More often than not, I can be found walking down the street and whistling “Pretty Polly.” It’s one of those timeless melodies that has a way of needling its way into my brain. I’m not alone; the ballad has been performed throughout the years by Dock Boggs, Burl Ives, Aoife O’Donovan, Judy Collins, Sandy Denny, and even Kevin Spacey on House of Cards, to name a few. That being said, I thought it would be proper to revisit the American murder ballad on this week’s episode of Folkadelphia Radio. We first featured the song about a month ago on the air, discussing its ties to an even older British ballad called “The Gosport Tragedy.” Depending on the version you listen to – and there are hundreds of variations – you might be hearing it told as a first person narrative (“I courted Pretty Polly”) or a third person narrative (“Then he threw a little dirt on her and started for home”), you could have elements of the supernatural (ghosts), insanity, incest, and obsession. All in all, the tale remains grim and violent however or whenever you hear it.
Also tonight, we’ll air a brand new Folkadelphia Session featuring the Brooklyn-based, but perpetually touring experimental songwriter Sondra Sun-Odeon, formerly of the dark psych act Silver Summit. A couple of years ago, she released Aetherea, a dynamic sonic dreamworld that floats between tender beauty and powerful noise-rock passages, as Sun-Odeon’s voice, rising above the fray, guides and commands. In March 2013, Folkadelphia recorded a concert with Sun-Odeon, tracked at the Studio 34 space, which was then released as a pay-what-you-will download (and limited poster design). Sondra Sun-Odeon returned to Philadelphia in November 2013 with Orion Rigel Dommisse and visited the WXPN Performance Studio for a brand new set.
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