On Stage Extra: Critically-acclaimed Decker. hits Philly

Hollywood Undead, Archie Palmer and more on local stages

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times


Brandon Decker — who performs as decker. — brings his unique bend of rock, folk and psychedelic to Philadelphia Friday night.

When Brandon Decker, who is headlining a show on October 9 at Bourbon and Branch (705 North Second Street, Philadelphia, 215-238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com),  makes an album, there are two speeds involved — slow in the writing phase and ultra-fast in the recording stage.

Decker is an Arizona-based singer-songwriter who performs as decker. — a name he uses for both solo projects and whatever band he has together at any given time. Decker., the musical group, is described as “a band of psychedelic folk-rockers.”

The band version of decker. is currently on tour in support of a brand-new album titled “Patsy,” an album that received critical acclaim by American Songwriter, Yahoo Music, Glide, Magnet and LA Music Blog when it was released earlier this year.

“I started writing the songs at the end of summer 2013,” said Decker, during a recent phone interview from his home in Sedona, Arizona. “Most of it came together when we were getting ready to go in the studio. We recorded the album last summer at WaveLab Studio in Tucson with top producer Craig Schumacher.

“We did demos of some of the songs but mostly we just did a lot of hammering the songs in the studio. Craig likes to record as live as possible and the control booth is right in the room. We recorded almost everything live in the studio during three different one-week chunks. And, we had recorded one song prior at a different studio. After the main sessions, we did some overdubs and small changes. Everything we recorded, we put on the album.”

Decker’s music is a blend of folk and psychedelic with a bit of gospel and blues flavors thrown in. He likes the idea of the idea of duality through his music –sparse while full, cryptic but raw, strange yet soothing. And, he doesn’t like to rush when writing.

“With songwriting, you have to have the time,” said Decker. “When I have my back against the wall, it’s impossible for me to write. I hope to start writing again soon and have new music out by February. I write on guitar — and in my brain. It’s a little of this and a little of that.”

On the “Patsy” album, Decker examines the plight of the everyman. While he says that the record is in no way a political statement but rather an exploration of humanness, Decker touches on socio-economic constructs and political failings.

“Usually, I’m writing on guitar,” said Decker. “On the song ‘Patsy,’ I wanted to write a song about Lee Harvey Oswald — and I thought of chamber music. Now, I’m excited for the next wave of ideas.”

Decker has released five albums to date and spends much of the year on the road playing his music. Decker puts together a rotating line-up of four to eight multi-instrumentalists for the tours and has played more than 500 shows in the last five years.

“There has been different personnel on each record,” said Decker. “I have five players touring with me now and all of them played on the new album. The set is primarily ‘Patsy’ — a little more than half — and a little less than half from my last album ‘Slider.’ There’s not too much from my first three albums.”

Video link for decker — https://youtu.be/5B2PYNqpy-A.

The show on October 9, which will start at 8 p.m., also features Lovers League, Orion Freeman and Lara Ruggles. Tickets are $8.

hollywood undeadIf at some point in the future, music fans want to look back to hear what rock music sounded like in 2015, the best place to start would be to listen to Hollywood Undead’s brilliant album “Day of the Dead.”

The Los Angeles-based hip-hop/metal veterans are touring in support of “Day of the Dead.” On October 10, the band will be one of the headliners at the Monster Energy Rock Allegiance show at PPL Park (1 Stadium Drive. Chester, 610- 859-3100, http://www.livenation.com/venues/24040/ppl-park).

The day-long event that starts at noon will also feature Pop Evil, The Glorious Sons, Butcher Babies, Nothing More, Bring Me The Horizon, In This Moment, The Temperance Movement, Art of Dying, Atreyu, Five Finger Death Punch, Korn, Rob Zombie, Papa Roach and Godsmack.

Hollywood Undead features Johnny 3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Danny, Funny Man, and Da Kurlzz — a collective that hit platinum right out of the gate with its debut album “Swan Songs” in 2008.

