Who: Sixteen Jackies (Philadelphia,Pa) & Port Ellis (York, Pa)
What: Live Music
When: Saturday January 28th, 7-11p
Where: The Parliament Art Gallery, 116 E King St, Downtown York, Pa
Important Info: $8 Cover, 18 and older, BYOB
Pull up to the traffic signal in Dover and you’re unlikely to hear the shoegazing, ethereal sound of Port Ellis pouring from the open windows.
The more popular choice in this rural community is the quaint familiarity of mainstream country.
But this is where self-identified introvert and 20-year-old Gabriella Portelles finds enough air to inspire the big atmosphere of her evocative dream pop.
Dover is her home, but so is York City.
Port Ellis’ lead singer and songwriter, Portelles is an exemplar of The Parliament’s mission to attract young creatives to the city and nurture them into working artists.
She was just a junior in high school when she started volunteering for the fledgling arts organization five years ago.
“That was my introduction into the arts community in downtown York,” Portelles said. “It was encouraging to me as a beginning artist to see other people who were passionate about the same thing I was.”
Homeschooled until high school, Portelles said she wasn’t a tidy fit for any of Dover’s three main social groups: the agriculture crowd, the theater kids, or the athletes.
“I definitely stood out more than I thought I did when I was in high school, but there’s value in that...Not being around likeminded people gave me the opportunity to carve out my own identity.”
While she wasn’t bullied or discriminated against at school, she found a special form of peer inclusion at The Parliament.
A Fine Arts major at Millersville University, Portelles held an internship at the King Street gallery in 2015 and submitted visual art for gallery shows.
“It made me take myself more seriously as an artist,” she said. “Getting feedback from adult artists… also made me feel like I was kind of legitimized.”
When Portelles first started writing music as a teen, she experimented with vocal effects and was inspired by artists such as Enya and Imogen Heap, she said.
As her brother, cousin, and other band members joined, the music took on more of a structured, pop dynamic.
Brother David Portelles and cousin Justyn Dusold play guitar. Matt Ferguson is on bass and Zach Harbold plays drums. Gabriella plays keys and synth.
Band members construct the music for their instruments based on her melodies and framework for the song.
“I’m really into exploring different textures and sounds that I can achieve through vocal processing, and how that interacts with the rest of the instruments,” she said. “I’m introverted in a lot of situations, but when I’m singing, I’m able to say what I wouldn’t say otherwise.”
Check out the band at portellis.bandcamp.com and on YouTube and Facebook. They’re planning to release an EP this year.
‘Glum’ Rock: York-based Port Ellis plays Saturday’s show at The Parliament with Sixteen Jackies, a Philadelphia band comprised of four former Yorkers.
Lead singer and songwriter Joey DeMarco, who plays guitar and keyboard, said the band took its name from an Andy Warhol work depicting First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy after her husband was assassinated.
“I thought it fit the feel of the band,” DeMarco said. “The idea is to cast Jackie Onassis as a scream-queen horror lead.”
The indie rock band has a new wave feel, but the members dress up and DeMarco’s lyrics are “neurotic,” he said. “It’s very glammy. We call it glum rock, like sad glam.”
Ian Staley sits behind the drums. Jeremiah Bull is on guitar, and Tim Davis plays bass.
DeMarco is known for his wild makeup and glam attire, including bright eye shadows, lipsticks, glitter, and outdated women’s clothing he found at a swap meet in Arizona with his boyfriend.
DeMarco’s current lyrical train is love songs filtered through horror movies and crammed full of references to his favorite scream queens.
“I’m a big movie buff and horror movies are my favorite,” he said. “When I’m writing about something, I’ll compare the situation in the song to a situation in a classic horror movie.”
Demos are available at sixteenjackies.bandcamp.com. The band is on Facebook, and will be recording an EP this year.