In One Ear: Notes from the Local Music Scene

Matthew Gromala, Columnist

Uno. Dos. Tres. And no, I’m not talking Green Day.

I like the band, but the fact that they’ve never made up a local tour date they cancelled a few years back really left a bad taste in my mouth.

But I digress, I was just going for an interesting way to get across the fact I made it to column number three.

Spotlight: Traverse the Abyss

I’s like to introduce you to a relatively new band in the area: Traverse the Abyss, or TTA for short. Formed out of the ashes of previous local bands Without a Martyr and Threatpoint, TTA seeks to add to the local metal scene.

As front man of the group Eric ‘Rossi’ Ross describes it, “The old band mates wanted to start making music together again an evolution of Without a Martyr to say the least. With no hesitation Traverse the Abyss was formed and started to write songs.”

Besides vocalist Ross, the bands lineup is “Iron” Mike White on guitar, Mike “Bnock” Bienicki on bass and backing vocals, and last but not least (to trot out the tired cliché) Phil Luongo on drums (no nickname here).

The band has been steadily writing and recording since forming in the spring but waited to release anything until they had enough material to fill a 10-song album. Their first single, “One of a Kind,” dropped on Oct. 1, with the full album, “Gamble of Life,” set to follow on Nov. 26.

While TTA hasn’t played any live shows yet, members have a history of great shows with their other bands. TTA’s debut show is the Reaper’s Revenge Wrap Gala Nov. 26 at Lyrics in Carbondale,  following up with Hardcore Holiday at Scranton bar and venue The New Penny on Dec. 17.


There have been a couple of really great concerts to report on since the first column, both local acts and some nationally known. To start, and the best concert I’ve been to in a while, is Outlaw Fest at Montage Mountain in Moosic.

From the first act I saw, the Chris Robinson Band (which is the pet project of former Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson), the day was great. That was the first act I got to see live due to some excessive tailgating in the parking lot (where I suffered a slight, yet unfortunate fun-related injury to my hand, but that’s a story for another time), but it was a great entry to my time at Outlaw Fest.

Sheryl Crow played next, and while I wasn’t too sure of my opinion of her music going in, she made a fan out of me by the end of her set.

Then of course came the first of the night’s headliners, Neil Young. But before that I managed to wander over to the side stage that had some smaller acts playing, and I caught a local musician doing an entire set of Merle Haggard covers, actually a nice tribute to an absolute giant in music who sadly passed early this year. But then it was straight back to Neil.

Admittedly Neil has always been a musical hero of mine, ever since my dad first played “Old Man” in the car, on cassette tape, to show the age of this memory.

Neil Young played a killer set that night. The man sounds and moves around like he’s in his twenties. It must be all the yoga he does, but whatever it is, it is clearly working for him. He played songs I wouldn’t have believed in a million years he’d bust out, including “Cortez the Killer” and the certainly not radio friendly, “****** Up”. Young seemed to forgo many of his more well-known and mainstream hits, only  playing “Heart of Gold” and an almost ten minute version of “Rockin’ in the Free World”.

After Young, it wasn’t that long of a wait before Willie Nelson quietly came onstage, to the tune of his ever-popular hit, “Whiskey River.” He also played his duet with the now-deceased Waylon Jennings, “Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”, as well as an interesting choice of three Hank Williams, Sr. covers, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” “Move it On Over” and “Hey Good Lookin.” And of course he played “Georgia On My Mind.” But the one song I truly wish he played is a duet he originally performed with the late George Jones, “I Gotta Get Drunk.”

Another great show was legendary Ska band The Toasters at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, which an awesome way to spend my Friday night a few weeks ago.

I met their lead singer at their merch table and had no idea at the time, as I hadn’t seen a recent picture of the group in awhile.

It was really nice that local bar and venue Bart & Urby’s/The OtherSide was running an afterparty where concertgoers who brought their ticket stubs were given one free draft beer of their choice.

Until next time, keep listening to the music of your choice and support live music where and when you can. The scene depends on it.