Last night saw the reunion of three acts from three different states that met previously at a folk music conference and planned to play together in Philadelphia. Michigan duo Red Tail Ring, local bluegrass outfit Marc Silver & the Stonethrowers, and Maine trio Tumbling Bones share a deep love for traditional folk music, faithfully rendering songs older than their grandmothers as well as their own compositions. That love seems to tend toward multi-instrumentalism—beginning with Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo of Red Tail Ring swapping back and forth between guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and percussion in addition to their intertwining voices, the show continued in similar fashion. Their gentle melodies and sweet harmonies held the room in rapt attention; those seated for dinner, perched on stools along the wall, and propping up the bar in the back unified in their respect for the music. Such attentiveness was warranted by the flawless sound, the best I’ve ever heard in any venue. Tin Angel is a serious musician’s dream, a small space well mic’ed and mixed with crystal clear reproduction that is neither too loud nor too soft. The assembled artists, gathered around the central condenser mic, were clearly appreciative.
Tumbling Bones, while usually a trio, brought Timmy Findlen with them on this tour. Having contributed to the recording of their upcoming album, his various bits of percussion, ukulele, and one standout saw solo certainly added substantially to the fullness of their sound. All three members were constantly switching between acoustic guitar, banjo, and upright bass, with Jake Hoffman contributing the occasional bit of tap dancing. Lead vocals were passed around as well, Kyle Morgan commenting on the unique experience of passing one of his songs off to Peter Winne to sing. A show-stopping acapella rendition of the old hymn “Shady Green Pastures” really showcased the blending between their voices, though each could certainly carry an album on his own, something Kyle has done to great success. While based in Maine, two of the members of Tumbling Bones are originally from Pennsylvania, so the state has become something of a second home to the group, providing substantial fodder for between-song banter. For example, a little old lady once robbed them of some of their earnings while they were busking in Rittenhouse Square. Stories like that one added to the intimacy of both the tunes and the space made for a real sense of camaraderie. In that spirit of sharing, the band is offering two free downloads from the new album:
Marc Silver and his Stonethrowers are quite a large group, and I was honestly impressed by their ability to fit so many people and instruments on such a small stage at once. With such a large group and their infectious enthusiasm, they soon had the room rocking, walking upright basslines and catchy guitar riffs ensuring a rollicking good time. Bringing the party comes with a price, however, and their set was certainly the portion of the night at which the crystal clear sound began to be obscured by the voices of the crowd, drinking, socializing, and discussing the evening’s entertainment. Despite the fact that I caught less detail, I still thoroughly enjoyed their performance. The inclusion of pedal steel guitarist Isaac Stanford in the lineup gave them a bit more of a country feel than the preceding bands, rounding out the night’s multi-faceted representation of Americana.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC