Friends pay tribute to Peasant’s Damien DeRose at a musical celebration of life

damien derose
Damien DeRose of Peasant in the WXPN Studio | Photo by Heidi Schlenzig

Following his sudden passing last month, Damien DeRose’s friends and family celebrated the Bucks County musician’s life with a gathering in his hometown. In a moving tribute to DeRose’s passion, friends played a selection of songs from his Peasant discography on DeRose’s own guitar.

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R.I.P. Damien DeRose of Peasant, 1985-2015

Damien DeRose of Peasant | Photo by Heidi Schlenzig
Damien DeRose of Peasant in the WXPN Studio | Photo by Heidi Schlenzig

(UPDATE: We received word from the family that Damien’s Celebration of Life takes place at Aldie Mansion, 85 Old Dublin Pike in Doylestown, on Saturday Nov 28 from 1 to 3 p.m.)

Bucks County singer and songwriter Damien DeRose, who has been making heartfelt and sensitive music under the name Peasant for over a decade, passed away last night at Temple University Hospital. He was 30 years old.

DeRose first began performing on the Doylestown scene as a teenager with an acoustic guitar in the mid-thousands. His self-released debut, Fear  Not Distant Lover, came out in 2005. DeRose garnered national and international acclaim following Peasant’s 2008 sophomore record On the Ground, released on Paper Garden Records and distributed through Conor Oberst’s Team Love label.

His music struck an emotional chord with listeners: beautiful melodies set to affecting arrangements, lyrics of personal introspection, and a voice that was delicate and captivating. It channeled Sufjan Stevens, Jackson Browne, Elliott Smith and Simon & Garfunkel, putting DeRose on the radar of All Songs Considered, Paste, Daytrotter and many others; several songs like “Fine is Fine” were licensed for use in TV shows. Continue reading →


Download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Vol. 4 (feat. City Rain, Pink Skull, Lushlife, Chill Moody, + more)

Photo by Arrah Fisher

Special thanks to all of the bands for coming to our studio, and to John Vettese for recording them. We’d also like to thank volunteer production assistants Fred Knittel, Madeleine Lesperance, and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Kate Bracaglia, Corey Cohen, Sarah Fry, Shamus McGroggan, Noah Gabriel Merenda, Sylvia Ramirez, and Heidi Schlenzig for sharing their work. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Peasant

If you haven’t been listening to Peasant, now’s a great time to start. The project of Bucks County-bred singer-songwriter Damien DeRose is about to release its fantastic fourth full-length, Bound for Glory, on the UK-based Schnitzel Records; across a baker’s dozen tracks, the album really brings Peasant’s music alive. Formerly situated in the quiet, contemplative corner of the music spectrum – the land of Nick Drake and Red House Painters – the new songs have a sense of vigor and urgency as rhythm section Bruno Joseph (bass) and Alex Bortnichak (drums) chase DeRose across a tour of musical styles. In their Key Studio Session, we get a cross-section – “Take It Light” is their moseying Nashville number, “Girls” is a 70s power-pop nugget, “Amends” tries on a country drawl and “The Flask” is the indie rock anthem. Download them all below, catch the band live this Saturday April 14 at Maxwell’s on Main in Doylestown, and wish them bon voyage as they head to Europe for a month-long tour. Bound for Glory is out next Tuesday April 17.


Key Studio Sessions Sneak Preview: Peasant

Photo by Heidi Schlenzig

Before playing their CD release show at World Café Live late last month, Bucks County indie trio Peasant – fronted by singer and songwriter Damien DeRose – recorded a Key Studio Session just downstairs from the stage they’d be playing. While DeRose’s songs are notably soft and introverted, the material on his new Bound for Glory LP sees the lead Peasant reaching in different sonic territories, from chugalug 70s rock structures to classic 50s Nashville tones. You’ll hear the spectrum when the Key Studio Session releases next Wednesday, April 11, but for now, get a sneak preview below with the snappy pop number “Amends.”


