The Groove Merchants
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The Groove Merchants

Philadelphia, PA | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Philadelphia, PA | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Rock Blues Rock

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Mar
24
The Groove Merchants @ The FunHouse

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States

Mar
17
The Groove Merchants @ The Wooden Match

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States

Feb
24
The Groove Merchants @ The Wooden Match

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States

Music

Press


"Review: The Groove Merchants (Self-Titled)"

Artist: The Groove Merchants
Album: Self-titled
Release Date: Jul. 24, 2015
Genre: Blues/Funk/Rock

One thing a music lover will notice about The Groove Merchants is their prowess as musicians. They are seasoned beyond their years, and are only getting better with the recent addition of trumpeter Dylan Hinnershitz.

Their self-titled album was released in July, before the addition of Hinnershitz. However, it is an impressive introduction to this emerging funk rock juggernaut out of Kutztown.

That introduction is made right away, with the opening track, “John the Savage.” Tye Vallone’s smooth vocals are accompanied by funky rhythms from bassist John Evin Groome and drummer Anthony Guidotti, while guitarist Luke Ferracone shows some impressive guitar chops on his first solo of the record.

Overall, a listener gets the sense that this band’s creative process is fun and fluid. A track like “Modern Days” is an enjoyable six-minute ride that goes unexpected places, while album closer “Uhuru” is a slow-building jam that knocks on the door before kicking it down about five and a half minutes in, bringing the song and album to a climax with an exhilarating wall of sound.

The Groove Merchants offer some softer moments on this album. “Monster” is a love song that seems ripe for an acoustic set or album, while “Princess Please” is a beautiful ballad that has the potential to be used for a romantic candlelit dinner or the first dance at a wedding.

While the band continues to evolve its sound with the addition of horns, The Groove Merchants’ first effort is as solid an opening statement as you’ll find from a young band. The excitement to see where they go from here is palpable. - Lehigh Valley Underground


"Artist Q & A: The Groove Merchants"

Last week, we reviewed The Groove Merchants’ self-titled album. Get to know this Kutztown-based band, and catch the latest news on their musical evolution, with this Q&A with the guys themselves!

First, tell us a bit about the band members’ individual musical backgrounds.
Here are the guys’ own personal bios:

Tye Vallone, Vocals/Rhythm Guitar/Percussion: Music runs in the Vallone family, so it is no great surprise that Tye would eventually find his calling in music as well. Tye Vallone began his musical journey on the drums at age 5, eventually taking lessons under Todd Scheid of the California Drum Shop in Bethlehem. Tye eventually picked up the guitar, following in his father Tom Vallone’s footsteps. Tom led the oldies cover group The Wandells in the Lehigh Valley throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and currently leads and plays in Cover Story and the Front Page Horns which he founded in the late 90s. So, Tye took up the family business forming his first band in high school behind the drums and singing lead vocals as well. It was not until college, however, that Tye really dug into the guitar, even while still playing drums in the KU Jazz Ensembles alongside eventual Groove Merchants drummer Anthony Guidotti. After meeting John Evin Groome and Anthony, Tye formed The Groove Merchants. Once the trio teamed up with Luke Ferracone on lead guitar, the rest all fell into place. Tye draws his influences from legendary guitar players and vocalists alike including Hendrix, SRV, Robert Plant, Freddie King, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Van Morrison, Joe Cocker and John Mayer.

Luke Ferracone, Lead Guitar: Luke Ferracone’s interest in music developed at an early age, as he would frequent the West Chester jazz and blues bar Vincent’s to see his father (Glenn Ferracone) perform. Notably, he gravitated toward the music of Johnny DeFrancesco, Philadelphia native guitarist, who lead his own group, The Johnny DeFrancesco Power Trio. Hearing DeFrancesco and his father play gave him inspiration to pick up the instrument himself. Since then he has been growing as a musician, sitting in with his father’s projects, performing with the band The Groove Merchants and collaborating with various other bands and musicians.

