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Celebrating Pennsylvania Music, Present and Past

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Too Old to Rock and Roll?

Too Old to Rock n Roll, Too Young to Die by JethroTullThe other day, a Facebook friend posted something that really struck a chord. To paraphrase, he said something like he felt as though he was a 22 year old spirit stuck in a 42 year old body and openly wondered whether he should continue playing music. Another friend posted one of those cartoon sharing things expressing a similar sentiment that you are only as young as you admit to being. This whole debate on the age appropriateness of listening to or (especially) performing music has gone on for a long time. In 1976, Jethro Tull did a mini “rock opera” about a 1950s “greaser” who was now in his mid-thirties (gasp!) called Too Old to Rock n’ Roll, Too Young to Die.

I think what strikes me most about all this is the constant obsession with chronological age. There are things that you enjoy now that you enjoyed when you were younger. Keep on enjoying them! Fun can be had at any age, the key is not caring what other people think about your age or whether what you are doing is “age appropriate.” Just like the 60ish guy driving a Sebring convertible and blasting REO Speedwagon’s “Roll with the Changes” who pulled into the gas station next to me, just go with it and have fun – age is just a state of mind! Heck, look no further than Paul McCartney, who just turned 70 last week. What if he would have decided he was “too old to rock n roll” three decades ago?

My husband worked with a man for several years and they became good friends. However, after knowing him for years, my husband was surprised to find out that his friend was in a “new wave” band in the early 1980s and they had actually made some professional recordings. This man had not played music since that band broke up in 1982 and further, he had not heard the studio recordings because they were in digital audio tape format and no one had a device to play that. My husband took the tapes to a studio to be converted, did a little mastering, and came up with a CD for the band (check out the final product here). When the band members, now well into their fifties, heard the music they produced over a quarter century earlier, they were absolutely giddy.

The question I’d like to ask my Facebook friend is simple – on your final day, when your reflect back on the moments and deeds of your life, do you really think you’ll regret playing too much music while you were in your forties?

Karyn Albano

Darcie Miner Sounds Like Summer

June 15, 2012
By J.D. Cook

Darcie MinerThe sun has been bright and the skies have been blue, but for me it didn’t feel quite like summer until Thursday, June 14th. You see, at the beginning of almost every summer in recent memory I have seen Pennsylvania’s best kept secret, Darcie Miner, perform. So it was not until I saw her on Thursday with guitarist Jimmy Patton on the lawn in front of the Cocoa Beanery coffee shop in Hershey, PA that it really felt like summer had arrived.

This is my first summer in three years in which I am not romantically linked to anyone, and Miner’s songs about heartbreak and broken relationships spoke to me with a fresh voice. Two summers ago when I was on a ‘break’ with my past girlfriend, I thought I completely understood the meanings behind Miner and Patton’s work on their fantastic 2009 album Loneliness Anonymous (read my review of that here). This is a mistake many people make with good music. We’ve all heard a song so much we believe we’ve mastered it, and then we hear it somewhere down the line and new layers of understanding reveal themselves. It is a testament to Miner’s talent that her songs sound better every time I hear them. It also points to the problems with a lot of today’s modern pop music; much of it has little to no depth, while bands such as Rush, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd continue to be revisited, talked about, and discussed. OK, I’ll hop off of my soap box and return to the review at hand.
This was the first time in nearly a year since Darcie Miner performed live and it did show at times, with some hesitations, false starts, and Darcie’s own admittance to using lyric sheets to guide her along. There were also a few technical difficulties during the two-set performance, but none of this really affected my enjoyment of the show and Miner played off the problems with humorous comments and witty banter. She has a naturally good stage presence, which can easily cover up mistakes or instrument malfunctions.

Jimmy Patton and Darcie MinerSince this performance did not include a full band one would naturally think some of the songs from Loneliness Anonymous would not sound quite as textured. On the contrary, one of my favorite songs from that album, “Rollerskating Song” sounded great despite the lack of synthesizers and other instruments that make up its bulk. All of the songs sounded pretty good bare bones with her on acoustic and Patton on electric or steel guitar. There were also a few fun covers such as “Breakdown” by Tom Petty in which Miner’s soulful voice added a new layer to the classic. Before that, “Found Out About You” by the Gin Blossoms was a happy surprise that brought the audience back to the nineties with a steel guitar twist. A “Life Lion” helicopter disrupted the wonderful song “24”, but it was still a great listen and just a minor bump in the overall great ride. Another of these bumps was quickly fixed thanks to Mr. Patton who saved the fantastic tune “Somerset” when he jumped from behind his steel guitar to fix some wires. The true gem of the evening was a song that I believe was called “Westward Bound”, a track that did not make it onto Loneliness Anonymous but after one listen it was clear that the song could have fit perfectly well on the album.

Besides being a great multi-instrumentalist and performer, Jimmy Patton (“JP”) is a top notch producer. This is immediately evident upon listening to Loneliness Anonymous, which has a sound as good as (or better than) any major label release. Since that album in 2009, Patton has built a brand new studio of his own design in Mount Joy, PA and new material by Patton and Miner is greatly anticipated.

Farmers Market In HersheyThe show itself was put on by The Hershey Center for Applied Research, who have scheduled talented musical acts in conjunction with the weekly Farmer’s Market in Hershey every Thursday night during the summer. These performances will raise awareness for the H.C.A.R. which is working to further study in the fields of life sciences, cancer, medical devices, green technology, and nanotechnology. As always seeing Miner and Patton play was a complete joy and put me in the mood for the upcoming summer.

J.D. Cook
Darcie Miner website


Local Music on the Radio

June 14, 2012
By Karyn Albano

Radio TowerHow do you discover your favorite local musicians? Do you just head out to clubs and bars and hope for the best or do you do a little research first? These days there are so many outlets available to find new sounds to please your ears.

One of my favorites is to listen to radio shows featuring local music. I often stream one from a Wilkes-Barre station called Music On the Menu. The show is hosted by Alan Stout, who has spent many years covering local music in Northeast Pennsylvania. Through his show, i discovered artists like Shawn Z, The Underground Saints and many more. Check this one out Sunday nights from 8 to 9PM, If like me, you live outside of the broadcast area, you can stream it live from 102.3 FM, the Mountain’s website.

Harrisburg’s 97.9, The River also has a local show hosted by Michael Anthony Smith on at 10PM on Sunday Nights. He plays an eclectic mix of local music and he always encourages local artists to send him their songs so he can play them.
Sunday nights typically don’t have a lot going on anyway, so why not give one of these shows a listen, you may find a new favorite band!


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