On Stage: FOXTRAX comes back from the wilderness

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


The band FOXTRAX has the rare distinction of sharing its name with a glowing hockey puck.

FoxTrax was a glowing puck — an augmented reality system that was utilized by Fox Sports’ telecasts of the National Hockey League. It only lasted one season.

FOXTRAX, which is performing June 15 at The Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com), is a rock trio from Long Island that already has shown more longevity than the TV sports show gimmick.

Long Island natives Ben Schneid (Vocals, Guitar), Jared Stenz (Bass), and Jon Stenz (Drums), began making their own brand of indie rock together in early 2015 after they each graduated from college.

Deciding that music was their true calling, they holed themselves up in a cabin in the woods of North Carolina for six weeks. The result was “The Cabin” EP.

The trio’s time in the wilderness also provided inspiration for the band’s name when they realized that the fox tracks left in the snow outside their cabin represented their own unpredictable and meandering path into music.

“The cabin we went to was in Murphy, North Carolina – out in the middle of nowhere,” said Schneid, during a phone interview last week as the band traveled to Albany, New York for the first show of the tour.

“It was just a cabin in the woods – and old-style, all-wood cabin. It affected the music in a major, major way. Internet reception was terrible so we had very few distractions. We stayed focused on the music.

“It’s exciting to now be out on the road and have a fresh take on our songs. The songs from ‘The Cabin’ are fun to play live. And, it’s fun to put out new material. Road testing songs is the most essential thing for any band.”

Prior to the tour, FOXTRAX was hard at work on a batch of new songs.

“We were recording for a week-and-a-half in Brooklyn,” said Schneid. “We were doing some pre-production with an amazing production team. I think we made real magic.

“We put the band together a few years ago when we lived in Long Island. We moved to L.A. a year ago but we’re originally from Oceanside in Long Island – the ‘Dirty O’ as it’s called.

“The move to the West Coast has been great for us. We’re in L.A. but we’re spread out a bit. Jon and Jared live in Calabasas and I live in Westwood.”

The three guys got established in L.A. and then hooked up with producer/engineer, Ben Roulston (Florence and the Machine, Wolf Alice). He heard “The Cabin” demos and decided he could bring them to a new level.

“We made the original version of ‘The Cabin’ in late 2015 and then moved to L.A.,” said Schneid. “The mixes on the EP were great but they seemed like they were missing something.

“We got together with Ben and did the new mixes for the EP. That was in the middle of 2016. Once the new mixes were done, we took the old version down from online and put the new version up.”

Roulston added production and a fresh mix to the EP and Brian Lucey (Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, Black Keys) hopped on board to master the tracks. “The Cabin EP” was greeted with a warm receptive from both critics and fans.

Video link for FOXTRAX – https://youtu.be/7S-BjAcIy3U.

The show at the Foundry, which also features Barns Courtney, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18.

Other upcoming shows at the Fillmore and The Foundry are Carrie Underwood on June 15, Day Wave on June 16, Blurred on June 17, Lizzo on June 18, Jarabe de Palo on June 19, Jason Isbell on June 19, and Reel Big Fish and Tunnel Vision on June 20.

Another band from New York with a new release will also be playing a show in Philly on June 15.

But, this band is from Buffalo rather than Long Island and its new release is an album rather than an EP.

Head North

Buffalo-based cosmic rock band Head North, which just released its debut LP, “The Last Living Man Alive Ever In The History Of The World” on June 2, MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 215- 925-6455, www.milkboyphilly.com)

Head North — Brent Martone, Ben Lieber, Alex Matos and Eli Ritter – has been a band since 2014.

Their roots are in Williamsville, New York – a small town in the Buffalo suburbs that was home to electronic music pioneer Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer, as well as New England Patriots’ start Rob Gronkowski.

“Me and Brent went to high school together in Williamsville,” said Lieber, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Buffalo.

“Our bassist Alex grew up in Buffalo and we knew each other for a while. Eli lives downstate and we met him in the music scene.

“We started the band right out of high school. We were angsty kids playing fast punk music. It was what we were looking for at the time.

