Germany Hill is a Philly-area band that takes its name from a tract of open space between Roxborough and Manayunk. Germany Hill the place is an anomaly, twenty acres of sylvan hillsides nestled between two northwestern Philadelphia neighborhoods. Musically, Joe McAvoy (guitar/vocals) and Fitz Gallagher (guitar/vocals) comprise the bisected song-writing halves of Germany Hill the band. Germany Hill began as a mostly acoustic singer-songwriter duo, but their dynamic, original songs screamed out for a solid rhythm section and some voltage. Since Ren Parker (bass) and Mark Keegan (drums) came on board a few years ago, this rock-and-roll band has been delivering live performances as dynamic and authentic as Joe and Fitz’s original numbers.
Joe McAvoy (vocals & guitar), a Philly-area native is a self-taught songwriter, producer, singer and guitar player who played in a few short-tenured hard-rock/heavy metal bands in his formative high school days. Joe soon left these bands to cut his teeth gigging with his older brothers and friends in the band Don McAvoy & The Grea Whatever (DMCGW). DMCGW played the Philly bar and original music club scene extensively while Joe was still in high school! DMCGW band members backed Don McAvoy (lead vocals & various instruments) on Don’s debut 2 CD solo release effort “Sometimes the Characters Speak Louder than the Lesson of the Story” which Joe Co-Produced with his brother, Don in 1996. Joe also played guitar, glockenspiel, performed background vocals on and co-produced DMCGW’s second release “Peace Love and Scrapple”, a 4 song EP of Novelty, Holiday & Theme songs released in 1998. More info on Joe’s contributions with DMCGW andtheir upcoming third CD (also co-produced by Joe) “There’s Time Between The Bridge And The Water”, can be found at www.dmcgw.com. Joe also wrote, played guitar, banjo, sang vocals and produced the jinglecurrently used by Holly Days Nursery based in Horsham, PA which is presently under license with Holly Days and used regularly in their advertising campaigns. The “Holly Days Nursery” jingle can be heard here. Joe’s guitar influences include: Jimmy Page, Randy Rhoads, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Angus Young, Danny Gatton,Roy Buchannan, Rory Gallagher, David Gilmour, Ace Frehley and many others. Joe’s songwriting and vocal influences include: Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Paul Simon, Neil Young and many others. Joe is currently writing and producing more original music for various commercial and artistic purposes including: jingle writing, movie and TV usage. Contact Joe here ifyou’d like to inquire about potential licensing opportunities of one of his original songs or to commission him to write something for your upcoming project.
It all began for little Felix in third-grade. His teacher sent home slivers of paper with three choices for parents to check: Piano, Guitar, or No Thanks. Knowing that his choices were, in fact, sitting beside, before, or nowhere near a superannuated IHM nun, Felix said, “No Thanks.” His mom checked, Guitar. Sister Alma took her nylon-string guitar from its case as Felix clumsily hoisted his from its fissured shell. Then he took a pick out of his pocket. “What…is…that, Bucko?” scowled Sr. Alma. So finger-picking and thumb-strumming it was. These techniques and honest, ardent singing were honed on the most venerable of stones – “Molly Malone,” “Buffalo Gals,” and “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” to name a few. Her golden jubilee in the rearview mirror, Sister Alma stressed discipline. When Felix fumbled through a chord change, Sister halted the lesson. “Put up yer dukes, Bucko!” she snapped, her guitar suddenly face down on the convent floor, her fists knuckled under her dripping nose. Felix and Sister continued this way for a few years. By the late ‘80s, Felix was an ok guitarist and singer, but he was also an ok first-baseman. Then in 8th grade he got Mono, probably from a soda bottle, certainly not from a girl. Quarantined and numbed by syndication, Felix turned to his guitar. For diversion, for fun, for exercise, for a challenge – for everything. Then he got good. After he improved as a player, he began to see guitar-playing not as an end in itself, but as a means to writing songs. Adolescent in age and musical taste, Felix started giving himself songwriting homework: write completely different lyrics to the melody of a Whitesnake song or write an original melody that works for the lyrics of a W.A.S.P song. By the age of 13 Felix was at the “fire/desire” stage of lyric-writing, but he soon found the music and the people who would inspire him to evolve. Popular music was also evolving, or at least changing, at this time. In the early 80s almost every kid had a copy of Thriller on vinyl, but by the late 80s almost every kid had …And Justice for All on cassette (and claimed to have been listening to Ride the Lightning when, in fact, a zipper-riddled jacket hung in the closet). With this shift, Felix’s curious hobby became a source of local entertainment almost literally overnight. He would sit on the steps of his Philadelphia row home playing his favorite tunes, now suddenly familiar to the neighborhood kids. Sometimes he’d play his original songs for them, too. In Felix’s freshman year he asked to borrow an issue of Guitar Magazine from a fellow student who threatened physical violence should theissue be returned late or damaged. Joe and Felix fast became friends. And eventually, band mates. While they both had considerable shred-head leanings, they were also both influenced by bands that wrote and recorded their own material. How could JimmyPage and the Beatles not engender a dual love of writing and recording original music? A brief stint as a volunteer at WXPN during his junior year made Felix acutely aware of his limited knowledge of songwriters, but it ignited an abiding desire to become a serious songwriter himself. Taking requests during Drive Time with Elise Brown was like learning a new language: “I’m sorry, but how do you spell Arms in trading?” Anyone at XPN who learned of Felix’s aspirations strongly encouraged him to keep at it and to write as much as he could. So he did. Felix performed frequently at LaSalle University in the mid-90s, and in an acoustic duo, he played Philly’s coffeehouse scene. After that duo disbanded, Felix performed solo here and there, and when Joe left The Great Whatever, Felix and Joe started playing together, providing harmonies, guitar arrangements, and solos for each other’s tunes. Since then, Felix has written many songs, most of them serious, some of them downright silly. On Germany Hill’s debut release, his modus operandi is an assumed voice, like a speaker’s in a poem. While the voice and the words may be Felix’s, the shoes are almost always someone else’s.