John Evin Groome, Bass: John Evin Groome started playing bass guitar when his father inadvertently bought him one as a Christmas present in middle school. Not knowing the difference between bass and guitar, John Evin’s fate was sealed. Taking private lessons led to an interest in the blues and funk music and the emphasis on energetic improvisation that he now brings to the band. John Evin attended Kutztown University for a degree in Electronic Media, where he met and began performing with The Groove Merchants.

Anthony Guidotti, Drums: Anthony Guidotti had an early start in music, beginning violin lessons at age 8 and piano lessons at 10. Eventually, because of a drum set left at his house by a friend of his brother’s, Anthony decided to start getting drum lessons, studying with many area musicians until college. At Kutztown University, Anthony majored in Percussion and studied under Dr. Frank Kumor, Dr. Willis Rapp, Dr. A.J. Merlino, Dr. Kevin Kjos and consistent private lessons from famed New York Jazz drummer Allison Miller. As a musician, Anthony has always been particularly drawn to rhythm, and most of his “drum heroes,” such as Danny Carey, Bill Bruford, Tony Williams and Elvin Jones advocate polyrhythmic and odd-metered approaches to musicality. His aim is to bring new dimension and energy to the instrument to help others think differently, as his heroes have always done for him.

Dylan Hinnershitz, Trumpet: Dylan Hinnershitz fell in love with music at the age of four when the household television broke. It couldn’t be turned off and the channel couldn’t be changed, so VH1 was stuck on. He fell in love with the tone of the trumpet after hearing famous trumpet player Lee Morgan play in dedication to his great teacher Clifford Brown. Dylan studied the Bill Adam trumpet method at Kutztown University under Dr. Kevin Kjos, and has also studied jazz with New York bass player Scott Lee.

What first led to you all getting together as The Groove Merchants?
Well, John Evin Groome (bass) and Tye Vallone (vocals and guitar) met during their freshman year at Kutztown University and formed a duo which later added on Anthony Guidotti, whom Tye met playing in the KU Jazz Ensemble, on drums. The group then added Luke Ferracone on lead guitar after a double booking situation arose with two bands being booked. The only difference between the two was that one included Tye, John, and Anthony, and the other included Luke, John and Anthony. So, we decided to all join forces and form the foundation of The Groove Merchants sound you hear today in the fall of 2012. Now, we’re evolving our sound, and have added Dylan Hinnershitz in trumpet as of the summer of 2015.

Your music is a terrific blend of rock, funk and blues. What artists have most influenced that sound of yours?
We like to take a little bit from everyone. Tye, Anthony, and Dylan have all played in KU’s Jazz Ensembles, while Luke is pretty into African rhythms and John Evin is a big alternative fan (Radiohead, Victor Wooten). But, the constants remain rooted in the blues and funk, like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, The Meters, and B.B. King.

You released your self-titled debut album over the summer. Who worked with you guys on the record?
We wrote all the tracks ourselves, and the record was produced, mixed, mastered, and recorded by Luke’s dad Glenn Ferracone at The Music Centre in Exton, PA, which Glenn owns and operates.

Talk about the songwriting process; how did these tunes come together?
Our songwriting has evolved a lot since we started playing together. Originally, we would jam on a riff or a hook and then piece together all the other parts. Now, Tye or Luke will come in with pretty much a whole tune prepared, and then the rest of us will add to it and help it grow. But sometimes, we do things off the cuff, and if something’s clicking, we’ll put it together right there at rehearsal or in the studio.

Which moment on the record stands out to you as being “great?”
The whole record overall is something we really take pride in. We feel it serves as a sort of stamp on everything we’ve accomplished thus far, and a great stepping stone off of which we can continue to evolve our sound.

We had the chance to see you open for Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds as SteelStacks not too long ago. How did you land that opening gig?
We actually only booked the gig two days before. The original opener had cancelled, and we were approached by ArtsQuest to fill in. Thankfully for everyone, it ended up working out and became an amazing experience.

