By

Watch Gretchen Lohse and Chris Forsyth’s Double Decker Music Series performance care of Bob Sweeney

Photo by Scott Troyan | via instagram.com/gretchenlohse
Photo by Scott Troyan | via instagram.com/gretchenlohse

A couple weeks back, we posted about this the latest installment of the Double Decker Music Series, a new mobile concert event created by local tour guide Sebastian Petsu. In it, local artists perform their music on top of an open-top double decker bus as it drives through the streets of Philadelphia. The latest installment took place on June 1st and featured folk singer/songwriter Gretchen Lohse and experimental guitarist Chris Forsyth, and if you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets (or if you did attend and want to relive the experience), you can watch a few clips of the performance care of local filmmaker Bob Sweeney’s Tumblr.  Take a peek below.

Double Decker Music Series: Gretchen Lohse “Two Travelers” (June 1, 2014) from Bob Sweeney on Vimeo.

Continue reading →

By

Double Decker Music Series returns on June 1st with Gretchen Lohse and Chris Forsyth

Gretchen Lohse | photo by Vince Miesejewski
Gretchen Lohse | photo by Vince Miesejewski

One of the more unique live music happenings of the autumn returns next month as Gretchen Lohse and Chris Forsyth perform on top of an open-top double-decker tour bus as it drives around Philadelphia. The Double Decker Music Series was launched last fall by local tour guide and music scene regular Sebastian Petsu; the inaugural show / ride took place in October and featured singer-songwriter Birdie Busch and local experimental / jazz player Charles Cohen. Staging a show in this setting combines the freewheeling nature of an outdoor performance with ever-changing scenery of a drive around town; the music combines with the shifting skyline of center city, almost like a drive with the radio on (except the people making the music are actually driving with you).

In between Lohse’s set of haunting folk songs and Forsyth’s set of cerebral guitar rock, Petsu “will share dry wit and music history about the City of Brotherly Love.” The show is limited to 40 tickets, and are only available in advance; boarding begins at 7:45 on June 1st at 5th and Market Streets, and prompt arrival is encourages (“you can’t show up late, or the venue will be gone”); and in the case of rain, the performance will take place on Monday, June 2nd. You can check out video from that performance here, and get tickets and information on the show here.

By

Folkadelphia Session: Marisa Anderson

To the uninitiated, the ocean of instrumental guitar style players, whom often use and meld original compositions, melodies, and effects together with traditional blues fingering picking techniques, must seem particularly difficult to navigate. A lot of this music, both past and present, is lumped into a genre box called American Primitivism, termed by one of the giant looming figures in the fretted world, John Fahey, which tinges all of the be-lumped players with the “primitive” or untutored, uneducated stigma. Sure, some of these players are self-taught, but many have had formal training, and most have been at this thing for a long time. This style, while a niche in folk music (and some might say commercial appeal), has not only existed since around the late 1950s, but has continued to grow and thrive since then. Father figures like Fahey and the musicians on his Takoma Records, like the transcendental Robbie Basho, eclectic Leo Kottke, and Delta blues Bukka White, passed the torch to players like the technical, yet expressive Glenn Jones and the raucous ragtime and blues of Jack Rose. Of course, these are just a handful of people, a couple of veterans in the game. I think we live in a great time for this style; guitarists continue to take up the mantle, but in true modern fashion, they manipulate, experiment, incorporate, augment, exclude, and mess around with the original framework. My mind jumps to the Tompkins Square label that not only reissues lost gems from cult icons like Don Bikoff, Mark Fosson, and Harry Taussig, but are committed to releasing new forward-thinking releases from Daniel Bachman, James Blackshaw, Ryley Walker, and nearly countless others in their fret-heavy Imaginational Anthem compilations. Through Folkadelphia alone, we’ve recorded, presented, and championed players like Chris Forsyth, Matt Sowell, Ben Seretan, Jesse Sparhawk, and William Tyler. And, of course, this doesn’t even include musicians and bands that dabble in the genre, that pull from its now rich history – Kaki King, Ben Chasny, Jim O’Rourke – where and why should you draw a line? To the uninitiated, perhaps much of it sounds similar, but I urge you to keep listening with focused ears because once you start digging, a world of diversity, complexity, and limitless imagination and possibility will present itself to you.

One of my now favorite guitarists is the Portland, Oregon based Marisa Anderson. Perpetually on tour, her playing style has developed to be fleet-fingered and impossibly adaptable, nimbly pivoting from meditative improvisation to electric blues inflection to twangy country and cosmic beyondness. She’s also very prolific. In 2013 alone, she released two albums: Mercury, a collection of original compositions, and the appropriately named Traditional and Public Domain Songs. The two releases showcase very different elements; Mercury is like a primer on what is possible with six strings and ten fingers, a blistering 16 songs in less than 35 minutes, while Traditional and Public Domain Songs stretches familiar tunes like “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Pretty Polly” into uncharted experimental territory – pretty out there stuff! Whatever she is working on, Marisa Anderson is a guitarist to keep your eye on because you never know what she’ll come up with next.

