Written by: Frank Iacono
It’s a fair statement to say that the quintet who comprise the band Almshouse have a seemingly insatiable appetite for making music. Almshouse led by guitarist Troy Schoenmeier and bassist Ken Belli, both founding members of the popular Bucks County, Pennsylvania-based original rockers The SOBs, combines an intelligent guitar-driven blues oriented sound with solid classic rock-n-roll.
Rounding out the Almshouse lineup are guitarist Jim Wyatt, drummer Darren Walbridge, and a powerful smoky-voiced singer named Kathlyn Ashford. During their live performances, the band conveys a no-nonsense approach, whereby the audience immediately connects with their music and feels each and every note that they are playing.
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing the entire band from Almshouse and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their opinion of the local music scene, and their past and upcoming performances.
The Creative Spotlight: How did you come up with the band name Almshouse?
Almshouse: We’re Almshouse. We’re called Almshouse because we liked it. The group voted on it and it made sense. Almshouse is a road in Bucks County Pennsylvania that kind of connects us all, and the places we’re from. Plus, it was better than most of the other names we thought of. When you’re in a band, you kind of feel what’s right with regard to your name. This felt right.
TCS: For readers of The Creative Spotlight, who have never heard of Almshouse or your music, can you please describe for us your musical genre?
Almshouse: Almshouse is a blend of different genres of music. We agree that putting a label on our music is not only difficult, but can lead to misperceptions and misinterpretations. However, we describe our music as a mix of blues and classic rock.
TCS: Can you introduce us to the Almshouse lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?
Almshouse: Our band lineup consists of the following five people:
- Kathlyn Ashford – Lead Singer
- Troy Schoenmeier – Lead and Rhythm Guitarist
- Jim Wyatt – Lead and Rhythm Guitarist
- Ken Belli – Bassist
- Darren Walbridge – Drummer
TCS: How long has the current lineup of Almshouse been playing together?
Almshouse: Some of us have known each other for many years. But the current lineup is relatively new.
TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Almshouse use?
Almshouse: The equipment we use is the best: Gibson and Fender guitars among other top of the line brands. We play from the heart. It wouldn’t matter what instruments we had.
TCS: At what age did you guys individually realize that you wanted to be musicians?
Almshouse: We all decided from an early age that music was for us, and we would sing and play from our souls. It goes back too far to remember. We used music as a way to comfort ourselves and remind ourselves that we have something to offer…something that not everyone can give.
TCS: As a band what famous musicians do each of you admire and how have they influenced you individually and collectively as a group?
Almshouse: We’ve been discussing our influences and favorites every time we meet and jam. It literally ranges from hip hop to classic rock and we try to have respect for everyone’s taste. Doesn’t always happen…we argue and agree and give each other weird looks like we can’t believe the other could possibly like “that musician”.
TCS: How does Almshouse feel about the local music scene here in the tri-state area?
Almshouse: As a collective band, we agree that “local music” should not only be supported but respected. There is a lot of damn good music out there. We’re always encouraged and motivated by other local musicians such as the Kelly Stratton Band.
TCS: Share with us some details about your performance at The Puck back in February opening up for the Kelly Stratton Band?
Almshouse: We were honored to have opened for the Kelly Stratton Band at The Puck in Doylestown, PA. It was such a great time.
TCS: Describe with us what your rehearsals are generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
Almshouse: We believe that Almshouse measures up to all that we have worked for. We practice as if each week we are going to perform live for an anticipatory crowd, which is full of expectation and a robust appetite for really good music.
TCS: Describe for us the Almshouse song writing and recording process?
Almshouse: When we write and record, we do so in a methodical fashion…or maybe we don’t. There’s always a revamping or alteration or reworking of whatever song we’re rehearsing. Some of us come up with lyrics that are insane and deep and meaningful. And then some of the others engender amazing melodies that accompany the words that have been written. Sometimes the toughest thing we encounter is agreeing on the pace of the song. But that’s never a tough fix. We find our groove and meld like a set of matching cards in a game of Rummy.
TCS: Music fans have a burning desire to be entertained when they go out. Do you think your band lives up to their expectations and why?
Almshouse: We play for a variety of crowds. But no matter who those crowds are, we strum our guitars, beat our drum and sing from our souls so that we can offer the best performance possible. We want our music to convey a sense of freedom to feel the notes we are playing. We play as if our lives depend on it. And to us, they do. Because we love music.
About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.