“I was in previous bands with three of the guys before Hollywood Undead,” said Johnny 3 Tears, during a recent phone interview. “In 2005, we hooked up with some other people and started doing Hollywood Undead.

“We did it with a different idea — with not just being a rock band. Growing up in L.A., hip hop has always been part of the music. But, rap rock has negative connotations. We’re more influenced by industrial than hip hop. If asked, we just say it’s rock music.”

“Day of the Dead” has tracks that are hard rock, a large dose of rapping along with clean vocals, well-written songs with strong vocals and even some EDM (electronic dance music) with heavy drops.

“The cool thing about Hollywood Undead is that it’s exactly what I want to play,” said Johnny 3 Tears. “We have the opportunity to do whatever style we want. When we write in the studio, there’s no — ‘we can’t do that.’ I like to be as open as possible.

“With Hollywood Undead, no matter what we do, it’s always Hollywood Undead. Prior to this, we were just in tock bands. Within those parameters, we couldn’t do what we wanted. Our goals have never been defined. From record-to-record, I’m never sure what I’m going to do.

“The more you keep your integrity, the more people like you. We just keep ourselves honest and that’s why we have devoted fans. We’re fortunate to have guys in the band who can play and can play what we have on the record.”

Fortunately for the band’s fans, Johnny 3 Tears and his mates are prolific writers.

“We never stop writing music,” said Johnny 3 Tears. ‘I write songs every day and record them. Then, I decide which ones to pursue. I’ve worked for months on songs that never made it to a record. And, I’ve written some that were done in one day.

“There are other guys in the band who write too. Life is a huge part of the writing process. It’s what you’re going through personally. I write a lot of the more emotional songs — the heavier songs. But, everybody in the band certainly plays a role.”

Video link for Hollywood Undead — https://youtu.be/bl0e5DrYLyY.

The show at PPL Park will get underway at noon. Doors open at 10am. All seating is General Admission. Tickets are $54.50.

archie fisher

Archie Fisher

On October 10, there will be two acts playing area venues that are very different musically and light years different with regard to experience. Archie Fisher has been making music for just over 50 years and PALMAS has been making music for just over 50 weeks. 

Fisher, who will headline a show at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com), is a Scottish folksinger and songwriter who released his debut album “Archie Fisher” in 1968. His most recent album is “A Silent Song,” which came out earlier this year.

Master guitarist, singer and songwriter Archie Fisher is Scotland’s foremost folk troubadour and is known in his homeland as the host of BBC Radio Scotland’s award winning “Travelling Folk” show for over 30 years.]

Recognized for his contributions, Fisher, a native of Glasgow, was inducted into the Scots Traditional Music Hall of Fame and awarded an MBE, a prestigious honor nominated by his peers and bestowed by Queen Elizabeth.

The Glaswegian musician collaborated with Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, produced Silly Wizard, played with Pentangle’s John Renbourn and Bert Jansch and has enjoyed a partnership with Canadian songwriter Garnet Rogers for a few decades.

“A Silent Song,” which was released on Red House Records,  finds Fisher’s voice as elegant and expressive as ever on these new tracks ranging from historical favorites to originals. It’s been seven years since Fisher’s last release “Windward Away” — a collection of introspective ballads that evoke the wild and rough beauty of the Scottish border country.

“I had an agreement many years ago with Red House Records for a couple albums,” said Fisher, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in upstate New York. “My albums always have a long gestation period. I did some tracks in the United States a few years ago and then came back again and did a few more.

“Then, some tracks got lost in electronic transfer between studios. Nobody could find them. So, I had to start all over again. I tend to record more than I need. I had 15 tracks which I cut down to 12 for the album. A few of the songs had gone through a rewriting process. The majority had been in my repertoire for many years.”

Fisher, who will celebrate his 76th birthday on October 23, isn’t letting his age make him home-bound.

