Snacktime Philly

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Philadelphia’s favorite seven-piece brass band is dropping their first album. Snacktime Philly, which made a name for itself with outdoor performances that brought people joy during the height of the pandemic, is planning to bring its instruments inside. It’s now unclear when that will happen.

Originally set for late December, the live recording sessions set to take place at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Germantown are now being postponed.

“Unfortunately a Snacktime member has tested positive for COVID,” the band wrote Wednesday on Instagram, announcing the postponement. “This is obviously heartbreaking to us, but everyone’s safety is absolutely the most important thing.”

The band, which became famous for its impromptu Rittenhouse Square parties, marched in the Vax Up Philly Parade, hosted outdoor picnics, and played at the Flower Show, was eager to perform for fans indoors. The events will be rescheduled — “this is by no means a cancelation,” says the Insta post — and when they do, each session will require proof of vaccination.

“It’s kind of a culmination of this whole year,” said Snacktime sousaphone player Sam Gellerstein. “When we started we couldn’t play at venues, which is what forced us to start a band that could just perform out in the streets, because everything was shut down.”

Attendees will get an up-close view of the band’s recording process, complete with a live feed of audio piped directly from the mixing board to individual sets of headphones.

“The idea is really just to kind of do exactly what we did during the pandemic, but now to a room of people,” Gellerstein said. “We figured a private studio session with just us wouldn’t really capture what we do, which is feed off the energy of people.”

The recording sessions will ultimately yield “Sounds of the Street,” an album of original music the band plans to release — on vinyl — by mid-2022.

Only 55 tiered-price tickets were available for each of the planned events, with food from Liberty Kitchen, wine from Mural City Cellars, and cocktails by former Zahav sommelier Brian Kane. The included dinner was just the start: fans could choose from a range of crowdfunding-style benefits, including band merch or “donor level” perks like a personal hour-long performance paired with a four-course meal prepared by members of the band. Fans could also get in on the fun virtually: tickets for the livestream event were $20 each.

Refunds will be offered for anyone who wants one, according to the band’s Instagram message, but they’re hoping people hold on and wait for the concert to happen.

“If you would like to have your tickets applied to the later date (TBD) it would mean a lot to us,” they wrote, “and we promise to make it worth your while.”

Credit: Courtesy Snacktime Philly

As the band’s name suggests, the edible part of the experience is just as important as the music they’ll be playing.

“You get food from a menu that we had input on,” said Ben Stocker, who plays tenor sax in the band. “You get drinks that are Snacktime custom cocktails. It’s not just like ‘Oh, there’s some food.’ It’s going to be a really important part of it.”

Stocker and Gellerstein, who say they’ve been best friends for over a decade, are joined by fellow musicians Yesseh Furaha-Ali, Michael Spearman, Eric Sherman, Austin Marlow, and Larry Monroe Jr. to make up the core of Snacktime Philly. Beyond the album, they’re hoping to curate an experience that is intimate, interactive, and multi-sensory.

“We’ve worked hard to build a reputation that if you come to our thing and you trust us, you know you’re gonna get amazing food, amazing drinks, amazing desserts, and amazing music,” said Gellerstein. “We try to make it a whole package thing. Everything has a lot of thought put into it and it’s all important to us.”

While the band sees these events and the accompanying foray into recorded music as the start of a new chapter in their career, Snacktime Philly is by no means forgetting its roots anytime soon.

“We enjoy playing in the park just as much as we do at the Sixers game,” said Stocker. “It’s a lot less stressful to play in a park and just go do our thing. So we will still be out there next year for sure.”

The members of Snacktime Philly: Sam Gellerstein, Austin Marlow, Aaron Goode, Ben Stocker, Kayla Childs, Eric Sheman, Michael Spearman, and Yesseh Furaha-Ali Credit: Courtesy Snacktime Philly