by Michael Hochanadel
Edition: Schenectady/Albany; Final
Section: D: Life & Arts
The Chandler Travis Philharmonic may be about the most fun you can have with your clothes on — as goofy and musically various as NRBQ (with whom they often performed) at their peak — peaks, actually — NRBQ had about four peaks. The Chandler Travis Philharmonic rocks the Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, on Friday — a threat to respectability and funny bones across the region.
After a previous show here (maybe at Washington Park, maybe at Union College), I reported they were “like filling a music store with laughing gas, then turning eight wonderfully talented virtuosos very loose inside — seriously sharp and spirited.” I think I seriously understated how wonderfully ridiculous, unpredictable, musically overwhelming and breathtakingly original they were and are. Seriously, you can wear out your best metaphors and adjectives trying to describe them and still fall way short.
Chandler Travis’ latest release, “After She Left,” is pretty subdued by Philharmonic standards, though most of them play on it. The album is mostly downbeat ballads, but with quite astounding musical and lyric detours sewn inside familiar and engaging pop song structures, like a coyote in a pillowcase.
For a better idea of what the Philharmonic does, check out “Tarnation and Alastair Sim” — 48 tracks including crank message machine recordings from the late, great George Carlin (Travis opened for him for years with a previous band, Travis Shook and the Club Wow), a version of “Brown Eyed Girl” that would give Van Morrison the blind staggers or maybe the fantods, fake commercials for products you’ll want to buy anyway, a sweet harp solo that erupts into the musical invitation/funk rave-up “Dance Goddammit,” a mandolin-powered pop masterpiece titled “Jesus Teaches Lloyd Price About Remote Controls” and numerous other oddities-deluxe.
Look, if you’ve seen them before, you know — and you’ll be there. If you haven’t, well, you should go anyway. The show is Friday, so you can sleep late Saturday, solve all their numerous musical puzzles in your dreams and let your funny bone recover.
The Chandler Travis Philharmonic is Travis himself singing and playing whatever he wants, drummer Rikki Bates (who plays — really well — in full drag), multi-instrumentalist Dinty Child, saxophonist and clarinet player Mark Chenevert, trumpeter Keiichi Hashimoto, trombonist Bob Pilkington, singer (and valet) Fred Boak, keyboardist Phil Clements and bassist John Clark. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $17. Phone 465-5233 ext. 4 or visit www.wamcarts.org.