A tribute for the late Baltimore-born guitarist Robbie Basho has been scheduled for August 23rd at Johnny Brenda’s, presented by Alabaster Museum and featuring a preview of a new documentary about the musician. Basho was part of the so-called Takoma School in the 60s with John Fahey, Max Ochs and others, bringing more recognition to finger-style and steel-string acoustic guitar playing. Basho, though, was also known for his unmistakable singing – similar to Roy Orbison but even more striking, rich with vibrato and carrying over an impressive range.
Fishtown’s Busses open the show tonight at Johnny Brenda’s, following the release of their first single in two years. ”Overload” calls to mind Radiohead and Other Lives, with soothing swells of horns and echoing vocals supported by marching drums and a wandering bass line. The band has been working on a new album, so expect to hear some new material tonight. Tickets and information for the 21+ show with Avers and Rosu Lup can be found here. Take a listen to “Overload” below.
Norristown’s weekend Walla Fest is back for its fourth year with a stacked line-up of local music including Pine Barons and Vita and the Wolf. Pine Barons recently went up to Lafayette Hill’s Kettle Pot Tracks studio to record an On the Hill Session, which you can check out here. Meanwhile, Vita and Wolf have released two singles on their Bandcamp – listen to “Mary” below. More information for the festival, which takes place at the Centre Theater in Norristown today and tomorrow, can be found here.
Vacationer does exactly what their name would suggest.
The Philadelphia-based band has toured and traveled all over the world. They’ve shot videos in Hawaii and Costa Rica. They’ve played festivals in Iceland, and toured all over the U.S. alongside bands like Bombay Bicycle Club, Tennis, Hellogoodbye and The Naked and Famous.
But the Vacationer hasn’t always taken their party on the road. They’ve also played Philly enough times since 2012 to make it hard to keep track of. The band has brought its chill-wave sounds to venues like Union Transfer, the Theater of the Living Arts and the Dock Street Brewing Company, as well as outdoor festivals like 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties and the Fishtown River City Festival. Their home-away-from-tour, however, seems to be Underground Arts, where Vacationer has played a handful of shows including the two installments of the “Nude Beach” concert series the band started.
To celebrate tonight’s release show and the band’s first time performing at Johnny Brenda’s, we’re recapping a few of Vacationer’s most memorable hometown shows in the live videos below. You can also catch them playing the first day of the Made in America festival on August 30th, Vacationer being the only local band announced on the bill so far.
Union Transfer – February 2, 2012 – “Gone”
In early 2012, Vacationer had released an EP that proceeded their first LP, Gone, which dropped on March 20th of that year. In the video above, the band plays the album’s title track while opening for The Asteroid Galaxy Tour. You can tell frontman Kenny Vasoli hasn’t quite broken in his dance moves yet.
TLA – June 2, 2014 – “Everyone Knows”
A few months later, Vacationer played its second hometown show at the TLA, opening for Walk the Moon. This video shows they already have some screaming fans, and Kenny and the rest of the band seem much looser and chilled out.
Underground Arts – September 28, 2012– “Dreamlike”
In the video above, Vacationer plays “Dreamlike” at the band’s first big headlining show at Underground Arts, playing alongside fellow Philly favorites Cold Fronts and City Rain. The more intimate nature of the venue really highlights these musicians’ multi-instrumental talents.
Underground Arts – February 9, 2013 – “Trip”
Here’s a great live video from Vacationer’s inaugural Nude Beach party – a concert series the band started to bring more electronic music to Philadelphia. During their set, Vacationer also helped partiers thaw from the snowy winter and frigid temperatures.
“Shining” from Relief performed May 16, 2014
Though this video wasn’t filmed during a Philly set, it’s a little glimpse at what fans can expect tonight at Vacationer’s local Relief release show. Get tickets for the show here.
Relief is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked. Download “In The Grass” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review, and check back tomorrow for an interview and Friday for a post about the daily lives of the band members.
A long-running collaboration of jazz scene vets, Fourplay comes to the Keswick Theater tonight. Among the players is bassist Nathan East, who might not enjoy the name recognition as his bandmates – keyboardist Bob James and guitarist Lee Ritenour have long established solo careers, while drummer Harvey Mason has long played in Herbie Hancock’s band – but nevertheleass, East has a long career as a session player for a range of artists: Stevie Wonder to Sting, B.B. King to Babyface, and even Daft Punk. Learn more about East in Shaun Brady’s interview from yesterday and get tickets and information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Peter Matthew Bauer thinks a lot about music in terms of his health. Coming off a ten-year stint making music with his lifelong best friends in The Walkmen, he candidly admits that a creative relationship that lasts that long isn’t always the best for the creators’ psyches.
“In a band, you think you’re expressing yourself in a way,” he says. “And you kind of are for a while, you create this group and it’s exciting. Then after a certain point you’re convincing yourself that some organ part is like an artistic expression…I think even Hamilton [Leithauser, singer of The Walkmen] probably felt that way at times. Being in a group for that long is not a healthy dynamic.”
Today, Bauer releases Liberation! on Mexican Summer Records, and he deems it a headphone freakout, a sonic assemblage put together over hurried months of recording and reworking over the course of 2013 – something that, in a way, can also be mentally unhealthy. But right now, he’s okay with that.
Last year The Walkmen announced its indefinite hiatus and the Mount Airy-based Bauer was faced with a decision – was he going to make music for the rest of his life?
“I gave myself two months to write four or five good songs,” he says. “I decided ‘you’ve got to have a song with words and singing, you’ve got to learn how to sing and why to sing, you’ve got to create something that has a reason to exist’. And if I didn’t have that, I was going to do something else.”
Liberation! doesn’t miss a beat, revisiting the lo-fi sonic grit of The Walkmen’s early work but incorporating unique textural elements – field recordings from foreign lands, loosely South Asian guitar patterns – as well as references to places around the globe in lyrics and titles (“I Was Born in an Ashram,” “Latin American Ficciones”). The base beneath these exploratory notes is driving guitar rock beat on by booming, urgent rhythms – a sonic snapshot of a longtime band player at the moment he confidently breaks out on his own.
Tonight, Bauer celebrates the release of Liberation! by headlining Johnny Brenda’s; we caught up with him when he stopped by WXPN before leaving for tour to chat about his artistic evolution. Continue reading →
In advance of his debut solo LP Liberation!, Peter Matthew Bauer of The Walkmen appeared on WXPN’s “Like A Version” cover song segment with afternoon host Dan Reed. With three singers delivering backup harmonies – his wife Marisa Brown, Emily Ounsworth and Jess Conda – Bauer covered “Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes,” a country-infused song performed by Bonnie Raitt on her 1975 album Home Plate. Bauer and Reed also chatted about the song, about touring and recording. Listen to the cover (and interview) below, and catch Bauer when he and his band return from tour to play a homecoming album release show at Johnny Brenda’s on Tuesday, June 24th; tickets and information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.