The Key Studio Sessions: Bethlehem and Sad Patrick

If you’re in search of evidence that the Philly open mic scene is very much thriving, look no further than Bethlehem and Sad Patrick.

The local duo blends the focused minimalism and poetic lyrics of folk tradition with simmering, freewheeling jazz and blues — slick guitars, soaring vocals, nuanced melodies. And it all came together by chance.

A few years back, Patrick Arkins was running an open mic at what is now Malelani Cafe in Germantown, when Bethlehem Roberson stopped by one night to sing with her family. Arkins was blown away, and when he saw her returning to the series on the regular to perform, he approached her with the idea of singing one of his songs.

This led to her singing more of his songs, which led to Bethlehem and Sad Patrick’s first home-recorded EP release in 2012. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Bethlehem and Sad Patrick at Boot and Saddle, David Wilson at Tellus 360, Matt Cappy Quintet at World Cafe Live and more

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick | via

Bethlehem Roberson and “Sad Patrick” Arkins have made a splash on the Philly folk community over the past year with a knockout combination of soaring vocal melodies infused with slick guitar licks and a completive, simmering pace. The band’s Did You Ever Do came out last year, and it’s a polished set showcasing their skill in the studio realm. But it’s honestly best in person, with solitary guitar, hand percussion and vocals. Tonight you can catch them at Boot and Saddle, opening for The Bones of J.R. Jones. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Deer Scout, The Naked Sun, Tin Bird Choir and more are among 30+ locals added to Philadelphia Folk Fest

clockwise from left: Tin Bird Choir | photo by Mike Santarelli | courtesy of the artist // Bethlehem & Sad Patrick | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // deer scout | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // The Naked Sun | photo by Charles Wrzesniewski | courtesy of the artist

As the 57th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival finalizes its lineup, over 30 local and regional artists were added to the bill, among them Bethlehem & Sad Patrick, deer scout, Deb Callahan, The Naked Sun and Tin Bird Choir. Continue reading →


The Skeleton Key: A jam-packed May, from Get Better Fest to Break Free Fest, Tuareg guitar to NYC no-wave, and so much sunshine

design by Erik Ruin | courtesy of the artist

No matter if you spent it out in the streets at the May Day protest or circling a Maypole or just soaking up all that sunshine, I hope you had a wonderful beginning of the month. It’s finally spring, so slap on some shorts, ride that bike you’ve been neglecting all winter, and get your butt to the gig.

You can start tonight. There are not one but two truly excellent shows happening and if you time it correctly you can go to both! Continue reading →


Philadelphia is blowing up NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest and it’s amazing

Levee Drivers' Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney
Levee Drivers’ Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney

For those of you who don’t know about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, you may want to head over to their site and root through their enormous and equally impressive archive. Their 15-minute videos feature live performances from artists of all genres held in the quaint offices of NPR at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk.

Ranging from big names like Adele and Alt-J to up-and-coming artists such as Angel Olsen and Rubblebucket, viewers are able to watch the artists perform in the intimate setting, giving the performances a stripped-down, no B.S. vibe. While these videos are ultra fun to watch (perhaps continuously, one after another…), NPR kept things interesting this winter by kicking off a contest to feature a new artist in their series.

Based entirely off of video submissions from all over the United States, an artist will be chosen to perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. as well as snag a slot in the big Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ showcase in Austin, Texas. Philadelphia, brimming with the amazing musical talent that it is, seems to have jumped at this opportunity. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top Six Philly Music Discoveries of 2016

Harmony Woods | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Harmony Woods | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2016 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps six of his favorite Philadelphia music discoveries from the past 12 months.

Ah, Philly. Keep on being awesome. It’s once again time for me to look back and reflect on the past year of music that came out of our community, and once again I’ve had a harder time than ever narrowing it down.

Locally rooted artists are breaking into the broader music conversation, whether they remain at home (Modern Baseball‘s Holy Ghost receiving international acclaim) or venture outward to other cities and scenes (Michelle Zauner’s sometimes-Philly / sometimes-Brooklyn Japanese Breakfast, Ron Gallo and Liz Longley taking up residence in Nashville). More people than ever are moving from other cities to Philly – including The Dove and The Wolf, who got their start in Paris. And as always, artists like Dr. Dog (who released an impressive two albums in 2016), Kurt Vile (who celebrates New Year’s Eve at The Fillmore) and The Roots (still rocking the late night TV party) rep the city on a national scale.

But this post isn’t about that. It’s my annual reflection on artists who I had not heard of prior to this year, who totally bowled me over and made me want to find out everything about them. These are artists that deserve to be one of those high profile artists in coming years. These are my favorite music discoveries of 2016. Continue reading →


Celebrate the sound of a neighborhood with For the Love of Germantown album release

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Bethlehem and Sad Patrick | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

On Sunday, October 30th, Germantown will be the center of attention thanks to a new collaborative album recorded in its honor. For the last year, the Philadelphia Jazz Project and Germantown United Community Development Corporation have been working with local musicians to create a sort of musical love letter to their neighborhood called For the Love of Germantown, featuring a collection of original songs and standards performed by over a dozen artists.

