Listen to Driftwood Soldier talk gutter folk, b-sides and Porchfest on the XPN Folk Show

Driftwood Soldier | photo by Erin Clark | courtesy of the artist
Driftwood Soldier | photo by Erin Clark | courtesy of the artist

West Philly’s Bobby Szafranski and Owen Lyman-Schmidt have delivered their stripped-down, Tom Waits-y style of folk for the past several years under the Driftwood Soldier banner, and this week appeared on the WXPN Folk Show to share word of their latest endeavors.

Utilizing mandolin, bass and Lyman-Schmidt’s gruff vocal delivery, the duo performed three songs — “Rosalee,” “John Henry” and “Sunny Side” — and chatted with Folk Show host Ian Zolitor for about a half hour. They discussed the origins of their self-styled “gutter folk” identity, their new slow-release B-Sides EP, as well as West Philly Porchfest, the annual community event the bandmates sit on the organizing committee of.  Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Harmony Woods at Everybody Hits, Driftwood Soldier at Bond Villain, Ride at TLA and more

Harmony Woods | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Sofia Verbilla is at the songwriting helm of Harmony Woods, a relatively new installment to Philly’s rock scene. They just released their first record, Nothing Special, which, contrary to what its title might suggest, is quite lovely. Verbilla has put together a very genuine, sophisticated set of sometimes folky, sometimes punky songs. In the studio, she is joined by Brendan Lukens on lead guitar, Sophy Kelsall on bass and  Jeremy Berkin on drums; the live lineup varies from gig to gig. The current Harmony Woods configuration is wrapping up its summer tour, and plays a homecoming gig at Everybody Hits tonight. Listen to “Renovations” and check out details on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Driftwood Soldier talks religion, the roots of rock n’ roll and Porchfest on 25 O’Clock

driftwood solder
Driftwood Soldier | photo by Kyle Cassidy | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia gutter folk duo Driftwood Soldier joins Dan Drago on his latest episode of the 25 O’Clock Podcast. In addition to their latest EP, Blessings and Blasphemy, bandmates Owen Lyman-Schmidt and Bobby Szafranski are co-organizers of West Philly Porchfest, and they discuss both things over the course of an hour and 20 minutes. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Driftwood Soldier unveil new EP with “Wake Up Sinners” single

driftwood solder
Driftwood Soldier | photo by Kyle Cassidy | courtesy of the artist

The self-styled gutter folk duo Driftwood Soldier is back with its second studio album, a seven track EP called Blessings & Blasphemy that navigates the split perspectives of religion and atheism. The record’s Friday, March 24th release will be accompanied by a special one-off collaborative show (details after the jump), but today we’re premiering album cut “Wake Up Sinners” a few days early.

Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Download “Found” by indie-folk duo Driftwood Soldier

Driftwood Soldier | Photo courtesy of the artist
Driftwood Soldier | Photo courtesy of the artist

Philly indie-folk duo Driftwood Solder – Owen Lyman-Schmidt and Bobby Szafranski – started in 2013 when Owen met Bobby and they decided to start a band together. Lyman-Schmidt plays mandolin and Szafranski accompanies him on bass and percussion, and together on their debut full length, Scavenger’s Joy, they create gutbucket styled, blues informed songs. Continue reading →


Start your week off by watching every Philly entry to NPR Music’s #TinyDeskContest

Gracie and the So Beautifuls’ Tiny Desk Contest entry | still from video

The annual NPR Music #TinyDeskContest revealed its 2018 winner last month: Naia Izumi, a Georgia-born, Los Angeles-based busker who excels at swift guitar licks, live looping and fervent rock and soul vocals. While we’re certain to hear more from Izumi and team Tiny Desk in the coming weeks and months, let’s not get too far from this year’s competition without celebrating the plethora of impressive Philadelphia-based entries. Continue reading →


West Philly Porchfest returns for a third year this June

Porchfest organizers Owen Lyman-Schmidt, Ross Hoffman and Abe Taber in West Philadelphia | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Porchfest is exactly what it sounds like: a music festival that uses porches instead of stages. It’s a simple concept, but revolutionary in a way — can you think of a better way to spend a summer afternoon than wandering porch to porch while listening to musicians share their tunes? Get your calendars ready, because the third annual installment of West Philly Porchfest is happening Saturday, June 2. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Koof Ibi Umoren’s favorite non-traditional venues of 2017

Under the Greys Ferry Bridge | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Koof Ibi Umoren (who plays trumpet with West Philadelphia Orchestra, Little Strike and a host of others) shares Philly’s best non-traditional venues to perform at in 2017.

