House Concerts are AWESOME (you should host one)

First, BUSINESS. How have you not figured out that we’re playing this weekend at Boot and Saddle? Boot and Saddle is one of my favorite venues in Philadelphia. The sound is great, the taps are great, the room is great. It’s better than your place, so get out this weekend and come see us!

Picture of show poster

Now, speaking of your place… I’d like to formally apologize for suggesting that your place wasn’t up to par. (Why the hell do I even use that phrase? I hate golf.) At any rate, you’ve bought our CDs so I’m sure you already know that we sound great in your house. You’ve probably closed your eyes and listened to us on your multi-million dollar sound device and thought, oh my god, it’s like they’re really right here with me. When we record we’re definitley pretending we’re there with you. Thanks for the drink by the way, it was really nice of you to offer, and we love what you’ve done with the place since the last time we were here. Is that a new lamp?

Anyway, long enough ago that I’m (almost) embarrassed to be writing about it this late, we played a house concert for the Extreme Folk Scene. It’s absolutely one of the best nights I’ve ever had playing music. House concerts are fantastic. The room is always great, with a real focus on the comfort of the audience and the band is right there. Stories about how close you were to the band at the stadium are ridiculous by comparison. The show is exactly the right length, and you get to have your best friends around you for what is ultimately a private show.

My point is, house concerts are great. If you’ve never been to one I highly suggest contacting Extreme Folk Scene as they host a series of them. If you already know that you love house concerts, I suggest you step up and host one. If you’d like us to play at said house concert, and let’s face it, that’s why I’m telling you how amazing they are, I suggest you contact us at


from the Glenside House Concerts website


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5 New Albums To Keep You From Winter Despair

If you are anything like me (for your sake hopefully you are not), this abrupt change in temperature has amplified the once small voice inside of you, that speaks from the deepest darkest chasms of your closeted insanity, which prods and reminds you how alone you are, and that you’ll never amount to anything because even if you do your life (in the grand scheme of things) is still insignificant.

If you are like me, that once small voice now has a megaphone.

So instead of moving out to the woods, burrowing in the dirt, and hibernating for the rest of eternity, we find things to look forward to. I always look forward to new music (if you are reading this I’m sure you do too). So without further ado here is my top 5 new Albums to snatch up.

1). Horse Feathers – So It Is With Us

I mostly have Megan to thank for the discovery of Horse Feathers, and besides Game Of Thrones, they are one of the few things Black Horse Motel unanimously enjoys. I love them for their swelling string section, their cold haunting harmonies, and most of all for Justin Ringle’s dark lyrical style juxtaposed with the sweetest melodies. So It Is With Us takes a step away from Horse Feathers’ usual format. With a heavier presence from the rhythm section, and syncopated harmonica parts, So It Is With Us has a livelier feel than any of their previous albums. Justin Ringle admitted in an interview with Sleepover Shows “There was more emphasis put on the question of whether or not the material would be fun to play live.” I was so confident in this albums’ brilliance that I pre-ordered it on vinyl, and it has been spinning away ever since. Buy So It Is With Us here!

2). Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges And Claws

Jose Gonzalez has been a busy man, helping out with motion picture soundtracks, working on music with his other band, Junip, and working out string arrangements for orchestral versions of his other solo songs. It’s no wonder his last solo album came out over 7 years ago! This album promises to get back to the roots, which is the minimalistic acoustic sound that Jose Gonzalez started his career with. Jose Gonzalez has become a big name over the years, but his popularity doesn’t seem to have changed his style, as demonstrated in the single, Every Age. Plus!!!! The official music video for Every Age is gorgeous. You can pre-order Vestiges and Claws here.

3). O’Death – Out Of Hands We Go

To put it very simply…. O’Death is the most badass! Almost too badass… Almost. They’re sound is delightfully unique with notes of punk, rock, blues, country, roma, all wrapped up neatly in sweet folky goodness! Their newest album, Out Of Hands We Go, is more rowdy then the rest, with a slightly off sound that pushes and sways to eerie string parts, dizzying horn sections, and death-centric lyrics, all backed by the banjo and drums darkly chugging away. O’Death’s deep, dark, muddy sound is something beautiful and quite frankly unparalleled! Buy Out Of Hands We Go here.

