Local Rockers the Strapping Fieldhands Defy Categorization

The group wraps up PW’s Concerts in the Park this week.

By Richie Charles
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 29, 2012

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A few weeks later, the Fieldhands climb the stage at Johnny Brenda’s to play out for the first time in more than a year. The crowd of their fans—many of them 20-somethings, but an equal number graying and/or balding—wanders in from the bar. Dickie’s upright bass leans against the wall stage right. Jeeter, dressed in black and wearing aviator glasses, joins Dickie, Malloy and Webster onstage; the four of them look crowded, never mind Werner in the back, and Malloy bumps into Jeeter when he turns to plug in his guitar. They form an imposing blockade across the front of the stage.

Amps buzzing, they unleash a string of new songs. Each tune, in its own way, dips into a rich, eclectic musical history, evoking the rural sound of banjos and foot stomps even as it revels in its urban, electric construction. The crowd is appreciative—and gets even more so when Malloy finally introduces the band’s old favorite, “In The Pineys.” A woman in the front row begins shaking her hips before Malloy even strikes the chiming opening notes. As the song moves along, Jeeter punctuates the chorus with his creaking fiddle.

Dan Balcer, an enthusiastic local rock fan and longtime friend to the Fieldhands, looks up from under his ball cap and addresses nobody in particular: “The Fieldhands only play a show every year or so, but people don’t understand that they still get together and play every week. And it shows!”

Listen to some of the Strapping Fieldhands' tracks here:

Whiskers

Rare Vernacular

They Came First in Wagons

Wed., Aug. 29, 7pm. Free. With Spinning Leaves. Rittenhouse Square Park, Walnut St. & S. 18th St. philadelphiaweekly.com/concertsinthepark

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