Monday, February 3, 2014

Evelyn's Ashes Says Farewell After Nearly 9 Years

The band that introduced me to Central PA's music scene played their final concert in York on a snowy Saturday in January. Evelyn's Ashes, a hard rock band from York, PA, began writing music and performing together in 2005. Their Facebook page describes the band as:
Five rock steady musicians, all working together in perfect harmony to create a climax of sound that fans and new listeners rarely forget. The red hot lead vocals of front man Wes Myers are complemented by the driving rhythms and searing lead riffs from guitarists and brothers Chris and Justin Cutshall, the bass and back vocals of Scott Salisbury, and Ted Hile on drums. Having shared the stage with such national acts as Sevendust, Papa Roach, Cold, Fuel, 10 Years, Rev Theory, Hurt, Taproot, Nonpoint, Dokken, Warrant, and Smile Empty Soul, when concert attendees leave an Evelyn’s Ashes high energy performance, they are always left spellbound and craving more.
They released two albums over the course of their 8 1/2 year career, 2008's 'Far Away' and 2012's 'Letters From Home', and were in the beginning stages of a 3rd album by late 2012. Their original songs pack a hard punch with a powerful message, but the band is also known for their live cover versions of well-known rock songs.

I began attending Evelyn's Ashes' shows in 2009 and have always been impressed by their stage presence, energy and talent, which has only strengthened over time. They have a loyal fan base and I made many new friends and discovered other local bands as a result. Although I only went to the shows in York the past 5 years, EA has played in many venues throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland.

My first show - November 2009

Various shows - 2011-2012

After a five-month hiatus to regroup, write new songs, and deal with personal obligations, Evelyn's Ashes returned to the stage in June 2013 with a new bassist, a new drummer, and several new songs. A summer of comeback shows preceded their announcement on September 26th that the group was planning to permanently disband and would be scheduling final performances for later that year. However, a major snowstorm in December 2013 caused the final show in York to be postponed until after the new year, and a Chambersburg show was scheduled for February 2014.

Comeback Show - June 2013

January 25, 2014 marked the date of Evelyn's Ashes' Farewell Show in York, PA. A brief evening snowfall hindered my plans and I almost didn't make it to the venue due to car trouble. Luckily my brother was able to give me a ride to Fat Daddy's Nightclub so that I could see one of my favorite bands play for the last time. I arrived as the opening band, Calisus, was coming off stage and the technicians were preparing for the headlining act. The original members of Evelyn's Ashes reunited for the 2014 shows and despite the weather, there was a large turnout of fans. For some, it was the first and only time they'd see the band perform. For others, who had followed them since the beginning, it was a welcome homecoming.

Anticipation filled the room as the "Intro" track from their debut album began to play over the speakers. The five musicians made their way onstage to thunderous applause and kicked off the live show with "The Innocent". They played many of their older tunes, such as "Silence Of The Serene", "Rewind", "Hate I Breed", "Disease", and "Tears of Deceit", some of which hadn't been performed in years. The second album, which was dedicated to the military, produced songs like "Unwilling", "Breathe", "This Time", "To The Fallen", and "Fake N Jaded". Newer songs, like "Memory", were never recorded but that didn't stop the fans from learning the lyrics at past live shows. They also included a handful of their most popular covers, such as "Outside", "Simple Man", and "Comfortably Numb". Staind's "Mudshovel" was requested, but the band ran out of time.

Final York Show - January 2014

"Backdown", an original that appears on both albums, is one of my favorites to hear live and a great song to blast in your car. Closing out the show, as always, was "Far Away". The title track from the first album is a rock ballad describing how difficult it is to be away from your family, and a song that I never get tired of listening to. With hugs all around and laughter between old friends, the evening ended on a positive note.

Don't miss the Final Farewell Show on February 8, 2014 at The Orchards in Chambersburg, PA. Evelyn's Ashes will be joined by Baltimore rock group, Silvertung.
For tickets, directions, and more info, click HERE.

