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Folkadelphia Session: Roger Harvey

For someone coming from the world of amped-up punk rock,  Roger Harvey‘s music is decidedly low-key and reflective.

The singer-songwriter relocated to Philly from Pittsburgh about three years ago, following stints touring with Against Me!, Dads and The Menzingers. His debut LP, Twelve Houses, was released that October, and it set introspective lyrics to lush acoustic arrangements in the vein of Neutral Milk Hotel and Death Cab for Cutie, with his haunting and tremulous vocal taking center stage.

Almost two years later, Harvey returned with a more outer-directed perspective on the Two Coyotes LP. This time, rather than personal ruminations, he tackles bigger-picture issues; immigration is unpacked in the title track, which tells a story of love across borders, while superconnected isolation is the focus of “Love In The Digital Age.” You can hear anger and frustration, albeit in a subdued manner, on “Gold,” which opens his studio session this week — when he sings “fuck the foundation, we’re in control,” it’s one of the prettiest punk rock moments we’ve captured in the studio. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Sessions V shows folk’s many faces with Julie Byrne, Sammus, Harmony Woods, and more

Julie Byrne | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Though the inherent weary restlessness of folk music can never truly be contained, local folk organization, Folkadelphia, has a home here at WXPN on the air and at The Key through Fred Knittel’s studio sessions. This past year hosted a particularly gem-filled handful of folk discoveries, which is documented in the fifth installment of the Folkadelphia Sessions compilation featured below. Continue reading →

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Watch Sammus perform “Mighty Morphin'” and “1080p” for Folkadelphia and The Key Studio Sessions

Photo by John Vettese

Earlier this summer, Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo — known to underground rap fans as SΔMMUS — wrapped up her grad school studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and relocated to West Philly, setting up a new base for her multi-pronged career as an artist, activist and educator.

SΔMMUS has been cultivating a following in the Bandcamp universe for several years now, going back to 2010’s Fly Nerd EP. Her 2016 full-length project, Pieces in Space, was picked up by the venerable New Jersey indie label Don Giovanni Records, where it caught the ears of Folkadelphia host Fred Knittel, who then passed it along to me.
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Folkadelphia Session: Sammus

At its most basic, the website Bandcamp is a publishing platform for artists, another site to share work. But in this age of micropayments-per-play on the streaming service juggernauts like Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music, with either a shield around those tech companies’ editorial and curatorial staff, or curation via computer algorithms and trends (lame!), it’s tough to be a self-sustaining musician on the web. Bandcamp offers a different experience for both creator and fan. The platform has evolved into a streaming service, merch store, social site, expertly selected radio station, a zine, and beyond. Best of all, the artist has much more freedom and control over their presence on the site. In many instances, Bandcamp has created the opportunity for niche, independent, and DIY musicians to find their people, their fans, and truly connect. We at Folkadelphia have had success using Bandcamp as our in-studio session archive. Now Philadelphian, former Ithacan producer and rapper Sammus also connected to a huge and hugely supportive community on the site, which is where we first discovered her music.
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Folkadelphia Session: Harmony Woods


Give Sofia Verbilla a chance to blow you away with her music. Verbilla leads Harmony Woods, a new Philly-area band whose debut Nothing Special is actually absolutely special for many reasons, least of which being that their talent is far beyond any member’s age. And people are listening; the excitement and enthusiasm around Harmony Woods right now is palpable: the Internet is aflutter with support, gigs are being booked, plans are being made, in-studio sessions are being recorded (after high school graduation parties, of course). John Vettese of WXPN/the Key writes that listeners might hear echoes of emo-revival acts like Sorority Noise and Modern Baseball or emotive songwriters like Mitski, I heard traces of groups like Rainer Maria and Seam too. However, any hype you feel or I create should not distract from the fact that Verbilla and Harmony Woods are just starting to scratch the surface of an immense imagination, flex a muscular gift for songcraft and storytelling, and put on display a compelling and energetic live show. You’re damn right it’s powerful stuff.
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Folkadelphia Session: Lizzie No

Photo by Sydney Lowe

With this year’s debut album Hard Won, Lizzie No graciously provides a bright spot in the all-too-crowded Americana landscape. Soundalike bands and songwriters of all genres nowadays give off the impression that they create music algorithmically and not organically, probably thinking about playlist placements on Spotify than dreaming up great art. Rather than by rote, Lizzie No creates by gut, by experience, by feeling, by imagination, by inspiration, and through tremendous musical ability and collaboration. It leaves her “Americana” album often not sounding much like your standard issue roots and twang band; look no further than the fact she busts out a harp, which she dazzles on. It’s just the exciting beginning for Lizzie No, but she’s already giving me hope that I may never have to hear another “hey-ho,” millennial whoop again.
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Folkadelphia Session: Sam Moss (with Honeysuckle)

Photo by Emily Haviland Baker

In the time since his last visit to us in 2014, Sam Moss moved to a new city (Boston), released a beautiful, intricate album (2016’s Fable), and logged countless hours on the road performing. That’s a good amount of change for few years. What has stayed the same is Moss’ deep attention to songcraft, whether he is operating within or without the folk music idiom.
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Folkadelphia Session: Honeysuckle

Courtesy of the artist.

Accolades, accomplishments, and positioning aside, at their most fundamental level, burgeoning Boston-based trio Honeysuckle write damn good songs and nothing beats that. Holly McGarry, Benjamin Burns, and Chris Bloniarz have immense chemistry and a real ease to their playing, which makes their creativity expressed through their music that much more impactful for the listener. The band’s most recent release, their eponymous 2016 album, displays this gelling of wild imagination and skillful execution, but where they shine is in the live domain. Catch them on tour in your area!
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Folkadelphia Session: Emperor X

Emperor X is Chad Metheny and he’s been releasing music out under that moniker since 1998. I’ve been listening to Emperor X for far less time than that, but in a short while, his songs, especially from his latest album Oversleepers International have made a tremendous impact on me and everyone I know that has heard a song, bought a record, or seen him play a show. Whether the music tends towards straight-up folk-punk acoustic strumming, skittering electronics, or even ambient minimalism, there is an inherent passion, energy, and DIY-ness to what Emperor X is bringing to the table.
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Folkadelphia Radio: Adam Torres

Photo by Rambo

I would follow Adam Torres‘ voice to the ends of the earth. There is a magical, slinking, serpentine quality to his falsetto and the interplay between it and his music that, as a listener, I’m trying to figure out why it is so utterly affecting. After years without a proper full length, Torres released Pearls to Swine last year, a proper follow-up album that makes good on the promise he exhibited on the 2006 indie cult classic Nostra Nova. On Pearls and this year’s EP I Came to Sing the Song, that songwriting spellwork is as potent and refined as ever, in a quietly rousing way like the warm, bright morning light on the sleepy world. You’d follow him too.
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