about Chandler, the Three-O, and the Philharmonic
the best band in the universe …
What Frank Sinatra is to New York City, what Bruce Springsteen is to New Jersey, what Elvis Presley is to Memphis, Chandler Travis is to Cape Cod.
The amazing Three-o is our favorite: they can play anything the highly unconventional nine-piece Dixieland/avant-jazz/pop Philharmonic can play, and then some. The focus is tighter, and the songwriting, which has always been at the heart of Chandler’s bands, gets center stage in a way that is not possible with the riotous pageantry of the full Philharmonic.
… a strange, wonderful, totally distinct ode to musical mastery and nonsense… imagine Andy Partridge of XTC and Beat poet Gregory Corso, wandering between Saturn and New Orleans to sit in with the Sun Ra Arkestra… at once simple, abstract and wondrous to behold.
What really ropes you in is the awesomely courageous and gentle way Travis explores human emotion. All his many love songs are at the heart of it all meditations on this theme– not sentimental wishy-washy fantasies of imaginary happiness, but site specific stories of two way streets, cul-de-sacs, and dead ends. It’s honest in confronting the tragic aspects, as well as the delirious joys, of falling in, out of, and sideways in love.
Dixieland romps, twisted Mardi Gras marches, sweaty 60’s rock, smoky torch songs, and occasional novelties that sound somewhere between Randy Newman and They Might Be Giants, all with hilariously offbeat lyrics. The world would be a better place if Travis would only visit more often.
10 Best Concerts of 2011- Chandler Travis Philharmonic at The Linda (November, 2011) …not just my favorite show of the year, quite possibly my favorite concert of all time, period. A rare night of something spectacular happening on stage from uproarious virtuoso start to sublime and quiet end.
…playful original songs that mix mind-bending wordplay with jazz, shimmering rock, and horn-fuelled R & B.
A keenly entertaining blend of the Ringling Bros. and Ra…[that] puts the harm back in Philharmonic.
Bob What’s-Is-Name – the best song you never heard, unless you live on the Outer Cape
Most excellent show on Mayo Beach…first time I ever saw a trumpeter receive a pizza delivery onstage, eat a slice in two bites, and turn the plate into a mute before the song was over.
From the sing-along party anthem “That’s What She Said,” bare-bones and raw, to the “I’ll Simonize your parents, if you don’t Simonize them first” straight-ahead Kinks, Replacements rock vibe of “Wireless” or the lush “I’m Chandler’s Butterfly,” you know you’re going to have a good time.
[Chandler Travis Philharmonic] exist somewhere on the continuum among middle period Kinks, any-period NRBQ, maybe a pinch of Sufjan Stevens, and every Grammy winner in every category in the history of the world.
It is often difficult for fans to say just what attracts them to Travis’ music. But attract them it does! As the composer of “a few hundred” songs, Travis offers a wide array of musical moods at each show, allowing every fan to enter and engage in their own way.
Little did I realize one of the greatest nights of my life would unfold in St Joseph Michigan. No foolin’ -Friday June 15, The Chandler Travis Philharmonic dropped into a west Michigan club, Czars, and proceded to tear the roof off the dump. Sheesh, they were great. I was really uncontrollably shaking…
smart, swinging and winningly strange… a fairly fantastical free-wheeling show full of memorable tunes
…[CTP’s] gleeful tendency to ignore genre boundaries -not to mention the musicians’ preference for goofy costumes -evokes New Orleans. Elvis Costello-like pop songs, avant-jazz vamps, novelty pieces, and way off-beat lyrics factor into the wildly inventive mix.
The horn players howl, the rhythm section wobbles, and the boss pulls lions out of his hat…if you’re in favor of Vegas weddings, the Firesign Theatre, and the Bonzo Dog Band, you could have yourself a dada field day.
…a truly original musical experience.
Not unlike NRBQ meets Sun Ra on the beach, doing bong hits spiked with primo acid and laughing gas.
An ineffable blend of humor, sincerity and lush dreaminess -not to mention that the Three-O is entertaining, charming, and spell-binding to watch!
…when you stripped away the nuttiness, the music was refreshing and strong. The nine players could not hide their competence, no matter how hard they tried.
