On Stage: Dinosaur Pile-Up finds identity as a band

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Dinosaur Pile-Up

If you’re going to Chevelle’s show on July 13 The Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com), you’d be wise to get there shortly after the doors open.

Getting there early is not about getting a good place in front of the stage to watch – although that is another good reason – but rather to catch the sets by both opening bands – Dinosaur Pile-Up and Black Map.

Dinosaur Pile-Up – lead singer and guitarist Matt Bigland, drummer Mike Sheils, bassist Jim Cratchley – is a British alternative rock band that was formed in Leeds, West Yorkshire 10 years ago.

The band has released three albums – “Growing Pains” (2010, Friends V Records), “Nature Nature” (2013, SO Recordings), and “Eleven Eleven” (SO Recordings). The trio has also released five EPs since 2008.

“I started the band,” said Bigland, during a phone interview Monday from a tour stop in Baltimore, Maryland. “Mikey has been in the band for seven years and Jim for four years.

“There was a time early in the band’s career that line-up changes happened a lot. When I met Mikey, that stopped the revolving door. At the start, it was a solo thing. Now, I definitely look at it as a band.

“At first, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. With the internet, it was all in the public eye – which is kind of strange. I just wanted a band that I was proud of – a band that I love.

“Over the years, I guess we’ve gotten heavier and heavier. As a band, we became more capable of getting heavy. Early on, it could have turned into an indie band.”

The “Eleven Eleven” album, which was released in October 2015, was a landmark for Dinosaur Pile-Up.

“The first two albums were more solo albums,” said Bigland. “‘Eleven Eleven’ was our first album as a band. We did more exploration – like slowing things down. Recording as a band was the difference.

“We recorded the album in 2014 at Rockfield Studio in Wales with Tom Dalgety as our producer. He also co-produced our second record with me.

“We were in the studio for about three weeks. It was shorter than we wanted – but we had a budget. The recording sessions were like four mates messing around and having fun.

“A lot of the amps there were analog. The live rooms are really vibe-y – very old—a lot of vintage equipment. All the tracks were recorded live and then we’d layer over them.

“Quite a few tracks on the record were first take. We also did two weeks pre-production at another studio – the Dog House.”

As always. Bigland was the force behind the songs.

“I do all the writing and then take the songs to the guys,” said Bigland. “I had been writing on the road a lot prior to going to Rockfield.

“It’s also what I’ve been doing now. We’ve been touring pretty steady for two years and I’ve been writing on the road for our fourth album. I’ve already got a lot of songs ready.

“I’ll write 20 ideas and cut it down to 10 songs and then to five songs and then to two songs. I put ideas into my cell phone. I record guitar stuff on GarageBand.

“I do a lot of writing – and a lot of cutting. Now, we want to get into the studio later this year. Our plans are to have the new album out early next year.”

Video link for Dinosaur Pile-Up – https://youtu.be/CPr1JR1Iu3w.

Black Map

Black Map — Ben Flanagan, bass and vocals; Chris Robyn, drums; Mark Engles, guitar – is a hard-hitting rock band that formed a few years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 2014, the band released an EP – “Driver” and an album “…And We Explode.” Earlier this year, the trio released its sophomore album “In Droves” on EOne Records.

“‘In Droves’ was recorded over a period of a couple months in early summer last year,” said Flanagan, during a phone interview Monday as the band traveled from Cleveland to Baltimore.

“We were on the road touring with Chevelle and then we came back home and finished it. Chevelle has really taken us under their wing and now we’re out with them again.

“Taking a break in the recording gave us a perspective on the songs. It was a cool way to do it. We recorded it in Oakland with Aaron Hellan, the same producer we used on our first album.”

Taking a break from the road is the way Black Map creates its music.
“We don’t really write on the road,” said Flanagan. “Usually, Mark and I write the songs. One of us puts a thing on the table. We work on riffs and then play them and play them over and over again.”

