Try as I might to stop the Earth’s orbit of the Sun, summer is coming to a close. As we move forward in years, our team is undergoing the forced realization that our summers in our respective hometowns are limited. For this reason, and to let y’all get to know us better, we have decided to end the season with a post highlighting music in our hometowns. With each of us calling a different state “home,” our tastes in music have been influenced uniquely from the setting in which we grew up. So before we all reunite in Boston in the next few days, we’d like to share a bit of hometown pride and brag about some local musicians. We hope you don’t mind our conceited gesture of self-adulation and find our tunes as pleasing as ever. To avoid stepping on egos, let us begin in the westernmost latitude and migrate east…
Hailing from the land that brought the US Chipotle, Qudoba, and Crocs, I’m pretty proud of my Denver heritage. In addition to growing up in a city surrounded by snow-capped mountains whose population is stuck in constant remembrance of how good our sports teams were in the 90’s, I was also raised with a love for music, especially bluegrass performed by my dad’s boss. When I picture summers in Denver, I almost always hear John Denver (who was not actually from Denver) or my dad’s boss’ bluegrass band playing in my memories. While Denver has produced some great folk and indie bands, especially new sensation the Lumineers, none have as interesting a sound or background as DeVotchKa. Originally a back ground band for burlesque shows, this Eastern European-inspired group got its sound out by being featured in the trailer for Everything is Illuminated and by being ask to do the score for the movie Little Miss Sunshine (which gave them a Grammy nomination). Since then, the four piece ensemble has gained support across the nation and even in France, where they opened for Muse. Be sure to check out both their old stuff and their newest album 100 Lovers. For the full Denver experience do it while eating a Chipotle Burrito and enjoying a Denver craft beer.
(Honorable Mention: Snake Rattle Rattle Snake for a unique, strong female rock voice)
My favorite DeVotchKa song is “100 Other Lovers,” but don’t miss out on their pretty awesome cover of “The Last Beat of My Heart”
Though Brad Michael grew up 10 minutes from my house, I’m sure none of you think of music when I say I hail from the suburbs of Harrisburg, PA. Most of you likely don’t know where I’m talking about, unless I mention our close proximity to Hershey, Gettysburg, and the Amish. But in spite of our lackluster national acclaim, the city has an impressive amount of untapped artistic potential. Thanks, in part, to an enterprising effort by Tree Cover Records, this potential is being displayed on the streets, in homes, and at unique venues throughout the city. And it’s almost always for free. One of these performances featured the troubadour and avid busker, Shine Delphi, who I’ve shared with y’all before. After impressing students and teachers at his middle school talent show with his wunderkind skills on the guitar, Shine fell in love with the stage and playing for a cheering crowd. Though he began as a metalhead, enticed by the grungy riffs of Metallica, Shine has, to my great pleasure, grown into playing more acoustic roots music, blending folk, blues, jazz, and more. He felt the change allowed him to connect with listeners in a more positive manner and nourish the communal feeling that mutual adoration of a song can foster. Shine has played all over the US, and I couldn’t resist asking him what his favorite place to play was. Without pausing, Shine described his love of New Orleans as a place with a tremendous preservation of cultural identity and tradition, a love for the arts, and a city where, “musicians are treated like kings.” This is something we certainly are trying to emulate here in my neck of the woods, and it is truly great to have artists like Shine Delphi here to help! Though Harrisburg can’t hold a feather against the birthplace of jazz, it’s awesome to be a part of a music and arts driven movement to bring the community closer together. Below is a video of Shine (left) playing guitar as he rides a freight train in Arizona, its a really cool clip and captures his vagabond personality well, though it is sadly missing his infectious laugh.
Going to school in Boston, I get a lot of flak for coming from the second largest city in New England, Worcester. Understandably so, on first glance Worcester doesn’t deserve the title: it’s not that large, barely has a skyline, has some bad parts, and to someone accustomed to the beauty of Boston, is clearly lacking in that aspect. I shrug these off because I have a deep love for my hometown and the inner and outward beauty it possesses, but unfortunately people still underestimate the rich artists that the city produces. From the local artists that perform at the Palladium, to the budding indie movie scene growing, the Woo is home to some wonderful artists. I personally went to a high school that specialized in cultivating the arts in our youth, offering classes in Dance, Theatre, Art, or Music programs. They’ve been featured here multiple times before, but I chose my good friends, and Worcester natives (well 3 out of the 4 of them), Hot Letter to represent the art my hometown can produce. Starting together all the way back in the high school music magnet, they are currently studying together at Berklee College of Music, and releasing great music. The last time I wrote about these guys they just released their debut album, ‘The City.’ I’m happy to say that I have some new offerings from the band, and I hope they don’t mind me saying but these are two of my favorite cuts of theirs yet (but I might be spoiled by the private live performances.) The first song is a Hot Letter original, “Waste My Time.” This song has the soul rock feel that the band is moving their sound towards, and they knock it out of the park. Hopefully, I can follow up with a video of ‘Waste My Time,’ later this fall. The second song is a personal favorite of mine: an experiment in rock-reggae fusion, the band covered Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’ with a reggae feel. The boys look to Bruce as a huge inspiration and you can see it shine through in this song, you won’t be disappointing by this summer jam. I hope these two songs, can give you a little taste of the talent Worcester can offer, and maybe change some unwarranted preconceived notions.
Thanks for sticking with us guys, we’re going to try and put out one of these huge collaboration posts about once a month on the blog. Hopefully we’ll continue to have more interesting themes, these have been truly fun to make and I hope they are entertaining and eye-opening to read as well.
PRM Music Team