As history would have it, the illustrious cheesesteak sandwich was first created in the 1930s. Pasquali “Pat” Olivieri opened his shop in South Philadelphia and named it “Light Lunch.” Thus began a long time tradition, sometimes fraught with feuds and competitions over recipe and geographic real estate, but the sandwich still stood the test of time. The city of Philadelphia, as diverse and multicultural as the sandwich, has given way to so many talented artists: The Delfonics, Hall And Oates, Kurt Vile, The Dead Milkmen, members of The Roots and current jam band stalwarts The Disco Biscuits. So just like the sandwich, the city is so immersed in the collective ingredients of its time and place, including its taste for music. From funk to rock to groove to jazz and even jam, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has soul.
On our soul sandwich we would love to get extra Wack Cheddar please.
Wack Cheddar, a rock-meets-pop and jazz-meets-funk group consisting of John Venezia (drums/composition), Sam Riessen (guitar), Phil Rosenstock (bass), Nathaniel Hawk (keys), Nick Lombardelli (trombone), Anthony Nigro (alto sax) and Joe Lockwood (trumpet) is currently making waves in the Philly/New York area as a young addition to an already outstanding musical heritage. Taking their cues from the heavies as well as the new torch-bearing jam/jazz leaders, Wack Cheddar is equal parts Tower Of Power and Snarky Puppy with some Lettuce to boot. They are a focused train of rhythmic drive with counter melodies of guitar, synth and keys to light the way, and a horn section definitely sounding off at every stop.
With their first release, the aptly titled Who Cut The Cheese? (a four song EP) Wack Cheddar are on the map. Coming in at a little over 23 minutes, this first offering is completely solid and gives a good look at their talents and ideas. With smooth jazz solos in “It Wasn’t Me,” to the expert musicianship in “Ex Lover Trash Talk,” Wack Cheddar are poised for the future. “Psycho From Philly” is full of so many ingredients and one of my favorite sections on the EP is at around 3:40 with an off-tempo change that lights up the remainder of the song. This paves way for the end track, “Are We Distracting You?”– a sonic punch in the belly where we may or may not have just deposited a cheesesteak.
I see a bright future indeed for this Philly group. They have solid songwriting and really great creative palettes. I can’t wait to see what’s next.