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Folkadelphia Session: Tom Brosseau (with Andru Bemis)

Photo by Carey Braswell.
Photo by Carey Braswell.

Simplicity doesn’t mean a lack of creativity, honesty doesn’t preclude artfulness, being plainspoken doesn’t limit wit or cleverness. You can be all of these things in one and much more too. That’s the case for North Dakotan songwriter and (**huge bias here**) one of my favorite songwriters, Tom Brosseau. Over his recorded career, which comprises over ten solo albums – nearly one a year since 2002, except for a break between 2009’s Posthumous Success and 2014’s Grass Punks, in addition to collaborations with John C. Reilly (like our Folkadelphia Session), Becky Stark, Gregory Page, and Angela Correa (as a duo called Les Shelleys), Brosseau has told simple yet wholly affecting stories. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: The White Cheddar Boys

Courtesy of the artist.
Courtesy of the artist.

One of the great perks of living in Philadelphia is the walkability of the city. On many a sunny day and romantic whim, I’ve walked far west to river’s edge east, marveling as I did on my first trip here many years ago at ordinary things, now suddenly imbued with magical brightness, renewed freshness, and a sense of fate. Parks draw passersby into their gravity, runners and cyclists on the coastal path mirror the kinetic energy of the Schuylkill, buildings jut up and hold within them endless narratives. It’s a lot to imagine and a lot to even behold. As I’ve walked around, car horns, construction sites, the wind-tunnel whipping on the bridges have all been my natural soundtrack. When I’ve been lucky, I also get to hear a banjo plucked, a washboard struck, and an old-time tune belted, sometimes in the Rittenhouse Square area, or a train station, or where you least expect it too. This is how I met the supreme bluegrass buskers, The White Cheddar Boys, led by Huey McBanjo.
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Folkadelphia Session: The Dove And The Wolf

Courtesy of the artist.
Courtesy of the artist.

The Dove & The Wolf are ready to break your heart. As Parisians, they’re more familiar with the language of love and loss, they’re more familiar with all manner of heartbreak and actions done for the heart’s sake than us Americans. Lou and Paloma, holders of the ornithological and canine namesake, released an EP in 2012 that really struck a chord with a lot of folks. I think it has to do with space – the airiness in the song, as well as the intimacy the group creates between the listener and themselves. And the singing, the wonderful harmonies that soar – Earth angels Lou and Paloma are seasoned heartstring plucking veterans.
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Folkadelphia Session: The Chapin Sisters

The Chapin Sisters | Photo courtesy of the artist
The Chapin Sisters | Photo courtesy of the artist

Music flows in their veins, innate chemistry flows from their relationship. We’re proud to present an in-studio session with Abigail and Lily Chapin, performing together as the Chapin Sisters. Let’s quickly gloss over their amazing family legacy in music (and that their lovely parents happened to also be on tour and were fortuitously able to come out to attend the recording) and dive right into the consistently masterful albums the duo has been releasing. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Fred Thomas


On musician Fred Thomas‘s Bandcamp page, a collection is building. Thomas, in preparation for a future release, has been compiling a library of organic and synthesized sounds he has been creating. Most are very short, perhaps meant as an audio diary of sorts, but I mention it because it gives us, everyone who isn’t Fred Thomas, a chance to see through his eyes, listen through his ears, think his thoughts. And man, it’s a colorfully active world in his brain – buzzing, humming, shining, twitching, spinning, convulsing, swaying, and throbbing along. It’s really no wonder that Thomas’s musical output has been varied and prolific – Saturday Looks Good To Me, City Center, Flashpapr, Mighty Clouds, Lovesick, just to name a few in addition to his solo work. One could even say that Thomas has a compulsion to create and collaborate on music – you’ve got to admire that ambition.
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Folkadelphia Session: Matt Pond PA

Photo by Sean Hansen, courtesy of Riot Act Media.
Photo by Sean Hansen, courtesy of Riot Act Media.

Back in 2005, I started to hear a lot about this guy Matt Pond and PA, which I guessed was the state he was living in. Ever the curious listener, I decided to find out what kind of music he was making, what the talk was all about, so I picked up the new album, Matt Pond PA‘s Several Arrows Later. For me and many others, this album became the gateway into the rich and textured imagination of Pond. Perfectly crafted melodies, a glimmering sheen around the instruments, and an undeniable energy that keeps you listening (and often dancing) from track to track. It also feels seasonal – we start in the autumn with “Halloween” and end up with the hope of promise of warmer weather in “Spring Provides.” There’s no doubt that throughout the years this album has helped me to inject a modicum of brightness and color into the eternal grey of mid-winter. Thank Pond.
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Folkadelphia Session: Altan

Altan Leila
Altan | Photo by Leila Grossman | courtesy of the artist

Over the last nearly two decades and over ten albums, Altan has established themselves as one, if not the foremost forces in traditional Irish music. Altan has continued to entertain and educate the masses about Celtic music, enlisting artists like Bonnie Raitt, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton and others to participate. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Jenny Owen Youngs (Encore)


Jenny Owen Youngs, the Brooklyn-based songwriter and previous Folkadelphia Session performer, offers you the chance as a listener for a truly positive and inclusive musical experience. With Youngs, we’re meant to laugh together, cry together, feel hurt, prideful, angry, and strong together. That’s the innate power of her music; whether you’re alone and listening through headphones or you’re watching her at a theater with a thousand other people, Youngs has a way of making it personal and face-to-face. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Lac La Belle

Lac La Belle | photo by Joel Williams | courtesy of the artist
Lac La Belle | photo by Joel Williams | courtesy of the artist

Second to the music, which draws and binds us together, is our shared history with the musicians, which seems to deepen with time. It’s an amazing privilege with Folkadelphia to queue up tracks for a radio show, scroll down the playlist, and think to myself “it was great helping so-and-so out with their last two shows in Philly” and “oh man, I can’t wait for us to premiere such-and-such’s in-studio session that we recorded three months ago, what a blast!” In this folksy music world of ours, when we’re drawn together, we tend to stick together. Then, as albums are released, music is shared, tour dates are booked, on the Folkadelphia side of things, we feel such tremendous pride in hearing and seeing artists evolve and that we possibly lent the smallest little help along the way here in Philadelphia.
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