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Birdie Busch and Rachel Alina tackle time, place, friendship and growth in multimedia project Locals // If You Swim Far Enough

Birdie Busch and Rachel Alina | photos courtesy of the artists

Local songwriter Birdie Busch has teamed up with sound engineer and poet Rachel Alina and illustrator Ashley Smestad Vélez for a collaborative project. Locals // If You Swim Far Enough sees each artist drawing on their respective creative forms to build a work that tackles time, place, friendship and growth.

Alina’s chapbook of poetry, Locals, is accompanied by over 80 of Vélez’s illustrations, and complements Busch’s acoustic album If You Swim Far Enough, which she recorded with Alina several years ago at Scullville Studios in New Jersey, featuring acoustic versions of several previously released songs from her catalog Continue reading →

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Birdie Busch composes music for artwork at the PMA in a Women’s History Month performance

Birdie Busch | photo by Nikolai Fox | courtesy of the artist

March is Women’s History Month and what better way to celebrate exceptional women in art and music than Philly’s own Birdie Busch performing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art? As a part of the PMA’s Friday Night series, Birdie has written eight original songs inspired by women’s art and seven others for her own project centered around goddess archetypes. The performance will take place in the PMA’s Great Stair Hall and Birdie will be accompanied by four other musicians: Todd Erk on upright bass, Carl Cheeseman on guitar and banjo, Gretchen Lohse on violin and vocals, Thomas Hughes on keys. Projections of art works from the museum collection will accompany the musical performance as well as original visual art by Busch of goddess archetypes.  As a whole, it will celebrate art makers across the centuries and demonstrate what we can learn from our history of remembered — and forgotten — women’s art.

Busch is a staple of the Philadelphia community with a resume as impressive as her open heart and vibrant artistic spirit. She is a musician, writer, photographer, and visual artist whose work embraces the multitudes of our world. She follows her own guiding light when it comes to creating work, and this collaboration with the PMA is no exception. In speaking with The Key, Busch shared that she had already begun a project of songs and paintings that explored goddess archetypes when she was contacted by the PMA. Working with Cat Ricketts, the Coordinator of Evening Programs at the PMA, Busch developed a “super project” that combined her work with goddess archetypes and the PMA’s collection of women’s art.

“It’s been very cool to have those running in tandem,” Busch says, “Originally I thought they would be split, one set of this and one set of that. But now, by studying so much of the background of these women whose pieces I picked from the PMA collection and the female Greek archetypes, it all seems fluid. There’s so many things I wouldn’t have thought of without the combination.” Continue reading →

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Hallowed Bells, Nick Millevoi, Birdie Busch and more will play Double Decker Music Series 2018

Jo Nelson plays DDMS 2017 | photo by Scott Troyan | scotttroyan.com | courtesy of the artist

We have our fair share of unconventional music venues in Philadelphia, but this one may be the most innovative — and it also may be one of the Philly music scene’s best kept secrets.

Each summer for the last couple of summers, longtime Philadelphia tour guide Sebastian Petsu, in collaboration with Bowerbird, has hosted the Double Decker Music Series, which is pretty much just what it sounds like — a concert held on a double decker bus. These are the kind of buses you typically see toting tourists around Old City, but while you will see plenty of historic sites in this series, this is certainly not your everyday tour of the city. Continue reading →

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Birdie Busch reflects on The Ways We Try ten years after its debut

Birdie Busch | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com
Birdie Busch | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com

A lot can change in a decade – friends move away, beloved haunts close, and we change as we move through the world. So it’s cool when there’s something tangible that captured those friends, places, and versions of self that can be revisited ten years down the line, bringing up warm memories and acting as a touchstone for our personal and creative growth.

For Birdie Busch that “something” is The Ways We Try, her debut record that was released in September of 2006. The local musician, who has since grown into an irreplaceable fixture in the Philadelphia neighborhoods she’s called home over the years, realized the milestone just in time to reflect on the record on her website.

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Load-In to Load-Out: Behind the scenes of Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry at Johnny Brenda’s

Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

On a Saturday evening in early October, Fishtown institution Johnny Brenda‘s is bustling with hungry and thirsty customers, out for a fun night. Patrons are enjoying drinks and conversation, challenging friends and strangers to numerous games of pool. While everyone is chatting away downstairs, Emily “Birdie” Busch spends the afternoon and evening transforming the upstairs venue space in preparation for her big show later that night. Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out With Birdie Busch: A photo essay by Ellen Miller | 2

At eight o’clock the doors open and the crowd begins forming shortly after. People get their drinks and converse with friends while waiting patiently for the first band to take the stage.

