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The High Key Portrait Series: Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore

Mary Lattimore and Meg Baird | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | <A href=http://www.hellerhound.com/ target="_blank">hellerhound.com</a>
Mary Lattimore and Meg Baird | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

For fans of Philly’s local music scene, it hurts a little to have to use the word “former” to describe Meg Baird’s residential whereabouts. The singer uprooted from her longtime home here about four years ago and settled into San Francisco, a transition she reviewed briefly with The Key for an interview last August, in advance of a show at Johnny Brenda’s where she shared a stage with friend and frequent collaborator, Philly-based harpist Mary Lattimore.

Luckily for Baird’s fans, whatever coast she’s living on, she has been as prolific as ever. Last year saw the release of her third solo album, Don’t Weigh Down The Light, where she was accompanied throughout by Charlie Saufley for a return more toward the fuller sound of records made with her Philly-based band, Espers. Baird premiered a music video for the title track from that record on NPR last December.

Lattimore is celebrating the release of new music of her own as well. Her new record At The Dam hit stores on March 4th – it’s an album of experimental harp music that she improvised as a document of recent trips in California and Texas. Having recently garnered a Pew Fellowship, Lattimore is looking forward to an upcoming tour playing a number of European dates. Though she’d played throughout Europe before — as a duo along with multi-instrumentalist Jeff Zeigler, opening for Steve Gunn, or as part of Thurston Moore’s band — Lattimore looks forward to the autonomy and accolade of this tour as her first international venture as a solo headlining artist. Continue reading →

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Low struck reflective chords at Johnny Brenda’s last night

low
Low | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com

Critics may contend that Low frontman Alan Sparhawk was a mid-90’s iconoclast, in a way, having eschewed the predominant contemporary genres of Duluth, Minnesota in favor of the music that Low became known for: a subdued and often dark brand of moody rock and roll. On the other hand, the 90’s outside of Duluth were full of that too, from Tanya Donelly’s somber psychedelic strokes on Belly’s excellent debut record Star to the era’s lo-fi poster kids My Bloody Valentine.

But, forget the 90’s for a minute, because the era isn’t necessarily always relevant in the context of this band. The most distinctive element of Low’s music and stagecraft lie in the signature, often haunting harmonies between Sparhawk and wife Mimi Parker, as she lightly dusts her snares with her trademark percussion brushes. Together with bassist and keyboard player Steve Garrington, Low created a compelling mood at Johnny Brenda’s last night, approved of in tacit head-nods by a legion of devoted fans at the sold out show, the same fans that forgave them for rescheduling a Philly appearance last Fall interrupted by a papal visit, and who turned out in numbers on a rainy Winter night regardless.

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Kurt Vile and Steve Gunn collaborate on a new EP

Kurt Vile and Steve Gunn | Photo by Amanda Hatfield | http://www.amandamhatfield.com/ | via Brooklyn Vegan
Kurt Vile and Steve Gunn | Photo by Amanda Hatfield | http://www.amandamhatfield.com/ | via Brooklyn Vegan

Kurt Vile and former Violator Steve Gunn have collaborated together on a new EP, Parallelogram on Three Lobed Recordings, a boutique label in North Carolina that “specializes in small print-run releases that cover all flavors of psychedelia.” Recorded and mixed at Uniform Recording in Philly by Jeff Zeigler, the six song EP features contributions from drummer Mike Sneeringer and Mary Lattimore on hapr and piano. Continue reading →

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Download Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler’s “I Only Have Eyes For You” via the Ghostly Swim 2 comp

Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler
Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler | photo courtesy of the artist

The Detroit record label Ghostly International and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim has released Ghostly Swim 2, a collection of ambient electronic music. It’s their second co-release together since the first installment in 2008.