“As we got older and moved into adult stage, we refined our music more. We homed in on being high-caliber musicians creating music that mattered.

“We had two EPs and two split-singles and now this is our first full-length. We recorded it at Barbershop Studios in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey.

“Prior to that, we had done all our recording in Buffalo. With our shift in sound, we also wanted a shift in scenery. We lived in an apartment on Lake Hopatcong when we were making the record last May.”

“The Last Living Man Alive Ever In The History Of The World” was produced and mixed by Brett Romnes (I Am the Avalanche) and mastered by Jesse Cannon (Animal Collective, Man Overboard).

The concept album revolves around an alternate world where both God and love are forbidden. The personal narratives are told through the perspectives of principal songwriters — Martone, Lieber and Matos.

“We all contribute to the songwriting,” said Lieber. “It’s a universal effort.

“The album is meant to be a full piece. It’s not an album fill of singles. We wrote it with the intent of being one long piece start-to-finish. It tells a story.

“We like the escapism concept. We transport listeners to a different environment. It’s about a separate world where love and religion are banned and being the only person who still pursues these things.

“There are feelings of both bleakness and hope. I feel like we did a pretty good job of pushing listeners through it.”

Video link for Head North – https://youtu.be/6exlQqWiM0E.

The show at MilkBoy, which also features gates and Vasudeva, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming shows at MilkBoy Philly are J.C. Brooks on June 16, Los Colognes on June 17 and Jared and the Mill on June 21.

Band of Heathens

On June 15, if you actually head north, you can travel to the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) to attend a concert by Band of Heathens.

The Band of Heathens – Ed Jurdi (Guitar, Keys, Vocals), Gordy Quist (Guitar, Vocals), Trevor Nealon (Keys, Vocal), Richard Millsap (Drums, Vocals) and Scott Davis (Bass, Vocals) – are touring in support of their new album “Duende.”

“The album came out in January and we’ve been touring pretty much non-stop ever since,” said Jurdi, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon as the band travelled from Raleigh, North Carolina to a date in Richmond, Virginia.

The Band of Heathens are an Americana band that has been in existence long before the term “Americana” was coined. The band from Austin, Texas released its debut album “Live from Momo’s” in 2006 and have had seven album releases between that album and “Duende.”

“The response to ‘Duende’ has been really great,” said Jurdi. “We did most of it in Austin with engineer Jim Vollentine at Tree Fort Studio and we did some in Nashville and Asheville.

“We use Tree Fort because of Jum. He’s a great engineer. The studio is located up in the hills outside of Austin and has a great vibe.

“The album was recorded all analog. Almost everything on the record was recorded through a tube. Jim is really into it and has built a lot of the analog gear there.”

The Band of Heathens took their time making the new disc.

“We recorded the album throughout all of 2016,” said Jurdi. “It took a little longer than some of pour previous records because of all the touring we were doing. We’d go in and out of the studio whenever we had a break from touring. We had 40 songs and recorded 20. We did a four-song EP from the sessions that was released in Spring 2016.”

The word “duende” loosely means “having soul,” — a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity, often connected with flamenco. The term was derived from the duende, an elf or goblin-like Magic creature in Spanish mythology.

“The word ‘duende’ is a word that doesn’t translate well to English,” said Jurdi. “In Spain, they get it.

“It’s a state like what they refer to in sports as being ‘in the zone.’ For us, it was about shutting off stuff around you and being in an elevated state.”

Clearly, duende permeated the making of the “Duende” album.

“When you make a record, you want to sequence it a certain way,” said Jurdi. “It’s interesting to create continuity and still have variety.

“This album was a quest to get to the quintessential soul of what the band is all about. It was also about a search for connection.”

Video link for Band of Heathens – https://youtu.be/Uxvn0QAxQYw.

The show in Sellersville, which has Reed Foehl as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $ $19.50 and $29.50.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater are Masters Of The Telecaster featuring G.E. Smith, Jim Weider & Tom Principato on June 16, Giada Valenti: From Venice With Love on June 17, Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners on June 18, and Joseph Arthur with Allison Pierce on June 21.

