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Chasing fate with Jacopo de Nicola and his local Italian folk trio The Late Saints

Photo by Daniel Mezick
Photo by Daniel Mezick

You might say the emergence of local trio The Late Saints was a matter of fate.

Jacopo de Nicola, guitarist, kazoo player and leader of the self-styled “Italian gypsy folk” band was born in Italy and originally trained as a bass player. While still in Italy, he performed in a variety of bands ranging from a goth act to a twelve-piece traditional Italian orchestra and a techno-jazz trio. In 2003 he started writing original music, and it soon became his main musical focus.

Around this time, he made a fortuitous 500-mile hike along the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James. a pilgrimage route in Western Europe. The path came to be in medieval times after the remains of St. James – or what was believed to be his remains – were discovered and a cathedral was eventually erected in Galicia, Spain.

“I started at the modern-accepted starting point of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the mountains of France,” Nicola says. “I started by myself but I met lots of people along the way. I learned that walking the Camino is like walking through life. You meet all sorts of people and situations. So it’s very important to stick to your true self and not get swayed. Because some people can really take you off your path. So it has physical and spiritual consequence, because if you walk too fast or too slow, or don’t respect yourself and do things that can harm you, you can really suffer because it’s such an intense experience.”

Along this walk Nicola met his wife, who was in France specifically for the trek. He says that she was on the Camino with a friend and they kept intersecting paths.

“When you start, it’s almost like you’re predetermined to see certain people,” he explains while picking at a small plate of orzo salad in an East Passyunk café. “Somehow you keep seeing the same people. But there are also people that start at the same time as you and you’ll never see them again. It almost incredible; kind of serendipitous.”

Nicola feels that way about playing with his current lineup, which formed earlier this year. He also feels that way about using his trademark instrument, the kazoo.

While recording an album he never released, he was in the studio and originally imagined a trumpet on some of the songs. He didn’t have the money to hire a session musician and decided he’d play it himself, but the studio did not have a trumpet. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Brandywine Folk Fest, Busses at Johnny Brenda’s, K-OS at Union Transfer

good-old-warThis weekend marks the second year of the Brandywine Folk Festival.  From Friday through Sunday, you can enjoy the warm weather and music with the many many incredible bands, many of which hail from Philadelphia.  To name just a few (and I mean a few) out of this fantastic lineup, you can catch Good Old War, Mean Lady, The Districts, The Lawsuits and Cheers Elephant.  So if you’re looking for the best way to spend the final days of summer, the Brandywine Folk Fest is an incredible way to go.  What’s not to love about great music, food and frisbee golf?  Click here for ticket information. Below, watch the video for Good Old War’s “Calling Me Names.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at Morgan’s Pier (Free!), West Philly Orchestra at Penn Museum, Black Kids/Kids at Johnny Brenda’s, Rickie Lee Jones at WCL Wilmington

JC Brooks and the Uptown SoundIndie soul-funk outfit JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound are playing a free show at Morgan’s Pier tonight. The band is touring in support of their new record, Howl, which was released this May on Bloodshot Records. JC Brooks has a strong, classic soul voice that his band backs with a part funk, part indie rock, part post-punk sound. Check out their recent single, “Rouse Yourself;” the silly music video features Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson. Find more information on the 21 plus show here.

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Watch Busses Perform a New Song, “Never Anywhere” (and catch them at Johnny Brenda’s 8/23)

Busses

Local experimental rock outfit Busses just debuted a performance video for “Never Anywhere,” a new song shot in their practice space last weekend. The trippy black and white video accompanies a mellow, haunting tune. Sharp basslines transition into an awesome feedback-heavy solo halfway through the track. Check it out below, and catch Busses headlining a show at Johnny Brenda’s this Friday with Celestial Shore and The Interest Group. Go here for more information on the concert.

Never Anywhere (live) from Busses on Vimeo.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: XPN Welcomes Matisyahu to The Grand Opera House, Snowden at Johnny Brenda’s

matisyahuXPN welcomes reggae-pop superstar Matisyahu to The Grand Opera House tonight.  Breaking on to the scene in 2005 with the hit “King Without a Crown,” Matisyahu has become known for his positive approach to hip hop and pop music, blending Judaism’s traditional hazzan vocal style with beatboxing and scat singing.  2012 saw the release of his fourth studio album Spark Seeker.  Tickets and information for tonight’s special acoustic performance with Levi Robin in Wilmington, DE can be found here.  Below, watch the video for “Sunshine” off of Spark Seeker.

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Just Announced: Prowler throwing an EP release party at Johnny Brenda’s on 10/13

Local dance-rockers Prowler have a big night planned for Johnny Brenda’s on October 13th.  The band will be releasing their new EP Y’all Don’t Know at a show that “will surely be the last time Prowler rears it’s ugly head for quite some time” so now’s your chance to get in on the action.  Also playing will be Sunny Ali & the Kid, Busses and DJ Jeffrey of The Magic Message.

The band recently posted a couple of cover tracks on their Bandcamp, collectively titled We Can Do it Too, which you can download for free.  Stream their take on INXS’ “I Need You Tonight” and The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” below.

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Listen to Busses’ new two-song EP

You can listen to both songs, “Metal” and “Shangri-La,” below. The band will have copies of the EP at its EP-release show this Friday at Johnny Brenda’s.

Busses performs with Break It Up, Orbit To Leslie, and DJ South Jersey Party Supply at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10.