“I still perform a lot in the U.K.,” said Fisher. “Earlier this year I did a tour of England and then later a tour of Scotland. I’m keeping my hand in it.

“Right now, I’m touring with my old friend Garnet Rogers. “We sit on stage together and complement each other’s performances — occasionally harmonizing. We’ve been doing it since the 70s so we have a large repertoire.

“I’ll be doing another album with Garnet soon. We’ll begin making the album in Scotland starting at the end of this tour. It might be my last album. You know what they say — swans don’t sing.”

Video link for Archie Fisher — https://youtu.be/f_GxP_zWmSs.

The show in Sellersville, which also features Garnet Rogers, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $ 21.50 and $29.50.



PALMAS (Eric Camarota – Bass, Matthew Young – Guitar, Adam Cantiello – Guitar, Kurt Cain – Vocals/Organs, and Pat Degan – Drums) is a Philadelphia-based band that will be releasing its debut EP “To The Valley” November 13, 2015 via Lost Colony Music. On Ocrober 11, the band will perform at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com).

“It started a little over a year ago,” said Cantiello, during a phone interview last week. “Myself and Matt Young were trading old albums by the Beach Boys and the Ventures. Eric came along and then we added Kurt and Pat.”

Ironically, the year-old band plays music that is influenced by the hits and the sounds of rock-and-roll in the later 1950s and early 1960s. Listening to the album makes you want to mix a martini and put the movie “Catch Me If You Can” in the DVD player — or maybe put on a bathing suit and dance “The Frug.”

“A lot of our stuff comes from the 60s — things like surf rock and Nancy Sinatra,” said Cantiello, who grew up in South Jersey. “We had our first show last December and we played to a sold-out crowd at Ortleib’s.  By the first show, we had eight or nine songs together. And, we did a cover of ‘Love Potion Number Nine.’

“When we began making the EP, we recorded bass and drums to tape at Head Room, a studio in East Kensington. We tracked guitar and vocals with engineer Andrew Torre at his studio. From there, it got mixed by Ian Walsh and then we had it mastered.

“A lot of us play vintage gear. I play a 1966 Fender Mustang. A lot of the equipment we’re using adds to the 60s sound. We didn’t specific ally go for the 60s sound but we knew what we’d get from the equipment.

“Our music is surf, soul and rock-and-roll. We write a ton. But, we only play songs live that we’re confident will make it on an album. We do a nice 45-minute set. The EP doesn’t come out until next month but we do have a limited edition vinyl version that we sell at our shows.”

Video link for PALMAS — https://youtu.be/PhIjG6_hpeQ.

The show at Boot and Saddle will start at 8 p.m. with Fiancé and Surf Rock Is Dead as the opening acts. Tickets are $12.

dwight & nicole

Dwight & Nicole

On October 11, Dwight & Nicole will bring their distinctive blend of blues and R&B to town for a show at The Clubhouse (1125 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, http://www.theclubhouse.com).

Multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter Dwight Ritcher along with Billboard Music Awards Female Vocalist of the Year Nicole Nelson joined forces in the critically-acclaimed indie-soul act Dwight & Nicole.

“I Need Love” off their most recent album “Shine On” was just named one of the Best Songs of the Year by the Boston Herald. Nelson, who was a standout finalist on NBC popular TV show “The Voice,” received major accolades with her haunting version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a nationwide hit at Number 24 on the iTunes pop charts.

“We met in Boston over 10 years ago,” said Nelson, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from their home in Vermont. “We each had our own blues band. I was from Brooklyn but I went to Boston to get my own blues band.”
Ritcher, who is originally from Long Branch, New Jersey, said, “We each had our own residencies on Thursday nights. “Nicole was at the Times Pub in downtown Boston and I was at the Green Street Grill in Cambridge. Our sets were at different times do we’d always go to each other’s shows.”

The couple first crossed paths at another club in the Boston area.

