Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rolling Stone Magazine, October 1987

Tommy Conwell, Paul Slivka, Jim Hannum, Chris Day and Rob Miller

Image taken from an October 1987 Rolling Stone article feature entitled, "Local Heroes," profiling the music industry's courting of two up-and-coming music acts: Philadelphia's Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers and L.A.'s Jane's Addiction.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tommy Conwell Trio

Image of the Tommy Conwell Trio, opening act at the 6th Annual Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza on Nov. 29. 

Thanks graciously to Tommy Maguire for the picture! 

Click on image for a larger version.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Gullifty's Underground

More Tommy Conwell concert pictures at Gullifty's Underground in Camp Hill, Nov. 16. Thanks to the HotWingJones boys for the images.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gullifty's Underground Fan Photos

Tommy Conwell concert pictures at Gullifty's Underground in Camp Hill, Nov. 16. Thanks to Karyn for use of the images...she has more photos posted on her MySpace page!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

"Rumble" - Music Review - People Weekly, Dec. 19, 1988

A review of "Rumble" in People Weekly, Dec. 19, this writer seemed to think that Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers sounded too much like the Hooters? Hmmm...
DJ Caterina is a long-time fan of The Hooters, too, but finds nothing whatsoever in common with these two bands.
RUMBLE by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers
This debut is more of a compliment to the work of another Philly rock band, the Hooters, than it is a singular, distinctive statement of its own. True, Conwell has a passionate voice and has demonstrated a more than acceptable working vocabulary of guitar riffs. But it's more than just the contribution of Hooters Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian as songwriters (on Half a Heart) that might saddle the Young Rumblers with the tag of being clones. Conwell's vocal inflections and lead guitar are awfully Hooteresque too. Conwell, who oddly lists Charlie Parker as one of his influences, does take one giant step for individualism with the hit single I'm Not Your Man, and he delivers on the Bo Diddley-inspired Tell Me What You Want Me to Be, but there is little in between to differentiate him and the Rumblers from the prolific crop of roots-rock bands struggling for that one big break. While Conwell does occasionally summon up a growl from his throat a la George Thorogood, that's more often tedious than distinctive. Having acknowledged their affiliation with their fellow Philadelphians to everyone's satisfaction, Conwell and his band need to strike out in search of some different, more promising musical territory. (Columbia)

Friday, November 23, 2007

6th Annual Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza

It's the 6th Annual Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza with opening act Tommy Conwell at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA! This show is sold out, per

Saturday, November 17, 2007


DJ Caterina absolutely loves the wit and wisdom of HotWingJones, especially after reading a couple of their MySpace bulletin posts promoting their upcoming gig with Tommy Conwell at Gullifty's Underground:

Date: Nov 15, 2007 8:03 AM
Subject: Tommy Conwell, The Barnstormers, and HWJ
Just a reminder that HWJ will be appearing with Tommy Conwell and Quentin and The Barnstormers tomorrow night (Friday, November 16th) at Gullifty's Underground in Camp Hill.

I promise you that this show will kick ass. Tommy is one of the baddest-ass guitar players you will ever see anywhere...


Date: Nov 16, 2007 9:49 AM
Subject: Emergency Announcement

The owners of Gullifty's in Camp Hill wanted us to make an emergency announcement. Those of you with heart conditions, lower back problems, or are subject to the gravitational pull of the moon: you will need to step outside into the lobby when Tommy Conwell takes the stage tonight. Those of you who do not heed this warning are deemed to be proceeding at your own risk. Injuries to your legs, ears and asses may occur, resulting in permanent injury, heightened states of euphoria, or at least a sure fire trip to the emergency room.
the rest of you rowdy drunks and rebel rousers: TONIGHT!!!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tommy Conwell at Gullifty's Underground Concert Poster

Concert poster courtesy of the HotWingJones MySpace page.

Tommy Conwell headlines a concert tonight at Gullifty's Underground in Camp Hill, PA! 

