PA bands Bus trip to The Bitter End
Line up: France on Fire, Downtown Harvest, Drink Up Buttercup
Booking a bus for three PA bands and their fans to a NY venue is a fun and creative idea. This was a love fest transplanted to The Bitter End.
I came to the Venue to see a young band from Bucks County PA called Drink Up Buttercup. I heard them play on The Indie Café, a small college radio station on the Internet. I was tuning in to hear my favorite Peasant and was taken off guard listening to Drink Up Buttercup's raw energy and experimental sound. It translated so well in virtual space.
France on Fire from Bucks County PA was first of the three to play. The band never missed a beat and seamlessly and joylessly played one song after another. They have great harmonies and catchy choruses. The crowd enthusiastically sang along. They add percussion, keyboards maracas, lots of clapping and use the Kazoo as a serious instrument. France On Fire are fun, full of love and infectious.
Downtown Harvest came on and the venue seemed to expand with patrons. This is not the kind of music I typically listen to or go out to see, but this is a very talented group of accomplished musicians. Fusing melodic rock, jazz, funk, hip hop and dance beats successfully. With The Beatles like harmonies, and connections to the music of Sly and The Family Stone, Beck, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Meters they create a classic association. While these references can be found, It's the merging of all these styles that forge originality.
The drummer Christopher C, Wood is a savant. He can switch styles and beats dramatically and his vocal styling is low, raw and distinctive. The lead guitarist and vocalist Larry Thomas Moore has a higher register that is great for harmonies and vocals. Frank Ewing the saxophonist vocalist and keyboard player adds the unique funky zest that takes the band to a different level. Bobby Cahill plays the bass and switches gear as the tone changes from groove to harmony. Downtown Harvest is ready for success on a broader commercial scale. Their versatility is a tribute to their six years playing together.
The young musicians I came to see were attentively listening to The Downtown Harvest’s set. They looked a little anxious and so was I. It is hard to play, following such an accomplished group.
Drink Up Buttercup came on stage, bringing with them an assortment of strange instruments. One large metal garbage pan, stumpf fiddle, maracas, an acoustic guitar with duct tape over the hollow to create a muffled sound, tiny Casio keyboard, a tubular instrument called the melodica and distortion and delay pedal. Then there was the usual; drums, keyboard, bass.
Well in an instant the unbridled energy and fun-loving spirit of this young band came to life. James Harvey the steady vocalist and guitar player enthusiastically leads as Farzad Houshiarnejad and Ben Money play and change instruments as fast as a blink of an eye. Mike Cammarata keeps the beat up with drums and auxiliary percussion. Sing along, shaky percussion and bells, crazy beats, theatrical acrobatics with instruments in tow, shape their circus like commotion.
James Harvey’s voice is strong and authoritative but to my surprise he is an opera singer. He is classically trained and when he lets go it is a treasured delight. As his voice travels up and down the band picks up the pulse.
This is a newly formed band with James Harvey having the most experience formally of Playwright. They are just getting started and only have demos out. Playing to a supportive crowd in Doylestown PA gives them the opportunity to hone their craft with supportive fans. At some point they have to venture out to the cold hard world. I think they will get a warm welcome.
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