On Stage: Trashcan Sinatras at Sellersville tonight

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Trashcan Sinatras

On May 27, the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) is hosting a very special acoustic show by one of Scotland’s all-time favorite rock bands.

The Trashcan Sinatras, who have been representing Scotland in the international rock scene for more than three decades, are visiting the past with their “One Night, Two Albums” tour of the United States and Canada. The trio features the three musicians who have been the nucleus of the band since its inception in 1987 in Irvine, Scotland — Frank Reader, Paul Livingston and John Douglas.

The band has released just six albums over the years – “Cake” (1990), “I’ve Seen Everything” (1993), “A Happy Pocket” (1996), “Weightlifting” (2004), “In the Music” (2009) and “Wild Pendulim” (2016).

The first of these, “Cake,” featured the debut single “Obscurity Knocks” and its follow up “Only Tongue Can Tell,” both of which became alternative radio hits in the US and introduced the group to what has become a loving and loyal fan base around the world. The second album, “I’ve Seen Everything,” is best recognized by the hit single “Hayfever.”

“The catalyst for this tour was just finding ways to work,” said Reader, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Atlanta. “The three of us are the core of the band. We’d always write the songs on acoustic guitar.

“Last year, we decided to go out with just three of us. Our shows went over well. After that, we were looking for a way to work again. The opportunity to do this tour came up and here we are.”

The “One Night, Two Albums” tour will consist of two sets per show, allowing “Cake” and “I’ve Seen Everything” to both be played in their entirety. In addition, the trio fills out the sets with a selection of songs from other records to make sure no two shows are the same.

According to Reader, “We had resisted playing many of our older songs on tour as they were from a different time in our lives. But as we prepared for the ‘All Night’ tour and really got into it, we realized the songs are like long lost friends or family. In many cases, you can welcome them back into your life.”

Trashcan Sinatras formed in 1987 in the quiet coastal town of Irvine – not far from the bustling metropolis of Kilmarnock. “Cake,” their John Leckie-produced debut album, was critically lauded and featured the band’s blistering debut single “Obscurity Knocks” as well as a couple other alternative radio hits (“Only Tongue Can Tell” and “Circling the Circumference”).

In the United States, “Cake” spent three months on the Billboard 200. The follow up album, “I’ve Seen Everything,” which celebrates its 25-year anniversary this year, included the single “Hayfever,” which not only was a hit on the modern rock radio charts but also featured in an episode of the “Beavis & Butthead” animated television show.

“The three of us started the band and we’d write songs together,” said Reader. “We knew each other from the pubs in our town. That’s the culture we grew up in. Irvine was a small town and one pub was commandeered for rock and punk music. There was a lot of music being played. Politics, music, art – there was a scene there…. a lot of talent there.”

Since those early days, Trashcan Sinatras have successfully released multiple albums and toured the world many times over. Their most recent effort, “Wild Pendulum,” was recorded with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit, Rilo Kiley) at his ARC Studios in Omaha. Released in April 2016, “Wild Pendulum” received a warm welcome from music critics and fans. The band returned to the road for the first time in five years, supporting the release with concerts in the US, Scotland, England, Ireland, Japan.

“This is the first time we’ve toured with this acoustic format,” said Reader. “It’s been fun. We’re a pretty relaxed-nature band and we tend to involve a little bit of talking. We talk about the times when this music was made. The set is really interesting – in an unexpected way.”

Video link for Trashcan Sinatras – https://youtu.be/jjPoqopzkT8.

The show at the Sellersville Theater will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $39.50

Rising Appalachia

There are few bands in the world of rock music today that explore the territory marked out by Rising Appalachia.

On May 27, Rising Appalachia will be performing its impossible-to-categorize music when it brings its “Come to Life — East” tour to the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

Rising Appalachia brings to the stage a collection of sounds, stories, and songs steeped in tradition and a devotion to world culture. Intertwining a deep reverence for folk music and a passion for justice, the band has made it a life’s work to sing songs that speak to something ancient yet surging with relevance.

Whether playing at Red Rocks or in rail cars, at Italian street fairs or to Bulgarian herbalists, this fiercely independent band has blazed a unique and colorful path across the globe. Now 11 years into its movement, Rising Appalachia believes that the roots of all these old songs are vital to our ever-evolving soundscape.

Led by the collective voice of born-and-raised-in-Atlanta sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith, and joined by their talented band (percussionist Biko Casini and bassist/guitarist David Brown), Rising Appalachia is a melting pot of folk music simplicity, textured songwriting, and those bloodline harmonies that only siblings can pull off.

Listeners are treated to a musical tapestry of song with clawhammer banjo tunes, fiddle, double bass, acoustic guitar, djembe, barra, bodhran, spoken word, and a wealth of musical layering. It is both genre-bending and familiar at the same time.

The band is touring in support of its seventh album – “Alive.”

“Our most recent album is ‘Alive,’ which came out not long ago, and our most recent studio album is ‘Wider Circles’ from 2015,” said Song, during a phone interview Friday afternoon prior to soundcheck at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

“The ‘Alive’ album was a collection of songs from our big East Coast tour last year. We had a great sound engineer, so we recorded 35 shows. We were able to capture the true taste of our live performance. We had our band so it was an exciting way for us to capture the live sound with them – the sound we’ve been honing with them for the last four years.”

The sisters and their band knew that the live shows were something special and they successfully documented them.

