By Tyler Asay
The Philadelphia-via-Lehigh Valley jam/ funk combo, The Groove Merchants, were known before the pandemic for their rowdy and soulful live shows, but just like everyone else, the virus forced them to reinvent themselves. Their previous LP, The Throne, came out in March right as everything began shutting down, so they believe it became “lost in the shuffle.”
Since playing live is what the Groove Merchants do best, and since that obviously can’t be done right now, the band is releasing a live EP that incorporates songs from The Throne and some covers, including this version of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” According to singer Tye Vallone, “We wanted to get the best tunes from the record back out in the aether and also showcase a live setting.”
Vallone also said, “We chose this song as the single because, needless to say, it’s been a crazy year and lots of people are struggling, especially us in the live music industry, but we love the ethos of this song and the comfort in the lyrics that no matter how dark things get, you can still see the sun coming up and know that eventually, you’ll be released from all the negative and be free in new and better things – as hopefully we all will soon be, too.”
The band’s take on the song has them joined by a group of friends singing together and playing horns to a cathartic release. When Vallone sings, “any day now, any day now,” you can tell he’s thinking of the day when the band can perform in front of audiences again.
Watch the live video for The Groove Merchant’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” below. Their new Live EP comes out soon, and The Throne is out now.