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Folkadelphia Session: Glenn Jones (with Laura Baird)


Guitarist Glenn Jones is a master of his craft. From his days in the post-rock outfit Cul de Sac to his more recent meditative solo albums, Jones has solidified his place in the pantheon of American Primitivism greats. Jones’ longtime label Thrill Jockey Records concisely defines American Primitive Guitar as “a style invented in the late 1950s by John Fahey, whose traditional fingerpicking techniques and wide-ranging influences were used to create modern original compositions.” Continue reading →

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Laura Baird to explore new musical direction at the Random Tea Room next month

Laura Baird | photo via laurabaird.com
Laura Baird | photo via laurabaird.com

Philly area folk artist Laura Baird will join Chuck Johnson and Eric Carbonara for a performance on August 1st hosted by Fire Museum at the Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop. Baird is known for her multi-instrumental talents and has performed with younger sister Meg as a duo called the Baird Sisters. For this show, however, Laura will be performing solo and using two handmade instruments (the ribcage kalimba and bass zither). Continue reading →

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Unsung Folkadelphia #1: Jason Molina and Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain

Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
From the 'Didn't It Rain' session, Jennie Bedford's lyric work sheet to "Steve Albini's Blues"
From the ‘Didn’t It Rain’ session, Jennie Bedford’s lyric work sheet to “Steve Albini’s Blues”

Welcome to the first chapter of Folkadelphia’s new project that we’ve gotten in the habit of calling Unsung.

In the history of music, there are many unsung artists and albums that we firmly clutch close to our hearts. These artists create the kind of music that we wish other people knew more about or cared more deeply for. We wish that we could share with others our exact feelings about how we’ve been touched and affected by some musicians. We want to show them the light. We want to sing these musicians’ unsung song for everyone to hear.

With this series, we hope we can provide a way for people to connect with music that has been influential beyond its commercial impact and, perhaps, appeal. It’s never too late to find a new favorite band and honor their legacy and discography.

For this first part, we focused on what has become one of my favorite albums: Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain, which was recorded in Philadelphia in 2002. Continue reading →

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Kensington Picnic returns for a second year with a great lineup featuring Spacin’, Mary Lattimore and more

Mary Lattimore | photo by John Vettese
Mary Lattimore | photo by John Vettese

Kensington Picnic will return this August for its second round. Though the lineup is not finalized yet, it looks like an even split between folk and experimental rock. Performers include the Strapping Fieldhands, Laura Baird, and Spacin’. Repeat performers include Birds of Maya and Mary Lattimore.

On the rock front, there’s the Strapping Fieldhands, an indie rock band from the 1990s that returned last year with their first release in 10 years. Birds of Maya played a great set at PhilaMOCA this year, as well as an awesome benefit show at Circle of Hope to support the Shalefield Organizing Community. Last but not least, there’s Spacin’, formed in 2012 by Birds of Maya’s Jason Killinger. Last year, Spacin’ performed their debut Deep Thuds LP at Hopscotch Music Festival and recently released the B-side to their Megatations tape via Telephone Explosion Records.

On the folk side of things, there’s the charismatic Laura Baird. The other half of the amazing Baird Sisters, Laura did a great interview with the Key’s Maura Filoromo. Over the years, Baird has played a range of instruments from trombone to flute and banjo. She incorporates elements of these into her performances. Harpist Mary Lattimore will also perform. Over the years, she has performed with artists ranging from Kurt Vile and Thurston Moore to Sharon Van Etten and Meg Baird. Last year, she played on a cover of Kitty Wells’ country tune “Christmas Ain’t Like Christmas Anymore” and a brilliant session with Folkadelphia. In September, she will release her latest album, Slant of Light as a collaboration with Jeff Zeigler (from Arc in Round). 

The picnic is set to take place on Frankford Ave, between Susquehanna and Dauphin, near Liberty Vintage Motorcycles. Get more information on the free event here.  Check out music from the artists below.

Continue reading →

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How Laura Baird blends elements of the past with music of the present

Laura Baird | photo via laurabaird.com
Laura Baird | photo via laurabaird.com

History runs deep in Old City. It’s evident from the cobblestones, the 17th century buildings, and the re-enactors dressed in colonial garb.

This Thursday, Old City Coffee will be host to a night of music that is reflective of a multitude of histories. An outdoor concert will be held featuring Laura Baird and Ember Schrag as part of the Night Market.

It is more than fitting for Baird, a musician with a rich history of her own, to be playing in this part of the city with the banjo. The building where Old City Coffee sits was once a prosperous banjo factory and helped popularize the instrument.

From 1886 to 1899, 219 – 221 Church Street was The S.S. Stewart Banjo Factory, according to Mira Treatman, marketing manager at Old City Coffee; the business made banjos, guitars, mandolins, and published an accompanying trade magazine.

“It was the cat’s meow at the time in the burgeoning pop music world,” said Treatman.

For Baird, music runs in the family. It’s even documented in the Library of Congress. Her great-great-uncle, I.G. Greer, is the first person to be recorded playing Appalachian music. Greer was from a town called Zion in North Carolina. He taught at Appalachian State College in nearby Boone. Baird traveled down there once to see a collection of his writings and compositions at the college. She also wrote to Library of Congress and attained a copy of Grier’s LP recording.

For years Laura performed with her younger sister, Meg Baird (of Espers). The Baird Sisters are well known in the folk community and have released several albums, the most recent being Until You Find Your Green in 2012 on Grapefruit Records. Despite an established association with this genre, Laura Baird actually didn’t like folk music until high school. “There was a folk show on XPN. I started listening to it and recorded on tapes. Then I took some of those tapes to college and really started to get into the genre,” she said.

Laura grew up in Burlington County, New Jersey where there was always a presence of music around the home. She took piano lessons from an early age until college. Over time she’s learned to play the trombone, sousaphone, flute, guitar, and banjo. Elements of the past definitely work their way into the songs.

“I play a lot of traditional songs. It’s always a part of my set,” she said. Her influences include medieval music, Celtic traditional folk music, and the Methodist Hymnal.

“We would go to church sometimes, and there is a real simplicity in the songs that I love,” she said.

Baird didn’t start composing her own music until college. She went to Duke University for electrical engineering and graduated in 1986. There she played in the orchestra and “hung around the music buildings,” she said.

It was also at Duke that she was exposed to more banjo music through a unique job. Continue reading →