Tag: Philadelphia Folk Festival

The Naked Sun – The Magic of Music

The Naked Sun is fronted by singer-songwriter, Drew Harris and guitarist Tim Campbell, the band has been a staple of the Philadelphia music scene since forming in 2011.  After spending the mid-aughts in the Baltimore, MD, eclectic and robust music scene, Harris moved home to his native Philadelphia to start a rock band with a little more edge than the folky “streetgrass” stylings of his previous bands. Harris and Campbell met in Campbell’s South Jersey home, exchanged tunes, and started making music together. Soon after, the Naked Sun would go on to win the WXPN Beta Hi-Fi Festival, the band recorded their first EP, “Space, Place, and Time,” and started playing shows. Flash forward to today, Harris and Campbell are joined by Dylan Mulcahy on drums, Tom Tusler on bass, Alan Sheltzer on keys, and Bradley Moser on lead guitar. The Naked Sun is set to follow up their debut LP, War With Shadows, with a brand new 6-song record entitled, Modern Life, set for release on January 27th, 2023. The Naked Sun mixes sounds familiar to bands like Wilco, the War on Drugs, My Morning Jacket, Drive-by Truckers and the Jayhawks in an indie-rock stew they have coined “honest-rock.” Harris explains, “We make music for people who like to really dig-in to their music.”

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Mike McKenna, Jr. – Musical Storyteller

Mike is another one of the amazing artists that we were introduced to at the Philadelphia Folk Festival back in August.

As a singer-songwriter Mike McKenna Jr. has become a rising star on the Canadian music scene; with a raspy, soulful voice, his warm indie folk and Americana tones, and songs laden with captivating storytelling. Born in Glace Bay and raised along the Mira River, Mike’s songwriting aesthetic points heavily to his roots growing up in small-town industrial Cape Breton. Over the course of 3 studio albums, he’s brought us the nostalgia of his home through carefully chosen narrative, poetry, protest, and true stories about life and death in Nova Scotia’s coastal, working-class communities.

Mike’s newest record At the Edge of the World (2020) continues to be met with incredible support both in Canada and internationally. In just over a year since its release, Mike’s sophomore album has received a long list of awards and nominations; WINNER of the Rising Star Recording of the Year by the 2021 East Coast Music Awards (along with nominations for Contemporary Roots Recording of the Year and Fan’s Choice Video of the Year), nominee for Contemporary Album of the Year by the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards, nominee for Americana/Bluegrass Recording of the Year by the Music Nova Scotia Awards, and nominee for 2020 Album of the Year by Blues and Roots Radio. It was also listed on the Bluegrass Situation’s ‘Class of 2020 Playlist, Absolute Best of this Year’s Roots Music Releases’.

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Maggie Mae – Funky Soulful Folk

Maggie is one of the singer/songwriters that we saw perform at the Philadelphia Folk Festival back in August.

She is a soulful singer-songwriter based in Philadelphia who fronts an exciting and energetic Folk/Funk group under the same name. She pulls inspiration from the music she grew up on and the strong musical foundation her family built, along with the ever-evolving world of music around her to carve out a sound all her own. Combining genuine, heartfelt lyrics with catchy, cutting guitar riffs, her songs can either touch your soul or make you want to get up and dance.  She has been described as “poppy, polished, talented, & promising,” by XPN’s The Key’s John Vettese.

Originally hailing from Northern New Jersey, Maggie has always had music in her life. Her parents met in college and formed a bluegrass band called ‘The Wild Oats,’ and later performed throughout New Jersey with various traditional Irish bands. Her father instilled a love for ‘all things string’ from a very young age, and her mother always encouraged her to write and sing. With a Steinway Grand piano in her living room, and fiddles, penny whistles, hand drums, dulcimers, harps, mandolins, banjos, and guitars littered throughout her childhood home, Maggie has managed to pick up and write with just about any stringed instrument she can find. Growing up, she was always attending folk & bluegrass festivals, making sure she was up front for favorites like Martin Sexton, Dar Williams, Vance Gilbert, and Railroad Earth. Rock and Blues legends including Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Allmann Brothers, and Bonnie Raitt were always on heavy rotation in her house. During her time attaining an Associate’s Degree in Music Performance, Maggie cultivated a love and appreciation for classical, jazz, funk, world, and jam music, and deepened her knowledge of jazz and bluegrass standards. She also fell deeply in love with one-man-band greats Michael Hedges and Keller Williams, leading her to discover and navigate the world of percussive guitar and loop pedals and effects. She puts all of this together to inspire, and continuously develop, the sound she creates today.