According to Lanark Records, "two other bands will be playing: Quentin and The Barnstormers and HotWingJones. Quentin and Sharks drummer Doug Phillips will be backing Tommy."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Hi-Ho-Silver! CD Cover and Inner Sleeve images

Artwork featured on the inside and outside cover of Hi-Ho-Silver! by Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings. Click here for a larger image.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings T-Shirt

This weekend DJ Caterina was wearing one of her favorite T-shirts when someone in an elevator struck up the following conversation:

Guy #1: (Looking at DJ Caterina’s T-shirt) What does that say? Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings? Is that a band?

DJ Caterina: Yes, it’s an album cover.

Guy #2: Oh….

DJ Caterina: (Sensing a non-recognition of the Conwell name) He’s a guitar player based in Philadelphia.

Guy #1: Oh! Are you from Philadelphia?

DJ Caterina
: No, I’m from Texas. (Elevator door opens, walks out.) If you go to the iTunes [Tommy Conwell Store], you’ll find some of his music. Check him out!
Buy your very own Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings shirt at Café Press and Sunset Music Store.

(Note: As of 5/20/2008, Sunset Music no longer sells this t-shirt!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Promo Buzz Zeemer Picture

Promotional photo of Buzz Zeemer, Tommy Conwell pictured on the far right. Click here for a larger image.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jae-Ha Kim, Chicago Sun-Times music reporter (1990)

Chicago Sun-Times

Tommy Conwell
Cornerstone Management
148 E. Lancester Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087

December 10, 1990
Dear Tommy Conwell (and all the Young Rumblers): I wanted to congratulate you on your show Dec. 7, at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago. While the year isn't quite over yet, the 2-hour plus set you guys turned in was one of the best I've seen not only this year, but in the past couple. In an era when a good video and a nice face can pretty much launch a career, it's refreshing to know that there are still young musicians out there who care more about what they sound like than how they look. Even more refreshing was the fact that you guys seemed as eager to meet the fans as they were to meet you. On the one hand, I'm glad I didn't have to review the show, because I was able to enjoy the concert without having to be "cerebral." But on the other, I would have loved to let all our readers know just how good the show was. Again, congratulations. It'll be a pleasure to see your next Chicago concert.

Jae-Ha Kim
Music reporter

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm Not Your Man - Lyrics

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers - "I'm Not Your Man" lyrics

Written by Tommy Conwell, M. Rauer
Seven days a week with you is more than I can handleSeven nights of love and dirty laundry on your floorBaby I can see this whole thing heading into troubleI'm out the door
I'm not your manCause you're looking for a heroI'm not your man
I ain't nothing to hold on to

Baby I ain't what you need

It's easy being here but I've got ground to cover
There's nothing you can do to make me wanna stayThough I've been here awhile don't think that I've stopped moving
I'm on my way

I'm not your man

Cause you're looking for a hero
Baby it ain't me
I'm not your man
I ain't nothing to hold on to
Baby I ain't what you need
I'm not the one you're gonna take home to your daddyI'm not the one to sit around with making plans
I'm not the one you're gonna settle down and marry
I'm not your man

I'm not your man
Cause you're looking for a hero

Baby it ain't me
I'm not your manI ain't nothing to hold on to
Baby I ain't what you need

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shout Movie Soundtrack CD

Movie soundtrack on CD from Shout, a 1991 Universal Pictures movie starring John Travolta, Heather Graham, and Linda Fiorentino.

Featuring two great songs written by Tommy Conwell.

Devil Call Me Back Home is performed by Otis Rush.
More Than A Kiss is performed by Tommy Conwell.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tommy Conwell On Wikipedia

Tommy Conwell has been wikified! A subject heading of Tommy Conwell has been added to Wikipedia.

Note that DJ Caterina added just about ALL of the new discography information!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers - Guitar Trouble

17 years ago this September, Entertainment Weekly featured a review for Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers release, Guitar Trouble



Music Commentary from Entertainment Weekly - A Guide to New and Notable Releases 

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers Guitar Trouble (Columbia; CD, T)
The Rumblers have a tight boogie strut with an 80-proof rhythm n blues undertow. So far, so good -- but Conwell's singing needs more individuality. B-

(DJ Caterina would like to add that Tommy's voice is very distinguishable.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Article: One More Night At The Vet For Bowie's 'Glass Spider'

One More Night At The Vet For Bowie's 'Glass Spider'
By David Hiltbrand, Special to The Inquirer
Posted: July 31, 1987

David Bowie closes out tonight his two-night stand at Veterans Stadium with Squeeze and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. This engagement is launching the American leg of Bowie's "Glass Spider Tour," the most elaborate "rock theater" concept Bowie (or anyone else) has ever come up with.

