A Bit of History... and Looking Forward...
We’d like to share a review of our new album, Signal in the Static, written by local musician and promoter Jerry Falzone. In it, he discusses his views of the album, and also provides a colorful history of the band:
“Have you ever stopped to consider what has changed in the last few generations, say from the early twentieth century to now? Pretty much everything, I mean 110 years ago we figured out after thousands of years how to get up in the air in a machine and just sixty odd years later we were on the moon. Or communication, and how what had been traditionally handed down from generation to generation is now something you look up online as a quick reference. Is that good or is that bad? Who knows, it’s the question that is more interesting and that is one of the questions that The Crawdiddies raise on their exceptional new album Signal in the Static.
I was introduced to The Crawdiddies by founding member Gordon Munding a few years ago when I brought the band into the original Fandango at The Tango on Gregory Street. I remember walking in to the room an hour or so before the gig was scheduled to start and they were on stage, playing their hearts out in front of a videographer. I didn’t have any idea of what to expect but from that moment on I have been a big fan of this utterly unique band on the Rochester landscape. Gordon was writing their songs, playing truly authentic country, blues and R&B guitar and singing leads and harmony. He was great but the band itself really floored me. We didn’t have a huge crowd that night, it was one of their very early gigs and not that many people had heard of them. I decided I wanted to help build them but I couldn’t get a return date for about a year. It would seem that Gordon was very busy at the time. I guess too busy because after a couple of years he left. The band decided however that the absence of their founder didn’t mean that they were going to break up.
The next time I was able to get them in Gordon was still with them but they added what I thought was a utility player in banjo maestro Ben Haravitch. Ben was a nice addition but, as it turned out he was much more than a utility player, he was being groomed as Gordon’s replacement.
Last January we hosted an afternoon CD release party for Steve Piper. It was one of the biggest events that we have had yet at The Tango. It was an afternoon event, starting at 3:00 and ending around 5:30. John Dady, Cammie Enaharo and more guests showed up to play with Steve. We had a huge crowd, spilling over into the hallway and it was a beautiful show. I held out very little hope for the evening show figuring that anyone who would show up at Fandango at The Tango was there in the afternoon and would be home when the next show started. And then, the new Crawdiddies walked in with a sense of purpose and a lot of confidence. Gordon was gone and Ben was the replacement. What happened next really surprised me. The room was once again full, the crowd stayed all night and it was an entirely different crowd than what we had in the afternoon. The Crawdiddies sounded great. I heard a whole bunch of new tunes that have now turned up on Signal in the Static.
So how’s the record you ask? Again, utterly unique, utterly wonderful and it should be in your home right now. First off, the technicalities. The record was recorded in Gary Holt’s studio in Mount Morris. Quite a trek to record a record but well worth it. Holt engineered, mixed and mastered the recording right there. He is a marvel. The sound is as good as almost anything I have heard. Crisp, clear, dynamic….every nuance jumps where it should or just adds color when it should. The arrangements seem simple but most great arrangements will seem simple.
But let’s get back to the band for a moment. The three remaining original members of this band are vocalist, flautist Heather Taylor, Stand up Bassist Jay Chaffe and percussionist Washboard Dave Paprocki.
Heather Taylor is as real as it gets, so real you wonder what is she doing here in Rochester, NY. The sound she conveys, no that’s not quite right, the soul that she is belongs in Kentucky or Tennessee or somewhere in the Appalachians. What is she doing here in 2015 when she so obviously belongs in the 1930’s or 1940’s? Her voice is like running water, pure, clean with this vibrato that reminds me of a mountain stream. She is a classically trained flautist but she never flaunts that background. She does what a real musician does, she plays for the song. That is a maturity that is hard to find in even the most seasoned musicians. She is also one of the main songwriters in the band, a chore she shares with Haravitch. As a front person, she is a focal point in the band’s live shows almost like a mountain mama Stevie Nicks. Her movements are almost witchy and her delivery is almost spiritual yet grounded in the reality of the songs she writes and the people she portrays. On stage and in the studio she pretty much disappears in the songs the way a great singer does. She is almost more an actor in her presentation. Really, in this band Heather Taylor is a marvel.
Ben Haravitch has a pretty difficult role in this band. When you have a front person like Heather, how do you get your voice heard? You do it by basically singing your ass off when you have the chance. His performances on two songs really stand out to me. Both are his compositions, Canadice lake/Love Bug Stomp and The title track Signal in the Static. Both songs show a mature songwriter tackling issues that most Millenials don’t consider. The new way we receive our training as opposed to the centuries old traditions of hand me down information, reflections on yesterday during a storm. Ben is also a stealthy instrumentalist. His banjo weaves in and out of arrangements hiding the fact that it is the driving instrument in most of these songs.
Bassist Jay S. Chaffe is as solid as it comes but in real sneaky ways about as creative as a bass player ever need be. His long bowing on Canadice Lake adds to the murky atmosphere that makes the song come alive. His runs on the Beatlesque intro to Signals drives the mystery that the mandolin and banjo passages suggest. His history as a heavy metal electric bassist may seem off kilter with this kind of backwoods country blues that The Crawdiddies produce but there is an unmistakable drive that his playing adds to the mix that wouldn’t be out of place, in some ways, on a Metalica album.
Percussionist, Washboard Dave won some kind of Best Busker award awhile back….cool for the resume but all one has to do is see his rig and you know this guy is something different. The main percussive drive to this band is not a traditional drum kit but a….washboard. Yes, he got his name for a reason. Thimbles, cymbals, cowbells anything but skins, that what drives this band. His rhythmic prowess is powerful yet very understated, bouncy yet deep, simple and colorful. Dave is probably the most unique drummer in the area. He lends an authenticity to the band that is essential to the sound they create.
The twelve songs on Signal in the Static are a gift. Sometimes playful as in Peppermint Tea, sometimes soulful as in Peace and Harmony, The Crawdiddies play with a Grateful Dead bounce, a touch of Beatle nuance but rooted in some of the most traditional American music, Country/Blues and Folk. They weave stories of fallen preachers, lament over Misplaced Loyalties, bring to life people like Toe Headed Bill and they do it in a fun way that almost masquerades each song’s depth.
They are celebrating the release of Signal in the Static at Record Archive and at Fandango at The Tango and I have them as a featured act during the August Lake Shore at The Little run. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of bringing this great home grown, home spun music to our crowd.”
Jerry Falzone is a talented writer, guitar player, and promoter of local music in Rochester, NY. Falzone started writing songs while playing with touring 80’s rock band Pearl and hasn’t stopped. His latest release is “Liar’s Moon” which you can buy online or hear live at one of his series such as “Fandango at the Tango” or “Lake Shore at the Little”.
Happy Holidays from The Diddies (Sunday, December 4, 2016)
Haleluyer, it’s Spring! (Monday, April 18, 2016)
Happy 2016 From The ‘Diddies! (Tuesday, February 16, 2016)
Album Release - Signal in the Static (Wednesday, July 8, 2015)
Spring is here! (Sunday, May 3, 2015)
We’re heading into the studio! (Monday, March 16, 2015)
New Album in the Works - Signal in the Static (Saturday, January 31, 2015)
Welcome to our new page! (Sunday, March 15, 2015)