If you are like thousands of music lovers on the East Coast, you head for Upper Salford Township, Pennsylvania, a little more than 35 miles outside of Philadelphia, where the legendary Philadelphia Folk Festival transforms a working farm into a magical, musical sound park. This cherished event is the longest continuously running outdoor music festival of its kind in North America and will celebrate its 60th Anniversary, August 18-21, 2022 at the Old Pool Farm.
Known to present superstars and rising stars alike, plans for this year’s summertime extravaganza are well underway! The event is unique in that it is presented by a non-profit arts education organization, the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and is operated with the help of over 2,000 dedicated volunteers.
The Folk Festival is a perfect family event, with puppeteers, jugglers, aerialists, storytellers, hands-on crafts and of course, kid-oriented musicians gathering in Dulcimer Grove, the shady area that has become a haven for folk fans 12 and under. Children up to 5 years of age are admitted free in the campgrounds; children up to 11 years of age are admitted free to the concert area. Older kids, 12 to 17, are eligible for the special “youth ticket”, allowing them into the festival for half the regular gate price, when accompanied by an adult.
18 (Thursday) - 21 (Sunday)
Philadelphia Folk Festival
1323 Salford Station Rd, Harleysville, PA 19438
PFS Presents Philly Songwriters in
PFS Presents Philly Songwriters in The Round
Featuring: Aaron Nathans, Avi Wisnia, Brittany Ann Tranbaugh,
& Buddy Mondlock
Thursday, September 1st, 2022
Doors 7pm | Music 7:30pm
$15 Members | $18 Not-Yet-Members | $15 Streaming
Come experience a unique night of incredible songs, storytelling and collaboration in an intimate listening room environment. Aaron Nathans will host an in-the-round concert showcasing some of the best local Philadelphia songwriters and storytellers.
Aaron Nathans’ mission is to write songs about things no one else has written about before. Like a song about male bonding between a guy and his barber. Or the onslaught of the outside world upon a new parent. Surely somebody’s written that song, right? Ok, find it.
Aaron, who lives in the Philadelphia area, describes his songs as wild-mind, bittersweet acoustic music. He’s one of a million guitar-slinging singer songwriters, but you’ve never heard anyone quite like Aaron, with his warped sense of humor and off-kilter view of the world.
His shows include humorous, meandering stories that will keep you every bit as captivated as the music itself — beautiful guitar work, catchy melodies, and his sweet baritone voice and eye-popping vocal range.
Aaron’s songwriting was honored by the Kerrville Folk Festival, which named him a New Folk Finalist in 2018 and 2011.
“This is the songwriting creativity that I admire… Like many Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits songs, these tunes can linger in your ears and follow you into bed where you will be looking up at the ceiling with your eyes closed in the dark, and the melodies still partying into your sleep.”
“Aaron’s songs hit you in both the head and the heart.”
Avi Wisnia is an award-winning singer/songwriter, finding inspiration in 1950’s west-coast jazz, acoustic American folk, Brazilian bossa nova, and contemporary piano pop. Avi tours in support of his newest studio album, Catching Leaves, performing in prestigious venues around the world – from the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC to The Kennedy Center in DC to concert tours in Japan, Poland, and Brazil. In addition to being a performing songwriter, he has given a TED Talk and performed with The Moth storytellers and organizes the Philly Songwriters Circle.
“Jazzy singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia has a Ben Folds-y way of weaving stories into his piano-driven songs.”
– Time Out New York
“Startlingly clever. Lyrically brilliant. Completely refreshing.”
– Alyssa Rashbaum, music critic for SPIN, VIBE, and Rebel Spirit Music
Brittany Ann Tranbaugh is an award-winning singer/songwriter based in Philadelphia, PA. Originally from the Lehigh Valley area in PA, she kicked off her music career as a teenager playing at Godfrey Daniels, one of the country’s only remaining bona fide folk listening rooms. She has since performed all over the US and Canada in theaters, living rooms, basements, bars, coffee shops, backyards, and on festival stages including Firefly and Philly Folk Fest. Accolades include a 2021 Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for her song “Kiss You” and finalist spots in the Gems in the Rough, Kerrville New Folk, LEAF NewSong, and Falcon Ridge Emerging Artists competitions. In April 2022, she debuted an EP entitled “Quarter Life Crisis Haircut,” her first official release in over a decade. In this new batch of memorable and thoughtfully crafted songs, she tackles a wide range of topics including her sixth grade queer awakening, an awkward run-in with an old acquaintance, and the impossibility of true folk music authenticity in this day and age. At times witty and sarcastic, at other times heartbreaking and raw, the EP undoubtedly showcases Tranbaugh’s finest work to date.