…a one-of-a-kind songwriter whose absurdist wit coexists with a bruised idealism that gives his best tunes a deep and haunting resonance.
this man should either be locked up or made king of the planet. Despite the apparent anarchy, the band (playing their “psycho-jungle-dixieland”) is incredibly tight.
…one of rock’s true originals.
…like a Mexican version of the Bosstones on Caribbean holiday…
…dazzling musicianship and fearless merry-making… explores the terrains of love and life’s absurdities with rowdiness, tenderness and a sardonic faith in humanity that never wavers… we’re witnesses and co-conspirators in something that feels magical.
What more do you need? A party hat.
…Jonathan Richman for adults…
One of the best shows in recent memory. So get this latest record, Kitty, but get clued into their website and side projects, and know when the Chandler Travis Philharmonic is coming to town, because that is something you don’t want to miss, ever.
Top 21 concerts of 2018 – #2 and #13
He’s a true New England eccentric, a master of daft power pop, and live, he plays in his pajamas…
Dixieland, pop, avant-jazz, rock…and fully over the top
Travis treads a fine line between chaos and genius. … But even when he was just making noise, it sounded like beautiful music.
Great songs. Great harmonies. Clever arrangements, visuals, and just a whole lot of fun.
…these musicians have got serious chops, as well as a really twisted sense of humor. The Chandler Travis Philharmonic is more fun than a barrel of pancakes.
about “Backward Crooked From The Sunset“
A sentimental softie, an astute observer of life, a prankster with a pen – Travis is all of the above. He’s also a lyrical literalist, a writer whose songs come straight to the point, and “Backward Crooked From the Sunset” is an album that captures the joy and genius that is the trademark of the Chandler Travis Three-O.
…avant folky jazz a la Frank Zappa with the spirit of Randy Newman and Spike Jones, with an introspective lyricism… a superb record that you sip, savoring its twists and turns, instead of swallowing whole.
Irascibly savvy, a versatile, virtuosic musician that can seem both mad as a radish and as serious as Beethoven’s little hippie brother within the length of a single measure, Chandler Travis is one of those artists that, by natural inclination, operates inside that twinkling sphere of inspiration populated by but a select few fellow travelers. A feast of splendid restraint, this is a casually rich, often humorous, more often poignant gambol down Chandler Travis Avenue, where the specters of Randy Newman, Carole King, Bob Dylan, and Irving Berlin loiter with intent in every doorway. If nothing else – and one could continue, conjuring a cascade of accolades until the Cowsills come home – the work on “Backward” proves that an understated tour-de-force is arguably more impactful than the full-on brouhaha. If you value song, listen and rejoice!
…the joy of music personified, just brimming with wit, warmth, and childlike wonder. I found myself on the verge of happy tears for ¾ of their set, and when they played the song ‘National Geographic,’ I was just done for. Something about the utter sweetness of Travis’ voice, the lovely instrumentation and harmony from the band behind him, and the earnestness of this beautiful little song about learning more about the world around us just killed me (in a good way). It was a powerful reminder of the goodness and light that exists even when things in the world seem sort of dark. The Three-O is an antidote for all the dark stuff.
Stunning song craft with batshit brilliant delivery as performed by the crazy uncles and auntie you wish you always had. The crowd’s permagrin doe-see-doed with their slack-jaws and their hearts all grew a size and their freed minds taught their asses a new dance. Then again, what more could you ever expect from being blessed by Chandler’s one-of-a-kind presence and performance?
The group’s sound is hobo countrypolitan; a wonderfully ragged blend of folky melodicism, jazz smarts and show tunes. There are delightful little hooks scattered throughout, a bass clarinet line here, tinkling bells there and the omnipresent bass melodies.
…take the “Pet Sounds” experience and add, say, Sparks’ “Propaganda and Wizzard’s “Introducing Eddy and the Falcons” experiences – and you get something approaching my state of mind and ears listening to the twelve tracks on “Backward Crooked From the Sunset.” Fun? Completely. Funny? Yes, or perhaps more witty. Fulla surprises? At every turn. And like that beautiful (if slightly over-referenced) Beach Boys album, blossoming with lush instrumentation and haunting harmonies.
Ably done with a gentle and engaging stripped-down simplicity, this album wins the listener over on the basis of its considerable folksy charm alone. Chandler Travis not only possesses a pleasantly hoarse voice, but also has a firm grasp of delicately dulcet melodies and an equally sturdy knack for sweet plain-spoken lyrics. The expert playing and harmonic arrangements further enhance the overall lovely quality of this perfectly fine little beaut.
