The Friday lineup at the 52nd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival was eclectic and exciting, beginning with a cluster of Philadelphia music scene staples and wrapping up with electrifying and impressive performance from folk scene mainstay Richard Thompson.
The Lawsuits kicked off the day on the main stage with an assortment of songs from their forthcoming LP Cool Cool Cool; they were poppy, they were country, they were classic rock, with songwriter Brian Dale Allen Strouse stepping behind the Steinway for a snappy take on “Onion” and singer Vanessa Winters owning “Long Drive Home” with a twangy vocal.
Lancaster trio The Stray Birds performed an assortment of songs from the as-yet-untitled album they just finished recording last week, Marc Silver rocked out some songs from his new story-centered album A Miner’s Tale, andToy Soldiers tore across a lively set of bluesy rockabilly from their forthcoming sophomore LP The Maybe Boys, due out September 10th.
Poet Ursula Rucker’s collaborative set with Philly guitar wizard Tim Motzer was easily the day’s highlight. While she read (and occasionally sang) pieces addressing social justice, racial prejudice,. gender and identity (among other topics), Motzer played a hypnotic guitar backing. Her performance of “Philadelphia Child” was particularly moving, as was the concluding call-and-response of “Super Sista.”
After an enjoyable performance from Philly-area celtic crew Runa, Richard Thompson took the stage to a thinning (but devoted) crowd. Thompson has played the fest several times as a solo artist; this time he was with his electric trio, which began on a jarringly funky note, but quickly settled into a groove that let Thompson’s guitar skills shine through. His nimble guitar shredding was impressive, “Shoot Out The Lights” backed by the band packed a punch that the song lacks when Thompson plays it solo. And his solo stab at “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” while not unexpected, didn’t disappoint either. Check out photos from the day in the gallery below.
This winter, country music icon Emmylou Harris and singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell are embarking on their first official collaboration since 1975. On February 26, they will release the album Old Yellow Moon, and will tour in support of it with the Richard Thompson Electric Trio, who also has a new EP titled Electric. The tour comes to Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 26 at the Academy of Music – onsale information will be announced shortly. Below, watch archival video Emmylou and Rodney collaborating on “If I Could Only Win Your Love.”
There are two musical sides to singer-songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Richard Thompson: the electric side and the acoustic side. Regardless of which side you’re a fan of, as far as we’re concerned he always rocks. Thompson is currently on a solo tour and he performs tomorrow night at the Keswick Theatre at 7:30 p.m. More information here. Below, some videos of both the electric and acoustic sides of Richard Thompson.
You can listen to the full interview and the duo’s live performance via NPR Music.
Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III have each assembled remarkable careers, full of top-notch albums and influential music that spans at least 40 years. In the five decades that Thompson has been making music, he’s earned some of the highest possible praise for his work as a live performer, guitarist, singer and songwriter. Wainwright, for his part, has recorded more than 20 albums, and is celebrated on an aptly titled new box set called 40 Odd Years.
Last year, Thompson released Dream Attic, while Wainwright put out 10 Songs for the New Depression, on which he reworks songs from the Depression era. Here, the two folk-rock legends describe how they began performing with one another for the Loud and Rich Tour. They also play songs together as part of the 2011 Cayamo Cruise.
“It may be that the art of the guitar solo is lost. And maybe that’s just fine—it was used too often by too many,” All Songs Considered‘s Bob Boilen said during a recent online broadcast, while discussing the track “If Love Whispers Your Name” off Richard Thompson‘s new album, Dream Attic. “But on this song, around four minutes in, you’ll hear all the reasons why anyone would ever want to hear a guitar solo.” And he’s right—when that particular solo kicks in at the four-minute mark, it offers pretty much everything you could ask for. But the funny thing is, the 40-second guitar part that leads into the solo is, in itself, better than most solos you’ll find out there. Then again, that’s kind of par for the course when you’re dealing with a British rock legend like Thompson, isn’t it? Richard Thompson performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood, NJ; tickets to the show are $29-$45.