Tag Archives: music

Oh the Horror: Local artists share their stories of bad timing, equipment glitches and wardrobe malfunctions

Eat your tell-tale heart out Edgar Allan Poe. Much like the monster in the closet, musicians must battle the technical glitches, flat tires and wardrobe malfunctions that go bump in the night.

Beyond the member-generated terror— it is a general consensus that girlfriends are never welcomed to band practice— horror stories plague bands, from the nationally known to the garage-band heroes. As post-hardcore outfit, Every Minute Can Kill, rockers, Beyond the Element, and alternative rock-ensemble, The World Outside, can attest, ghastly tales perpetuate more than dark and stormy nights.

In a Kingdom by the Sea

After finishing recording their album, “Get Your Groove On,” in Toms River, Vineland-based Every Minute Can Kill ventured to a nearby White Castle to replenish the calories that rocking out burns. While the band was listening to the rough mixes of their tracks— naturally with the music up and windows down— a rusted pickup truck, with no windows, matched pace with them. A mile or so later, after bearing the brunt of an angry onslaught of profanity laced death threats, the truck with the noted “skinhead” drove off, leaving Every Minute Can Kill with a tale that would do Poe proud. “He drove away and left us unscathed,” said Rich Williams, guitarist for the band. “But we still joke around that he almost ripped our old bassist, Frank, right out of the car.”

Beyond the Element’s Mike Badgley and Corey Presner at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia during their reunion show. Photo by Sara Jordan Reis

While the road is an assumed platform for nightmares, a venue’s stage is where a nightmare can quickly mutate into a full-blown terror. Factors such as equipment failure and nerves can dramatically affect a band’s performance. Unfortunately, for Jersey-born Beyond the Element, both demons have reared their ugly heads during their set.

“Our first show with Kevin— no offense Kevin— he played everything 30 times faster [than the rest of us],” said bassist and vocalist, Corey Presner with a laugh. “He played different music than us.”

When Beyond the Element’s drummer, Kevin Reardon, is not “playing different music,” he is busy destroying his drum set. During their set one evening, Reardon kicked a whole in his bass drum, forcing him to think fast. “That was fun,” said Reardon with a sigh. “I had to turn the bass drum around [in the middle of the song] and finish the show on the front of it.”

Quote the Raven

Much like a crowdsurfer materializing out of the audience and fulfilling the kicks-to-the-head quota every show-goer agrees to, band horror stories crop up unexpectedly, ambushing bands both internationally known and locally grown. Technical glitches, on-stage mistakes and van problems pepper the existence of any band, spreading panic in their arrivals; a panic rivaled only by that of a rookie show-goer when a M.O.S.H. pit opens up and the call for a “wall of death” echoes throughout the venue.

Transforming nightmares into, “One day we’ll look back on this and laugh,” local acts, Every Minute Can Kill, Beyond the Element and The World Outside face the fears that could fall the House of Usher with each set. After all, the show must go on.


The World Outside to Open for Bowling for Soup Sunday, April 22

The World Outside from left to right: Zach Hartman, Kris Morganti, Max Santoro and Erika Lapp.

While Debbie, the title protagonist in Bowling for Soup’s hit, “1985,” “just hit the wall,” local act, The World Outside, is busy breaking down the walls separating them from their Northeast niche to…well, the world outside.

With their positive lyrics, occasional harsh vocals and melodic harmonies in tow, The World Outside will take the stage Sunday, April 22 at the Chameleon Club, located at 223 North Water St. in Lancaster, Pa., in support of Freshman 15, Patent Pending and Bowling for Soup.

The Bucks County-based alternative rock outfit is no stranger to the stage. Having opened for Fuel at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, Pa. last month, The World Outside is quickly capitalizing on Zach Hartman’s vocals and piano prowess, drummer, Max Santoro’s well-beyond-his-15-years talent, bassist, Kris Morganti’s infectious on-stage energy and finally, guitarist, Erika Lapp’s, harmonies.

“This could probably be the biggest show we’ve ever played,” Hartman said with an audible enthusiasm. “What we’re most anticipating is the crowd,” Morganti added, echoing Hartman’s sentiment.

