INSIDE THE BUMMER TENT Nov 1, 2002
One to the reasons we always champion the local independent original music scene probably goes back to a long held suspicion of mine. I've always wondered if there might have been a better Bach or a more magnificent Mozart hanging out in the backwaters of Europe. Living in some tiny village with no real royal ties who could write some letters of recommendation for the local genius or spring for the coach-ride to the Big City. Or maybe, their musical wunderkind was so anti-social, undynamic or just lazy that even all the moneyed patrons in the kingdom couldn't get this star aloft. In a nutshell, the kid had no connections and couldn't network.
And maybe there was a funkier James Brown (although, I really doubt that) who had no self- confidence, was shy and hated long bus rides. Of course, it goes without saying that we have never heard about these folks - and never will, barring the dusty manuscripts or old reel-to-reel tapes showing up on e-Bay.
But what if they were out there?
Bummer Tent has been busy making plans for the CD Release Concert for Blackwater's latest release "Stranded." The concert is being held at the Icehouse on Sand Island in Bethlehem on Saturday, November 23 and will feature songs from Stranded and Blackwater's self-titled 1999 release. The evening will highlight the remarkable vocals of brother and sister Sean and Fionna Hennessey, along with the dazzling instrumental work of Tom Gillespie, Alison Gillespie and Al Keller. Also appearing on the bill will be Devilish Merry, who's recording in the late 70's first brought this unique Pittsburgh-based band to the Lehigh Valley.
Kate Scuffle and George Miller of Theatre Outlet and local arts supporters, par excellence, will be the evening's MCs. And be warned, they will be sporting their brand new kilts.
Rehearsals are being scheduled for "A Lehigh Valley Christmas in Concert - 2002" at the Civic Theatre. The staging will be more elaborate than ever this year, incorporating a theater full of percussionists on one number, marching bagpipers on another and of course, the impeccably dressed R&B band, Lucky 7 to top off the evening's festivities. The concert is in 44 days (that's December 15 for anyone counting.)
Hanging Out and About
We went to see Lehigh Valley's Appalachian/Celtic band Devilish Merry play the Annual Arts Festival at D.U.M.B.O. in Brooklyn last Saturday evening. DUMBO, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is being touted as the new East Village in NYC. With cheap beautiful old warehouse spaces being made available as residence/studio spaces for artists, the area does possess an incredible setting beneath both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. It is inspiring to see such unity for a common goal in what was a depressed area just a few years back. We had a nice talk with one of the forces behind the revival there and came away with that lingering question - Why is it that such an obvious solution being carried out in numerous urban areas all over the country can't be brokered in Allentown?
Phil Forschelli of City Entertainment makes great home-made sausage Next time you're by his place stop in and have some.
Craig Thatcher and James Supra have the basic tracks down on 7 songs for their up-coming duo CD "Hard Times". An early favorite is "Coco Solo," a great Latin tinged jam.
Also in production at Bummer Tent is a reggae remake of the European dance hit "Vamos A La Playa" featuring International "rasta mon" Antonio DaSilva aka Fishy on vocals. Check out early mixes on the www.bummertent.com.
Keep looking and listening for the hidden Bachs, Mozarts or JBs. The classical world (performance, recording and radio) has finally realized that they need to re-infuse the coffers with a living or at least a full 20th century body of work if "classical" music is to be a living breathing art form in the 21st century.
Of course, the pop music world has the mega conglomerates with billions of dollars on hand to let you know of their Bachs and Mozarts. But that doesn't mean that there is not a way (which there always is) to discover a relatively unknown but fantastic soul singer (like Solomon Burke!) or a more interesting sample-looper than Moby and maybe even a Brittany Spears type clone with something quirky and truly different about them. Hey, you never know!
Inside the Bummer Tent - check it out First Friday of every month or past articles on-line at www.bummertent.com.