The concert is structured around a stage set that weighs 360 tons. Clothed in a brilliant red suit, Bowie opens the show by descending on a thread from a giant spider that hovers 100 feet above the stage. I can say no more, except that there are multiple costume changes and a gaggle of dancers choreographed by Toni Basil.

Bowie, rock's most inventive and mercurial figure, hasn't skimped on the music. There are seven songs from his latest album, Never Let Me Down, as well as familiar favorites like "Heroes," "Fashion" and "China Girl." The band is composed of guitarists Carlos Alomar and Peter Frampton, bass player Carmine Rojas, keyboardists Erdal Kizilcay and Richard Cottle, and drummer Allen Childs.

Squeeze is one of the most engaging bands to emerge from England in the last decade. Credit the compositions of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook such as "Tempted" and "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)."

Between his Nordic looks and the guitar style of his music, Tommy Conwell could well be called Rockabilly Idol. This local boy is going places fast. Catch him while you can.

David Bowie, Squeeze, and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, at Veterans Stadium, Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, tonight at 6:45. Tickets: $21. Information: 569-9416.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rumble Advertisement

A 1988 music magazine advertisement promoting 'Rumble' by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. 

Click on image for a larger version.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Rock the Joint - Gloucester City

"Rock the Joint" with Tommy Conwell on July 14 in Gloucester City, New Jersey! Tommy will be performing from 2-3 pm at a concert event honoring one of the first and original rock 'n' rollers, Bill Haley. 
Other musical appearances will include Bill Haley's Original Comets, Charlie Gracie and Full Blown Cherry.

The free rockabilly concert at the corner of Broadway and Market Street, outside Jack's Bar and Grill, will celebrate Gloucester City's claim to fame as rock's birthplace.

It is hoped that the the link to Haley, who in 1955 had the genre's first big hit with "Rock Around the Clock," will boost the city's profile -- and help economic-revival efforts. 

For 18 months in 1951 and 1952, Haley and his country band, the Saddlemen, played at Jack's when it was the Twin Bar, mixing country and western with rhythm and blues. City officials have declared this riverfront community to be the birthplace of rock 'n' roll and the outdoor concert to draw attention to their claim.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers - American Beat Records

Conwell Rocks! Two releases from Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers – Rumble and Guitar Trouble, issued in 1988 and 1991, respectively – are available now on ONE fantastic CD re-release. That's double the guitar trouble for your listening pleasure! Courtesy of American Beat Records, these classic TCYR standards are now re-issued in all their digital glory!

  • Buy the re-release at

  • Visit the American Beat Records MySpace page.

  • Track Listing
    1. I’m Not Your Man
    2. Half a Heart
    3. If We Never Meet Again
    4. Love’s On Fire
    5. Workout
    6. I Wanna Make You Happy
    7. Everything They Say Is True
    8. Gonna Breakdown
    9. Tell Me What You Want Me To Be
    10. Walkin’ On the Water
    11. Guitar Trouble
    12. She’s Got It All
    13. Let Me Love You Too
    14. I’m Seventeen
    15. Nice ‘n Naughty
    16. Didn’t Want to Sing the Blues
    17. Rock With You
    18. Do Right
    19. Hard As A Rock
    20. Good Love Bad
    21. What Once Was
    22. I’m Seventeen, Part 2

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    MidWest Records Review

    A review of Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers career featuring the releases "Rumble" and "Guitar Trouble" can be found at MidWest Records. DJ Caterina's favorite line is "this is a slice of prime rumble" -- awesome!

    A late 80’s roots rocker in the 'late-80’s/left-of -center/Springsteen mold, Conwell was a turntable hit that filled the airwaves but didn’t have sales to match. It wasn’t for lack of trying, as they toured with serious acts of the day including David Bowie, Pretenders and Bryan Adams, as well as selling a copious amount of their DIY release before becoming fodder for the system. Brash and ready for a rediscovery by energetic alt-country fans, this is a slice of prime rumble and it just won’t go away.

