Folkadelphia Session: Ember Schrag (with Susan Alcorn) - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Photo by Cameron Pollack

As a few people close to me will tell you, I have an awful capacity for remembering detail, which may be the worst quality of a person interested in the history and traditions of folk music. One way I mitigate my lack of memory is to write everything down on countless legal pads strewn across my room, work spaces, and backpacks. I’m particularly thankful for human achievements like email archives, where, for instance, I’m able to pinpoint the exact moment where I’ve been “e-introduced” to someone. While listening to this week’s Folkadelphia Session featuring now New York-based songwriter Ember Schrag, I was attempting to recall how exactly we first became acquainted. I know what happened afterwards: fell in love with her music, saw her a few times in Philadelphia, and just this past June, recorded a superb Folkadelphia Session (more on that in a sec.), but I couldn’t recall the genesis of our interactions. But here it is, March of 2012, around the time of the release of her amazing full length The Sewing Room, co-released by Philly record labels Single Girl Married Girl (Carter Family shout-out, what up!) and Edible Onion, the time that we met through email. My memory is jolted! Exchanging a copy of an 7″ I released (Birdie Busch’s Everyone Will Take You In) for The Sewing Room, talking about venues in Philadelphia, sending well wishes and hoping to meet soon. Gosh, we’ve done all of that and more!

And more! The more involves our latest Folkadelphia Session that we recorded with the Ember Schrag Band – in this iteration Ember on vocals and guitar, Bob Bannister on lead guitar, Debby Schwartz on bass, Gary Foster on drums, and a special appearance by the intimidating Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar. They treated us to a psych-tinged, gossamer textured set of music. Sometimes it reminds me a lot of the kaleidescopic drones of former Folkadelphia Sessioneers Quilt, sometimes it reminds me of the tender lushness of Mazzy Star. The group treads a fine line between sounds that offer up a comfortable familiarity and uneasy new terrain. Give it a listen and find out for yourself.

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