COMPILED BY KAITLYN FOTI
@kaitlynfoti on Twitter
Singer-songwriters, like cups of coffee, come in many shapes and sizes, varieties and flavors. What better place, then, for a series spotlighting the art of songwriting than Phoenixville’s Steel City Coffee House.
Here’s a look at some of the shows brewing in August at the coffee house.
SIDNEY JOSEPH & THE ORGANIC REVERB CD RELEASE
Saturday, Aug. 1, 8 p.m.: It’s tough to put a finger on Sidney Joseph’s style, each tune sounds like it’s own individual statement. This Philly-based singer-songwriter has cut his teeth in a variety of different genres. From Jamband to Hip-Hop, “I want to strip everything down to its bare essentials” Joseph said of his most recent songs. Currently Joseph is working with producer David Ivory (Eryka Badu, The Roots).
His strong vocals over simple acoustic arrangements really make the tracks sound timeless. With topics ranging from lost love to revolution, he leaves no stone unturned. Touring with fellow musician The Rythmatician, who incorporates the Peruvian Cajon, the pair creates a strong, unique, soulful folk sound. Think Jack Johnson meets Dave Mathews. Playing since he was 16 years old, Joseph said, “at that time nobody in my family played anything except maybe the lotto.”
While visiting a friend, he noticed an electric guitar sitting in the corner collecting dust. He picked it up and within minutes was playing. Needless to say, his friend told him to take the instrument home. The guitar was in it’s own weird tuning and it wasn’t until much later that he learned the standard, at which point a few tunes he had been working on were lost. So from hip-hop to folk to world sound, it’s obvious that Sidney Joseph has tuned into them all.
General admission is $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show. There are also reserved seating and dinner options. For more on Sidney Joseph, visit thesoundofsidney.com
ROSS BELLENOIT AND FOXHOUND
Friday, Aug. 7, 8 p.m.: Ross Bellenoit has already forged quite a career path, racking up impressive credits as a guitarist, composer and producer. After moving to Philadelphia in 2003, Bellenoit quickly became the leading axe-man for a thriving singer-songwriter scene that spawned Amos Lee (Blue
Note), Birdie Busch (Bar None), and ASCAP award-winner John Francis. More recently, he’s been making his mark as a songwriter himself, and also as a recording producer and arranger. Raised in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, Bellenoit trained on classical guitar for 10 years (and viola for five) before studying jazz guitar at the University of the Arts — but Bellenoit is not the sort of musician who lets his studies do the talking.
A spontaneous, in-the-moment improviser and consummate team player, Bellenoit has spent the past six years training himself to stay on his toes, and to anticipate the un-obvious.
“If there’s one thing that I try to keep aware of,” Bellenoit said. “It’s the song’s temperament. Whether you’re playing ‘How High The Moon’ to a handful of jazz afficionados or singing a folk tune that you wrote yourself, you have to surrender yourself completely to the moment. Serve the song, and the song will serve you.”
Foxhound is the folk duo of Chris Kasper and Kiley Ryan, hailing from the rolling hills of Philadelphia. Made up of members from the The Lowlands and Hezekiah Jones, Foxhound combines previous styles into a new sort of Psychedelic Appalachian folk music, like ghosts living underwater. Simple and heartfelt lyrics set in harmony provide the content to sweeping fiddle lines and fine guitar finger-picking. Individually, the duo’s past musical history is vast, each having toured the country several times over with major acts such as Good Old War, Amos Lee, and The Wood Brothers. Their live show is sure to strike gold in the hearts of fans of their previous efforts.
General admission is $12. There are also reserved seating and dinner options. For more about Ross Bellenoit visit rossbellenoit.com. To learn about Foxhound, visit Facebook.com/FoxhoundPhilly
JESSE TERRY AND THE SEA THE SEA
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 8 p.m.: Jesse Terry is an internationally touring, award-winning singer-songwriter whose intimacy with audiences, sincerity, and approachability has solidified him as a favorite at festivals and live venues nationwide. With three full-length albums, this musician’s lyrical mastery, emotional depth and soothing voice have often been compared to the likes of Ryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Josh Ritter and James Taylor, reaching deep into listeners’ hearts to envelope them in shared joy, sadness, love and unrelenting hope.
Also playing are The Sea The Sea.
“There’s a reoccurring idea on the record that we really wanted to explore,” Mira said, “of the question and the answer being completely entwined or even the same (hence the palindromic album title). The leap of faith for example, what does it mean to really begin contemplating the leap? Have you already leapt just by asking the question in the first place? When is it too late to turn back? What happens next? And what is it that we can find in all of those spaces in-between?” Each song is about it’s own leap, autobiographical or otherwise. In the album-opening “Re: Blah,” Chuck comforts his younger sister as she wonders “what’s the point of all this?” “Guess It Was” wrote itself during the night as Mira was coping with the passing of her grandfather. “Watertreader” finds the protagonist stuck in a situation where the mind has already moved on, but the body isn’t yet ready
join it. The echoing and canon-like “Love We Are We Love” is the anthem that accompanies a leap of faith, and “Ten Thousand Birds” imagines all of mankind in a surge of courage taking that leap all at once like a murmuration of birds. Indeed, The Sea The Sea implores us through beautiful song and their own connectedness to believe that we all exist in this world together, as we stare into the unknowable future.
General admission is $14 in advance and $17 the day of the show. There are also reserved seating and dinner options. For more on Jesse Terry, visit jesseterrymusic.com and to hear more about The Sea The Sea, check out theseathesea.com
Information courtesy of Steel City Coffee House.