Photographs by Timothy Reidy Additional photograph by Al Goldberg
The Parlor and Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned – two of the premier bands spearheading the B3nson Recording Company – are joining forces for the next installment of Sgt. Dunbar’s monthly CD release project.
The new disc, The Apres Garde, is being released on Saturday (October 26) as part of Sgt. Dunbar’s year-long campaign to release an EP each month during 2013. So far, each EP has been captained by one of the current bandmembers, who writes or arranges the material for the rest of the band.
As founding members of B3nson Records and veterans of four Sgt. Dunbar tours, the Parlor’s Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans were asked to participate on the October edition. They collected more than a dozen tracks – both old and new – that were written for or inspired by their tenure with Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned. The Apres Garde will feature six of those tracks, while the remainder will be released in early 2014 by the Parlor as the full-length album, Ghost House. (The busy, busy Parlor folks are also in the midst of working on yet another new album slated for release next year, Wahzu Wahzu, which Krans describes as “half funk, half folk.”)
When I say “there’s something like ecstasy at every Chandler Travis concert,” I’m not talking about the drug – I mean the real thing. This guy is a sorcerer – something happens that goes way beyond the bounds of everyday life, you kind of start to leak into a different dimension– or maybe you’re just so overtaken by the joyful spirit of the music, you see the world in a different way? As you can tell, I’m quite confused by it and my testimony could be suspect… but I do know I find myself singing along with every song, energized, and I wonder if I might burst into babbling tongues, like at a tent revival meeting, slobbering and rolling on the ground and the whole bit.
Naturally thinking I might just be insane, I sought out Fred Rudofsky’s counsel, because I found him sitting at a table with wondering and almost glazed eyes. “They are open to everything they’ve ever heard,” he explained to me. “All those influences come through and they’re blending together, and you end up with something completely original.” That’s why this music touches all your nerves and tingles to your bones. It’s the DNA of every popular music form, recombined and newly reborn, but I still say there’s something mystical there, something inexpressible and divine and celestial.
Riverlink Park in Amsterdam made a triumphant rise from the mess Hurricane Irene and the resultant Mohawk River flood made of the site last year. New walkways that circumnavigated the park and its strange, prehistoric monument to the earlier, native populations of the area greeted visitors to this year’s Riverlink Concert Series. What better way to kick things off than with the Chandler Travis Philharmonic?
The band had played the park last year prior to the very serious natural disaster, so it seemed appropriate that this not very serious band begin a fun season of music on the site. Not that the Chandler Travis Philharmonic aren’t dedicated, professional musicians. But any band that plays wearing pajamas and robes, starting with a very slipperly “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” for the holiday (well, just how many 4th of July songs do you know?) and then proceeds with a poem that seemed to be about throwing meat in the river, followed by something that may have been Scottish (or maybe not), cannot, by most standards, be considered traditional.
Chandler Travis (right) with his singing valet Fred Boak
Last week, the Chandler Travis Philharmonic was on a blitzkreig mission, strafing Nippertown with their Spike Jones-meets-Ringling Brothers riotous rock-and-jazz hybrid sound. They tore it up at Zaika in Clifton Park last Thursday, threw it down at Peint O’Grw in Chatham on Friday and wrapped up the big lost weekend at the Lion’s Den at the Red Lion in Stockbridge on Sunday.
On Saturday evening, however, they kicked off the official launch of the 2011 Riverlink Park Concert Series in Amsterdam with a night of pure magical, musical mayhem. Hometown acoustic blues duo Holly & Evan shared the stage.
One summer day, I was idly reading Metroland. I noticed a review by Paul Rapp about a band showing up at an Indian restaurant – in Clifton Park, no less – and doing a one-off show on the deck after appearing at Caffe Lena.
Who were they? I had to find out more.
My chance came on Saturday, November 20, when the Chandler Travis Philharmonic came to The Linda in Albany. Having never heard of them before Paul’s review, I had no idea what to expect. I had heard a couple of songs, and knew there was no way of pinning them down to any one genre, but that didn’t prepare me for what may be one of the more unique concert experiences I have had.
Those are the bold-faced adjectives that are splayed across the inside cover of the latest digital-friendly disc that’s dropped from the slightly surreal mind of Chandler Travis and his equally off-center band. And the only one of those descriptors that I’d argue with is “startling” because, well, after all of these years, we’ve come to expect the unexpected from Mr. Travis, which, of course, diminishes his power of startlement.
A veteran of such fun-loving combos as Travis Shook & the Club Wow and the Incredible Casuals, Travis hasn’t changed his stripes (or his pajamas) this time around. Although rooted more deeply in jazz than his previous outfits might indicate, these dozen tunes make for a rompin’ good time.
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