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Folkadelphia Session: Ryley Walker

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Throughout the year, you’ll be inundated by bloggers, curators, and personalities telling you that “so-and-so” musician is going to have a big 2015, keep your eyes and ears opened. Hype slingers. What separates Folkadelphia from them? Well, maybe conviction, maybe nothing. But check this out – I want to tell you about a guy, I want to tell you about Ryley Walker. Maybe my conviction, but definitely his music, can convince you.
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Folkadelphia Session: Bumper Jacksons


As opposed to recording a full length album, where you frequently have multiple tracking sessions, overdub sessions, a window for mixing and master, and a lot more too, most radio sessions, including our Folkadelphia Sessions, are recorded live in the studio without much “studio magic” during or after the fact. They’re a live representation of an artist – a musical snapshot, if you will. We basically are afforded one or two shots at a song, maybe an hour or so to get it right, to commit it to tape. Obviously musicianship, how adept the players are at performing in a live setting, and chemistry between band members is important and easily recognizable listening back. Less obvious is nitty gritty human stuff like how is the band feeling today, what mood is the group in, how long was the drive from their last location to the studio, and how rushed are they to get to soundcheck, for example. We love and appreciate the time every artist gives to us when they come in for a Folkadelphia Session, but sometimes folks have a rough day, ya hear?
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Folkadelphia Session: Ember Schrag (with Susan Alcorn)

Photo by Cameron Pollack
Photo by Cameron Pollack

As a few people close to me will tell you, I have an awful capacity for remembering detail, which may be the worst quality of a person interested in the history and traditions of folk music. One way I mitigate my lack of memory is to write everything down on countless legal pads strewn across my room, work spaces, and backpacks. I’m particularly thankful for human achievements like email archives, where, for instance, I’m able to pinpoint the exact moment where I’ve been “e-introduced” to someone. While listening to this week’s Folkadelphia Session featuring now New York-based songwriter Ember Schrag, I was attempting to recall how exactly we first became acquainted. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Jim & Lynna Woolsey


As we enter the new year, Folkadelphia returns to the airwaves on WXPN. We’ll be getting back to discovering, sharing, and talking about folk music past, present, and future! I cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for us all. Stay tuned…
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Folkadelphia’s Year-End List of Discovery and Wonderment, Part II

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | http://laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com/
Leyla McCalla’s Folkadelphia Session | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | http://laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com/

With a mixture of pride about our recent accomplishments, sadness about closing the book on 2014, and a constant craving for snacks, we arrive at the penultimate episode of the year for Folkadelphia on WXPN, airing at 10 p.m. tonight. What a ride. Thinking back on the year, it’s a blur of music. Seriously, no one can hope to hear that much music, right? Does anyone have a solid system for intake, choosing what to pay attention to, how much time to devote to a particular album, and then making a succinct decision about if it’s “good” or “bad?” If you do, please email me at fred(at)folkadelphia.com and reveal to me your secrets, magician!

That’s why the end of the year is crucial for me; it’s a time for me to look to others (critics and other curating robots) for direction, to potentially discover albums that slipped through the gaping cracks in the asphalt that I call my life. I could care less about “top” lists, so we will be side-stepping that format here. I talked about this idea, using the end of the year for discovery instead of reflection at length in the previous part of this write-up. Maybe I can do the same for you.
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Folkadelphia’s Year-End List of Discovery and Wonderment, Part I

Photo by Darragh Friedman
Photo by Darragh Friedman

For the last three radio episodes of 2014 (airing Wednesdays 10-11 PM ET on 12/3, 10, and 17), Folkadelphia will be recapping what we found extremely special, utterly entertaining, and downright mesmerizing from this year’s musical offering. Pulling together my thoughts and my music for the exercise, it got me thinking further…
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Folkadelphia Session: Andrew Jackson Jihad

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In my mind and for at least a good chunk of years now, Andrew Jackson Jihad have occupied a musical sector between sweaty basement punk rock and outspoken brash folk (I picture Billy Bragg or even Woody Guthrie) and I guess, the two are not so very different after all. Lyrically driven, songs with meaning, songs with humor, songs with a message, songs about life and living it and being a part of the world. They can be action oriented, acidic in delivery, absurd and totally irreverent in narrative, and sometimes very sweet. Many have done it before AJJ and many will do it after – to speak openly, to sing loudly, to share widely, but AJJ does it with a certain style unique to them. I became a fan late in the game and it’s with their new record, Christmas Island, that the band has totally made me a through and through devotee (I’m having a blast digging into the back catalogue), but even before this point, the band held a weighty stature for me in my imagined hierarcy of music. I always pictured AJJ live performances to be on par with religious congregations, with people chanting, waving their hands and moving wildly, maybe even violently. I see the room as blur of bodies and raw sensory stimuli where my own senses can’t quite get a solid read on anything. But it’s the unknowingness, the uncertainty, the fever pitch of it all, that makes the performance relevatory. I think folks would agree with that scene and I know I’ve heard many dazzled accounts by attendees of AJJ concerts.
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Folkadelphia Session: Caroline Reese and the Drifting Fifth


Reading, PA’s Caroline Reese and the Drifting Fifth – for our recording session, the Fifth was just one, Mark Watter – help to remind me why we’re here doing this whole Folkadelphia thing. All of this music we take in and care about isn’t just about virtuosity, pedigree, accolades, and next steps, it’s also, and maybe mostly, about having fun and spreading that infectious joy around. The duo was able to coax out that joy that exists, but is sometimes dormant, in the studio during an evening in late May. I think that speaks a volumes about Reese’s future as a performer.
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Folkadelphia Session: Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards


Before we hear from this week’s Folkadelphia Session, let me tell you about Kettle Pot Tracks, who produce On The Hill Sessions, bringing mostly local-ish as well as some touring acts into their home studio to capture pristine video and audio. Nicole and Michael who run the whole operation have become friends of Folkadelphia and we often shoot messages back-and-forth about music. I consider them a great source of musical discovery – y’all should too, check out their site! Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe
Photo by Ally Newbold | http://www.allynewbold.com/

Finally, Folkadelphia is pleased to present the premiere of our session with Chelsea Wolfe, recorded five months ago from today – how time flies! – but what an absolutely perfect one for Halloween. The genesis of our session with Wolfe can be tracked to the end of 2012 when we saw she was performing at the tiny and intimate First Unitarian Church Chapel. Jump forward in time through two albums (Unknown Rooms and last year’s Pain is Beauty), various tours, and a handful of emails back-and-forth, and we finally were able to welcome Wolfe and her band to the WXPN studio. Why the extra enthusiasm for this session? Why try so hard to record a single artist? Well, listen to Chelsea Wolfe and you’ll immediately find out why.
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