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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Louie Louie at PhilaMOCA, Allison Crutchfield at First Unitarian Church, Free Range Folk at Johnny Brenda’s, and more…

Louie Louie | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Louie Louie | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Retro rockers Louie Louie will headline PhilaMOCA tonight with Dark Web and Beat Jams. Their new album Friend of a Stranger dropped today via Born Losers Records, and you can hear them play songs from it live in their recent Key Studio Session. Stream video of their performance of “After Me” below. Then, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more information on the show. Continue reading →

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“Folk N’ Roll” ensemble Free Range Folk return to Mauch Chunk Opera House Easter weekend

Free Range Folk | Photo by Amanda Bombico

A year ago, Free Range Folk celebrated the release of its second album, 444, at Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe, Pa. On April 19, the bluegrass meets Americana rock band will return to MCOH, promising new material (both songs and arrangements) as well as some homegrown grub provided by 14 Acre Farm.

Free Range Folk released some high quality videos earlier in the year from their performance at Mauch Chunk Opera last March, including the Neil Young-esque “Shit Show”, “Blue Skies” and the ode to family tune “Father’s Day”. The entire concert is available as a free download via Free Range Folk’s Bandcamp page, appropriately dubbed Farm to Turntable as the immensely talented sextet are also farmers up in Jim Thorpe.

Get tickets and info for the April 19 show at Mauch Chunk Opera House with guest band The Manatawny Creek Ramblers here. Watch the videos for “Shit Show” and “Father’s Day” below. Click here for the free download of the full performance from last year at MCOH.

Free Range Folk – Shit Show (Live) from Hallman Productions on Vimeo.

Free Range Folk – Father’s Day from Hallman Productions on Vimeo.

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Free Range Folk give a farmer’s perspective on Monsanto in their new “Roundup Ready” music video

Screen shot 2013-05-29 at 4.31.59 PMIf you spent any time with Michael Pollan’s heady culinary tome The Omnivore’s Dilemma or seen the 2008 documentary Food Inc., you’re probably heard a thing or two about controversial agricultural company Monsanto. But the folks most affected by the food production wars aren’t in the library, or the movie theater (though those folks are undeniably affected, since they eat too) – they’re the people working the farms across the United States, which gives Free Range Folk a unique perspective from which to weigh in.

They’re not just a rootsy acoustic rock six-piece, they’re also farmers in the Jim Thorpe area, and their concerns about the environment, ecology, sustainable living and sustainable harvesting play heavily into their lyrics – especially the song “Roundup Ready” from this year’s 444. In it, singer Joshua Finsel asks the listener to imagine what goes into the food our families eat, and how it might affect the next generation – and considering that they filmed a video for the song on “Anti-Monsanto Day” this past weekend, you can imagine their position on the company (which produces genetically engineered seeds and herbicides) is not a favorable one. The song and video take a playful tone – from the banjos and twangy vocals, to the horn section, to the shots of the band and friends busting open a pinata of “chemical corn.” Watch it below – it’s food for thought.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Free Range Folk

FRFYou can quickly spot the things that are important to Jim Thorpe-ara six-piece Free Range Folk. Two married couples make up the band, and their love of family comes across in the song “Father’s Day.” They farm as well, and their love of the Northeast Pennsylvania land and all its potential shines through in “Bubblin'” and “Lehigh.” Then there’s “Seraphim Moonbeam” and its majestic groove – that one’s just about love in general. When the band appeared on the Folk Show with Chuck Elliot last fall, it mixed up traditional instrumentation (dig the acoustic guitar – banjo – mandolin interplay) with the rock drumming you hear later in the set. Three of these performances are songs that appear on their second album, 444, and the band celebrates its CD release in two upcoming shows – Thursday, March 14th at Sellersville Theater and Saturday, March 23rd at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. Listen and download the set below.

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New Music: “Seraphim Moonbeam” by Free Range Folk (playing Mauch Chunk Opera House tonight)

This past Sunday night, rootsy Jim Thorpe collective Free Range Folk made the trip down from the mountains to WXPN for a live set on the Folk Show. If you missed their performance, don’t worry – we’ll be releasing it as a Key Studio Session later on this year. The occasion was the band’s latest full-length, which can be streamed now on their website and will be available physically later this year. The band is appearing tonight at the Mauch Chunk Opera House for its inaugural Harvest Jam that promises to be chock full of music, crafts and local organic food. For more information, check out the venue’s website here; below, listen to “Seraphim Moonbeam,” a very catchy and harmony-happy song from the new record.

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Philly Local Philes: Free Range Folk’s “Soul Collector”

photo by Dan Hugos

Hailing from a few stops up the Northeast Extension – Jim Thorpe, PA, to be exact – Free Range Folk is the musical pursuit of a group of artists, organic farmers and friends who take an easygoing, unfussy approach to their craft. Released earlier this month on Fuzztone Records, the band’s debut long-player Soul Collector rings out with rustic instrumental tones, narratives about country characters and farm life, and warm vocal harmonies. Today’s Philly Local Phile spotlights the title track, which you can stream below – catch the band in concert when their winter tour kicks off this Sunday Dec. 18 at Tritone.

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Exploring Sound: Mike Lorenz and the Witherbees on the elegant blend of jazz, folk, pop and rock on their debut album

Mike Lorenz and the Witherbees | photo by Gregg Meyer | courtesy of the artist

On August 9th, Mike Lorenz and the Witherbees will put out their self-titled debut LP, an intriguing mix of instrumental jazz, alternative and chamber pop. The self-described “folk-jazz” quartet includes all Pennsylvanian musicians – Lorenz leading on electric guitar, Jacqui Armbruster on vocals and viola, Justin Sekelewski on bass, Zach Martin on drums – and their work on this album shows that they have developed wonderfully peculiar tastes and ambitions as a group.

Along with some touching original songs by Armbruster, the band approaches hit songs from several different eras in pop radio on their debut release. Paul McCartney, Wilco, The Magnetic Fields and Corinne Bailey Rae are all in the mix. Lorenz has pointed to Paul Motian, Sonic Youth and Sonny Sharrock as other inspirations for the group’s experiments – they also recorded a cover of Sharrock’s composition “Blind Willie”. The musicians bring traditional jazz aplomb and an intrepid sense of musicianship to each of their efforts on the new album, and the results prove both accessible and surprising.

Earlier this summer, I spoke with Mike Lorenz about how the band came together to construct their debut album. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Bailen makes a name for family bands at World Cafe Live

Bailen | photo by Gabriela Barbieri for WXPN

While the phrase “family band” may conjure images of the Trapp Family Singers or your most cringeworthy piano recital, Bailen, a sibling trio from NYC, is here to reclaim the genre. The group is comprised of Julia (vocal/guitar), Daniel (vocals/bass), and David (vocals/drums) Bailen, whose classically trained parents raised them on a musical diet of Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King. The three siblings immersed themselves in their parents record collections which has led them, twenty years later, to release their first album, Thrilled To Be Here, with the help of Grammy-award winning producer John Congleton (St.Vincent, War on Drugs). Continue reading →