Agent Moosehead
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Agent Moosehead

Band Jazz Rock


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After recently being asked to join the band on stage, bass virtuoso Victor Wooten described Agent Moosehead bassist: Pete Dippolito as “The funkiest white boy I ever heard!”
- Victor Wooten

Recently, renowned Philadelphia disc jockey ‘Preston Elliot’ (of WMMR’s “Preston & Steve” radio show) had the following to say:

"Agent Moosehead is very talented. They have a cool original and experimental sound that’s hard to pull off!" - Preston Elliot, WMMR DJ

"...On Saturday morning the jams kicked off around noon with Agent Moosehead, an electronic jam band out of Philadelphia, PA. The band was without saxophonist Dan Peterson and trumpet player Tom Madeja, but featured the original vibraphonist and Latin percussionist from Frank Zappa's band, Ed Mann. The band went through a couple of their own charts, but highlighted the end of their set by playing "Nintendo music" from the Mega Man 3 series." - Imprint Magazine

This week I present to you 15 up-and-coming local bands (because 10 just isn't enough) that you need to listen to, now.

Agent Moosehead
A unique Philly six-piece that sounds like a mix of smooth jazz and the soundtrack to Super Mario Brothers, served up with style and panache. - Philly Style Magazine

West Philly has become the germinal spot for that attitude locally, shepherding groups like Agent Moosehead, King Kong Ding Dong, Ugh God, Da Comrade, and Power Animal.

Could one of these acts break through to be the Next Big Thing? Perhaps, if one of them were offered a contract with Sub Pop or Secretly Canadian, but they'd more than likely be happier just where they are. In truth, however, the relative obscurity of Philly's independent music scene isn't the result of a dearth of talent or a lack of ambition, but rather the fact that labels and media outlets simply aren't paying enough attention. Critics and journalists may have spent less time in Philadelphia than they should have, but it's their loss. They don't know what they're missing. - C.T. Heaney, SoundProof

"Agent Moosehead: Sonic soundscapes and intricate passages are always aplenty anytime they perform live, leaving you to pick your jaw up from the floor."

A. Zieliniski - Deli Magazine

"You can call Agent Moosehead’s music "prog-jazz" or "instrumental rock," but don’t get too hung up on slapping a label on this great band!" - Feldie, Lucky Old Soul's Music Pick of the Week (Mar 09, 0009) - - Feldie, Lucky Old Soul's Music Pick of the Week

If you’re at all like me – and I really hope that’s the case because misery loves company – you’re seldom turned on by jambands or modern Instrumental musical groups. I mean, yeah, the God-like virtuosity is worthy of oceans of respect, but as Miles Davis once said to American Idol’s Randy Jackson (who once auditioned for Davis on bass), “Well, you played a lot of notes, but how many of those notes were you actually feeling?”

I guess that might have something to do with why I’d call Agent Moosehead the most compelling thing in the current Philly music scene. Sure, you can accuse them of playing notes a-plenty, but these guys somehow make each and every note important. It’s immediately evident that their sole concern is playing music, and therefore their sound doesn’t come across as the kind of musically masturbatory histrionics that inevitably intimidates once half of the audience, and leaves the other half cold. The melodies are sometimes left of center and the arrangements can be mischievously quirky, but you could still hum along to quite a few parts. Heck, some of their stuff you could almost dance to.

Right away the songs are accessible and even captivating, and become down-right infectious by the one-minute mark, building in intensity, and containing so many great ideas, so many subtly different moods, and so much clever interplay between the instruments that, after a while, you just get enjoyably lost. The laid back, only slightly melancholic opening strains of “Dr. Doom” quickly give way to a rising maelstrom of up-tempo sound before everything abruptly pauses for a twisted, head-bobbing guitar riff. Check out the funky, low-end groove of “Neckface” that takes off after the song’s unassuming, half-minute intro. Listen to how the bass and drums, in any number of Agent Moosehead tunes, can be ferociously aggressive and then thoroughly relaxed within a span of a few moments. There are some absolutely insane sax and trumpet solos jabbing at your eardrums, and an unusual keyboard sound always seems to poke its head out when you least expect it.

And as if they weren’t already sufficiently singular and unorthodox, the band also performs some awfully entertaining renditions of Nintendo videogame music, including ditties from Mega Man III, Blaster Master, and Little Nemo, Dream Master.

Agent Moosehead was formed in 2002 by guitarist/composer/arranger/bandleader/head Mooseman Chris Dippolito. Drummer Jon McNally has the second longest tenure, and Chris’ kid brother Pete joined up in early 2003, replacing a previous bassist. Keys man John Briley joined in 2005 and the horn section – sax man Dan Peterson and trumpeter Tom Madeja – were added last year.

As I said, the music is always fun and interesting, but it can get a little intricate and involved at times. “I like the challenge of playing difficult music, but I don’t write it to impress people. Why do something that’s easy? If you can challenge yourself and have fun, then to me, that’s the ideal musical environment,” Chris says. But how does it all get worked out? “Ill do a good portion of the arrangements myself, using the guitar to write parts that will later be played by other instruments. Usually, about eight percent of the music is what was originally on my chart, and then the remainder is stuff that was changed around during rehearsal with the band,” says Chris.

