CANDLELIGHT RED – ‘Reclamation’

If you used to party at the former Pony Lounge along Scalp Avenue, you may remember Candlelight Red coming to town.

You may not know, however, that these guys have made a name for themselves nationwide.

Last year, the four-piece metal band from Williamsport toured in direct support of Sevendust and Coal Chamber (both of ’90s fame), and released an LP named “Reclamation.” The album melds hardcore breakdowns, singing guitars and big, melodic choruses in fashions familiar to fans of the early 2000s nu-metal scene. Overall, the sound is equal parts In Flames and Breaking Benjamin.

While the album doesn’t break brand-new ground, fans of the genre will appreciate this collection of tight compositions, delivered with skill and intention.

If you liked and remembered them from the Pony, it might be time to revisit.

13 songs, 47:03
Imagen Records, 2013

Dortmunder Gold

Michelob Ultra TV ad campaigns show extreme bicyclists pedaling through shimmering-hot badlands.

If Dortmunder Gold had a TV ad campaign, it’d probably be the dudes from your family Thanksgiving watching football and chomping on sourdough pretzels.

This is a meat-and-potatoes beer, full-bodied and clean-tasting. The formula is fairly simple: water, yeast, barley and hops. “No chemicals or preservatives,” the maker, Great Lakes Brewing Co., claims.

No real complains about this one. I’ll even forgive it was made in Cleveland. Actually tastes like a first cousin to Straub Amber.

So if you’re looking for an off-brand adventure, grab yourself a six-pack. Just don’t think you’ll do any extreme desert cycling afterward.

PABST BLUE RIBBON

A friend and colleague calls it “the non-celebratory beer.” The kind of can you’re more likely to crack after baling hay than after receiving a life-altering accolade.

Has there ever been a beer more proletariat than PBR? Long heritage, simplistic design and virtually no marketing.

I’ve been told — by a different friend, this one in Pittsburgh — that PBR is a “hipster” beer. But I have no idea what a hipster is. I kind of like Pabst. Maybe I’m a hipster.

Yeah, you could use some different words to describe this brew. I’ve settled on “beer.” PBR is beer — a beer that tastes like beer. For some of us, that’s good enough.

‘LET’S LIVE FOR TODAY’ By The Grass Roots

Best lyric: “We were never meant to worry the way that people do.”

Best time to listen to it: Any time your worries have you weighed down.

You are a worrywart.

You dwell unduly on thoughts about your health, money and other “worries people seem to find.”

There is a prescription to tame your unsettled mind: The Grass Roots song “Let’s Live For Today.” One 2 1/2-minute dose should leave you feeling a little more peaceful.

The lyrics are as true today as they were in 1967. People drive themselves crazy “chasing after money and dreams that can’t come true.” The song suggests the best way to spend time is with someone you love — not worrying about tomorrow.

It is advice that has been given by wise men throughout generations, in religious texts — and by The Grass Roots. But most people fail to heed the guidance.

Worrywart or not, this is a good song that is worth being part of any vinyl collection, whether as a single, on the title album or as part of a greatest-hits collection. It is worth taking the time to look for the next time you go record hunting.

COUNTRY TREATS- Self-Titled

A surprising eponymous EP was recently produced at Black Bear Studio in Boswell.

Country Treats was written by Somerset graduate Michael D’Arcangelo under the name “Mik Jenkins.” In fact, all project contributors took on the surname “Jenkins,” giving it the facade of a down-home family band.

D’Arcangelo’s croon is reminiscent of vintage Neil Young and Axl Rose (think “Patience”), and it culminates with “Alone and Forsaken.” The tone is sad, but not hopeless. And there’s chemistry between all seven players. (It’s worth noting that Tom Hampton also played pedal steel with the Marshall Tucker Band. “Can’t You See?”)

Andrew Wilson — mixing and engineering — and Don Zientara at Inner Ear Studios — mastering — help polish the CD, giving it rich texture. (Worth noting that Zientara has worked with Fugazi and John Frusciante, ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers.)

The tragedy here is brevity. Four treats isn’t enough.

4 songs, 16:31
Self-published, 2014

Celebrating 75 Years – A decade ago, this Roxbury landmark was facing demolition. Now it’s thriving.

Laborers — many of them immigrants — used 2,203 tons of stone, 969 barrels of cement, 576 tons of sand and 192 tons of slag to create the towering structure known as the Roxbury Bandshell.

Located at 1430 Franklin St. in Johnstown’s Roxbury Park, the bandshell was built during the Great Depression to honor the people of Johnstown and their resilience following the city’s flood in 1889. Tim Burns, a Johnstown attorney and a founding member of the Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance, said that the bandshell is not only special to the city, but also the United States.

“There were 20-some bandshells built, and the Roxbury Bandshell is the last one (from that era) standing in the United States,” Burns said. “I was recently talking to a man who enjoys taking pictures of the bandshell — he told me he’s obsessed with it because there’s nothing like it.”

Burns — who also serves as solicitor and vice-chairman of the preservation alliance — said that despite the bandshell’s unique history, Johnstown City Council members had given the go-ahead in 2005 to have it torn down. A citizen’s group was formed to prevent the loss of what they and others considered a significant piece of the city’s history.

“During the summer of 2005, the city had demolition trucks at the site, and I filed the lawsuit to block it — the way we stopped it was like something out of a movie,” he said.

Burns mentioned that the preservation alliance now has an excellent relationship with the city.

“It’s ancient history, that whole battle,” he said.

Back in March of 2006, the Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance was formed to help promote what the bandshell has to offer the city in terms of music, history and education.

Over the past eight years, the preservation alliance has raised and invested nearly $400,000 into the bandshell. It’s theirs to operate for the next 25 years (a common misconception is that the preservation alliance owns it, but that’s not the case).

