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Tony Mecca: Press/Reviews

Snow ... What Snow?

The tristate area saw its first real snowfall of the season a few weeks ago. As a show promoter, venue owner or performing band, inclement weather is always a stressor. Will the snow let up? Will people safely venture out to come to the show? On Saturday, January 7th everyone involved with Loud & Local Live at The Block Entertainment Center (inside Harrah’s Philadelphia) got the answers to those very questions. The purpose and drive behind the Loud & Local events is to give up and coming artists from our area the chance to showcase their talents and for us to give some much-needed support to the local music community. With four bands on the bill and 93.3 WMMR’s Jacky Bam Bam hosting the show, the stage was set for an amazing night of music.

Opening the show was South Philly’s own Tony Mecca & The Heavy Mental Gypsys. The seasoned singer/songwriter along with his tremendously talented band treated the crowd to a set of original “Mecca Styled” rock songs filled with emotional lyrics, catchy choruses, and amazing harmonies. My personal favorite being “Write It” combined many different genres of music to produce a beautiful, heartfelt song that drew me in until the very last note. The contrasting vocals between the raspy growl of Tony’s voice combined with the classical beauty and depth of Stephanie’s was a match made in heaven. This band is a definite must see. Catch them on February 17, 2017 at Bar 2300 in Philadelphia, PA ... Read the entire article HERE!

Heavy Mental Gypsies - Review
5 out of 5 stars!


Tony Mecca has a love affair with Rock and Roll music. If you're fortunate enough to catch his band, the Heavy Mental Gypsys live, or to sit down and give a good listen to his latest CD, you will fall in love too. From the opening track, the Mecca-penned "The Farmer," through nearly two dozen songs - mostly originals with delightful covers of "Eleanor Rigby" and "Riders on the Storm" - Mecca's gravel-voiced authenticity, his emotionally honest lyrics, catchy refrains and rousing choruses, along with the band's effortless rhythms and fun-filled hooks are guaranteed to lift your soul and make you grin.

Catchy guitar riffs, fun-filled story-verses and wondrous bridges comprise this well crafted, original album from South Philly's troubadour of song. Speaking of story-verses: Mecca's songwriting is a narrative burst of hardscrabble blue-collar strivers, charming losers, hopeless romantics and urban dreamers. With backup help from vocalist/clarinetist Stephanie Davis-Gonzales, guitarist Joe Pettit, and a rhythm section featuring Bill Saltzer on bass and Jim Drnec on drums - along with occasional help from violinist Michelle Davis and John Merlino on piano - helped by an assortment of "guest Gypsys," the album is gorgeously produced by Mecca.

On songs like "I Ain't That Stupid Anymore," Mecca's clever lyrics and slide guitar are pushed toward rock glory by Mike Cotrill's solid lead guitar. Other tracks, like the charming "Oh Caroline" feature Merlino's stalwart piano playing in Mecca's lush arrangements.

"Shy" is a haunting-yet-hopeful slower-paced song of yearning and mystery. On "Corridors" we're treated to Mecca solo on acoustic guitar in a heart-felt testament to everyday life on the block.

Lovingly composed and masterfully produced, Heavy Mental Gypsies belongs in any serious music lover's collection.

Mecca's music is like the Broad Street Subway: Deep, thunderous, rattling and direct. It's quite a ride. It will get you there.

Heavy Mental Gypsies - Review
Tony Mecca's Heavy Mental Musical Chairs


There's a poem by Antonio Machado that reminds me of all good music and what it should do to the listener...

"Idling once in a dream,
the hand that sowed the stars plucked a single string of the vast lyre.
The long-forgotten music came to life and a humble ripple ended at our lips,
carrying some few brief words of truth."

Tony Mecca's latest album Heavy Mental Gypsies plucks that single string of the vast lyre and carries some few brief words of truth--one in the music and the other in his lyrics. I felt the humble ripple at the end of my lips while blasting the CD in my car as I drove around South Philadelphia, the brick and asphalt grid that informs and inspires most of Mecca's music. This unique but ever-changing neighborhood and the people in it are the footage for his soundtrack but you can listen to it anywhere and run your own movie. And as my Life Coach and Personal Trainer Ken Kesey once sagely advised: Always stay in your own movie...

