It’s a musical venture worth experiencing.
Sure, there are nuances of iconic influence: Jimi Hendrix, Cream and the like. However; the Karmic Repair Company brings a modern twist while meshing genres and melodies.
Tonight, you can catch the band at Puck Live in Doylestown, Pa.
Fridays are typically long-awaited for the working folk, but at Puck, tonight has an even shinier appeal: The show is free, and the music is top-notch.
Attendees can expect to hear some classic cover standbys from the collections of the Stones, Tom Petty, the Beatles and so forth. The originals, though, are what make the band interesting: eight-minute stories in which the spotlight falls on a few curious instruments (melodica, dobro).
Other numbers incorporate more bluegrass and jam-band elements — sample “Tohickon Waterside” at youtube.com — and yet there are also stark shifts into reggae (check out “Johnny Law”).
Some tunes stand alone as instrumentals, while others feature Graham Ford’s vocals. He also plays electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, harmonica, the previously-mentioned dobro and cigar box.
Eric Worthington is also on vocals, as well as bass, keyboards and melodica. Andy Haley rounds it out on drums and percussion.
The variety and depth of music that pours out of this threesome is impressive.
Karmic Repair Company
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Puck Live, 1 Printers Alley, Doylestown, Pa.
Unsung Heroes Contest Winners: Reverend TJ McGlinchey, The Karmic Repair Company, and Dante Bucci
The results are in, and after a fierce campaign, the winners of the Unsung Heroes Contest have been decided. Out of ten of our favorite campground artists competing for three spots on the main stage, the winners are: Reverend TJ McGlinchy, Dante Bucci, and The Karmic Repair Company. Reverend TJ McGlinchey is a Delaware County, PA native who has performed extensively in the Philadelphia area. He currently finished writing and recording his first full length CD, Tell Me to Stay.
Dante Bucci is a fixture in the Philly indie music scene and one of the most-recognized Handpan players in the world, thanks to a constantly-expanding list of subscribers and over 9 million views on his YouTube channel.
The Karmic Repair Company plays a lot of songs you know and love, but always putting their own stamp on everything they tackle. They also play some songs you won’t recognize; songs that just may end up being your favorites from their shows. Those would be their original compositions---catchy, melodic and danceable.
While the competition was scheduled to have two winners, judges were split on the second night of competition, meaning that these three lucky artists will join the Folk Festival LIneup on Friday afternoon on the Martin Main Stage. Both Reverend TJ McGlinchey and Karmic Repair Co. are members of the Philadelphia Music Co-op, a local partnership designed to increase regional artist development.
It didn't take long for one area band to respond to the extended power outages in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, writing a song called "Generator" the Saturday after the storm and debuting it live that night at the Buffalo Grill in Doylestown.
Songwriter Graham Ford notes that John Lennon's "Instant Karma" and Neil Young's "Ohio" were written with similar immediacy. And while "Generator" obviously won't become the classic those two songs are, it does illustrate the band's ability to tap into the mood of the times and offer a glimmer of musical relief.
But what else would you expect from a group called the Karmic Repair Company?
"We talked about musically making things right for people — come to the show, and you'll feel better," Ford says of the name he and band mates Eric Worthington and Andrew Haley chose in the summer of 2010. "We'll fix your karma for you, if only for a little bit."
Ford, an Ottsville resident and Northeast Philly native, originally came up with the name based on the poem "Karma Repair Kit" by 20th century American poet/novelist Richard Brautigan.
The name fits the band's sound — a feel-good, free-wheeling mix of classic rock, blues, country, bluegrass and psychedelia. If that sounds like a description of the Grateful Dead ... well, you just named one of KRC's most-obvious influences. But one listen to the group's engaging debut album, "Manual," reveals it's much more than a jam band.
"I was very influenced by the Dead and Jerry Garcia — in particular, his versatility," Ford says. "He could play jazz, bluegrass, psychedelic music. I liked not being restricted to any one thing.
"Eric and I are both huge Beatlemaniacs. They're like our blueprint. Look at 'The White Album,' or "Sgt. Pepper's,' or 'Abbey Road.' Every song sounds different, every song has a different flavor, a different feel. That's what we're trying to do with our music. Whatever a song needs, whatever feels right, that's what we'll do."
The Dead comparisons also apply to KRC's live show, "not in that we sound like the Dead," Ford says, "but in that no two shows are exactly alike. We're always throwing in new material, trying new things. Even if we don't know where we're going, we try to get there."
It's been an eventful year for KRC, which performs Friday at the Black Horse Tavern in Newtown. The band, which features Ford on vocals and various guitars (including mandolin and cigar box), Worthington on vocals, bass and melodica and Haley on drums, debuted its new album in August at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. KRC earned its slot on the festival's mainstage after winning an Unsung Heroes competition.
Playing the festival was a thrill for Ford and Worthington, both veteran attendees.
Ford credits KRC's manager, Sharon Dillon — his wife of 19 years — for pushing the band to enter the competition for the folk festival slot. KRC was double-booked that day but still was on fire during the competition, first turning heads during sound check with its bluegrass version of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down," then making the most of its 10-minute audition with its bluegrass version of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" and its original song "Jericho Train."
"We tore it up," Ford says. "Sharon had faith in us. She believed in us, even when we didn't believe in us. She's very much in control of what is going on behind the scenes for us, very serious about us getting onstage and making a good impression."
KRC's been a band for only about two years, but its roots go back more than two decades. Ford and Worthington met in 1990 on the open-mike circuit, hanging out in places like the New Britain Inn and My Friends Tavern in Lansdale. (Ford also met Dillon around that time, although it would be 20 years before she offered to manage his music, telling him, "I always wanted to be your Bill Graham.")
Ford and Worthington, a Hatfield resident, played together in multiple bands, including Four Track Mind, which once opened for Joan Osborne. At one point, Ford also joined Worthington in his successful Celtic group, Barleyjuice.
The two found a kindred musical spirit in drummer Haley, a California native who moved to the East Coast when he was 12.
"Whenever Eric, Andy and I got together, something very special was happening," Ford says. "Andy was the drummer I wanted. I didn't want to just play with pick-up guys. I wanted this to be a band with an identity."
The chemistry is evident on the nine-track "Manual," which features striking, surrealist cover art by Willow Grove native Cal Schenkel, known for his work on Frank Zappa album covers.
And it's evident on the band's ability to write, rehearse and perform a new song in a matter of hours, as on the aforementioned "Generator," an ode to people who were still without power at the time, almost a week after the storm.
"We don't usually knock something off in an afternoon," Ford says. "But something about that day, something about all the generators, the power companies being at my house, leaving and the power still not being on. That song was truly built out of desperation."
"Generator" repeats the line, "don't wanna hear that generator no more," but ends on a more serious note, with the line "houses underwater, houses that were washed away" putting a mere loss of power into perspective.
The band has written other topical songs, including "Higher Ground" about the 2011 Japanese tsunami, which Ford believes will have new meaning after Sandy.
But most of all, Karmic Repair Company wants its fans to have a good time. Over and over again.
"If your karma starts feeling a little frayed after the show," Ford says, "it just means you have to get back to the next show. It's a built-in sales pitch."
Karmic Repair Company performs at 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Black Horse Tavern, 101 S. State St. in Newtown.