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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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Listen to Meg Baird’s new Heron Oblivion project via NPR Music

heron oblivion
Heron Oblivion | photo by Alissa Anderson | courtesy of the artist

Former Philadelphia musician Meg Baird has settled into San Francisco life pretty nicely. She released her third solo record last year and formed a new band, the “dark acid-folk supergroup” of Heron Oblivion. The four-piece will release its self-titled debut via Sub Pop on March 4th, but NPR Music picked it up for a First Listen feature this week so you can get into it early.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Kamasi Washington at World Cafe Live, Meg Baird at Johnny Brenda’s, Set and Setting at Kung Fu Necktie

Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist
Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, LA saxophonist and acclaimed band leader Kamasi Washington brings his aptly-titled debut LP The Epic to World Cafe Live with an eight-piece band. In an interview earlier this week with The Key’s Shaun Brady, Washington talked about breaking down the boundaries of genre:

The word ‘jazz’ and the word ‘hip-hop’ have a separation, but the music doesn’t really have that same separation. You can’t talk about hip-hop without talking about A Tribe Called Quest, and their music is inundated with jazz. You can’t talk about west coast hip-hop without talking about James Brown and Parliament.

Read the whole interview here, listen to “Miss Understanding” below and get tickets and more information on the show via the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Interview: Meg Baird on stage fright, recording Light and holding on to her Phillies hat

Meg Baird | Photo by Akshay Sawhney | akshaysawhney.com
Meg Baird | Photo by Akshay Sawhney | akshaysawhney.com

There’s a type of folk music that’s difficult to listen to in an abstract way, a type that’s difficult to extricate from the rich context of its history. A type that seems to always evoke a sort of timelessness, along with its most prominent practitioners and all of the artists who have carried it into the modern era. Nick Drake. Fairport Convention. Pentangle.

Oh, and “The Battle Of Evermore. “ Obviously.

Toward the end of her until-then lifelong residency in the Philadelphia area, in December of 2010, Meg Baird opened for the late great folk singer and guitarist Bert Jansch at Johnny Brenda’s, at what would be his last appearance here. Shortly following that show – in retrospect, an evening on which the proverbial torch of this tradition and this artistry was arguably passed, metaphorically speaking, between its masters in two generations – Jansch would pass away, sadly, and Baird would uproot, and relocate to the West Coast. Continue reading →

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Philly Music 101: The basics everyone needs to know about the Philadelphia scene right now

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

Philadelphia is a city of many wonders: a buzzing food scene, an established craft beer culture, and a parade of historical landmarks. But one aspect of our city that we are particularly passionate about is our magnificent local music community and all that is has to offer. Here at The Key, we often focus on the particulars of our scene – where artists will be playing each night, brand new local releases, etc. – so much so that we can forget how overwhelming it can be for newcomers to get their bearings.

So for those of you having trouble finding where to start, we are introducing this new Philly Music 101 series as your guide through the wonderful world of the Philadelphia music scene: all of its passionate, loving members, from artists to venues to studios and more. It’s meant to help new fans navigate the scene as much as emerging musicians looking to break in and behind-the-scenes folks trying to get their start. We hope it will illuminate just what makes it so damn exciting for music lovers to live here. To kick it off, here is a by-no-means-complete overview of the different pieces of the Philadelphia music scene that have come together to make up its sturdy foundation. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ben Vaughn Quintet at The Tin Angel, Angel Olsen at Studio 34, The Astronauts at PhilaMOCA, Mirah at Johnny Brenda’s, The Tragically Hip at The TLA

South Jersey-bred rocker, producer and XPN host Ben Vaughn takes to the stage of The Tin Angel tonight. The venue is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, and XPN Welcomes Ben and his quintet to rattle the walls a bit with some timeless garage rock tunes. The 21+ show begins at 8 p.m., tickets and more information can be found here. Below, watch a video of the Ben Vaughn Quintet playing “My First Band” at Maxwell’s in Hoboken last year.

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