Recent renovations have included a chemical cleaning (“We didn’t know how dirty it was until we saw how clean it looked,” Burns said) and a thorough re-pavement of the stage, which Burns said now looks like it did back in 1939.

Renovations are ongoing. This year they are working on adding a handicap ramp. In the future, the group aspires to focus on the skating rink and the bandshell’s interior.

“The skating rink is right in front of the bandshell, and we’re hoping to raise separate funds to move it back so there’s more room in front of the stage,” Burns said. “We also want to get the interior renovated.”

Following their formation, the Roxbury Bandshell Preservation Alliance set up a fund for the bandshell through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Donors can make tax-deductible donations payable to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, c/o Roxbury Bandshell and send it to their Johnstown office location (116 Market St., Johnstown PA 15901). All donations received go toward future preservation efforts.

Burns said many people take notice of the work that preservation alliance members have done to preserve and maintain the bandshell. “I believe now since we’ve gotten it cleaned and refurbished, people are impressed,” he said.

Nowadays, the bandshell plays host to an annual Summer Concert Series. It’s popular not only amongst music fans, but also the musicians themselves.

“We have a waiting list for bands to perform,” Burns said. “And they all volunteer to perform — their performances are not paid. Everyone volunteers. We’re very thankful for that.”

Sponsored by AmeriServ, this year marks the ninth year for the Summer Concert Series that draws hundreds of people to the bandshell each Sunday afternoon throughout June, July and August.

“Each year, usually half the bands are new,” Burns said. “There’s something for everyone: polka, rock, alternative, country.” Burns said that he is glad to see people of all ages — including a new generation — enjoy what the bandshell has to offer.

“It means a lot to see the people there every Sunday, having a good time,” he said. “People have even gotten married there. The bandshell is creating a lot of positive memories. I think there’s a lot of pride in it. It’s an excellent symbol of the city’s resilience. We’ve survived floods, there’s an economic renaissance going on downtown . . . it’s just a unique structure — it’s one of the major historical sites in the region and people want to keep it going.

“I think this generation is really embracing it — we’re making history now. This is living history.”

SHOCK TOP- Belgian White

Just because it’s summer, do we have to fruit the beer?

Actually, we don’t. Still, if you’re going to review a beer, you’d better stay off the beaten path. Safe bet that you people in the beer-review-reading crowd don’t need an education on the taste of Coors Light.

Shock Top is a Belgian-style wheat beer. In English, that means a thicker, tangier brew with just a hint of seltzer-water.  Not often do you drink something that comes with instructions. On the label of this bottle is a set of very specific directives: Pour most of it into a glass, swirl the remaining half-inch to mix the spices, then add it to the glass as well.

The result is somewhat foamier and tastier beer. Still, I didn’t catch until these instructions until my first one was halfway drained.

It was definitely a better beverage after following each step.

Still, my biggest beef here is the required reading. If there’s one thing that shouldn’t require instructions, it’s beer drinkin’.

Striped Maple Hollow – Self-titled

Four vocalists who can hold a note while frenetically picking through mandolins, guitars and banjos. Bright and melancholy, sometimes at once. Thirteen tracks at a nicely paced 49 minutes.

The Striped Maple Hollow self-titled debut is admirable in depth and range. “Kill or Be Killed” brings haunting ambiance. “My Place in the Sun” is playful, pop-friendly even. “Happy Together” — a cover of The Turtles — masterfully juggles melody.

Impressively executed Americana, refreshing from start to finish. The lilting vocal melodies between Jayna and Sonya overlay nicely. Micah and Adam hold it all together with tact and precision. No percussion here, so forget foot-stomping or dancing. This is mood music, bittersweet as wild chive.

Just one of many bands to keep on your radar here in the Laurel Highlands

13 songs, 49:09
Struggle Buggy Records, 2013

Steppenwolf – “Steppenwolf 7”

For you, 5 p.m. comes at midnight.

Your “Happy Hour” is an 8 p.m. coffee break before the next round of work orders.

You are the second-shifter.

When the work night finally closes a silent home and re-runs of “Law and Order” await.

There is a better way to relax after work.

Enter “Steppenwolf 7” — on vinyl, of course.

Listen to it with a Pabst Blue Ribbon and a bag of peanuts. By the time track No. 6— “Snowblind Friend”  — spins around, you will have forgotten the bull from work.

The songs and lyrics on this album are a mixture of blues and hard rock. The crackles and static of a strongly used copy of the record add to the music’s unique flavor.

The songs can be enjoyed by those on day shift as well. But a drowsy, late-night listen brings the most out of this 1970s music.

Dig around for a copy the next time you are in a used record store. It will provide for the best 40 minutes after work that you have had in a while.

“Steppenwolf 7” by Steppenwolf (1972)

Available at used record stores (if you look hard enough.)

Best Lyric: “He only had a dollar to live on ’til next Monday. But he spent it all on comfort for his mind.”

Best time to listen to it: After midnight when you are stressed out.

Mr. Treehorn Draws a Lot of Water in This Town

TIRE HILL — Contrary to what some “Dude” may have said, Jackie Treehorn does not treat objects like women.

At least not this Jackie Treehorn. The Jackie Treehorn that’s drawn wall-to-wall crowds to Dively’s Tavern in Roxbury by executing front-to-back covers of legendary rock ‘n’ roll albums including Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”

According to Glenn Henry — who adopted the Treehorn moniker in December to describe his ever-evolving lineup of amorphous tribute music — the name was of course inspired by the eponymous character in “The Big Lebowski,” the Coen brothers’ cult classic about a sleuthing pothead bowler. He says the reference was one that he knew many counter-culture classic rockers would instantly recognize. Continue reading Mr. Treehorn Draws a Lot of Water in This Town