Buddy Mondlock writes songs. He does it so well that some great songwriters have recorded his songs on their own albums. Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, and Janis Ian, to name just a few. You mightʼve heard his song “The Kid” (recorded by David Wilcox, Peter, Paul and Mary and Cry, Cry, Cry) and maybe even sung it yourself around a campfire. He draws you into his world – where a single snowflake follows the trajectory of a relationship, where you get you pocket picked by a Roman cat, where you might swim over the edge of the world if youʼre not careful and where dreams that donʼt come true still count. Along with his concerts Buddy teaches songwriting workshops as well.
In 2012 he was on staff at the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson college in North Carolina teaching two intensive courses over a weekʼs time. And in 2013 Buddy returned once again to the Kerrville Folk Festival to perform and teach at the song school there.
“Mondlock’s songs are like movies you want to see again. He starts with the
same world we all see and hear, but he transforms the sights and sounds into
revelations that delight and melodies that linger.”
Ed Morris – Billboard Magazine
“Buddy Mondlock represents the best of the new generation of singer/songwriters in folk music. His writing style is grounded in the traditions of the past, but has it’s heart in the present. He is one of my favorite writers.”
(Thursday) 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm EST
PFS Presents Emerald Rae
PFS Presents Emerald Rae
Friday, September 16th, 2022
Doors 7:30pm | Music 8pm
$12 Members | $14 Not-Yet-Members | $15 Streaming
Fiddler & Folksinger Emerald Rae brings the duo of strings and song to a new plateau with mesmerizing dexterity. Hailing from the historic fishing community of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Emerald Rae is both a small-town girl steeped in cherished folk traditions and a world-class artist breaking new ground with inventive fiddle effects. A degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in Boston gave her the freedom to cast a wide creative net, while her grit and intensity was earned during her twenty-year career as a powerhouse fiddler and dancer. Rae embarked on her first journey into songwriting and multi-instrumentalism with If Only I Could Fly [May 2013], featuring her prowess on fiddle, vocals, guitar and the crwth [an ancient Welsh fiddle, pronounced “krooth”], and took to the road from the Canadian Maritimes to Shanghai. Single and video Blackbird [April 2017], a droning, groove-heavy version of the traditional Scottish Ballad, showcases her signature ornamented vocals and robust fiddling accompanied by a laid back djembe.
Zeroing in on the synergy of voice and fiddle, the self-produced self-titled album Emerald Rae [May 2018] offers a rare scope of vision and reveals her depth as an artist. Rae’s extraordinary chops transform the fiddle into anything from bagpipes to flamenco or electric guitar, slap bass or ukulele. Her direct and intimate voice, alternately high and honeyed then gutsy and soulful, encompasses both wind and sea, animal and etheric. Though intended as a minimalist introspective album, Rae pulls of an impressive level of variety. Her take on a sea shanty, “Deep Salt Sea” kicks off the record with edgy soundscapes, “When the Silvery Moon Comes Out to Play” drives with angsty power chords, “Inkwell” paints an intimate portrait of an awkward bookworm, and “Worlds Away” shouts from the rooftops about income inequality with foot percussion and a wailing old-timey fiddle. This collection of homespun vignettes will take you on a journey and leave you spellbound.
“Emerald Rae is that rare artist who combines musical dazzle with down-home stage charm, inviting audiences deep inside her music. She moves crowds from ancient reel to urgent modern song with a spontaneity so organic it’s easy to miss how difficult it is to master. What’s her secret? She likes her audience, meets them eye-to-eye, and they respond in kind, with affection, rapt attention, and delight. Whether introducing a muscular set of old fiddle tunes, or an intimate original song, they lean forward, eager for the next adventure. And she never disappoints. Emerald Rae owns the stage in the finest way, by sharing it with her fans. She does not perform at them, but with them––and they adore her for it.”
— Scott Alarik
Music journalist, author, host of Folk Tales on WUMB public radio.
