Eric KrewsonPhilly-based art rock band The Chairman Dances (a nod to the 1985 outtake of John Adam’s opera Nixon in China) released their third LP 'Michael and the Prophetess' last month with much fanfare at Kungfu Necktie. You can catch them August 2 at Milkboy Philly.
In days gone by tales were passed down verbally and with songs that captured the attention of their listeners and guaranteed they’re proliferation to larger audiences.
Today novellas told in songs can sometimes loose an audience especially with our short attention spans and headline blubs that tell a story in a sentence, On The Chairman Dances - Michael and the Prophetess each song can stand alone on its own merit. It tells the coming-of-age story of a young man growing up in 1956 Brooklyn, who meets and interacts with biblical personalities in the blighted neighborhood of his upbringing. These interactions reveal a fantastic reality where mundane urban locales and everyday people act as signposts for the metaphysical.
Interspersed with lush strings and horns and classical elements, The Chairman Dances add a delightful touch of popish melodies and vocals, what they dub art-pop, which ties the styles together for a very enjoyable excursion.
As eldest statesman, Krewson is the band’s primary songwriter. A wiry, bookish type who graduated from Drexel’s music industry program, and Temple’s musicology program, he gushes about the influences of Mikhail Bulgakov (who Michael was named after), Vladimir Nabokov, and Gabriel García Márquez in his songwriting, and explains how Michael employs magical realism to access complex emotions.“In some ways I think that [magical realism] can be more true than writing in a sort of Hemingway style,” he explains, noting how Michael fuses the magical and the mundane— “because I think when you make that leap, or use hyperbole in that way, it can resonate more emotionally.”“Modern classical music has always had an influence on our songwriting,” says Ciampa“We’re sort of library band,” says bassist Ben Rosen with a smile.
Michael Giuliana- drum kit Ben Rosen- bass, rhodes Andrew Ciampa- lead electric guitar (track 1), handclaps Rich Pena- lead electric guitar (tracks 2, 7-8) Dan Wisniewski- lead electric guitar (tracks 3-6, 9, 11-12) Eric Krewson- vocals, rhythm electric guitar, acoustic guitar, trumpet, piano, organ, glockenspiel, melodica, auxiliary percussion with Chelsea Sue Allen- vocals, Jin-Huon Jou- violin, Lloyd Frank- viola, Laurie Wolfe- cello, Rachel Ordaz- flute, Jeff Molush- trombone, Emily Orrson- handclaps, McLean Baran-handclaps