Photos: The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Spank Rock and more played Union Transfer to raise money for The Rail Park

The Walkmen | Photo by Matthew Shaver |
The Walkmen | Photo by Matthew Shaver |

Lest it be overlooked amid all the (well-deserved) attention paid to their final show, The Walkmen were just one of about nine acts on the stage at Union Transfer last Wednesday, from Spank Rock to Sun Ra Arkestra, all of who performed to benefit the first phase of The Rail Park. In case you weren’t aware, the project is a planned 3-mile linear park and recreation path along the former Philadelphia and Reading rail line, spanning some 50 city blocks and running through a diverse cross-section of neighborhoods. Organizers at The Rail Park were elated in the wake of the event, posting to their Facebook page:

We are still on cloud nine after Wednesday’s Rail Park fundraiser at Union Transfer. What a way to wrap up an incredible year for this project! Our deepest thanks and appreciation to all who helped organize the event, who brought their talents to the evening, and who came out in support of the project.

For more information on The Rail Park, watch a short video after the jump; below, check out a gallery of photos from the benefit, which also included Light Heat, Sharon Van Etten collaborating with Adam Granduciel of War on Drugs and Birdie Busch.

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Indie rockers to pay tribute to The Byrds’ Gene Clark at Union Transfer on January 22nd

a_no-otherFront On Wednesday, January 22nd the lead singers of three established indie-rock bands and one indie-rock band on almost hiatus are coming together at Union Transfer to pay tribute to one of the founding members of The Byrds, Gene Clark.

Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles), Victoria Legrand (Beach House) and Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) will be performing Clark’s classic album, No Other, originally released in 1974. Clark wrote or co-wrote many of The Byrds’ best songs including “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” “Here Without You,” “The World Turns All Around Her,” “She Don’t Care About Time” and “Eight Miles High.”

Clark started The Byrds in 1964 after he met Roger McGuinn and along with David Crosby, Michael Clark and Chris Hillman, set off on a path to change rock influenced folk music in the Sixties. Clark released his first solo album in 1967, while he was still in The Byrds. When he released No Other, it was considered to be a commercial and critical failure. Musicians however, have clung to it’s folk-rock songwriting and arrangements for years. Songs like “Silver Raven,” the eight minute epic “Some Misunderstanding,” and the soulful “Lady of The North,” give the album its lasting resonance. “What it adds up to,” writes Thom Jurek in AllMusic “is a sprawling, ambitious work that brought elements of country, folk, jazzed-out gospel, blues, and trippy rock to bear on a song cycle that reflects the mid-’70s better than anything from that time, yet sounds hauntingly timely even now.

Joining the band in the tribute will be Iain Matthews of Fairport Convention, Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, with members of Lower Dens, Celebration, Cass McCombs’ band and Mt. Royal rounding the lineup out. Beach House had this to say about the album on Pitchfork:

Though we generally love all of his music, we are most infatuated with his 1974 record, No Other. It feels like a special moment in Gene Clark’s songwriting. At first, the overdone, studio nature of the album feels overbearing: the electric violin, the female chorus, the bass riffs, the layered guitar sequences. However, with more listens, Gene Clark’s very unique lyrics, voice and spirit become the central focus. It’s one of those records where each time you listen, you love a different song the most. Every song is nuanced and amazing in its own way.

Go here for more information and tickets to the show. Below, listen to several songs from the album.


The Walkmen are going on “extreme hiatus” according to bassist Peter Bauer

Photo by Arno Frugier
Photo by Arno Frugier

The Walkmen are calling it quits. Or, as bassist and organist Peter Bauer told the Washington Post:

“We have no future plans whatsoever,” Bauer says. “I’d call it a pretty extreme hiatus.”

According to Pitchfork:

Three members of the band are currently working on solo LPs: Hamilton Leithauser (whose album is due in 2014 and features members of the Shins, Fleet Foxes, and Vampire Weekend), Walter Martin, and Bauer (Liberation!, which will be released under the name Peter Matthew Bauer). Bauer and Leithauser’s records both feature other members of the Walkmen.

What quite possibly will be the band’s last performance together is next Wednesday, December 4th at Union Transfer at a fundraiser for The Rail Park with performances from the Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock, Birdie Busch, Light Heat, Chris Ward, Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler.

Bauer last graced our presence when he performed with Light Heat in a Key Studio Session. You can download that session here.

Get tickets to the fundraiser for The Rail Park at Union Transfer here.