Black Map formed following a hiatus from the members’ respective bands — Engles in Dredg, Robyn in Far and Flanagan in The Trophy Far.

“Mark and I were good friends,” said Flanagan. “We ended up playing music together because his band Dredg needed another vocalist. My band was inactive so I toured with Dredg and that fortified our bond.

“We got drinking one night and thought about the drummer we’d want if we made a band. We texted Chris and soon got together.

“We played some songs together and it really grew into something. We didn’t think about an album or anything like that. We knew we’d play shows locally but we didn’t expect anything more.”

The unexpected happened and Black Map soon developed a following and began working in the studio.

“We’ve all been around for a while and we know how to write good songs,” said Flanagan, who lives in Alameda, California. “There is no real pretense to it.

“We definitely don’t put a label on ourselves. We connect with all types of people because we don’t spend much time with genres like post-hardcore or metal.

“Chevelle fans like our metal side. When we toured with Bush, their fans were great to us.

“It started with us playing heavy but we also have some songs that are ambient. We’re a rock band. We just play true rock and roll.”

Video link for Black Map – https://youtu.be/CL66g_0p89g.

The show at The Fillmore Philadelphia, which has Chevelle as the headliner, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29.50.

Other upcoming acts at The Fillmore are Splintered Sunlight on July 14, Why Don’t We on July 15, Sir Sly on July 15, Wheeler Walker on July 16, and Morgan Heritage on July 19.

Mindy Rhodes

If you’re looking for a show on July 13 with music of a softer nature, check out Mindy Rhodes’ performance at the General Warren Inne (Old Lancaster Highway, Malvern, 610-296-3637,www.generalwarren.com).

She will also be performing on July 14 at the Duling-Kurtz House (146 South Whitford Road, Exton, 610-524-1830, www.dulingkurtz.com).

Rhodes is a talented singer/pianist who is comfortable performing songs in a wide variety of styles.

She has performed in nightclubs as a jazz vocalist with a backing band, at smaller venues with her solo cabaret act and frequently at area restaurants with a duo line-up.

“At the General Warren Inne, I play two months on and one month off,” said Rhodes, during a recent phone interview from her home in Marshallton. “I play the Duling-Kurtz about once a month.”

Rhodes has released two solo albums – “Whisper Wind” and “Blush.” She also was the vocalist for the band 9 Steps Down. She was a piano performance major at Penn State University with voice as her second instrument.

“I did solo classical recitals when I was at Penn State,” said Rhodes, who attended Hillsdale Elementary School, West Chester Henderson High and Westtown School. “I won a concerto competition my senior year and performed with the Penn State Philharmonic.

“When I was at Penn State, I also started playing coffeehouses and singing my own material – no cover tunes — just my own songs. It took me a while to learn the coordination of singing and playing. My early stuff was pretty raw.”

After living in Hawaii and California for a while, Rhodes returned to Pennsylvania in 1999 and released her debut LP a year later. In 2001, Rhodes released “Blush”, which was recorded live at the Dilworthtown Inn.

Rhodes, who an accomplished singer-pianist-songwriter and a top-flight floral artist, is slowly working on her third album.

“My full-time work is flowers – weddings, funerals, special occasions – and teaching music classes,” said Rhodes. “I teach piano lessons for beginners. I love working with children. Recently, I raised almost $1,500 donating a class to Francis Vale Animal Rescue.”

Rhodes, who cites Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand and Nina Simone as influences, has built a legion of fans throughout the Delaware Valley.

“My audience is pretty diverse,” said Rhodes. “I have a lot of repeat customers. The General Warren and Duling-Kurtz are great places to play. I play jazz standards, blues classics and original songs – a little bit of everything.

“My shows at the General Warren Inn are usually duos with Bill Schilling, who plays bass and piano. When I’m singing and playing piano, he’s on bass. When he shifts to piano, I concentrate solely on vocals.

“When I’m playing and singing, I try to crawl inside the song. It has to be something that means something to me. When I write songs, I look to give myself comfort and to give comfort to the listeners.”