This album can hit you on several other levels as well; most of them have the same old buttons that never wear out and always deliver. And there are 23 of them to be exact. 23 songs that shift gears from one mood to another without grinding or lurching. Some of them ease back or slow down after a hard rocking run but none of them stall out from mediocrity or fishtail into loud noise. All 23 of them are like a well-designed set of comfortable musical chairs for the mind - Flying Lazy Boys if you will. Some songs, like the opening track - The Farmer - leap out of the speakers with a big funky chomp, especially from Jim Drnec’s drums coupled with Mecca’s sardonic vocal and lyrics. Following this guitar-whipped intro you can settle down for the best part of the trip as the Gypsy caravan takes you on an eclectic musical tour of at least a dozen vistas. Most of these, in the very best sense of the word, have derivations in their spheres… The kind I enjoy recognizing and responding to in what are otherwise distinctly original tunes.

When I say derivations I mean whispers, slices, mists, quiet echoes and subtle references that trigger intense musical sweet-spots in a brand new way with Tony Mecca at the wheel and his Mental Gypsies riding shotgun. By way of a short list I’ll give you an example of what I’ve heard (or dreamed I’ve heard) while rolling along in my four-wheel Listening Post: Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, Graham Parker, Tom Waits, The Faces, Dave Mason (Alone Together), John Prine, Ray Davies, David Crosby (solo) and Bruce Springsteen—on a Harley or a Boardwalk Ferris Wheel… And of course above and beyond all of this is Tony Mecca and his Gypsies.

Heavy Mental Gypsies is Tony Mecca’s fifth CD album and his very best work to date. The previous recordings are all original tunes and finely crafted to the note and nuance. They are, like many well-made records, marked by high and low points. Moods are varied and tangents are taken. Stories are told and characters are created to inhabit them. They come out of the past or haunt the present. Some are whimsical while others are melancholic. Several are desperate and almost all of them march or die in what I like to call The Private Sector of the brick and mortar maze of 2nd Street, South Philadelphia. This is obviously a tried and true tradition and one, if our luck holds out, we never tire of. Especially when it is updated and infused with fresh plasma of the musical type. And this latest Band of Gypsies is simmering if not brimming with the stuff on every track.

To repeat: 23 songs … In musical currency this is both an honest bargain and a high-end windfall. Part of this is because Tony Mecca doesn’t know how to present it any other way. And in the end, like all such things, the songs are a gift, a very generous and thoughtful one. But in spite of having touted them this way I will not do a line Item run at every song since this will leave nothing to the listener’s imagination or anticipation. What I will do since I am a fellow listener and not a music critic is address a small sampling of my favorite cuts plus the Specials on this musical menu…

The Farmer, as mentioned above, is the strongest opening track that Mecca has ever done. Not only is it strong it is simply appropriate. The Right One. And if I can sneak back into my derivation bag just momentarily, the best parts of Warren Zevon’s Ghost hover in the distance on The Farmer. The second track—Write It—with Queen Gypsy Stephanie Davis-Gonzalez on vocals is a smooth downshift into Country/Western/Fairport Convention territory. A real Gem of the genre. I Ain’t That Stupid has the finger-style virtuoso Jon Mark whispering in Meccas’ ear not to forget him. Tracks 4 and 5: Two Trees/Three Trees brought me back to the finest moments on Dave Masons’ classic LP Alone Together—Fuzzy Coda guitar and all. Track 8: Shy is simply that … A shy boys’ lament, the kind of song you hear while lying in a hammock under a light drizzle. Track 9: Corridors is a somber but most savory Lullaby that brings my only complaint - It’s too short. Track 12: Say Goodbye to Judas is my second or third favorite of the 23. It is a very upbeat Fuck You Sweetheart, I’m outta here song. It’s all attitude wrapped in escape velocity liberation. It is the perfect tune for driving the back roads to the shore or the mountains in order to catch-up with your friends following an extended stay with the wrong person.

The very best song on Tony Meccas’ Heavy Mental Gypsies and my absolute favorite is The Friends of Joey Coyle. This song is nothing less than an anthem. It has the potential to become a Legend which is what the Tragic Hero in its source material is steadily becoming. And I dare say, given the right circumstances, this song could reach Mythic status—the kind Born to Run has attained. At the risk of over-stating my case, I will let it go at that with a caveat regarding the final (23rd track): an acoustic version of The Friends of Coyle that works like a classic Dirge of the Neil Young variety.

The Specials I referred to are the Covers. They are well-chosen and rendered to perfection. One is The Doors Riders on the Storm, a haunting Jazz-Infused hypnotic in its original form. The other is The Beatles Eleanor Rigby (where Rock N’ Roll meets Thomas Hardy) sung by Stephanie Davis-Gonzalez in which she all but channels the lonely British spinster. I shall say no more about these two since, like all Specials, they should be taken on recommendation and good faith.