In an age where music has been reduced to tacky ever-present wallpaper, canned and tinny at gas station pumps or airplanes parked at the gate, Travis and his band transform it back into a vital life force via their whimsical and soulful performances, a celebration of community and heart, with songs that include folk, power pop, vaudeville and some New Orleans spirit.
Quirky, irreverent and highly skilled, Cape Cod’s Chandler Travis and his Three-O play downhome, folk-inspired tracks that boast of unbridled irreverence. For people who appreciate the art of a gifted raconteur and a highly proficient crafter of intelligence, personalized songs, ‘Backward Crooked From the Sunset’ is a perfect soundtrack for the summer.
about “Waving Kissyhead Vols 2 & 1“
Never a dull moment on yet another great and capricious release by the king of whimsy.
Intellectual and gritty at the same time – quite a feat in my book!
Chandler Travis, of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic is a colorful gentleman. He knows melody, he knows music, he swaggers with a kind of surrealism while his lyrics are laced with a human scale of understanding that can bring, sometimes, a tear to the eye.
With its burst of pure energy and beautiful attention to detail, the album is one that we believe should be in everyone’s collection.
Chandler Travis likes to mess with people. Perhaps paradoxically, it is that very willingness to rebel and challenge that is perhaps a universal need.
So anyway, Elvis Costello and Brian Wilson were strolling down Bourbon Street with Chicago’s horn section, a couple of Replacements, and a handful of modern musical hipsters, with the spirit of Leon Russell following along. When all of a sudden, Ray Davies and the Grateful Dead jumped out from a nearby alley. Now there’s a recipe for some nice, if all-over-the-place (and absolutely schizomusical) pop/rock- the latest by the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, entitled Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1.
Great melodic hooks, a savvy bandleader’s restlessness, and an encyclopedic command of various musical styles and influences, animated by a unique, omnivorous songwriting vision.
A boundless and big-hearted quirk-pop band, possessed by the spirit of a New Orleans parade, whipping up a bright new universe and transporting everyone in the room out of any local doldrums.… you can feel your heart get lighter…
Chandler Travis is an iconoclast. He’s tricky, sneaky insightful and not seriously serious. Pay attention to the man behind the curtain. In a just world there would be a statue of him in a bathrobe made of ice cream at the Sagamore Bridge.
Glorious… irresistable… wondrous, insanely catchy… lovely… melodically effervescent and touching… classic.
Excellent… warm, easy, uplifting and engaging… this lovely and affecting little beaut serves as an ideal introduction to the fine music of these two talented gentleman.
A nineteen song testament to enduring friendship and the astounding, good-naturedly errant art that has been its by-product.
“Bocce & Bourbon” is 67 minutes of far-afield fun… spreads like a lit fuse spreads to a fireworks finale.
Bocce & Bourbon celebrates the love of songcraft; it’s an excellent sampling of the many voices the duo [Chandler Travis and David Greenberger] have used over the years.
The collaboration that has created this rich body of warm, quirky, emotionally genuine pop-folk-rock is unsurpassed in the American canon of such songwriting. Like a Half Japanese that you could invite to your family’s Thanksgiving dinner (ie. being both charmingly polite and cleverly idiosyncratic enough to make your literary spinster Aunt Martha fall secretly in love), the work of these two distinct poetic voices has transcended genre while embracing the gist of everything that’s great about this country’s long singer-songwriter tradition.
Softly driven here, precisely unshackled there, busting with an astute sense of observation everywhere, Bocce & Bourbon is humane as hell and funner than even that. A timeless collection, in fact, and possibly, just maybe, legendary.
Beautifully crafted songs with strong hooks and memorable melodies… 4 stars (out of 5)
Make the Small Things Pretty” is a pop song with the damndest sense of dynamics I’ve ever heard, flowing along at an easygoing pace—so easygoing!—and with lush melodic breaks which slow the pace even further, yet somehow it works brilliantly, mostly due to the irresistibly chiming hook in the main guitar line. It’s a song every bit as risky and rewarding as a Brian Wilson confection like “The Little Girl I Once Knew.” Nearly as great is the inimitably loping, gorgeously melodic and impeccably constructed toe-tapper “Paper Roses.” The astonishing thing about this record is that the pace is mostly slowed way down, yet the melodic values are so strong that on the best numbers you can hardly bring yourself to stop tapping your feet all the same.