All photos by Nicole McMillan
NRM 2/2/14

Friday, October 18, 2013

DM&V Show and The Salute To Soldiers Benefit Concert

Labor day weekend was filled with music, laughter, and fun times with friends that I've made over the past year. On Friday, August 30, I enjoyed the soul stylings of Darry Miller & The Veil at Fat Daddy's Bar/Nightclub in York, PA. I always enjoy the five-member R&B band's blend of 60's soul and modern pop, with some hard-hitting rock thrown in to keep things interesting. A night of familiar covers and creative original songs ensured a great time was had by the band and audience alike.

The following day, I took a trip to Wrightsville, PA for the Salute To Soldiers benefit concert at Moon Dancer Vineyards and Winery. The event was created to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that provides aid to injured military service members and veterans. A slight rainfall didn't deter the guests, and through contributions from ticket sales, merchandise, and food and drinks, over $2,700 was donated.

The original band lineup was Small Town Titans, Bullet Method, Graces Downfall, and She Said Fire, all of whom I had seen live in the past and was anxious to see again. However, She Said Fire had scheduling conflicts and were replaced by another New York-based band, Woods of Arden, while Graces Downfall had vehicle trouble the day of the event and was unable to make the trip from Scranton, PA.

Woods of Arden kicked off the show against a backdrop of an overcast sky highlighted with rainbows. Their moody vocals and thrumming rock rhythms were accentuated in songs such as "Bury You" and "Crazy". (see video below). I wasn't very familiar with their music beforehand, but I enjoyed their set and look forward to seeing them next time they're in the area.

As evening approached, local hard rock band, Small Town Titans took the stage and led the crowd through an energetic set full of original and cover songs. I had gotten to know this group well over the past few months and became a member of their "Flight Crew" for my contribution to their album funding and promotion of their music. They played a sample of the new album with songs such as "Within The Heart Of War" (see video below) and ended the set with one of their biggest hits, "Party In Hell".

Bullet Method closed the event, performing songs in a mixture of genres. With stage lights blazing, the band members showcased their instrumental and vocal talents. "Powertrip" and "On Your Knees" (see video below) were hard-hitting tunes that kept the crowd on their feet, but the mood was softened by the addition of the lead singer's wife, son, and niece on stage at various moments.

The evening ended on a high note and attendees departed, feeling satisfied with the success of the event. The bands gained new fans and celebrated with old ones. That weekend was the most fun I'd had in a very long time, thanks to great friends and great music.

NRM 10/17/13

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An Evening at The Cove with Small Town Titans

Central PA has a lot of talent that the outside world hasn't quite discovered yet. I saw Small Town Titans perform for the first time at Fat Daddy's nightclub in January, but a majority of their shows take place several hours away from York, so I have been unable to attend since then. However, I've kept myself updated on their events and activities on Facebook and Twitter, and participated in their 'Operation Flight Plan' album-funding project. I came to admire the band's determination and the individuals' work ethic and appreciation of their fans, so I became more active in promoting and sharing their info and music links on my own social networks to spread the word. I was glad to see that they would be in town for two shows in June so that I could speak to them in person and hear their songs live once again.

On June 7, 2013, STT made an appearance at The Cove, a bar that I had passed by many times in previous years, but never ventured into. Lead singer, Phillip Nathaniel Freeman, frequently hosts an Open Mic Night in the Whiskey Bar as The Lone Wolf Project, but that evening featured the full hard rock sound of Small Town Titans. I was curious to try another local venue and experience a different atmosphere, and it was certainly more relaxed and casual than a nightclub. A set of double doors at the back of the main bar led to the Whiskey room, which featured holographic-surfaced tables, several big screen TVs, and a pool table. Slightly cramped in some areas, but an acceptable setting for an intimate night with friends.

I chatted with some other patrons sitting at the long, wooden bar who had never seen the band before and enjoyed well-made (and inexpensive) mixed drinks while waiting for the show to start. I met up with some friends that love the local music scene as much as I do, and that made the evening all the more exciting. The band was friendly and approachable and because they were stationed at floor level, rather than on a raised stage, it was easy to interact with them from the makeshift dance floor. The sound from the speakers filled the small room but was not overpowering.

