On Stage: Shortly brings music mix to Philly

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times


If rock musician Alexandria Maniak lived in Jamaica and chose a project name similar to her current project’s name, it would most like be “Soon Come.”

But Maniak lives in America so her project name/band name/professional alias is “Shortly.”

On June 1, Shortly will visit the area to headline a show at Everybody Hits (529 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, www.everybodyhits.com).

“Shortly has been around for exactly three years,” said Maniak, during a phone interview last week. “It feels like forever – and it feels like a short amount of time.”

Shortly originated as a solo musical project belonging Maniak, a Detroit native. With roots in classical piano, years in punk, and an ear in pop, indie-acoustic, hardcore, and garage rock, Maniak’s music is a clash of many years of genre study and influence. The project’s debut EP, “Richmond”, is threaded by vulnerability and consequence, enlightened by circumstance, and curated by honest and earnest reflection.

“I was solo until June 2017. Then, I had a duo with Austin Stawowczyk. The duo went until June 2018 and then became a band with Parker Grissom, Kris Herrmann, Austin and me.

“My first record was a single called ‘Matthew’ in August 2016. After that, I released another single – ‘Spare Time’ – and then a full EP called ‘Richmond.’ That was last September.

“All the musicians in my band are from Detroit but the EP was recorded in Philadelphia. I spent a week there in November 2017. It was produced and mixed by Joe Reinhart at Head Room Studio.”

About six weeks ago, Shortly released a new single, “Mapping/Haven,” via Triple Crown Records.

“The new single is about me questioning my sexuality – and running away from it,” said Maniak.

Music has been a part of Maniak’s life ever since she was really young.

“My family all played music,” said Maniak. “I was lucky to have it as I was growing up. My mom plays guitar and she taught me. My dad plays bass. My mom was teaching me guitar before I could remember. She told me that I was a little girl sitting there touching the strings.

“I studied piano a couple times – when I was four and eight and then I taught myself again when I was 12 or 13. I’d say piano is my primary instrument – but I don’t play it live. I do most of my writing on an upright piano.

“For Shortly, a lot of it happens on guitar and piano. Outside of Shortly, I write more on piano for the solo stuff. My songwriting a lot of times starts with a single riff and an idea for lyrics. Other times, it starts off with poetry. After that, it comes together organically.

“Most of my poems are first person and a lot of my songs are first person. I was probably around five when I first started writing songs.”

Maniak is still in college –pursuing a degree that has nothing to do with poetry or songwriting.

“I’m finishing up now at Wayne State University in Detroit,” said Maniak, a long-time vegetarian. “I’m in my last year studying graphic design. It’s very digital. I work digitally and draw on the computer.”

Video link for Shortly – https://youtu.be/Mx_3HYwW3Ag.

The show at Everybody Hits, which also features Small Talks and Grayling, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Metal fans are in for a treat this weekend with area visits by Vicious Rumors on June 1 and Origin on June 2.

Vicious Rumors

Metal legends Vicious Rumors are now on the road in North America with their “40th Anniversary Road Rage Tour.” The American power metal band, which formed in 1979, brings four decades of epic music in their arsenal for this extensive tour in the US and Canada.

On June 1, the tour touches down at a venue a few miles below the Pennsylvania-Delaware — Bar XIII (1706 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-746-2213,http://barxiii.com).

Geoff Thorpe founded the band 40 years ago and there have been more than 40 musicians on the band’s roster over the last four decades.

The current lineup features Geoff Thorpe – Guitar, Vocals (1979–present); Larry Howe – Drums (1985–2000, 2005–present); Gunnar DüGrey – Guitar (2017–present); Nick Courtney – Vocals (2018-present); and Cody Green – Bass (2018-present).

“Larry and I have been playing together for a while,” said Thorpe, during a recent phone interview from a Canadian tour stop in Ottawa, Ontario. And, I’ve got three really talented young guys in the band.

“Cody is from Seattle. Nick and Gunnar are from Portland and Larry and I live in the Bay Area. It’s a whole West Coast thing. I grew up in L.A., moved to Hawaii and then came back to the Bay Area in the 70s wave of thrash and power metal.

“In the last two years, the five of us have done 108 shows together including a lot in the last year. It’s great that we were able to do it before we made a record.

“We did a 30th anniversary tour of ‘Digital Dictator’ that we thought would be about three weeks. It turned into 60 shows in the U.S. and then a big European tour that included playing at a huge festival. We got back and went right back on the road in America. We’re just rocking out every night.”

Vicious Rumors just finished a 20-date European tour that took the band to packed houses in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. The band finished off with two sets at Full Metal Cruise from Mallorca, Spain to Marseille, France and also played the prestigious Keep it True Festival in Germany.

“Now, we’re out with our ‘40th Anniversary North American Road Rage Tour,’” said Thorpe. “It’s a completely different show than the previous tour. We go all the way back to songs from ‘Soldiers of the Night,’ which came out in 1985. It’s a real classic set that has been getting great response from our fans.”

The band is also currently in pre-production for a new studio album which will be released on the legendary SPV/Steamhammer label. Until then, the most recent release by Vicious Rumors has been a live “40th Anniversary” DVD, which is only available at the shows and through the band’s social media.

“We recorded our entire concert at the Bang Your Head!!!, a heavy metal festival in southern Germany,” said Thorpe. “It’s really high-quality audio and video. It’s a little thing we did on our own with SPV’s blessing.

“We’ve been with SPV for 10 years and just signed for two more albums. We’re putting songs together for the next album — no sessions yet but it’s in everybody’s mind.”

Video link for Vicious Rumors – https://youtu.be/F5updnhm9a4.

The show at Bar XIII, which has Voodoo Terror Tribe, Sunlord and Deth Cadences as opening acts, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.


