On Stage: Americana is front and center this weekend

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Old Sea Brigade

Over the next few days, there will feature be several shows bound to pique the interest of fans of Americana music — concerts by Old Sea Brigade, The Bumper Jacksons and The Dirty Grass Players.

On November 29, The Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) will present a concert featuring Old Sea Brigade, Tall Heights, and Frances Cone.

Old Sea Brigade is the stage name of Ben Cramer, a singer-songwriter-guitarist from Nashville.

Old Sea Brigade is now coming down the home stretch of a national tour that began on October 11 and includes just under 40 shows. The tour took a brief break on November 18 and resumed in Washington, D.C. on November 28.

“I’m leaving Nashville today and heading out for the final four shows,” said Cramer, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Music City.

“It was a little lonely at the beginning — but, it’s been fun. It’s been an exciting time travelling the country with some close friends.”

Old Sea Brigade has a new album – “Ode To A Friend – on Nettwerk Records.

It’s fairly common for a music act to tour extensively when it finished a new album but OSB’s tour has a difference. The album is not scheduled to be released until January 4.

“I have a couple singles out and I felt that this tour was a right move,” said Cramer. “It was a good way to get out to new markets – to put out the songs for people to hear.”

The album itself is almost a year old.

“I recorded ‘Ode To A Friend’ last December,” said Cramer. “We mixed it throughout the past year – making subtle changes here and there.

“The bulk of it was recorded in Fort Walton Beach, Florida at Print Ups Studio. It was nice to get out of Nashville. Jeremy Griffith produced most of it and I produced a few tracks. Then, I went back home to mix it. In the tracking phase, we knew how we wanted to do the mixing phase. We mixed it on an old analog console from the 1970s.”

Old Sea Brigade’s music blurs and breaks barriers — tossing and turning between analog cinematic flourishes and provocative lyricism based on hard-won wisdom. Utilizing a variety of textures, Atlanta-born Cramer allows the emotion to resound loudest on “Ode To A Friend,” which is his full-length debut.

According to Cramer, “I put myself into my own bubble. The music doesn’t conform to one style. I’m in Nashville, but this isn’t straight ahead Americana or country. At the same time, it’s not indie rock either. I chose to do something that felt like me. It’s the best representation of my songwriting and what I grew up loving about music.

“This go-around, I brought in a lot of production ideas, since I’d been working with many artists in Nashville. I worked closely with Jeremy to bring the production to life. We went outside of the box and tried different things.”

Cramer talked about the evolution of the album.

“Some of the songs, I’ve had for a very long time,” said Cramer. “I wrote ‘Fell You’ six years ago when I was living in New York. I came in with a collection of 30 songs. We went through and picked the ones we thought were best.

“We wanted the album to be an ambient ethereal soundscape and to be a singer-songwriter record at the same time. At the core, we wanted it to feel like a singer-songwriter record.”

Video link for Old Sea Brigade – https://youtu.be/a2hvgn5cozA.

The concert at The Foundry, which features Old Sea Brigade, Tall Heights, and Frances Cone, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16.

Other upcoming shows at The Foundry are Protomartyr on November 30, Emo Night Brooklyn on December 1, Broadside and With Confidence on December 2, Eric Rachmany on December 4, and Roosevelt on December 5.

The Bumper Jacksons

On November 29, the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808www.st94.com) will present The Bumper Jacksons with a show that is bound to get people out of their seats.

The Bumper Jacksons – Jess Eliot Myhre (clarinet, vocals, washboard), Chris Ousley (acoustic & electric guitar, vocals, banjo), Dave Hadley (pedal steel), Alex Lacquement (upright bass), Dan Samuels (drums), and Joe Brotherton (trumpet) — pull together a vast array of early American traditions into a cohesive sound that includes country swing, old-time blues and brass-infused bluegrass. Powerhouse vocals and a hard-swinging rhythm section are flanked by adventurous pedal steel and a grooving horn section.

Based in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, The Bumper Jacksons are described as “hot and sweet — painting America’s story from the streets of New Orleans to Appalachian hollers. The Bumper Jacksons elegantly balance paying homage to the traditions while fashioning their own unique, playful style.”

“Chris and I met at a jam in D.C.,” said Myhre, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in the D.C. area. “It was a bluegrass/swing jam. Chris was bringing skills from old-time Americana and I was bringing traditional New Orleans swing jazz.

“We played music together for over a year until we decided to take it to a different level. We played as a duo and toured on bicycles. We grew organically over the next few years into the band we are now.