A mix of old and new original songs, as well as covers from popular artists like Tool and Awolnation, populated the set list and demonstrated the group's ability to play many different styles of music. I was delighted to hear one of my favorite old songs, Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love," and STT's own, "A Beautiful Lie," from their upcoming album, 'From Fight To Flight'. Other highlights included "Amnesia", "Sky High", "The End Of The World", "Within The Heart Of War", and the crowd-pleaser, "Party In Hell". The band played three sets with breaks in between, and at one point Phil did a humorous solo bit, covering Tenacious D and others. Jonny Ross twirled his drumsticks with flair and produced beats with speed and precision while his long hair shadowed his face. Ben Guiles excelled on lead guitar and played complicated riffs and smooth melodies. Bassist Eddie Roberts kept up a strong rhythm as he moved across the floor to jam with the other musicians.

The band's charisma and performance of their art entertained the crowd through the three-hour concert. Long-time fans sang along to the familiar tunes and new fans purchased copies of their current EP to catch up. I had a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to hearing the new album in its entirety and seeing another live show very soon.

*** A group photo with the band ended the night ***

You can catch Small Town Titans at Fat Daddy's in York on Friday, June 21 and at the CD Release Show at Tubby's Nightclub in Duncannon, PA on July 13. They will be unveiling their signature drink, The Titan Bomb, as well as playing songs from the new album and introducing new merchandise. Also check out the horror movie, 'Slew Hampshire', which features STT's song, "Party In Hell".

For more information on the band, visit their Official Website and sign up for their newsletter.

NRM 6/15/13

Friday, May 24, 2013

Justin Furstenfeld Shares His Musical Journey Through Life On The Open Book Tour

Justin Furstenfeld, the charismatic lead singer of the rock group, Blue October, has just completed the last phase of his solo acoustic tour through the U.S., promoting the expanded 3rd edition release of his book, Crazy Making. The intimate concerts showcase the writing process behind each studio album, as well as never-released songs and the life events that influenced his lyrics. An Open Book: An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld Of Blue October is a mix of spoken word, songs, story-telling, and question-and-answer sessions, which make these shows unique and personal for the fans.

Read the rest of the article HERE

Originally published on 5/20/13

Monday, March 4, 2013

PA Rocks! Band Showcase

On January 19, 2013, I attended a concert featuring some of the hottest rock bands in Central Pennsylvania. Hosted by Fat Daddy’s Nightclub in York, PA, the event brought in an enthusiastic crowd that took advantage of the $5.00 cover charge and half-price drinks the venue offered. Fans were then treated to an evening of original music in an assortment of styles, including rock, pop, heavy metal, and R&B, in an intimate and relaxed setting.

I arrived just before 9:00 P.M. and chatted with others at the bar about which bands we were there to see. The confirmed lineup consisted of She Said Fire, Darry Miller & The Veil, Bullet Method, MaddaM Ink, and Small Town Titans. It was my first time hearing most of them perform live, but I researched their music beforehand and recognized many faces from their band profiles on Facebook and Twitter. I was recognized myself, due to my online presence, by the lead singer of MaddaM Ink, who came over to introduce himself before the show. I was already friendly with several members of Bullet Method from attending shows by their other bands, Ten Throne, Worlds End, and Treplow. However, this would be the first time that I’d see them perform together in the new band. Eric McNeil, drummer and founder of Bullet Method, was the main organizer of this multiple-headliner event.

The entertainment began with She Said Fire (formerly The August Infinity), a New York-based rock band who took command of the stage from the start. With a theatrical presentation and melodic vocals, lead singer Joshua Hawksley captivated the audience while the upbeat music highlighted the talent the four musicians possessed. Their unique brand of pop/rock seemed infused with elements from different genres and made listeners want to dance and sing along. As the only female musician in the show’s lineup, drummer Christina Vitucci had no problem demonstrating her ability to drive the beat. Peter Strzelecki showed impressive finger work on guitar and Chris Moss kept the base line thumping. My view was partially obstructed by the crowd in front of me and I wasn’t very familiar with the songs at the time, but they are definitely a band I would go see again.

