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Volcano Choir & Mark Kozelek collaborating for Project Carousel restoration project

The Looff Family sitting outside the Crescent Park Carousel | photo via brassringcarousel.com
The Looff Family sitting outside the Crescent Park Carousel | photo via brassringcarousel.com

Mark Kozelek, who performs under the name Sun Kil Moon, and Volcano Choir (side project of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon) are currently collaborating on two of three 12″ records benefiting the restoration of the Crescent Park Looff Carousel. The carousel, which is hailed as one of East Providence, Rhode Island’s treasures, has been in use since 1895. As the site is a National Historic Landmark, the high costs for maintenance of each horse typically run from $2500-$4500.

The two 12″ records from Kozelek and Volcano Choir are expected to be completed by December of this year. A third 12″ record is in the hands of Secretly Canadian co-founder Chris Swanson, who has compiled a set of unreleased material from the late Jason Molina to round out the collection. The reparation effort, which is being done by Shorebird, will sell only 3,500 copies of each record, but will make other rewards available for supporters which include a white vinyl copy of Unmap,Volcano Choir’s 2009 LP, as well as a 7″ of Molina covering Townes Van Zandt. To support and/or find out more about Project Carousel, you can visit their IndieGoGo page here,

Sun Kil Moon performs at Union Transfer on Wednesday, July 23rd. Go here for more information on the show.

Below, you can listen to “Ben’s My Friend” from Sun Kil Moon’s latest effort, Benji.

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Chris Porterfield comes full circle with Field Report (playing World Cafe Live on 11/9)

Standing out among this year’s breakout acts is Field Report, the new folk project from Minnesota native Chris Porterfield. Formerly a member of the Eau Claire band DeYarmond Edison (which also featured Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and members of Megafaun), Porterfield relocated to Milwaukee where he rekindled his love for music . When its eponymous debut was released in September, critics hailed Field Report as an artist to watch for its rich, poetic lyrics and quiet-yet-powerful sound. Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, who Field Report supported on tour this summer, said “There’s such a perfection in the songs that I wonder how long Chris spent.” This week we caught up with Porterfield over the phone about his experience working with a new group of musicians, his surprise at the success of album, and the band’s resolve to remain true to their Wisconsin roots. Continue reading →

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Rising Band Watch: Listen to The Gallerist’s A Falling Waltz (playing One Shot Cafe on 11/3)

The Gallerist, led by Boston native Mike Collins, may just be one of the Philadelphia folk scene’s best kept secrets. The group’s 2011 album, A Falling Waltz, carries itself on songs with lively narrative lyrics and captivating melodies in the same vein of artists like The Civil Wars and The Avett Brothers. It shouldn’t come as a shock that the album was audio mastered by Jeff Lipton, who has worked with Bon Iver and City and Colour. Collins and his bandmates showcase their storytelling magic in tracks like “Washed-Away” and “Crumbs.” Listening to A Falling Waltz is like a conversation with an old friend, and it’s only a matter of time before the band strikes the right note to get noticed past Philadelphia and Boston. Catch the band tomorrow afternoon at One Shot Cafe for a free show at 1:30; more details can be found here. You can stream A Falling Waltz in its entirety here. Below, watch The Gallerist perform their title track from A Falling Waltz.

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Listen to The Gaslight Anthem cover Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” (playing The Electric Factory on 11/27)

Jersey rock heroes The Gaslight Anthem are bringing the fall leg of their Handwritten tour to The Electric Factory on November 27. With them comes a new single for their song “Here Comes Your Man,” which features a cover of the popular Bon Iver tune “Skinny Love.” Listen to it below, and get tickets and information on the show here.

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Work Drugs’ “Beth / Rest” remix makes the cut in the Bon Iver Stems Project contest

Big congrats to Philadelphia’s Work Drugs, whose remix of Bon Iver’s “Beth / Rest” was selected as one of the winners of the Bon Iver Stems Project contest.

When we reached him by e-mail, Work Drugs founding member Thomas Crystal said “We just want to thank our fans, Bon Iver, and everyone who voted for our remix. It’s pretty easy to remix when you have great source material like the song ‘Beth / Rest’. Beyond excited to be a part of Bon Iver’s digital legacy. Stay smooth, stay warm Justin. Thank you.”

Each of the winners – which also included Canada’s Teen Daze and the UK’s Ed Tullett – won a $1,000 cash prize, and had their remix included on the official Spotify remix compilation, which you can listen to below.

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Bon Iver delivered a powerful set at The Mann (photos, review, setlist)

