Union Transfer


Imelda May

Imelda May

The Bellfuries

Tue, September 30, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA


This event is all ages

Imelda May
Imelda May
"The problem with an artist like Imelda May is that she's so good, it makes a critical review almost impossible to write; her performance is flawless." – Clash Magazine

Imelda May, born in Dublin and raised in the Liberties, may be an unknown name to some, but to many she is already a superstar. She is unmistakable both in her music (a fusion of surf guitars, blues and rockabilly that wouldn't be out of place in a David Lynch film) and her style, with a solitary curl and shock of blonde in her jet black hair. In Ireland, her debut album 'Love Tattoo', which she recorded and released on her own label, has gone Triple Platinum. She has shared a stage with Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, David Gilmour, Sharon Shannon, Jeff Beck, Shane Macgowan, Kirsty McCall, Van Morrison, Lionel Richie, Wanda Jackson, Paul Brady and Meatloaf. And now, with the release of her new album "Mayhem", she is about to go stellar.

Being the youngest of five siblings , Imelda was the most susceptible to the various influences from her older brothers and sisters, which she could hear constantly through the walls of their two bedroom house. There was folk, the obligatory chart pop, and then there was Elvis. "My brother was a mad Elvis fan, and I found a tape in his room with Elvis, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. I thought the music was fantastic."

By the age of nine Imelda had fallen in love with rockabilly and the blues – the only kid in her class who wasn't into Wet Wet Wet. Singing along to rock n roll from an early age, her tastes began to develop and deepen, first with Elmore James and then – " I heard Billie Holiday, and that blew my mind." After a year of art college she dropped out, deciding she would rather sing for a living. At that point, her professional experience was confined to having sung on an ad for Findus Fish Fingers at 14. "A girl in The Liberties was in the music business and she got me this ad, where I sang, 'Betcha never put your finger on a crunchier crumb!' I got £40 for it!" She quickly found work singing with the swing troupe Blue Harlem and rock n roller Mike Sanchez and had an interesting spell of singing in burlesque clubs: "I'd sing while the other girls were onstage. One of them used to take an angle grinder to her crotch and would produce a shower of sparks. One day a spark flew down my throat when I was singing!"

Imelda began singing in clubs when she was 16 years old and had the honour of being occasionally barred from her own shows at Dublin's Bruxelles club for being underage. "I was getting tips from the best musicians in Dublin. One of them said, 'Your voice is great, but it needs to roughen." It was around this time, when driving a tearful Imelda to a gig, that her father asked her "Is your heart broken? Excellent. Now you can sing the blues". Remembered by Imelda as a turning point in her life, from then on her voice developed into the sultry, rich and unique tone you hear today.

By 2006 she was itching to go solo, and formed her own band. "We started out a bit jazzier, but it needed balls and roughing up which it got." Her debut album, "Love Tattoo" was soon released and started to get noticed. Catching the attention of Jools Holland in 2008 she supported him on tour which led to him requesting her to appear on Later. Here she performed to an audience that included Jeff Beck, Elbow and Roots Manuva and afterwards Beck made a point of telling Holland that he was only there to see Imelda. In 2009, Imelda knocked Bruce Springsteen off No. 1 to become the first female Irish artist to top the Irish album charts since Mary Black nearly 20 years ago. She then went on to win Female Artist of the Year at the Irish Meteor Awards. Despite album success, Imelda continued to tour, playing to over 400 000 people in 8 countries across Europe and the US – including, most recently a US tour with Jamie Cullum.

Imelda has not only caught people's attention musically, her striking style and unmistakable cool but quirky 50s look has led her to grace the front cover of the Irish Sunday Times Style, Roberto Cavalli flew her out to perform at his private party during the Milan Fashion Week.

2010 got off to an auspicious start when Imelda accepted an offer from Jeff Beck to perform with him at the Grammys. This was followed in April by a two night support slot in London with one of her idols, Wanda Jackson.

Her new album 'Mayhem' sees Imelda continue to develop her uniquely modern fusion of classic musical genres. The record not only showcases her exceptional songwriting ability, but also displays some more disparate influences, with first single Psycho seeing Imelda channel the spirit of early PJ Harvey, whilst the heartbreakingly poignant "Kentish Town Waltz" conjures an image of Chrissie Hynde at her most reflective.