“We met at this club in Quincy, Massachusetts,” said Nelson. “I was hosting a blues jam there. Someone said Dwight Ritcher was in the house. So, I got him up onstage to sing and he was amazing.”

Soon, they were making music together and developing their own style — a style that incorporated a wide range of influences from B.B. King to Johhny Cash to Jimi Hendrix… from big band music to pop R&B.

“My grandfather had a big band in the 1940s,” said Ritcher. “I started out as a drummer playing behind him at parties. I liked that music a lot but I also liked modern music. When Nicole and I started making music together, we had the blues influence and there was an element of R&B. I was doing original stuff. Blues was the roots but we moved off of the early influences.”

Nelson said, “Our music has had a lot of ebbs and flows. The instrumentalization has changed a lot. I used to play guitar and we played rock clubs. Recently, I’ve been playing bass and Dwight plays a small drum kit and guitar at the same time. For our show in Philadelphia, we’ll have Milt Reeder with us on guitar.

“When I was on ‘The Voice’ in 2012, I ended up being a finalist. It was pretty crazy. It attracted some interest from record companies but we’re more comfortable with the way we’re doing things on our own.”

Video link for Dwight & Nicole — https://youtu.be/rIXY2Df1Pdg.

The show at The Clubhouse will start at 7:30 with opening act the DuPont Brothers. A $10 donation is suggested for admittance to the show.

bottle rockets

Bottle Rockets

Another area show on October 11 will feature Bottle Rockets, who return to Philadelphia for a show at MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com).

The Bottle Rockets are an American roots rock band formed in 1992 and currently based in St. Louis, Missouri. The band members are Brian Henneman (guitar, vocals), Mark Ortmann (drums), John Horton (guitar) and Keith Voegele (bass, vocals).

The Bottle Rockets are touring in support of their recently-released 12th album “South Broadway Athletic Club.”  It came out October 2 on Bloodshot Records.

The album is filled with jangly American rock songs and, if the songs remind listeners of the Byrds and Tom Petty, there is a good reason. Both of those bands had songs featuring the distinctive sounds of the Rickenbacker guitars used by Roger McGuinn and Tom Petty.

“I consider this to be my Rickenbacker album,” said Henneman, during a phone interview last week. “I used my Rickenbacker in a lot of places. I got a six-string Rickenbacker in 2011 and that influenced a lot of songs since then.

“Somehow, I lucked into a 12-string Rickenbacker. My Rickenbacker guitars are my best friends for songwriting. Songs just pop out of them. They brought about more melodic songwriting. I was the main songwriter on almost every song. The rest of the band just liked what I came up with.”

The Bottle Rockets’ previous album was “Not So Loud” in 2011.

“There was a long gap between albums because everything in the music industry is like dog years,” said Henneman. “You don’t realize how much time goes by. We did release a DVD and a re-issue of our first two albums.

“We recorded the new album in three segments — which is unusual for us. We did a week in November, a week in December and a week in February. I’m glad we did it that way. It was really cool.

“Traditionally, we’d block off a couple weeks. We’d be gung-ho at the start and then we’d run out of time at the end. This time, we did one song a day and not stop until we finished it. We usually went in the studio around 11 a.m. and we’d usually finish between 9 p.m. and midnight. We didn’t have to go back and touch up the songs.”

Video link for the Bottle Rockets — https://youtu.be/JwXkGJo9m2g.

The show at Milkboy, which starts at 7 p.m., will also feature the Jayhawks’ Mark  Olsen. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.


Electric Six

On October 12, Electric Six will bring their genre-defying sound to Philadelphia for a show at MilkBoy Philly.

Electric Six is a six-piece band from Detroit, Michigan featuring Dick Valentine (vocals), Da Ve (guitar), Johnny Na$hinal (guitar), Tait Nucleus? (synths) and Percussion World (drums).

