What stays with the audience is the poetry and lead vocals of Delopoulos, the unbelievable guitar work of Philippidi, the tightness of the band’s rhythm, and the close relationship of the band as the music and the night sweep us away to another, more beautiful, simpler time.
Burlap To Cashmere
In Concert at the Cup ‘O Joy Music Venue
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Seated near the stage in the close, comfortable setting of the Cup to take in Burlap To Cashmere (B2C), I could feel my growing sense of anticipation mix with that of the crowd surrounding me. Being a long-time fan of B2C, I never expected a second album after a 15-year hiatus, much less seeing them live in a close setting! The Brooklyn, New Jersey, New York-based band is lead by Steven Delopoulos (songwriter, lead vocals, guitar) and John Philippidi (lead guitar, percussion, vocals) with Theodore Pagano (drums, percussion, vocals), Michael Ernest (rhythm guitar, percussion, vocals) and Robbie Guarnera (bass, vocals).
The lights dim, the band leaves the artist’s lounge and makes the short climb to the stage as the audience greets. The night holds something very special in store as the set unfolds:
- “Love Reclaims the Atmosphere” - Philippidi and Delopoulos take the stage with vocals as crisp and clear as Simon and Garfunkel duets to begin the evening on a mellow note, this song highlights Delopoulos’ ability to ‘paint’ poetry into music.
- “Anybody Out There” - the five-piece band unites with a slow, mellow melody building to Philippidi’s guitar blazing.
- “Orchestrated Love Song” - continues the pace with lyrics matching roaming guitars and lyrics together developing great imagery. If ever passion inhabited a song this is it.
- “Skin is Burning” – soft beginnings lead to hot rhythm with Greek overtone.
- “Fancy Woods” – the first song written by Delopoulos as a teen is acoustic, clear and youthful.
- “Tonight” – deep, trembling guitar leads into Delopoulos’ clear, vibrant vocals giving his poetry deeper meaning. This song is highlighted by an elongated finish with Philippidi’s extraordinary lead solo as the music moves from his fingers, through the guitar, through his body ending with all moving as one to music and moment.
- “Digee Dime” – an awesome guitar solo highlighted by the rhythm guitarists addition on percussion gives this time tested favorite new life.
- “Chop, Chop” - written in high school by Delopoulos, another favorite of early B2C fans. This song continues to shine; ageless.
- “Nehemiah (Build A Wall)” – this song, like so many B2C songs, takes on a new quality when performed live. Here, with hot vocals and melody, Ernest shares percussion with Pagano while Delopoulos accents lyrics with an earthy, organic vocal cadence. Philippidi’s guitar sores to new heights.
- “Other Country” – when Delopoulos’ grandfather told him while on his death bed ‘I can see the other country’ he gave light to lyrics telling of Christian life leading to heaven. This is a very, very special moment, emotional for the singer / songwriter, band and audience alike.
- “Live in a Van” – a fictitious look at the life of a modern day musician, rambling and fun with an impromptu country-like break to comedic vocals of life in Wisconsin.
- “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” (BIBLE) – the song that catapulted B2C up CCM charts in the late ‘90s will always be a highlight of their shows. The story behind the title is of an old acquaintance, Jerry Bolt, whose studio they once recorded in saying ‘Steve, you know what this means?” pointing to the Bible’s title. “It means ‘Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth’”. Following Philippidi’s guitar solo, Pagano soloed on drums with Philppidi joining in on percussion for a raucous solo with the song setting new heights.
- ‘Eileen’s Song’ - Delopoulos performs a solo acoustic version having the audience join him for the chorus at song’s end.
- “Wallfly” - Philippidi joins Delopoulos for a rendition of this tune from Delopoulos’ first solo project, Straight Jacket. Together, this song has a comedic edge showcasing their chemistry and relationship.
- “The Boxer” - again Delopoulos and Philippidi join to give their rendition of the seminal Simon And Garfunkel hit, one they often played together in their youth long before there was a Burlap To Cashmere. Their duet is so clear and vibrant the listener is taken back to the late ‘60s / early ‘70s.
- As the remaining members of the band join Delopoulos and Philippidi on stage, the quality of long time friendship and family was evident as Philippidi would make fun of incidents in their shared youth with Delopoulos imitating a youthful incident with his father while on his knees acting as a child. As laughs mix with applauds, the band breaks into a comical Greek song with lyrics, ‘Wa hoo wa hoo hoo wa, you’re my number one for sure young son, I’m going to take you to Washington, you’re going to be my number on for sure. Wa hoo wa hoo hoo wa.’ The song climaxes as Guarnera takes a death-defying (LOL) leap from a chair and Ernst kicks out his final guitar lick as the last note sounds.
- “Dial God” – Delopoulos and Philippidi show how their long time chemistry on this tune written in Delopoulos’ youth. Philippidi concludes the song with a guitar solo of Greek influence with the band coming in at the end and Delopoulos reciting a prayer to the heated music.
- “Mansions” - the crowd would not allow B2C to leave without an encore, which Delopoulos gave in a solo, acoustic version of “Mansions”. Midway though the song the entire band joined him on stage singing the chorus to end the evening.
What stays with the audience is the poetry and lead vocals of Delopoulos, the unbelievable guitar work of Philippidi, the tightness of the band’s rhythm, and the close relationship of the band as the music and the night sweep us away to another, more beautiful, simpler time. In my time I have seen many concerts crossing many genres. Seeing Burlap To Cashmere is more that outstanding, it is one of life’s great moments. Without a second thought I would rank the B2C concert in my top 5 and a must see again and again
- A new Burlap To Cashmere album is in the works! See the following link for all the fun details:
- For more recent Burlap To Cashmere news, see the Steven Delopoulos interview and the Lifest Christian Festival review in this issue of The Phantom Tollbooth.
Scott S Mertens