LINDA COHEN/ BIRDIE BUSCH/ EMILY BATE SHOW DEC. 5th
Folk/ Classical/ Psych Folk
For those in Philly's psych-folk circles, those whose music is laced with delicate, classical guitar lines and dark, distant ambience, your queen is out there.
You guys might not know it. But don't feel bad. Neither does alternative-classical folkie Linda Cohen.
This Philadelphia guitarist and teacher was writing sensual, potent acoustic-guitar-led instrumentals and recording uneasily lilting, eerily atmospheric records when Espers were in diapers. She still records. Naked Under the Moon came out in 1999. And she plays gigs too few, perhaps, though she's promised to get out more often. Mention the phrase "freak-folk" and Cohen, 60, admits she's clueless to the notion. "I'll defer to you on that as I'm not very au courant," she says from her post at 20th and Sansom's Classical Guitar Store, where she teaches. "I never thought of what I did as folk or classical." In Philly's late '60s and early '70s, she was part of a free scene of open-minded radio stations and record labels. While avant-garde stalwarts Charles Cohen (Theremin, oscillator), Jefferson Cain (sitar, autoharp), Mandrake Memorial's Craig Anderton (production, Celeste) and Michael Kac (harpsichord) played on her albums, photographer Doug Randall, graphic designer Milton Glaser and manager David Carroll were behind the scenes making her cover art and booking her gigs. "What got signed; what was on the FM dial; it was a golden age, free, open and all over the place."
Cohen started as a drummer in her Hunting Park-area elementary school. Her first gig was when she was 16 and a neighborhood polka band got her to play a Ukrainian Day fte. She began jazz lessons shortly after, only to wind up backing Stewkie Antoni in the band Elizabeth (before he fronted The Nazz). But like any good actor who wants to direct, this drummer wanted to compose.
"My father took me to Zapf's in Olney and bought me my first guitar this unusual 'Martin' 1955 classical for $125, that I love dearly, still play daily and teach with today," says Cohen in her low voice. She studied with Marshall Friedland, a "dazzling guitarist and banjoist whose good looks and personal attention plus the fact that he was several years older were strong motivating factors," she laughs. "I was smitten." She moved on to the Settlement Music School, where Peter Colona, a student of Segovia, trained her classically.
Next thing you know, she's playing and writing a hybrid of classic-folk-blues and funky neoclassical one that led her to play Philly's folkiest room, The Second Fret, at age 18, opening for Dave Van Ronk. "I was to play that gig with my then-boyfriend. Problem was, he freaked on me and left me holding the bag. Before we went on, Dave saw I was a mess. I gave him a recap, told him I knew several of his pieces and, the sweetheart that he was, went on with me and did a couple of them. And? "I never looked back."
By age 22, she'd been introduced to Poppy/United Artists label head Kevin Eggers, who not only released records by Townes Van Zandt but with his next label, Tomato, introduced the world to Philip Glass. Originally Cohen was going to make her records for Eggers solo, like her demos. But Buchla synth-innovator Charles Cohen suggested getting their mutual pal Anderton to produce a version of these songs with his band, Anomoli. Their looming, arbitrary backgrounds made sense behind the plinking, ricocheting richness of Linda Cohen's compositions on Leda and Lake of Light (1972 and '73, respectively). "I didn't know what the hell it was. But I never wrote music that was light and breezy." She didn't go it alone until the steel-string infused Angel Alley (Tomato, 1982). When I call it bareback, she laughs. "I love that. I was confident enough in the first place to play alone. It just wound up cool and avant-garde to have those guys on my first records." She went on to play the Electric Factory, Artemis and the Academy of Music opening for Gordon Lightfoot. She also plucked before Stephane Grappelli at NYC's Bitter End and in Pittsburgh for Procol Harum. But she wasn't a strong self-promoter and instead earned her bread, butter and awards teaching at Zapf's and the Classical Guitar Store ("I'm flattered when I'm thought of as a great teacher") and rare gigs around town. Until now. "I will be happier to play out more as my audience's loyal and I'd like an opportunity to broaden it," says Cohen. "All the classical musicians always referred to me as 'the folkie,' while my folk and rocker friends called me 'Classical Linda.'"
A.D Amorosi - City Paper
alternative / roots music / blues
Born in Philadelphia amidst a great wealth of talent, The Ways We Try has captured the essence of Birdie Busch and the players who so generously gave of their time and skills to bring these joyous songs to life. Produced by Devin Greenwood (Amos Lee, the Weeds, JF Maher) and recorded at Scullville Studios (Dixie Hummingbirds, Larry Campbell, Soozie Tyrell), the album represents Birdie's first full-length release.
Encouraged by Treasure Records President Jerry Klause and engineered by Rachel Russell and Devin Greenwood, the recording has all the warmth, atmosphere and feeling of the best of the classic records in your collection. The Ways We Try was created between June and January of 2005, in somewhat the opposite way of how songs are usually recorded. For this album, the instruments follow the voice; two guitars lead the rhythm, with bass and drums chasing off-kilter meters, while pianos and organs color the quirky lyrics and add depth and breadth to the melodies.
A.D. Amorosi in the Philadelphia City Paper described the record as "Not dag funky [but] odd funky... produced for maximal Dylan/Kooper effect [those wheezy organs] the swelling structure never overwhelms... her crackled rosiness draws you into [the songs] as would a painter's smallest strokes asides that speak volumes when you stand closer. So get closer."
At twenty-five, Birdie is only a few years into her songwriting and playing experience. Absorbing influences from everywhere - including her grandmothers outsider music collection - she has expressed both the quiet pain and the joy of private relationships with an awareness that feels like shes been here before. Busch also infuses wonderfully upbeat arrangements with a whimsy and looseness only found in much more experienced writers.
Her observations include the secret hour when the flowers bloom, the redemptive power of walking and talking together, what happens when PGW turns off the gas in South Philly, her deep family ties, and the universal daily struggle: "I'm losing myself / finding myself / I'm getting dirty / coming clean."
Birdie's first EP drew raves from Philadelphia Inquirer and Rolling Stone writer Tom Moon who enthusiastically noted, "At times, Busch sounds nearly apologetic, as if she's just trying lines out. But she's sneaky. Just when the lyrics seem ordinary comes an image of disarming clarity... she describes a moment of sitting on a bed: 'you were playing guitar / and I swear / that's closer than being lovers'."
With radio play from WXPN, and the song "South Philly" just included on the station'sWXPN Philly Local - Right On Track album produced by station programming veteran Helen Leicht, the media support is taking Birdie and her band into many of the best and most venerable clubs and halls in the Philadelphia area, including the Tin Angel, the Point, Theatre of the Living Arts, the Fire and World Caf Live.
She has shared stages in the past year with a diverse group of artists including Dar Williams, Kaki King and the Mosquitos, as well as area favorites Townhall, Amos Lee, Cowmuddy and Mutlu.
Nationally, her song "Secret Hour" was featured in the TV series Joan of Arcadia on CBS.
Her natural writing style, openly public emotions and rich family influences are the character of The Ways We Try - as is the unspoken invitation to share these experiences with Birdie.
Indie / Folk / Glam
Emily Bate is holding up traffic at the intersection of many genres: she makes folk music with irony, indie singer songwriter fare sweetened with choral music, and jazz with only her ukulele in tow, all held together on the strength and expressiveness of her voice.http://www.myspace.com/emilybate
Friday December 5th
Green Line Cafe
45th and Locust
Green Line Cafe
45th and Locust
Philadelphia, PA 19143
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|