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Til December's Altoona Swan Song
September 14, 2007 - Jim Price
This Sunday night, Sept. 16, at Pellegrine’s in Altoona, one of the state’s most popular bands, Til December, will make their final Altoona appearance before going their separate ways at the end of the month.
Up until two years ago, Til December was known as Backstreet Law. Backstreet Law first surfaced out of Wellsboro in 1991, and in the early years played in the Altoona area at Aldo’s and New Sebastiano’s (now City Limits). Only one member of that early incarnation of the band, bassist/singer Jamie Morral, still performs in the group. Morral’s brother, Jeff, a guitar player with the group early on, now runs sound for them.
Backstreet Law saw a number of lineup changes through the 90’s, before eventually arriving at their most stable incarnation of Morral on bass, Matt “Goody” Goudreau on lead vocals, Jeremy Edge on lead guitar, and Mike “Choke” Oakley on drums. The group achieved some national notoriety in the late 90’s when they signed with national independent record label Riviere International Records, and issued one album with the label, Hockey Helmet, prior to the label’s demise. The group, displaying a heavy sound that blended metal, hardcore and rap, performed nationally during that period, including stints in the Vans Warped Tour.
Citing lack of success within the state, Backstreet Law largely bypassed performing in Pennsylvania until six years ago, when they returned to build their statewide fan base. With a sound that blended current and classic rock/pop favorites against a booming, hard-rocking backdrop; Backstreet Law quickly caught on throughout the state, and steadily grew a sizable Altoona fan base with frequent appearances at Pellegrine’s and the 4D’s Lounge. Backstreet Law remained a touring powerhouse, again playing on the Vans Warped Tour, Jagermeister MusicTours, and appearing in the 2003 Rolling Rock Town Fair at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
After Oakley left the group in 2005, and citing their gradual change to a more melody-geared original sound, Backstreet Law announced they were changing their name to Til December, a title of a song from their most recent studio album from that same year, Frustrated.
After a career that saw them issue four independent CD’s, Til December is hanging it up indefinitely after September 22. The split is an amicable one, as the band members cited the need for a break after the years of constant touring. Singer Matt Goodreau plans to perform acoustic shows locally and maintain a less frequent playing schedule. Bassist Jamie Morral will focus on his business endeavor, JGM Coach, his Wellsboro-based bus leasing company. Guitarist Jeremy Edge plans to stay active in music, touring with other bands and releasing a solo album soon. And current drummer Tony Esposito, hobbled by back problems over the past year, plans to use the break to undergo physical therapy and get his back fully healed.
The group has left the door open for the possibility of reunion shows and future recording. But their status as a full-time band ends after this month. And for Altoona fans, this Sunday night at Pellegrine’s will be Til December’s local swan song performance.
Pellegrine’s is located at 1330 Pleasant Valley Boulevard in Altoona. For more information, call 943-9223.