What continues to make West Chester, PA’s Mason Porter a force to be reckoned with in the Americana and roots community, especially regionally, is the intimacy that they bring to each song. Whether it is in live performance, on record (like their latest Home For The Harvest), or, now, with their Folkadelphia Session, the trio of Joe D’Amico, Tim Celfo, and Paul Wilkinson have an uncanny ability to draw the listener in and keep them close. I can only think that this magical power is the result of a strong and long-standing chemistry between the members. Heck, we know they can all play their instruments and yes, that’s terribly important. They harmonize like the bee’s knees too. But it’s that extra something something that only comes about after years of meshing together that pushes their”good” to “great.” Can we also talk about how tight these guys are when they perform? Beyond chemistry, Mason Porter comes prepared. Folks like to throw around the word “simplistic” to classify MP’s brand of stripped back Americana. Do not fool yourself into thinking that simplicity implies a lack of imagination, passion, energy, or playing chops. Simplicity mean preparedness; this music only works because the trio is locked in the groove, dialed in, and firing on all cylinders – but, you know, simplistically, acoustically, and intimately.
Mason Porter recorded this Folkadelphia Session back in February when they were fresh off the release of their newest album Home For The Harvest. For more Mason Porter reading and listening, check out The Key’s Unlocked coverage. Mason Porter performs at Underground Arts supporting Spirit Family Reunion on Saturday, August 9th.
Nothing can stand in the way of true love or at least that’s what we’re led to believe. In fact, it seems, that many obstacles on this earth can block the meeting of two lovers. Such is the case in “Little Satchel,” a song composed by North Carolinian fiddle and banjo player Fred Cockerham. Continue reading →
Gedeon Luke & The People may be from Memphis, but Luke’s roots are in Philly. Releasing a debut LP called Live Free and Love in April, the gospel / soul outfit has shared a free download of “The Healing” this week. Get a copy of the uplifting soul song below.
This week in The Key’s Unlocked feature, We looked at Mason Porter‘s new record Home for the Harvest. The West Chester trio premiered “Let Me In,” during a round-the-mic Key Studio Session from last year, and you can now download the studio version below.
XPN and The Key welcome Mason Porter to the Ardmore Music Hall tonight. The West Chester folk band has been the subject of this week’s Unlocked feature for their new record Home for the Harvest, and they will be celebrating the LP’s release at tonight’s show. The record is close-knit and intimate, with the trio and their contributing percussionists creating an escape from hectic, technology-focused city life and you can be sure the live performance will be the same. Tickets and information for the show with Sean Hoots can be found here.
“When you build the songs from the drums up, it’s hard to perform them without the drums,” explains Joe D’Amico, singer and mandolin player of Mason Porter.
He should know. Not only has his folk / bluegrass outfit Mason Porter dabbled in different degrees of musical arrangement in the past, D’Amico himself has released solo records that were lush, expansive and kind of psychedelic – like last year’s A Short Time’s a Long Time.
“I spent a long time working on that last solo record,” he says. “Major amounts of time arranging the songs and recording them.”
Which goes a long way toward explaining the close, intimate and somewhat scaled down vibe of Mason Porter’s latest record, Home For the Harvest, which we’ve explored all week on Unlocked. Fleshed-out rockers like “Fill My Cup” notwithstanding, the record sounds like the trio of players, even when there are drums and other instruments present. The band says this was a very conscious decision.
“There is a tendency when you’re have different players coming in and out of a lineup where you end up shaping the band around who’s playing with you,” D’Amico says. “So more for this record, and the time period during which it was recorded, that year, we weren’t inviting people to play with us very often. We said ‘let’s get our own space here.’”
Bassist Tim Celfo and guitarist Paul Wilkinson nod in agreement. “Other musicians should add,” Celfo says. “But we don’t want to feel a big loss when they’re not there.” Continue reading →
Folk trio Mason Porter have home on the brain on their new LP – self-released and available through the band’s website – so it’s fitting that they shot a live video for the title track, “Home for the Harvest,” inside the house of bassist Tim Celfo. Backed by wood bookcases and shelves filled with collections of vinyl LPs, we see Mason Porter playing in their tight trio configuration captured in a dreamy dissolve by the filmmakers at Kettle Pot Tracks studio – they of the On The Hill series. Watch it below, and see Mason Porter at Ardmore Music Hall on Saturday, February 1st for the Home for the Harvest LP release party (more information at the XPN Concert Calendar).
Home for the Harvest is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked. Download the featured song “Let Me In” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review and check back later in the week for an interview and more.
When Neil Young released his fourth album Harvest in the early 1972s, his life had reached a point of settled-ness and something close to contentment. He’d bought a ranch in Northern California, his first child was born, and while he still wrestled with heavy issues in his world – this was the album that had “The Needle And the Damage Done,” recall – it had a easygoing, pastoral and domestically content tone to it that was different from the existential road dog listeners heard on previous Young outings.
On a smaller scale, local folk combo Mason Porter is echoing Young’s themes on their fourth release Home for the Harvest – released today and available through the band’s website – and perhaps they are making an overt nod to one of their musical distant relatives. The album feels close, it feels warm. It feels like four guys sitting together in a small room, playing acoustic instruments and harmonizing, a world away from the folk scene in West Chester living rooms and bars that gave the band its start as twentysomethings in the mid-thousands. Like we said yesterday when we offered “Let Me In” as a free download, this is a band that embellishes its songs with auxiliary instrumentation at points, but at the core is always Paul Wilkinson on acoustic guitar, Joe D’Amico on mandolin, Tim Ceflo on upright bass and all three on vocals. They are the bones of the songs, and the bones of the songs are the songs.
Which isn’t to sell short the work of percussionists Ellen Houle, Colby Wallace and Matt Magarahan who contributed to the LP. In some regards, Home For The Harvest has some of Mason Porter’s poppiest and most direct moments. Continue reading →
There was always an evident closeness in the sound of West Chester folk trio Mason Porter. And maybe that closeness exists because of the very fact that are a trio. Three skilled acoustic players writing together, harmonizing, and for whatever their music may get embellished in the recording studio or on the stage with auxiliary players, it all comes back to Tim Ceflo, Joe D’Amico and Paul Wilkinson at the core.
This week the band is releasing its latest LP Home for the Harvest, and celebrating with a show at Ardmore Music Hall on Saturday night. The new LP is especially close-knit – while we hear other instruments and other voices here and there, this sounds impressively close to the way the band sounded when they recorded a round-the-mic Key Session a year ago. That’s a testament to how good they are as performers, for sure, but it’s also a testament to their ability to write music that captures that intimacy.
This week we’re exploring the new album on Unlocked, The Key’s regular series spotlight new and significant releases from Philly area artists. Tomorrow, we’ll have a record review; later in the week, a video and interview. Today, a download of “Let Me In,” a song they premiered with us at that Key Session. In harmonized thoughts like “All the songs the angels sing wouldn’t be worth a thing without you,” we hear Mason Porter delving into the importance of companionship – of family members, of friends and certainly of one another. Listen and download the single below, and check back for more on Home for the Harvest on Unlocked.
Local folk band Mason Porter have released “Fill My Cup” as a free download on their Bandcamp. The track is from their upcoming album Home For The Harvest which will be released on January 28th. The song is warm and roots-y with heartfelt lyrics and acoustic arrangements; listen below and get tickets to their December 28th show at Johnny Brenda’s here.