Spring is almost over and summer is ready to begin. Despite the fact that this spring has been quite mild, temperature wise, I have a feeling this will prove to be a good sign for the summer nights ahead. New Yorkers are set for rooftop bars, beaching and intense stargazing. Another thing that helps is new music that always explodes in the summertime. To start things off on a good note, I met with a new trio called Up The Chain this past week at Rockwood Music Hall to chat and listen to their stellar tunes.
Our chat began in the most natural, rustic, rock and roll way; by congregating into Up The Chain’s splendid, blue tour van. For some reason, I was really excited about this. Upon my arrival, the guys were all smiles and eager to say hello. I immediately felt comfortable. They invited me into the van that was filled with their instruments as well as a ton of DVDs and other items of inspiration scattered about the walls. With the van parked in front of Rockwood, we began to quickly dive into some fun conversation.
Up The Chain consists of Philly boys Reed Kendall (guitar), Kirby Sybert (drums) and Noah Skaroff (bass). Of all the bands I have met with, these three fellas are by far the funniest crew. Throughout our discussion, each one of them had some quote, joke or even random saying that had me cracking up. To be honest, I often lost track of my questions as I laughed. It was perfect! Along with being hilarious, they also had this unique calm about them that I thought was appealing and helpful. Each question was answered confidentially with input from all three of them. The three band mates actually met through the music scene, while Reed claims that Noah was always around as they guy who was smoking pot in his backyard. However, they seem happy with how it all worked out!
Our first discussion was how delighted they were for taking the van up t the city instead of the train, after the tragic events regarding the Amtrak accident. “We were shocked to hear about it because we take that train all the time to come back here,” Shared Kirby, “Luckily, we were already using the van so it worked out well.” I am truly glad it did. These Philly gentlemen all met through music and their paths eventually brought them to the formation of Up The Chain. Now, with the introduction of their first EP Windows Into Worlds, these musicians are well on their way to a great music journey. My favorite track on their EP is The Hardest Stone. This EP was recorded in Reed’s home studio and they are just finishing up a tour in which ended with their EP release party last weekend back in Philadelphia. “Most importantly, we are heading home this weekend for both the EP release party on Saturday and Game of Thrones on Sunday, “ exclaimed Reed. Once Game of Thrones was mentioned, we went off on a good couple of minutes of sidetracked conversation on that topic. I will not bore you all with the nerdy dragon talk, Valar morghulis.
While visiting NYC the crew loves to people watch and wander the streets. Honestly, that is one the highlights of living in this city. I asked if there was an ideal venue that they would like to play at and Noah eagerly replied that Carnegie Hall would be a great opportunity. Both Reed and Kirby simply stated that anyplace that has their doors open for them is just as good. They are willing to play anywhere. Speaking of which, earlier that day they had performed at the Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee Lounge with a follow up impromptu performance at Big Picture Media’s offices. Rockwood was to be their final show of the day and they still seemed full of energy and excitement.
In the midst of the enthusiasm, I learned that Reed is a strong supporter of keeping a connection alive with the fans and supporters. “I will call, if I can, anyone who likes us on Facebook and Instagram.” Go ahead, give it a try and test to see if he will live up to his words. In fact, not only are they loyal to their fan base, they seem to make friends easily with anybody around them. I couldn’t tell you how many times our exchange was cut short with a simple ‘hey’ being shouted by the band mates as they chatted briefly with other musicians they met that night and friends nearby. I admire that drive and interest.
Up The Chain have a ton of influences in their music. Most notably, as defined by their various concert DVDs in the van, were Willie Nelson and Leon Russell. Other influences include Radiohead and Alabama Shakes both of which the band noted they would love to collaborate with on a dream record. Other than taking part in tons of sleeping and eating upon their return home, the whole band remain eager to continue recording new stuff in Reed’s home studio. “Besides recording, we love reaching out and seeing other bands through the huge music network in Philly,” shared Reed. Basketball also seems to be their next best thing when they need to take a break from the music world.
For the show that evening, the band was set to perform songs both old and new. “We have a ton of music that we have been playing all the time,” stated Noah, “most we have not recorded yet.” Their EP will be a good first start for introducing the world to what Up The Chain has to offer. They have a funky Dispatch element in their tunes that is supported by their cool live playing. Fun-feeling music is their key theme from what I hear. Up The Chain actually claims their genre is Neighbor-Rock with a smidgen of Americana thrown in there. Now, I cannot be the best guess on what Neighbor-Rock is, however, I enjoy their music so it must be a good genre to explore. Each one of the musicians also has an eclectic taste in music ranging from jazz, hip-hop and classical music. In fact, Noah even went so far to declare that he would love the chance to go to Cuba and explore the Cuban jazz scene, which is immensely rich there. Although, he fears the opening of the borders will prompt tourists to ruin it. We shall have to see, I have hope for that genre and welcome its growth in the world.
Eventually, the crew had to start getting ready for their set. I departed and headed over to Stage 1. I was thrilled to be at this stage because I had not had the chance to experience a show there yet. Of all the stages at Rockwood, this one felt the tightest with a small crowd that was shoulder-to-shoulder listening in. The stage faced the street with windows of people leering in to see the action. Despite the small area, the bar still had plenty of beverages for the thirsty fans. Evelyn, who performed before Up The Chain, was excellent and gave us all a boost of excitement for the great music to come. It was at this point that I noticed that the bass and guitar players were the only ones able to fit onto the tiny stage. All the drummers had to perform on the crowd floor stage left. This was an interesting layout.
All of the listeners attending the show seemed animated and joyful that night. A mix of good music and the upcoming weekend was sure to be the reason. As Evelyn finished up, Up The Chain meandered to their places and welcomed us all to Rockwood. Sipping my Heineken, I was ready. Reed started us off with some funky and run riffs, which turned into a full-blown collection of good tunes to start of this funky Friday. Noah provides a strong bass line that sends a vibration throughout the space and is supported by the ever-smiling Kirby on the drums. All three of them were busy bouncing around to their tunes and were having a great time there. Bustling with energy, Reed had tons of emotion showing through his singing. Almost every song prompted the three members with several harmony bits of which you could see the passion the music clearly flowing through. Throughout their performance I could trace a bit of reggae and folksy funk in their music. With that mix of genres, Up The Chain’s music is perfect chilling music to waste the summer away. As the show went on, they invited friends to come onstage and sing with them on a fun track that belched out the lyric, “What the hell is wrong with me?” At one point, their tunes reminded me of the A3 song, Woke Up This Morning from The Sopranos Theme. I enjoyed it all immensely.
Overall, Up The Chain should be the music of the summer and everyone’s future pals. With their kind demeanor and eagerness to perform, they will be sure to shine in the years to come. I encourage all to take a listen and jam on to some great music. My final word here will be a statement from Reed that embodies the mission of Up The Chain: “I am a fan of low-cut socks.” That is all.
Have a lovely Memorial Day Weekend folks!