Wissahickon Chicken Shack
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Wissahickon Chicken Shack

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band Americana Country


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"A Band by Any Other Name..."

Cornering the Philly market on cool band names aside, Wissahickon Chicken Shack are more than just a moniker
There's a lot to be said for a memorable band name. Brian Jonestown Massacre is a good one. So's John Cougar Concentration Camp. Free Beer and Chicken piques the curiosity of even the most unimaginative among us and totally rules the marquee roost. Seriously now, are you telling me you wouldn't at least consider setting foot inside a venue with such a boast on the sign above the door? It's Free Beer and Chicken, for Chrissakes!

Wissahickon Chicken Shack very well may have the fun band name market locked down in this city. What's even more fun about the Shack is the fact that they can flat-out play. The eight-piece ensemble - formed last year via postings on Craig's List - delivers blistering takes on folk and bluegrass standards as well as original tunes crafted by the band's songwriting triumvirate of Jack Byers, Bethany Brooks and Brad Hinton. This weekend's Clark Park Festival presents the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of this budding bluegrass machine in a natural and incredibly laid-back setting.

Employing more instruments than an interrogator at Guantanamo Bay, the Shack simply ooze good vibrations through their infectious harmonies and musical interplay. Although cursory listens to the interaction between the musicians in the band may lead one to believe that the group has been meshing musically for years. It's the continued listening that reveals a near-flawless level of cohesion that makes their short time together all the more mind boggling.

One major factor driving the high level of musicianship within the band is certainly the strength of the backgrounds and training shared by all eight members. Guitarist and vocalist Byers acts as the de facto front man but pianist and budding mandolinist Brooks is never far from the center stage mic. Brooks, who earned a Masters degree in performance from the Royal Academy of Music in London, is well-schooled in Bengali folk music and spends her workdays teaching piano to the next generation of Chicken Shackers.

The third member of the band's songwriting trinity, Hinton, can play just about anything with strings but really brings it home on the dobro. That's right, the man plays the dobro. When he's feeling a bit less discerning, Hinton has been known to strum some tunes on the guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. If strings ain't your thing, Hinton's no slouch on the trumpet, either.

Upright bassist Phil D'Agostino holds down the rhythm section with his doghouse-style slaps and plucks. While D'Agostino's methods are perfectly in sync with the Shack's bluegrass tendencies, his training and experience have led him to lay out the low end in several musical settings from jazz and funk to Indian and experimental. Playing the bass for 12 years apparently leads to a slight broadening of the genre horizons.

The other half of the rhythm section, skinslapper Gary Lebiedzinski, is a jazz drummer by trade but manages a silky smooth transition as he slides into the Shack's more folky settings. Lebiedzinski, a senior at University of the Arts, also dabbles in Latin and funk rhythmology, thus continuing the overarching theme of versatility.

What respectable bluegrass band could ever consider itself complete or authentic without a banjo in the mix? Enter David Lacy, a seven-year veteran stringplucker who rarely, if ever, raises even the specter of suggestion that he may go all Deliverance on anyone who challenges him to a round or three of Dueling Banjos.

Violinist Kiley Ryan, though the youngest band member, brings a world of experience to the table in the form of her 11-year history with her instrument. Kiley would be quick to point out that in the majority of the musical landscapes traversed by the Chicken Shack, her weapon of choice would be more accurately termed a fiddle.

Now that you have a loose grasp on what makes the band members tick, strum and slap, don't you think it's about high time you got your bad self out to see the Wissahickon Chicken Shack in all its live glory? In addition to the band's time slot at Saturday's Clark Park Festival, the band will be regaling patrons of Sansom St.'s German hooch haven, Ludwig's Garten, with a pre-festival warm-up gig of sorts Friday night.

Although Saturday's outdoor setting is certainly a plus, the festival aspect of the day means the Shack will be under time constraints with their playing. Friday night's show will have no such pressure and, as such, will allow the band to stretch their wings a bit and prove that maybe, just maybe - some chickens can fly.
- PlayPhilly Magazine

"Witness the troupe’s strong collaborative spirit..."

"The seven-piece’s self-proclaimed fondness for folk, funk and honky-tonk livens up their tunes, as do mean licks of dobro and lap steel amid the requisite fiddle, banjo and mandolin. With tear jerking lead vocals from Bethany Brooks, "Abide with Me" explores the introspective flipside of party-starters like “Hot Rob Bob” and "Slow Train." Witness the troupe’s strong collaborative spirit..." (Doug Wallen)
Philadelphia Weekly, December 2008 - Philadelphia Weekly

"Flawlessly blends many instruments into a unique country sound"

"Wissahickon Chicken Shack flawlessly blends many instruments into a unique country sound. Influenced by traditional country music, this band creates emotional harmonies that will leave you feeling good. You don't want to miss it!"
Comcast Local On Demand, January, 2008 - Comcast Local On Demand


Long Way from Sunset



Philadelphia-based Wissahickon Chicken Shack seamlessly fuses a variety of folk, rock, country and bluegrass influences into a musical landscape reflective of the breadth and depth of the American experience.

In the last four years they have performed to accolades at such festivals as the Philly Folk Fest, the Northeast Pennsylvania Bluegrass Festival (NEPA), the Sterling String Fling, and the Camp Jam in the Pines.

When not onstage before festival crowds, they can be caught off-season at the World Cafe Live, the Sellersville Theater, the Tin Angel, Hill Country NYC, Steel City Coffee, and numerous other Mid-Atlantic clubs.

Tight three part vocal harmonies and instrumental chops honed at countless bar gigs and festivals have earned the group a reputation as an incendiary live act.