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On Friday, Folkadelphia released Co-Mission: An Artist Relief Compilation, Vol. 2. Compiled by XPN’s Fred Knittel, this second volume of the Co-Mission project aims to help financially support artists during the upheaval of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, Folkadelphia released their first volume of Co-Mission on Bandcamp, featuring contributions from fifteen artists, including Philly indie / folk favorites like Roger Harvey, Anika Pyle, and Birdie Busch. Their mission is to provide money to artists affected by the financial difficulties of the pandemic, and have created a circular structure in order to do so: Co-Mission will “commission home recordings from a group of artists, non-exclusively license the track for use in a donation-based compilation, and use any and all proceeds to commission more recordings from more artists, creating more compilations, and continuing the process.” Volume 2 came about, for instance, thanks to all of the money raised by sales of Volume 1.

The compilation begins with “In the Sway” by Brittain Ashford, a Brooklyn-based folk musician who rose to prominence with her performance as Sonya in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. Each artist shared a few words about their songs, their lives, and how to best support them, and Ashford said, “The scope of how I planned to navigate the next year has radically changed, but I know I’m not alone. Mostly I find myself thinking about what it means to live in New York when one can’t enjoy any of the things that make New York… livable.”

Philly-based “mandolin-bass foot-stomping gutter-folk duo” Driftwood Soldier contribute the self-explanatory track “Strange Time to Be Alive,” featuring auxiliary instrumentation such as suitcase and license plate from mandolin-vocalist Owen Lyman-Schmidt and “bottle caps” from bassist Bobby Szafranski. Driftwood Soldier says, “Humans are good problem solvers because our brains look for patterns. In moments of crisis that instinct goes into overdrive and any old thing can seem hyper-significant … Plagues and omens to no particular end. We’re all just trying to make sense of a world that never asked that of us in the first place.”

Erika Lewis, the vocalist for New Orleans street jazz band Tuba Skinny and North Carolina folk act The Lonesome Doves, provides “In the Time of Roses,” a track which she had written “some years ago during a transitional time when I could feel a necessary change was coming and it brought up hard feelings of fear and uncertainty. Those feelings came with the realization that the pain of letting go was the only way to move forward and foster new growth. The song felt fleeting and cathartic and at the time, too dreary to share. But now, in this collective place we find ourselves in, it feels relevant.”

Poet and multi-instrumentalist Sadie Dupuis, from Speedy Ortiz, provides an experimental track called “My Pretty Poet,” featuring Dupuis’ spoken-word poetry over drum beats and other ambient noise. Dupuis says, “With all my tours and readings canceled for the foreseeable future, I’m sleeping in my own bed (or at least anxiously lying awake in it) for more consecutive nights than ever in my life. A more regular home base has made it less daunting to take on new projects this spring.” She also speaks to how poetry has been affected by the economic insecurities of the pandemic, and how “Almost all the writers I know rely on other forms of work that cannot happen with social distancing.”

Listen to Co-Mission Vol. 2 below, and read more about the Co-Mission project here.

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