Video link for Mindy Rhodes – https://youtu.be/xdMdE_pVlFU.

Rhodes will perform at the General Warren Inne on July 13 from 6-10 p.m. and at the Duling-Kurtz House on July 14 from 6-9 p.m. There is no cover charge for either show.

A lot of people – especially people on the West Coast – are familiar with Wild Rivers, a popular water-themed amusement park in Irvine, California. Unfortunately, it closed in 2011.

Wild Rivers

Now, a lot of people are becoming familiar with a different Wild Rivers.

The current Wild Rivers is a Canadian indie/folk/pop band from Toronto. The Ontario foursome features Khalid Yassein, Devan Glover, Andrew Oliver and Ben Labenski.

On July 13, the Philadelphia debut of Wild Rivers will take place at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

“Khalid and I met at the university,” said Glover, during a phone interview Monday morning just after the band crossed the border on its way from Toronto to a show in Boston, Massachusetts.

“We started singing as a duo in 2012 when we were students at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Ben, our drummer, also went to Queen’s. He and Andrew were friends. We got together and formed a four-piece.”

The group released its self-titled debut album in April 2016 – an album that has yielded over 4 million Spotify streams. Wild Rivers toured Canada and the United States throughout 2016 in support of the album and released a new single, “Do Right” earlier this year.

“We recorded the album at Catherine North Studios in Hamilton, Ontario,” said Glover. “We started the process in July 2015 and recorded up until December 2015. It was our first time making an album and our first time working with a producer.

“Some of the sings were written prior to the recording sessions back when we were a duo. They changed a bit when we recorded them because we thought they were missing some elements. And, there were some new ones we wrote while making the album.

“Our band has a lot of the classic influences of a four-piece with male and female vocals. Some of our main influences are Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. More current influences are Of Mice and Men and the Lumineers.”

Wild Rivers blends a classic feel with its own current inspirations to create meaningful songs with a contemporary pop appeal.

“Our audience is mostly fans in the 18-30 age group,” said Glover. “But, baby boomers are our second demographic. Our music is accessible.

“Our sound has evolved since we started a few years ago. We have a better idea of everybody’s personal tastes. We know each other better – as musicians and as people.

“Some band members are into indie rock and some are into old-school R&B. I think our next release is going to be very varied – more sonically diverse.”

Video link for Wild Rivers – https://youtu.be/1hsAGLP8yLc.

The show at the World Café Live, which has the Lullanas as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming shows at the World Café Live are The Dukes of Destiny, Nothing Wrong on July 14; Pokey LaFarge, Kelsey Waldon on July 14; The Clock Reads, Gnarbot on July 15; Charles Havira with Band and OXBLOOD, BobbyrocK on July 16; The Nightowls on July 18; The Crane Wives on July 19; and Devon Gilfillian and Cris Jacobs on July 19.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have Better Than Bacon Improv Comedy on July 13; Steal Your Peach with very special guest Johnny Neel on July 14; An Evening of Comedy with Ian Fidance, Steph Termini, Alyssa Truszkowski, and Jon Koppel on July 15; Open Mic with guest host Andrew Reynolds & Elliot Mazur on July 16; and Ben Arnold Band in Residency at The Flash with Cliff Hillis.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Roselit Bone on July 14, and the Morelings and Queue on July 15

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Tom Hamilton’s American Babies and Holly Bowling on July 14 and HR (of Bad Brains) with Kingsound Vibration, Hezekiah Jones, Mason Porter, High Kick, Chris Grunwald & The Slow Response and West Philadelphia Orchestra on July 15.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) hosts Asleep At The Wheel and Dale Watson on July 15.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have “Ricky Nelson Remembered” with Matthew & Gunnar Nelson on July 13; Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers and Jocelyn & Chris Arndt on July 14:

King’s X and Kings of Spade on July 15; The Jerry Douglas Band on July 16; Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge on July 18; and Johnny Peers & The Muttville Comix on July 20.

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