On Stage: Travis thrives on ‘mistakes’

By Denny DyroffEntertainment Editor, The Times

Travis Chandler

Chandler Travis is a veteran musician who has played in many bands and has many projects of his sown such as the Chandler Travis Philharmonic and the Chandler Travis Three-o.

On April 21, Travis will visit the area for a show at Jamey’s House of Music (35 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, http://jameyshouseofmusic.com).

The Chandler Travis Three-o, like most things in life, started by mistake, as a result of Chandler having a hard time finding rooms large enough to host Chandler Travis Philharmonic performances.

“I was playing a lot of shows with the Chandler Travis Philharmonic,” said Travis, during a phone interview Wednesday from his home in Cape Cod.

“I needed to put something together like the Three-o because there were a lot of places that didn’t have room for nine people on stage.”

In 2009 or so, a couple of small, friendly bars opened on Chandler’s home turf that asked him about doing something with just another person or two, which wasn’t at all the direction he’d been going in.

These offers coincided with arrivals in the Philharmonic of string bassist John Clark and jack of all trades Berke McKelvey and he suddenly had two extremely talented and enthusiastic players who shared his passion for detailing, arranging, and rehearsing. With the addition of vocalist and longtime supporter Fred Boak, aka The Valet (for what good is a Three-o with only three people?), the Three-o was born.

It gradually became evident that the Three-o could play just about anything the full version of the band could play, once they put in the time to adjust the arrangements, plus a few things it couldn’t. It immediately became evident that audiences responded to the tighter focus in a delightful way, clearly picking up on the songwriting, which has always been at the heart of the matter in all of Chandler’s efforts. The vast simplification seemed to engage people in a disarming and unassuming way, quieter and more direct.

Chandler has had a long and checkered career in the world of show biz, beginning in in the seventies when he and Steve Shook joined up as Travis Shook and the Club Wow and then in the 80’s with the Incredible Casuals. His current projects are the Three-o, his nine-piece Chandler Travis Philharmonic, and the Catbirds. The Three-o have a new album coming out later this Spring, “Backward Crooked From the Sunset.”

“We did an album with the Three-o in 2009 and now we have a new one,” said Chandler. We’ve also released a couple singles.

“The new album was mostly recorded at Ice Staion Zebra with Ducky Carlisle as the engineer. I’ve done most of my recordings over yhe last 20 years with him.

“I started making the album in 2013. It’s always a leisurely process – especially with Ducky. We’d work at the studio during down time because it was cheaper that way.”

In 1988, Chandler began moonlighting as a solo performer, presenting the unlikely mixture of oddball humor and incisive songwriting.

Late in 1996, Chandler found himself fronting a nine-piece band, the modestly monikered Chandler Travis Philharmonic – which is billed as “the world’s only alternative Dixieland/omnipop band.”

“I’ve got three bands altogether including the Catbirds, which is a four-piece rock band. Not long ago, I put pout a new album with the Philharmonic – ‘Waving Kissy Head Vol. 2 & 1.’

“Three-o is capable of playing almost anything the Philharmonic can play. But, there’s so much material around, it’s getting to be where there’s not too much bleeding together between the two.

“The difference is the vibe. Three-o is purposely quieter – a more reflective thing. The Philharmonic is flashier. Both bands have a gigantic repertoire – hundreds of songs in both cases. Three-o has more clarinet and less sax – more acoustic guitar and less electric guitar.

“Having three bands simultaneously keeps it interesting. I do around a 100 shows a year.”

Video link for Travis Chandler – https://youtu.be/2GNG3f4IzkQ.

The show at Jamey’s will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Tonight, Kung Fu Necktie (1248 North Front Street, Philadelphia, 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com) will host two talented young bands – Spanish Love Songs and Animal Years.

Spanish Love Songs

Spanish Love Songs is a name with a bit of irony. The band is not from Spain. It doesn’t play Latin music. And, love songs are rarely on the table.

Spanish Love Songs is a five-piece punk band based in Los Angeles. The group — Dylan Slocum, Guitar and Vocals; Kyle McAulay, Guitar, Gabe Mayeshiro, Bass; Ruben Duarte, Drums; Meredith Van Woert, Keys — formed in 2014 after the demise of a previous band and a chance Craiglist post about lonely people looking to go to punk shows. Their sound combines the energy of drunken bar shows with the immediacy of intimate, lived-in lyrics.