Heavy Mental Gypsies is Tony Mecca’s latest offering and his fifth album-length CD. All of his previous efforts are of the same high-caliber as this one in almost every regard. The meticulous production values, the 1st rate personnel, the subtle but focused themes of each project, the unique Artwork, disc and packaging quality and of course … the songs. All of his songs, covers included, get the Treatment. And then some…But this latest effort is different. It is a culmination of Mecca’s creative Trip which spans close to four decades now. He arrived at this point due to a lifetime struggle that has been driven by passion, discipline, an unflagging stamina and a loving need to share and connect. The musical momentum he has created and maintained to get to this place—Heavy Mental Gypsies—is nothing less than remarkable. So I strongly suggest you pay for this ticket and take the ride in one of the Mental Lazy Boys I referred to above. Tony Mecca and The Heavy Mental Gypsies will definitely take you there… One song at a time.
Joseph Van Blunk - Free Lance Blog (Feb 9, 2016)

Heavy Mental Gypsies - Review

A Cold Shot of Humility & Pure Passion


The long awaited new album from Philly songster Tony Mecca has finally arrived. And just in time to attempt saving our pompous and ego driven society with a cold shot of humility and pure passion. In earlier web site posts, this project had been stated as a "collection of older album remakes; cover songs; live work and some new songs that don't fit in with what we normally do." Well, from these humble roots, this new song cycle has blossomed into a wondrous and majestic mother tree of revealing introspection, romantic intrigue and further exploration into the joy and tragedy of "The Human Drill." Via tender metaphor (Two Trees & Corridors) and hilarious tongue-in-cheek body-shots (The Farmer & I Ain't That Stupid Anymore), Heavy Mental Gypsies provides further evidence that Mecca is a master storyteller and street philosopher, who also delivers impassioned performances and unrelenting hooks at every turn and stop-light of his beautiful city landscape. Very highly recommended! (CDBaby)
CDBaby - CDBaby (Feb 9, 2016)


Interviews

Tony Mecca - Underneath Magazine - November 2011
Ryan Groves gets down to the business of the Internet's role and effect on the music industry. Indispensable or disastrous? Tony tells all.

Tony Mecca - Salisbury Daily Times (MD) - September 15, 2011
Writer Josh Davis asks Tony about his beginnings, his singing voice and the cast of "misfits" that usually populate his songs.

Tony Mecca - Junior's Cave (Brunswick, GA) - September 2011
Isaac Davis Jr of Junior's Cave Online Magazine gets deep into Tony's head for his opinion on the plight of the independent musician among other timely issues.

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Cyndy Says...

"After seeing Tony Mecca and his band perform at the North Star Bar this past Mischief Night (10/30/09), it made me lament for my days of playing local bands’ music on the radio. If I still had my show “Street Beat” I surely would have featured Tony on the air to turn other people on to his music and passion, and let them know about his show."

"What keeps me coming back to see Tony Mecca live is his songs. Tony is a solid songwriter with catchy melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and music that transports you to another place. Put that together with a band that plays flawlessly and you have a top-notch night of entertainment. Such as it was that night. Bravo!"

*Cyndy Drue has been an on-air personality at rock radio stations in Philadelphia since 1977 (WYSP, WMMR, WXPN, WMGK) - Her weekly, hour-long show "Street Beat" that featured unsigned bands from the area aired on WMMR from 1986-1996. She now works as the Event Reporter on Classic Rock WMGK (102.9 FM) and is on the air occasionally. Check out Cyndy's web site - www.cyndydrue.com
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Reviews, Articles & Blogs

Tony Mecca @ World Cafe Live - July 20, 2011
A short reflection of The World Cafe Live (Philadelphia) show by freelance music reviewer/lover, John Slights.

Tony Mecca - Live at Van Blunk's - May 2011
The "Living Room Concert Series" is a very special and unique event. Jay Schweitzer offers his take on the performance.

"A Night at Cookies Bar"
Eric Cholminski reviews Tony Mecca's 3/22/08 live performance at Cookies Bar in South Philadelphia.

Tony Mecca - Live At Van Blunk's - May 19, 2007
Jay Schweitzer reviews and lends his impressions of Tony Mecca's performance at this unique "Living Room Concert".