Cirque Italia

Last summer, Delaware City hosted the first area visit by the prestigious Cirque Italia.

The world-acclaimed show is returning to Delaware this weekend with a series of performances at Delaware Park (777 Delaware Park Blvd, Wilmington, Delaware, 941-704-8572, cirqueitalia.com/tickets).

The circus will have eight performances now though Sunday –

June 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m.; and June 17 and 18, 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Cirque Italia is a show like no other. It is the first traveling water circus in the United States.

The circus’ stage holds 35,000 gallons of water and features a dynamic lid which lifts 35 feet into the air, allowing water to fall like rain from above as fountains dazzle below.

This incredible show takes place under “Grande Tenta” — the circus’ majestic white and blue big top tent which came all the way from Italy.

Manuel Rebecchi, Cirque Italia’s owner and founder, has a deep-seeded history in the circus industry. His late aunt, Moira Orfei, ran one of the largest circus shows in Europe.

When Rebecchi came to the states several years ago, he wanted to create something special and memorable. He was actually inspired to create the water stage while drinking a bottle of water one day.

This production is a European style circus show with no animals and a Las Vegas style water show. It’s a water spectacular similar to a smaller-scale Bellagio fountain show.”

Beginning in 2017, Cirque Italia, the first traveling Water Circus, introduces a second unit, the Gold Unit — a luxurious experience where technology and preforming arts are mixed to create a one-of-a-kind show.

This new performance will feature an ultra-modern water curtain that controls every droplet of water meticulously. A careful casting selection has united the best artists from all over the world.

This production will feature acts all the way from Russia to Mexico including Argentinian twin jugglers and a contortionist who is able to bend her body in ways you would never imagine.

Video link for Cirque Italia – https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2q89BETs63PVHROd0tXemY0bGc/view?usp=drive_web.

Ticket prices range from $10-$50.

Jim Beard and Jon Herrington

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org)  will have Jim Beard and Jon Herington of Steely Dan on June 15, andThe Wonderful Winos featuring Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez on June 16.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Stu & the Gurus and Jack Greenwald on June 16 and BJ Sarkissian and many Rivers on June 17.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present “An Allstar Tribute To Harry Nilsson’s ‘Nilsson Schmilsson’ featuring Reverend TJ McGlinchey, Tim Celfo of Mason Porter, Kevin Monko, and Frank Brown of Travel Lanes,” Cliff Hillis, and Railroad Fever on June 15; “Ardmore Pop: A 50th Anniversary Celebration of Monterey Pop Festival”  with tributes from Indigenous (Jimi Hendrix), Johnny Showcase (Otis Redding), Dean & Company (The Grateful Dead), Zach Djanikian (Simon and Garfunkel), Ali Wadsworth (Janis Joplin), and The End Of  America (The Byrds) on June 16; and Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles along with Chris Turner on June 18.

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting “Crazy for You” now through June 25.

Video link for “Crazy for You” — https://youtu.be/FsUwE4R4oXk

Now through June 18, the Kimmel Center’s “Broadway Philadelphia” series will present “Fun Home” at the Forrest Theatre (1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia,www.forrest-theatre.com).

“Fun Home,” which is based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir of the same name, was a smash hit on Broadway that won several Tony Awards for the 2015 season.

Video link for “Fun Home” – https://youtu.be/8mYQPMEysko.

The show at the Forrest Theater is running now through June 18 with 8 p.m. shows June 16-17, a 2 p.m. show on June 17 and 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. shows on June 18. Ticket prices range from $67-$132.

Valley Forge Casino (1160 First Avenue, King Of Prussia, 610-354-8118, www.vfcasino.com) will have The Great American Variety Show on June 15 and “Who’s Bad” on June 16.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) will host Get The Led out on June 16 and 17, Vince Gill on June 18 and the “Happy Together Tour 2017” with The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, The Association, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night), The Boxtops, The Cowsills, and The Archies.

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