~ She Said Fire

Darry Miller & The Veil was a band that I had been eager to see for months. I love their blend of rhythm and blues, rock, and pop, and had been introduced to their music through mutual friends. I eased my way up to the front of the stage to get a good view while they set up their equipment. Hearing Darry’s rich, soulful voice in a live setting was even better than expected and I was very impressed by the skill at which each member of the band played. Derek Jenkins' keyboard gave the songs a silky tonal quality that complimented the guitar, bass, and drums by Dylan Madar, Josh Kirwin, and Daniel Jones, respectively. I enjoy watching musicians at their craft and I tend to study the fingerings, although I’m not proficient enough at those particular instruments to recognize every note or chord being played. However, natural talent is easy to spot and it’s hard to believe that this band is not more widely known. They have a professional sound that is reminiscent of soul bands in the 1960’s and a magnetic stage presence. I enjoyed every moment of the performance and only wished the set could have been longer.

~ Darry Miller

For anyone who loves a group that isn’t afraid to tackle an eclectic list of music genres on one album, Bullet Method is your band. Written by multi-instrumentalist, Eric McNeil, their songs range from hard rock to rap to alternative to metal, and everything in between, blended with raw energy and powerful vocals. Singer David Zienkiewicz adapted to each style change effortlessly, whether he was crooning a rock ballad or getting the audience pumped up during an upbeat rap tune. Through Eric Garcia's pulsating bass rhythms, McNeil's hard-hitting percussion, and electric guitar solos by Dave Heisey and Josh Wolpert, this group of talented musicians never fail to amaze me. I’ve supported them as individuals in their former bands and it was evident during the set that this new venture emphasized the diversity in musical backgrounds and influences. They meshed well as a group and enjoyed themselves, whether performing or interacting with fans. I look forward to seeing what the future of this band will produce.

~ Bullet Method

MaddaM Ink took the stage next and charmed the crowd with their catchy lyrics, unique sound, and entertaining personalities. Adam Burke's smooth voice transitioned from assertive to soulful as he took us on a journey of self-expression through words, while Stephen “Party Zone” Benecke was in rockstar mode on bass. An edgy mix of alternative, hard rock, and pop rhythms coupled with fast-paced drum cadences by Kyle Young and aggressive guitar riffs by Kevin Rausch, kept the audience on its feet and awaiting the next song. "Coletrane" was already a favorite of mine and I was happy to hear it that night, along with other recognizable melodies. The talent and experience that this band displayed inspired me to check out more of their music and make plans to attend upcoming shows.

~ Maddam Ink

Closing out the evening was Small Town Titans, a hard rock band that lived up to its name. Hailing from Harrisburg, PA, these four musicians created a sound that resonated throughout the bar and kept the excitement level high despite the late hour. Charismatic lead singer, Phillip Freeman, used his deep raspy voice to carry the notes across a backdrop of toe-tapping harmonies. Jonny Ross showed off his stick-wielding skills on drums while Ben Guiles on guitar and Eddie Roberts on bass weren’t afraid to “get down” to the music as they rocked on stage. This is a band that has as much fun performing as the audience does watching them. Their popular track, "Party In Hell," was a jaunty, light-hearted tune that finished off an entertaining set list and left everyone in good spirits. Another band I’d be happy to see again in an extended live show.

~ Small Town Titans

This showcase was a great avenue for music lovers to check out unfamiliar bands without having to attend a full-length concert for each group. The fact that the bands stayed to watch and cheer on their fellow musicians after their own sets were finished, was evidence of the camaraderie and unity that exists between them. Personally keeping the fans updated through social media and demonstrating their appreciation at the shows, makes it a pleasure for us to support local independent artists. A group photo (top) of the five bands on stage was the culmination of an enjoyable concert experience that I hope will become an annual tradition.

For more information on the bands that performed in the PA Rocks! showcase, please click on these links:

She Said Fire - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
Darry Miller & The Veil - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
Bullet Method - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
MaddaM Ink - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation
Small Town Titans - Facebook | Twitter | ReverbNation

You can see more photos from the show HERE

And watch my video of Darry Miller & The Veil below:

NRM 3/3/13

Friday, February 8, 2013

‘Back To You’ - Dimitri’s Rail Album Review

Dimitri’s Rail is a rock band based in Houston, TX, and was formed in 2001 by singer/songwriter Paul Ehmer. The current line-up consists of Paul on lead vocals, Justin Pena on guitar, Eric Dockery on bass, and Mike Maloney on drums. The group had success following the 2010 EP, ‘Wake Up,’ and their songs are played regularly on radio stations from Texas to Pakistan. Their new single, “Will Never Break” received a Grammy nomination in 2012 for Best Rock.

