Photo by Fred Knittel
There is a symbiotic relationship in the radio industry between the programmers, the people who choose the playlists and format of the show or station, and the promoters, the people who are pitching releases for airplay on behalf of the musicians and record labels. Of course, this is a simplified view, but the fact is that both depend on each other. Having almost entirely been on the “radio side” of this dynamic, I have interacted and received pitches from a wide swath of promoters, particularly as I have a very specialized folksy program. One promoter I always trust to send great music my way is Devon Leger of Hearth Music. For all things traditional folk or roots heavy, he’s my guy. Though he also has a great ear for modern sounds and incorporates that into his offerings. Many a Folkadelphia episode has been peppered with tracks that he provided to me.
As May came to a close, Devon contacted me about setting up a last minute in-studio appearance by a Michigan based duo called Red Tail Ring, who were going to be in town playing with Philly’s Foxhound at the beginning of June at a favorite space of mine, Studio 34. I had not been familiar with Red Tail Ring’s music, but Devon’s description of the pair as an “indie folk duo from Michigan whose music touches on deep American roots by way of Appalachia, but is equally as informed by the cold climes of the Midwest” really piqued my interest. After listening to their latest album The Heart’s Swift Foot over and over and over, I was hooked. Of course we’d squeeze the band into our schedule. Frankly, it is because of bands like Red Tail Ring that we do what we do – we want everybody to hear this music, and Devon, the honest promoter that he is, does too.
Red Tail Ring, Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp’s musical foray into progressive traditional folk, did not disappoint. The first thing you notice is how sychronized these two are; nary a harmony or banjo pluck is out of place. Next, you start to make comparisons – you hear the duo weaving together past and present. For my sake, I’m dually reminded of Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson’s Folk City recordings from 1963, as well as modern contemporaries like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Breathing new life into an otherwise tried-and-true (and often stagnant or unaltered) musical tradition. Finally and obviously, you hear the songs and the playing, both of which are top-notch and a real treat to listen to.
I hope you will enjoy Red Tail Ring’s Folkadelphia Session recorded on June 2nd, 2013 at the XPN Performance Studio.