By JESSICA MAHER
Recorder News Staff
The Amsterdam Riverlink Park Summer Concert Series may kickoff with a musical pajama party, though the Chandler Travis Philharmonic won’t give too much away before Saturday.
“We’ve actually been going back and forth between suits and ties and pajamas and bathrobes,” said frontman Chandler Travis. “Lately we’ve been showing up in ties and jackets just to surprise people; we do like surprises.”
The nine-piece Massachusetts based band known for colorful performances and wardrobes will make their debut in Amsterdam this weekend. They’ve traveled throughout the Capital District in the past couple of years and have built such a following that band representative Denise Borden said the area has become “almost their home away from home.”
“At the booking end of things, it’s not always easy to find positions for a nine-piece band,” said Borden, “you have to have a big stage and you have to have a lot of space, so outside venues are fantastic for them.”
The Chandler Travis Philharmonic was formed in the late 1990s “by mistake,” said Travis, who had also formed the successful band the Incredible Casuals and toured for more than a decade with Travis Shook and the Club Wow as the opening act for George Carlin.
The Philharmonic came to life when Travis played as a guest in Cambridge with a house band led by Dinty Child, who asked Travis if there were any other instruments he wanted added to the performance.
Today, Travis still isn’t sure why he enthusiastically suggested that horns join the set, but after a debut album and 26 website-only full length CDs, the horn section is still part of the Philharmonic, as is the string bass, mandocello, guitar, drums and accordion.
“Most rock and roll bands use horns,” said Travis. “Our take on it, I think, is a little wilder.”
According to Travis, there are several handles that may best describe the Philharmonic’s sound: Alternative Dixieland, Omni-pop or “gospel music for atheists, or at least agnostics.” They’ve been described by the Village Voice as “a keenly entertaining blend of Ringling Bros. and Ra,” “a quirky smorgasbord of rock, blues, boogie-woogie, Dixieland and some free-jazz zing” by the Daily New Hampshire Gazette and “more fun than a barrel of pancakes” by the Times Union.
In short, their sound is perhaps better heard than explained.
“One of the things that’s great about the band is we have some appeal for a wide range of age groups,” said Travis. “We do some kind of big bang stuff that’s great for older people and we’re silly enough for toddlers.”
Local blues band Holly & Evan will open for the Chandler Travis Philharmonic at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Riverlink Park. The summer concert series is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.riverlinkconcerts.com.
Contact JESSICA MAHER