“After a few years, we solidified as a six-piece band. The line-up has stayed mostly the same the whole time except for our “Dan’ drummers. Our original drummer was Dan Cohan, who played suitcase drum. He left a few years ago and our new drummer is Dan Samuels.”

The Bumper Jacksons released their debut album “Sweet Mama, Sweet Daddy, Come In” in 2014 and followed with their “Too Big World” LP in 2015. Their latest album – “I’ve Never Met A Stranger” – was released in May 2017.

“When we first started, we played a lot of traditional jazz and old-time country,” said Myhre, who grew up in Stuart (Florida), attended Wesleyan University (Connecticut) and then moved to New Orleans after graduation. “The ‘Too Big World’ album was the first time we melded the sound.

“On ‘I’ve Never Met A Stranger,’ a lot of arrangements are more intricate. We’ve taken a variety of American music structures and then mixed them well. We recorded the album at Tonal Park, a studio in Takoma Park, Maryland.

“I produced the album along with Alex, our bass player. Charlie Pilzer, the studio’s owner, and Dan Godwin did the mixing and mastering. We all worked together on it. We’re pretty collaborative.

“Even though the music is a meld of styles and has intricate arrangements, that’s not the main thing. What’s most important to us is that we keep our stuff simple and groovy.”

Video link for The Bumper Jacksons – https://youtu.be/Mq9Q7uy_51I.

The show at the Sellersville Theatre, which has Hambone Relay as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 and $29.50.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theatre are Bobby Collins on November 30, Chris Smither on December 1, Livingston Taylor on December 2, Winterfest on December 4 and Christmas with the Celts on December 5.

The Dirty Grass Players

On November 30, The Dirty Grass Players will visit the area for a show at 118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com).

There are some similarities between The Dirty Grass Players and The Bumper Jacksons. Both have their roots in traditional American folk-country. Each had their most recent album release in May 2017. And, both bands have their roots in the “Old Line State.” Most importantly, they both make music that is authentic, intense and ‘down and dirty” hip-shaking.

Hailing from Baltimore, The Dirty Grass Players have established themselves with a blend of traditional bluegrass and blazing musicianship that pushes boundaries. Featuring Josh Ballard (bass), Alex Berman (banjo), Crosby Cofod (fiddle), Ben Kolakowski (guitar) and Ryan Rogers (mandolin). The “Dirty Grass” appellation came from their ability to mesh jam band improvisation with downhome bluegrass.

“We’ve been together for four years already,” said Berman, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in the Baltimore area. ‘The core of the band is the original three – Ben on guitar, Ryan on mandolin and me on banjo. Josh joined the band seven months ago and Crosby has been with us for three months.

“It all started as an informal gathering – Ben, Ryan and me getting together every Monday drinking beer at Ben’s place and jamming together. We originally net through playing music. It’s been 10 years now.

“Ben and Ryan went to school together at Delaney High School in Timonium and UMBC (University of Maryland – Baltimore County). I went to Atholton High School in Columbia and Howard Community College.

“There used to be bluegrass jams every other week at this club in Ellicott City called The Friendly Inn. I listened and thought – hey, I can do this. I had been paying guitar in a rock band and picked up a banjo to start playing bluegrass.

“Bluegrass was a pretty big thing in Baltimore in the late 1950s and through the 1960s. Bluegrass legends Del McCoury and Bill Monroe met in Baltimore in the early 1960s.”

The Dirty Grass Band has set out on a journey to add to Baltimore’s bluegrass history.

“Our first show was in Glen Burnie, Maryland about four years ago,” said Berman. “It was at an outdoor festival – on the back of a truck.

“We released our first CD last year and have a new one coming soon. We’ve gone from playing on the back of a truck for $200 to selling out a show at The Soundry (a new music hall in Columbia).”

The band’s eponymous debut album was recorded, engineered, and mixed by Ernesto Ponce at Moose House Studio in Baltimore.

“We’re going to start recording again in January,” said Berman. “We’re thinking about recording it ourselves and then finishing it at Patuxent Music in Rockville. We want to have the album done and released by April.

“We’re already sliding some new songs into our live shows. We were on Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd tribute shows so we have those songs we can play too. We’re trying to appeal to bluegrass fans and jam band fans.”

Video link for The Dirty Grass Players — https://youtu.be/Qjy6_A6Kwxs.