Also curious and interesting are the tune titles. I mean, what the heck does “Neckface” mean, anyway? That was our friend Josh’s bowling name. Whenever he went bowling, he’d type “Neckface” onto the computerized scorecard screen. I think he saw the word written in graffiti on a wall in New York,” Chris elucidated. What about “The Legendary WID?” “The Legendary WID is a Philly comedian who does a lot of prop material. Some say that Carrot Top stole his act. A friend of mine, Jay, was working on a documentary on the Legendary WID and asked me to write music for the film. It turned out that Jay had no money to pay me, so I wound up keeping a lot of the unused material. I think ‘WID” means ‘Without ID,” Chris explains.

The band has played their share of various Philly spots such as The Grape Street Pub, the North Star Bar, the Khyber, the Millcreek Tavern, Whiskey Dix, the Five Spot, the Balcony at the Trocadero just to rattle off a few. When I saw the guys play The Brass Lantern in Reading a few months back, an enthusiastic Agent Moosehead fan told the guys that he appreciates the sense of humor in their music. Chris later told me, “It’s dangerous if you take yourself too seriously. On the one hand, we’re very serious about playing the music to the best of our abilities. But we like to have fun, and personally, music that makes you laugh is very attractive to me.”

So why be an instrumental act? Chris explains, “It’s difficult to have a ‘message’ in your music, which becomes important when writing lyrics. What is there to say? If I were to write words for the songs, I’d want to have something important to say. So much popular music addresses things that have already been said over and over.” Ah, too true. Too true.

By Matt Torrence
Origivation Magazine
Volume 6, Issue 9 - Origivation Magazine

“Nintendo bands” seem to have come and gone, but Philly six-piece Agent Moosehead saw more than a fad in it and began fusing the nostalgic sounds of childhood with loose, jammy jazz. “Tricycle,” off last year’s self-released debut album Neil, Throw the Switch!, pays tribute to Castlevania before descending into a fit of labyrinthine playing in which balmy horns and agile keys replace familiar video-game guitar lines. Elsewhere on the album “Neckface” flirts with arena rock in the middle, and “Mow Your Lawn” rocks a bass clarinet like it’s not so strange. Playing the Khyber’s newly minted “Jam Wednesdays,” Agent Moosehead should find gawking fans in gamers and jazz heads alike.
(Doug Wallen) - Philadelphia Weekly

Agent Moosehead Jazzes It Up at Northstar This Thursday

Back in elementary school, my brother and I used to play Spy. We’d run around our backyard peering in on the neighbors and sneaking into their garages. I called myself Agent Orange (clever, I know), and my brother was Agent Pineapple.

I can’t help but wonder if similar circumstances led brothers Chris and Pete Dippolito to name their band Agent Moosehead.

In some ways, it’s rather fitting. Their music, a unique blend of experimental jazz and video game pop, contains a hint of playful exuberance, a healthy dose of imagination and the same impish mercurialness exhibited by two children frolicking outside.

That’s not to say that Agent Moosehead is a juvenile act – far from it. Rather, this soulful Philly six-piece has triumphantly proven itself as of most unique bands to ever grace the local scene.

With guitar, bass, drums, piano, synthesizer, saxophone and clarinet, AM mixes Coltrane-influenced jazz with David Byrne-inspired quirkiness and electronic effects that sound like they were lifted from Donkey Kong. The band calls it 'metroid jazz' – we call it plain awesome. - Kate Bracaglia,


"Neil, Throw the Switch" (2007)

1. Neckface
2. Tricycle
3. Dr. Doom
4. The Genius
5. Mow Your Lawn
6. Ghost of Deaf Ninja
7. Eggplant Wizard
8. Roboham
9. Meiosis
[Sample Tracks Available Here for Streaming]

"Philly Sound Clash: Music to Drive By - Volume 2" (2008)

1. Mike Kotulka: Long Winded Sleeves
2. The Hustle: Run Wit Me
3. Agent Moosehead: Meiosis
4. East Hundred: Numbers
5. GANG: Rat Posion
6. Gemini Wolf: Bittersweet Dirts
7. Spanish Blue: Stomp
8. The Lopez: Gates of Heaven
9. Jamie Harrison: Confusion
10. The Shadow Self: d-day
11. Zasz: Aviator (get out)
12. The Last Tempest: Pestilence



Philly favorite, Agent Moosehead has blurred the lines between style & genre with their unique approach to live music. Known for splicing precise composed sections with mind-bending improvisational jazz/rock landscapes, Agent Moosehead has refused to accept the 'status quo' of the current music scene and has - instead - challenged the system and broken both rules and boundaries. Aside from performing their own highly-original material, Agent Moosehead has shocked and surprised audiences with numerous 'theme shows' - including the live performance of dozens of Nintendo songs, TV-theme show jingles and even a special event honoring the music of Frank Zappa. Yet, despite the band's overwhelming refusal to cater to the conventional, AM has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions and has been received with unprecedented amount of acclaim and notoriety.

In the past, special guests sitting in with Agent Moosehead have included Zappa percussionist and vibe-hero: Ed Mann, Philly-jazz staple: Elliott Levin, trombone-phenom & John Legend band mate: Aaron Goode as well as the legendary drummer: G. Calvin Weston (Ornette Coleman, Prime Time, MMW, etc.). Additionally, AM has shared the bill with DJ Logic, Deep Banana Blackout, The Big Organ Trio, The Last Emperor, Juggling Suns, King Crimson's Tony Levin and countless others!