This Friday, hundreds of events will occur all over the city for Make Music Philly, with countless artists from the area and countless genres represented – how do you figure out who to see? That’s where we come into the picture. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ll be bringing you Make Music Philly spotlights all week.
One artist you should not miss this Friday is Heyward Howkins. A folk singer from Philadelphia, Heyward Howkins released his incredible debut LP Hale & Hearty last summer and is already preparing a follow-up. With quirky yet catchy rhythms and songs that make lyrical references to the greater Philadelphia area, Howkins makes music like no other. If you’re looking for an original artist and beautiful music, check out Heyward Howkins at Ortlieb’s Longue this Friday at 6 p.m.
Led by Swedish songwriter Jose Gonzales, the band Junip, is sharing the stage with Philadelphia singer Birdie Busch tonight at Union Transfer. Known for their soft, but invigorating sound, both musicians take their own spin on folk by mixing blues progressions with atmospheric, psychedelic breaths, soft rock riffs, and delicate lyrics. Find more information and tickets for tonight’s show here. Watch Birdie Busch’s “These Banks” from her PledgeMusic-funded album, The Greatest Night, below.
Philly / Brooklyn indie outfit Northern Arms are bringing their beautifully haunting, slightly old-world sound to Ortlieb’s Lounge on June 19th. They opened for local favorites Man Man back in March, and Bands in the Backyard (BITBY) recorded their performance of “Build My Gallows.” It’s very reminiscent of a less gruff Tom Waits style – something Poe probably would’ve jammed out to today. Watch it below (you can find more of their performance on BITBY’s site), and catch them at Ortlieb’s with NYMPH and sami.the.great.
“It’s funny, people still call them solo-guitar records,” Chris Forsyth muses over coffee at Double Shots in Old City. “But there was almost no solo guitar on them.”
The experimental instrumentalist is talking about the LPs he’s released since arriving in Philadelphia back in the late aughts. Dreams (2009), Paranoid Cat (2011) and Kenzo Deluze (2012) all saw him exploring expansive sonic avenues and evocative tones, stretching sound across a generous amount of space – Kenzo clocking in only five songs in 40 minutes. Though the focus is usually the guitar notes coming out of Forsyth’s rumbling amplifier, of course (think of the haunting score Neil Young recorded for Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man). But that’s not all you’re hearing.
“There would be trumpet, harmonium, percussion, whatever,” he says. “They were pieces I could play solo, but these various instruments were added to them that I would bring in friends to play on.”
This month Forsyth has a group of friends performing live with him – he’s backed by his Solar Motel Band during a residency every Thursday at Ortlieb’s Lounge in Northern Liberties. It’s the first time since his arrival in Philadelphia that the traditionally solitary performer has a full group onstage with him, and they’re looking to be a long-term fixture. Forsyth assembled the band so he could perform the new material from his forthcoming LP – also called Solar Motel, out this October on Paradise of Bachelors Records. But then the band took on a life of its own.
Japanese Guy perform at PhilaMOCA tonight. The less-talked about side project of a Fleet Foxes member, Japanese Guy is the experimental / noise endeavor of Skyler Skjelset with Andrew J.S. and Chris Icasiano. The trio released their self-titled debut in January of this year after recording the 8 song album in northwestern Washington last spring. They’ll be joined by the local avant-garde / experimental projects of Nick Millevoi and Air is Human; tickets and information can be found here. Below, watch Japanese Guy perorm “Glass Cave” and an untitled track live.
Philadelphia-via-Austin outfit Literature open for Pet Milk at MilkBoy tonight. The psych / pop quartet released their debut album Arab Spring in January 2012 and followed it up with a 7″ single “Tie Dye” a year later. For their recent Key Studio Session, Literature recorded the single alongside four new songs – check out the full session here. Tickets and information can be found here. Below, stream the title track to Arab Spring.