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Rock With You - Chasers Movie Soundtrack

    The single Rock With You, off the Guitar Trouble release by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, can also be found on the 1994 movie soundtrack to Chasers. Song written by Tommy Conwell and Marcy Rauer.

    Friday, May 4, 2007

    Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings - Sho' Gone Crazy Press Release

    Copy of press release for Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings Sho' Gone Crazy CD.

    LList Records is proud to announce the first release of blues/rockabilly artist Tommy Conwell.

    Tommy Conwell’s CD Sho' Gone Crazy is his first release for LList Records. After a four year recording hiatus, Conwell’s new album features tracks such as Last One To Know and All God's Children Want To Rock. After finishing his sessions with Columbia Records that were more of a pop sound, Tommy Conwell returned to his blues/rockabilly roots and to reclaim his status on the Northeast club circuit he once dominated.

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007

    CD copy of Last Minute Jam (vol.2) - Minutes To Millennium. Tommy Conwell performs the one-minute ditty "What I'd Say."

    Wednesday, April 4, 2007

    Philebrity - Tommy Conwell

    One of DJ Caterina's YouTube posts is featured with a mention on Philebrity entitled, "Noontime Nuggetz: Tommy Conwell, Pre-Bruce Willis Phase." Love the comments!

    Sunday, April 1, 2007

    Thursday, March 29, 2007

    Image of Tommy Conwell and "Rumblers" guitar pick, taken from inside sleeve of "Rumble" CD.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007

    Tommy Conwell - Philadelphia Inquirer Article

    Part of the Audio Rumble collection includes a partial (untitled) article from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Nicole Pensiero.

    "....Jersey shore to the college campuses of Philadelphia and Delaware, Conwell is making his mark.

    He knows it will take more than a good promoter and optimism for him to reach his goal. Yet he thrives on the struggle: Each step -- such as the recent recording of some original tunes at The Record Plant in New York City -- is a small victory on the road to success.

    "I remember once in high school I told my mom I wanted to be a musician and she said that she didn't think I was good enough. At that point, I wasn't doing so hot in school and I guess she didn't think I was disciplined enough. Man, that had such an impact on me. It made me more inspired than ever," he recalls. "It's not real wise to say you want to be a musician without something to back it up. You've got to just go out and do it and become one. Then you can say it."

    Articulate and polite, Conwell is eager to talk about music and people in the business. He has clear opinions on almost everyone, including himself.

    "I want to be on MTV and on radio. There's no reason whatsoever why I can't do it," Conwell says. He describes himself as a 'Pete Rose' of singers.

    "I'll make it with desire, not with vocal prowess. God didn't intend for me to sing, but I'm doing it anyway," he says. "Nothing brings me greater pleasure than being in command of my voice. I have a good feel for music, and it comes out no matter what I do."  

    If Conwell seems disarmingly confident -- even about the things that aren't his strong points -- it's because he is. If you work hard and are proud of your work, there's no need for what he calls "false humility."

    "I like (Bruce) Springsteen's music, but I don't like the 'Gee, shucks' stuff. He probably is a regular guy, but I get offended by the sentimentality and the corny things he does. When he sits on the stage and tells stories about high school, I'm thinking 'Be real here. He's 35 years old. When was the last time he lived at home?"

    In conversation, Conwell's words sometimes can barely keep up with his rapid-fire thoughts. Then, without warning, he'll slow down, shutting his eyes a little, in a sexy offhand way, as he softly breaks into one of his favorite tunes.

    Onstage or off, Conwell is someone to watch. 

    Tonight, this young rumbler is sporting a battle scar from a recent gig -- he smacked himself in the head with his guitar, requiring stitches over his right eye. Anyone who's seen the Rumblers perform...(missing text)
     ...but there's the pretty boy thing, too.

