Saturday, December 24, 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
"HOTLANTA" (Allman Brothers Tribute Band) at Steel City (Phoenixville, PA) tonight. Photos by Rob Nagy 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
The Stray Birds will Land at World Cafe
By Rob Nagy
“Magic Fire” is the latest album release from indie American folk rock blue grass band “The Stray Birds,” featuring Maya de Vitry (vocals, acoustic guitar, fiddle), Oliver Craven (vocals, acoustic, electric and slide guitar, fiddle and mandolin) and Charles Muench (vocals, upright bass).
What the band believes is their finest album to date lyrically, vocally and musically, “Magic Fire” offers twelve original collaborative compositions.
Retreating to a studio in upstate New York, The Stray Birds enlisted the talents of Grammy Award-winning producer Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, and Willie Nelson). Their collaborative efforts resulted in this masterfully executed collection of songs, accentuated with chilling harmonies, flawless musicianship and heartfelt lyrics.
“Though a few of the new songs had been on stage in the past year, we granted most of these songs the opportunity to come to life right there in the studio,” says Maya de Vitry, while on tour in New Jersey. “It was intoxicating to go to this place of focus with songs that still felt so fresh and free.”
“This collection of songs honors what connects us as humans," adds de Vitry. "Being human can be a fast-paced, detached experience at times. I feel like part of what we do as musicians is rewire our connections to each other and perhaps our connections to our collective memory or dream."
Standout tracks include “Shining in the Distance,” “Third Day in a Row,” “Sabrina,” “Where You Come From,” “Somehow,” “Sunday Morning” and “When I Die.”
Hailing from Lancaster County Pennsylvania and currently based out of Nashville, The Stray Birds’ roots as friends and fellow musicians run deep.
"We started out as a trio of people who all grew up together in Lancaster County and had known each other for a very long time," says de Vitry. "But it was a slow and deliberate musical courtship, and it took years and a lot of patience for us to actually come together and get into a car and start touring and recording as a trio.”
Soon after releasing their self-titled album in 2012, The Stray Birds earned national and praise for that record as one of NPR's Top Ten Folk/Americana Albums of the Year.
Signed to Yep Roc Records, The Stray Birds released their critically acclaimed sophomore album, “Best Medicine,” in 2014. Debuting at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart, NPR's World Café praised the album for its “strong harmonies and sharp songwriting." Guitar World cited the band’s "heartfelt creativity."
“As far as genres, it’s hard to say what defines us,” says de Vitry. “We’re trying to write songs that stand up on their own two feet in any kind of genre, and then we can put some clothes on the song and see what kind of jacket it wants to wear.
It starts with a well-written song that feels right and lyrics that feel sincere, and then we just put that together.”
“Keeping each song different is how we keep it interesting to ourselves,” adds de Vitry. “I think our songs are driven by sound and three part harmonies. All the styles and influences come from all the stuff we love - Bob Dylan, The Band, The Beatles, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt and Nina Simone and all kinds of stuff. We use the fiddle, banjo and acoustic guitar and all these blue grass instruments in what we do. It can be indie rock or folk. All of those influences can be genuinely accurate.”
The Stray Birds continue to hone their artistic expression in the studio and on stage while consistently performing at a feverish pace. They are building a growing fan base throughout U.S. and abroad.
“We’re pretty happy with where we are,” says de Vitry. “We’re getting great opportunities to play at incredible music venues and festivals that have their doors open and have people coming through the door. So we feel really fortunate. We keep doing it and keep being creative and enjoying the ride.”
“A lot of people have said to us in the last couple of years, ‘You guys have got something special. This is really great. When the three of you sing together, it’s really powerful and you’ve really got something here,’” adds de Vitry. “I think we’re at that turning point where we’re realizing that it’s special. We’re realizing that it’s something that we really want to work on, keep everything moving forward creatively and not get sucked into the business of it, but be smart about it. It’s a pretty big commitment to go out on the road for a lot of the year and be away from our homes and communities to do this. We really value what we do as a way to connect people to each other, especially in the world today. To extend into that presence with us and with all these strangers and just be present together - that’s what concerts are about and they can be part of that with us.”
The Stray Birds perform at World Café Live, located at 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, Friday December 16, 2016 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets are available by calling 215-222-1400 or on-line at ww.worldcafelive.com.
To stay up to date with The Stray Birds, visit www.thestraybirds.com.
Ben Vaughn will return to his home turf
to Celebrate New Release
By Rob Nagy
Touted in Rolling Stone and People Magazine in the early 80’s as a rising star of the Philly music scene, singer, songwriter, musician and record producer Ben Vaughn, fronting “The Ben Vaughn Combo,” seemed destined for commercial success.
Following a five-year touring run and after releasing two albums as well as gaining MTV exposure, Vaughn embarked on a solo career in 1988. He’s since released several critically acclaimed albums and performed extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Since the release of his debut album, “The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn” (1986), Vaughn has released 18 solo and collaborative albums. His latest release, “Piece De Resistance,” due on December 16, features a dozen freshly penned and collaborative efforts as well one cover song featuring “The Ben Vaughn Quintet.”
