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Travis Mamone

Spotlighting the best of Maryland's music scene.

Travis is a full-time library clerk at the Dorchester County Public Library and a part-time freelance writer. He has contributed to Relevant Magazine, Chesapeake Music Guide, and The Upper Room. He lives in Easton, MD.

An Afternoon with Chester River Runoff

By Travis Mamone

Despite the rainy and cold weather, Chester River Runoff warmed audiences with an afternoon of toe-tapping bluegrass at Easton’s Night Cat.  With their smooth three-part harmonies, excellent musicianship, and topical lyrics, it’s no wonder that What’s Up Magazine recently named them a band to watch in 2010.

Chester River Runoff has no drummer, so bassist Marc Dykeman and guitarist/singer Ben Arminger provided the rhythm section.  The voices of Arminger, Dykeman, and banjoist Sam Guthridge blended perfectly, while Nate Grower’s fiddle complemented the harmonies.  The set listed included both originals and covers.  Covers included an old Chesapeake Bay sea chanty called “Lynchberg Town,” the Osborne Brothers’ “Up This Hill and Down,” and a John Hardford number that featured an extended fiddle solo by Grower.

The originals included classics like “Old Brown” (a tribute to their maroon touring van), “Breakthrough,” and “Too Many Sunny Days.”  The latter is a true story about a terrible drought that occurred when Guthridge and Arminger used to work on a pumpkin farm.  The boys got topical with the song “Plastic Houses,” which voices fears about overdevelopment ruining the beauty of the Eastern Shore.

                        For future gigs and sound samples, visit their MySpace page at www.myspace.com/chesterriverrunoff.

Review:DEANNA BOGART—LIVE AT NIGHTCAT

By Travis Mamone

No one can deny that Deanna Bogart has soul.  It just seeps through her pores whether she’s singing, blowing her saxophone, or playing the piano.  And this past weekend, fans got a double dose of that soul at Easton’s NightCat.

Bogart draws such a crowd that she had to play two shows this weekend:  one on Friday the 8th and the other on Saturday the 9th.  Opening Saturday’s show with an instrumental jam, Bogart pounded the piano keys and stomped on the floor while Mike Aubin kept time on the drums.  She then launched into the boogie-woogie-inspired “Over Thirty (Down and Dirty),” a song that she claimed she wrote when she was 29.  Bogart stuck with originals, mostly, although she did do a soulful cover of John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

Of course her set list included her signature song, “Still the Girl in the Band.”  The bouncy number ended with an extended improvised coda that kept the audiences attention no matter where she went (she even hit a high note on the piano with the heel of her boot).

After a 20-minute break, Bogart and Aubin got back onstage and went straight into “Baby You Got What It Takes.”  Things calmed down a bit during the touching number “Soulache,” written for Bogart’s daughter Alix.  The show ended on a high-spirited note with “Down the Road,” which featured a scat solo by Aubin.

This is the second year Deanna Bogart has played at NightCat, and I don’t think it’ll be her last.  To find out where she’s playing next, go to www.deannabogart.com.

RHIANNA LAROCQUE: RISING STAR

By Travis Mamone

Meet Rhianna LaRocque:  former Severna Park native, current Northeastern University student, and a promising talent.  Her laid back acoustic melodies and stunning voice have already garnered the attention of such seasoned veterans as Rob Levitt. 

Q:  How did you get into music? Was there a lot of music in your house?
A:  I always loved music, but was always too shy to sing in front of people. It was really when my aunt's boyfriend came to our house for a visit and taught me couple chords on the guitar. For about six months, I sat in my room for hours at a time and practiced. An opportunity arose to perform when I decided I wanted to audition for a school production, and for that audition I sang in front of people for the first time. After that, I realized playing music was what I wanted to do.

My grandmother was a singer, but nobody in my immediate family plays any instruments. My mom claims my musical abilities came from her playing The Beatles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and James Taylor when I was a baby.

