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Kristin Hersh comes in colors

Kristin Hersh | photo by Peter Mellekas | courtesy of the artist

Kristin Hersh has never looked at melody and text in quite the same way you do. Perhaps that stems from the differences in her personality, her PTSD, or the synesthesia that allows her to shift sensation from one part of her being to another part.

Perhaps, Hersh — who has split her time and energy among solo projects, her band 50 Foot Wave, authoring books such as her 2010 memoir, Rat Girl, and her legendary alt-trio Throwing Muses — is simply a colorfully clever and poignantly unique artist, radical and dedicated enough so to make each project definitive and different from the last, yet one without question as to who has authored it.

Currently touring on the strength of her noisy new tenth studio solo album, Possible Dust Clouds, she’ll appear at Boot & Saddle on June 24 to show off her colorful catalog. Continue reading →

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The National’s Scott Devendorf talks stepping back to let new creative voices emerge on I Am Easy To Find

The National | photo by Graham Macindoe | courtesy of the artist

The National‘s striking new album finds the New York band at their most reflective and impressionistic, alongside a cast of many new collaborators, including the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, orchestral and electronic instrumentalists, and several women who lend their vocals to the project. I Am Easy To Find arrived on May 17th with an accompanying short film of the same title, directed by Mike Mills — an indie filmmaker known for Thumbsucker and 20th Century Women — and it marks the band’s first full-on foray into the world of multimedia releases.

Ahead of tonight’s Philadelphia show at The Mann Center with Courtney Barnett, The Key spoke to The National’s bassist Scott Devendorf about the choices the band made on this new album, and their experiences of writing and performing together for over twenty years. Devendorf was warm and modest as we spoke on the phone — he showed how comfortable he feels living an adult life in the world of modern rock music. Continue reading →

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Listen to Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz guest host the Indie Rock Hit Parade

DJ Sad13 aka Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz | Photo by Eric Schuman

In just over six years of hosting the Indie Rock Hit Parade, I’ve had plenty of guests on the show. Usually it’s a live in-studio performance or a fun-filled DJ visit from Jon Wurster. After all this time, though, there’s one thing I’ve never had, and that’s a vacation. This past week, while I was in San Francisco, I left my beloved Friday show in the capable hands of the Hit Parade’s first-ever guest host, DJ Sad13 aka Sadie Dupuis.

Continue reading →

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Eclectic, eccentric songwriter Leon Redbone has passed away; listen to five favorites from his songbook

Leon Redbone | courtesy of the artist

On May 30th, Leon Redbone passed away at the ripe age of 127…at least that is the age humorously featured on the singer’s website. That is to say the 69-year-old was witty to the end, and lived well beyond his years. It is a very fitting eulogy for a man that once told Rolling Stone magazin “To take myself too seriously is the gentle kiss of death.”

Known for his eclectic talents and eccentric persona, Redbone brought back old-school jazz, ragtime and Tin Pan Alley into the rock and roll era. Notorious for evading interviewer’s questions and deflecting attention from himself, Redbone — a longtime resident of New Hope, Pennsylvnia —  made sure to be remembered for his music. In honor of his legacy, the following is a compilation of some of Redbone’s most notable songs. Continue reading →

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Building Confidence: Cub Sport on where they are and where they’re going

Cub Sport | photo by Joe Agius | courtesy of the artist

“Unwinding Myself”, the opening track of Cub Sport‘s eponymous third album, signals that the record that follows is a different beast from its predecessors. Where This Is Our Vice focused on depression and BATS chronicled Tim Nelson’s experience with coming out, Cub Sport is marked by self love and acceptance. The album, released in January, comes after Australia finally legalized same-sex marriage, allowing Nelson and bandmate Sam Netterfield to wed last August. Bursting with catchy hooks, addicting synths, and beautiful lyrics, the album is both a personal and musical triumph.

The Brisbane band is currently on a North American tour in support of the album. They will play The Foundry on on Tuesday. Before their show in Montreal this past Friday I got the chance to catch up with Nelson over the phone. Conversation ranged from fans’ responses to the album, where he sees the band going next, and being serenaded by Solange.  Continue reading →

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Growing Up Folk: Michael Braunfeld on the road from Spring Gulch to Driver

Michael Braunfeld | photo courtesy of the artist

This weekend, Spring Gulch Folk Festival enters its 33rd year of kicking off the summer festival season for the singer-songwriter community, and one artist in particular is taking the stage in a sort of homecoming.