Trying to describe their style is like trying to describe the different flavors in paella or jambalaya. It’s a stew — a musical blend that includes diverse elements such as punk rock, new wave, hard rock, cabaret, straight-up rock, garage, metal and even disco.

The band gained fame in 2003 with its singles “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar.”

Electric Six has released 11 albums since 2003. The albums’ titles offer a glimpse at the band’s musical diversity — Fire, Señor Smoke, Switzerland, I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me from Being the Master, Flashy, KILL, Zodiac, Heartbeats and Brainwaves, Mustang and Human Zoo.

The band’s most recent album “Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!” was released October 3. All of the band’s albums have been releases like clockwork — one-a-year and always on Metropolis Records.

“We do a new album every year,” said Valentine, during a phone interview last week as the band drove through Florida. “We started in February this year. We always start in January or February. That’s when we write and put the pieces together.

“The songs build up and you have to let them go. We record the drums and guitars in March and April and the vocals in May. We mix it in June and it comes out in October.

“The band started in 1996 and I’m the only original member left. Our keyboard player Tait Nucleus? Has been in the band ever since the first album, which was ‘Fire’ in 2003. But, the guys in this line-up have been in the band seven times longer than any of the other original members. This line-up has been intact since 2005.

“The music is definitely a group thing. Everybody writes songs on Logic Pro or GarageBand. I have stories in my head for the songs. I’ll get ideas and enter them into my iPhone. A lot of times, it’s just a phrase rather than a whole story.”

Electric Six is approaching the end of its coast-to-coast “I Wanna Lick The Screen Tour.”

“We’re only doing two or three songs off the new album,” said Valentine. “With 11 albums, we have a lot of back material. ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘Danger! High Voltage’ are must-play songs. ‘Gay Bar’ has been absolutely embraced by the gay community. They have statues of us that they put in the Gay Capitol.

“We’re also doing a pilot for a reality TV show. We won all this money in the casino and then we have cat fights. It’s called ‘Roulette Stars Of Metro Detroit.’ We funded it by a Kickstarter campaign.”

The campaign was obviously a success. It ended on July 19, 2015 and successfully raised $63,244 with 548 backers.

Video link for Electric Six — https://youtu.be/BRrfnvGQG1I.

The Electric Six show at Milkboy will start at 7 p.m. with Yip Deceiver and Travel Lanes as the opening acts. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.

The Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have Sunblaze Lane, The Remedy, Slowdraw,  and Dirty Purple on October 9 and Vinyl Artifacts and Zentenna on October 10.

Valley Forge Casino (1160 First Avenue, King Of Prussia, 610-354-8118, https://vfcasino.com/entertainment) will present Whoopi Goldberg on October 10 and Peter Cetera on October 11.

Doc Watson’s Public House (150 North Pottstown Pike, Exton, 610-524-2424, docwatsonspublichouse.com) will host Green Machine on October 10.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host The Funny Songs All-Stars featuring Barry Rabin, Carla Ulbrich and Todd Chappelle on October 9 and John Faye & Those Meddling Kids!  along with Emma Cullen on October 10.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present Rhythm Road, Bernard Sarkissian and Tamara Sheen on October 10.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will have East Meets West on October 10, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo on October 11and David Gonzalez on October 14.

World Café Live at the Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 302- 994-1400, www.queen.worldcafelive.com) will host Specal Delivery Band on October 9 and Lucy Kaplansky  on October 10.

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) will be presenting the dark musical “Sweeney Todd — the Demon Barbwer of Fleet Street” now through November 1.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

The Rainbow ComedyTheatre (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, http://rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting “Over the River & Through the Woods” now through October 24.

Matinee performances are every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and selected Saturdays with an 11:30 a.m. lunch and a 1 p.m. curtain. Evening performances are every Friday, Saturday and selected Thursdays with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the show following at 8 p.m. There will also be “Twilight Performances” on selected Sundays with dinner at 2:30 p.m. and the show at 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $30-$55.

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