Words by Autumn Walden, Photography by Steven Philips StSteven.com
The heavy weights of the local Philly, PA music scene collided in folk-rockery at Johnny Brenda’s—presented by the Philly Music Co-op. The band Lovers League held its album release with the help of headliner Hezekiah Jones, along with the Spinning Leaves, and New Sweden. It was clear that this was not only a band’s celebration of its creative product but also a celebration of a musical arts community.
You can buy the Lovers League album or stream on bandcamp. If you’ll take a recommendation, start with “Cowboy”—the band’s first early release off the album—and “Mother” a crowd (and personal) favorite from the live show. Brad Hinton, who plays guitar and lap steel (among others) for Hezekiah Jones, joined the sets for Lovers League and the Spinning Leaves, with lap steel playing that transformed the room into a honky tonk smokehouse. Reverend TJ McGlinchey and Dani Mari of Lovers League closed the show with a clap-clap, crowd-pleaser: The Beatles “Two of Us”.
Hezekiah Jones and his band of Joneses stole the night with songs like “Borrowed Heart” and “Cannonball”. There was a moment during a song with a thunder drum storm when I noticed the other Joneses kneeling on the stage—quite a different scene from what I’m used to at a Dead-inspired show as the band leaves the stage when drums take over. And of course, this deadhead was very pleased by a rootsy “Dark Hollow” cover (a song by Bill Browning but who’s keeping track?).
Opening the show were the “out-of-towners” New Sweden, hailing all the way from…Delaware. They’re also primed to release a new album mid-July, Fabric Room, which you can learn about and stream on WXPN. They opened with “Burdened Days” and I was caught off-guard by its folk-pop-rock hybrid sound—quite different from what I’ve grown used to hearing from this band. It’s always a pleasure to see the band members switch on instruments—one jumping from banjo to guitar (now electric apparently!), another changing from bass to keys, and swapping vocals from lead to harmony—while still rowdying about the stage. Must’ve been all that energy leftover after their performance at this year’s Firefly.
The Spinning Leaves brought a “Promontory Wind” that blew in a girl on a stomp box, a “Crab Song”, and a Beatles cover of “I Want You” that was so spot on, I felt Lennon’s spirit tickle me heavy. If you like to shake and giggle while drinking, this band is for you. If you’ve never been shaken or giggled while drinking, this band will break you in—and quite possibly spill some Hezekiah Jones juice on your shirt. Treat yourself to 2011 a mashup of Spinning Joneses and Hezekiah Leaves, if you’re feeling frisky.
See all four set lists.