We thought you rocked! Aside from us, though, what kind of feedback have you gotten from playing at such a well-known local venue?
All of the feedback was excellent. We sold out of CDs at the show and everyone we talked to, including some of the guys in Sister Sparrow, loved the band – which was a really great response. It can be hard to put your best stuff out there in only a half hour set, so we were glad it went over well.

Do you guys have any upcoming shows planned?
We will be at The Social Lounge in West Chester on Feb 13, The Grape Room in Manayunk on Feb 20, and The Funhouse in Bethlehem on Feb 27 and March 19. Plus, we have a show April 2 at The Nail in Ardmore, and April 9 at The Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, PA. We also hope to be back at the Dogfish Head Brew Pub in Rehoboth, DE soon!

You have a new EP currently in the works. Tell us about the new material, including when we can expect it.
We’re really excited about it. Our main focus right now is writing new material for the EP, and it’s probably the most involved our stuff has been up to this point. We’re really utilizing both guitars and the trumpet. We can’t wait to start laying it down. We hope to have it out by the early summer.

How would you say the band has evolved since the release of the self-titled album, and how can we expect that to show up on the EP?
Probably the biggest evolution or change has been the addition of Dylan on trumpet and the other dimension he brings to the band. We’re really trying to use all of the musical tools we have at our disposal right now, and hopefully this EP captures that.

Our Q&A is almost over! Let people know where they can learn more about you guys!
You can always check out our Facebook and Bandcamp for more info! - Lehigh Valley Underground


"Review: Take It"

The Groove Merchants have gained a reputation for their big sound, funky rhythms, and stellar musicianship. They deliver on all of those points on their recent full-length effort, “Take It.”


This already-impressive five-piece has taken a leap forward from any prior offering, showing their growth right away on opening track, “Take It If You Want It,” which features the band’s signature, danceable groove from drummer Anthony Guidotti and bassist John Evin Groome. Interesting to note: between all the funk, “Take It If You Want It” departs briefly for an experimental jazz bridge, which ties neatly into the song’s structure due to the band’s ingenuity.

“Hold Your Hand” is another strong track; one in which The Groove Merchants slow things down and show a bit of tenderness. The track features the powerful punch of Dylan Hinnershitz’ trumpet and a particularly soulful performance from vocalist Tye Vallone, whose gravelly voice and unpredictable, yet rhythmic delivery throughout “Take It” further cement him as one of the region’s better blues men.

Another enjoyable selection is the updated fan favorite, “John the Savage.” Sounding more alive and dynamic than its previous incarnations, “John the Savage” features an incredible shredding solo from guitarist Luke Ferracone (who you know, if you’ve seen this band live, can do jaw-dropping things with that axe of his). - Lehigh Valley Undergroun


"The Groove Merchants: Philly funk quintet steadily grooving a path into playlists all over the country"

While the bill touted the likes of Portugal. The Man and Vance Joy, it was Groove Merchants, a five-member funk blues band that recently owned the stage at the Radio 104.5-FM Summer Block Party earlier this month.

With songs from their 2016-released album “Take it.” The band, which includes: lead singer Tye Vallone, guitarist Luke Ferracone, trumpeter Dylan Hinnershitz, bassist John Evin Groome, and drummer Anthony Guidotti made an even funkier splash rampening up its horn section with Philly musicians Nils Mossblad and Mike Rilli.

PW recently caught up with the up-and-coming funk/blues quintet, who formed in 2012 at Kutztown University about just their continued rise in the music world.

How does it feel just now having opened for Portugal. The Man and Vance Joy?

Vallone: It’s pretty insane. The whole process has been about a month and a half of buildup, getting everything ready — getting the horns together. Then we got here around 11:30am, and we probably looked dumb, because we were like “this is so cool.” But the whole experience is pretty surreal. Now you play, with all that buildup, and thirty minutes later. Snap! You’re done. It’s awesome, just to be on the same stage as all these guys, it’s crazy.

