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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Willy Mason, American Babies, Ben Smith

The Districts | photo via www.shakingthrough.com
The Districts | photo via www.shakingthrough.com

Closing out 2013, Weathervane Music premiered a Shaking Through session with The Districts this week.  The Lancaster natives wrote, arranged and recorded “Vermont” in two days at Miner Street Recording for the episode.  Watch the video here and stream and download the track below.

Todd Hamilton brought in his American Babies project for a Key Studio Session.  Hamilton has floated around the music scene for many years, fronting bands, collaborating with other artists and taking a seat in the producers chair.  For this session his band recorded tracks from their latest Knives and Teeth LP.  Stream and download “When I Build My Fortune” below and get the full set here.

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Folkadelphia Session: Willy Mason

Back in 2004, I first heard Willy Mason when he released his debut album Where the Humans Eat. Above all, the record showcases Mason’s unhurried, rumbling singing delivery and whip-smart lyrics that have remained the defining characteristics of his music. I can clearly remember clicking play on my Sony Discman and listening to “Still a Fly,” a song marked by its verbose verses contrasted by wide-open choruses (also, who pens a lyric and name-drops Dostoysevsky ever besides Willy here?)

After almost ten years and only one other full length, a few EPs, and a handful of collaborations in between, Mason returned this year to record and release Carry On with help from Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and his Communion Records label. Lucky for us, Mason has not been idle in the past decade, to let his craft erode and rust away. He’s as sharp as ever, keeping it all tight with a collection of songs each under four minutes long, save the atmospheric jam “Restless Fugitive.” On Carry On, Mason has traded in the raw, unbridled live sound of his debut for studio upgrades, electric guitars, bouncing drum loops, and Tom Waits-like percussion. The effect is that it paints the songs in different hues and tones, but at the core, at the very heart of the album, and always carrying on, are Willy’s lyrics and voice, like a lonesome traveler not yet home.

On our Folkadelphia Session, Willy Mason, with the help of Nina Violet on violin and backing vocals, strips away some of the adornments on songs from Carry On and we’re left with what drew me to him originally – sonorous singing and masterful storytelling.

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Communion Club Night Tour bringing Willy Mason to Philadelphia on 10/2

Willy

Here’s an item we don’t know a TON about but is pretty exciting all the same. Singer-songwriter Willy Mason‘s recently-announced fall tour dates include a Philadelphia stop on October 2nd, and while a venue per se isn’t listed, a pound sign on the itinerary indicates that it’s part of the “Communion Club Night Tour.”

UPDATE: Communion Music recently announced via press release that the tour also featured Rubblebucket and Roadkill Ghost Choir, and  Philadelphia date is taking place at Johnny Brenda’s, which is somewhat surprising as there is an Angel Olsen show slated to take place there on Oct. 2.

If you weren’t aware, Communion was started as a series of music events in the UK by Mumford & Sons multi-instrumentalist Ben Lovett, and has grown into an artist collective, promotions group, and a record label. Communion will actually release Mason’s fantastic new record Carry On on August 20th, and some of the other affiliated artists range from recent XPN Fest artist Michael Kiwanuka to rough-and-tumble rockers Daughter.

While the series crossed the pond for club nights in Brooklyn and Nashville, it appears poised to go more full-scale this fall into the roving showcase we see on Mason’s tour itinerary (10 dates along the east coast and midwest). Industry folks at WXPN’s NonCOMM-vention back in May got a tease of Communion’s plans when Lovett spoke to a room of early-bird attendees about the label and its philosophy (followed by a short set by Mason). And while there weren’t many more details back then either, the potential for good new music in cool environments this fall is great. We’ll keep you informed of further developments; for now, grab a download of Mason’s “Restless Fugitive” below.

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My Morning Download: “Talk Me Down” by Willy Mason

willymason Folk influenced singer-songwriter Willy Mason is signed to Communion Records, the label co-founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. Communion started out as a series of live music events in the indie-folk and singer-songwriter scenes in the UK in 2006 and became a label in 2009. Instrumental in launching and establishing the careers of Ben Howard, Laura Marling, Michael Kiwanuka, Treetop Flyers and others, Communion has set up shop in the US and, with Mason, is releasing his album Carry On in the States on August 20. Willy is out on tour this Summer and opening for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros when they play the sold out show Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square on August 28.

Download “Talk Me Down” here.

As an added bonus, download the title song to Willy’s forthcoming release below.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Beak> at Underground Arts, The Music of John Denver at Keswick, Former Belle at MilkBoy, Aesop Rock at Union Transfer, Willy Mason at World Cafe Live

BEAK>’s sound isn’t far from that of its British contemporaries Hot Chip. Dark melodies and lyrics are delivered with electronic flourishes. The band’s first two albums could be described as dance-ably sad. Fortunately, the reverse (being sadly danceable) isn’t true. Their success is due in part to BEAK> being something of a super group. The trio is comprised of Geoff Barrow (producer of Portishead), Billy Fuller (of Fuzz Against Junk) and Matt Williams (of Team Brick). The group came together officially in 2009 and has released two albums and an EP to date. BEAK> has also had a chance to sharpen its (…beak?) live show with recent international tours. They’re currently on the road again and playing our own Underground Arts tonight with Instamatic. Tickets and information for the 21+ show are available here. Below, stream BEAK>’s track “Mono.”

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Download “Talk Me Down” from Willy Mason (playing World Cafe Live on 2/08)

Martha’s Vineyard native Willy Mason released his third LP Carry On this past Monday and has a 4-song EP Don’t Stop Now coming out on January 14th through Communion Records.  In anticipation of the EP, Communion has shared  “Talk Me Down” – a wonderfully rich, bobbing song at times strongly reminiscent of Andy Williams’ more playful compositions.  The Conor Oberst-endorsed singer-songwriter has built a strong following through touring gigs with Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Radiohead.  Willy Mason plays World Cafe Live upstairs on Friday, February 8th.  Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here.  Below, stream and download “Talk Me Down” through Communion’s Soundcloud.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: WXPN Welcomes John Mayall to World Cafe Live at the Queen and Willy Mason to World Cafe Live in Philadelphia

The man with the harmonica who has graced us with his jazzy voice and bluesy beats for over five decades is playing tonight at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington. John Mayall began his career in England in the mid 1950′s as John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers; a group that welcomed some of rock ‘n roll’s biggest names including: Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Jack Bruce, and Mick Fleetwood, among others. Doors open at 6:30 and the show begins at 8 sharp. You can grab your tickets to this all ages show here.

The son of two folk singers, it is no surprise that Willy Mason followed in his parent’s footsteps. The country/folk singer was discovered by Conor Oberst in 2004, and since has played extensively with bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, and will be on tour with Mumford & Sons this fall. He is currently working on his third studio album, you can go here to his website and download a single from the album entitled “Restless Fugitive.” Willy Mason plays tonight at World Cafe Live Upstairs at 8 PM. Tickets to the all ages show are $12.