Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13 (featuring Bardo Pond, Girlpool, Moosh & Twist and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13
Photo by Ola Baldych |

I don’t want to gush. But I’d be lying if I said that this latest collection of performances from The Key Studio Sessions wasn’t special to me.

In the past four months, I’ve recorded one of my favorite Philadelphia bands of the past 20 years – shamanistic psychedelic rock masters Bardo Pond, whose performance was a thrill – as well as one of my favorite new Philadelphia bands – the brilliant duo Girlpool, transported locally from LA this winter with a unique sound and an incredible collection of songs in tow. I also recorded a local guitar icon whose work I’ve admired since I first began covering the scene for City Paper 15 years ago, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner, doing a set of his raga-influenced compositions on the 22-stringed chaturangui. (Brenner also sat in on lap steel with folk outfit Kicking Down Doors.)

And that’s only the beginning. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner

If you’ve spent any amount of time watching the Philly music scene, it’s hard to miss versatile guitarist Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner. He’s ingrained in the local roots / Americana community, performing currently with No Good Sister, as well as collaborating with Psalmships and Kicking Down Doors; way back in the day, he led The Low Road and frequently sat in with Marah. Despite being one of the most skilled slide players – well, anywhere, but particularly in Philly – he also is very much about pushing the boundaries of what roots guitar means. He had a long-running collaboration with rapper Mic Wrecka in the aughts; going further back, the first time I caught him was at the North Star Bar in 2001, playing bluesy licks while a guy named DJ Vincenzo dropped breakbeats from two turntables. And for his current project, Brenner looks to the east. Continue reading →


Unsung Folkadelphia #1: Jason Molina and Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain

Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
From the 'Didn't It Rain' session, Jennie Bedford's lyric work sheet to "Steve Albini's Blues"
From the ‘Didn’t It Rain’ session, Jennie Bedford’s lyric work sheet to “Steve Albini’s Blues”

Welcome to the first chapter of Folkadelphia’s new project that we’ve gotten in the habit of calling Unsung.

In the history of music, there are many unsung artists and albums that we firmly clutch close to our hearts. These artists create the kind of music that we wish other people knew more about or cared more deeply for. We wish that we could share with others our exact feelings about how we’ve been touched and affected by some musicians. We want to show them the light. We want to sing these musicians’ unsung song for everyone to hear.

With this series, we hope we can provide a way for people to connect with music that has been influential beyond its commercial impact and, perhaps, appeal. It’s never too late to find a new favorite band and honor their legacy and discography.

For this first part, we focused on what has become one of my favorite albums: Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain, which was recorded in Philadelphia in 2002. Continue reading →


25 locals (plus!) come together to sing for retiring XPN Folk Show host Gene Shay

Photo by Lisa Schaffer

“Sing For Gene Shay” is a new tribute song to the “Dean of Folk DJs” Gene Shay in honor of his retirement this Sunday, February 1st as the host of WXPN’s Folk Show. Written, recorded and produced under the name of “Friends Of Gene,” 25 local musicians and a team of four producers and engineers came together to pay a loving tribute to Shay, who has been on the air for 50+ years hosting folk music in Philadelphia. Continue reading →


Philly Local Busker Background: Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner

As far as Philly Local musicians go, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner needs no introduction. But we’ll introduce the guy anyway. A versatile guitarist whose career has spanned folk to raga to slide guitar blues, he’s been a player in town for close to twenty years. In the 90s, he was in the breakout roots ensemble The Low Road; he also collaborated with Marah, took part in genre-spanning collaborations with DJs in the early 00s, and embarked on a hip-hop project with Mic Wrecka (playing XPoNential Festival and other XPN events). Most recently, Slo-Mo traveled to India to study slide guitar with teacher Debashish Bhattacharya. He’s the featured artist in this week’s edition of the WXPN Philly Local Busker’s Series at The Porch at 30th Street Station, and will play outdoors tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. (indoors in case of rain). Below, watch a video documentary of Slo-Mo’s travels to India.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Parquet Courts at PhilaMOCA, Sir Sly at Johnny Brenda’s, Alo Brasil at Underground Arts, Lentil Fest at The Fire and more

parquet courts

Post-punk quartet Parquet Courts headline an eclectic line-up at PhilaMOCA tonight.  Back in Philadelphia for the third time this year, Parquet Courts continue to tour in support of their debut full-length Light Up Gold, which just got a proper label release through indie label What’s Your Rupture.  Tickets and information for tonight’s all-ages show with Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, Amanda X and Household can be found here.  Watch Parquet Courts perform “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time” live on WNYC below.

