Townhall

Sweet Abilene

Townhall was formed by five jazz majors, who all met at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Four of the five original members were from the Philadelphia area, including Narberth, Phoenixville, and Lancaster. The exception, Mark Smidt, is from Los Angeles, CA. Their first performance was October 18, 2000, setting in motion the formation of the band as a full time endeavor. The original members, George Stanford, Tim Sonnefeld, Mark Smidt, Kevin Pride, and Nate Skiles all contributed individual creativity to the continually changing style of their music. One key factor contributing to Townhall's unique style was their ability to play a very large range of instruments. Most notable was their brass, with members exchanging guitars for trumpets, and back, throughout their shows. They performed together, releasing Live at the Point (2001) and The New Song (2003) along the way. Upon the release, The New Song was deemed by critics and audiences alike as Townhall's most musically accomplished album. In early 2005, however, Nate left the band on amicable terms to play guitar in Amos Lee's touring band, after playing mandolin on Amos's first record. This move changed the band dramatically.

A new member, Dave Streim, joined the band after Nate's departure, bringing his keyboard and multi-instrumental skills with him. This change left the band with the need to restructure their sound to accommodate the lineup change. This "new" Townhall removed the majority of the brass from their lineup, focusing more on traditional rock and roll. Their first show featuring their "new" sound was on May 6, 2005, in Sellersville, PA. A few of their more popular songs featuring brass were reworked for the keyboard and guitar, resulting in a very different sound. Many fans, who praised them for their audacity to experiment with a wide range of instruments, were shocked by their new style.

The release of American Dreams on June 17, 2005, after their show at the Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia, signaled a significant and important shift in Townhall history. The band responded to the "disgruntled" fans by masterfully bringing back the brass, unbeknownst to audience members prior to the show. The American Dreams release was the most significant part of that night, however, because this was be the band's first CD distrubted by a record label.

The band officially broke up on May 8, 2006.