Philadelphia might not be as recognized for its music scene as cities like New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and Seattle, but music in the City of Brotherly Love has always been thriving. Philadelphia’s scene encompasses many different genres – rock n’ roll, folk, electronic, country, jazz, etc. – and each genre is well represented and supported within the community. Some great songwriters call Philly home. See below for some of the best.
Amos Lee might be the most famous songwriter on this list. His fifth album, “Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song,” was released last October and he has been touring behind it for the past year, opening for Jack Johnson along the way. Raised in Philadelphia, Lee began his career in music after being influence by John Prine at the University of South Carolina. After graduation, he moved back to Philadelphia and became a school teacher and bartender before being discovered for his folksy and soulful voice. He has shared the stage with Bob Dylan, Norah Jones and Paul Simon, and his 2011 album, “Mission Bell,” reached number one on the Billboard Top 100.
Birdie Busch is part of the Americana and folk scene that has been emerging in Philadelphia the past few years. Busch learned to play guitar after graduating from college and, from being a prolific writer, songwriting came very naturally. She is influenced by old-time folk and American music and her songs reflect that. Her fourth studio album, “Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night,” was released in 2013. She often tours the East Coast and has shared the stage with Amos Lee and Regina Spektor, among many others.
Ron Gallo is the front man of Philadelphia’s lively rock n’ roll band Toy Soldiers. The band released its fourth studio album in 2013 and in June, Gallo released his debut album, titled “Ronny.” Gallo, who was raised in Kentucky but currently lives in Philly, is influenced by great songwriters, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, and that influence is shown throughout the 11 acoustic folk tracks found on his album. This summer, he’s been playing solo and with Toy Soldiers up and down the East Coast.
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Suzie Brown is an award-winning songwriter and singer who crafts her songs with a tinge of alt-country, folk and Americana. She has been a recipient of Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly for music talent and her second studio album, “Almost There,” was nominated this year for an Independent Music Award for best Folk/Singer-Songwriter album. Her involvement in the music scene came about in an unusual way. She first set off to become a research cardiologist, but after penning her first song in 2008, she knew music was the right path for her.
Chis Kasper is well respected among local musicians for his songwriting. He released his fourth album, “Bagabones,” last year, an album that reflects his effortless vocals and knack for writing Americana songs. He joined G. Love (another artist from Philly) on his solo tour this summer and has also shared the stage with the Avett Brothers, Amos Lee and the Wood Brothers. His music is reminiscent of old time music and is comparable to Paul Simon, Neil Young and Beck. His band often includes Phil D’Agostino (bass), Kiley Ryan (fiddle) and Daniel “Scrappy” Bower (percussion).
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Kelly Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Philadelphia. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.