On June 2, metal heads will have to travel west and make a short trip to Berks County to hear Origin perform at Reverb (1402 North Ninth Street, Reading, 610-743-3069, www.reverbconcerts.com).

Origin is an American technical death metal band from Topeka, Kansas, founded in 1997. The band – Paul Ryan, Guitars, Backing Vocals; Mike Flores, Bass, Backing Vocals; John Longstreth, Drums; Jason Keyser, Lead Vocals – is known for combining a harsh sound with a high level of technical skill.

For 20 years, Origin has engaged a full-blown sensory assault of tight, taut, and technical death metal amplified by flashes of grindcore and groove.

In 2017, Origin began moving to a higher plateau with its album “Unparalleled Universe” – an expansion of its sonic palette.

A few weeks ago, Origin released a new album via Agonia Records. “Abiogenesis – A Coming Into Existence,” in which founding member Ryan revisits the band’s earliest and unreleased creations. The album will be available on May 3rd worldwide.

Abiogenesis is the process by which the origin of life has arisen from non-living matter. The details of this process are still a path unknown. The transition from non-living to a living entity was not a single event but a gradual process of increasing complexity. This process is what Origin’s new album is all about.

“Abiogenesis – A Coming Into Existence” was recorded and recreated from the original 1991-1996 era that preceded Origin’s official formation. The album features never-before released tracks that laid foundations to Origin’s long journey as death metal purveyors. The tracks on “Abiogensis” were recreated by Ryan who recorded all instruments himself between 2013 and 2018.

“It’s a whole concept,” said Ryan, during a recent phone interview as he travelled to a gig in Chicago.

“Our first record – a four-song EP titled ‘A Coming into Existence’ has been out of print for years. So, I made that part of the new album along with eight freefall songs. This was just all stuff I had done in the past. Now, we’re just playing one of the songs live.”

Fortunately for Origin’s fans, new material is on the way.

“I’m always working on new stuff,” said Ryan. “Anytime a guitar is in my hand, I’m creating music. I’m going through the motions of trying to figure it out – finding that riff or melody. Usually, I’ll stick two riffs together at the start. Creating a song takes more time.”

Surprisingly, guitar wasn’t Ryan’s first instrument.

“I started on drums,” said Ryan. “Then, I started playing viola, but I really wanted to play guitar. I picked up guitar and started playing in bands in high school.

“I got into KISS and then darker and heavier stuff. I heard bands like Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, Dokken and Iron Maiden and got addicted to finding new music. After that, I got into Napalm Death and Carcass. It was a natural progression in getting heavier and darker.”

Then, he formed Origin in 1997 and 22 years and eight albums later, it’s still going strong.

Video link for Origin – https://youtu.be/O5mRx_IBKPA.

The all-ages show at Reverb, which also features Deicide, Jungle Rot, The Absence, March to Victory, and Vision Serpent, will start at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $22.

On June 2, 118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA, www.118northwayne.com) will present “CLAP HANDS: Bovine Social Club Performs the Poetry and Song of Tom Waits!”

Bovine Social Club

Bovine Social Club, which has had a revolving cast of characters over the years, is led by vocalist, philosopher, memoirist and former Coatesville resident Samuel Saint Thomas. The group is closing in on the end of its first decade.

“We spent all of 2011 in formation and released our debut record in 2012,” said Saint Thomas, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Delaware Water Gap. “We got out of town for the first time in 2012. There is no music scene here, so we had to tour.”

BSC’s connection to Waits’ music goes back a while. Saint Thomas first performed the Waits show in 2011 at the Deer Head Inn, a jazz club in Delaware Water Gap.

Bovine Social Club officially formed after the first Waits show and has performed Waits’ songs onstage ever since. But BSC doesn’t act like a tribute band trying to recreate Waits’ music. Instead, they re-interpret the songs and present them in the band’s own Americana format.

“Bovine Social Club is open architecture,” said Saint Thomas. “Each tour is open to different players – depending on different things.”

Known for their sold-out Waits re-creations at the legendary jazz club Deer Head Inn, the Bovines have taken their Clap Hands show on the road to NJ, PA, VT, NY, MD, with a perfect spectacle of love and misery, angst and serenity.

The current lineup features an ensemble of musicians including vocalist and writer Samuel Saint Thomas, bassist and vocalist Ron Baumann, Irish fiddler and vocalist Casey McGinty, keyboardist and vocalist Damian Calcagne, singer Tyrent Taylor, guitarist Steve Shalit, and drummer AJ Jump.

“The band is from all over this area,” said Saint Thomas. “Casey and Tyrent are from Allentown. Ron and Steve are from New York and AJ is from Scranton. Casey and I hold down the lead vocal spots.

“To get ready for this five-show tour, we had three full band rehearsals and a few smaller pickup rehearsals. We also had to rehearse the poetry of Tom Waits and Waits’ comments between songs. I picked musicians who love Tom Waits. We chose songs that were their favorites and that they wanted to dig more into. We want to make these songs and poetry our own and to express what they mean to us.

“My father was a Pentecostal preacher. In his music, Tom Waits preaches — much like the way my father preached. That’s just one thing that attracted me to Waits’ music.

“On this tour, we’ve already played shows in Blairstown, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. We have the show at 118 North and then we’ll finish with shows in Brattleboro, Vermont and Easton, Maryland. These five shows were a test run to see if it had any legs. We’ll probably do it again next spring.”

The Bovines’ most recent release is “Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House,” which was recorded in 2017 at the legendary music hall in Jim Thorpe. Their self-titled debut CD, which was released in June 2012 and produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, charted at Number 7 on both the Roots and Americana charts.

Video link for Bovine Social Club — https://youtu.be/86Iyn5mexlE.

The show at 118 North will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.

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