    "Whatever is looks like, it looks good," he says matter-of-factly.
    People in Conwell's hometown speak about him as the boy-next-door, which, in many ways, he still is. They say Conwell deserves to be a full-fledged rock star, not only because his music is good, but because he's willing to work hard for everything he gets.
    When it comes to rock 'n' roll, Conwell believes attitude is everything. You can't complain about the business because "there's a lot to complain about, (and) once you start, you won't stop."
    There aren't any free lunches in Conwell's book, either: Musicians need to "be as self-sufficient as anyone else."
    "Just because you're an artist doesn't mean you have the right to depend on other people for everything. I hate it when I hear about people who never moved out of their folks' house because they can't get their career off the ground."
    Born and raised in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., Conwell is the youngest of three boys. His brother, Joe, is a professional football player with the Baltimore Stars, and his oldest brother is in the Air Force.
    He believes he "always had some musical talent" and remembers, as a tyke, picking out tunes like "The Little Drummer Boy" on the piano. But it would be years before Conwell would approach the guitar.
    "I remember in church they had these folk Masses and there'd be 15 kids playing Kum Ba Ya and it looked hard to me. So I stayed away from it."
    That changed, though, when Conwell was a teenager and his grandmother presented him with a ukelele, which he says, is very similar to a guitar.

    Learning the ukulele got the young Conwell thinking about a career in music. In tenth grade, he casually informed his parents that he wanted to get an electric guitar so he could play with the Lower Merion High School Jazz Band.

    "I remember me dad just yelled in this loud voice, "No electric guitars!" We kids just laughed; we knew that would pass."

    Conwell was right -- his parents are now his most devoted fans.
    He scrapped plans to pursue a career as a jazz musician and started directing more and more of his time to rock music when he attended the University of Delaware.

    There he played in several bands ranging from blues to punk rock. Conwell's guitar style and dynamic stage presence in a band called Rockett 88 earned a strong local following. Rockett 88 had, as Conwell says, "higher aspirations" than just the bar scene, and he was "attracted to the ambition."
    .....(missing text) merely folly, as it turned out to be," he says.

    Determined to carve a niche for himself in music, Conwell formed the Young Rumblers in February 1984.
    "At that point, I never entertained the idea of the band being a democracy," he says. "It was my band. It wasn't like I was power hungry -- I just didn't want anyone holding me back. I feel better knowing that if something doesn't work out I won't have anyone to blame but me."

    The band's name was inspired by the Link Wray instrumental "Rumble."

    "It's just a great tune -- real menacing," Conwell says. "I wanted the 'Young' in the name because I felt wild and energetic and because it stresses an attitude, a rawness. When people say to me 'What about when you get old? Will you still be the Young Rumblers then?' I tell them they're missing the point. I don't plan that far ahead. Getting old is not the point of rock 'n' roll."
    The Rumblers - who have had three drummers and two bass players since forming -- are "closer to a democracy now than it's ever been," Conwell says. He has nothing but praise for his sidemen, drummer Jim Hannum, 26, and bassist Paul Slivka, 25, who have been with hims since late 1984.
    Hannum and Slivka, who Conwell knew from his days in Delaware, had played together for 10 years in different bands before becoming Young Rumblers.
    The band, whose musical style has been compared to the Stray Cats and George Thorogood (one of Conwell's all-time favorites), recently traveled to New York to record some of their most popular songs. One Conwell-penned tune, "Million Pretty Girls" is getting steady airplay on Philadelphia radio stations.

    The next step will be to put out a record -- but only when the timing is right.
    "If the music is good, it doesn't matter when you do it -- you're going to be successful. It's like being a boxer. You have one shot at the title, so you don't pick a fight with the champion until you're trained and ready," he says.

    "I think we need to take things as far as they can go before going on to the next thing. I want to take where we are now -- a local band with no record -- as far as we can. Then we'll do some recording, and we'll be a local band with a record. We've got to own Philly first -- then we'll go national," Conwell says smiling. "I can't wait."

    Click here to see a larger version of the article.

    Monday, March 5, 2007

    Tommy Conwell Promotional Photo

    Tommy Conwell. Promotional photo in 1990 for Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. 

    Click here to see a larger image.