Continue reading →


15 local artists to discover at the Philadelphia Folk Festival

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick | via

If you’re talking about summer music festivals repping Philly artists, nobody is more inclusive than the annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. Held in the rolling fields of upper Montgomery County for the past 55 years, the festival will welcome dozens of regional performers to the stage when it kicks off on Thursday, August 18th, and runs through Sunday August 21st. While we’re psyched to see everybody from our neck of the woods, we’ve rounded up a list of 15 can’t-miss locals performing this weekend at PFF this weekend. Read more below and let it be your homegrown festival guide. Continue reading →


2nd Annual Heartwood Music Festival begins this Sunday

Ben Arnold
Photo by Breanna Keohane

Following the success of its inaugural year, Heartwood Music Festival is returning this Sunday, June 12th with a sweet selection of local talents and serene surroundings. Taking place at the Awbury Arboretum from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the single day fest features the perfect natural backdrop for a day filled with live music, food, crafts and more.

This year’s lineup includes local musician Ben Arnold, who notably did a Free at Noon performance at World Cafe Live with us back in February, as well as a Key Studio Session – he’ll be on the XPoNential Music Festival lineup as well. Also on the bill, you’ll find Bethlehem and Sad PatrickDe Tierra CalienteDriftwood SoldierJoe Crookston and Meghan Cary: Sing Louder.  Continue reading →


Tiny Desk Philly – 2016 – Page Two

Lauren Scott‘s Tiny Desk entry is the intimate “Webster” featuring love lorn lyrics and melodies.

Soul singer JaE performed a solo version of her song “You Will Survive” on a tiny desk in a tiny hallway.

The Yard (Tyler Stahl and Michael Casimir) performed folk ballad “Come Back Inside”.

Singer-songwriter Aiden James played his song “Last Reminder” at a very tiny desk while on tour in LA.

Musical duo City Love (Sterling Duns and Caselli Jordan) trade verses on their song “Show Some Love” an ode to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Amduat performed “Dope”, a smooth jazz take on hip-hop, in their living room.

The Chairman Dances (Eric Krewson) sang about Bob Dylan and Lou Reed on his song “Augustine”.

Soul group Dirty Holiday fit their six member band on a tiny couch to perform “Mountains”, a song from their EP, Nobody’s Sober.

Orchestral rockers Man Illuminated used various camera angles while playing their song “Our Old Friends” in a tiny room.

Folk singer Michael Robbins played “Hold” while sitting behind a tiny coffee table.

Bethlehem and Sad Patrick clapped and stomped on their R&B track “Better Days” while illuminated by various candles.

Singer-songwriter Petite Sketches (Timothy Straghter) performed “#Uqdahl”, going back and forth between melodic vocals and poetry.

Kirby and the VibeTribe played “Senses” a dance-happy folk singalong in their tiny living room.

The Binary Sea performed a rollicking version of “I Got Your Love” in a not so tiny white room.

Soul singer Aaron Parnell Brown performed “Don’t Cry” while on tour from the backseat of his van.

Pit Folk (Andra Taylor and Nate Dodge) performed “I’m OK” from the studio where they are currently recording their first album, Haunted.

Cookie Rabinowitz provided a unique performance of his song “Beautiful Sign” by playing with just a bass.

Folk guitarist Andy McLeod fingerpicked his instrumental song “Song for Basho”, which will be on his upcoming album Forge The Valley.

Singer-songwriter Elissa Janelle Velveteen performed “Brain Chemicals” while surrounded by various musical instruments.

Iona Lake (Jaime Pannone & Veronica Stickelman) performed a stripped down version of their song “The Avenue” with a guitar and tapping on a snare drum.

Folk rocker Justin Patrick Foley performed “Blue Blood” which was recorded on his phone (technology these days).

King William IV (Ashley O’Connor) played the Shakespeare-inspired “Midsummer Knight’s Tale”.

Torito x Johann Sebastian performed a freestyle “Satan In A Cartigan”, name dropping NPR and their sponsor Lagunitas.

Philly’s Canyon Ride played their driving “Holding Thy Own” while surrounded by several different desks.

Jahan Z. Valentine performed metal licks over his song “Until Kingdom Come” next to a pedal-filled desk.

Craic Attics (Michael O’Brien) used several different percussion instruments from around the world to perform his song “Around The World In 7 Days.”

Joseph Arnold was joined by his orchestra for a performance of “Farewell”, a bouncy classical composition.

Hurricane Hoss‘ “Faded Photos” is a sweet country tinged ode ornimented with blues guitar and violin.

Folk singer JT Makoviecki performed “Knees, Eyes, Hands” from his tiny black and white couch.

Folk trio Ladybird provided some harmonic bluegrass, singing a self titled song from the comfort of their living room.

Singer-songwriter Reverent Whiskey (Matt Hollenburg) sang his original song “Shale”.

Pittsburgh/Philly pianist and songwriter Joy Ike performed a beautiful piano ballad “Walk” for her entry in the contest.

Folk trio Looseleaf performed “Holy Cow”, a rock and roll song with a fitting harmonica solo.

Singer-songwriter Gregg Cagno played “Waking Life”, a softly fingerpicked ballad.

Pianist Michael Melton played “Rock Radio”, an ode to, as you know it, rock radio.