“Fiddler/vocalist Emerald Rae takes her folk roots into fresh sounding regions, maxing out her axe’s potential in the service of her consistently compelling melodies. A spell-caster of no small skill, Ms. Rae matches her bowing prowess with appealing use of her fiddle for strumming and plucking vocal punctuation. Minimal production touches provide the ideal finish on one of the year’s more fetching releases. Standouts include “Sadie Dear”, “When The Silvery Moon Comes Out To Play” and “Moving On”.”
— Duane Verh, Roots Music Report
“Gloucester musician Emerald Rae has a way of pushing the boundaries with a fiddle that seems almost impossible. On her recent, self-titled album, she achieves a sound that’s both full and icicle delicate, with songs such as “Deep Salt Sea,” “Who Will Lie Behind You Now” and “Lonely Road” being alternately achingly beautiful and bracing as cold rain.”
— Victor Infante, Worcester Telegram
“The self-titled album is quite stunning – sharp, solid soundscapes, rich with intensity; a striking balance of fragility and substance.”
— Joshua Farber, Unity House Concerts
“Reliably one of the sweetest and friendliest people in the biz, as well as being a great player… and on top of the business end too.”
— Russell Gusetti, Blackstone River Theatre (Venue & Festival)
“a wholly-new sound that you’ll find electrifying”
— Devon Léger, Hearth Music
(Friday) 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm EST
PFS Presents Mick Flannery
PFS Presents Mick Flannery
Saturday, October 29th, 2022
Doors 7:30pm | Music 8pm
$15 Members | $17 Not-Yet-Members | $15 Streaming
A cliché has it that you have to beware of the quiet ones, because most of the time their voices speak sharper and with more range than the loudmouths. Every cliché, however, has a grain of truth in it, and so it’s fair to say that while County Cork singer-songwriter Mick Flannery is outwardly reserved, his songs are fluent in expressing layered aspects of the human condition, its flaws, triumphs, and general uncertainty.
An award-winning, double-platinum selling artist, Mick Flannery is on the brink of releasing not only his self-titled sixth album, but also overseeing the worldwide premiere of the stage musical, Evening Train (so named after his 2007 debut album). He began to write songs as a teenager in his home of Blarney, County Cork. As musical influences from albums by the likes of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits seeped into his creative DNA, Mick absorbed, learned and honed the craft that would send him on his way into the world. The path was smoothed somewhat when, at the age of 19, he became the first Irish songwriter to win the Nashville-based International Songwriting Competition. By the time he turned 21, he had signed to a major label and released his debut album.
With his latest release, Mick touches on loose themes of ambition and the search for a meaningful life in the context of a musician’s sometimes feckless and dysfunctional lifestyle. The central character, he reveals, is someone like him, “although this person achieves more notoriety than I have. He is properly famous, and he has to deal with that.” The loose theme is just that, however. “I’m not going to hammer it home. Facets of the theme are on the album, but the storyline itself isn’t an overarching one – each song can stand on its own, and not need to be part of a narrative.”
Songs on the album reference reputation and ego (Wasteland), emotional search and rescue (Come Find Me), socio-cultural intransigence (I’ve Been Right), flawed or unreliable love (How I Miss You, Way Things Go), moral collapse (Light A Fire) and loss of status Star to Star. Whether or not the listener locks onto the themes or topics is irrelevant, says Mick. “There are a few relationship songs on the album that don’t necessarily marry into anything; I see them as a background thing, although with value.”
Threading a line throughout is Mick’s uncanny knack for blending melody with thought-provoking lyrics. Now in his mid-30s, and somewhat reflective of the musician he sings about on his self-titled album, Mick is fully aware of the internal struggles that come with trying to balance ambitions with whatever life throws their way.
“What happens to a person, sometimes, is that they attach self-worth to their career, and once the career fails then self-worth also plummets. The more weight you put into this persona you’re trying to be, you set yourself up for a bigger fall. It’s the danger of having big ambitions that are based on the external rather the internal.”
Mick Flannery has, of course, experienced and processed enough in the past fifteen years to know what his views are. He smiles when he says that for the sake of the songs he ever so slightly embroiders certain facts for creative effect.
“Obviously, I don’t equate to the levels of conflict I’m describing in the songs. I know the spectrum because of how reserved I am, and how – in my years of being in the music industry, and through varying levels of being noticed – it can change your life a bit. You’re not anonymous in certain places, and when that modifies your behaviour things can happen to you that are unknown to the general public. It’s a strange thing, a balancing act. Most of the time, however, I can go out for a quiet night and not be recognised. I wouldn’t want to give up that freedom.”