Did 104.5 reach out to you or did you reach out to them?

Ferracone: We did a “Live at Five,” which is when they invite local bands on air at 5pm on Fridays on 104.5. We just exchanged some emails afterwards, thanked them for having us, and Amber Miller reached out to the band like a month ago and asked us to do the slot. We were very fortunate and happy to be asked.

You all went to Kutztown University so basically this is the cheerleading squad for the school here. But how did you all meet?

Vallone: Me, Luke, John, Anthony, and Dylan. We all went to Kutztown. Nils and Mike are from the Philly area so we hooked-up with them when we wanted to hire the horn section. As far as how we met at Kutztown, it was a lot of happenstance. Like, meet this guy by this part of the campus or meet this guy at this club — eventually we just all came together.

Who had the idea to form the band, the name, etc?

Vallone: I met John first. We were just chilling on the quad one night, jamming some tunes. And then I met Anthony, because he and I both play drums so we met in the Jazz band. Then John, Anthony and I got together as a little trio, and that was the trio that came up with the name “Groove Merchants.” Anthony and Luke went to the same high school so when I couldn't play with John and Anthony, they would play with Luke. Long story short, we were playing a show where we were both on the bill as two different acts … and I was like “that doesn't work. It’s only one person difference so why don't we all just play together?” None of them sang, so I said, “I’ll sing, Luke will play guitar, and we will make a bunch of noise.” That’s pretty much how it happened.

How do you make blues appeal to a younger demographic? Even though this is an alternative concert, it is not common for Millennials to be hardcore blues fans.

Ferracone: When we write these tunes, we don't necessarily have that in mind of what will appeal to people. We just try to see what moves us the most and feels truest to us. We just follow that and put that out there, and hopefully like minded people will come. But we don't really worry too much about getting into a particular marketplace. Of course you have to think about those things when you are trying to market in music, you have to, but when we make the music that’s not really in the conversation.

Vallone: I think people connect to the music, because of the energy. The way we started playing was in Kutztown, really small venues and house parties. Everybody was really in your face and high energy. We love that so I think when we write, we try to capture that same vibe.

Tye, you definitely have energy, especially when you are pulling those dance moves at the mic.

Vallone: I’m just acting a fool when I do that. We are honestly surprised sometimes by how many people, our age, dig all the stuff. We do other gigs where we do a lot of cover tunes and old blues, and all of the old-heads, they get into the stuff, but the younger crowd does too.

And what is your age?

Vallone: I’m actually 65. I have Benjamin Button disease, so I’m actually going in reverse.

Ferracone: We are all in our early-to-mid 20s.

You just released your second album last year called “Take It.” Can you describe the album in one word?

Ferracone: Almost. We are constantly shooting for that thing. It comes out in glimpses, sometimes you miss it, and sometimes you hit it. It’s a running joke, like “we almost got there.” When someone messes up, it’s like, “we almost got it man.”

Vallone: We actually wanted to call the record “Almost,” but they were like “no, that’s too much.”

How does this album differ from your first self-titled, self-produced record?

Ferracone: I think the first one was a little more experimental, not experimental musically, but experimental where we weren’t as organized and just put stuff on tape that we had been playing. When the second record came along, we played a lot more, had a lot more experience, and just captured that.

What song would you recommend Groove Merchant newbies listen to first?

Guidotti: Probably “Hold Your Hand,” because it is the most relatable. It’s a good tune that gets to the essence of what we do. It’s simple, but it contains everything that we want to put into a song, and I think it’s probably the best representation of us.

You like to improvise, especially with the bass, so does that mean no song is done the same way twice?

Ferracone: There is a structure sometimes, most of the time. But we really vibe off of the atmosphere that we are in, and it’s definitely a unique experience each time we play. We definitely try to keep it fresh.

So who are your music gurus?