It’s a safe bet that nobody who saw Bon Iver‘s set at The Mann Center for the performing arts last night will again describe the Wisconsin-based new-folk collective as “mellow.” Under the guidance of frontman and songwriter Justin Vernon, the band worked its way through a 16-song, 90-minute set that hit tremendous heights and explored haunting valleys, beginning with the stark solo opener “The Woods.” Originally found on Bon Iver’s 2009 EP Blood Bank, this song’s mystical ebb and flow of auto-tune vocal passages reached broader ears in 2010 when Kanye West interpolated it into the song “Lost in the World” on his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With Vernon a solitary figure onstage among dim lights, his voice wandered in an architecture of loops and layers reminiscent of Laurie Anderson and Imogen Heap. A beat, a breath, and then the stage erupted into a thundering full-band performance of “Perth” from last year’s Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The set followed a similar pattern: in a vigorous take on “Flume” from 2008′s For Emma, Forever Ago, the nine-piece band created a rich progressive swell of sound from behind rows of beacon lights and under ragged backlit tapestries (the stage set alone was captivating), then later brought the pace down for a stark solo-acoustic rendition of that album’s popular number “Skinny Love.” Guiding the rise-and-fall were curious interludes; Michael Noyce played a jagged, John Cale-style violin solo to transition between “Hinnom, TX” and “Wash,” later saxophonist Colin Stetson answered his bandmate with mix of rhythmic scales and intense staccato bleats. While these elements took the set to its experimental fringes, it reached the other end of the spectrum as well, with a very poppy rendition of “Beth / Rest” closing out the main set, and a jaunty “For Emma” ending the show. But that wasn’t before Vernon entreated the crowd to sing (and scream) along to the epic, post-rock swell of “The Wolves (Act I and II),” while he thrashed away at his guitar, jolted around the stage, fell to the floor, played on his back, bolted upright and generally fought back against any threat of being pigeonholed as a low-key singer-songwriter. Check out a photo recap in the gallery above, and read the setlist below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Rock to the Future’s Rock and Read Fest at The Rotunda, Patterson Hood & the Downtown Rumblers at World Cafe Live, and Bon Iver at The Mann

Rock to the Future, the non-profit organization that brings free music education to Philadelphia students during  after school programs, presents their Rock and Read Fest today at the Rotunda on Walnut St.  The benefit event features story readings, poetry and music by The National Rifle, Oh Bree!, Ted Nguyent, Mike Bell & the Movies and The Rock to the Future All Star Band.  Attendees can also pick up some new reading material at the book swap.  Entry is a $5 donation that goes directly to Rock to the Future, and the family-friendly event kicks off at 5:00pm.  More info here.  Here’s some background on Rock to the Future:

Hot off of his appearance at the XPoNential Music Festival this past July, WXPN welcomes the return of Patterson Hood & the Downtown Rumblers to World Café Live.  The Drive by Truckers frontman released his autobiographical third solo album Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance last week.  Fellow Athens, Georgians Hope For Agoldensummer open.  Day-of-show tickets for this all ages concert range from $20 to $30 at the World Café Live website.

Perhaps the biggest name in music in 2011, Bon Iver returns to Philadelphia tonight for a show at The Mann.  Justin Vernon’s moniker has been synonymous with exquisitely composed melodies paired with delicate, heartfelt vocals ever since his 2008 indie-folk cult favorite For Emma, Forever Ago.  But it was his crossover 2011 self-titled release that garnered the most acclaim, leading to two Grammy wins and a slew of festival headlining slots.  He performs tonight with New England folk-songstress Anais Mitchell.  Doors open at 6:00pm, and tickets are available here.

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One-man band no more: Justin Vernon, from World Cafe, on the growth of Bon Iver (playing The Mann on Sunday)


Immediately, it sounded as though an abrupt change had occurred. In reality, it was something more gradual, more of an evolution.

When its doubly self-titled sophomore record first hit speakers last spring, Bon Iver began to feel less like it was merely the nom-de-stage of a solo singer-songwriter, a conventional guy-with-a-guitar, one Justin Vernon. The acoustic introspection and haunting isolation of its 2008 debut, For Emma, Foever Ago grew into something lush and expansive on Bon Iver, Bon Iver, with emotive playing and majestic arrangements. On the new album, Bon Iver began to feel like a band.

This was, after all, inevitable. As Vernon told WXPN’s David Dye when he was interviewed for World Café last autumn, the first record was borne out of a highly introspective time. “There was a little bit of tail-between-my-legs going on,” he acknowledges of writing it following the end of a romantic relationship and the breakup of his old band, DeYarmond Edison. This element – working on music alone and sad in a cabin in the Wisconsin winter – was possibly overly mythologized, but nonetheless, For Emma was crafted as a collection of very personal songs, and sounds like one.

As soon as Vernon began performing these songs under the guise of Bon Iver, they began to morph. Solo shows grew into two-piece performances with drummer Sean Carey, then further into quartet configuration with guitarist Michael Noyce and bassist Matthew McCaughey, all the way to the nine-piece ensemble that will play The Mann Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday. Continue reading →

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My Morning Download: Bon Iver’s “Beth/Rest” remixed by Work Drugs (playing this Friday at Johnny Brenda’s)


Work Drugs have remixed Bon Iver’s “Beth/Rest” from Bon Iver for Bon Iver’s “Stems Project”. The winner of each song remix gets $1000 and will be featured on the Spotify remix playlist. You can vote for their remix here According to the band:

Work Drugs traveled to a small cabin in a densely wooded area of The Poconos to find inspiration for the Bon Iver remix challenge. Using a 10 year old Packard Bell found along the roadside, Work Drugs crafted the “Beth / Rest” remix with an outdated version of Windows Sound Recorder. This remix is dedicated to Peter Cetera.

We love what the band has done to the remix; adding their musical flair for many things yacht rock. Download Work Drugs’ remix of “Beth/Rest” below and be sure to watch the video. Work Drugs play Johnny Brenda’s this Friday night, August 31st with Cold Fronts and City Rain.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company