Monday, October 5, 2015

Artist Spotlight - Pine Barons

Swelltone Music's Shana Hartzell interviews Pine Barons

Any year where you get main stage your city's NPR station's festival and a split Daytrotter vinyl with The Districts, it's a great year.   The Pine Barons are clearly ascending the indie ranks, but they still have time to chat with their blogger friends.  

After their set at WXPN's XPoNential Festival presented by Subaru, the Pine Barons sat down with the Root Down In The Shadow crew and our friend Shana Hartzel of Swelltone Music to discuss the highlights of the show, their thoughts on WXPN, playing live, the new album, and more!

 Check out our XPoNential Festival preview, featuring Pine Barons..   

Check out the interview below:

Pine Barons at XPoNential Festival : Photo by Dan McGurk

Pine Barons are back this fall as part of the TJ Kong Halloween Murder Show VI.  
Get Tickets now for Pine Barons, TJ Kong, Satellite Hearts and more.

Brad Pulley of Pine Barons: Photo by Dan McGurk
The Pine Barons also have exciting news as they have a split LP with buds The Districts from Daytrotter.  Order yours at the Daytrotter store

For more Pine Barons, check out their appearance on #CoverClub at

Cover Club | Pine Barons "Clowns"

Cover Club | Pine Barons "January 1979" (mewithoutYou)

Artist Spotlight - Israel Nash

Israel Nash at the Malvern Summer Stage : Photo by Dan McGurk
Israel Nash @ Non-Comm : Photo by Dan McGurk
It's been a busy year for Israel Nash and band.  In support of the timeless Rain Plains album they came to Philadelpia for a WXPN Free At Noon, The 15th Annual NON-COMMvention, Malvern Summer Stage, and XPoNential Festival.  While each of these could have been essentially short promotional sets, that didn't stop the band from giving everything they had each time. After being wowed at Non-Comm and Malvern Summer Stage, we knew we wanted to catch up with Israel Nash to see what the connection is between band and WXPN, the radio support behind these shows.

 Check out our XPoNential Festival preview, featuring Israel Nash..   

Click the interview below to see Israel's thoughts on WXPN, XPoNential Festival, and what brings them back for more! :

To hear their whole XPoNential Festival set... check out the player WXPN's The Key festival recap

Israel Nash at the XPoNential Festival Presented by Subaru : Photo by Dan McGurk

Stream Israel Nash's Silver Season now over at

See what NPR has to say, including them in their 10 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Israel Nash returns to Philadelphia on October 21, 2015 at Underground Arts.  Click here for tickets

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Tall Drink of Holly Miranda

Holly Miranda at Boot & Saddle - Photo by Lindsey Borgman

Every national tour has its share of disasters, whether it's tour van break down, or equipment theft.  The tour featuring Holly Miranda with Ambrosia Parsley + Chris Maxwell seemed to get it all out of the way, before Miranda ever made the stage at Philadelphia's Boot & Saddle.  Looking past Ambrosia Parsley's wardrobe malfunction (went missing off a MegaBus) and the paltry crowd (I'm looking at you Philly music fans), Holly Miranda and band had everything rocking in the right direction.

Ambrosia Parsley + Chris Maxwell
To start the night the Chris Maxwell warmed up the crowd, only to be joined by partner Ambrosia Parsley (formerly of Shivaree & Kill Bill 2 Soundtrack fame) for her first show in quite a while.  With her soft and affected voice and his skillful guitar playing, they warmed up the crowd despite some terribly sad songs.

“This is the most honest thing I’ve ever made; it’s very raw and is a contrast to what I’ve done in the past,” is what Holly Miranda says about her self-titled new record, Holly Miranda.  While filled with wide ranging influences, it could have gone the way of many misguided genre hopping albums.  Instead, the diverse Holly Miranda shows off as a very thorough catalog of where she is musically.  Her stage show brings that to the next level with a rocking band including Maria Eisen on baritone sax.   Showing off influences and styles ranging from KT Tunstall, Motown, Regina Spektor, and more, her voice was wispy at times, but powerful when needed.  She rocked in all the right places, giving the crowd a "tall drink of Holly."

"Mark My Words", kicks off the album and kicked off the show.  Seeing the sax and bass combo live really, brought the song to life. Miranda and band mixed in works from Holly Miranda, The Magicians Private Library, a new tune, and an amazing cover of Morphine's "Mary Won't You Call My Name?" with a bit Eddie Vedder angst.  Ambrosia Parsley joined her for "The Only One" during the short piano section of the set.  Overall the set was adventurous with a band capable of the journey.  The revised "Joints" was worth the risk bringing up the intensity several turns.  Hits "All I Want Is To Be Your Girl" and "Everlasting" sealed the deal, for a great night.

