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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Sun Ra, The GTVs and more

The GTVs | Photo by Eric Schuman
The GTVs | Photo by Eric Schuman

Mount Airy based outfit The GTVs stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session.  Armed with a vintage Hammond organ and a few tracks, the band performed songs that showcased their wide-ranging sound.  Check out the instrumental Ventures-inspired number “Sleeper Agent” below and get the full session here.

Sing-along-friendly “Strangers” from The Rebel Light was Tuesday’s My Morning Download.  The upbeat power-pop song was released as a single from the L.A. band last month and is a great summer kick-start track for this Memorial Day weekend.

Local musician That Dream Was Our Life continues his monthly EP project with a collection of six new songs that cover everything from Center City traffic to friends getting married.  Check out “Early Spark” below and get the full EP here.

Folkadelphia brought Brooklyn’s Sondra Sun-Odeon in for a session to showcase her boundary-bending songs, joined by tour-mates Orion Rigel Dommisse.  Take a listen to “Paradise” below and download the full session here.

NPR celebrated what would have been jazz legend Sun Ra’s 100th birthday with an in-depth profile on Thursday.  In 1976, Sun Ra appeared on WXPN during a program called Blue Genesis, performing music and reading poetry.  You can download the two segments below.

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Folkadelphia Session: Sondra Sun-Odeon (with Orion Rigel Dommisse)

We fell in love with the sound that Brooklyn-based (though perpetually touring) experimental songwriter Sondra Sun-Odeon was making back in the Spring of 2013 and we’ve been hooked ever since. Sun-Odeon, formerly of psych rock group Silver Summit, was fresh off the release of her new solo work Aetherea when we worked with her on a show in Philadelphia at the Studio 34 space. At that concert, we recorded her set and those song eventually became Folkadelphia’s first official release - it’s available as a pay-what-you-will download and limited poster design. Seeking more ways to collaborate, we partnered with Fire Museum Presents on her most recent Philadelphia concert this past November at the now-defunct Highwire Gallery for a bill that also featured Orion Rigel Dommisse and Fursaxa, two songwriters that also push at the boundaries of traditional songwriting and music making. It was on this visit to the City of Brotherly Love that Sun-Odeon recorded this Folkadelphia Session at the WXPN Performance Studio.

Sondra Sun-Odeon’s sound is not easy to pin down, but the aptly-titled name of her album Aetherea points you in the right direction. The music is of the air, the sky, the limits of existence and consciousness – it is not necessarily the music of the earth, the dirt, the basic and base emotions. However to describe the sound as elemental would be germane. Distant, but ever presently glowing like a beacon in the fog of reverb and echo, Sun-Odeon’s voice leads the listener through a dynamic soundscape. Silken strands of guitar lines and melancholy cello can quickly transform into dark, swirling clouds of noise, distortion, and powerful percussion. Sun-Odeon is a mercurial force of nature, drawing upon her many talents to create an immersive experience.

While we are a folk radio show, in vague terms, we find that it is important to seek out musicians, storytellers, and artists that are breaking beyond the boundaries of their disciplines to create art that is unique and imaginative, rather than rehashing what has already been done. Sondra Sun-Odeon takes the classification of “singer-songwriter” and completely stretches, skewers, and severs our safe definition of what that means. Let her guide you.

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Pretty Polly redux and a sonic dreamworld session with Sondra Sun-Odeon, tonight on Folkadelphia Radio

Sondra Sun-Odeon's 'Live at Studio 34' release
Sondra Sun-Odeon’s ‘Live at Studio 34′ release

More often than not, I can be found walking down the street and whistling “Pretty Polly.” It’s one of those timeless melodies that has a way of needling its way into my brain. I’m not alone; the ballad has been performed throughout the years by Dock Boggs, Burl Ives, Aoife O’Donovan, Judy Collins, Sandy Denny, and even Kevin Spacey on House of Cards, to name a few. That being said, I thought it would be proper to revisit the American murder ballad on this week’s episode of Folkadelphia Radio. We first featured the song about a month ago on the air, discussing its ties to an even older British ballad called “The Gosport Tragedy.” Depending on the version you listen to – and there are hundreds of variations – you might be hearing it told as a first person narrative (“I courted Pretty Polly”) or a third person narrative (“Then he threw a little dirt on her and started for home”), you could have elements of the supernatural (ghosts), insanity, incest, and obsession. All in all, the tale remains grim and violent however or whenever you hear it.

Also tonight, we’ll air a brand new Folkadelphia Session featuring the Brooklyn-based, but perpetually touring experimental songwriter Sondra Sun-Odeon, formerly of the dark psych act Silver Summit. Continue reading →

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Watch Sondra Sun-Odeon perform “Samarkand” with Helena Espvall (playing a Folkadelphia Presents show at Studio 34 on 3/14)

Sondra HelenaNew York multi-instrumentalist Sondra Sun-Odeon, formerly of Silver Summit, will be in town on March 14th for Folkadelphia‘s Studio 34 show with Eric Carbonara / Jesse Sparhawk and Bad Braids.  On her debut solo record Aetherea Sun-Odeon breaks away from the heavy doom-psych of Silver Summit and opts for delicately soaring guitar / vocal compositions looped with minimalist swathes of strings.  More information for the Studio 34 show can be found here.  In the video below, Sun-Odeon is joined by local Espers cellist Helena Espvall for her song “Samarkand” off of Aetherea.