Two things are certain. We recorded Marisa Anderson on her last visit to Philadelphia on October 18th, 2013. She returns to play a Fire Museum presented show at the Random Tea Room with Matt Sowell next Friday, May 9th (info. here).

By

Redbull’s Sound Select pairs Philly artists Embarker and Chris Forsyth with Oneohtrix Point Never

Photo courtesy of the facebook.com/ChrisForsyth
Photo courtesy of the facebook.com/ChrisForsyth

Redbull’s Sound Select monthly feature, showcases local artists across the country is bringing some additional recognition to Philadelphia artists.

On May 6, Sound Select will present Brooklyn-based experimental artist Daniel Lopatin, who goes under the moniker Oneohtrix Point Never, at South Philly’s Boot and Saddle. His latest album, R Plus Seven, plays with all types of sounds from bits of white noise to church organs.

Joining Oneothrix Point Never are Philly artists Embarker and Chris Forsyth. Embarker, the solo project of Michael Roy Barker, is notable for its unique experimentation with electronic textures and rhythms. Forsyth follows in similar suit, but with progressive guitar playing that teeters between free jazz and progressive psych. Collectively known for long tunes that can be both nervy and soothing, all three artists fights snugly on the bill. The show starts at 8 p.m. and the $3 tickets can be obtained here.

By

Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 (feat. Amanda X, Balance and Composure, Mean Lady and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 9
Album cover photo by Tiffany Yoon | tiffanyyoon.com

Today we bring you our latest Key Studio Sessions compilation, pulling together the best of what we’ve recorded in the final four months of 2013. I’m always psyched about these comps, but The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 in particular presents a tremendous variety of musicians from around the Philadelphia region that I’m excited to showcase for you. Bucks County has a healthy showing, from the acoustic alt-punk swagger of Balance and Composure and the retro-grunge of Daylight to the booming Americana of Levee Drivers and the flower child folk stylings of Lily Mae. We trip away into a spacious, 12-minute jam by Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel Band, rock out to Amanda X and get chillingly meditative with ambient musician and filmmaker Michael James Murray. A Christmas selection from Jersey’s The Classic Brown makes the cut, sultry new jammers from Delaware’s Mean Lady and Central Pa.’s Kate Faust, a fierce bass-backed rap by Curly Castro, an Afro-Cuban jazz rocker from Toy Soldiers, and more. Special thanks to guest engineers Steve Poponi and Mike Kennedy, to Tom Volpicelli at Mastering House for his post-production help, and to production assistants Dan Hutton and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Megan Kelly, Laura Lynn, Caitlin McCann, Ally Newbold, Kellie O’Heron, Tony Oppenheim, Matthew Shaver, Mike Trutt and Tiffany Yoon, and videographers Bands in the Backyard and Bob Sweeney for sharing their work this fall. Listen to the 17-song set and get a free download below.

Want more? Get a roundup of our previous free-downloadable Key Studio Sessions compilations after the jump. Continue reading →

By

The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Anthony Green, La Maison Tellier, Oldermost

 

Anthony Green | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com
Anthony Green | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com

In a new edition of Unlocked, we got the inside story on Anthony Green‘s new LP Young Legs.  The Circa Survive vocalist and Doylestown native shared two free downloads with The Key alongside an interview and some glimpses into the album’s recording process.  Stream and download “I’ll Miss You” below and check out the full feature here.

A double dose of Folkadelphia brings us a session with Mary Lattimore / Jeff Zeigler / Chris Forsyth, followed by a bonus solo Forsyth session.  The three local musicians embarked on a deep improvisational trajectory that resulted in, as Folkadelphia noted, an “Ultimate Session.”  Stream and download the two sets below.

Continue reading →

By

Folkadelphia Bonus Session: Chris Forsyth

IMG_20130822_133530_796

The first line of Philly guitarist Chris Forsyth‘s online bio really does it for me: “Chris Forsyth’s hypnotic compositions assimilate art-rock textures with vernacular American influences.” I mean, could I have dreamed of saying it any better? We last heard Forsyth in 2012 on Early Astral, a collaboration with Koen Holtkamp (of Mountains) and with his own Kenzo Deluxe, a heavy-duty album that showed off all the different things a guitar could do, from sonic textures, to deconstructionist blues, to melody-filled jam outs. Forsyth returns with a full backing group, the Solar Motel Band, for his brand new release appropriately titled Solar Motel. Solar Motel is divided into four long-form pieces of what Forsyth terms “cosmic Americana.” What that means, you’ll have to find out for yourself; attend the Solar Motel album release show FOR FREE at the Rotunda this Friday, November 15.