The show at 118 North, which has Hepner’s Rebellion as the opening act, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Dan Rendine Trio on November 29, Smash Palace and Chris Hillis on December 1, Brian Collins on December 2, Larry McKenna’s New Voices Cabaret  on December 4, and Open Mic hosted by Raph Cutrufello with featured act Brian Seymour on December 5.


If you really want to rock out on November 30, head to Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com) to catch the show by 7Horse.

7Horse is an American rock and blues duo formed in 2011 most notable for its song “Meth Lab Zoso Sticker,” which was featured in Martin Scorsese’s film “The Wolf of Wall Street” — in the second trailer and on the soundtrack.  It was also used by FoxSports on the pre-game show for the NFL playoff season.

The group consists of Phil Leavitt (songwriter, drummer, and lead vocals) and Joie Calio (songwriter, guitars, bass, and vocals) — musicians who also make up two-thirds of the band dada.

7Horse began as a hypothetical — What if, longtime band mates Joie Calio and Phil Leavitt thought, we bury our musical past and see if we can discover rock ’n’ roll’s Ground Zero?

That question was explored in bold fashion on the duo’s 2011 debut “Let the 7Horse Run” and continued on its sophomore album “Songs for a Voodoo Wedding.”. 7Horse’s third album “Livin’ in a Bitch of a World” was released in 2016.

The band has a new album that will be released soon. Like Old Sea Brigade, 7Horse headed out on a national tour prior to the album’s release. 7Horse’s “Superfecta” album will officially be released on December 7. 7Horse just released a single titled “What Is America?”

“We felt that the next thing had to be more an incremental journey,” said Calio, during a recent phone interview from his home in Seattle, Washington.

The band did several things differently on its new album.

For previous albums, the two veteran musicians traded ideas and riffs online. For “Superfecta,” they decided to travel a new route with several months of pre-production and writing together in person. The result was an expansive, daring take on 7Horse’s blues-rock sound.

Additionally, “Superfetcta” marks the first time Leavitt and Calio have not produced the music themselves. Instead, they collaborated with an outside producer – Grammy Award-winning mixer/producer Dave Way, who is known for his work with Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney, and Pink.

And, for the first time, Calio and Leavitt added a third musician – in the studio and on the road.

“With our previous albums, I’d send Phil a riff and he’d send me some lyrics – or he’d send me a riff and I’d add some lyrics,” said Calio. “The process was working.

“This time, we decided to frontload it more. We decided to spend two months writing together. We also decided that we needed one more rudder to steer this thing – to keep it in focus. Dave Way has been mixing out stuff since Day One. This time, we got him involved from the start.

“Another thing was the addition of Brian Whelan, a guy who we had considered to produce the album. He’s a really talented multi-instrumentalist. He has a great voice and we sung really well together. And, he’s a great, great keyboardist.

“Phil and I wrote about 20 songs for the album and then recorded 13 to get to 11 – songs about love, death, money and the power of music.”

Perhaps the biggest new influence was the decision to use Way in a bigger way.

“We did everything at Dave’s studio in Mulholland Hills this time,” said Calio. “He makes really good decisions and has a great sense of music. His studio has a lot of good amps and guitars – and a lot of analog gear. The key is to have both analog and digital. We try to keep it real – an organic sound – a great classic sound.”

Video link for 7Horse – https://youtu.be/BRQSZrw_akg.

The show at Boot and Saddle, which has MSB as the opener, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Other upcoming shows at Boot and Saddle are Haerts on November 29, Beggars on December 1, Parker Gispert on December 4 and Marisa Nadler on December 5.

David Bromberg

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295http://www.kennettflash.org) will present David Bromberg solo on November 30 and Open Mic with guest host Sarah Koon and DJ Gingerfox on December 2.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Heston on December 1.

The Colonial Theatre (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610- 917-1228, www.thecolonialtheatre.com) presents Steve Earle & the Dukes: 30th Anniversary of “Copperhead Road” with special guest The Mastersons on November 30.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389www.ardmoremusic.com) will host Gingerbomb with Homestead Collective on November 29, Cliff Eberhardt with Louise Mosrie on November 30,

Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse (204 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 484-427-4547www.burlapandbean.com) will present Gingerbomb with Homestead Collective, and Michelle Lewis and Seth Glier on December 1.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Sinbad on December 1.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org)

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) present The Return of Phil Roy & Friends on November 29, Kenn Kweder and the Men From Wawa on November 30, Ronstadt Revue on December 1, and David Ryan Harris with special guest Sharon Little on December 2.

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