Q:  Who were some of your influences?
A:  There is a ridiculously long list of artists that influence me, but to name a few, Joni Mitchell, Andrew Bird, Wilco, Feist, and Radiohead. I'm also lucky enough to be surrounded by a ridiculously talented group of friends, and I get a lot of ideas, support, and input from them.

Q:  When did you start writing songs?
A:  My first few songs were written in tenth grade about a failed relationship. They're really quite silly to me now, but it's cool to look back at how I've changed in the last few years.

Q:  What inspires your music?
A:  Honestly, I wish this wasn't the case, but for the most part...boys.

INTERNATIONAL JET SET AND BLACKWATER REFUGEES

INTERNATIONAL JET SET AND BLACKWATER REFUGEES—LIVE AT THE GREEN TURTLE

By Travis Mamone

Despite a crappy soundboard, local bands International Jet Set and Blackwater Refugees delivered an outstanding show this past Friday at the Green Turtle in Easton, MD.  And with a standing-room only crowd, it turned out to be the sports bar’s biggest show to date.

            Blackwater Refugees, a new alt-country trio from Easton, was the first act.  Led by Mike Shorter on bass and vocals, the band takes the grit of old school country and adds a twist of rock and roll.  At first it was unclear whether or not the Refugees would get to perform, since the soundboard blew out right when they were set to begin.  But after some tinkering, the boys kicked off their 40-minute set with signature song “County Jail.”  The Refugees did mostly originals, but through in a few covers, including “D.U.I. or Die” by Those Darlins.  That was supposed to be their last song, but after a couple of audience members called for one more song, Shorter yelled, “I can’t disappoint my fans” into the mic, and the boys delivered a killer encore.

JAYME PLOFF AND MINUS ONE—LIVE AT NIGHTCAT

By Travis Mamone

           After a few months off, Jayme Ploff returned to NightCat on August 29 singing jazz with the trio Minus One.  And it was well worth the wait!  Her expressive and dynamic voice dominated throughout the evening, and Minus One’s classic jazz sound proved to be the perfect match for Jayme.

            Minus One opened with four tunes.  Their sound is reminiscent of the classic piano-led jazz trio sound of Vince Guaraldi.  Musically all three members--Rodrigo Pinchiera on keyboard, Bob Kammann on drums, and Gary Barnes on bass—were perfectly in tune, giving each other enough room to follow the songs wherever they lead.  Barnes, however, was the one to watch for during his impressive bass solos.

            After a short break, Minus One returned to the stage with Jayme on the mic.  The set list both opened and closed with two of her original compositions.  The opener, “Imperfect Me,” would fit perfectly in Cole Porter’s songbook, while the closing “Noah’s Song” was a sweet and beautiful lullaby written for Jayme’s newborn nephew.  The rest of the songs were jazz standards.

TOMMY: AN AMAZING JOURNEY

by Travis Mamone

Easton High School has done it again with their production of the Who’s rock opera “Tommy.” Under the direction of Tom Quimby, the cast and crew bring Pete Townshed’s masterpiece to life with excitement, drama, humor, and great rock and roll.

Based on the Who’s 1969 double-album, “Tommy” tells the story a boy who, after witnessing his father kill his mother’s lover, becomes psychosomatically deaf, mute, and blind. He is abused by his Uncle Ernie and Cousin Kevin, grows up to be a champion at pinball, and, when he regains his senses, becomes a messianic figure to his fans.

“Tommy” was made into a move in 1975, and then went to Broadway in 1993. Easton High performs the Broadway version, so don’t expect to see Tommy’s mom roll around in a pool of beans.

But do expect to see an outstanding cast that includes Jacob Porch as Tommy, Sarah Lowe as Tommy’s Mother, Shane Taylor as Captain Walker, and Matt Filbert as Uncle Ernie. Filbert is a standout; he can bring out both the humorous and lecherous sides of Uncle Ernie convincingly. Another cast member to take notice of is 7th grader Ian Young, who plays Tommy as a child. He’s mostly quiet during the first act, but in the second act he finally gets a chance to display his tremendous voice.

