Photo recap: The rain pours down but the Folk goes on – Philly Folk Fest Day 4

Driftwood Soldier | Photo by John Vettese / WXPN
Driftwood Soldier | Photo by John Vettese / WXPN

The Folk Fest Gods can only keep the rain away for so long, but that didn’t stop Sunday’s performers and fans from having an incredible day at Fest.  Here’s some highlights from the day.

Driftwood Soldier (photo above) played a set on the campground’s Front Porch Stage during a slight downpour; the crowd watched huddled under two tarps. Set rocked.

Two long-running gospel groups, The McCrary Sisters and The Fairfield Four teamed up as the gospel supergroup, Rock My Soul. High energy set, had a lot of people (including Folk Show host Ian Zolitor) on their feet and dancing. Continue reading →


Helen Leicht’s local showcase at Philly Folk Fest features Heart Harbor and more


Heart Harbor 0 Jessica Kourkounis
Heart Harbor | Photo by Jessica Kourkounis | courtesy of the artist |

The Philadelphia Folk Festival returns (in its 55th year!) August 18th through the 21st in Upper Salford Township. As she does every year, WXPN’s own Helen Leicht will be bringing out three Philly-based talents for this a Saturday afternoon local showcase. On August 20th, the festival will welcome Heart Harbor, Matt Duke and Katie Barbato to the stage. Continue reading →


#TBTXPN: Watch Jackson Browne perform five of his classics from the Philly Folk Festival

Jackson Browne in 1970

Today is #ThrowbackThursday on WXPN- #TBTXPN. Every Thursday in June, July, and August, XPN will travel back to a special year, a genre, or musical movement. Today WXPN is putting the spotlight on the singer-songwriter movement from the 70s. Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Nick Drake, Carole King, James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson, and many more troubadours of the decade will be featured. Continue reading →


Philly Folk Fest performers Tall Heights gear up for a busy couple of months

Tall Heights | Photo by Shervin Lainez
Tall Heights | Photo by Shervin Lainez

With their new EP Holding On, Holding Out on the way this October, Tall Heights is gearing up for a performance at the Philly Folk Fest next month. The duo just released a new live video for its song “Spirit Cold,” shot at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, Massachussets, and is performed by founding duo Tim Harrington and Paul Wright. The song boasts a stand out cello line by Wright that is the centerfold of the single, allowing his and Harrington’s vocal harmonies to fall into place perfectly.  It’s a great song made better by this performance; check out “Spirit Cold” and get more information on their appearance at Folk Fest at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →


Watch Kathy O’Connell nail her washboard solo at Folk Fest

Photo by Steve Ramm
Photo by Steve Ramm
This is probably the goofiest and most entertaining thing I’ve seen all week.  At last weekend’s Philadelphia Folk Fest, Kathy O’Connell was invited onstage during the Kids’ Corner showcase performance of Marcie Marxer and Cathy Fink. What seemed like O’Connell being congratulated on 25 years of hosting Kids’ Corner on XPN took an interesting turn when Marxer placed a giant washboard around her neck.  Not one to be frightened off by a decked-out laundry appliance, O’Connell began to jam right along with the duo. If you missed it at the Folk Fest, or you wanna see it again, you can watch the video by Steve Ramm below.


The Week So Far: 10 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Philadelphia Folk Fest, Heyward Howkins, Chris Zurich)

P6158729 1

Folkadelphia welcomed American primitive guitarist Don Bikoff for this week’s session [link]

Get prepped for this weekend’s Philadelphia Folk Fest with The Key’s Week of Folk guide [link]

Heyward Howkins‘ sophomore record Be Frank, Furness is now streaming on Soundcloud [link]

Watch a video for XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week, “The Wire” by HAIM [link]

Local musician Chris Zurich is about to release Black Ink – download “Annie” today [link]

Yeah Yeah Yeahs announce September show at Penn’s Landing [link]

Trip out with Aunt Dracula‘s new video for “Timecoat” [link]

The Spinto Band is back with another creative video, this time for “Shake It Off” [link]

Amos Lee shares scenes of recording his latest record in a trailer for Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song [link]

Stream new songs from Girls Against Boys and Balance and Composure [link and link]


New (Big!) Additions to the Philly Folk Fest: Todd Rundgren, David Bromberg, Asleep at the Wheel

ToddRundgrenAThe Philadelphia Folk Fest just announced some huge additions to their already awesome lineup this August!

Local classic rock veteran and producer Todd Rundgren joins the lineup, after finishing a tour with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band earlier this year. He also released a new album, State, this April. Here’s an old goodie by Rundgren.

Another Philly local, David Bromberg, has been added to the bill. He’s known for both his solo material and work with artists from Willie Nelson to Jerry Garcia. Check out this recent Bob Dylan cover Bromberg did at a radio session.

Texas-based country heavyweights Asleep at the Wheel will also play at the festival. They’ve been around for decades and are currently on tour across the U.S. Reminisce with a performance of arguably their most famous song, “The Letter that Johnny Walker Read.”

The Philadelphia Folk Fest happens August 16th through August 18th at Old Pool Farm in Schwenksville; tickets and information can be found here.


Recap: Philly Folk Parade at World Cafe Live (+ full audio of the performances)

The Spinning Leaves

The Philly Folk Parade took over the World Cafe Live stage earlier this afternoon for a special edition of XPN’s Free At Noon concert series. The lineup featured four groups from the local folk music collective, including The Great Unknown, Chris Kasper, Hezekiah Jones, and The Spinning Leaves. Though the artists were technically slated to perform just two songs apiece, members from each group joined one another throughout the entire show, keeping the stage alive and packed with up to 15 performers at once.

Alt-folk quartet The Great Unknown opened the show, backed by at least eight other members of the Philly Folk Parade. A prevailing first impression was simply how young and happy the assemblage was, and their energy was instantly felt throughout the room. They featured resonant electric violin and guitar on their second song, “We’ve Got Secrets,” which also included harmonies from all 12 musicians on stage.

Next up was Chris Kasper and his band. After an endearing opening song in which Kasper and fiddler Kiley Ryan harmonized “ooohs” and “aaahs,” the group fell into a serious folk groove for “Baltimore Street.” Members of the band remained on stage as they were joined by the next act, recent Shaking Through artist Hezekiah Jones. The stage was again filled, with even more members now playing harmonica, upright bass, and electric lap steel guitar. Their song “Cannonball” was a slower tune, held together tightly by incredible harmonica and electric guitar and fiddle solos.

Philly Folk Parade co-founders The Spinning Leaves were the last to perform, and by this time the stage was completely full of people singing and dancing. They began their set by leading the eager crowd in claps and stomps, and their positive energy was again infectious. The combination of their modern folk harmonies with traditional harmonica and electric guitar was unexpected and rich. All four groups from The Philly Folk Parade were a joy to watch. As long as these artists are around, there should be no doubt that folk music is alive and well in Philadelphia. —Claire Fishkow

You can listen to the full performance here (via NPR Music).

Set List:

The Great Unknown
1. Water Again
2. We’ve Got Secrets

Chris Kasper
1.  Miss Augustine
2. Baltimore Street

Hezekiah Jones
1. Iowa Alligator
2. Cannonball (I’ve Got A Little Room)

The Spinning Leaves
1. Two Eggs
2. Bridges For Free