"The Neighborhood As Muse"
This opinion and analysis of Tony Mecca's work was submitted to our site by esteemed Philadelphia writer and filmmaker Joseph Van Blunk.

"The Tony Mecca Sound"
This description of Tony Mecca's music was submitted by former HABITS/MECCA promotion guru and longtime band supporter, Tom Betteridge.

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Quick Quotes

"HELLO, GOODBYE & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN is the Everly Brothers, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp from a blender, poured into melodic Americana via street-level tales of everyman and his or her tales of love and longing, work, and watching life play itself out. A great slice of Americana! "
- John Collinge, Progression Magazine (Aug 14, 2007)

"Beautiful east coast Romanticism! "HELLO, GOODBYE …" recounts tales of life and love in the blue-collar South Philly, Irish/Italian neighborhood where Mecca has spent his life. “Americana rootsy” w/ lyrics reminiscent of Springsteen or Cohen but with a gritty Philly twist. A wonderful effort - Highly recommended"
- James MacMillan, Amazon.com (Oct 12, 2007)

I'm going to stop at “Plain Jane and Average Joe” because I'll write forever. “Just two unknown faces in the book of so and so” – Like just another dreamer dreaming about everyman. I thought Tony’s new CD was four stars and I thought his live concert was even better. I have paid good money for bigger names and received far less. As I exclaimed that night – BRAVO!
- Jay Schweitzer - Pine Island, New York (Jun 2, 2007)

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Magazine & Newspaper Reviews

PROGRESSION MAGAZINE #51 - SUMMER 2007

TONY MECCA:
HELLO, GOODBYE & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
Released: March 2007 - Style: Pop/Rock
Format (CD) - Time (70:05)
Composition, Performance, Musicianship, Sound:
“12” of “16” stars"


Sometimes it helps one's musical perspective to step out of your comfort zone and explore other "worlds". But if I hadn't already known Tony Mecca was a proghead, I never would have guessed by the music he makes.

HELLO, GOODBYE & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN is the Everly Brothers, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp from a blender, poured into melodic Americana via street-level tales of everyboy and everygirl. Genuine innocence - whatever became of it? Mecca and friends turn back the clock keeping it sweet and simple via tunes like "An American Kid," "Annie Walks Through Town," "The Night We Danced" - pretty much any of the 22 tracks offered here. (Take your pick.)

Nothing remotely, at all, suggesting even a hint at progressive rock. No, that's light years in the future, if at all, for grandkids of the protagonists populating Mecca's sweet tales of love and longing, work, partying and watching life play itself out.

But wait - wasn't that a Moog (synthesizer) line dancing around "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"? Tony, you scoundrel!

PROGRESSION MAGAZINE #50 - FALL 2007

TONY MECCA:
PURPLE MONKEYS
Released: October 2003 - Style: Pop/Rock
Format (CD) - Time (42:56)
Composition, Performance, Musicianship, Sound:
“11” of “16” stars

TONY MECCA:
PRINCES OF THE NEW DARK AGE
Released: March 2005 - Style: Pop/Rock
Format (CD) - Time (46:13)
Composition, Performance, Musicianship, Sound:
“11” of “16” stars

Philadelphia balladeer Tony Mecca might best be described as an "undiscovered talent" who, in the hands of the right production team, could generate ripples on the Pop/AOR front. His music is not "progressive rock" per se, though it does feature the occasional symphonic flourish and sprightly synth solo. Rather, this is rootsy pop a la Bruce Springsteen/Billy Joel/Tom Petty, etc., that is melodically accomplished, catchy and fun to listen to. In fact, the material on these two self-produced discs is strong enough to question why some label hasn't snagged the guy and given him a shot at wider audiences.

Mecca has a slightly rough voice that fits the lyrics well - ruminations on friends, loves, growing pains and life's ironies. He also plays guitar and bass, assisted by David Decca on keyboards. Pick most any track from these two albums and you'll find a ditty worth sinking your teeth into. A gem like "Say Goodbye to Judas," (from Princes... ) for instance, might leave you wondering what radio station you heard it on first.
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GarageBand.com Song Reviews

The Girl from the Sand
Logic
Suzie Lone Star Hero
Boy Meets Girl
Dennis and I
We Always Lie

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Press & Booking Information

View Tony Mecca's EPK
View Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for Press and Booking Information

Download Artist Profile for Press and Booking Information
(Microsoft Word Version)


Download Artist Profile for Press and Booking Information
(Adobe PDF File)


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