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Sarah King – Music in Her Soul

King’s live show crackles with energy and devil-may-care attitude, earning her support slots for Blues Traveler in 2022, The Steel Woods in 2021, an official showcase at Folk Alliance International in 2022, performances at the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Philadelphia Folk Festival, a performance at the 2022 CT Folk Festival, a night at legendary Caffe Lena in 2022, and a main stage slot at Black Bear Americana Fest 2021.

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Folk Music, Long Hikes, and a Bath

On Friday night, we had a full house!  Rebecca and Julian came down from Staten Island and Aunt Kathy and Uncle Donnie and Daniel all came down to visit me too.  Mommy and daddy made a big dinner for everyone.  Mommy did most of the work, daddy just grilled the chicken on the grill.

Uncle Donnie petted me a lot.  Not when he was eating though.  He doesn’t like when I breathe on him while he’s eating.  I don’t know why, but he seems to get a little grumpy if I start breathing heavy on him while he’s eating.  It must still have something to do with that time my brother, Buddy grabbed a hamburger off of his plate and ate it.  I just think like, “Dude, get over it already, that was like 20 years ago and I wasn’t even born yet.”  Some people just need to let things go.  I personally would never think of taking food off of someone’s plate.  Well, I do think about it, I just don’t actually do it.  I’ve found that if I just stare into their eyes with my sad, starving, puppy dog eyes, they’ll just give me some food anyway.

I can’t even count the times that mommy and daddy have told me that they weren’t going to share with me and I just kept staring into their eyes and sure enough, I got some food.  It works every time!

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Manas Itene – Show Your Love

The main topic of our conversation this time around though was talking about the story behind his new single, “Show Your Love.”  The song is really an anthem for people to get out and be brave enough to share their talents with the world.

In addition to music, we talk about how we all long for deep human connection.  Manas has started doing some retreats and we talked about how those events have really fed his soul as much as those who came to the event.

I feel blessed to have Manas as a friend and look forward to getting together with him again, hanging out, and having him on the show many more times in the future.

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Peace, Love, and Music

Our neighbors for the weekend greeted us with smiles and offered any help we needed setting up.  Quickly understanding the concept, I helped our one set of neighbors get their pop-up tent in place.  When they heard that we were first-time festival goers, they’d quickly offer advice as to the best practices to get the most out of the festival.

Hearing the stories about how long some of these people had been attending the festival was absolutely amazing.  One had been coming every year since 1969, others were at their 15th, 20th or 30th festival.  One guy, now in his 30’s grew up at the festival, first attending with his parents as an infant and continuing to make the trek now as an adult.  They came from all over, near and far.  The gentleman that has been coming since 1969, Allen, flew in from Ogden, Utah and rented an RV for the weekend with a buddy.  He originally grew up in the Philly area, but said that he’d never miss a fest, regardless of the distance that he might have to travel.  When I told him that this was our festival, he said, “Man I gotta give you a hug, this is gonna change your life!  There’s nothing here but peace, love, and music.”

At this point, we were only there for about an hour, but I knew that we in a special place.  This wasn’t just a music festival; it was a community.

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We’ve been in Pennsylvania for a Longtime

After Knoebel’s, we went to Stephie and Eric’s house for a little over a week.  That was fun too.  Eric put in 30-amp service just for me!  That way I could stay cool in the air conditioning on the days that it got really hot.  And let me tell you, it got really hot on some of those days!  Daddy and I would have to get up at like 5 o’clock in the morning so that we could get our walks in before it was too hot.  We went on some long walks too.  One day, we walked over eight miles.  Daddy was tired, but I could have kept walking.  Me and daddy are training to do the Mammoth March in New Jersey on October 2.  That’s a 20=mile hike that we have to do in eight hours.  Rebecca is going to meet us there and hike with us.  Mommy is volunteering and helping the organizers run the event.  I’m so excited about that.  Sometimes I really have to stay on daddy to keep up our training.  He’ll want to sleep in, but I’m right there to nudge him with my cold nose so that he gets his last butt out of bed and we can train for the Mammoth March.

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