Category Archives: Communion

Communion launches new show on Xfm

Communion further expands its reach with a new weekly show on Xfm, Communion Presents. Hosted by all-around rad dude Maz Tappuni, the show launches today and takes place Sundays at 10pm. The inaugural episode (which you can hear here) features music by Deap Vally, Frightened Rabbit, The Staves, Public Enemy (obviously), and more. And, as all good radio shows do these days, Communion Presents has its own psychic: Mr. Kev Jones.

In other news, Communion band To Kill a King have released a new video for ‘Cold Skin’, the single from upcoming debut LP Cannibals With Cutlery. I’m not sure I totally ‘get’ the film, but watch it for yourself and analyze away. There’s a bit of a Waiting for Godot-meets-Lord of the Flies vibe, if you ask me.

News: Summer Camp Release New Video, Michael Kiwanuka Teams with Dan Auerbach, Daytrotter Crosses the Pond

I do exist, I swear! I’ve been working–that’s right, working. I’ve been on blog hiatus this past month or so as I’ve started my job at Synthetic, the company behind the Hipstamatic iPhone app. (Guess all those gig photos paid off, eh?) I’m still woefully behind on blog duties, but I’ll be rolling them back in over the next few weeks. After all, I still owe you an Andrew Butler review.

If anyone is interested in doing a guest post, please comment on this post, tweet me, or shoot me an email. I’d love for you to fill readers in on all the new-folk awesomeness that I’ve missed over the past month or so. There’s been a lot!

Not least of which: congratulations to Daughter for being signed to Glassnote (home of Communion friends Mumford & Sons), Michael Kiwanuka for recording with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach (track below), and Summer Camp for releasing this super awkward video for “Losing My Mind” (especially loving the cat).

BREAKING NEWS: Daytrotter has just announced that they’re teaming up with Communion and heading to London. From The 405:

We’re so excited to be working with Sean and the Daytrotter team here at Communion. We’re long time admirers of the ethics and integrity that they display, and we feel as champions of new artists and musical discovery it’s a perfect fit for us,” said Communion’s Jones. Added Lovett, “Daytrotter are the godfathers of alternative music in America, and we’re very happy to be entering into this marriage, as Kev said we just love everything they do.”

The first batch of sessions recorded here included 4-song sets by Bombay Bicycle Club (the first to be posted on Thursday), Metronomy, Big Deal, Lucy Rose, Niki & The Dove, Nathaniel Rateliff, Admiral Fallow, Slow Club, Simone Felice, Bear Driver, Duologue, Jesca Hoop, Folks, Kyla La Grange, Boxer Rebellion, Tribes and Channel Chairo. Read more at the 405.

Communion Announce ‘Austin to Bostin’ Tour

Even though my SXSW status is still tentative, I’m buying a ticket for Communion’s ‘Austin to Bostin’ tour. They’re getting Ben Howard, the Staves, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Bear’s Den to hop in VW campers and cross the eastern half of the United States–and they’re filming the whole thing. I’m glad Marcus Haney is documenting the tour, but I’d rather catch it live; this stellar lineup makes my SXSW envy hit a new high.

This festival is the place to see up-and-coming bands, and I have no doubt that these four acts are just that. So check out the dates below, and secure your spot at what’s sure to be a fantastic gig. And hopefully I’ll see you in Austin!

March 15-18 Austin, TX SXSW Communion Shows
March 19 Oklahoma City, OK The Blue Door
March 21 Kansas City, MO The Record Bar
March 22 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theater
March 23 Evanston, IL SPACE
March 24 St. Louis, MO Old Rock House
March 27 Philadelphia, PA World Café Live
March 28 Vienna, VA Jammin’ Java
March 29 New York, NY The Mercury Lounge
March 30 Woodstock, NY Bearsville Theater
March 31 Boston, MA The Red Room @ Café 939

Bear’s Den, “Pompeii”. (Not gonna lie, I’ve had a thing for Andrew Davie for years.)

Communion News: Big Sur Event Is Now FREE, Live Webcast Tonight

I went to the Communion tour stop in San Francisco last night, and I was absolutely blown away. Matthew and the Atlas has been on my ‘must see’ list for years–they were the only member of my top five favorites list that I hadn’t seen live (and that includes Joni Mitchell!). There will be more to come on the show later, but let’s just say it surpassed even my insanely high expectations. And I met a wonderful reader! Thank you Karen for introducing yourself and being such a sweetheart. (AND pushing me to get that Laura Marling review done one of these days. I will, I promise!)

