It’s hard to say “Pennsylvania band” without also saying “The Badlees,” possibly the most well-known rock outfit to emerge from these parts. Their Sunday, October 3rd date at the Mauch Chunk Opera House looks back on a long career and looks ahead as well.
(Badlees fans: the Sunday, October 3 show is at 6 PM. Doors are at 5:30 PM. Give yourself plenty of time to get to town as it’s a Fall Foliage Festival Weekend. It is best to park 2 blocks down from the Opera House at the Carbon County parking lot behind the downtown Train Station.)
Long in each others’ orbits as friends, drinkin’ buddies, and as members of other bands, frontman Pete Palladino, guitarist and songwriter Bret Alexander, guitarist Jeff Feltenberger, bassist Paul Smith and drummer Ron Simasek came together in the early nineties. Soon they saw that more and more fans were turning out for their shows, excited to hear their singular brand of Americana rock ‘n’ roll, reminiscent of John Mellenkamp and Tom Petty, but with a distinctive Badlees sound.
What ensued was a parable describing the arc of a fast-rising rock band’s existence: a best-selling album in River Songs, a video for MTV (featuring Julianna Margulies), tours around the country performing not only to sold-out rooms but arenas, opening for Bob Seger and Gregg Allman, even touring the Chinese mainland.
But the time also included being hostage to the machinations of large record companies, as their label was gobbled up by another, delaying the release of Up There Down Here by almost 2 years. The 60 minutes of inspiration performing onstage was preceded by hours of boredom, the existential malaise of touring, endless wrangling with record companies, and the unmet demands of families and friends.
After a nearly 15-year run the Badlees split up in 2003 to pursue personal projects and other objectives.
Fortunately, they remained good friends and have attracted a lot of attention recently by reuniting to play selected gigs. Their shows have been selling out with good reason.
First of all, they never lost their legions of fans. Then last year they released the fine new album Love Is Rain, a beautifully-produced and satisfying collection of songs that traverse many musical styles. The album flows easily among genres, from rock ballads to mandolin-driven acoustic tunes.
The Badlees are the featured performers on the first weekend of Jim Thorpe’s Fall Foliage Festival. This concert will explore two basic themes: the first set will look back over their career and focus on River Songs, their best-selling album. The second set will look at the road ahead, featuring music from their many other albums but emphasizing Love Is Rain. They might even invite a guest or two onstage.
We’re looking forward to a great show. As a commenter said in response to a YouTube posting of a recent Badlees performance: Just love you guys. Your music is good for my soul.
Tickets can be ordered by calling 570-325-0249 or by selecting your seats online. Doors open at 5:30 and showtime is 6 PM.