On Stage: Crack The Sky keeps defying categories

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Crack The Sky

Crack the Sky, which is viewed by some as a rock band and others as a prog band, was formed in Weirton, West Virginia in the early 1970s and is still performing and recording in 2020. On February 9, the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host “An Evening with Crack the Sky.”

Over the last 40 years, the band has had a few periods of dormancy but has also shown a lot of resilience. Crack the Sky has released more than 25 albums over four decades and is currently operating with three of the five original members still in the lineup.

The 2020 edition of Crack the Sky features original members singer/composer John Palumbo, guitarist Rick Witkowski and drummer Joey D’Amico along with longtime guitarist Bobby Hird, keyboardist Glenn Workman and bassist Dave DeMarco.

“This is the longest-running Crack the Sky line-up,” said Palumbo, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in South Jersey. “This line-up has been together for nine years. There are good people in it.”

In 1975, Rolling Stone declared CTS’ first album for Lifesong Records “debut album of the year.” In 2017, the band signed to Loud and Proud Records and in 2018 simultaneously released two new CDs – “Crackology,” a re-recorded best of package and “Living In Reverse,” featuring 12 brand new originals which continue to solidify CTS’s reputation of genre-bending progressive rock.

“We recorded the two albums at the same time,” said Palumbo. “We started recording ‘Living In Reverse’ and, during that process, our label suggested a career retrospective since we were already in the studio. The album of new material was the first one we finished.

“Everybody has their own studio. I’ll write the song, do a demo and then send it to other guys. The recording is all centered at our main studio at Rick’s house in Weirton. I’ll send the demos to Rick and Bobby, and they add their parts. After that, Joey adds the drum tracks and then Dave puts bass on it.”

“An Evening with Crack the Sky,which was introduced last January at the Ardmore Music Hall, will be comprehensive enough to please even the fussiest of the band’s fans.

During this special, one-night only performance, CTS will play an eclectic assortment of songs from its repertoire, including tracks from “Living In Reverse.” Featuring an assemblage of genre-defying tracks, “Living in Reverse” charted at #7 Heatseekers, #31 Independent Current Albums, and #40 Top Current Albums.

“Our set list goes all the way back to the 1975 ‘Crack the Sky’ and 1976 ‘Animal Notes’ albums,” said Palumbo. “For example, we still play ‘Robots for Ronnie’ and ‘She’s a Dancer,’ which were on out first album.”

The band’s fans will be happy to know that new CTS music is on the way.

“Right now, we’re doing four or five gigs and then we have to take a break to work on our next album,” said Palumbo. ”We’re 16 songs into it with songs that I wrote. Then, we’ll peel ’em off and get down to 10.

“The demos are done. The actual stuff that the guys did is pretty much done. We’re waiting for more keys and bass and we’re putting some string and horns on. We have some of it mixed already.”

Crack the Sky has never had a major hit and probably never will – and that’s all right with Palumbo and his mates.

“I think it’s a good thing that we’ve never had a hit record,” said Palumbo. “If we did, we probably wouldn’t be doing this now.”

Video link for Crack the Sky – https://youtu.be/UWYNrHMY5_4.

“An Evening with Crack the Sky” will start at 7 p.m. on February 9. Tickets are $29.

Fredo Disco

Fredo Disco is the name of an indie rock band that is playing a show on February 8 at the Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150,www.thefillmorephilly.com).

Fredo Disco is also the name of the band’s leader, songwriter and singer – sort of.

“My real name is Fredo Fosco and not Fredo Disco,” said Fosco, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon as the band was travelling to a gig in Hartford, Connecticut.

In his Facebook bio, Fosco said, “hi im fredo. i am 18. my real name is fredo fosco but my phone always autocorrects it to disco so here we are. these are some songs that i write and record. in 2018 some of my friends joined fredo disco and their names are max, colin, and aidan. max plays guitar 🎸. colin plays drums 🥁. aidan plays bass 🎣. enjoy our tunes, eat some food, and stay cool 😎.”

Fosco and his crew are on tour now and will play a show on November 22 at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) as the opening act for Tiny Moving Parts.

“Me and my buddy Colin started playing music together in high school,” said Fosco. “We wrote a ton of songs together back in 2017. He was in a band called Clear Confusion and then went away to college – to St. Louis University.

“A little while later, Max from that band came back home after going to school at Belmont University. The summer before I left for college, me, max and Colin recorded our first album – ‘Very Cool Music for Very Cool People.’

“I started school at DePaul University. A few weeks into college, we got some tour offers. So, I dropped out of college. I was only in school for about three weeks.”

Fosco has two “Disco” projects going – fredo disco and disco inc.

“disco ink is all electric guitar rock,” said Fosco. “In fredo disco, I play acoustic guitar.

“We put out two EPs in 2017 – ‘What a Year’ and ‘School Spirit’ – and both were fredo disco. Last year, there was the album and we also did an EP called ‘Boredom Keeps Me Up at Night’ – and that was a disco inc EP.”

Fredo Disco has stayed prolific.

“We just put out a single called “never tell u’ on November 22,” said Fosco. “Last Friday, we released another single called ‘Harmony Korine (The Game).’ They were both recorded at the same time.”

A lot of young musicians forego the traditional method of recording tracks in a brick-and-mortar studio and opt to record at home on a computer using programs like Logic and ProTools, Fosco takes the D.I.Y. attitude a step deeper.”

“I’ve done a lot of my recording on my phone,” said Fosco. “A lot of  my recordings – EPS, singles and album – have been made on my iPhone.”

Not all Fredo Disco releases have been made on an iPhone.

“We recorded the two new singles at Headroom Studios in Philly with engineer Joe Rinehart and mixer Kyle Pulley,” said Fosco. “We were in the studio for about four days. It was very interesting because we had never gone out of state to record before.

“We picked that studio because a lot of recordings by my favorite band s were done there. We just went there and pumped out a couple singles in a few days.

“Next, we’re going to make another EP. We’re looking to do it in April or May. We want to put it out this summer and then go out on tour again.”

Video link for fredo discohttps://youtu.be/eSlCUtNekA8.

The show at the Foundry which has Have Mercy as the headliner, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.

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