More importantly for you all are two pieces of pretty fabulous information. Firstly, there will be a live webcast tonight, featuring the three tour acts–Matthew and the Atlas, the immensely entertaining David Mayfield Parade, and the lovely Lauren Shera–as well as a special guest. Given that Ben Lovett and Winston Marshall were both in attendance last night, some Mumford action could definitely go down. The performance is taking place at Tamalpais Research Institute studios, which is actually just down the road from me. (Consider this my not-so-subtle push for an invite.) I’ll be camped out at my computer at 7pm Pacific Time to catch the show. Check out more information here.

The second piece of information is nothing short of fantastic. The Communion In the Redwoods event is now the glorious price of FREE. Jackie Greene had to bow out because of a family emergency, so the folks at Communion decided to issue full refunds for the weekend festivities. It’s things like this that make me love these guys and everything they stand for:

“In-keeping with Communion’s desire to create an unforgettable gathering in Big Sur this weekend, we are hereby announcing that Communion in The Redwoods shall now become a free show for all.

This decision has been born from respect and our collective desire to do the right thing. There is no doubt that for those present at Fernwood on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this will remain an incredibly special weekend of music and community.

More details of the event can be found at and

Full Refunds will be issued immediately.” (read more on their Facebook page.)

If I could make it down to Big Sur (which is incidentally right near where Ms. Lauren Shera and I grew up), I would be there in a heartbeat. The schedule for the three days is below, and it’s damn close to perfection:

Friday – Doors @ 6:00 pm
Zack Salaz
John Vanderslice
The Secret Sisters

Saturday – Doors @ 4:00 PM
Martin Shears
The Aglets
Nathaniel Rateliff
Forrest Day

Sunday – Gates at Noon
The Good Sams
Songs Hatbox Harry Taught Us
Lauren Shera
The David Mayfield Parade
Matthew and the Atlas
Communion Collaborative Finale Set

EXCITING NEWS: Communion Readies US Launch

I was a bit ornery when a text message woke me up early this morning, but it turned out to be a blessing in sleep-addled disguise. Without that premature wake up call, I wouldn’t have seen the tweet about Communion Music coming to the US.

I’ve made my love for Communion pretty clear on this blog, and I have the incredible fortune to count Kev Jones as one of the speakers on my SXSW Panel Proposal (thank you for voting–fingers crossed!). If I could design my dream job, the label/club night would be it. They represent everything I love about English new-folk: the culture of support and collaboration, emphasis on creativity and individuality, and just effing great music. I’ve yet to meet a Communion artist I don’t like, and I fully expect that to continue when they hit my side of the pond.

To celebrate their launch, Communion has set up a North American tour AND a three-day party in Big Sur called “Communion in the Redwoods”. (Having grown up just outside of Big Sur, the thought of three days of folk music down there does sound like a religious experience.) On the tour, Matthew and the Atlas will be joined by the David Mayfield Parade and Lauren Shera (who also grew up just outside of Big Sur). Dates are below. If you want to join me for an awesome party in the redwoods, let me know–we can carpool.

18 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Hotel Cafe
20 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Swedish American Hall
21-23 – Big Sur, Calif. @ Communion In The Redwoods
25 – Seattle, Wash. @The Tractor Tavern
26 – Portland, Ore. @ Mississippi Studios
28 – Denver, Colo. @ Soiled Dove
29 – Ames, Iowa @ Maintenance Shop at Iowa State University
30 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ 7th Street Entry
31 – Evanston, Ill. @ Space

1 – Rock Island, Ill. @ Rozz Tox
3 – St. Louis, Mo. @ Blueberry Hill
4 – Nashville, Tenn. @ 3rd & Lindsley
5 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Smith’s Olde Bar
6 – Raleigh, N.C. @ Lincoln Theater
8 – Vienna, Va. @ Jammin’ Java
9 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ World Café Live
10 – New York @ Mercury Lounge
11 – Burlington, Vt. @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
12 – Boston, Mass. @ Cafe 939 at Berklee College of Music

P.S. As if you weren’t in a good mood already: Peggy Sue’s Acrobats is now streaming exclusively on The Line of Best Fit. Check it out before the September 12th release.

Vote for My SXSW Panel! Pretty Please?

I am extremely excited to announce that voting for the SXSW 2012 Music Conference is now live. It closes Friday, September 2nd at 11:59pm CST. Here’s more information on the panel, and click here to read it and vote. Your help is greatly appreciated!