[Five stars (top rating!)] The album’s almost uniformly ridiculously good… hungry, sad, beautiful, and funny – a collection of music so cumulatively beautiful that imagining its live impact is almost painful.
…a record that’s full of sincere joy, lacking a single particle of jaded attitude. Plus, as far as categories go, I’d have no idea where to place it. That’s always a good thing for my ears.
The disc feels at times like a back-porch session somewhere near Morocco, at other times like a lazy ramble through a smoke-filled pawn shop. All that salt air seems to produce a devil-may-care approach that results in songs that are nonetheless incisive and compelling.
One of the things I love about this latest CD from the Cape’s quirky musician is the delightfully personal feel of having been invited to an afternoon jam session, complete with adult beverages and lots of laughter.
…The Philharmonic is like no big band you’ve ever heard. There’s R&B, jazz, some lopsided Dixieland, blues, and rock & roll. Best of all, this stuff is just hilarious!
…a flat-out party…more great musical merriment from CTP.
…pure, unadorned heart…Even if you’ve never seen the band before, the wild carousing brass, ringing electric guitar, boisterous handclaps and whoops make it clear how amazing it must be to experience the band live.
Discs like this restore my love for sound and the written word. With its pickled Dixieland ebullience, wicked irreverence and demented melodic sparkle, “Blows!” is unbridled joy clasped between two covers (both of which, incidentally, are hilarious).
about “After She Left“
There’s a hushed intimacy and quiet restraint about “After She Left” that seeps directly into your bones… – a complete 180-degree turnaround from the exuberant antics of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic.
Atypically moody and contemplative but also typically smart, funny, sad, and tuneful.
… full of downbeat ballads, but with quite astounding musical and lyric detours sewn inside familiar and engaging pop song structures, like a coyote in a pillowcase.
…a gently stunning meld of melancholy and chin up/feel-good sentiments… songs, chops, brains, and attitude galore.
“After She Left” recalls Mose Allison working with Burt Bacharach… gentle romantic elegance… 6 stars!
Chandler Travis is creatively liberated … [After She Left] works softly over a group of plaintive musings built around the ageless and somber notions of love lost.
An evocative mix of sadness, longing, stubbornness, tradition, humor and kind-hearted acceptance.
a rare and unexpectedly sincere solo album
a tour de force that canters effortlessly from horn-y Dixieland jazz to sitar-laden psych-rock to Princely funk to whimsical ephemera…
Inspiring, creative, and honest… To think that this wild group of eight music makers can keep us entertained with such unusual tunes is a compliment to Travis’ obviously natural flair for harmony. The album never sounds forced or stupid. It sounds creative and honest.
More or less the antithesis of the expected, the CTP is an eight-man musical ride from Dixieland to jazz to pop to the avant-garde and back again. As wacky, zany and bonkers as the music is on tarnation & alastair sim, the CTP does something that should be done more often – it makes music fun. Living up to everything it’s created since its 1996 debut as a traveling band that would be proud to be called a circus too, tarnation is an album that touches a lot of musical bases. At 48 songs (less than 70 total album minutes), there’s a version of “Brown-Eyed Girl” that definitely won’t remind anybody of the original. “Vasco de Gama” features a 50-vocal track; “Dance Godammit” will most likely elicit that exact response; “Ronald” reminds that the CTP is actually a tight musically driven orchestra; and songs like “I’m Chandler’s Butterfly” showcase sitar, mandocello, and four drum kits.
Like some cosmic collision between NRBQ, Marcel Duchamp, Captain Beefheart and Spike Jones, the Chandler Travis Philharmonic is utterly charming and totally unpredictable.. lots and lots of fun.
This band will bring you joy… trippy, jazzy, poppy, rockin’… a record that’s impossible to listen to and not smile.
… a dynamite band… one giant ball of explosive thunder… there is no real way to describe the music except to say big, bigger, biggest.
…playful original songs… mind-bending wordplay…
A long and winding road with a surprise around every turn, “Tarnation and Alastair Sim” is a joy ride whether you’re a frequent or first-time Philharmonic flyer.
