Text and images by Kyle Bagenstose.
Alt-country songwriter Justin Townes Earle seems a man that has done his share of wanton wandering, and is now interested in a more defined personal journey.
The 32-year-old from Nashville built a reputation early in his career as an outlaw artist of sorts, with admitted penchants for drugs and drink and wild performances that often showed signs of recent use of both. His work reflected the mindset, with many songs on albums like The Good Life telling tales of his traveling aimlessly by car, train, or foot– gambling and drinking until either his money or health ran low.
Text and images by Grace Dickinson.
“Can you believe we got all this stuff on a plane,” said Smoke Fairies’ singer Jessica Davies, referencing the keyboard, violin, duo of tambourines, trio of electric guitars, bass, and multitude of amps that surrounded her up on stage. “I’ve only got one set of clothes. It’s amazing you can wash your underwear with hand wash – just a tip for the travelers.”
Hailing all the way from England, Davies was also surrounded by four other musicians last Wednesday night at World Café Live. And if her limited-clothing remark were true, they’d all be walking around the next day exploring Philadelphia dressed like sets of twins (with the exclusion of the drummer).
Like Davies, there was another blonde, a guy with equally long hair dressed in a casual black jeans and a long-sleeved T to match the outfit of the other long-haired guy up on stage. Both had mustaches curling down to meet the tip of their chins, though the latter’s was a brunette of similar shade to the hair of the only other girl up on stage, Katherine Blamire. She is the other half of the female duo who are the primary figures in Smoke Fairies. She wore an all white, ‘70s-styled dress just like Davies.
On tour four their fourth album, Davies and Blamire’s deep, moody vocals dominated the sound of the live performance, harmonizing together while often both strummed guitars. On occasion, you’d find one of the guys in the back naturally matching the contralto tones of Davies and slightly higher notes of Blamire with the top chords of a violin. Other times, Davies would pair her voice with the ringing jangle of a star-shaped tambourine flapping in the air.
Playing through many of their newer songs, the Smoke Fairies delivered a solid one-hour set, hitting audience favorites like “Eclipse Them All” and “Hope is Religion.” After spending some time in the States, the band heads to Germany this week.
With a foreboding sky up above, musicians and fans alike were hopeful, yet cautious of the impending storm. By 6 p.m., acts were cut short and the sweaty masses were kicked out the Made In America festival area for a weather postponement. The downpour soaked into the souls of every last fan, who begrudgingly trudged back to the grounds once it reopened about an hour and a half later. By this time, only six bands were left and a festival-inspired surge of new-found energy mixed with smuggled-in drugs returned to the audiences.
Spoon put on an amazing comeback set as the first group to play after the gates where reopened. With a reasonable downpour challenging the fate of the festival yet again, they played into the hazy evening while little droplets graced their instruments and the sides of their faces. Everyone’s clothing stuck closely to their bodies as couples danced in the rain and splashed in puddles on the parkway reflecting the neon lights all around. Rhythms rattled to the beat of the rain on the glossy ground while musicians were framed by the electric light against the storm. Devoted crowds continued to rage on, drinking as much Bud as they could, scared the unending stock might actually run out. Read more…
Like an expensive and excessive whirlwind, the controlled chaos that is Made In America rocked Philadelphia this past weekend. Piles of Budweiser beer cans, cigarette butts, lost shoes, broken umbrellas, muddy American flags and miscellaneous trash covering the parkway on Sunday night told the story of a festival that once was.
In just two days, fifty acts performed back-to-back on the four stages spread out in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. From 1:30 p.m. to midnight each day, the parkway quickly filled up with wealthy teenagers from the suburbs and music junkies who could barely stay away from the never ending set lists pumping out from every direction.
Herds of body glitter-covered teenagers clung to each other in matching patriotic crop tops and high wasted shorts. They swarmed like insects towards the music, the bass bumps drawing them as close as possible to their idols. Like a religious experience, they looked up to the elevated stages and worshipped stars like Kanye West, The National (above) and mix-master Tiesto. They honored their gods with fist pumps and hand-rolled joints which they threw in vain. Some grabbed the metal barriers and hurled their guts over the railings in tribute while others climbed up light-posts and street signs to get a better view.
Here’s the latest installment of our monthly mixtape series, which is curated by GUN$ Garcia. Today she brings us DJs Baby Eagle and Jansen Scott, who throw the EXTRA CREDIT party every Monday night at The Saint.
How did you get this party started?
Jansen: We started it not even six months ago. It’s still pretty young.
Baby Eagle: Jansen and I met last summer. We were guests of this party at Milkboy. We started going back-to-back and it was a lot of fun, so in the spring we decided to link up. The Saint was perfect because there are always two DJs spinning out of there. Monday night opened up for us and we decided to make it as poppin’ as possible.
Jansen: When we started out it was me, Dayo and Baby Eagle. About a month ago, Dayo fell back so it’s just been me and Baby Eagle rocking out.
What can people expect when they come out to EXTRA CREDIT on Mondays?
Jansen: They can expect to hear an eclectic mix of music that they probably haven’t heard anywhere else and to have more fun on a Monday night than you normally would.
Baby Eagle: I usually spin first because I get here first and then we switch off every half hour or so. We’re here all night, every Monday.
Jansen: We get about 30 to 50 people to come out. Since the Saint is really small, it’s cool because all of our homies can come out and we can have more freedom with the music. It’s open and I like to vibe off of that.
Baby Eagle: The only other party on Monday nights it Tiger Beats and I guess we’re trying to attract another crowd that’s not necessarily going to a mainstream thing. It’s kind of like, whoever you are and wherever you are, you’re welcome to come and get down.
What kind of music do you spin?
Baby Eagle: I usually start off with a lot of 90’s R&B and then we collaborate and play a lot of electronic R&B and hip-hop and all of that kind of stuff. I’m a big-time dancer. I’m into footwork and all of that. The first time I heard Baltimore club music it made me explode on the dance floor and I started DJing shortly after that. So that’s what I mostly enjoy spinning.
Jansen: Baby Eagle and I go back-to-back so I can vibe off of what he’s doing and we have some freedom. It’s a mix of house, club and dance music and then a little hip-hop. I’m always all over the place but I spin a lot less of the Top 40 and spin more old-school stuff.
Baby Eagle: I play a lot of Rio Baile Funk and New Orleans Bounce. Most of it’s centered around dance and booty music coming from all parts of the world. That’s my specialty – playing music that makes me want to dance and go crazy. After I make that connection with the people who are at the party, I can hop off the deck real quick and dance with them … and then hop back on.
Jansen: I really like the Saint because it’s more of a dive bar than a club. There are no boundaries to the music that we play. At some parties, you know what you’re going to hear all night and you won’t get any surprises. But I guess surprises are what you’re getting into here.
What makes the two of you vibe so well together?
Jansen: It’s really cool spinning with Baby Eagle because he kills club music and that has turned me on to a ton of stuff. We have a little bit of practice now and this party has made it even better. It’s cool because we have a similar hip-hop and sort of dance music/electronic pace that we share. We rock off each other’s energy.
Baby Eagle: We compliment each other well because he’s more into house and knows more about it. I know more about club. We both come together in the middle with the rap and R&B that is present these days. The connection happened organically.
Jansen: I like to put emphasis on the music. Even though it’s just Monday, I look at is a whole opportunity. It’s a time where we can kick back and chill, get into some really awesome music and do stuff that we probably couldn’t do at other venues. We are Monday nights at the corner of Girard and Front. There’s already this weird mix of stuff going on but I think it’s all about the music. And trying to get weird.