The Banjos are Coming!: Another British Invasion?
England is known for many things: Beckham, bad teeth, bewildering hats. But the Brits are also known for invading us—musically, that is—every couple of generations. The last British Invasion brought us not only the Beatles but also their melodious mates: a unique community of talented misfits and magpies that sailed in on the tailored coattails of the Fab Four. While I’m not about to claim that Mumford & Sons are bigger than the Beatles (let alone Jesus), I will argue that they’re part of a new British community making waves on this side of the Atlantic. Along with artists such as Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale, the waistcoated foursome come from a tight-knit network of mates producing folk-inspired music. This newfangled ‘new-folk’, and the collaborative community surrounding it, is uniquely English—and proving to be a much more successful export than those weird hats.

1. What does ‘new-folk’ actually MEAN, and how does it fit into the larger music industry?
2. Why has new-folk found such a large (and international) audience? What makes it accessible?
3. How has this community spurred its own growth?
4. What does the growth of this scene suggest about consumer attitudes toward authenticity, especially as it applies to acoustic and/or roots-style music?
5. What strategies–social media, extensive touring, etc–have helped these artists rise so rapidly?

Lynn Roberts, founder of For Folk’s Sake and queen of all things folk.
Kevin Molloy, head of TV at Rockfeedback and Lovelive, singer-songwriter, and all around folky (oh yeah, and he produced Johnny Flynn’s Kentucky Pill video, among other things).
Kev Jones, cofounder of Communion Music and one of the driving forces for all this great music.

International Markets: The Upside for UK Music

Music royalty orgnization PRS for Music published its annual Adding up the UK music industry report today, presenting dismal figures for 2010. Even live music revenues, which had been on an impressive rise over the past several years, fell 11.8% between 2009 and 2010. UK industry revenues overall fell 4.8%. Yikes.

Is there anything good in a landscape that seems as bleak as London fog? Well, yes. Will Page, the chief economist for PRS for Music, advises in his report that the UK industry should ‘get small’ and ‘get abroad’. The first theme involves “reducing the transaction costs of managing metadata”, which I won’t pretend I understand. I’ll leave that topic for the grown-ups.

The second nugget of wisdom, though, I will happily discuss. The report found that royalties societies in the UK (like PRS for Music) did significantly better than those in the US (like ASCAP) over the 2010 year. Page acknowledges the huge potential for growth in exports, including in emerging markets like Brazil, India, and China. Page writes: “According to the BPI, UK artists’ share of global sales is estimated to be 11.8 percent in 2010, with one-in-ten sales in the US being a UK act and up to one-in-five in markets like Germany and Australia.”

While the report doesn’t talk about folk/new-folk/acoustic music specifically, I’d like to think that some of this growth has to do with the very artists I write about so frequently. While Adele may be queen in terms of sales figures (she was “responsible for almost 10% of all artist albums sold in the first four months of the year”), it shouldn’t be ignored that Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More hit number 2 on the Billboard 200. (And performed at the Grammys. And graced the cover of SPIN.) Their rise to the top is the gift that keeps on giving, through both their exposure-building US tours (bringing along artists like King Charles and Matthew and the Atlas) and the efforts of label/club night Communion. Even buzzy indie rock darlings the Vaccines grew out of the same tiny music establishment in southwest London, Bosun’s Locker (back when Justin Young was Jay Jay Pistolet, and shared a flat with Marcus Mumford).

While other UK folk acts have yet to reach the same status as the waistcoat-wearing Sons, they are certainly on the way. Noah and the Whale grabbed attention for their polished new sound and teaming up with director-photographer Autumn de Wilde on “Life is Life”. Alessi’s Ark made the New York Times at SXSW. Matthew and the Atlas and James Vincent McMorrow recorded for Daytrotter. Emmy the Great’s Virtue got a review in Pitchfork. Slow Club made waves (and Mashable) by debuting new material on (with Paste magazine).

These are just the things that came to mind, but the fact remains that these artists are much closer to US recognition than they’ve ever been before. I can casually talk about Laura Marling or Johnny Flynn without getting blank stares, and I can buy the Communion compilation in Mojo magazine at an airport. I no longer have to scour Youtube for new-folk material–I can just click on iTunes (or Spotify). Back when I first found this whole ‘scene’, things like the Black Cab Sessions, Bandstand Busking, and even Jeremy Warmsley’s Welcome to Our TV Show (and the later version, Jeremy Warmsley’s New Thing) were about all I had. From my perspective, the rise in popularity since those early days (three-ish years ago) seems massive.

Furthermore, another BPI survey found that 83% of people are proud of the achievements of British music. While I’m sure they were dealing with Brits proper, I’m pretty proud of those achievements, too. For even though these new-folk artists often acknowledge American musical influences, there is something quintessentially and inescapably English (or Scottish, or Irish, depending) about them. So by all means, UK music industry–follow the advice of Mr. Page and ‘get abroad’. I’ll welcome you with open arms.