The crowd, which Santoro suspects to be upwards of 1,000, would certainly do well to arrive at the Chameleon Club in time to catch The World Outside’s set. With a unique sound, fused together through a collective love of music, endless talent and undeniable friendship, The World Outside promises to deliver a show, spotlighting their relentless hard work and dedication to a craft they hope to make a career.

NEEDMORE Arrives in Philly Sunday, April 22

Photo courtesy of NEEDMORE's press kit

With a career cruising towards a new altitude— like so many of the planes flying under Delta Airlines’ blue and red, who featured the Los Angeles-born band’s track, “Lost My Way,” during all of their in-flight music— NEEDMORE lands in Philadelphia Sunday, April 22.

While hearing a song titled, “Lost My Way” on a plane would send my mother into a fear-induced frenzy rivaled only by the classic Twilight Zone episode or in-flight breakdown on the summer hit, Bridesmaids, NEEDMORE has certainly found their way and their wings.

Touring in support of their recently released studio record, Back at the Start, which features the hit “Lost My Way” and “Too Late,” NEEDMORE will transform The M Room, located at 15 West Girard Ave., into a platform for their self-defined “no gimmicks” act. The album, an embodiment of how the band now approaches song writing, symbolizes a new start for the members and fans alike.

Garnering nearly 10 million plays across the social media spectrum, including the decrepit beast, Myspace— Mywhat?— NEEDMORE, the self-made band that earned the title “Our Stage’s #1 Rock Band” from MTV, promises to demonstrate to Philadelphia just why they are deserving of such high praise.

With heartfelt melodies, accompanied by the gentle strumming of guitars, sections of piano driven verses and rhythmic drumbeats, NEEDMORE’s relatable lyrics, delivered in a tidy pop-rock package, connects the three members to fans and naysayers alike.

The show, which also features Vanity Theft, begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 and available to everyone that is 21 and older. Ticket information can be found here.

Carmen Magro discusses his musical influences, what brought him to music and what his songs mean to him and his fans

music (noun) – a : the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity
b : vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony

substance (noun) – a : essential nature
b : a fundamental or characteristic part or quality

heart (noun) – a : the central or innermost part
b : the essential or most vital part of something

Simple definitions defined by Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, simple concepts; yet at times, it feels as though the industry has lost sight of the cornerstone of music— to connect with people on a different level; a level other means of entertainment cannot quite reach.

We’ll sell out before you even know who we are,” a lyric belted out by Davey Fortner of Freshman 15 that, while satirical in nature, reveals an ugly truth: just how far are musicians willing to go to achieve their dreams? While a concrete answer cannot be found in books or online blogs, one thing is certain, Carmen Magro, a Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter and the frontman of an adult contemporary outfit bearing the same name, will never sacrifice his music for fame.

Carmen Magro, Philadelphia resident and singer-songwriter of Carmen Magro. Photo courtesy of Carmen Magro's press kit available at http://www.carmenmagro.com/home.html

The definition of music of substance and heart, Carmen Magro, the man not the band, got his start in the trade by using anything and everything available to him— including the family’s kitchen pots and pans—  to assemble notes and rhythms. After receiving his first drum kit for his 14th birthday, Magro’s eyes opened to the realm of performing on stage.

As is true with many creative professions, articles of substance cannot be forged without trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, Magro lost his father when he was 10, and his mother when he was 19 due to breast cancer. “Those experiences humbled me to really come in tune with my feelings and learn to put them into music,” said Magro. “I find I can’t sing unless it is truly from my heart so I put my heart into every melody and song I write.”

Carmen Magro, the band, consists of Carmen Magro (Vocals, Piano, Keys, Guitar), Chuck Scarpello (Bass), Mark Burkert (Guitar), Dave Murphy (Drums), Steve Sauer (Keys/Synth/Supporting Vocals and Brian Fitzgerald (Violin/vocals). The band recently performed prior to and during halftime of a Philadelphia 76’s game.

Personally, what brought you to music?

Music is, without a doubt, an extension of my soul. I feel I have so much to share with the world and to reiterate what I learn from the world. I do it most easily with music. Putting rhythm, melody and lyrics together to put someone in a moment that makes a difference in their lives is a miracle that music does for all of us. I find myself writing melodies and marrying lyrics with them every minute of every day— some sad, some happy, some playful, some exotic, some tempting; all sincere and all original.

