Folkadelphia Session: Cuddle Magic

Back at the end of 2012, Folkadelphia recorded a stripped down set in the auxiliary broadcast room at WXPN with folk goddess Anais Mitchell. During this session, we met an excitable, highly passionate, and imaginative individual named Ben Davis who was playing in Mitchell’s band (alongside Rachel Reis). As they played, we were privy to just a glimpse of the insane brilliance that Davis brings with him everywhere he goes. He also told us about his own project Cuddle Magic. How could we not listen after all of what we witnessed? Continue reading →


Folkadelphia Session: Chelsea Sue Allen

My discovery of singer-songwriter Chelsea Sue Allen is another wonderful case of Philly musicians doing right by their own. Just over a year ago, Folkadelphia was putting together a concert at the intimate Random Tea Room with our good friend and frequent collaborator Joshua Britton of Psalmships. He recommended that a take a listen to Allen’s Tiny Prizes debut album, as well as her On The Hill session. Of course, the rest is history. Continue reading →


Folkadelphia Session: The Whiskey Gentry

Team Folkadelphia is very excited and proud to present our session with The Whiskey Gentry, recorded live back in March while the Georgians were in town. They’re a little bit country and a little bit rock-and-roll. They’re also a huge helping of bluegrass, a side dish of rustic folk, and just a smidgen of punk rock abandon.

Continue reading →


Dig into Summertime (the song and the season), tonight on Folkadelphia Radio

On the most recent episodes of Folkadelphia Radio, we’ve been featuring a segment where we dig a little deeper into the history, narrative, and impact of songs that we all, for the most part, collectively know and love. These are songs that are not only important to folk music, but to all styles of music. On the show, we’ve heard songs like “Pretty Polly,” “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Katie Cruel,” and other songs that generally are not associated with a particular author. The exceptions during the segment have been Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” I personally think that these songs have had a very strong impact on folk music and beyond. This week we feature another penned song – “Summertime” composed by George Gershwin and lyrics by DuBose Heyward for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. Continue reading →


Folkadelphia Session: Amy Ray (of the Indigo Girls)

Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist

Goodnight Tender, the new solo album from Amy Ray, is not a record to be taken lightly. It feels like a project that was mulled over, devised, and labored on for a long period of time. As such it demands our respect and undivided attention. It’s a brave and utterly successful musical step for Ray. Unquestionably different than her other solo albums, as well as her work with the Indigo Girls, it is very much a feat of pure Americana. Continue reading →


The gullible Baffled Knight and a rocking country session from Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray, tonight on Folkadelphia Radio

John Byam Shaw - The Baffled Knight or Lady's Policy
John Byam Shaw – The Baffled Knight or Lady’s Policy

While many traditional ballads, stories, and songs made the trip across the Atlantic to be taken up, transformed, and adapted by the Americans, some of them were not particularly widely circulated despite popularity in Europe. Such is the case with the bawdy and humorous “The Baffled Knight” or “Blow Away The Morning Dew,” a pastourelle (an Old French lyric form concerning the romance of a shepherd/shepherdess) and Child Ballad (#112). Continue reading →


Folkadelphia Session: Mason Porter

What continues to make West Chester, PA’s Mason Porter a force to be reckoned with in the Americana and roots community, especially regionally, is the intimacy that they bring to each song. Whether it is in live performance, on record (like their latest Home For The Harvest), or, now, with their Folkadelphia Session, the trio of Joe D’Amico, Tim Celfo, and Paul Wilkinson have an uncanny ability to draw the listener in and keep them close. I can only think that this magical power is the result of a strong and long-standing chemistry between the members. Heck, we know they can all play their instruments and yes, that’s terribly important. They harmonize like the bee’s knees too. But it’s that extra something something that only comes about after years of meshing together that pushes their”good” to “great.” Can we also talk about how tight these guys are when they perform? Beyond chemistry, Mason Porter comes prepared. Folks like to throw around the word “simplistic” to classify MP’s brand of stripped back Americana. Do not fool yourself into thinking that simplicity implies a lack of imagination, passion, energy, or playing chops. Simplicity mean preparedness; this music only works because the trio is locked in the groove, dialed in, and firing on all cylinders – but, you know, simplistically, acoustically, and intimately.

Mason Porter recorded this Folkadelphia Session back in February when they were fresh off the release of their newest album Home For The Harvest. For more Mason Porter reading and listening, check out The Key’s Unlocked coverage. Mason Porter performs at Underground Arts supporting Spirit Family Reunion on Saturday, August 9th.


