Piping Today

A second outing from this Pennsylvania punk blues gothic folk sextet, Last Hurrah mixes the Platypus' own songs and instrumentals with a couple of traditional tunes. Guitars, vocals, bass, drums, hammered dulcimer, and of course pipes: there's quite a variety here. Piping Today ran a series of articles a while back on how to play pipes with other instruments: the limitations of bagpipe dynamics, the importance of tailoring the genre to the nine or ten notes of the pipe scale, the difference between well-tempered instruments and the positively stroppy sound of the Great Highland Bagpipe. Well forget all that: Sylvia Platypus just go for it, mixing anything with anything, skipping from solo slow airs to steamy lovesongs. And somehow it all works.

Charlie Rutan plays highland and uilleann pipes - not at the same time, obviously, although nothing much would surprise me with these guys. His technique is more Braveheart than Boghall & Bathgate, but his fingering is crisp and there's a good compromise between gracenotes and legato. The warbling Irish pipes accompany the poignant song Claudine Two, not dissimilar to Dolly Parton's classic Jolene except that Claudine is corpse. The title track and the heavy rock anthem Dead City are ideally suited to the highland pipes, with screaming solos cutting through bass and drums, and something close to a Chris Armstrong tune as a countermelody. Holler and Goin' Down the Hole are more like swamp blues, raw and rhythmic, no pipes but great guitar and gritty vocals.

The album cover is another oddity, a demonic torture scene from a Faustian tale, which complements the themes of the songs on Last Hurrah - death, suicide (death), ghosts (death) and bereavement (death). On the instrumental side, this recording starts and finishes with two striking bagpipe solos, very short slow airs, sounding ancient but both by Rutan. In between there's a dark but danceable hammered dulcimer performance of Tam Lin, swirling and magical, an outstanding contrast to the more contemporary pieces. Plenty of variety, pipes in unusual settings, and a passion for Scottish and Irish elements in the mix: I really enjoy Sylvia Platypus' music, and I think you will too.



Sylvia Platypus is a mosaic of glam-rock, blues, punk, country, and bagpipes… Especially bagpipes. …vocalist Janet Bressler has a powerful husky voice and a graphic taste in lyrics… There are touches of French folk, new-age mysticism, and good old-fashioned bedlam. It all makes for great entertainment... Go on - give it a try!

wxpn-The Key

If the name alone wasn’t enough to pique your curiosity, then the bagpipes will. ... they certainly have a lot to offer – When they’re not covering classic Stones tunes like “Paint In Black”, or riffing on old, traditional folk songs like “Raggle Taggle Gypsy”, they’re busy spinning their own web of unique, bagpipe-infused rock. Lead singer Janet Bressler,graces the stage with a mysterious, yet commanding presence. Fit to sing at a funeral, she’s often decked out in a black lace veil, and black everything else. Her voice, believed by most to be inspired from singers like Edith Piaf all the way to John Lee Hooker, has a unique style and tone – a certain soulfulness, equally matched by soulful guitar playing of Bill Barone...

Guitar Point

Sylvia Platypus is breaking new ground in the Philadelphia club circuit. Headed by the powerful vocals of Janet Bressler, Philly music legend Bill Barone, Ruchama Bilenky bass, Michael Southerton rhythm guitar, Rosalba Gallo drums and Charlie Rutan on a multitude of wind instruments including four different types of bagpipes-Sylvia Platypus plays a mix of original rock & roll along with their take on the classics of rock.

Charlie Rutan is a classically trained composer with skills on many wind instruments and is a well known and respected musician in the Philadelphia tri-state region...

Classical Music Philadelphia

When I went to see Sylvia Platypus perform I was blown away and didn't expect to have such an experience...


 Sylvia Platypus... creates a musical experience that is out of this world...

Radio Crystal Blue

... a solid six-piece with something for just about everyone. Not at all a quiet bunch, tho' lead singer Janet Bressler presents a quiet power on stage, inwardly led to dancing, arms outstretched at just about any time in the set. She took her act to the audience in the first song... 

Celtic Music Magazine

Burns supper at the Avalon Ballroom would sound something like this...

Philadelphia Weekly

Sylvia Platypus is a literate, ambitious group of bohemians with a sly sense of humor...  Highlights include Bressler’s smoky voice and elegant hats and the lead guitar of Bill Barone. Charlie Rutan...rock(s) out on the bagpipe and the rarely heard Neapolitan zampogna. Bring your own clove cigarettes.

Irish Philadelphia

“Like a Vampire,” sung with earthy fullness by Bressler,  is rock at its best, with some hot guitar from Barone with a surprisingly delicate underpinning of bagpipes from Rutan. Then, they set rock on its ear with their cover of the Stones’ “Paint it Black,” where Rutan’s pipes take center stage.  “Raggle Taggle Gypsy,” a standard for Celtic bands, is  re-imagined wildly and with passion by Bressler’s raw vocals. And there’s the haunting “The Seagull (An Faoileag), my back button favorite, which sounds traditional but was written by Bressler and Rutan...

Philadelphia City Paper

Janet Bressler has worn many hats, literally and figuratively, but none more dramatic than the "psycho-Celtic glam-blues band" Sylvia Platypus. On SP's new self-titled EP, Bressler's girl-Iggy voice leaps furiously and tenderly over Bill Barone's crunching guitars and Charlie Rutan's bagpipes, while her rhythm section churns like Raw Power -era Stooges. Though they touch on gypsy jams and punk paeans, Bressler saves room for ballads and drinking songs on "Pass the Tankard, Wench".