Set List - 
Holly Miranda @ Boot & Saddle
September 16, 2015
1.  Mark My Words -                      Holly Miranda
2.  Waves -                    The Magicians Private Library
3.  Desert Call                               Holly Miranda
4.  All I Want Is To Be Your Girl  Holly Miranda
5.  Come On                                  Holly Miranda
6.  The Only One                          Holly Miranda
7.  All of the Way                      New unreleased
8.  Mary Won't You Call My Name?    Morphine Cure For Pain   
9.  No One Just Is              The Magicians Private Library
10. Joints                          The Magicians Private Library
11. Everlasting                             Holly Miranda           

Check out the Photo Gallery over at the Root Down In The Shadow Facebook page

Photos by Lindsey Borgman when marked. Otherwise by Dan McGurk (trust me, you can tell the difference)
Posted by Root Down in the Shadow on Thursday, September 17, 2015
If you haven't checked out Holly Miranda, head to Noisetrade for a FREE sampler

Friday, September 11, 2015

2015 Philadelphia Folk Fest - a first look and review

Shakey Graves

Levee Drivers and Ladybird

As a first-time "fest" attendee I wasn't sure what to expect. I've been to many fests, but never before a folk fest, and never before one in such a sprawling, open, natural environment. I'd heard of the Philadelphia Folk Fest (or just fest, as everyone calls it) of course but didn't know what kind of crowd it would draw, what the general feel would be, or how I would fit in as a young(ish) photographer with more of an indie music bent. As it came to be, the answers were, in order: the nicest fest crown I've yet experienced. I had anticipated an older crowd and while they were there in droves, there were also a ton of younger adults, kids and everything in between. There was no pushing, or crowding, or obnoxious drunk bros as far as the eye could see. The crowd was refreshing, and happy.

Fest had this feel of absolute love of music, and of shared appreciation for it. I don't think I've even been in a place with that many people before, who were, to a person, simply happy to be where they were in the moment. Whether it was taking in the music from a grassy hill at one of the stages, camping out in the immense tent city, grabbing some creative food from the many venders present (pro tip, don't pass on Humpty's Dumplings), or relaxing in the shade in a spiderweb of hammocks left by others for everyone to enjoy, there was no point in my time there where I would have wished to be anywhere else.

As for me and the music, let's just say I'm happy to add folk to my list of favorite genres. I picked up a few new listening obsessions and was was excited to catch some acts I've seen before. Here's my take on some of my favorite acts, one day at a time.

Tall Heights
Thursday night was set up just for campers and volunteers, and after a struggle getting situated at the fest, I was able to catch the last few songs by Tall Heights. This duo from Boston has a really great live quality. With mature vocals, harmonies and lyrics, they play beautifully together, like they've been at it for decades, instead of years. It was obvious they were excited to be at the festival, and kept a good rapport with the audience. I'm glad these guys were the first act I caught for the weekend. Their progressive /indie kind of folk was the perfect intro for this indie heart.

Lindi Ortega
Following Tall Heights was the spirited was Lindi Ortega and band. The beautiful singer songwriter from Nashville by way of Ontario, sang and danced her way through a thoroughly enjoyable alternative country set. Having toured extensively throughout her decade plus career, she was a talented ball of fun that I enjoyed photographing as well as hearing.

Friday was one of my favorite nights of music. In my prep for the fest, I had stumbled upon a name I had heard about and really should have investigated earlier: Shakey Graves. The first video I pulled up after searching his name in YouTube was the Audiotree recording of Roll The Bones. I have since watched that video, on repeat, almost every day. If you haven't seen it, stop reading and go search it now, then come back. Suffice to say, I was most looking forward to his set that night, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Shakey Graves

Starting the night on the main stage was a band I hadn't researched ahead of time, but wound up being a close second for favorite of the weekend. Baskery, a sister powerhouse folk-rock band from Sweden was, for lack of a more apt term, mind blowing. The three ladies, with long legs stomping and blond hair flying rocked harder than most in their country-ish genre. They were beautiful, impressive, and damn talented.

Following Baskerys' energetic set was maybe a more traditionally folk act, Parker Millsap. What I loved most about the folk fest, and maybe shouldn't have been surprised by, was the diversity of music present. Parker and band lent some bluesy country to the evening that brought things down a little. With guitar, fiddle and upright bass they played a nice set, but I was getting anxious for the following one.

Shakey Graves took the stage to a huge welcome from the crowd. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Alejandro Rose-Garcia started out as a one man band. He's known for his suitcase turned kick drum, as well as for his sometimes raspy, often velvety and always beautiful voice. Though Alejandro has since brought on a band, he still plays that suitcase, his guitar, and kicks a tambourine while he sings us his stories.