Vallone: It’s like a melting pot. Everyone kind of has the same core of Hendrix and Zeppelin. Then everybody has their own dudes like John is a really big Radio Head fan. Luke is a big Derek Trucks fan. I’m big on BB King and John Mayer. Anthony is more into the progressive stuff, and Dylan is a jazz player so those types of influences. We all have the same foundation and then we take everybody’s key aspects and then build off of that. I think that’s where the whole sound comes from, but it always changes, there is always a new dude who comes out and you are like “Oh my god, I need to get a hold of this guy.”

Luke your father, Glenn Ferracone, is a musician. How has going to his shows and the Philly music scene, in general, influenced your music?

Ferracone: It showed me how to play. Hanging around those guys, at clubs, and seeing these people play real music and the real working musicians and how that’s like, and just how to do it.

I open the question up. How has Philly influenced your music?

Vallone: It’s a really good musical center with so many different kinds of music and so many different influences … It’s an atmosphere where everyone is not looking out just for themselves. You are looking out for yourself, but in the Philly scene it is also “oh, you guys are cool, let me tell you about this spot” or “let me put you on this bill with us.” That is something that is really great.

Not all of you had the most traditional gateway into music. Dylan, you had an interesting start. Care to elaborate?

Hinnershitz: When I was five, my TV broke so we could turn it on, but we couldn't turn it off. The TV would just stay on all the time, and it just had VH1 on it. I think just listening to these music videos and “Pop-Up Videos” all the time, all day, all night, I think it pushed me into music.

What’s the dream? When will you know that you made it?

Vallone: I think when we can sponsor like a Java Juice somewhere…

Ferracone: I think we have already made it. We are playing with good friends, and we are playing often. We have the opportunity to play in front of people, which is something I would definitely love to continue doing. More things like this [104.5 concert] and travel and tour would be something to shoot for, but we are definitely enjoying it right now.

For fans and soon-to-be fans, where can they check you out?

Vallone: Well, groovemerchantsmusic.com has all of our dates and our Spotify. It’s all on there. We are working on a bill right now for The Barbary in mid-October, and we do a lot of shows in the Bethlehem, Allentown, and the Lehigh Valley area. - Philadelphia Weekly


Discography

The Groove Merchants (2015) - Produced by Glenn Ferracone and The Groove Merchants. Mixed, mastered, and engineered by Glenn Ferracone at The Music Centre - Exton, PA

Live from the Music Centre: The EP (2016) - Produced by Glenn Ferracone and The Groove Merchants. Recorded live and mixed by Glenn Ferracone at The Music Centre - Exton, PA

Take It (Listening-Post Music) (2016) - Produced by Glenn Ferracone and The Groove Merchants. Mixed, mastered, and engineered by Glenn Ferracone at The Music Centre - Exton, PA

Photos

Bio

BIO

The Groove Merchants formed in 2012 while attending Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and their musical chemistry was immediately apparent. Knowing they had stumbled into a sound that was unique, they decided to organize their efforts and book shows in the Lehigh Valley. Their music began to take form and develop its own identity by playing powerful live shows that left lasting impressions on audiences, often extending past the stage itself.

In December 2014, they recorded their debut album at the beautiful Music Centre Studios located in Chester Springs, PA run by renowned engineer Glenn Ferracone.

Adding a full-time trumpet and occasional horn section, the band has since released its second effort, titled “Take It,” in August of 2016 under the ‘ListeningPost’ label. "Take It" has been played on Philadelphia, West Chester, and Delaware FM radio, including a live performance of the record's single, "Hold Your Hand," on Philly’s Alternative Rock station 104.5FM. This performance led to the band's appearance at the iHeartRadio Summer Block Party opening for Vance Joy, Portugal. The Man, and Judah and The Lion at Philadelphia venue Festival Pier at Penn's Landing.

The Groove Merchants have played extensively throughout the East Coast at concert venues, clubs, outdoor events, and more.  

The band has been experimenting with different musical approaches and continues to bring an exciting, high-energy, organic performance to their audiences.

Band Members