Such freedom is hard earned and comes at a price, yet Mick wouldn’t dream of giving up songwriting. Why would he when, he says, it’s getting easier.
“I mess around with all sorts of ways to write a song – silly songs, impromptu songs, joke songs that I co-write with a buddy of mine in America. We have about 200 of them by this point. I’m a little bit addicted to it, I think; it is certainly my favourite thing, and I’d like to keep doing it. I put a lot of hours into the craft, and it would be a shame to change tack. I like the merging of lyrics and melodies. I have a passion and a facility for it, which I know I’m lucky to have.”
This self-titled release is Mick’s sixth album – that is a sizeable back catalogue, a genuine body of work. For live shows, he says, it’s comforting.
“I remember feeling at the beginning of my performing career that I didn’t have an armoury of material. If a gig wasn’t going well, I knew there was no cavalry of songs coming over the hill to rescue it. Different songs call in different moods, and at the start all I had was a handful.”
He has six times that now, with decades ahead for many more, whatever his age. Mick has long since disregarded the view that anyone over the age of 30 has little to write about. “The outside perception is that the people who buy music are young, that the music they buy is what gets played on the radio. There’s such a wealth of experience in older people, however, that’s as valid as anything a young songwriter brings.”
As a mature songwriter, he reasons, he’s trying to hold on to what is essential to him, and resigning himself to the fact that the naïve, passionate 20-something ‘Mick Flannery’ is gone. What comes next, he contends, is much more interesting and experienced. “You have a larger worldview and are more learned, each of which combine to create something new.”
At the core of it all is a precise and skilled art form, of which the album is a fine, individualistic example from a songwriter who still aims to knock the competition out of the frame.
“When I mess about with songs, with choruses,” explains Mick, “I try to write the best ones. It’s like a kid kicking around a football on the street – he wants to be Lionel Messi, not a player in a lower division. It’s hard to kill off that level of ambition – I just want to be good at the craft.”
Beware of the quiet ones? You have been duly advised.
Rescheduled From 2020: PFS Presents
Rescheduled From 2020: PFS Presents The Black Feathers
November 5, 2022
Doors 7:30pm | Music 8pm
$10 for Members *While Supplies Last* | $12 Not-Yet-Members | $15 Doors
About The Black Feathers
A favorite of the 2018 Philadelphia Folk Festival, and a smash show at PFS in 2019, we are delighted to bring back The Black Feathers to the PFS venue!
The ability to write songs that are both modern and ancient is a rare thing. The product of an arcane art of weaving in traditional influences so thoroughly that they become the warp and weft of fresh creations. The Black Feathers, made up of Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler, are two such talents. They first became aware of the magic between them while collaborating on several musical projects, becoming The Black Feathers and life partners in 2012.
“Once in a blue moon, the whole soars far above the sum of its parts. That’s what happens when The Black Feathers perform live”
– Black Mountain News, North Carolina
Americana, Folk, and Acoustic Indie Rock sensibilities coexist comfortably in their musical world, with Hughes’ guitar work buoying the kind of harmonies often only heard in family bands. Their music quickly draw the interest of listeners, but it is the stage chemistry that will keep them riveted.
Having already built up a loyal following in the UK, The Black Feathers have been spreading their wings across the US. They have performed at Philadelphia Folk Festival and AmericanaFest, and have also been awarded official showcases at the North East Regional and Far-West Folk Alliance conferences.
With a new single and a live album in the pipeline, these are exciting times for what FATEA refer to as “a duo of undeniable talent”.
PFS Presents Cassie & Maggie
Thursday, December 8th
Doors 7:30pm | Music 8pm
$15 for Members | $18 Not-Yet-Members | $22 Doors | $18 Streaming
Due to the constantly changing reality surrounding the global health crisis of COVID-19, the FIRST priority of the Society is the health and well-being of our community. After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for artists through our Digital Concert Venue, we are thrilled to welcome you back to our Roxborough Venue, 6156 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA!
Tickets are available IN PERSON at the PFS Venue or STREAMING ONLINE here at folkfest.org!
About Cassie and Maggie:
Nova Scotian sisters Cassie and Maggie have been lighting up the world with their unique blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic instrumentals and vocals. Appearing on stages across North America, the UK, and Europe the sisters have enchanted audiences far and wide with lively fiddle, piano and guitar arrangements, stunning sibling vocal harmonies in both English and Gaelic, all complemented by their intricate and percussive stepdancing style.