Tomorrow, Michael Braunfeld will perform Spring Gulch with his band The Boneyard Hounds. He’s intimately involved in the event — his family has been going for three decades, his father Andy is a former MC, and he and his dad have been booking and managing the event for the past 18 years.

Braunfeld, 44, made his live debut at the festival in 1990 at age 15, and recorded his debut album the following year at age 16. He spent the 90s and very early thousands as a touring artist in the folk circuit, releasing live albums and paying gigs around the country. After taking a decade-plus break, he re-emerged on the scene at the 50th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival (another event he grew up at) and this year released his first studio album since the 90s, Driver. It’s a stirring selection of contemplative roots and Americana songwriting, some of a more of a delicate John Prine style of observational folk, some (like the powerful “Washed Away” and the rousing “Breathe”) of anthemic, Springsteen-esque quality.

We caught up with Braunfeld over the phone to talk about growing up a folkie, running Spring Gulch, taking time off, and the statements he wanted to make upon his return.  Continue reading →

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Two to Tango: Rodrigo y Gabriela’s Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero

Rodrigo Y Gabriela | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

By this point in their long career as Mexico City’s primary musical export — nearly 20 years of a guitar-based fusion of flamenco, folk, doom metal and jazz — Rodrigo y Gabriela’s lives and sounds are thoroughly intertwined. Especially when you consider that Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero have been friends since their teens, long before forming their duo (though certainly practicing together, collaborating and admiring each other’s skillsets).

Their just-released album, Mettavolution, is as dramatic as any in their catalogue and their upcoming shows in Philly – at World Café Live’s NonComm and Franklin Music Hall, both May 17 – will show just how far their friendship has taken them. Our Two to Tango helped take them back to their youth, as well as peer into their future – all with a lot of laughter. Continue reading →

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Meet Jacqueline Constance: The dope songbird from Philly

Jacqueline Constance | photo by Deuce Pearsall | courtesy of artist

The city of Philadelphia is filled with so many musical talents that can simply be described as dope. It’s amazing to watch these artists of different genres find creative was to capture the struggle of their beloved, edgy, blue-collar city with music. Take for instance soul singer Jacqueline Constance,  a Mt. Airy songbird who has been making a name for herself in the City of Brotherly with her voice for the past seven years.

Trained in classical music during her time time at CAPA, Jacqueline Constance used those vocal skills to create soul music and with her debut album The Jacqueline Constance Show. In the time since, with the assistance of her looper, and other bits of electronic music technology, the soulful songstress found a way to expand her sound and keep her name known in the local music scene of her city. Recently we were able to sit down with Jacqueline and talk about her beginnings as a singer, how she got into looping and the moves she has planned for the future. Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: Sofia Verbilla of Harmony Woods

Sofia Verbilla of Harmony Woods | photo by Josh Pelta Heller for WXPN

Candid and genuine, Harmony Woods’ singer and songwriter Sofia Verbilla will openly cop to how much time she’s spent reflecting on her own talents, impugning her own songwriting skills, wondering if she’s got what it takes to overcome at turns significant self-doubt and claim confidence in her own creations.

It’s a tenuous tightrope she seems to have found some familiar comfort in walking, as the Philly rocker capably straddles the stark contrasts of both her self-effacing and introspective and hot-pink-haired ass-kicking-frontwoman personas, at once conflicting and complementary, while she negotiates an earned place for herself and the HamWoo crew to stand out among Philly’s basement DIY rock-and-rollers.

They’ll be back onstage in Philly on May 30th, opening for Slingshot Dakota at Everybody Hits. Continue reading →

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Ahmet Zappa on Frank and fatherhood

Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd | still from video
Frank Zappa | still from video

What could have been a convivial conversation about re-packaged reissues such as the recently-released Zappa in New York and the minutiae of hologram tours such as the upcoming Bizarre World of Frank Zappa live showcase (May 2, Collingswood’s Scottish Rite Auditorium), wasn’t. That’s because it was Frank’s youngest son and estate conservator Ahmet Zappa and I discussing invention (beyond the Mothers), probability, fatherhood and loss (Zappa’s dad died in 1993, I lost my father at Halloween 2018) in a conversation that wound up with tears and the promise of hugging out such emotion at this week’s concert. Continue reading →