One of the stand-out bands at March’s SXSW, Sir Sly make their way to Philadelphia tonight for a show at Johnny Brenda’s.  With an EP plus a few more tracks released, the band has quickly made it clear that they will operate in the realm of expansive, catchy pop hooks.  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with JMSN and The Last Royals can be found here.  Watch a new video for “Found You Out” below and download “Gold” here.

Local Brazilian band Alo Brasil plays Underground Arts tonight.  More than just a performing band, Alo Brasil features an interactive live show influenced by African rhythms like samba, maracatu and more.  Though often accompanied by costumed dancers, for their recurring “Underground Sessions” Alo Brasil has a refreshed line-up of musicians.  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show can be found here, or on the Facebook event page here.  Watch a promo video for Alo Brasil below.

Lentil Fest continues at The Fire tonight, with performances by Kuf Knotz, Nicos Gun, Reef the Lost Cauze, Mike “Slo-Mo’ Brenner, Gedeon Luke and Brady & the Bear.  In support of Lentil the french bulldog (born with a cleft pallate), all proceeds will benefit the French Bulldog Rescue Network, Street Tails Animal Rescue and  Tickets and information can be found here.  Watch Kuf Knotz perform at the 2011 XPoNential Music Festival below.

Also happening: XPN welcomes The Smithereens to The Sellersville Theater; XPN welcomes Free Energy to the North Star Bar.  Tickets and information for both shows can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Port St. Willow at Kung Fu Necktie, Divine Hand Ensemble at PhilaMOCA for Tuesday Tune Out, XPN Welcomes Mike “Slo Mo” Brenner to World Cafe Live

portstwillow_15april2011-9Portland’s Port St. Willow will be playing at the Kung Fu Necktie tonight. The band, formed by Nick Principe, has one release thus far – Even // Listen, released in November of 2010 – and has also been apart of Weathervane’s Shaking Through, where the band recorded their song named “Stay Even”. Primarily funneled through the musical talents of Principe, the sound bursts through with a heightened depth of melody. Although they have not released anything since their EP, they created quite an impact with “Stay Even” and the bright sound they created will join them on stage. Tickets and information for the 21 and up show with Our Griffins and Ben Seretan can be found here. Below, watch Port St. Willow’s recording experience with Shaking Through.

Continue reading →


The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. My Morning Jacket, Morrissey, and Jamie Lidell)

TSVG GuysElliott Sharp digs into the history and methods of two local guitar effects pedal companies TSVG and smallsound/bigsound [link]

We kick off a new regular feature XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week with “Do Yourself a Favor” from Jamie Lidell – he’s playing Union Transfer on 4/14 [link]

Sera Cahoone stopped by for a Folkadelphia session, highlighting her knock-out 2012 release Deer Creek Canyon [link]

Check out photos and a review of Conor Oberst’s reunited Desaparecidos at Union Transfer [link]

My Morning Jacket cover “Leaving On a Jet Plane” for The Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver [link]

Local folk project Psalmships contributes a cover of “Before We Retire” to the Long May You Run, J. Tillman tribute album [link]

Morrissey announces a show at the Tower Theater for 4/6 [link]

We highlight local blues-rock trio Penrose and their Circe LP in this week’s Unlocked feature [link]

Mike “Slo Mo” Brenner released Tripti after returning from India, where he studied Indian slide guitar [link]

The Philly Drum Project begins fundraising for their high school workshop DrumPhil [link]

Waxahatchee goes acoustic in her Key Studio Session ahead of a record release party at Golden Tea House on Friday [link]


Watch Mike “Slo Mo” Brenner study slide guitar in India, get a taste of his album Tripti

Screen shot 2013-02-26 at 12.15.26 PMA little over a year ago, Blues / rock guitarist Mike “Slo Mo” Brenner (formerly of The Low Road) traveled to India to study Indian slide guitar with teacher Debashish Bhattacharya. While he was there, he recorded a few tracks to bring back home and work with. He then spent a year writing, recording, and collaborating with friends to create his new record, titled Tripti – meaning “satisfied”. (He tells us over e-mail that it’s also the name of his instructor’s wife, and the take-out Indian restaurant he frequented while studying.)

“It was such a great moment, to be in India, making music with my teacher, doing something very different than I had ever done,” writes Brenner of the project. “It’s very satisfying to finally release these tracks.”

There are guest appearances by several of Brenner’s new Indian friends, including Bhattacharya himself, as well as familiar Philly names like Susan Rosetti, who often performed with Brenner’s live band. The record was just released, and it is a charming blend of Brenner’s Western background and the traditions of Indian Sitar music. Watch video of his travels below, and listen to Tripti after the jump.

Continue reading →