4). Pearl And The Beard – Beast

Pearl And The Beard has such a full sound, especially for a three piece. Their last album was full of complex harmonies executed to perfection, beautiful cello leads, and a rhythmic backbone that quite simply wails. What sets them apart from the rest is certainly their expert harmonies. The way Pearl And The Beard’s vocals blend is unbelievable, and yet whether in the studio, or live, they consistently achieve a sound that is intricate, light, and positively uplifting. This triad of folk-harmony brilliance is crowd sourcing their latest album through So all you need to do to pre-order their album is make a pledge! Do it! You won’t be sorry, you can find their pledge page here.

5). Murder By Death – Big Dark Love

Murder By Death has a very old sound that carries all the charms of folk, country, Appalachian, and rock music to a new audience. Some of their hit songs like Lost River or Three Men Hanging demonstrate front man Adam Turla’s talent for story telling. Turla’s writing harkens back to the old folk and country ballads that my grandparents very well may have been singing when they were kids. Which is paired with a Johnny Cash-esque voice that perfectly delivers! Just add swoon-worthy cello swells, and rock drums and you have Murder By Death. Their new album Big Dark Love is being funded by, and again all you have to do to reserve your copy is pledge here. There album comes out in February, which marks their 15th year together! Make sure you pick up Big Dark Love ASAP!

So don’t despair in the bleak mid-winter because new awesome tunes are coming your way, and you don’t want miss out. I’m very excited for each of these artists, and if you wanna be cool like me you should be too!

With Much Love,

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Summer Photo Contest Winners

This summer (May-September), we asked you wonderful fans to submit pictures or videos of us via email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube for a chance to win some sweet, sweet free stuff.
Welp, we finally finished compiling all the submissions and voting and here are the results!
Thank you to everyone who took up space on their phones to capture us! We appreciated every one, but unfortunately, we could only choose 3 winners.
(Let’s keep it going. Just because the official contest is over, doesn’t mean we aren’t still in the giveaway mood ::winky wink::)

First Place
First place goes to Sukumar Balachandran for this beautiful picture of Desiree from the Philadelphia Folk Festival on August 15. You get an autographed copy of Red Summer Spirit, a t-shirt, and a copy of our Black Horse Motel EP !

Second Place
Second place goes to Anna Marie Frattarola for this perfectly moody shot of us at Burlap and Bean on July 12. You get an autographed copy of Red Summer Spirit and a t-shirt!

#blackhorsemotel #musicvenue #listeningroom #livemusic #local #music

A photo posted by burlap_and_bean (@burlap_and_bean) on

Third Place
Third place goes to Rachel McCollough for this acoustic shot of us at the Colonial Plantation on July 26. You get an autographed copy of Red Summer Spirit !

Honorable Mention
Choosing only three photos was tough. We received so many great shots that we feel like we need to mention two more.

This one makes me laugh every time. Taken at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Ryann signs what we are assuming is her first leg.

Ellen getting leg signed by a member of Black Horse Motel #PhilyFolkFestival #blackhorsemotel

A photo posted by Tim Logan (@spoonstlogan) on

And this capture of the essence of handsomeness from our North Star Bar show on June 15.

I haven't been to North Star in a minute but tonight I got to see @blackhorsemotel kill it!

A photo posted by Maddie (@mooradley) on

Thanks again to everyone for a super fun contest! We hope to see you at our show this Saturday, Dec 13 in South Philly. Details in this post .


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Honky Tonk Holly-Dei Show 12/13

It’s going to a be a fun-filled night of awesome bands, honky tonk, holiday music, original songs, sing-alongs, food, beer, and holiday cheer!

The show is presented by Sexton Sideshow at Old Swedes Church and the Philadelphia Folk Song Society, and hosted by Sweetbriar Rose.

Saturday, Dec 13 at Old Swedes Church (Gloria Dei)
Columbus Blvd & Christian St**
5pm – 11pm*
*Come for whole night, you don’t want to miss any of the fun!
**There is free street parking under I-95

Tickets at the door:
21+: $20 (entry + food & beer wristband)
PFS Members: Free entry ($10 wristband)
under 21: $10

We’ve got some new songs for you, as well as a few timeless holiday classics!

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Rig Rundown: Galen

concert poster
Reminder about this weekend’s holiday show!

I love to geek out about equipment that I’m using, and if you’re into that sort of thing, then this post’s for you. If not, come back next week.

