Kevin Riordan: Local band makes good with gig at the Troc

Bass player John McLeod, right, is really into the music as the band, "The Wayside Shakeup", rehearse in drummer's Mike Leger's basement. Meet "The Wayside Shakeup," a five-member rock band with roots in Haddon Township, NJ. They're starting to get some attention and are looking forward to what they hope will be a breakthrough show at the Troc on September 20, 2013. ( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )

"Let's do it again," Rob Volansky says.

He and his band, the Wayside Shakeup - Chris D'Antonio, Michael Leger, John McLeod, and Eric Raible - have just run through the nifty a cappella intro to "Goin' to See Her."

That's an original tune from their new CD, Optimistic, and it sounds fine in the Delaware County basement at Sunday's rehearsal.

The Wayside Shakeup has a big gig coming up, however. The guys will be at the Trocadero in Philly on Friday, performing in a showcase of local acts.

So the five reharmonize (I'm goin' to see her/I know it won't be long/I know I'll be there/When she's gone). And the second take is the charm.

"This is what they'll be hearing Friday," Volansky, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, says with a satisfied grin. "We're going to make loud, awesome music."

The Wayside Shakeup's members have roots in South Jersey and Delaware County, surely among the rock bastions of the Philly region. They draw collective nourishment from many genres and artists - "we mix it up," Raible says - write hook-laden tunes, and enjoy a contagious sort of camaraderie.

Perhaps that's because the guys are all over 30, married or in long-term relationships, with make-a-living day jobs and a realistic view of what it means to be in a band.

Backstage dramas? Onstage meltdowns? Partying out of bounds? That's so . . . Justin Bieber. (Make that Miley Cyrus.)

Volansky, 38, is a medical journalist who lives in Haddon Township, which is where lead guitarist and legal assistant D'Antonio, 30, now of South Philly, and medical editor Raible, 32, a keyboardist living in Cherry Hill, grew up as well.

Bass player McLeod, 49, of Drexel Hill, is a contractor, and drummer Leger, 50 ("I'm the grandfather of the group"), is a mechanic at Philadelphia International Airport.

The rehearsal takes place in Leger's Aston, Pa., basement, where I get to hear most of the set planned for the Troc, the venerable Chinatown venue with a national reputation.

"Playing there is a step up," McLeod notes. "A huge notch in the belt!" Leger says. "My brother took me to see Dylan there when I was 15," D'Antonio adds.

Some of the band mates have made music together or with other musicians for years; the Wayside Shakeup's current lineup was established in July 2012.

They've since played 10 gigs, including one at Dobbs, on South Street, and also will perform at the Sept. 25 "Farm to Fork" dinner at the Westmont Farmers Market.

"I love those guys," market manager Doug Kelly says.

I'd never heard them until my de facto private concert in the basement. But I can confirm: The Wayside Shakeup rocks.

So what's with the name?

"Chris and I were walking down South Street," Volansky recalls. "A white limo pulls up, the window rolls down, and a guy [who might have been] Sylvester Stallone says, 'Are you guys looking for a wayside shake-up?'

"And we keep walking and said to each other, 'We should call the band that.' "

So they did, soliciting for a drummer and bass player on Craigslist, and recording two CDs.

The cover of Optimistic features a retro image of an ocean diver launching himself from a lofty platform.

"We sort of came across [the photo], and we all liked it," Volansky says.

The title, I note, suggests a happy outcome.

"It's less about what happens when he lands," says Volansky, "and more about the fact that he took the leap."


Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845 or, or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the Metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at