September 7, 2009 Once upon a time in Vermont…
Hey all. I’m Alex, that guy who hasn’t posted on this thing yet. I really have no excuse as I’m the only one of us still stuck at home, anxiously awaiting the return to college and silently cursing one of the many downfalls of going to a school that’s on the quarter system. Anyway, I’m here, not so queer and full of musical cheer.
So we music enthusiasts all know that warm feeling we get every once in a while when we discover a great new band or artist–not by hearing them on the radio or reading about them on a music blog, but by discovering them in the purest way possible: right before our very eyes (and ears). Whether this phenomenon occur during the opening act of the most recent U2 concert, at the local coffeehouse, or at a random music festival in the middle of nowhere, discovering new music in the flesh can be a rewarding experience no matter the occasion. I would say that I have had my fair share of these experiences, but for some reason, there is only one that is still stuck in my mind.
Rewind five years to the summer of 2004, when my family decided to take a week-long trip to central Vermont for a family vacation. As an awkward and rather unathletic 13 year old, I wasn’t at the time looking forward to the numerous hikes and tennis outings we had planned for the week. When we got to Warren, however, I was immediately intrigued by the signs I saw all over town advertising an upcoming local music and arts festival. Of course I begged my family to take me to the festival when that day arrived and by the end of it I think my whole family was grateful of my persistence to attend the show. Despite having to sit through some rain showers and hours upon hours of dirty, hairy hippies prancing about in their bohemian garb and sometimes in, well, nothing, the four of us had a fabulous time watching performance after performance of immensely talented singers and bands of all sorts. In between the soulful blues singers and rip-roarin’ country ramblers came a band that I still to this day consider my greatest discover and one of my best kept musical secrets, If I may make such claims. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they were known as Townhall and as far as I know, the CD I bought back in 2004 is the only one that is still easily accessible to the public via iTunes and such. The band broke up shortly after I saw them and since then, I haven’t had any luck finding any of their other albums. Anyway, at the time, Townhall had me captivated from the opening chord to the final sweet melody of their performance. Their music is a unique combination of Soul, Pop, Rock and Folk, which along with their clever inter-song jam sessions and spontaneous instrument switching between the members, had me and the rest of Warren’s festival-goers completely enraptured.
Over the years I’ve collected a lot of music from hearing new bands in concert, but for some reason Townhall is just about the only one that remains in my steady rotation of everyday listening material. For this reason, I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite selections from their magnum opus, “The New Song.”
Here is Ellie Mae, a haunting and beautiful ballad that highlights the band’s folk influences while also showing off their diverse instrumentation and brilliant orchestration.
This is Master Of The Universe, a funky and upbeat track that shows off the band members’ writing and playing chops as well as their appreciation for more jam-oriented rock bands such as Phish, String Cheese Incident, etc. Meanwhile, the song still has enough funk and soul in it to keep you interested for its entire duration.
I hope you all enjoy these tracks and if you’re interested, the album “The New Song” is available on itunes.