Arlo Guthrie
Shakey Graves was even better, live, then I knew they would be. There's something to the timing and crescendo of the music that means you can't help but pay rapt attention as they play. The music is described as a cross between blues, country, and rock and roll but I can't help thinking there's something else I can't quite put my finger on. It's somehow old and familiar, but new and exciting. An aspect of folk music, I'm finding. Shakey played a commendably long set, though no one would have been upset had it kept going. Following his band was legendary Arlo Guthrie. Like his father Woody Guthrie, Arlo is known for his songs of protest against social injustices. Alice's Restaurant being perhaps the most famous album. I didn't know him going into the fest, but was sung his praises by a new fest friend, and was glad I got to see this folk legend live.

Unfortunately missed the fest on Saturday, but I was right back on Old Pool Farm territory come Sunday. Being the day of rest, and the hottest of the fest, I decided to enjoy the afternoons music from the comfort of the hammock forest, just up the hill from the main stage. If you've never spent a day in a hammock listening to live music I don't know what you've been doing with your life. After nodding off for a bit, I was woken by the crown going insane over what sounded like an upbeat Caribbean festival coming from down the hill. As I made my way to the stage I passed people of every age dancing and cheering on this funky quartet from Columbia that make up El Caribefunk.  All, I can say is once you see them live, it's a complete "ah ha" moment, and you really soak in why they have captivating audiences everywhere they go.

El Caribefunk

The next act, Hoots and Hellmouth, was an act I was familiar with prior to folk fest. Having seen Sean Hoots on his own a couple of times around Philly, I was excited to see him with the band. Hoots is another front-man with a really big, impressive voice. With their folk/gospel/rock sound, they laid it all out for a great fest performance.

Hoots & Hellmouth

Mason Porter & Friends

Coverage from the Philly Folk Fest for Root Down in the Shadow Sets by: Shakey Graves, Hoots & Hellmouth, Baskery, Tall...

Posted by Lindsey Borgman on Friday, September 11, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mason Porter Making Magic for Cover Club and In The Mountains

There's always something exciting going on for the bands of Cover Club. This week's entry, Mason Porter, will finish the week with their own curated fest : The Midnight Mountain Music Show featuring friends galore such as Wallace Brothers, Ladybird, Kalob Griffin Band, and Hinton, Bower, Jones. Meanwhile they start the week celebrating other friends, American Babies, by choosing them as their Cover Club selection!

This has to be the best value in town with$60 for two nights camping and show ticket. How's the response so far?

"The response has been unbelievable. So much enthusiasm. So many people want to be a part of this and help out and see it succeed. We have an amazing community of fans and friends and family and this festival is really bringing everyone together in a really special and exciting way."

For Midnight Mountain Music Festival tickets head to

Joe D'Amico of Mason Porter explains the choice of American Babies and "Invite Your Friends":
"It's a great tune, the kind of tune Mason Porter can get into. I thought it'd be a fun one to lend our instrumentation to and give it the M.P. treatment. American Babies are cool, their first couple records are really solid Americana/Rock stuff and the newer stuff is a little more far out. Besides, Tom Hamilton is also one my oldest friends, we started our first band together, Brothers Past back in the day. He has been there since the beginning of Mason Porter, and produced our first two releases."

Cover Club | Mason Porter "Invite Your Friends" (American Babies)

Be sure to check out the original American Babies version

Part of the fun with the Cover Club sessions is finding the backstory on the songs, why they were the picked, or what does it all mean. Joe D'Amico of Mason Porter kept it simple for their session's original selection, as "Seeds of Summer in short, is a song about the end of summer." As Labor Day has just passed, you really can't argue with the logic. However, Mason Porter and friends clearly don't want summer to end as they host the Mountain Magic Music Festival this weekend!

Key To The Skyway, released June 2nd, has kept the band busy touring this summer. "It's done well. The reaction from press and radio and fans has all been really positive. We're happy with the way things went with it," says D'Amico. "Fall will keep us busy but not as much touring as the summer. We'll be introducing a lot of new songs to the set list. A lot of preparation is going into 2016.

When asked if there is a full length coming in the future, D'Amico delivers a promising response; "We have the material for it, for sure. We just debuted three more new songs last week. We're really focused on the live show right now, but we will be shooting for another release in 2016. Whether it's a full length or an EP or multiple EPs depends on some things. And we'd also like to get some more live stuff out there for people to have access too."

CoverClub | Mason Porter "Seeds Of Summer"

The session was recorded in early July with Jim Salamone, Matthew Phillips, and Alex Kopertowski at Cambridge Sound Studios. Video directed by Bob Sweeney.

Mason Porter lineup:  
Tim Celfo - Upright Bass/Vocals 
Joe D'Amico - Mandolin/Guitar/Vocals 
Paul Wilkinson - Guitar/Vocals 
Sarah Larsen - Voilin 
Kevin Killen - Drums