ROCKABILLY LAST FRIDAYS are in full swing at the FIRE ! May’s featured artists include Philly Legends Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen, Hannah Taylor and the Rikardo Lee Trio, Three Chord Money, and MORE
Based out of Philadelphia, PA, Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen is the latest musical project from accomplished collage artist and musician Joe Castro (ex-The Situation, The Lift Up, Nero /OPF). Heavily influenced by the sound of rockabilly as well as ‘50s rock-n-roll and doo-wop, the band takes that vintage rock and roll sound but updates it with a modern lyrical approach and a healthy dose of post-modern guitar effects. Consider it a house that resides at the cross roads where Sun Records and Creation Records meet.
The Gravamen were formed after doghouse bassist H00V3r reached out to Castro about forming a new band. H00V3r enlisted Dallas, his band mate in Philadelphia punk rock stalwarts Thorazine, to play drums and later found hot-shot lead guitarist Michael Stingle floating around Mount Airy. The full band held it’s first practice together in January 2018 and shortly after recorded their debut EP, Wake Up, You’re Rockin’! that May with Grammy nominate producer Jim Salamone at Cambridge Sound Studios in South Philadelphia. The 4 song EP was released in July of 2018, followed by a limited edition vinyl 7” release in October 2018.
According to Joe Castro: “We define ourselves as a rockabilly band because the term rock and roll these days has become so broad that it’s completely meaningless. But I consider us to be a rock-n-roll band in the truest sense of the word, in the tradition of the pioneers of the genre like Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bo Diddley and Johnny Burnette. My Dad grew up in Brookyln in the’ 50s, and would tell me stories about going to the Alan Freed shows at the Paramount and seeing Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. As a kid, those guys were legends to me. Couple that with being taken to the drive-in to see films like American Hot Wax, American Graffiti and Grease – that beat was in my ears from a very early age. It’s in my blood. I’ve always loved it.”
Influences include Sun Records, Stray Cats, The Cramps, Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, combined with elements of punk and shoegaze with a lyrical influence of Morrissey, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Bob Dylan.
Hannah Taylor was born a little orphan girl to a black bear in the woods of Upstate New York. She was raised on blackberries and moonshine. As an adult, she ventured to Philadelphia, home of the Citywide Special and Country Night at Bob & Barbara’s Lounge, a place where she quickly found a home crooning old school country and breaking boy’s hearts left and right. But she missed the bears.
“We couldn’t take it anymore, so we split,” says former Jesse Lundy Band drummer Alec Meltzer. Joining him were bassist Chris Bicksler and guitarist Rekardo Lee.
Formed almost 10 years ago, the Trio has gone through several formats focused on blues and rock. The initial plan was to act as the backing band for area artists for one-off shows, giving the trio the opportunity to find their own voice by constantly challenging themselves with new music. But then they met up with Hannah and were wooed by her sultry, yet sassy singing style and stage presence. Following her long stint as Aretha Franklin’s backup singer, they called her up and the band instantly locked into a rockabilly/blues format that sat nicely among all their tastes.
Rockabilly, country and rock fans alike agree… Despite a lack of male pompadours, the band knows how to keep the dance floor hopping and the drinks flowing.
n the heartfelt storytelling tradition of country music, Three Chord Money weaves the tales of everyman into the rock, folk, and honky-tonk blend that is uniquely characteristic of Outlaw County. What began as a three-piece acoustic version of the Philly-based rock band Clashing Plaid, Three Chord Money—Anthony Porter (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Andy Watts (guitar, vocals), and Kenny Leso (bass, vocals)— has evolved into an authentic Americana sound that defies genre.