“This is our fourth year playing together and third year of being a real band,” said Slocum, during a phone interview Tuesday as the band was travelling to a gig in Cleveland, Ohio. “The first year was spent writing songs haphazardly and drinking beer.

“Gabe and Ruben and I played in a band in L.A. that broke up in 2013. I had a bunch of songs so I called them and asked them to join me. We found Kyle on Craigslist. He had an ad that said – I want to have people to go to punk shows with and I play guitar. Then, Meredith joined at the end of last year.”

Self-released in 2015 (and later reissued on Wiretap Records), the band’s first album, “Giant Sings the Blues,” chronicles Slocum’s mid-twenties through songs about apathy, anxiety, and a slowly disintegrating marriage, all told over fast drums and rousing power chords.

Spanish Love Songs now has a new album, “schmaltz”, which finds the band expanding its sound both musically and lyrically. More anthemic than ever, the band tears through 10 songs in which Slocum tries to find a positive way to handle the loss of those closest to him while inching towards self-acceptance in a world that doesn’t always feel like home.

“With the first album, I had been working on songs since my divorce in 2010,” said Slocum. “It’s not me being pissed off. It was just me wondering what’s wrong with me.

“The second album was more collaborative. I came in with lyrics and a general structure. It’s a team effort. I bring 70 per cent and then it’s the band the rest of the way.”

“schmaltz” has already yielded a few singles – the most recent of which is “Bellyache.”

“Our first album was pretty raw – more disparate sounds,” said Slocum. “With the new album, we homed in on what Spanish Love Songs songs should sound like. We wanted lean songs to tell the stories we wanted to tell.”

Video link for Spanish Love Songs – https://youtu.be/Yh8cw0doqfE.

The show at Kung Fu Necktie Upstairs will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8.

Animal Years

Animal Years, the Pop-Rock-Americana band comprised of Mike McFadden (vocals / guitar), Anthony Saladino (bass) and Anthony Spinnato (drums), are on their first national tour which kicks off in Philly on April 20.

Last fall, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Baltimore band released the EP, “Far From Home,” on Entertainment One (eOne), to critical acclaim. The follow up to their debut record, “Sun Will Rise,” the new album was produced by Ryan Hadlock, renowned for his work with The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile and Vance Joy.

In December 2017, Animal Years were named one of Rolling Stone’s top 10 new Americana artists to watch, and Billboard premiered the video for the new single, “Friends,” which was directed by Saladino. To cap off the exciting year, they made their national television debut on CBS This Morning Saturday Sessions.

“I came out with my first solo album when I was 18 – 11 years ago,” said McFadden, during a phone interview Wednesday from Brooklyn.

“When I was around 25, I moved to Brooklyn and formed Animal Years. I knew the bass player – Anthony –from when I used to visit friends at Elon College.

“He moved to New York and wanted me to come to New York too. I went up and we got a drummer and formed the band. Our first show was in early 2013.”

Things progressed form there.

According to McFadden, “We borrowed the name from a Josh Ritter album. Originally, we just liked the way the phrase sounded. But the more we thought about it, the more it meant to us, and we started saying things like ‘Live your life in animal years.’ If you knew that you’d only be around for a few years, you’d do things differently. That’s how we try to operate as a band; we try to go for it every day, like we’re going to die tomorrow.

“Someone once described us in a review as ‘singer-songwriter music with the amps turned up.’ The emphasis is on the songs and the songwriting, but we’re definitely a rock band. Even if I’m playing an acoustic guitar, I’m playing it through an amp with the distortion on. We’re always going to be louder than the other bands on the bill.

“When we moved to New York, we hit the city really hard, and things just grew organically. We naturally evolved from small clubs to bigger ones, and from small tours to bigger tours, with more people coming out each time. Everything has happened really organically, through us just being ourselves and trying to be as honest as we can.

Animal Years recorded “Far From Home” in the remote environs of Applehead Studios in Woodstock, NY, far from the band’s normal urban surroundings.

“We recorded everything in 10 days with Ryan Hadlock,” said McFadden. “We finished it at the Cutting Room in New York. Ryan told people at eOne about us. They came to hear us play and then signed us.”

Video link for Animal Years – https://youtu.be/LFktbSH_A_o.

The show at Kung Fu Necktie will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.

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