Great Time: “I hope it comes across in the music how much fun we all have…” (2/11 at MilkBoy w/ Marielle Kraft)

This Saturday, February 11th, MilkBoy will be hosting PHILTHY MAG’s pick for the city’s best unofficial Super Bowl pre-party!  The concert — which is currently sold-out — will feature...

This Saturday, February 11th, MilkBoy will be hosting PHILTHY MAG’s pick for the city’s best unofficial Super Bowl pre-party!  The concert — which is currently sold-out — will feature the unlikely pairing of Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter Marielle Kraft with local openers Great Time, a dance-rock outfit whose sounds draw from the worlds of R&B, pop, electronic, folk, and classic rock, among others…  And who are well worth showing up early to see…  “We make lots of different types of music and one might even call us eclectic,” says vocalist Jill Ryan, laughing, during a recent phone chat with the trio, who released the Live in Philadelphia LP, recorded at our very own Brooklyn Bowl, this last December.  The live album is technically their second full-length, following up 2018 studio debut Great Album.  “Our recorded music is really different from how we play the songs live, and we did the Audiotree recording, but our Audiotree is from 2018, and we’ve done a lot of recording since then,” explains Jill.

Of this particular bill, Jill tells me, “It’s so funny, that lineup.  Marielle and I have been friends for a while – or, internet friends – and she asked us and was really enthusiastic.  It’ll be an interesting pairing, but that’s some of the fun of bills.”  She also tells me that all of the band’s shows are a little different, but tells me for this one, “It’ll be a trio, which is our purest form.  That’s how we started,” referencing when she, bassist Zack Hartmann, and drummer Donnie Spackman first began playing together as teens.

“We’re three really good friends that are basically family now, because we’ve been making music since we were 18 years old,” says Jill of Great Time’s origins, which actually began with travels from college in New York City to the Philadelphia suburbs, where the three discovered the vibe that would come to characterize the innerworkings of the band itself: “We went to The New School together, and we’d take the train to 30th Street and go out to the suburbs where Donnie’s from.  We would smoke joints and drink beer and just jam and party and make music, and I’d never done that (The joys of just being a college student!)…  We kind of replicate that energy every time we get onstage.”

Great Time have brought that energy to all kinds of different venues, from previous shows at MilkBoy, to World Café Live, Johnny Brenda’s, the XPoNential Music Festival, and Philadelphia Folk Festival.  However, they each seem to have their favorite settings.  “Bigger is better!  Like the Otis Mountain Get Down.  Playing outdoor shows on a really sick sound system is fun,” says Zack, while Jill tells me, “For me, it’s Johnny Brenda’s.  Playing smaller-ish rooms with lots of people.  I love the energy of being that close to the crowd.”

The variety of influences behind Great Time’s music seem to be never-ending (Jill mentions Megan Thee Stallion, Big Thief, Steve Lacy, Garfield Fleming, Roberta Flack, echelon the seeker, Finom, and our good buddies in mmeadows.) , but they do admit that Philadelphia’s own music provides lots of inspiration, with Donnie discussing the city’s history of jazz and soul, and Jill mentioning punk rockers Mannequin Pussy, emo outfit Sweet Pill, and the indie scene in general.  And in addition to being fans of Mannequin Pussy, Great Time also have a working friendship with founding member Marisa Dabice, who directed one of their recent music videos, a collaboration which Jill tells me they’re planning to revisit ASAP: “For the ‘I Could Be’ video we had a really cool experience with Marisa Dabice.  Working with her was so incredible and we learned so much.  More of that in the future!”

In addition to their set this Saturday at MilkBoy, Great Time will also be opening for jam band Twiddle April 8th at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center.  But they tell me their primary focus for the immediate future is settling in to make some more music, which will hopefully become their second studio LP.  And when I ask them if there’s anything they hope fans would keep in mind about Great Time, Jill enthusiastically tells me, “We don’t wanna stop!  We wanna get better with how we express ourselves,” before Donnie adds, “I hope it comes across in the music how much fun we all have, even when I’m doing annoying wiring things in the studio, I’m having fun,” and Zack finally proclaims, “I just hope they enjoy the music…  And if they don’t, they can listen to one of the thousands of other bands out there.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.