Jordan Page

By Travis Mamone

Jordan PageJordan Page
“Listen to the sound that you hear,” Jordan Page sings, “like an echo in your head/ there’s a strange vibration rising/ from the heart of America.” Page challenges his audience to do just that: listen. Listen to what’s going on in the world, to what our leaders are doing, and to an incredible local talent with a powerful message.

His brand of acoustic rock--a mixture of Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam, among other influences--is a powerful call-to-arms against injustice and war. "I will not submit to authority of man/ I'm alive I'm awake," Page announces on the percussion-driven "Listen." "Song for Bob" is an acoustic plea for peace dedicated to Dylan. “You taught us that war is a sin and a sham and a shame,” he sings, “and the penance we pay for our silence is more than just taking the blame.” But Page also has a softer side. “Evergreen” is a catchy, romantic song dedicated to his wife. “My love is evergreen,” he sings, “she’s got the ways and means to give me the heart of my desire.”

To find out more about Jordan Page, visit his website at www.jordanpagemusic.com.

Spotlight: Jayme Ploff

By Travis Mamone

Jayme PloffJayme Ploff
For the past couple of years Jayme Ploff has been dazzling audiences across the Eastern Shore with her soulful and dynamic voice. Originally a jazz singer (she studied Jazz Vocal Performance at the University of Miami), her repertoire also includes pop covers and original songs. Whatever she sings, her voice brings each song to life.

Ploff has two CDs; the first is a four-track demo of original compositions. “Release the Beast” is an empowering anthem written after some one referred to its author as a female dog. “Take your lips and plant them firmly on my ass,” she snarls, “’cause I’ve been to your house and I know you built it out of glass.” “My Life” explores the struggle between our parents’ wishes and our desires. “I hate to tell you it’s a fact of life,” she sings, “not everything you say and do is right/ I go my own way.”

Ploff also has a live jazz CD, which features standards like “What a Difference a Day Makes,” “Blame it on My Youth,” and “Besame Mucho” (the only song Ploff says she knows in Spanish).

For more information, go to her website. And if you go to any of her shows, she likes it when the audience says, “Woo-hoo!” Just something to keep in mind.

Punk Rock at Easton Historical Society

Procrastination RecordsProcrastination Records

by Travis Mamone

Local punk bands Press Black, World Class Defects, and Psycho Rainbow will perform at the Historical Society in Easton, MD this Saturday, January 24th, at 7 p.m. The show celebrates the release of a new album featuring Press Black and World Class Defects. According to Press Black’s MySpace blog, the CD “will have four unreleased originals from each band, and each band covering one of the other band’s songs.”

For those expecting radio-friendly pop punk like Blink 182 and Good Charlotte, look elsewhere! Press Black and World Class Defects--from Easton and Greensboro, respectfully—are bringing back the original sound and attitude of classic hardcore punk. These aren’t catchy little numbers about skater boys and high school proms; these guys sing about destruction, mind control, death, and nonconformity.

Psycho Rainbow is an up-and-coming indie band from New York. Don’t let their huge ironic sunglasses fool you—these guys have the talent! Their blend of psychedelic, surfer rock, and noise pop make them a band worth seeing live.

Coffee Cat: What's In a Name?

By Travis Mamone

The Coffee Cat in EastonThe Coffee Cat in EastonMany of you have noticed several changes with Coffee East coffee shop in Easton, MD, especially their name. Is it Coffee East, Coffee Cat, Night Cat, or what? And will anything else change? Hopefully this will clear things up.

Coffee Cat is the café portion, where you can order lattes, sandwiches (try the chicken Panini with goat cheese!), and pastries. Night Cat is where you can see live shows every weekend from a variety of artists. It’s the same building, of course.

But why change the name? As you may or may not know, the coffee shop is now under new management. The same people who now own Coffee Cat also own Hair o’ the Dog Wine and Spirits. So to keep with the pet theme, Coffee East

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