Personally, it is how I put my thoughts of the world into words to share with others. Some people write poems, some bitch and moan about everything, some people are just indifferent. I don’t know how to do any of that. I guess my music is poetic to some extent but it isn’t hard for me to write lyrics. They just come easily with the music. Sometimes I write a melody first but usually the lyrics and music come together instantly in my head and heart as soon as I have the feeling for them. Music is my sanctuary, my release from the world and my connection to it. Sometimes I feel that if I lost the ability to play my music and share it with the world, I would simply wither away and die. It is my lifeline for sure.

What about the Philly/Tri-State area music scene do you enjoy? Given that it’s a far cry from the likes of a big city, do you think it’s easier or harder to gain a following and make a name for yourself? 

As an original artist I have to believe that if you have something special, it will get recognized. But I grew up in Philly. It’s a great town and those that want to come out to hear music know where to go to hear it. I just try to put myself in a position to be heard any way possible. I’m always hoping that every show is a step in the right direction. But like other musicians, even those in big cities as you mention…all have the big and small shows and they have to find a way to give the same show for one as they would for 100 or 1,000 or 10,000. I find that part easy. I just get lost in my music and hope that someone out there enjoys it and may share it with someone else and they may share it as well. Eventually, I hope it gets to someone that feels my music can really shape the world and can open a door professionally for me. But even without that, I’ve never been disappointed playing in a Philly area venue. Whether it’s in Jersey, Delaware or Philly, I find it easy to get lost on stage, put the world aside and just let my music shine through. I wouldn’t treat a stage in LA, NYC, Nashville or anywhere in the world any differently.

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Beyond the Element discuss their reunion and why they just couldn’t stay away from the stage

Beyond the Element: Bob Crowell, Corey Presner, Power, Mike Badglel and Kevin Reardon.

While St. Patrick’s Day brings the Irish out in everyone, those that weren’t witness to Beyond the Element’s set at World Café Live in Philadelphia that evening were certainly green…with envy. The local rock band, supported by other area acts such as, Carmen, Maddam Ink and Dive, provided the soundtrack for the evening. Irish jigs gave way to good old-fashioned headbanging and even The Blarney Stone held no sway in the environment of rock and roll.

The Deptford-based rock band, Beyond the Element, burnt up local stages, performing alongside national and notable acts including, Papa Roach, Apocalyptica, Skid Row and In This Moment. With a popular full-length album, a devoted fan-base and seemingly limitless talent, Beyond the Element were poised to take the rock scene by storm. Infusing every set with a contagious energy— one which has been scientifically proven to induce spontaneous movement of the head akin to whiplash— and drawing upon their influences, which span the spectrum from 90’s grunge to modern metal, Beyond the Element quickly positioned themselves as an essential element in the cornerstone of locally grown rock and roll.

A Walk Into Fire

Given their rising— or should I say skyrocketing?— popularity, professionally polished yet gritty sound and mainstream radio play, having songs featured on Philadelphia stations 93.3 WMMR and 94.1 WYSP, why did Beyond the Element call it quits, albeit for a short time?

Seven months ago, it appeared as if Beyond the Element’s own talent had outpaced its members. “It was just national act, after national act… It just skyrocketed,” the band’s front man, Bob Crowell, said.

“It just got hard to get people out to shows,” Kevin Reardon, the drum guru of Beyond the Element said, echoing Crowell’s sentiments. “It was emotionally draining on the band.”

A testament to Beyond the Element’s sincerity, however, the call of the stage became too much to ignore. After their half-year hiatus, BTE’s members, vocalist Bob Crowell, guitarists Mike Badgley and Power, bassist and vocalist Corey Presner and drummer Kevin Reardon, pieced the band back together.

Beyond the Element Come Home

Beyond the Element hit the stage of World Café Live, which played host to their reunion on March 17, never missing a beat; both figuratively and literally. It’s by no stretch of the imagination that Beyond the Element will continue to embody original, hard rock. With a sound that cannot be ignored, the Deptford band looks forward to more shows, new songs, a sophomore album— which may or may not be in “talks” as Crowell mentioned with a laugh— and, overall, having fun doing the thing they love, making music and burning up stages with an energy that mirrors a diffusing atom.

The alchemists of the music scene, Beyond the Element have resumed their position: turning the raw elements of song— notes, chords, beats and melodies— into music, which is nothing short of gold.