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The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock and others playing Rail Park Benefit at Union Transfer on 12/4

The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock, Light Heat, Jeff Ziegler and Mary Lattimore, Birdie Busch, and the Dufalo Brothers are playing Union Transfer on Wednesday, December 4th. The show is a benefit for Phase One of the Rail Park with all the proceeds going to the Friends of the Rail Park, a non-profit that has been advocating the planning, designing and envisioning of a continuous 3-mile linear park along the former Philadelphia & Reading Rail line corridor. Friends of the Rail Park outlined their vision and plans last Spring, outlined in this article about it in Hidden City Philadelphia. Nathaniel Popkin writes:

The proposed park meets the elevated Reading Viaduct just east of and directly below Broad Street at the section of the railway known as the SEPTA Spur. The 1/5 mile long, elevated Spur–which will undergo an $8 million transformation into a park beginning in 2014–together with the City Branch, which is also owned predominantly by SEPTA, would constitute a two mile long linear rails-to-trails park, connecting the Callowhill neighborhood to Fairmount Park. The rest of the railroad viaduct heading north from the SEPTA Spur is owned by the Reading Corporation. The firm, based in California, has demonstrated little interest in selling the Viaduct to the City of Philadelphia.

The new below-grade park would extend from two points at the east end: the connection to the SEPTA Spur, where the rail viaduct dips under Broad Street (which is a bridge over the railway) and at Broad and Buttonwood in front of the School District Administration building. A key to the plan is the planned reconstruction of the Broad Street bridge, owned by PennDOT. Planners hope to convince the agency to install see-through railings and to puncture the bridge with light towers that are to be installed in the center of North Broad (lighting the space above and below). The parking lot now in front of the School District building would be replaced with a multi-level public space leading to the park.

Take a tour of the proposed Rail Park in this video below.

Get tickets to the Friends of the Rail Park benefit with The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock, Light Heat, Jeff Ziegler, Mary Lattimore, Birdie Busch and the Dufalo Brothers here.


Through the years with The Walkmen at Union Transfer (photos, review, video)

For once, The Walkmen seem comfortable enough to take a quick breath and a look back.

Their seventh studio album, Heaven, is just over six months old, they’re heading out on a new round of tour dates in support of it. And appearing at Union Transfer on Friday with twelve years of back catalogue under their belts, the New York / Philly five-piece appeared relaxed moreso than rushed.

This wasn’t always the case. Used to be this was a band where I  could always count on their live shows containing zero material I was familiar with. A Pi Lam set in early 2003 featured mostly songs from Bows and Arrows, which wasn’t released for another year and change. A 2007 show at Johnny Brenda’s happened not long after their homage to Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats came out, but it largely showcased You & Me, which wasn’t released until 2008. And so on. The band was always looking forward, and that’s why we loved them.

Taking the stage on Friday following an opening solo set by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman Alec Ounsworth (and after treating a handful of fans to a spaghetti dinner and a warm-up set of covers), The Walkmen were fully in retrospective mode. Continue reading →


The Walkmen served a spaghetti dinner, covered Bob Seger at Union Transfer (photos, review, setlist)

You’ve got to hand it to The Walkmen – truly they are men of their word. When they announced back in November that they would atone for their cancelled Electric Factory show with a new date at Union Transfer in January – and a pre-concert spaghetti dinner for their Philly fans – it seemed like a farce. But there we were, waiting in line while the perpetually suit-and-tie clad rockers and their friends served up dinner.

Some hundred and fifty people turned out for the pre-concert meal (we’ll have a review of the concert itself tomorrow) and, to their credit, The Walkmen did an admirable job recreating the Italian restaurant vibe of Union Transfer’s previous Spaghetti Warehouse incarnation. Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was piping through the speakers upon arrival at 5. Later, the playlist moved on to Dean Martin: “Mambo Italiano,” “Sway” and “That’s Amore.” Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Walkmen at Union Transfer, Grimace Federation at Kung Fu Necktie, The Cobbs at Johnny Brenda’s, David Uosikkinen’s In the Pocket at The Colonial Theatre

Philly / New York rockers The Walkmen headline tonight at Union Transfer.  Replacing a canceled October show, the local favorites return to Philly in support of 2012′s Heaven.  In an effort to take the album in a new direction, the band brought in producer Phil Ek for a fresh sound.  The ambition paid off, with Heaven being named Magnet’s number one album of 2012 and the title track landing at spot #56 on XPN’s Top 200 Songs Countdown.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show with Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah can be found here.  Below, watch The Walkmen’s video for “Heaven.”

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