Tonight’s Concert Pick: Peasant’s record-release show at World Cafe Live

Peasant (aka Damien DeRose) makes music that is good for two types of days: cloudy ones, when you lie around the house doing nothing, and the sunny ones, when you lie outside doing nothing. DeRose’s breezy vocals and acoustic guitar are reminiscent of Elliot Smith, but with more hopeful lyrics. Like his previous songs, Peasant’s new single, “The Flask” (released off DeRose’s upcoming album, Bound for Glory) lulls you into a calm state of mind best enjoyed when you have time to relax. Peasant’s music doesn’t get your blood pumping, but its feelgood sound is perfect for enjoying the both the sunny and rainy spring weather. Peasant performs with Illinois, Former Belle, and Jacob Wolf at 8 p.m. at World Café Live; tickets to the all-ages show are $10. —Nicole Soll


Watch a video from new Philly house concert series SoFAR, featuring The Spinning Joneses and Ms. Wise

Late last month, the new Philadelphia satellite of international house-concert series Songs From a Room welcomed Philly folk collective The Spinning Joneses (that’s The Spinning Leaves + Hezekiah Jones), local spoken word artist Ms. Wise and Asbury Park’s Lightning Jar to a living room in Queen Village. This was the second installment of SoFAR Philly – the debut featured a set from contemplative Bucks County singer Peasant – and the next event is planned for March. Follow SoFAR Philly’s Facebook page for announcements, and check out a newly-released video from the January show below.


My Morning Download: “The Flask” by Peasant

 Damien DeRose, the singer-songwriter who performs as Peasant releases his third album, Bound for Glory, on April 17th on the London-based Schnitzel Records. The Doylestown musician released his last album Shady Retreat in 2010 to critical acclaim and last June released a free EP of songs that you can download here. Below, download the new song from the forthcoming Bound For Glory called “The Flask.”

The Flask by Peasant


Show Recap: Peasant at World Cafe Live

There should be laws against excessive iPhone usage at small, seated shows. World Café Live’s Upstairs venue has a quiet, settled ambiance to it: the Christmas lights, the guttering candles, the muted chatter. It’s not the sort of space that encourages much beyond polite clapping, even when it’s packed. On Tuesday night, with the room barely half-full of indifferent and furiously texting patrons, Peasant—the alias of Doylestown singer-songwriter Damien DeRose—faced a challenge just in winning the crowd’s attention.

As it was, DeRose had to fight for recognition for the entirety of his 30-minute set, with brief interludes of respectful silence when the band’s volume dipped below conversation levels. “These are new songs,” he said at one point. “But it’s not like any of you look like you’ve been to a Peasant show before. It’s different, you just have to believe me.” If the crowd heard him, they gave no sign.

DeRose normally packages his brand of simple, romantic Americana as an acoustic, solo affair, which explains why he seemed so uncomfortable with a three-piece band backing him and an electric guitar in his hands. “I’ve never had a band before,” DeRose said. “Not sure if I like it.” It’s true; they could’ve used more rehearsal time (after new song “Glory Bound,” Derose quipped, “that one’s bound for a little more practice”), but overall the music was better for the added instrumentation (drums, bass and keyboards).

A second vocalist might have improved things further. DeRose’s wistful voice is lovely by itself, but harmonies could lift it to commanding new heights. As for the crunch of the electric guitar, which DeRose declared “fun,” he’d be better off without it. It only served to muddle, and the tunes Peasant played electric were the least interesting. When he adjusts to sharing the stage, that could change, but for now Peasant is still at his most affecting when he’s standing alone under a wash of yellow light, strumming an acoustic. “We’re Good,” from his most recent release, 2010’s Shady Retreat, was a stand-out.

“Did you ever pine for somebody?” DeRose asked at the opening of his set, prefacing a sorrowful, lilting song. But if he was pining for anything on Tuesday, it was probably an enthusiastic—or at least considerate—audience. Here’s hoping he gets that next time he plays in Philly. Peasant deserves it.


Tonight’s Concert Pick: Peasant at World Cafe Live

As pseudonyms go, Peasant is more apt than most. If the name calls up images of rustic simplicity and peaceful, sun-soaked days, then it’s done its job. The moniker belongs to local singer-songwriter Damien DeRose, who pens dreamy, acoustic indie-pop in his home studio in Bucks County. DeRose’s latest album, 2010’s Shady Retreat, is named for the street where it was recorded—and it too echoes the same aesthetic that its name evokes. For airy, romantic pop songs, look no further than Peasant.

Peasant performs with A Cat Called Cricket and Matthew O’Neill at at 8 p.m. at World Cafe Live; tickets to the show are $10.