Finally, around nine o’clock, Charlie and April are on stage. Birdie does a quick introduction to get things started.

Charlie and April
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

…And they’re off!

Charlie and April
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
Charlie and April
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Charlie and April’s upbeat music and successfully got the dancing started. The young nephew of Charlie even joined in on tambourine for their last couple songs.

Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

At the end of the opening set, a DJ was there to play some records, keeping the the crowd entertained in between sets.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Once people had a chance to refill their drinks and chat about the first set, The Brother Brothers took the stage.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
Brother Brothers
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

The Brother Brothers (currently based in New York) had the audience intrigued with an acoustic set, and kept audience members dancing.

As they finished their set, fans headed to the merch table.

Brother Brothers
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

There was another round of record playing and a quick dance set, drinks were refilled, and Birdie Busch took the stage to start the final performance of the night.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Before they play the first song, Birdie talks to the audience about the candle she lit and is holding. She acknowledges that many people have lost friends, family, and others in recent months. This is what the candle represents. She hands it off to an audience member and the band begins playing.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
BirdieBuschOpry
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

As Birdie plays a full set, fans are entertained and dancing the whole time. As the the final song finishes the crowd begins applauding and don’t stop until the band comes back out for an encore.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Then, after playing one encore song Birdie and her band return to the green room to catch their breath, high five each other, and have a quick post-show chat…

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
BirdieBuschOpry
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

…and now it is time to clear the stage and pack everything back into the car

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
BirdieBuschOpry
Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

And the musicians have left the building!

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

With the fans moving on to the next segment of their Saturday night, the stage emptied, and cars packed with equipment, Birdie Busch’s fifth Philly Opry has come to a conclusion. Here’s looking forward to its return.

Below, check out a full gallery from the show, which took place at Johnny Brenda’s on October 8, 2016. Click here to go back to the start.

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Load-In to Load-Out With Birdie Busch: A photo essay by Ellen Miller | 1

Long before the bar is stocked and bar stools are put in their places, the artists arrive with equipment and decorations to be placed on stage.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Each of the band members arrive at different times, but once everyone is there the equipment is unpacked. After a discussion on where each piece goes on stage and a stage plot is sketched out the band begins assembling equipment and setting the stage.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry|Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Once the stage is ready to go, the band takes a quick coffee break and relaxes before they soundcheck. Luckily for them, La Colombe is just down the street.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Meanwhile, as the stage is being set up, Birdie and some friends finish putting up the decorations.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

They also set up the merchandise table…

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

They finish writing up the the guest list…

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

…and they write out the set list for the show

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

And, with all of the set up finished, it’s time for Birdie and her band to soundcheck.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

During soundcheck, bartenders can be found preparing the bar for the night.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com
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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

Downtime between soundcheck and the show starting let the band hang out for a bit with friends and grab a bite to eat. The Brother Brothers are warming up backstage to prepare for their set later.

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Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry | Photo by: Ellen Miller | www.ellencm.com

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sigur Ros at the Academy of Music, Hop Along at the Electric Factory, Birdie Busch’s Philly Opry at Johnny Brenda’s and more…

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Sigur Ros | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

Orchestral Icelandic outfit Sigur Ros are at the Academy of Music tonight. Led by Jónsi, the post-rockers will perform two sets, pulling from their expansive catalog that includes standout records ( ) and Takk…. along with 2013’s Kveikur. Tickets and information for the all-ages concert can be found here. Watch “Óveður” below, released this summer.

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Birdie Busch announces 5th Philly Opry at Johnny Brenda’s on October 8th

Birdie Busch | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com
Birdie Busch | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com

Though some details are still being withheld, we now happily know for a fact that Birdie Busch‘s 5th Philly Opry will happen at Johnny Brenda’s on October 8th. The evening of special guests, collaborations and general musical merriment took a year off in 2015 but promises a return to its mid-20th century variety performances, inspired by the classic shows of Dick Cavett and Johnny Cash.

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Download Birdie Busch’s Thunder Bridge release show in its entirety

Photo by Liz Baronofsky | etsy.com/shop/bphillyphotography

Philly singer-songwriter Birdie Busch just released the sweet and subtle new LP Thunder Bridge, a collection of songs inspired by Sun Ra and Nick Drake that started out as a project for a friend and her newborn child that evolved into something more.

A couple weeks ago, Busch celebrated the new record with a headlining performance at South Philly’s Boot & Saddle; every song on the new album made it into the setlist, along with tunes from 2013’s Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night, several from 2007’s Penny Arcade and one reaching all the way back to 2005’s The Ways We Try. Continue reading →