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The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Nightlands, Catnaps and Thao)

Nightlands | Photo by Matthew Davis

Prairie Empire stops by to record a Folkadelphia session [link]

Philly’s Nightlands celebrates the release of Oak Island at Kung Fu Necktie [link]

My Morning Jacket’s Jim James streams his new album, announces a Union Transfer show [link]

Philly rockers Free Energy get interviewed by a couple sixth graders [link]

Remembering versatile guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, who passed away at age 54 this week [link]

Indiepop five-piece Catnaps releases a new EP for free downloading [link]

Shoegazers Nothing will make the First Friday crowd wish they packed earplugs [link]

Lancaster folk trio The Stray Birds records a Key Studio Session, comes to World Cafe Live [link]

Philly rapper Chill Moody releases a mini-documentary of his December TLA show [link]

Thao Nguyen plays “We The Common” on a banjo, through a microphone, at a rally [link]

All week the Unlocked series features Almost Endless, the new LP from The National Rifle [link]

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Folkadelphia Session: Prairie Empire

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker

As I’m sitting here, hunched over my desk, considering Prairie Empire’s recent Folkadelphia Session, I’m struck by how sonically perfect these recordings are for this moment in time. Right now, it is late morning and the sun is just high enough to pierce through the corner of my curtains, casting a diffused window-shaped white light over the wooden boards of my floor. Outside snowflakes are being thrown around by gusts so that here, inside my room, the shadows, co-mingling with the errant floating dust, seem more like a glimmer from a cosmic wintry disco ball. It’s wonderfully exciting, yet tender, and so is Prairie Empire, the vehicle for Brittain Ashford’s songs that seem designed for thoughtful winter reflection and introspection.

On this trip to Philadelphia, Ashford (on autoharp & dulcimer) was joined by Layne McNish on cello and Adam Jacobson on drums, which allowed for a sound that was quite rich and full for a trio sized configuration. Constantly bringing life to the lush chamber-folk music is Ashford’s highly emotive voice that cries out and demands attention. It seems to glow with a deep desire and is marred by a gentle hurt, a thawing from the depths of hibernation, a need to awake and live. At my desk, here on this snowy, sunny morning, I feel hope and life springing anew, perhaps the start of the great defrosting, fueled by Prairie Empire.

Prairie Empire woke up early to record this session the morning after their Folkadelphia-presented concert at the Green Line Café on Friday, January 4th 2013.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: St. James & The Apostles at RUBA, Folkadelphia presents ((TACO)), Prairie Empire and The Sun Flights at Green Line Cafe, We’re About 9 at PSALM Salon, XPN Welcomes Garland Jeffreys at World Cafe Live at The Queen, Many Arms at The Rotunda

St. James & the ApostlesHardworking Philly outfit St. James & The Apostles play RUBA Club Studios tonight alongside Themuffinmanisaband.  St. James is Jamie Mahon and The Apostles are Mahon’s cousin Mike Kiker and second-cousin Jeff Castner.  Together, the trio fuses anthematic rock with moments of twang and the refreshing power of Kiker’s organ playing on their latest record Baphomet.  More information about the 21+ show can be found here.  Below, watch St. James & The Apostles’ BITBY video filmed this past October.

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