The above interview was conducted back-stage at World Café Live
in Philadelphia, post-set. 

Just a note: some strong language makes an appearance in the interview.
After all, you can’t censor rock and roll.

Review: “Who Shot Rock and Roll” brings the genre to life

The Allentown Art Museum

Paul Cole, a Barefoot Bay, Florida resident, held a very unpopular opinion: he didn’t like the Beatles. Despite his apparent unappreciation for the British boys’ music, Cole found himself inadvertently immersed in the realm of pop culture history when, while visiting London in 1969, happened to be standing near the now famous Abbey Road.

Who Shot Rock and Roll, a Photographic History, 1955 to the Present at the Allentown Art Museum functions in much the same fashion as Iain McMillian, the photographer who captured Cole just behind Lennon. The photo exhibit immerses visitors within the art and the music of rock and roll history.

Crowd Surfing from 1955 to Today

The photo exhibit– housed at the Allentown Art Museum until May 13– includes over 175 images of classic artists who defined the genre including, Elvis Presley, Nirvana, Queen and Pink Floyd, to modern-day acts such as, Amy Winehouse and Eminem. During my visit, the behind the scenes photos, images from live performances, portraits, conceptual images and album artwork honestly told the story of rock and roll. Visitors, carried along for the ride, milled from picture to picture as if they were surfing the crowds of 1955, making their way to the stage of today while passing through the movements— the rebellion, the freedom of expression, and reinvention— which have become synonymous with the genre.

Who Shot Rock and Roll, organized by the Brooklyn Museum in New York and guest curator Gail Buckland, transformed my few dollars into an all-access, VIP, backstage pass to witness some of the greatest acts the music industry has ever produced. The images of live performances, including the famous image of Paul Simonon of the Clash smashing his bass— if bells have yet to ring, think London Calling— buzzed with energy. One could almost feel the rebellion and excitement embodied in the images while, when viewing the behind the scenes images, one could gauge the toll rock and roll took on some participants; a feeling best embodied in a moving portrait of Kurt Cobain, captured back stage breaking down.

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Recent Round-up: Remembering legends and highlighting up-and-comers

Never one to classify myself as the atypical college student— you know, the individual depicted in every cliché teen movie, staying out late, partying every night— my spring break has not been defined by tan lines and keg stands. I prefer a more relaxing route. Sleeping in to a reasonable hour— it seems my bed suffers from an acute form of separation anxiety: check. Reading non-academic books and finding myself at a loss after completing The Hunger Games trilogy: check. Indulging my inner artist and enjoying the “Who Shot Rock and Roll” exhibit* at the Allentown Art Museum: check. And finally, neglecting this blog: check.

In Memorandum

Despite my lackadaisical efforts, however, the music world keeps spinning. Proving that the adage, “deaths happen in threes” may not be strictly superstition, Doobie Brother’s drummer, Michael Hossack, died March 12, 2012 in his home in Wyoming at the age of 65. Cancer closing the curtain on another rock star just weeks after the sudden death of Monkees’ heartthrob, Davy Jones and untimely death of Ronnie Montrose; guitarist for Montrose.

“Tour Up”

Much like a spinning album, which alternates between harmonies of heartbreak, catchy tunes to move to and power jams that inspire, the sphere of music encompasses more than the doom and gloom of passing legends. Alive and diffusing energy like an unstable atom, Freshman 15 rocked Philadelphia Monday, March 12 as the “Tour Up: from the Floor Up!” tour with City Lights dwindles to a close. In keeping pace with their touring schedule— positioned to inject their unique pop-punk sound while touring with Bowling for Soup this spring— Freshman 15 released their energetic sophomore album, “Here’s to Feeling Good” on Tuesday.

Davey Fortner and Davey Hoogerwerf performing in June of 2009. Photo: Ashley Cline

A new album from a fresh and fun band, fronted by Georgia gentlemen, coupled by this lovely eastern weather not enough? I understand. Appeasing a raging music appetite is not an easy feat. There is no need to worry, however, so long as your calendar is free this Saturday. Don your St. Patrick’s day green and join Beyond the Element at World Café Live, located at 3025 Walnut St. in Philadelphia, for their reunion show. Lil Rock, Anomaly, Murphee Doyle, Carmen Magro, DIVE and Maddam INK will also be sharing the stage with the Woodbury, N.J. based-band that evening.

