Saturday was a night of feel good music at Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville. Two local bands took the tiny Steel City Stage and played to a full house. First up was The Turnips, a band of friends bringing their home grown blend of songs that touch on folk, blues, and reggae. The Turnips were without lead vocalist Sarah Napolitan, but the rest of the band carried on despite the missing member. Their set was highlighted by the slightly humorous “Psycho Girl” about a chemically-imbalanced female. The Turnips took a somber tone during the song “Pennsylvania” when guitarist Ernie Tokay sang about a friend who had passed away. His emotion was apparent and made the song even more touching. Not to take themselves too seriously though, during another song, Gene Smith played his recorder through his nose to the delight/disgust of the audience. The Turnips’ set also included “Gemini”, “We Are One”, “Desperation Boulevard”, and “Dreamed of You”. The Turnips play regularly at the Mermaid Inn, Chestnut Hill, PA.
When New Sweden took the stage, the 6-piece band filled the entire space. Their Americana mix of guitar, bass, banjo, violin, pump organ, drums and warm vocal harmony felt instantly familiar to the crowd. It’s New Sweden’s set of honest working man’s songs coupled with their spirited performance that make them so enjoyable to watch. They welcome their audience in and make them feel right at home. And while you’re there, stomp your feet and sing along. Throughout their set, William Dobies, Jimmy Dukenfield, Dan Weirauch and Chuck Knott swapped instruments across the stage and sent tambourines crashing to the floor. The sweetness of Laura Beth Jewell’s violin brought a refinement to the raucousness of the boys.
The band played a set pulled from their full length record “The Mountain” along with newer selections from a self-titled four song EP which is available for download now on Bandcamp. After a few melodic songs, the lively “Eggshells” got the dancers out of their seats, and even the Steel City baristas were dancing behind the counter. The encore “Ghost of James” was a soft and slow song building up to a crashing crescendo, with Chuck Knott using the back of his mandolin to pound out the beat on one of drummer Zac Dukenfield’s cymbals.
2013 has been an excellent year so far for New Sweden. In February they were named Tri State Indie Delaware Indie Band of the Year for the second year in a row. In March they embarked on their two week Gone Fishing Tour throughout the Southeastern states and performing at SXSW. New Sweden commented on stage that they were waking up early the next day to record another EP. This summer finds New Sweden playing lots of shows including the opening spot for Amy Helm at Arden Gild Hall on May 10th and performing at Musikfest in Bethlehem on August 10th.