One of the highlights of the 13-song set is “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Philly duo Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler, the Philly harpist and producer / multi-instrumentalist respectively that have been collaborating on ambient soundscapes for the past couple years. Although this song shares a title with a 1959 classic by The Flamingoes, it does not appear to be a cover – unless it’s an extremely abstract cover. Continue reading →

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Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler to release Slant of Light in September

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 6.02.33 PM
Artwork by Rebecca Suss | http://www.beckysuss.net/

He’s the producer (and multi-instrumentalist), she’s the harpist, and they’re both massively talented. Jeff Zeigler has sat behind the controls for albums by Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs, Nothing, Purling Hiss, and has performed with members of The War On Drugs, Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel Band, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, and his own group Arc in Round. A classically trained harpist, Mary Lattimore has performed with Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile, Meg Baird, Jarvis Cocker, and Steve Gunn, and was recently named a 2014 Pew Fellow. They’ve collaborated before, and now they’re releasing their first album together, Slant Of Light on September 23rd on Thrill Jockey Records. The album will be available in limited edition white vinyl; you can pre-order it here. The artwork for the album (above) was created by Philadelphia artist Rebecca Suss.

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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.

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Nikki Volpicelli’s 5 Behind-The-Scenes Women of 2013

Photo courtesy of Nicky Devine
Photo courtesy of Nicky Devine

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributor Nikki Volpicelli highlights women doing amazing work this year.

…because every single one of these women (and many more) deserves a shout out before this year ends.

Nicky Devine
Sometimes Nicky Devine is sitting at the bar at Johnny Brenda’s with a keen eye on the running of the evening’s concert. Other times you can’t find her at all because she’s sprinting around the venue, making sure everyone going on stage is happy (and wanting to return to our lovely city to entertain us again). That’s the life of a Production Assistant. Devine splits her time as a PA and a Production Supervisor for Weathervane Music, managing the production and release schedule of monthly Shaking Through sessions. She’s also Festival Director at the annual 2nd Street Festival, and if you’ve ever experienced the panic attack that is trying to maneuver your way through NoLibs on this day, you can begin to understand the impossibility of running the whole operation.

Carly Marcoux
“Who asks these questions?” Was the first question I asked myself after reading this super well crafted Q&A with fuzz-rocker King Tuff (one of my favorite artists this year). I took to the side bar of the Philly Girl About Town blog for an answer and found co-editor Carly Marcoux. Compared to some of its online peers, PGAT only posts a few choice interviews and reviews per month, but Marcoux keeps busy, holding down a day job and playing drums on the side (and singing) in The Pretty Greens – a feminist fuzz-garage group that periodically publishes a pop-art fanzine called Pretty Signals (Issue #2 came out in August). SheT also plays in No Other and freelances for Tom Tom Magazine, a quarterly publication dedicated to female drummers.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. The GrooveBarbers, Lily Mae, Jenny Owen Youngs

It's A King Thing | Photo by John Vettese
It’s A King Thing | Photo by John Vettese

Christmas week brought us two holiday sessions to enjoy.  Veteran a cappella group The GrooveBarbers stopped by to record 10 classic holiday tunes in celebration of the 20th anniversary of The Night Before with Robert Drake.    The second session came from Arbor Christmas All-Stars, an annual gathering of local bands at Gradwell House to record some original holiday songs.  Check out a couple below and get the rest here and here.

This year’s final Folkadelphia session featured singer-songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs.  The Brooklyn musician performed four tracks, including a cover of “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas.  Listen to the full session below and don’t forget to pick up a free download of Folkadelphia Sessions: Vol. 1 here.

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Download “Christmas Ain’t Like Christmas Anymore” by Mikele Edwards, Jeff Ziegler and Mary Lattimore

Mary Lattimore | photo by John Vettese
Mary Lattimore | photo by John Vettese
Here’s another Christmas song you’ll want to add to your collection. Below, download a beautiful, contemplative cover of Kitty Wells’ country Christmas song, “Christmas Ain’t Like Christmas Anymore,” by Mikele Edwards (Vocals, Piano and Melodica) and Jeff Ziegler (guitar/vocals) of Arc In Round, and Mary Lattimore on harp. The song, written by Roy Bodkin, originally appeared on Kitty Wells’ classic 1962 album, Christmas Day With Kitty Wells. The trio capture a haunting Mazzy Star reverbed vibe on their cover of the song. We’ve also included the original by Wells for you to listen to.

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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.

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