Traditional music venues need musicians and beer in order to successful. This year has proven that musicians need beer, but not necessarily the traditional music venues. A musician can spend a lot of time performing in Philadelphia without setting foot on a traditional stage. If you’re smart and you chose an acoustic instrument in elementary school, and didn’t give it up for a cooler electronic instrument in college, then the world is literally your stage This year I’ve had the pleasure of playing and attending shows at some very interesting Philadelphia “venues,” and here’s a recap of some of my favorites. Continue reading →


Tiny Desk Philly – 2017 – Page One

Pianist Joshua Fialkoff performed his melancholy, gospel-inspired “Oh Fortunate One.”

Local blues man Greg Sover filmed a version of “Preacher” off of last year’s Songs of a Renegade live at Rittenhouse Studios.

Rapper James Weldon, who we interviewed recently on The Key, shared his minimalist “Free My Soul” track featuring C Jae.

Raven Katz sang her sublime “Inside Out” behind a stack books and candles with Aaron Liao on bass.

Backed by a looped vocal beat, singer Aisha Fukushima shared her powerful “Missing You.”

Benjamin Dasher performed “The Body Keeps the Score” next to an illuminated fish tank.

The End of America pulled “Empty Sea” from last year’s debut LP for their atmospheric video.

Americana outfit Canyon Ride surrounded themselves with desks for “Winter Drums” off of this year’s Wasting Time With Ghosts.

APHRA‘s electronic allure is undeniable in her double-desk clip for “Honey.”

Modern rockers The Bigness chose “Liars” from Time Traveler for their very tiny desk video.


Crammed into the corner of a bedroom, Justin Patrick Foley blazed through “(This Thing Called) Hope.”

Patrick Donovan and E-Hos teamed up for an acoustic version of “Gone.”

Very Bad Vibes turned in a silly-string covered version of “Masking Tape.”

Surrounded by a collection of vintage-looking knickknacks, Baby & Shylow highlight their beautiful harmonies on “Gravity.”

Folk favorites Maitland keep things simple in the video for “Mother’s Touch.”

Solo troubadour Thom McCarthy strummed his way through “Killers of the Wild” from last year’s Marvin the Giant.

West Philly’s Driftwood Soldier perform a retelling of “John Henry” behind and, magically, on a desk.

Americana quartet Black Horse Motel submitted a spirited take of “Where the Money Comes From” from their new Parable EP.

Acoustic duo Chickabiddy are joined by a crowd friends in the video for indie-folk tune “OH OHIO.”

Situated behind a makeshift desk of gear and kegs, Brittany Luna & The Tall McCartneys shared their catchy new song “Can’t Give You Love.”

Hip hop outfit Hardwork Movement took a jazzier road on this in-the-round take of “Becca’s Jam.”

Eastside Astroknots put on a commanding rap/rock/blues performance of “Old Medicine.”

That Dream Was Our Life struck his signature melancholy, intimate tones on “A Second Sight For All That Hurts You.”

Hip hop collective ILL DOOTS performed “Black Matter” with Elle.Morris at Studio NOYO.

With just a plant, paper, and pencil on her tidy desk, Emily Mineo performed her song “Wall.”

Local accountant Joe James The Wheel shared his unique guitar playing in his video for “Way:WayWard.”

Surrounded by twinkling lights, The Harrer Sisters performed their Americana-rock song “Razorback.”

Lisa Jeanette introduced us to her piano desk a mini Lego desk in the video for “Interference.”

A cat makes a cameo in Kerecz’s acoustic guitar video for “Another Day.”

The Barn Swallows filmed a version of “Why Oh Why” from their self-titled album.

Emily Drinker picked up her mini six-string for a lounge-pop performance of “Cloudy.”