Infusing an Irish Jig and M.O.S.H.-ing? Challenge accepted.


The Music Museum in Pitman, N.J.

Guitars, drums and amps; oh my! The Music Museum, located at 405 S. Broadway, Pitman N.J. has everything an aspiring musician needs to launch his or her rock and roll career. The mini Hendrixes of the area have an array of electric and acoustic guitars, drums and amps to choose from and, once they have found that perfect six-string, the Bus Stop Music Cafe, where they can demonstrate their strumming prowess, is only steps away from the Museum. South Jersey, cultivating talent one musician at a time.

All photographs were taken on March 1, 2012. 

The song featured is performed by Bryan Adams. "Summer of '69" is from 
Adam's fourth studio album, Reckless, released in 1984.

The video was made using SoundSlides

Recent Round-up of New Jersey music news

R.E.M. first sang, “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” back in 1987 and after flipping through a recent newspaper one might find a grain of truth in the seemingly prophetic lyric; deadly tornadoes, an outspoken Limbaugh and Snookie pregnancy rumors dot headlines nationwide. All hope is not lost, however. New Jersey found its place among the headlines, peppering the bleak black and white print with lighter news which presented the audience with a moment to share in R.E.M.’s final four words: “And I feel fine.” Yes, when music is the news, we all feel fine.

Never too old to rock and roll
New Jersey born Jon Bon Jovi celebrated his 50th birthday on March 2, 2012. The front man, with the help of the other members of Bon Jovi, has provided the music world with five decades of hits proving that, while he may be over the hill and over the 80’s hair, one is never too old— or too young for that matter— to sing “You give love a bad name.”

Jon Bon Jovi performing on March 30, 2008. Photo courtesy of Marco Maas.

Adele, always a crowd-pleaser
The British singer-songwriter, with her trademark voice and easily identifiable tunes garnered her largest sales week to date, selling 730,000 copies of 21, Adele’s sophomore album, following the broadcast of the Grammy Awards where she walked away as the night’s big winner, six awards in tow. Not only has the album found a worldwide audience, it’s also gone double Platinum on iTune’s within the span of a year, the first record to do so. Given the Brit’s immense success at song writing, it’s no wonder so many bands cover hits like “Rolling in the Deep,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Someone Like You.” Homegrown Amyst, a band based out of Philadelphia, found virtual success with their rendition of “Rolling in the Deep,” reaching over one million views on Youtube. Not only has their cover resonated within the post-hardcore scene, the track has even ventured across the pond and to the source, proving that Adele is always a crowd pleaser.

The band is currently on tour.

When Senses Fail
One can imagine that preparing for the Van’s Warped Tour, one of the hottest and most grueling, yet rewarding, tour circuits of the summer isn’t easy, yet Senses Fail have decided to set aside their sweatbands and head back into the studio. The Ridgewood, N.J. natives’ “best of” collection, is slated to drop sometime in June, when crowd-surfing and M.O.S.H.-ing will be at their peaks across the nation.

Support your local musician
In support of the Feb. 24, 2012 release of their second album, Back Down to the Woods, 61 North performed at World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Del. Due to their impressive sound, the Woodstown, N.J.-based band garnered press attention and earned a place among Delaware Online’s features.

In keeping with the support your local musician movement, Kids These Days, a local band with Rowan roots, recently released their new EP, Manifest Destiny and have several upcoming shows. Support South Jersey grown pop punk.

Headbang: A Collection of “Hair Whips”

The phrase, “I whip my hair back and forth” found world-wide attention when Willow Smith released her single “Whip My Hair” in 2010. The pint-sized artist was not the first to discover the liberation found in the dizzy spell after repeated and quick movements of the head, however.

Bands have long been whipping their hair back and forth, or headbanging as it is more commonly known. From the ding before the breakdown to the moment before a mosh pit opens, headbanging is found wherever there’s an amp. While one could argue that Smith coined the phrase, the following collection of band photos proves that the likes of Of Mice and Men, Alesana, I See Stars and Silverstein perfected the art of hair-whipping long before Smith’s sassy single.

The metal in "Whip My Hair" courtesy of Joe Ellis

All photos were taken by me, Ashley Cline, at venues in the Tri-State area
including Hangar 84, Harmony Grange and the Trocadero.

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