Writing

Take the Harmonica, Tell the World How You Feel

August 10, 2021 When Charles Burroughs was only 8 years old in Tampa, Florida, he was picked on by his peers because of a speech impediment and chose not to speak at all to avoid the incessant bullying. Over a much needed summer break, Charles went to visit his great-grandfather in Plains, Georgia, a musician who simultaneously blew harp and strummed a handmade guitar formed from an orange crate and broomsticks. That summer, Charles’ great-grandfather gave him a harmonica and told him, “I want you to take this harmonica and tell the world how you feel.” 

The Blues is a Universal Feeling

April 13, 2021 Ring up Benjamin Tehoval and you might be taken aback by the thick, jovial French accent on the other end of the line. When you listen to Benjamin’s one-man-band take on the classic Roosevelt Sykes song “44 Blues,” you could reasonably assume he had deeper roots in the South, or had at least lived less than 4,000 miles away for some significant period.

The Adventures of Langhorne Slim at the Strawberry Mansion

January 29, 2021 Whether performing in a synagogue or at a music festival, Langhorne Slim never fails to captivate audiences with his stories, songs, and sweat-filled struts through the crowd like Moses parting the Red Sea (in white overalls). And even without his intimate live performances to accompany this release, Slim’s Strawberry Mansion invites us along his introspective journey. The double album suspends time and place brimming with imagination-filled and prayer-like lyrics. With a lust for past and present lives, Slim’s seventh album Strawberry Mansion drops today.

Lang­horne Slim’s lat­est album hon­ors Philly’s Straw­ber­ry Man­sion neighborhood

May 18, 2021 Listening to the instrumental title track of Nashville-based singer/songwriter Langhorne Slim’s 2021 release Strawberry Mansion, one might think it describes a fantastical place. In a way, Strawberry Mansion, the neighborhood perched east of Fairmount Park in North Philadelphia, is just that. When the album came to the attention of lifelong Strawberry Mansion resident Tonetta Graham, director of the Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation (CDC), her response was, “Really? OK! I appreciate [my neighborhood] being lifted up like that!” In homage and reflection, both Graham and Slim speak to how this neighborhood finds its own way to be fruitful and thrive in the face of adversity.

The Timelessness and Modernity of Amythyst Kiah

May 19, 2021 Chattanooga-born musician Amythyst Kiah is simultaneously rooted in tradition and steeped in modernity. She speaks more to the living history of American music than any other artist I know of. Her songs trace generations of culture passed down and sometimes passed over, and her voice poetically, anthemically reclaims every part of her own identity and history. 

A Conversation with Emily May of Decadent West

July 31, 2018  “I spend so much time wishing that I could do that [be a full time artist], but I do still like to think of art as something that I’m getting away with. I like to have a day job for something to complain about. I never want art to be the thing I complain about. I like that it’s an escape rather than something I have to do to pay the bills. There are also so many artists or writers who had standard careers so that they could be as weird as they wanted in their art,” Emily May.

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