    Wednesday, February 28, 2007

    Blue Comet Bar and Grill - Glenside, PA

    Images from the Blue Comet Bar and Grill in Glenside, PA. Thanks to Dennis H. (seen in 3rd photo) for the pics!

    I'm Seventeen

    "I'm Seventeen" cassette single by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, purchased in 1990. Featuring excerpts of Let Me Love You Too, What Once Was and Guitar Trouble.

    Saturday, February 17, 2007

    Buzz Zeemer - News of Delaware County

    Buzz Zeemer article from News of Delaware County on January 10, 2007. 

    '90s rock reunion
    By Joe McAllister, correspondent

    Everybody loves a reunion; especially a rock 'n' roll reunion. 
    Local 90's rock icons Flight of Mavis, Tommy Conwell and Emily Valentine will reincarnate at the Grape Street Pub this Friday as Buzz Zeemer and Napalm Sunday. The show is a snippet of local rock history that started with the A's, The Hooters and Beru Revue in the 80s along with Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers then progressed to Flight of Mavis and Buzz Zeemer in the 1995.

    Emily Valentine, aka Napalm Sunday, are the quintessential opening band. This straight-ahead rock band, influenced by punk yet sounding like classic Stones, had the privilege of opening for a little known garage band from Seattle known as Nirvana at JC Dobbs pre their "Nevermind" debut.

    "The last time we played was probably in 1996," says Napalm guitarist Steve Mercado, 40, of Drexel Hill. "We've rehearsed a couple of times [for the reunion show] and we've come together surprisingly well." A crucial part of the South Street/Old City music scene of the 90s, these groups played such venerable Philly hot spots as The Ambler and Chestnut Cabarets, JC Dobbs, the TLA and the Khyber.

    "At the time there were so many different clubs and cabarets in Philadelphia that drew national acts as well as known local acts," says photographer Eric Hartline, of Havertown, who covered the music scene for the local press from the mid-1980s to 1996. "I was a huge Tommy Conwell fan. The first time I saw Tommy together with Frank Brown in Buzz Zeemer was at the Khyber in 1994. The place was packed."

    Frank Brown, of Havertown, was the lead singer and chief lyricist for Flight of Mavis, which then morphed into Buzz Zeemer. Philly rocker Tommy Conwell joins Brown on guitar. Drummer Ken Buono and bassist Dave McElroy round out the band. The boys will reunite to play such Buzz classics as the jazzy, cerebral "Crush," the upbeat "Shelly Don't Mind" and their own song of the season, "Psychedelic Santa."

    "I've had nothing but near brushes with fame," says Brown, 41, who has opened for Sinead O'Connor, Neil Young and Brit-rockers Squeeze. "Everything's a long shot. This time around I'm just out to have fun." As is often the case in the pursuit of rock stardom, life gets in the way. Guys get married, get real day jobs and get responsible. Unfortunately, this usually spells the end of the band.

    "Things happen, you reach a ceiling then they fall apart," says Brown. "Then reality comes around and you do stuff - like raise a family and get a job."
    Both bands have strong Delaware County connections. A majority of the members of Napalm are alumnae of Cardinal O'Hara High School.
    "[Singer] Gerry McGoldrick and myself met through mutual friends at a Replacements concert in 1986. We got together and played the next day," says Mercanti.

    During their heyday, Flight of Mavis literally took off, touring the East and Mid-West. Napalm Sunday stayed a local band, keeping their fan base and their music close to home.

    On Friday, the two groups will get together to recreate the magic of the past. "We're hoping to see a lot of old friends and fans and some of our family members will get to see us for the first time," Mercanti says.

    For one night, it will be the '90s all over again at the Grape Street Pub. The old adage holds true here - Rock 'n' roll will never die. There are too many memories and musicians still around to help keep it alive.

    If you go: The Buzz Zeemer|Napalm Sunday Reunion is this Friday at Grape Street, 4100 Main Street, Philadelphia. Admission is $10 and you must be 21 to enter. For more information call 215-484-7084.

    (6-17-10: This link no longer active.)

    Friday, February 9, 2007

    I'm Home - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

    DJ Caterina has posted a screen shot tribute on YouTube to Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. The tribute features "I'm Home," a TCYR classic!

    Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Record Cellar’s Last Hurrah

    The local Record Cellar label has one last offering: A three-CD set documenting the tuneful history of this champion of Philly indie music.

    By Dan DeLuca
    Inquirer Music Critic

    Back in 1989, when Neil Drucker released the first album by a jangly pop band called Flight of Mavis on cassette and LP, he was a Northeast Philadelphia record store owner with no ambition to start his own independent record label.

    "There was no plan," says Drucker, whose career doing what he never intended is documented on the new three-CD, 50-song Record Cellar: Town and Country, 1989-2006 (***).

    The collection brings to life a significant chapter of Philadelphia indie-music history through the songs of much-loved acts such as the Rolling Hayseeds, John Train, Frog Holler, the Low Road, and Flight of Mavis and its later incarnation, Buzz Zeemer.

    Its release - which Drucker says is the label's last - will be celebrated with a show at the Tin Angel on Saturday, with four Town and Country songwriters - Darren Schlappich of Frog Holler, Richard Kaufmann (of the Hayseeds and, now, Foxycontin), Jon Houlon (of John Train), and Steve Yutzy-Burkey - joined by multi-instrumentalist Mike Brenner of the Low Road and Slo-Mo. "It's a funny thing," recalls Drucker, 52. He says Pat Feeny, then his partner, now the owner of Main Street Music in Manayunk, "always said we started the label so we could have the record in our collection."

    The record in question was Flight of Mavis' self-titled debut, whose infectious "On My Mind" is included on Town and Country. It became the first of 21 full-length discs that Drucker would release on the Record Cellar label, which took its name from his Bustleton Avenue shop, which closed in 1996.

    The album was the work of three guys who grew up down the street from one another in Horsham - bass player Dave McElroy, drummer Ken Buono, and singer-guitarist and melodious tunesmith Frank Brown. Together, they'd make the drive to the Cellar (the store once was in one, but had by then moved above ground) to hang out and buy Replacements and NRBQ records.

    "We really wanted him to like it," remembers Brown, who handed over a tape made by the trio. The band was in step with the Byrds-influenced guitar-pop of R.E.M., and diametrically opposed to that decade's glossy sound identified with marquee 1980s Philadelphia acts like the Hooters. "Neil was the guy who knew about all the cool bands."

    Drucker liked it, all right. "We started playing it, and we couldn't stop playing it. The pull was so strong that we couldn't resist. It was just something we believed in."

    That divining principle guided Drucker, a music-head raised on Neil Young and John Prine and Elvis Costello. Drucker opened his first store on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough in the '70s and called it Geezer's Record Shop, after the nickname of Villanova basketball great Howard Porter, Drucker's favorite player.

    Flight of Mavis was immediately greeted by critical praise (The Inquirer said that the album glowed "with honest love for the whole wide world of rock 'n' roll") and modest success. The album sold 5,000 copies, and the band had a string of gigs opening for Sinead O'Connor. But Drucker was reticent to go all-in, partly "because I saw how many good bands don't succeed."

    Even so, "sometimes I would get a tape" from a band, says Drucker, who lives in Bala Cynwyd and earns a living selling CDs and LPs at record shows like the Allentown Music Fair in March. And sometimes, he would hear "songs that I couldn't deny."

    He was smitten by the songs of Gerry McGoldrick, the songwriter behind Napalm Sunday, Emily Valentine and Solid for Sixty. And those of Kaufmann, the savvy pop songsmith and former leader of the storied '80s Philly punk band Electric Love Muffin, who co-fronted the Hayseeds. Drucker says his goal "was to have a good local label for Philadelphia artists that deserved a larger audience, like Twin/Tone in Minnesota and Sub Pop in Seattle." "There's always been this incredible independent music scene in Philadelphia, going all the way back to doo-wop in the '50s," says Bruce Warren, the music director at WXPN-FM (88.5), where Record Cellar acts like Buzz Zeemer and the Hayseeds have found themselves in heavy rotation. "After the Hooters in the '80s, these bands were more organic, and less produced, and they put out good records. And Neil was the guy who pulled it all together."