TLDR: Here’s my signal chain. Gretsch Boxcar Resonator –>Aura Spectrum DI–>TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster–>Aura Spectrum DI–> FOH. All receivers and pedals mounted on a Pedaltrain Nano using 3M Mounting strips (the ones that you use on your EZ Pass). Power provided by a T-REX Fueltank Jr. I carry the pedalbag in the soft case that it came with. I carry the guitar in a Travelite Case.

Ok, some operating principles with which I work.
1) I don’t want to have to think about gear once I’m up on stage.
2) I don’t want to have to think about gear while I’m writing new material.
3) I don’t want to have to think about gear while I’m using it.
4) Pattern recognition is an important part of being a human being.

That’s right, for all my obsessing over equipment, drooling over catalogues, etc. Once I’m actually using an instrument, a microphone, an effect, a stand, a cable, etc, I don’t want to be any more aware of it than I am my own neck while I’m singing. I want the things I use to support, without getting in the way, what I’m working on at that moment. Now, if the instrument makes me smile when I’m playing, and looking at it makes me want to play more, that’s a plus.

Ok, so the instrument I use most often with Black Horse Motel is Mary Kate. She’s a Gretsch Boxcar Resonator from their totally awesome Roots collection. Now I got the boxcar and had a Fishman Nasvhille Pickup installed because I just liked the reddish brown more than the brown sunburst. Let’s put this guitar through the list of criteria above. This guitar is about as inexpensive as a good quality instrument gets, so I don’t worry about it being on stage, knocked over, etc. I can breathe easily. Also, it has no onboard controls so I’m not worrying about accidentally bumping the midrange into honk territory or suddenly losing all the volume when my arm knocks into the preamp. You can’t possibly understand how much nervous energy used to be generated just fretting over this (GUITAR PUN). The guitar sounds great, and doesn’t have tuning issues. As a result, when I pick it up in the mood to write, it’s ready to go. Also, it’s not overly large, or overly loud, so it can be played in the house. The resonator cone does give it enough of a volume spike to give the guitar a bed time to match the baby’s, though. This guitar is just comfortable. For some reason, strings and frets feel like they’re right where I expect them to be. It’s a 12th fret neck joint, so the scale is a little shorter and the bridge a little further back, and in all, it’s just great. Also, the v-neck (which on paper would have killed it for me) is just what I’ve been looking for. I carry the guitar around in a Travelite Case. I don’t understand how, but the guitar feels outside of the case than when it’s in the case. It’s magic, I love it.

Next in my usual signal chain is a Line 6 Relay G30 wireless system. I don’t have the same working relationship with the wireless system as I have with Mary Kate. It’s not Line 6′s fault; I just haven’t been using it long enough to really trust it yet, so I’m still spending energy on stage listening for it to drop out and thinking about where I have the backup cable stashed, etc. This is a trade-off though, because now I don’t think about which cables are trying to launch themselves under my feet. I feel it as an improvement overall.

For a while I was using a Line 6 POD HD500x. Some people really don’t dig digital effects. That’s ok. I get where they’re coming from. It’s just not me. I originally got this board as a minimalism experiment. (Whoa, Galen, you can’t have that many effects at your disposal and call it minimalism) I can if what I’m talking about is actual physical things in my life. I play electric guitar too, and the constant buying and selling of amps in my fruitless search for “dat sound” was killing my budget, my back (tubes only baby, and those things are heavy) and my relationship with my wife. (I’m not good at decluttering. Ever.) So I sold the Peavey Delta Blues, and the Fender Deville 4×10, and the 1970s Fender Bassman that introduced me to the problem with ungrounded plugs and I got the HD500x. I loved it. There I said it. But sadly, I loved something else more. So now my setup is stripping itself down even further. Just a Fishman Aura Spectrum DI and a TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster. A big part of why I was using the POD was a great octave reverb, but lately venues just haven’t gotten it to sound right. When we recorded some songs without it, I didn’t miss it. Now my whole setup fits on a Pedaltrain Nano, so it’s teeny tiny has it’s own soft case and it’s easy to carry. Win!

Now, it should be specified that this is a different setup than what I use playing solo. Playing solo, I take much more responsibility for the final mix and EQ so I bring my Ibanez Spalted Maple with the 5 knob preamp along. That way I can change things up at a smaller venue without needing to get someone’s attention. With the 5 members of Black Horse Motel, though, I figure if the sound engineer doesn’t know where my guitar should be sitting in the mix, then my monitor mix is probably pretty bad too, so what do I know about the audience’s needs at that point.

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