This year Imelda will perform at Glastonbury, T In The Park, Womad and Ireland's Electric Picnic as well as touring the UK in May asnd September. She also has three songs – including the legendary "Johnny Gotta Boom Boom" and forthcoming single "Mayhem" featuring on the soundtrack to the new "Wild Target" film starring Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Rupert Everett.

Imelda May? In 2011, she bloody well will!
The Bellfuries
The Bellfuries
Where might country, soul, and popular song intersect? Follow The Bellfuries, as they thrill capacity crowds in the US, UK, Australia, and all over Europe (performing in 14 countries in June 2013 alone).

The band was formed in 1998 by Joey Simeone (lead vocalist/songwriter) and Josh Williams (upright bass), in Austin, Texas. Although ATX has long been a stronghold for roots music, the band had clearly broken the “rockabilly” mold on arrival. With an original songbook distilling Hank Williams heartbreak and Beatles melody, driven home by Joey’s virtuosic singing and stripped-down instrumental backing, The Bellfuries quickly developed a strong local following.

The release of “Just Plain Lonesome” only served to document what the fans already knew. A handful of cover songs—learned from Webb Pierce, Dion, and Sam Cooke—were obvious nods to where The Bellfuries had come from. What was most intriguing, though, was where they were going. The original material provided an itinerary; shaped, but in no way limited by, these influences. “Just Plain Lonesome” and “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up Tomorrow” may seem instant country classics, but consider a few lines from “You Must Be a Loser:”

“You must be a loser
You must have a defect in your heart
I knew I’d tear it all apart
You better run away while you can, didn’t you know all my foolish ways?
How all my plans disintegrate?
You take those silly blinders off and you might see
That you must be a loser to love a loser like me.”

The uniquely nuanced, self-deprecating humor in songs such as “Loser,” combined with bright, catchy melodies, endeared “Lonesome” to many new listeners. (New sensation JD McPherson, who has referred to the Bellfuries as “one of the best bands that ever was,” went so far as to record “Your Love (All That I’m Missin’)” for his “Signs and Signifiers,” album.)

The Bellfuries were now joined by guitarist Mike Molnar. Mike, at twenty-two, had already gained valuable touring and studio experience as a sideman for the late, great Ronnie Dawson, culminating in a 1999 performance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

While promoting “Lonesome” The Bellfuries toured constantly, crisscrossing the US many times over the next few years. Despite consistently positive reactions to the music, Joey was determined not to simply re-create his first album for a follow-up release. Further road work was put on hold while Joey briefly relocated to Los Angeles, CA.

Pursuing a fresh approach to their music-making, The Bellfuries recruited drummer Bobby Trimble, alumnus of West Coast roots heroes Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys. Shecky Seaver was brought on board to handle bass duties. There was a change of musical scenery as well; the songs comprising “Palmyra” are even more pop-oriented, with jangly electric guitars prominent in the mix. The debut had trod a fresh path from where Webb Pierce and Sam Cooke left off, and so did “Palmyra.” It just happened that The Smiths and REM showed up along the way.)

The great rockabilly road warrior/scholar Deke Dickerson had this to say:

"The Bellfuries are one-of-a-kind. Although there are thousands of power pop bands in the world, and thousands of rockabilly bands too, there has only been one band that successfully merged the two forms into something so damn good. What they do is so original it’s like a breath of fresh air after a hard rain."

While appearing at a British festival post- “Palmyra,” the band were chagrined to see fans lining up with brand-new (read: bootlegged) copies of “Lonesome,” which had gone out of print during negotiations with the original label. When The Bellfuries returned to the UK for a sold-out appearance at the Rockabilly Rave festival in 2010, they brought their own, legitimate reissue, and in Joey’s words, “everybody bought the record again. There were lines going to the back of the [ballroom] and looped around, like an amusement park.” A recently issued DVD, featuring another sold-out performance in 2011, perfectly captures the enthusiastic relationship between the band and their European fans.

The Bellfuries maintain a full, worldwide touring schedule. The latest single “Bad Seed Sown,” is a vinyl 45 and teaser for the new album, scheduled for release in 2014. Raw, loud, and in a rollicking R&B vein, it’s a maddeningly brief snapshot of a band that can do seemingly anything they want to, and is determined to do everything they want to.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123