One of our favorite events of the year, Arts On The Square in Scranton, Pa., is only a few days away. Today, Eric Schlitter of Summersteps Records offers a rundown of the artists that will be performing on the label’s stage, as well as some background on the new compilation EP Summersteps is releasing in conjunction with the event.
“If you can play in Scranton, you can play anywhere.” That’s how the old vaudeville adage goes anyway. In 2014, Summersteps Records was given the opportunity to host some bands on a special stage for the Scranton, Pa., arts festival Arts on the Square. Featuring a lineup of local talent drawn from its own roster and beyond, that included Kid Icarus, Cold Coffee, Eww Yaboo and A Fire With Friends. This year, Summersteps has returned to help curate the event’s now annual return on Saturday July 25. (The free event features two stages of music, with the other stage hosted by Highway 81 Revisited. Check out the complete lineup for both stages here.)
To commemorate the event, Summersteps was lucky enough to get new or unreleased tracks from all of the aforementioned band to assemble a special 4-way split EP called “Pennsylvania Sounds – Vol 1.” Released in a strictly limited edition of 100 sonic green cassingles (which will also include download codes, for those without a tape deck) to make its physical debut at the festival. Featured today on Highway 81 for your listening pleasure is a remix of Cherokee Red’s “Rainbows” featured on the new compilation.
Boasting a completely different hand-picked lineup that includes some of the area’s finest indie, folk and psychedelic rock that the area has to offer, let’s take a minute to dissect the Summersteps Arts On The Square lineup and offer some quick bios.
Brian TV: The musical brainchild of Brian Emmert. Born in 2011, the band made its debut on a self-released split cassette with Cold Coffee. Since then, Brian TV has metamorphosed from a bedroom-based solo project to a full band of musical compatriots including Nathaniel Kane and Ray Kline along with brothers Chris and Rob Lepkoski. The group sports a somewhat loose and shambolic vibe that is reminiscent of the Brian Jonestown Massacre if they decided to host a drunken barbecue for all their pals. Brian TV’s last full-length, “Quits,” was released last year on Pittston, Pa.’s Stress Carrier imprint.
Cherokee Red: Named after a sweet and somewhat volatile local cherry soda, Cherokee Red specializes in a woozy brand of psychedelic dream pop and folk from the low-lying valley of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Kicking around since 2011, the group has wasted little time racking up miles on tour and releasing an extensive body of recorded work. The group’s last two latest releases were an EP (maintaining the A=432Hz frequency) released via Philadelphia’s Magic Death Sounds label, entitled “The World Is My Oyster, You’re The Pearl,” and a limited cassette single for the track “Comeback.”
Family Animals: Family Animals are a band consisting of three dudes from Pennsylvania. Jesse Viola, Anthony Viola and Frank DeSando have known each other their entire lives. They’ve been playing together since 2000 and playing as Family Animals since 2008. Taking anything and everything they can from different aspects of the musical universe, conjuring a tough blend of folk, punk and indie moves. The group has tons of material available via Bandcamp.
Heavy Blonde: The writing and recording project started by songwriter Mike Williams in early 2012 after the breakup of his long time band And The Moneynotes. After spending the better part of two years refining the group’s sound approach, the fruits of those labors and living room rehearsals are the group’s self-released debut full-length “Heatwave.” Best described as a mix of warm country harmonies, brooding gypsy swing, cinematic arrangements and psychedelic waltzes. The album was recorded and produced by Nick Krill (Spinto Band, Teen Men, sometime member/collaborator Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) at Miner Street Studio in Philadelphia.