NEWTOWN SQUARE—The Philly music scene takes a few notes from the city's motto, and it can especially be seen with today's folk players who work together to produce the best sound and product they possibly can. On Saturday, Nov. 20, Newtown Square's local coffeehouse had guitarists Brad Hinton and Christopher Bohn showcase the how simplicity of an acoustic guitar can be so much more when placed in talented hands.
Bohn's last album's title The Conspiracy of Sleep was taken from Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who also was a philosophical essayist. The essay discussed how humans let one another become ignorant of some of the things around us. But on a lighter note, Bohn felt it was a humorous title for someone who had just become a new dad.
"It's a conspiracy that everyone else gets to sleep and you don't," he joked.
Bohn has a personal interest in mythology and folklore, which comes out in his music. He sees a lack of connection to these traditional elements of storytelling in today's society while their underlying meanings are still relevant today.
"I've never written a direct song about this stuff [myth and folklore] but I think it’s in all my lyrics," he explained. His songs' emotional content is linked personally, but the images come from a lot of the things he's read.
"My songs are about how I feel and how I process this stuff that is not my life, but it is the things that move me," shared Bohn.
When he began playing at the age of 12, he found a lot of energy in punk and rock music which resonated with the budding guitarist. Later in life he began to make a stronger connection with artists like John Coltrane, who created a new energy that was derived from the evolution of an individual song or piece of music.
As a teacher, he instructs students on bass, guitar, and private songwriting classes. Bohn encourages students to allow creativity to "run wild," but as a musician he admits he can't help but edit and rework a piece as he goes along. Most of his students start off with learning simple rock riffs that hook young guitarists. Bohn feels that if students play something that sounds like music familiar to them, they won't be able to put down the guitar.
Bohn's sound is filled with lovely layers of acoustics and vocals. In order to recreate that sound he uses a second vocal mic that's connected to a series of pedals that will create the "bed of sound" similar to what is heard on his album.
Another addition to the set was headliner Hinton, playing lap steel guitar. The instrument added a haunting lull to the background that may not have matched the original recording but did bring a new dynamic to the song.
"It's like angels singing," described Hinton. "That takes it to a whole different place."
Hinton took to the stage and performed several songs solo, and while his music is deep and reflective his stage persona is warm and inviting. He admits he feels most comfortable on stage. He played songs from his previous album and then shared a few new ones on the album he is currently recording and hopes it will be released early next year.
Hinton is a familiar face to the Philly folk scene. He plays solo, but also performs with the Wissahickon Chicken Shack, Hezekiah Jones, Mason Porter, Honey Watts, Psalmships, Joe D’Amico Band, Manatawny Creek Ramblers and Josh Park. This multi-talented singer plays guitar, lap steel guitar, and banjo. After sharing the stage with Bohn, Hinton performed with Wissahickon Chicken Shack band member Bethany Brooks who played keyboards and the accordion. The pair sang with a classic folk harmony that was sweet like honey.
Folk music has always kept an underlying connection of camaraderie among musicians, and Saturday evening's performances was no different as singers and songwriters appeared to harmonize on and off the stage.