Despite the youth of its membership, Broadside Electric is Philadelphia's leading and longest-lived electric folk band, celebrating their tenth anniversary of "Folk Music With Teeth" in 2000. They have earned a solid reputation for thoroughly original arrangements and painstaking research into traditional English, Celtic and Eastern European music. A band equally at home with folk tradition and modern rock innovation, Broadside's unique hybrid sound successfully blends the music of different countries and cultures with a striking consistency.
Broadside Electric has been called "Pennsylvania's answer to Steeleye Span," "folk music's answer to death metal" and a band that "gives members of the usual folk audiences something new to talk about." The quintet has captivated audiences and earned critical praise at dozens of concerts across the northeast. Recent appearances include the Philadelphia Folk Festival (PA), the Baltimore Folk Festival (MD), and venues such as Club Passim (MA), The Cherry Tree (PA) and The Minstrel Coffeehouse (NJ).
Much of the band's repertoire is drawn from scholarly studies of traditional music. A favorite source is B.H. Bronson's Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads which Jim Speer describes as "the definitive collection of old songs about drowning sailors and murderous elves." A song may exist in dozens or even hundreds of variations from all parts of the English-speaking world. "I think the music is timeless," says Tom Rhoads. "It's exciting to find a great song which hasn't been widely heard in a century or more."
The release of Broadside's self-produced first album, Black-edged Visiting Card (1993), brought them regular airplay on local folk radio shows. The recently re-released second album, Amplificata (1994), captures the band in a live in-studio setting. Their third album, More Bad News ... (1996), adds an even darker and heavier quality to thirteen songs, and was cited by WXPN folk DJ Gene Shay among his top five albums of 1996. Their newest release, With Teeth (1999), finds Broadside Electric in full-tilt progressive folk mode, and the ride never lets up from the first track to the last. The band promises, "This is the only record you'll hear that has a Croatian dance, an English music hall song and a Bob Dylan cover."
The band members feel that their diverse tastes join into a collective identity in arranging and performing traditional music. Tom Rhoads points out: "We try to produce complete pieces which have the depth to reward repeated listening." They use traditional material as a vehicle for their own non-traditional musical ideas. In this way, the band is equally at home with folk tradition and modern rock innovation. On stage and on record, the results of this approach are evident. Folk fans will hear familiar pieces in a refreshing new setting while others will discover the richness of folk traditions embedded in modern multi-layered arrangements.
Broadside Electric features Joe D'Andrea (drums, percussion, vocals), Amy Ksir (flute, tin whistles, oboe, vocals), Tom Rhoads (vocals, guitars, cittern, dulcimer), Jim Speer (Chapman Stick®, bass guitar, recorders, crumhorn) and Helene Zisook (violins, violas, mandolins, vocals).
| First Lineup: 1990-1991
| Second Lineup: 1991-1994
| Third Lineup: 1994-1997
| Fourth Lineup: 1997-Present
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