Ron Gallo & Becca Mancari
Doors 7PM | Show 8PM | 21 & Over
Ron Gallo – BIOGRAPHY
Ron Gallo is the name of a Philadelphia-bred rock musician whose music embraces elements of both roots rock and garage punk with an abundance of smarts and passion. Ron Gallo is also the name of the band he formed when he struck out on his own after years fronting the group Toy Soldiers. Moving on from the Americana influences that dominated his earlier band, Gallo formed his eponymous group with an eye toward a tougher, more angular sound that reflected the sharp wit of his new songs. The group earned critical praise for their 2017 debut album, Heavy Meta, with a second full-length, Stardust Birthday Party, following in 2018. On 2021’s Peacemeal, he changed up his approach, embracing an eclectic, pop-oriented sound with a greater reliance on electronics and clear hip-hop influences.
Gallo got his start as a musician while still a teenager. He had picked up the guitar and began taking lessons, but decided he’d rather learn by doing, and formed his first band; he once described their gigs as “VFW halls in South Jersey,” but it taught him the nuts and bolts of playing in a band, and after working with another high school act, he got more ambitious with his next project.
At the age of 19, Gallo was attending Temple University in Philadelphia when he formed Toy Soldiers with drummer Mike Baurer. A band that brought together a diverse range of American roots music, including blues, country, and folk, Toy Soldiers grew from a minimalist two-piece to a ten-piece ensemble during their lifetime, with Gallo as the only constant member, and they released two albums and several EPs. The most stable lineup was a quintet, with Gallo (on guitar and vocals) joined by Matt Kelly (guitar and vocals), Luke Leidy (keyboards), Bill McCloskey (bass), and Dominic Billett (drums and vocals).
In 2014, after a lengthy tour, Gallo decided to take a break from Toy Soldiers, and headed to the West Coast, where he played a short solo tour. He felt energized by making music on his own, and in July 2014, Toy Soldiers played their final show. By this time, Gallo had released his first solo recordings, an 11-song album titled Ronny, in which he explored his pop sensibilities. Gallo relocated from Philadelphia to Nashville and assembled a band he called Ron Gallo, with Gallo on guitar and vocals, Joe Bisirri on bass, and Dylan Sevey on drums. With his new band, Gallo‘s style shifted into more aggressive territory, with a sound informed by garage rock and old-school punk. As he and his band developed a loyal following in Philadelphia and Nashville and word about his energetic live shows began to spread, he signed a record deal with New West. His first album for the label, Heavy Meta, was co-produced by Gallo and Joe Bisirri and was released in February 2017. He followed it in January 2018 with Really Nice Guys, an eight-song EP informed by his experiences promoting and touring behind Heavy Meta. October 2018 saw the return of Ron Gallo (the band) with their second full-length album, the sharp and wiry Stardust Birthday Party.
The band toured heavily in support of Stardust Birthday Party, and took most of 2019 off to recharge and regroup. Gallo booked some live dates for March 2020, but when venues for live music began to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he responded by live-streaming concerts from his home, eager to reach out to his fans and encourage them to stay home. The streaming shows were well received, and Gallo responded by helping coordinate an ongoing streaming music festival he dubbed the Really Nice Fest. In June 2020, Gallo issued a pop-influenced single, “YOU ARE ENOUGH,” which turned out to be a preview of a six-song digital EP, Please Don’t Die. The material led the way for his next album, 2021’s Peacemeal; recorded following the breakup of the band that cut Heavy Meta and Stardust Birthday Party, the songs found him exploring a more upbeat sound and arrangements that made extensive use of electronics while still maintaining his witty but pointed lyrical perspective.
Becca Mancari – BIOGRAPHY
Confronting one’s past doesn’t always end in a fiery explosion – sometimes, acceptance has the quiet strength of water. Becca Mancari knows this; it’s why she chose to name her new EP Juniata, after the rural Pennsylvania river where she spent much of her childhood. In this new collection, she returns to her past both literally and figuratively, casting new light with a stripped-down selection of some of her sophomore album’s most haunting tracks.
Released in June of last year, the critically-acclaimed The Greatest Part is a deceptively upbeat collection of sharp indie pop that explores Mancari’s experience growing up gay in a fundamentalist Christian home. Described by the New York Times as “Stereolab gone Nashville,” it boasts infectious electric guitar hooks and explosive percussion, cloaking the emotional weight of its subject matter in vibrant technicolor. The celebratory sound was by design – the album was meant as a paean to resilience and joy in the face of pain. Still, Mancari felt there was more to be expressed in these songs – she’d been having a recurring dream about the river, too, which felt like a symbol of unfinished business.
So she and producer Zac Farro reconvened, gathering around the grand piano in his home studio with bandmates Juan Solorzano and Caleb Hickman to retread some of the songs. The resulting arrangements put Mancari’s vocals at the forefront, carving a space for her incisive lyrics to resonate among sparse keys and guitars. These elements give devastating lines like “I remember the first time my Dad didn’t hug me back” more time to sink in. The addition of a string section amplifies this effect – on EP closer “Stay With Me,” Mancari’s musings on “children raising children” and “using God as a weapon” culminate in a heartbreaking orchestral outro. They also add an old Hollywood flourish to “Annie,” the only entirely unreleased song on Juniata. It’s a nod to Mancari’s more recent past – she wrote it in 2017, before The Greatest Part – but it feels at home among these tracks, a kind of unintentional response to “Stay With Me”. “When you fall away,” she assures, “I’ll be there.”
Though there is no shortage of formidable lyricism on Juniata’s tracks, listening to the EP recalls another line from The Greatest Part: “Do you know your body anymore?” she asked on “I’m Sorry.” “Does it haunt you every night? ” Exposing oneself isn’t easy, especially with the whole world watching. But as Mancari confidently peels back the layers of her songwriting to reveal their gut-wrenching core, one gets the sense that she isn’t feeling so haunted anymore.