According to Song, “Captured from the live lightning bolts that pass between audience and performer in the concert hall, ‘Alive’ is a magical mixing of free-folk, sister-soul, banjo-bass, and acoustic dance-beat throwdown between the beloved members of Rising Appalachia.

Featuring the peppered layers and instrumentation of special guests Arouna Diarra and Ayla Nereo, this album is a compilation of our favorite musical arrangements throughout the years.  With these songs we celebrate what makes us truly come alive, rejoicing in our creative and communal shared experience through live song and story.”

Album eight is on the horizon.

“Our next album is in the oven – it’s cooking,” said Song. “For a while, it didn’t feel like it was yet time to move on from our last album. Now, the songs from ‘Wider Circles’ have gone through a full maturation process.

“We’ve been writing. We’re starting to tour some of the new songs to see audience reaction. Usually, we record first and then tour the music. This time, we’re testing the material live. We’re neck-deep in the creative process.”

In 2015, Rising Appalachia founded the Slow Music Movement to help maintain an independent musical spirit in the face of such a fast-paced world. They are creatively committed to keeping their work accessible at the local street level as well as expanding to larger audiences abroad, and have continued to maintain autonomy by self- managing, recording, producing and creating, and directing their work.

According to Song, “Music is the tool with which we wield political prowess. Melody for the Roots of each of us…spreading song and sound around the globe. Music has become our script for vision — not just for aural pleasure, not just for hobby, but now as a means to connect and create in ways that we aren’t taught by mainstream culture.

“We are building community and tackling social injustice through melody, making the stage reach out with wide arms to gather this great family. It has taken on its own personality, carrying us all along the journey. Here’s to poetic observations, social change, lyrical messages, political focus, symphonic coercing, ferocious bantering, bicycles and train tracks, primal will, fresh air, harmony, flow, and beautiful noise.”

Every live show by Rising Appalachia is a pleasantly different experience.

“I really enjoy writing the set lists for our live shows,” said Song. “I try to create an arc with new songs, older songs and some things we don’t play that much. Every show is different.”

Video link for Rising Appalachia – https://youtu.be/tx17RvPMaQ8.

The show at the World Café Live will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.

Other upcoming shows at World Café Live are Joshua Park on May 27, and “Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra” on May 30.

Mastodon

This week, another Atlanta band will be visiting Philadelphia for a show when Mastodon shares the bill with Primus on May 30 at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing (601 North Columbus Boulevard at Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215- 629-3200, www.festivalpierphilly.com).

However, even with the “Hotlanta Connection,” it is unlikely – extremely unlikely – that Mastodon and Rising Appalachia ever shared a bill – or even now shares any fans.

Mastodon has been linked to a variety of similar genres – groove metal, prog metal, dark metal, sludge metal, alternative metal, experimental metal, and groove metal. Suffice it to say, Mastodon is a metal band — one of America’s premier metal bands for almost two decades.

Now, Mastodon – Brann Dailor, drums, vocals; Brent Hinds, lead guitar, vocals; Bill Kelliher, rhythm guitar, backing vocals; Troy Sanders, bass guitar, vocals, keyboards — is on the road touring in support of its latest album, “Emperor of Sand.” The album was released on Reprise Records in March 2017.

“This is a really long tour we’re on now,” said Kelliher, during a phone interview Friday afternoon from a tour stop in Glen Falls, New York.

“It’s nine weeks long and we usually play five nights a week. It’s pretty big. Normally, we’re out for four or five weeks at the most – just to keep sanity in the band.

“I’m one person at home and a totally different person with the band. When I’m home with my wife and family in Atlanta, I’m the father who takes the kids to school and goes to their soccer and baseball games.

“‘Emperor of Sand’ came out a little over a year ago. We started touring right when the record came out. Since then, we’ve toured the states a lot, been to Europe twice and just got back from Australia. In September, we’re doing shows with this band Netherlands and that might wrap it up. We’re getting near the final phase of the tour cycle for the album.”

Time off the road is time cherished for Kelliher and his bandmates.

“What keeps the band together is not having to be out touring continually,” said Kelliher. “We take off to have time with our families and time to work on new tunes. I’m always writing. I use ProTools on the road. I’m always trying to be a step ahead. You have to keep your music fresh.

“We recorded ‘Emperor of Sand’ with producer Brendan O’Brien in October and November 2016 at The Quarry, a studio in Kennesaw, Georgia. We like to work close to home so we don’t have to spend money to live in New York or L.A. for a month or two.

“We did as much as we could at The Quarry and then went to L.A. to mix it at Jim Henson’s studio there. t was a fast record. We did a lot of demo-ing at my house. We knew what we wanted when we went to the studio to cut the album.”

Themes of death and survival are woven into the songs’ lyrics, which were inspired by experiences members of the band had when family and friends were recently diagnosed with cancer.

“The elephant in the room was cancer,” said Kelliher. “My mom, who passed away two years ago, had brain cancer. Brann’s mom also was dealing with cancer. It was a very emotional time. Music and lyrics came pouring out.

“All my emotions came out in the music. I’d fly up to Rochester (NY) every week to see my mom. The cancer shit was on our minds the whole time and it bled into the music. It’s kind of a healing album.”

Video link for Mastodon – https://youtu.be/HEubrZV04b0.

The show at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, which also features Primus, will start at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $20.

Also, at Festival Pier this weekend, HoagieNation, a music festival curated and headlined by Philadelphia’s own Daryl Hall & John Oates, will be held on May 26. The show also features Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, Train and Fitz & the Tantrums.

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