Back To You’ is the group’s latest full-length album, released in Fall 2012 and produced by Daryl Youngblood. It is full of high-energy guitar-infused anthems, smooth soul-baring ballads, and everything in between. Retro themes and a mix of musical styles add to the essence of what is definitively Dimitri’s Rail’s signature sound. It’s very easy for the listener to imagine themselves dancing in the crowd and watching each song performed live. The title track begins with the lines, “My eyes are open, but I’m not awake. These years have left me with all my mistakes. And I never thought I’d ever end up here. I can’t pretend that I’m ok.” Relatable lyrics that speak of someone who has lost his way and is trying to find the path back to a place of peace within himself and making amends with those he left behind. The official music video for “Back to You” is featured on their MTV profile and can also be viewed on their YouTube page.

Know Me” has a surprising bit of humor at the beginning that will make you smile and wonder what’s coming next. The track itself is a catchy rock tune with attitude, a message to all of the haters and critics that they cannot bring you down. This song, along with “Just Breathe” and “Fade Away,” benefit the Fender Music Foundation and 50% of sales are donated to the charity. Fast tempos, aggressive (but poetic) lyrics, guitar solos, and staccato drum beats make these tracks hard to ignore.

Several songs have been revamped from earlier versions, such as my personal favorite, “Foo.” Renamed for this album as “What Lies Ahead,” it has a slightly mellower feel and subtle alterations to the lyrical phrasing, although the wording is unchanged. In a side-by-side comparison, I’m fond of both versions for different reasons, but each fan will have to listen and form their own opinion. “Rock a Billy” is, as the name suggests, a fun, up-tempo song with influences from the 1950’s with a modern twist. Live video from their 2010 show at the House of Blues showcases the band’s energy on stage, but the studio track on the new album is no less powerful.

Broken hearts, lost love, and past regrets are common themes, threaded through with the hope that there’s still time to change the future. Slower tempos and memorable choruses in “She Says,” “Romance and Hate,” and “Through the Window,” illustrate the ups and downs of a relationship. The lyrics and emotional intensity of “Through the Window,” speak to anyone who has had to watch a former love with someone else and try to be happy for them. Although now realizing his mistake in letting her go, the vocalist turns away and sings, “If you see me looking through the window, just pretend you don’t know who I am.” This is my favorite track on the album and one I had the pleasure of downloading when it was introduced in 2011.

Home” has a slow, dream-like quality and begins to pick up speed before it hits the climax of the chorus, which is a faster rock. The melodious tune slows once again for the second verse and builds to an electric solo after the chorus. The presence of orchestral instruments adds a unique quality to the song. The hit single, “Will Never Break,” also features violins in a beautiful string arrangement that accompanies the guitar, bass, and drums throughout the song. Haunting melodies swirl among the empowering lyrics about being set free from the chains binding him as he exclaims, “I might bend, but this time I will never break!

On the whole, I enjoyed this album very much. Some songs took a few listens to really appreciate the full effect, while others grabbed me from the start. It has elements of different rock styles, from the fifties to the eighties to current, and well-composed harmonies and musical arrangements. A great album for eclectic music tastes and a stimulating mix of songs to jam in your car. I have followed the band for several years through their personal and professional accomplishments and they continue to impress and entertain me.

You can purchase ‘Back To Youhere and connect with Dimitri’s Rail on Facebook, Twitter, and find other social links and updates on their Official Blog.

Photo and video property of Dimitri's Rail

NRM 2/7/13

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hard Rock In Central PA

Although I usually report on concerts and events in Philadelphia, I’ve had many opportunities recently to attend shows in the area of Pennsylvania where I grew up. There are an impressive number of talented bands making their rounds through the York/Lancaster/Harrisburg nightclubs. The best thing about these small venues is that it doesn’t cost very much to get in and see a couple of live bands a night, around $5 – $25 for cover or a ticket. An intimate bar setting allows the band to interact with the audience during the show and chat between sets.

Read the rest of the article HERE

Originally published on (Guest post) 10/2/12