Local Reviews / Music

Photo Radio: Bringing the Funk Back!


There is Funk and Soul coming out of Severna Park, Maryland going by the name Photo Radio and it’s permeating throughout the state and into neighboring DC, Virginia and West Virginia. Fronted by lead vocalist Mary eL, this rich, savory melding of funk, rock, a tinge of R&B and raw life are thrilling folks on the music scene by tapping into their souls, emotions and enveloping their bodies with rhythm and uptempo. The band is comprised (as they put it) by Austen, who provides the rhythm, Shane the thump, Dave the funk, Will the back-beat, and of course, Mary eL the soul.

The messages in their lyrics, mostly written by Mary eL, are simple and heartfelt. In their delivery, their driving culmination of beats and notes flow like vibrations through the air, pervading the room, making the spirit inside dance and look around at the sea of smiles and head-bobbing in the crowd. Mary eL is captivating with her voice, her stage presence, and the fervency of the band is hard to resist. They have a unique sound all to themselves, which makes an accurate description of them a bit of a challenge. “All of us are well versed in different styles and come from different music backgrounds,” says Mary eL, “and that’s what really helps us create something funky, yet have a rock element to our music.” Mary eL says her biggest influences include Lauryn Hill and the late Amy Winehouse, both distinguished performers in their respective genres. Mary eL’s vocal range and charisma give the band unconventional character when compared to other bands playing the rock circuit. Their song arrangements, time signatures, and added funkiness (such as that from Dave, their percussionist) give their music a distinctive quality unlike any other act in the DC/Baltimore area. They are a band that has been under the radar, but their universal appeal is earning their place among the more quality acts as they continue to play live shows throughout the region.

Perhaps one of the most noticeable aspects of a Photo Radio’s live show is the natural and relaxed feel they exert on stage. Whereas some groups go out of their way to showoff and be a glam spectacle, this band vibes right in front of you with raw groove, giving their audiences all the energy they have. And it appears to happen rather naturally. Every musician in this group is in synch with one another, so it is obvious they have gelled musically and have found their niche. “We’re really like family,” Mary eL  goes on to say,”we speak freely and can be ourselves around each other so I feel there isn’t any tension and that’s awesome.” Mary eL explains the members of the band all share in the collaboration process when writing music, instilling their influences and life experiences into the mix. The songs Photo Radio produces are relished by music lovers cool enough to catch them live, since their debut CD isn’t due for release until later this year. They are also working on an acoustic album, which is also due for release soon. Stay tuned for more information on their music releases. In the meantime, visit their websites, like them on Facebook and check them out live JUNE 21 at the Summer Solstice Jam at Red House Tavern 2239 Essex St, Baltimore, MD (410) 522-0015. The show starts at 9PM. They are definitely worth checking out.




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