10 Acts Not to Miss at the Philly Folk Festival

Posted on August 16, 2017

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There’s a lot to love about this weekend’s Philly Folk Festival, with more than 100 wide-ranging acts —  folk, bluegrass, world fusion, blues, and more — performing on four stages set up on 80 acres of farmland. Thousands of music-loving day-trippers and weekend campers are expected to bliss out to those sounds and other fest traditions, including a massive dance floor, an open-air arts gallery, varied food options, a beer tent, and activities for the kids.

TajMo. Blues masters and longtime friends Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ merged their talents (and their names) to collaborate as TajMo, releasing a much-praised album  this year. The partnership seems to have brought out the best in both soulful musicians, melding their rich, distinctive voices and guitar styles to create vibrant music deeply rooted in tradition but ruled by a sense of adventure. Check out “Don’t Leave Me Here.”

Samantha Fish. Midwestern blues singer/guitarist Samantha Fish seems poised for a mainstream breakthrough with her fourth album, Chills & Fever, a soulful collection of covers from the ’60s and ’70s. A powerful yet nuanced singer, she also plays a blistering guitar. Check out “Either Way I Lose.”

Credit: Philedelphia Media Network

Posted on August 15, 2017

Wow! As great as singer-guitarist Samantha Fish was when I caught her 70-minute set at Doheny Blues Fest just three months ago, her headlining show at The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen in Fullerton I caught last night (Aug. 9, 2017) was even more amazing.

I wasn't there to cover the show, and didn't take any notes, but I just had to jot something down and share a couple of pics I took with my iPhone. The Kansas City, Missouri native performed for more than two hours, and backed by a five-man band (including two horn players showcased on the potent and soulful "Either Way I Lose"), simply blended blues, soul and classic R&B was a master's touch. And the energy of the Fish and her band's performance never wavered.

Fish released her fantastic album Chills & Fever earlier this year, and she featured many of the outstanding tracks off the disc during the Slidebar set including an extended "It's Your Voodoo Working" and a fast-moving, joyful take on the title track that really caught my ear. Her guitar playing was impressive everywhere, whether she was playing sharp rhythm, blistering lead solos or using a slide.

Fish was just as powerful a performer when bringing down the dynamics to perform the emotive acoustic song "Go Home" using her Taylor acoustic guitar later in her set.

A magic night to be sure and I hope to see her perform again soon.

Robert Kinsler

Credit: Rock 'n' Roll Truth

Jonny Lang Tells His Lover They're 'Stronger Together' in Cheerful New Track

Posted on August 15, 2017

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Happy songs don't come easily to Jonny Lang.

"It's really hard," the 36-year-old singer/songwriter tells Billboard. "Everybody's got a different line of where cheesy is." But Lang is confident he's on the right side of that divide with "Stronger Together," a track from his forthcoming album Signs premiering on Billboard today (Aug. 11).

"In my mind when I was writing, I was thinking about your buddies or your close friends and family who are all important, and people who are close to you that you can trust and can really help you out in your life," explains Lang, who co-wrote the track with co-producers Drew Ramsey and Shannon Sanders. "That's the basic theme, I think, but it's harder for me to not cross the cheesy line when I'm writing a happy song. Hopefully it's not too cheesy."

Signs, out Sept. 8 via Concord Records, is the onetime teen prodigy's sixth studio album and first set of new material in four years. Lang didn't plan on leaving such a long gap between albums, but it also doesn't feel like such a long time, he says. "I think it happens to everybody but, man, time just slips away from you," he notes. "It feels like two weeks ago we did our last record, to me. There's no particular reason for it. It's just how life has worked out for me, between being with my kids and the family and stuff and trying to make a record and be on the road at the same time. It can be a little bit tricky to do everything at once." 

Signs does heave heavier moments than "Stronger Together," including tracks such as "Bitter End" and "Wisdom," and the album shoots wide from rock and blues to the juke jointy romp of the first single "Make It Move." But when it comes to diversifying his catalog, Lang admits that he never actively thinks about mixing things up.

"I just sort of write songs, and if they make sense with the rest of the stuff in some kind of way then we'll put them on the same record," he explains. There's definitely some substantial ground covered with different styles and stuff. I hope it's not too herky-jerky for the listener, but it made sense to me."

He promises that fans of his blues playing will be well-served, however. "A lot of the record is some of the more raw, older-sounding stuff and guitar tones inspired by Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson, that era of blues music," Lang says. "If I had anything I wanted to accomplish it was to reflect that style on this record. It just felt right. I've been doing this Muddy Waters song ('Forty Days and Forty Nights') live, by myself, the last few years; Maybe that crated an itch to want to record more stuff like that this time."

Lang begins a new North American tour on Friday that will take him through Signs' release and into October, with a European trek beginning Oct. 22 in the Netherlands. "It's exciting to release a record still, the record business being what it is," Lang says. "For me it's kind of always been about the satisfaction on the career side of it, just the satisfaction of doing something you love and getting to make a living at it and making records other people listen to and actually like. To still be doing it is pretty incredible, man."

Credit: Billboard

Peach Music Festival 2017: 10 Best Things We Saw

Posted on August 15, 2017

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Best Reinvention: The Magpie Salute

Jeremiah Kane

A public rift between brothers Chris and Rich Robinson has scuttled any chance of a Black Crowes reunion, but that hasn't stopped lead guitarist Rich from finding a new conduit for the music he had a hand in creating. The Magpie Salute, featuring Black Crowes alumni Marc Ford and Sven Pipien, members of the Rich Robinson Band, vocalist John Hogg, and a soulful group of background singers, took the stage to show they could be just as powerful as the Crowes ever were. Hogg's voice stunned on a soaring version of the Crowes' "My Morning Song" – an impressive feat, as few can fill in for Chris Robinson – and the band debuted the original tune "Omission," an electrifying hybrid of hard rock and Southern blues with a melodic bridge. Covers of the Rolling Stone's "Tumblin' Dice," the Temtations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and Humble Pie's "30 Days in the Hole" showed the group's diversity, but it was rousing versions of the Robinsons' hits "Jealous Again" and "Remedy" that proved these Magpies can fly in the same formation as the Crowes.

Credit: Rolling Stone
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