A focus on Fred Cockerham’s “Little Satchel” and a tight session with Mason Porter, tonight on Folkadelphia Radio

Fred Cockerham

Nothing can stand in the way of true love or at least that’s what we’re led to believe. In fact, it seems, that many obstacles on this earth can block the meeting of two lovers. Such is the case in “Little Satchel,” a song composed by North Carolinian fiddle and banjo player Fred Cockerham. Continue reading →


Folkadelphia Session: Charlie Parr

The description of Minnesota based musician Charlie Parr as “one man, one guitar, one foot in the grave” is pretty perfect. Stylistically, Parr plays a type of music that all but resides six feet under the ground; he’s a dying breed of self-taught musician that draws from early American roots, country blues, spirituals, and traditional. I like to think that Charlie hasn’t even heard any music from the last 50-75 years. Listening to Charlie conjures up the image of a long lost John and Alan Lomax field recording, or a hold-over from Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. Even when you see him perform live, the audience may hear phantom clicks-and-pops, the surface noice and scratchiness of an ancient 78, little wheel spin and spin, big wheel turn around and around. That’s just the vibe of Charlie Parr. Over the course of now twelve albums, including last year’s Hollandale, an instrumental record featuring Low‘s Alan Sparhawk, Parr continues to mine the depths, certainly not rob the graves, of authentic and original folk music.

While the style is timeless, the sounds are sepia-toned, and Parr himself is rather quiet and pensive, the songs are not like a specimen under a microscope or a box of records filed away for posterity in the stacks of the Library of Congress. The music is alive and breathing. In fact, Parr’s one foot in the grave may mean he’s trying to get out of that ditch, clawing and kicking, raging against physical and mental anguish and isolation of a wall of dirt (and a wall of dirt of the mind and spirit). You can hear it in the guitar picking, in the throaty dusty singing, and the vibrantly emotional feeling of the songs. This music has a heartbeat and it ain’t dead yet as long as Parr is around.

Charlie Parr recorded this album lengthened session at the WXPN Performance Studio on February 23rd, 2014 while he was in Philadelphia for a Folkadelphia presented show at Hubbub Coffee.


Folkadelphia Session: Psalmships (from April 2014)

In our rather short history of Folkadelphia, the artist we’ve probably worked with the most is Psalmships. Psalmships is the ever-evolving musical project of Joshua Britton, Bucks Co. resident and all-around good guy. A guy that’s been put in a hard place and perhaps that hard place is just life, existing, and coping with the day-to-day. Human problems blown to cinematic scale by the endless black of night and the tireless workings of the imagination. At least, that’s what he sings about and why we continually gravitate towards finding new ways to bring Britton’s artistry and creativity into the fold of what we’re doing here. Britton is a restless musician, always at work on songs – he’s something like the Robert Pollard of slowcoustic music (did I really just write that phrase?) But it’s true – not even a year ago, Psalmships released the expansive EP Songs For A Red Bird and, about a year before that, Hymn of Lions, his tumbleweed country album (or at least their take on that style). His brand new full-lengthed record I Sleep Alone is the distilled essence of what Britton has been honing in on with his music and writing in recent times; it’s sparsely populated with instruments – a rough acoustic guitar generally acts as forward motion with effected lap steel guitar, keyboards, and atmospherics coloring the scenes. Often, the silence, space, and breaths between words speak as loudly as what Britton is singing. Sure, it’s a deeply emotional trip, sometimes painfully so, but in that sense, it is also cathartic to work through. Instead of giving, you gain with each listen, becoming more solid and stronger for it. Not all music is designed as diversion or cotton candy. This is an album with purpose. On the opening track “You’ll Never See The Morning,” Britton cautions “The night time is so long, it can last your whole life and you’ll never see the morning if you cannot see the light.” From the very start, as dark as I Sleep Alone becomes, it brings the listener to a place where (s)he is most able to look for the light if (s)he is willing to go there. Instead of being lost in the void without purpose or direction, Britton helps us to believe that the darkness is just another side of the light and the light is coming. It’s hopeful because while I sleep alone now, I might not forever.

On his latest session for Folkadelphia, Britton, joined by Brad Hinton and Chelsea Sue Allen, recorded a number of songs from I Sleep Alone. Psalmships, along with Nathan Edwin and Chelsea Sue Allen, will be celebrating the release with a concert at Bourbon and Branch this Friday, July 11th. For even more Folkadelphia & Psalmships collaboration, listen to My Endless Black, a previous session from October 2012.