…wonderful, trippy, wild and rewarding… the final track sounds like you’ve duct-taped blown 1985 Walkman speakers to your head and had a drunken rhinoceros push you on a rope swing.
If the members of Monty Python had grown up sneaking into bars in New Orleans, they’d have formed a band a lot like the Chandler Travis Philharmonic. The 48 tracks include a CD-opening Christmas song, ad jingles for fake products (including Unibrow Man Oatmeal) and stream-of-consciousness gibberish voice mail from comedian George Carlin left on Travis’ answering machine. The disc also includes some delightful Dixieland-flavored pop songs (“Wireless” and “Must Be Love” among them) that prove what we already knew: Travis and crew are as talented as they are clever and bizarre.
Travis and his Philharmonic raucously plow back into town with their overstuffed new CD Tarnation and Alastair Sim and its 48 (!) songs. Such overstuffing is just part and parcel of the CTP experience: too many genres (glam rock, Afropop, ska, r&b, Christmas songs, free jazz, Dixieland, Tom Waits-y art-clank, funk) going toe-to-toe with too many instruments (horns, mandolin, synths, guitars, sitar, mando-cello, strings, four drum kits) disgorging a hodgepodge of over-the-top wacky fun.
There is no one quite as cracked as Chandler Travis… a crazy carnival of sound… an alternative Dixieland band but so much more — wild detours into rock, pop, spoken word, and experimental sound collages… suggests a gene-spliced hybrid of Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” and “The Who Sell Out”…
Among the highlights are the live opener “It’s Almost Christmas Again”, which turns a joyous observance into a tinsel-covered threat, the swirly eastern flight “I’m Chandler’s Butterfly”, the poppy “Wireless”, the soul-grooved “Strong Strong String”, the blissful tongue-twisted toe-tapper “Must Be Love”, the island exploration “Vasco Da Gama”, the zapped-out musical comandment “Dance Godammit” and a brilliantly twisted version of “Brown-Eyed Girl” that finally gives Van’s anthem its long overdue trip through the wringer.
about “Llama Rhymes“
“Llama Rhymes” is one of the best and most indescribable Cape Cod record releases in years, if not ever.
At first glance you may be surprised at their weird, cool, and strange world, but soon you’ll be fascinated by the charm of the songwriting (which may remind you of Elvis Costello); then you will have big fun with the co-existence of free noise and melancolic jazz-pop, and with the humor of a cult glam-rock show. This is just a great omni-pop record.
…never a dull moment… Travis is a rock-n-roll Brittanica … obviously dead seious about his music.
Intelligent, imaginative, witty, entertaining, and sometimes sweetly sentimental, “Llama Rhymes” is a CD that reaches the head, heart, and feet.
…the band sounds an awful lot like the Kinks circa Muswell Hillbillies (“My Old Man”), or XTC circa Oranges and Lemons (the instrumentally brilliant and lyrically witty “Village of the Darned”)… they are frighteningly versatile, and many of their arrangements are almost symphonically meticulous and complex…
about “Let’s Have a Pancake!“
“Let’s Have A Pancake!” uses accordions, horns, mandocellos, guitars and drums to decorate pop songs of inconceivable appeal and inarguable ingenuity. Expect the unexpected is the only rule…
…might be the most unconventional act on earth…a Cape Cod version of surf-punks Sublime, substituting Dixieland for ska in a lively mix that will make a great sound track for your next clambake…one track sounds like Loaded-era Velvet Underground gone berserk…
“Pancake” is a skillful, fun, sometimes funny collection that is played with joyous, wreckless abandon, and the Philharmonic is the best damned music show you can see in a small club ever.
An eight-piece monster of a band [with] a big raucous sound…seriously energizing…
They put the fun back in dysfunctional!
The Chandler Travis Philharmonic are a huge cosmic accident…very odd, very beautiful, and you know there’s a message in it all. We need more bands with this kind of nerve and the tunes to back it up…a delicious, nutricious, and total mind-fuck.
…like filling a music store with laughing gas, then turning eight wonderfully talented virtuosos very loose inside…seriously sharp and spirited…
Fast and giddy and loose as a clown’s drawers, his Philharmonic sounds like the ‘Q saluting Louie Jordan.