“2016 Live Ireland Radio’s “
“Be it their foot percussion accompanying
(Thursday) 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm EST
Due to the constantly changing
Due to the constantly changing reality surrounding the global health crisis of COVID-19, the FIRST priority of the Society is the health and well-being of our community. After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for artists through our Digital Concert Venue, we are thrilled to welcome you back to our Roxborough Venue, 6156 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19128 while still offering streaming options when available!
All persons entering the Philadelphia Folksong Society at 6156 Ridge Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19128 must provide proof of vaccination or negative PCR test within 72 hours and wear a face mask per Philadelphia mandate starting April 18th. If the person does not have an appropriate face mask, per CDC guidelines no vented masks or gaiters, PFS will provide one. Inability to adhere to these protocols will lead to a warning then a removal without refund. PFS’ COVID protocols will be reviewed at each board meeting as the pandemic continues.
PFS is excited to re-open our Philadelphia Folksong Society Music Venue! Please join us in welcoming these incredible acts to #KeeptheMusicPlaying
The front cover of Irish born, Berlin based WALLIS BIRD’s new album features a black and white photograph of a hand. A cursory look might not reveal anything unusual, but it only takes a moment to recognize it’s no ordinary hand. In the shadows there’s a stump where the little finger should be, and something seems off about the other digits too. Some will understand its significance: they’ll have seen it strumming an upside-down, right-handed guitar, picking in unorthodox style, forming unconventional chords. The hand, you see, is WALLIS BIRD’s, and it’s there because, having spent much of her life trying to exist despite its restrictions, she’s reached a point where she recognizes that, in many ways, it’s always been vital to her lived reality. With this has come a realization of “who I am, what I am, and what I don’t want.” HANDS documents her subsequent process of change, and its consequences, with typically distinctive style, making it – hands down, naturally – one of the most honest albums you’ll hear at a time when honesty is at a premium.
If 2019’s exceptional Woman represented an ambitious state of the world address, HANDS – also known as NINE AND A HALF SONGS FOR NINE AND A HALF FINGERS – finds BIRD turning the spotlight onto herself, raising issues that are sometimes far harder to confront, only to emerge optimistic and whole. Among these are issues of trust, alcohol abuse, stagnation, self-censorship and self-improvement, some addressed through personal recollections of crucial moments accumulated over the last two years. Each, however, is delivered by a voice uncommonly blessed with joy, ingenuity and empathy.
As 2019 came to an end, BIRD found herself with time enough to reassess her relationship with her hand – and indeed herself – so decided to take a rare break. She’s released six albums since 2007, for which she’s won two Meteor Awards, Ireland’s annual music prize – mostly recently for Best Female Artist – and a prestigious 2017 German “Musikautorenpreis” (Music Author Prize), not to mention two further nominations for the Choice Music Prize, Ireland’s equivalent to Britain’s Mercury Prize. In addition, she’s racked up over a thousand shows during the past decade, earning a reputation worldwide for passionate, energetic, good-humored concerts. She began her sabbatical by quitting alcohol, a decision at the heart of ‘I Lose Myself Completely’, and four days later, she recalls, “I went to Philipp Milner (producer / musician, Hundreds)’s house to make some music, and my world opened up like an orchid.” Subsequently, she details, the album “was recorded in fifty weeks, primarily in Philipp’s farmhouse studio in Wendland, my studio in Berlin, and Marcus Wuest’s in Sandhausen, where I’ve recorded all my albums.”
HANDS was completed with ‘The Power Of A Word’, a hushed showcase for shimmering synths and a notably ethereal vocal. At the heart of the track – as with so much of HANDS – is self-examination, change and acceptance. “Up until recently,” BIRD concludes, “I simply treated my hand as something additional, not primary to my story. But, during this pandemic, when everything in my usual life was scattered, I found myself wondering ‘Who am I? What am I? What story do I leave behind?’ My story had been one of stubborn ‘I can do it just as good as anyone’, but this new chapter in my life has been about letting go of over-controlling, handing things over to others, being comfortable with my surroundings and colleagues, and knowing I’m understood. Right now, I’m a passenger, a guest in my life, because the album has been so collaborative and so out-of-bodily written, almost hypnotically. And I love it!”
And it shows. So let’s see those HANDS in the air. After all, there’s a lot to celebrate here…
(Saturday) 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm EST