Hailing from the wilds of Philadelphia, Broadside Electric has been around since the 1990s, jazzing up the traditional folk music scene with lively interpretations of old standards, plus digging up a few gems of their own. But with various players having moved on to other parts of the country, the group’s live full-band performances are rare—and a rare treat, at that. The 333 Coffeehouse is pleased as punch to announce that Broadside Electric, in all its glory, will be on stage in Annapolis on Friday, July 15 at Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, off Bestgate Road.
The band has been proclaimed “Pennsylvania’s answer to Steeleye Span” and “folk music’s answer to death metal.” While their array of instruments and range of voices is straight from the world of acoustic folk, their sound is anything but. Together Tom Rhoads (guitar, cittern, dulcimer, vocals), Amy Ksir (tin whistle, oboe, flute, vocals), Helen Zisook (violin, viola, mandolin, vocals), Joe D’Andrea (percussion, vocals) and Jim Speer (bass, recorder, crumhorn) offer up a program of familiar pieces presented in refreshing new arrangements, essentially using traditional folk material as a vehicle for their own non-traditional musical ideas.
Much of the band’s repertoire is drawn from scholarly studies of traditional music. A favorite source is B.H. Bronson’s Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads which Jim Speer describes as “the definitive collection of old songs about drowning sailors and murderous elves.” A song may exist in dozens or even hundreds of variations from all parts of the English-speaking world. “I think the music is timeless,” says Tom Rhoads. “It’s exciting to find a great song which hasn’t been widely heard in a century or more.”
The release of Broadside’s self-produced first album, Black-edged Visiting Card (1993), brought them regular airplay on local folk radio shows. The recently re-released second album, Amplificata (1994), captures the band in a live in-studio setting. Their third album, More Bad News (1996), adds an even darker and heavier quality to thirteen songs, and was cited by WXPN folk DJ Gene Shay among his top five albums of 1996. The release of With Teeth (1999) found the group in full-tilt progressive folk mode–the ride never lets up from the first track to the last. The band promises, “This is the only record you’ll hear that has a Croatian dance, an English music hall song and a Bob Dylan cover.” Their newest release Do Not Immerse (2002) was recorded live at a special concert at the Allens Lane Arts Center in Piladelphia. It’s a tasty mix of new material and reinvented favorites recorded before an enthusiastic audience.
They will be performing on Friday, July 15 at the 333 Coffeehouse, hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (333 Dubois Road, off N. Bestgate Avenue). The 333 Coffeehouse provides quality acoustic music in a non-alcohol, smoke-free setting on the third Friday of every month. Dessert and coffee are available. Music begins promptly at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7:30. Admission is $10; seniors and students $8. For more information or directions, visit the website at fsgw.org/333/ or call host Janie Meneely at 443-786-0463.