The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Mock Suns, Gillian Grassie, Lake Street Dive

Photo by Rachel Del Sordo |
Photo by Rachel Del Sordo |

The Hundred Acre Woods brought their thoughtful and upbeat folk punk in for a Key Studio Session this week.  The West Philly five-piece recorded six songs, some off of their recent Cold in the Morning 7″ along with a selection of singles from various splits.  Check out “Base of My Heart” below and download the full set here.

Lake Street Dive celebrated the release of their new record Bad Self Portraits with a free download of the title track.  The soulful pop outfit will be performing in Philadelphia when XPN welcomes them to Union Transfer on April 2nd.  Pick up tickets here and download “Bad Self Portraits” below.

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Folkadelphia Session: Gillian Grassie

Harpist Gillian Grassie‘s musical resume is impressive and extensive. She has been a recipient of competitive grants to perform, travel, and teach around the world. You can’t keep her in one place – she is often found on the road, carrying her sizable instrument in tow. Last year, she crowd-funded her latest album, The Hinterhaus, via Kickstarter (and raised 175% of her initial goal). It only makes sense that her music is the subject of frequent critical & peer acclaim. As you can tell, Grassie is an accomplished musician – an inventive singer, songwriter, composer, and performer with influences that run the gamut. You can hear stylistic fragments of Baroque fugues here, Joni Mitchell there, Weimar era influence here, American folk song there. Grassie absorbs, interprets, and creates a new world from a collection of bits and pieces, a sonic stitching where the harp is her loom.

But I did not know any of Grassie’s accolades before I asked her in for this Folkadelphia Session. I was certainly aware of her local popularity as a sought after musician (technically, she’s not so local now, as she splits her time between Berlin and Philadelphia). When I first heard The Hinterhaus through peer recommendation, that was all it took to convince me that we had to pursue recording together. Her music is rich and textured with the harp plucking and vocal runs flowing hand-in-hand, weaved together with precision and imagination. The harp and the voice – these two instruments remain the center of the album. What truly makes Grassie an uncommonn performer is the amount of soulfulness and strength she brings to each song, drawing from a deep well inside herself. You can hear this depth of spirit in her Folkadelphia Session, which features the traditional “Saro,” as well as a cover of Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You.”


Self-taught traditionalist Charlie Parr and Philly-bred harpist Gillian Grassie, tonight on Folkadelphia

Charlie Parr is one of the most important contemporary American folk musicians that you probably know nothing about. Based in Minnesota where he also grew up, Parr taught himself guitar and banjo listening to folks like Charley Patton, Woody Guthrie, and Dock Boggs. His online biography is quite right when they say “he sounds like he would have fit right into Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music.” Parr’s most recent records are Hollandale, an all instrumental record, produced and played on by Low‘s Alan Sparhawk, and Barnswallow, a live-to-tape album featuring traditional and originals.

Folkadelphia presents a concert with Charlie Parr, along with Philadelphia musicians Ryan Petrillo (of the Bailey Hounds) and Snagwing at HubBub Coffee (University City location) this Saturday, February 22nd. More information can be found here. Watch Parr perform “Motorcycle Blues”:

Also on this episode of Folkadelphia, we’ll premiere an excerpt from Berlin-based (but Philly at heart) harpist and singer-songwriter Gillian Grassie‘s Folkadelphia Session. Continue reading →


Photo Recap: Andrew Lipke and Gillian Grassie at The Tin Angel

As a precursor to the holiday weekend (and a sly tip-of-the-hat to the apocalypse buzz), Philly singer-songwriter Andrew Lipke – whose 2011 LP The Plague was a cycle of songs set in the endtimes – played The Tin Angel on Friday, December 21. He was joined by singer-songwriter-harpist Gillian Grassie. Each artist played a set, then the two dueted on a medley of seasonal selections, including “Last Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad.” Check out photos of the performance in the gallery above.


Download a new track from Andrew Lipke called “Ascetic Blues” (playing The Tin Angel on 12/21)

Following up his Siddiqah EP from May, local singer-songwriter Andrew Lipke has shared a new song with us called “Ascetic Blues.”  The track comes as a preview of Lipke’s next full-length Songs from Siddhartha (with an expected release in the spring) and showcases Lipke’s knack for creating orchestral rock pieces that still feel intimate.  “Ascetic Blues” is available as a free download on Lipke’s Soundcloud and Bandcamp through the end of the year.  He’ll be performing at The Tin Angel this Friday, December 21st for the Winter Solstice Concert with Gillian Grassie; tickets and information are available here.  Stream the new song below.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Gillian Grassie at World Cafe Live, Goodnight Lights at the Balcony Bar, Jason Anderson at Kung Fu Necktie, Project Object at the Blockley

Indie singer and harpist Gillian Grassie is playing tonight at World Cafe Live with Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Grassie, who performed as part of XPN’s 12 Days of Local Christmas last December, has been touring around the world since the 2007 release of her first full length album, Serpentine. Her show tonight begins at 8 p.m. and ticket start at $10; see more details here. Below, watch Grassie perform “Back to Your Flat” at a concert in Delmenhorst, Germany.

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Merry Local Philly Christmas! (download our 12 song local music holiday sampler)

 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from WXPN and The Key! The last several weeks we celebrated the holiday season by offering a twelve original seasonal songs. WXPN’s Helen Leicht asked local bands to write and record original holiday songs for the third year in a row which the bands have offered as free downloads. Thanks to all the bands for these wonderful songs. You can download the entire sampler as a .zip file here.

The 12 Days of XPN Philly Local Christmas Sampler

Find Vienna – “Christmas Is For Our Hearts”
Gillian Grassie – “When the Night Gets Long”
Summer Fiction – “Christmas Eve for Two”
Matt Santry – “The Xmas Song”
Atomic Square – “Christmas Time is here”
Scot Sax and Suzie Brown – “Coming Your Way”
Angel Band – “I Want A Present”
JD Malone & the Experts – “Best Day Of The Year”
Kingsfoil – “The Valley, A Christmas Song”
John Flynn – “Christmas Balls”
Ben Smith – “I Got A New Tattoo For Christmas”
Ali Hoffman – “Evergreen”


XPN’s 12 Days Of Local Christmas: Gillian Grassie’s “When The Night Gets Long”

Award-winning indie harpist singer/songwriter Gillian Grassie has sold out shows from Philadelphia’s Tin Angel to the Matador in Siberia. More Regina Spektor than Joanna Newsome, Grassie delivers literary lyrics with an expressive, soulful soprano over a blend of jazz inflected folk/pop that is smart, assessable, and completely captivating.

Below, you can listen to and download the song she wrote for XPN’s 12 Days Of Christmas this year called “When the Night Gets Long”; you can read more about Gillian at her website.

Gillian Grassie’s next area show is with Sam DuPont at 8 p.m. Friday, December 23rd, at
The Kennett Flash; tickets to the all-ages show are $12–$15. —Nick Bookbinder