If the mainstream-leaning Made In America festival isn’t really your speed, maybe you’ll find something to dig down at the FDR Park Music Jam. Presented by Parks on Tap and Philadelphia Songwriters Project, the last-minute Labor Day Weekend festival will bring some of the city’s best musicians together for a free event in South Philly. Ease out of summer by sipping a beer and relaxing on a hammock while a slew of local favorites (including Ryan Tennis, Ginger Coyle, Ross Bellenoit and Andrea Nardello) perform during the two-day, all-ages festival.
Amy Winehouse‘s second and final album, Back to Black, turns 10 this year. To pay tribute to the singer, who passed away in 2011, a number of local musicians have teamed up to perform a benefit concert on June 24 downstairs at World Cafe Live. Continue reading →
Local DJ / producer / MC MH the Verb brings his live band to MilkBoy tonight. Verb’s performance is a multi-media experience, pulling together influences from many genres and time periods to create a fusion of art. The band spent 2015 working on a documentary series of their live shows in support of 2014’s The Balloon Guide. Check out “Blistered” below and get tickets and more information for the 21+ show at the WXPN Concert Calendar.
Local indie rockers Photon Band have come out of hibernation for a rare live appearance at Johnny Brenda’s. Art DiFuria started the band after attending Temple in the 80s, releasing cult favorite All Young In the Soul in 1998. This year’s Songs of Rapture and Hatred marked DiFuria’s return to the project, and he’ll be joined by bassist Jeff Tanner and drummer Patrick Berkery for this special show. Tickets and information can be found here; check out “Solitaire (Win or Lose)” below.
Ross Bellenoit has been kicking around the Philly scene for a few years now and is beginning to truly establish himself as a musician whose musical output is as varied as it is prolific. Just last week, Bellenoit released a three-song preview of his newest album, Invisible Voice, which will be his third album since the year began. Continue reading →
Philadelphia-born rapper The Last Emperor performs at The Fire tonight. Now based in New York, Jamal Gray released his debut LP Music, Magic, Myth in 2003 on his own label. Since then he’s appeared at festivals in Denmark, London and Norway. Details for the 21+ show can be found here.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005, probably around 8 PM – it’s a time dogeared in my memory. I cannot believe that it has been nearly a decade since I heard Denison Witmer for the first time. When I lived in New Jersey, I spent a lot of time at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, mostly seeing really bad mall punk-rock bands and inhaling too much second-hand cigarette smoke. I had a few very impressionable music discovery years there. That early summer evening in 2005, on the shore just off the boardwalk, remains one of the most formative experiences of that time period. Denison Witmer, from the Philadelphia area, opened the night. He was pre-selling copies of his forthcoming album Are You A Dreamer? which I promptly purchased (and listened to over and over in my dinged-up black Chevy Cavalier). Leaning against the on-stage monitor, I was amazed at how mesmerizing the simplicity of Witmer’s playing and singing could be. Lightly touched with reverb, the gentle songs kept flowing and drawing me in. I remember actually going slack-jawed when he hit certain chords – these angelic, dreamy, lighter than air bundle of notes. I left the concert changed (after staying for Rainer Maria).
Since that concert, Denison Witmer has continued to release engaging and wonderfully intricate albums – 2008’s Carry The Weight, 2012’s The Ones Who Wait, and his most recent, last year’s eponymous release. Each album is intimate, as Witmer invites you into a sacred and safe space. They radiate with a certain afterglow, vibrantly colored light that hits the evening sky as the sun sets. That’s what the albums sound like. You can’t just listen to one song, you are compelled to sit back, take a load off, and slide straight through these albums – the mark of a true professional, a most gifted songwriter.
Denison Witmer, joined by Ross Bellenoit, one of our favorite local guitarists, visited us in the studio late on evening in October of last year. We kept tracking songs, putting past woes and present worries to the side for the moment, and enjoying each other’s company, as the duo played the night out.
Esmé Patterson cut her teeth playing with the sprawling indie folk-pop 7-piece Paper Bird. She’s currently prepping the release of Woman to Woman, a brand new solo EP that takes the point of view of many titular women characters in classic love songs like Townes Van Zandt’s “Loretta,” the Beach Boys’ “Caroline No,” and Elvis Costello’s “Alison.” By turning the perspective around, Patterson sheds new light on songs we’ve heard a million times and probably never truly absorbed their meaning. For deeper investigation, read Jon Solomon’s interview with Patterson. Look for the release of this great set of songs in mid-April.
Watch a video for “Swimmer,” a song from her 2012 release:
On this episode of Folkadelphia, we invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the intimate songs of Philadelphia’s Denison Witmer, performing as a duo with local guitarhand Ross Bellenoit, and sharing a number of songs from his latest eponymous album, released last year via Sufjan Steven’s Asthmatic Kitty label. On a personal note, Denison has been one of my favorite songwriters for a decade and it has long been a dream to host him for a session. In October of 2013, we made it happen.
Watch a live video of Witmer performing “Hold On”
Local musician Ross Bellenoit has announced plans for a show at Milkboy on November 1st, where he will cover Elvis Costello’s Blood & Chocolate in its entirety. The All Saints Day event was inspired by the season of alternate reality and Bellenoit has put together a knock-out band to stand in for The Attractions, including drummer Patrick Berkery (The War on Drugs), bassist Todd Erk (Birdie Busch), keyboardist / vocalist Matthew Landis (World Inferno Friendship Society), guitarist Joe Baldacci (DRGN King) and vocalist Sonja Sofya (Ryan Tennis). Philly favorite Pete Donnelly will also lend a hand during the evening. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here. Below, watch a live video of Costello performing “Uncomplicated” off of the record, followed by Bellenoit performing his own song “Besides.”