to focus on finishing school, is that correct?
Yeah. I drifted away from music for a time to focus on school. It was less of a conscious decision than it was school being hard AF.
How is that degree treating you so far?
Leave me alone, Mom!
How did your personal hiatus inform the things you’re trying to do with your new projects?
I think part of the reason I drifted away from music to focus on school was that studying the humanities offered me a way to deal with my past. I’ve been marred with medical issues (cancers, blood disorders) since I was a teenager, and never found the appropriate venue to explore how those existential battles affected me as an individual. That’s what Played Sports is about. This confusing, convoluted journey to figure out who “I” am when I grew up largely being known as and referred to as whatever illness I happened to be battling at the time.
You were a mainstay of the Lehigh Valley scene for years – across various genres and facets of the musical landscape of the area – with bands like Millionaire Boys Club, Mimieux, and Holy Christ! Then, your collaborators all moved away. What was that like at the time?
Man, it was hard. We all worked so hard on those projects. As crushing as it can be to have your creative counterparts fall away, it was real beautiful to see those dudes grow into who they are now. Drew’s fucking married, which is insane. I couldn’t be happier for the dude. He’s doing real excellent stuff with his hardcore band, Squalor, and a really cool emo-punk band called Hard Sulks. I haven’t spoken to him in a while, but I’m pretty sure his wife is in that band with him. That’s my dream, man. Doing the dang thing with the person you love. Drew’s livin’ it. James from Holy Christ and REGIONS is doing stuff with a hardcore band out of Philly called Young Graves, and they rip. And Brad’s still my best friend, and I’ve stayed in touch with him the most over the years. He just moved back to Philly, and we have some super secret secrets planned in the near future, so I’m sure I’ll be back talking about that soon.
Tell me about your solo LP, Played Sports as a Kid. Lyrically, this is one of your most cohesive projects; I know you used to write all your records with an overt theme in mind – often even a directly textual narrative. Was there something like that for this album?
This is a really cool question. You know how important lyrics are to everything I’ve ever done, and this is something I thought about deeply during my writing process with my solo stuff. Everything I wrote before in Holy Christ or Mimieux was contingent upon some fictional “Other” I created to shield myself from the subject, but all of those lyrics were real personal to me in the end. I was always trying to distance myself from the topics I was trying to approach, whether it was death, anxiety, et cetera. My concept with this record was to be as honest as I could be with both the listener and myself in the writing process. I think this speaks to your minimalism question, as well. I wanted my solo project to be representative of what I’ve been going through all these years. I want people who may understand these feelings to be able to resonate with the material in an open an honest way. The only way for that to happen is for me to be open and honest in my songwriting, and that’s what this record is for me. Just a pure expression of what I was thinking and the place I was in when I wrote these jams. I also think the way that these songs are recorded is emblematic of that as well. Everything is recorded on my phone within a few hours or days of me completing the song. I really wanted to genuinely capture who I was at the specific time the song was written and I think, in that, it establishes a sort of chronological, narrative feel when you listen to the record front to back.
Minimalism – is that a thing you’re into on, like, a theoretical level? Or is it more intuitive? Because Played Sports as a Kid is highly effective in its minimalism – it goes beyond the “guy with acoustic guitar” trope. It’s in the half-whispered vocals, the diagetic sounds that serve as interstitials, the lyrical style.
The minimalism is something that I felt added to how direct and honest the record feels. I wanted the record to sound small, but feel big. ’m talking about all these ideas of life and death, aging and religion, and all of the sound behind these classic “grand mysteries” is an acoustic guitar and silence. This is something I had to work a lot with to perfect, especially by myself. It’s scary to make something that encompasses everything I want to speak on without having the bandmates to bounce ideas off of, or having them up there with you on stage. It’s vulnerable. The other piece of the idea of minimalism comes naturally. My vocal chord is paralyzed from a surgery I had to remove a cancerous tumor from my neck when I was a kid. So we enter this idea of every time I open my mouth, the sound of illness comes out. How does a person deal with that? Especially when I’m using that voice every time I sing. The quiet minimalism that comes from the sound of my voice is something that influences the record from the beginning to the end, and interweaves with the lyrics all the way throughout.
Do you see yourself doing another solo record anytime soon?
Yeah, man! Brad’s back in town and we’ve been working on further ideas for the solo stuff, along with some other real exciting projects.
Tell me about The Elephant. Who are your bandmates this time around? How did the project come together?
The Elephant is a project I’ve been working on with some friends from the Lehigh Valley. We all met each other going to shows and open mics in Bethlehem and Allentown.
Y’all have released one single so far (“Low”) and have a debut EP on the way. Tell me about that!
Our EP is coming out within the next month. Five sad songs about sad stuff. We just released the first single, “Low,” and a video that corresponds with that. It was real cool filming that video. That song is about how scared I am of relatively inconsequential things, like getting pulled over for speeding. The video really does well to capture the reason for that being that I always have that creeping anxiety as a result of my own blood trying to kill me. It’s a scary thought. I take a pill every day to keep my blood counts normal. It’s strange having your quality of life be contingent upon a tiny, daily pill. Music is a way to deal with that reality, and that’s why all of these projects are so important.
Pat Donahoe is a singer/songwriter, native of Nazareth, PA, recent Moravian graduate, and friendly face. He has performed in a diverse set of Lehigh Valley bands, including Oh Savannah, REGIONS, Millionaire Boys Club, Holy Christ!, and Mimieux, some of which are still available on Bandcamp.com or (in some cases) youtube.com. His solo LP Played Sports as a Kid is available on Bandcamp now. The Elephant will be releasing tunes soon.
In Bethlehem, the Fall Classic doesn’t happen in October, and it does not involve bats, gloves, and pinstripes. Instead, it occurs as soon as the new season kicks off, and the participants in this event are clad in plaid kilts as far as the eye can see.
The Celtic Cultural Alliance’s flagship event is a sure-fire hit every September, featuring, among other things, internationally-renowned musicians, authentic Celtic cuisine, tons of unique vendors and, of course, the annual U.S. Highland Games Championship. It goes all weekend, continuing today and lasting into the night with live music on Sunday.
LVU was on-hand Friday evening to capture some of the early action, both in photos and on Facebook Live. Take a look below, and make sure you stop by this weekend!
Dana Gaynor is one of our music scene’s true icons and veterans. She’s won awards, and has played and toured with world-renowned artists.
All of Dana’s influences and experiences seem to come together splendidly on her band’s latest release, “Power to the People,” a seamless 14-track journey through the lands of blues, funk, country, and rock and roll.
Dana’s guitar work on “Power to the People” is, as expected, magnificent. A particular highlight is “In the Land of Fool’s Gold,” which features two well-crafted solos. Things get grittier on “Road to Oblivion,” which is complemented nicely with a fun groove in the rhythm section.
One thing to note about “Power to the People” is versatility. “Frenchman’s Wife” draws its main influence from country, while “Ghost Train” showcases the band’s blues side. Meanwhile, the album’s title track brings out the funk as Gaynor cries out for mankind to stand together and find unity in the world’s madness.
By crossing so many different styles and appealing to so many different tastes, Dana Gaynor makes it possible to find that unity, not only through her lyrics, but through a thoughtful album that offers something for everyone.
Standout tracks: “In the Land of Fool’s Gold,” “Power to the People”