“All the songs are written by me except for a co-write with Rodney Crowell, the country singer,” says Vaughn, from his home in Santa Monica, California. “We have one cover by Mose Allison who just passed away recently; so we weren’t aware that we recorded a tribute to Mose.”
“I really wanted to be in the room with my band ‘cause we’re really good friends and we have a really good time,” adds Vaughn. “I think there is less pressure when you’re recording live than there is when you’re in an overdub situation because the music kind of cancels out the neurosis. You’re all playing together but you’re also playing separately, so you can almost second-guess anything. We get a much better recording when we are all working in the same room. I really don’t see myself working any other way from this point. It never really worked that well any other way for my music.’
“What’s great about the new record is that this is what we sound like on stage,” says Vaughn. “So if you like what you see on stage you’re going to get that same feeling and that same comradery. When you are in the studio with other people and you are all centrally focused on the song, you have to listen to what the other guys are doing. I really prefer to work that way. I’m telling everyone this is my masterwork. They may not agree with me (laughs). I consider this my magnum opus.”
Standout tracks include “Here Comes Trouble,” “Percy’s Blues,” “Piece De Resistance,” “Railroad Track,” “Sleep Without Drugs” and “I’m Just Sayin’.”
Expanding his creative energy, Vaughn produced albums for rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers, Muscle Shoals country soul singer Arthur Alexander and collaborated and recorded “Cubist Blues” (1996) with Alan Vega and Alex Chilton.
After moving to L.A. in 1995, Vaughn landed a decade long gig as the composer for hit TV shows “Third Rock From The Sun” and “That 70’s Show,” as well as for "Men Behaving Badly," "Normal, Ohio" and "Grounded For Life.” Vaughn also produced records for “Ween,” “Los Straitjackets,” Mark Olson of the “Jayhawks,” Nancy Sinatra and the "Swingers" soundtrack CD.
“Everything completely changed when “Third Rock From The Sun” went on the air,” recalls Vaughn. “I didn’t buy a house in the hills or marry someone 30 years younger. It was the first tine I had more than $45 in my pocket (laughs).”
Maximizing his multifaceted music skills beyond the world of performance, producing, collaboration and songwriting, Vaughn delved into film soundtrack work, scoring the soundtrack for the films "Favorite Mopar,” “Wild Girl's Go-Go Rama," “Psycho Beach Party," "The Independent" and "Scorpion Spring.”
“Film and TV music made me leave Philly,” recalls Vaughn. “Things weren’t going that well for me in the record business. The people in the record business thought that I was going to be the next big thing and it didn’t happen, which I’m really grateful for. (Considering) the way the record business ended up, I really would have been in for a rude awakening (laughs). I started looking around and I wanted to write music every day, and the record business was not giving me the opportunity to do that.”
“I was pretty much working non-stop for 10 or 11 years,” recalls Vaughn. “Then, I’d had enough. I felt like there wasn’t really anything left for me to learn. It was time for me to get back to what I was when I started.”
In addition to being a frequent guest commentator on nationally syndicated radio shows “Fresh Air” and "World Café," Vaughn hosts a syndicated radio program “The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn,” which is prominently featured on Philadelphia based WXPN radio.
“I was a contributor to World Café when it first started,” recalls Vaughn. “I would produce segments and host these segments that David Dye would ask me to do. So my radio career started there. I went on the air 6 years ago, in 2009, with WXPN. It’s on in 14 different places. I was really happy to be on the air in Philly and I think about Philly a lot when I’m doing the show. There’s a lot of music that never got heard or even played on the radio once, anywhere.”
“I’m kind of a radio fanatic and always fantasized about having my own show and playing music,” adds Vaughn. “I always wanted to be a part of curating and distributing music.”
Vaughn is looking forward to returning to Philadelphia later this month for what he considers a welcome-homecoming and the release party for his new album.
“This is a special show,” says Vaughn. “My band,
(Gus Cordovox (accordion), C.C. Crabtree (sax, flute, whistling), Mike Vogelmann (bass) and Set Baer (drums)), have been playing together on and off for 30 years. We didn’t play together for about 7 years while I was busy playing TV and film music. I quit doing TV when “That 70’s Show” stopped doing new episodes. I thought it was time for me to get back to who I was before I fell into this vortex. For 11 years, I was doing film and TV music in Hollywood and I really didn’t have time to do much else. I went back to Philly and we got together to play, just a rehearsal, and immediately I thought, ‘I miss this so much, this is what’s missing from my life!’”
“I’m 100% happy,” adds Vaughn. “I don’t even consider it a career anymore. Now, I’m back to where I was pretty much when I was a kid when I first started playing music because I loved it. I’m really happy to be playing with this band. The best way to see me play is in Philly with these guys. The comradery between the musicians and the amount of material we’re able to conjure up… This is the one that is the deepest because of the amount of years and the size of the catalog that we can pull from.”
The Ben Vaughn Quintet will perform at Boot and Saddle, 1131 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, Friday December 23, 2016 at 8:00 P.M.
To stay informed about future shows, visit www.bootandsaddlephilly.com.
To stay up to date with Ben Vaughn visit www.benvaughn.com.