    Nobody got rich, and most everybody kept his day job. Town and Country, which consists of two 20-song discs of previously released material, plus a third with 10 new songs, can cause a listener to wonder how it was that the Gin Blossoms, say, managed to score Top 10 hits, while equally catchy tunes like Buzz Zeemer's "This Town" never found a mainstream audience.

    Or how sticks-in-the-mud like Son Volt achieved a national profile, while the more sprightly and multifaceted Hayseeds, who were alt-country before alt-country was cool, couldn't break out nationally.

    The biggest Cellar seller was the first Flight of Mavis record, and a typical label performance was Frog Holler's, whose three releases sold a combined 10,000 copies.

    Blame it on the unforgiving music business, but don't expect anybody involved with the Record Cellar to be too bummed about it.

    "I can't say that any record that Neil put out was ever all that fashionable," says Houlon, 38, who works as a lawyer for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services as well as leading John Train. "All of us came by this music honestly." He credits Drucker for the collection's consistent catchiness: "His ears really tend to pop sounds and melody."

    "You always think if you had some stupid piece of luck and had a hit, it would have been great," says Brown, 41, of Buzz Zeemer, who teaches second grade at Independence Charter School in Center City. "But people said nice things about us, and we had fun. That's enough."

    Drucker says he'll keep the Record Cellar catalog in print, but can't operate the label successfully "with the resources I was willing to put in. I just couldn't sell enough to keep it going." He admits, though, that if, say, Buzz Zeemer, which recently re-formed for a reunion show, were to record a new CD, releasing it "would be difficult to resist."

    With Town and Country, he's ready to close the book on the Record Cellar chapter of Philadelphia indie-music history with pride. "I was always the one saying, 'If we can put out a good record, let's do it.' I know the value that records can have for people, because I know how much it meant to me.

    "People came out to see these bands play, and they sang along to the songs and listened to the messages in the songs. And for me to be a part of that is a very rewarding thing." 

    © 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    A Live Christmas Extravaganza

    A Live Christmas Extravaganza recorded at The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ on December 19, 1992 and December 17, 1993.

    There is nothing more recognizable for DJ Caterina than Tommy Conwell's guitar intro to the Christmas classic, Run Rudolph Run.

    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    More Stone Balloon Images...

    More pictures from my trip to Philadelphia to see Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers at the Stone Balloon, December 2005.

    What a great trip it was!

    Sunday, January 7, 2007

    Buzz Zeemer Reunion - 2007

    From left to right: Tommy Conwell, Ken Buono, Frank Brown, Dave McElroy

    It's a Buzz Zeemer reunion!

    Buzz Zeemer Reunion Show, Grape Street Philadelphia 1/12/07

    Show starts 8 pm on Friday, January 12, 2007. Door charge is $10. Buzz Zeemer will play from 9 pm-10:30 pm.

    Check out a music review of their sophomore effort, Delusions of Grandeur, from CityPaper, Philadelphia's independent newspaper in 1999.

    January 21–28, 1999

    Delusions of Grandeur (Record Cellar), the second album by Buzz Zeemer (Philly's answer to the Traveling Wilburys), mines that expanse between '90s modern rock and '70s folk-pop. And as surprising as this is for me to admit, I actually like it. The lineup for this album includes core members Frank Brown and Tommy Conwell as well as guest appearances by onetime Low Road frontman Mike Brenner and Original Sins keyboardist Dan McKinney. As the chipper and strummy tunes bounce along, it's easy to picture the members of Buzz Zeemer driving their beat-up VW bus against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The influences of bossa nova and '50s doo-wop occasionally rear their heads, but mostly these are laid-back, jangly, semi-acoustic tunes. 

    Buzz Zeemer will play on Sat., Feb. 20, at Upstairs at Nick's. Record Cellar, P.O. Box 188, Bala Cynwyd, PA, 19004.

    Wednesday, January 3, 2007

    Props for Tommy Conwell!

    An online article from Fly Magazine with a Baltimore band called the Agitators features a mention of guitar-god Tommy Conwell:

    "Our biggest influence is Tommy Conwell," Baker says. "We love Tommy Conwell. We think he's the man."
    Tommy is the man!

    Note: This link is no longer available on Fly Magazine online.