In honor of the release, we present a second Folkadelphia Session this week, a bonus audio treat for your ears. On August 22nd, before his collaborative improvsational set and subsequent show with Philly musicians Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler, Forsyth tracked a few solo acoustic numbers for us. Put six strings in this guy’s hands and there is nothing he can’t and probably won’t do. For even deeper Forsyth exploration, listen to the Solar Motel Band’s recent Key Studio Session.

By

Folkadelphia Session: Chris Forsyth | Mary Lattimore | Jeff Zeigler (aka the Ultimate Session)

Maybe it was a stroke of genius or maybe it was heat stroke, but during the dog days of this summer, an idea struck me that I knew had to pursue. One of those “ah ha!” moments. We’d wrangle together a group of musicians so amazing, so talented for a collaborative live session that the result would literally be jaw-dropping. There was some serious buzz about the idea around the ol’ Folkadelphia watercooler (note: we don’t have a watercooler, but my audio engineers were visibly impressed and sent me encouraging emails). With that positive feeling flowing, I contacted the association of sorta-Philly musicians: harpist Mary Lattimore, synth player/manipulator/producer Jeff Zeigler (of Arc In Round), and guitarists Chris Forsyth and Daniel Bachman. I say “sorta-Philly” because Bachman lives in Virginia now although he previously lived in Philly (in an apartment with Lattimore no less). They were all ready, willing, and able to collaborate for an improvisational set. What I started dubbing “the Ultimate Session” was in place.

The four musicians were playing on the same bill at Johnny Brenda’s on August 22nd. Unfortunately, due to traffic issues Bachman was unable to make it. While it is certainly a loss, I stand by calling this an “ultimate session” because, for my money, this is a dream team of Philly musicians. It’s almost an extension of our previous session with Lattimore & Zeigler – maybe you’d call it a sequel, back with avengence, back with Chris Forsyth. Whereas the older session drifted casually between atmospheric and oceanic, the new one bites a little harder. Sure, there are still plenty of revelatory sections, moments of supreme sonic purity that make me feel like I’m floating, but darker, mechanical, maniacal elements creep in and permeate the mix. By the end, I have already mentally subbed the music into scenes of ’80s sci-fi thriller films.I’m saying to myself, “this section is the protagonist’s dark night of the soul” or “this would be the meeting between the two love interests in this future version of New York City.” You get the picture.

When the music stops, I don’t feel a finality, but instead just the close of this chapter of an on-going project. Perhaps next time not only Bachman will be able to make it, but other collaborators. Think of the soundscapes! Think of the potential mental soundtracks!

Chris Forsyth’s new album Solar Motel is now available and he’ll be celebrating with a release show this coming Friday, November 15th at the Rotunda. Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler perform as a duo on December 4th at Union Transfer for the Rail Park Benefit.

Listen to our past sessions with Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler and Daniel Bachman. Finally, make sure to stop back this Thursday, November 14th for a bonus session featuring Chris Forsyth performing solo acoustically.

By

Listen to “Cat Mask at Huggie Temple” by Steve Gunn and Cian Nugent (playing Little Berlin on 9/13)

ciannugent
Cian Nugent

Road trips have long been the source of creative inspiration: for Jack Keruoac and On the Road, Peter Fonda / Dennis Hopper and Easy Rider, and now guitarists Cian Nugent and Steve Gunn with their upcoming LP Cat Mask at Huggie Temple.  Joined by drummer John Truscinski, the trio recorded two expansive and exploratory tracks as Desert Heat inspired by a joint tour that crossed continents and oceans.  The title track, now streaming on Soundcloud via distributing label MIE Music, stirs together the drone-y, meditative and wordless storytelling structures of Dublin’s Nugent and Brooklyn’s Gunn, reaching from the blues of the Delta to the ragas of India.  Nugent, Gunn and Philly’s Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band will perform at Little Berlin on Friday, September 13th; more information can be found here.  Listen to “Cat Mask at Huggie Temple” below.

By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band at Johnny Brenda’s, The Hundred Acre Woods at North Star Bar

Chris Forsyth

Guitarist Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band play Johnny Brenda’s tonight, after a June residency at Ortlieb’s Lounge. Both in Philly and elsewhere, Forsyth has been in various awesome projects throughout the years. In October he and his band plan to release the expansive LP Solar Motel on Paradise of Bachelors Records. Check out part of Solar Motel below, and find more information on the show here.

Continue reading →