by Donte Kirby
Sweetbriar Rose put on a show with fellow members of the Fishtown Circus- Dirty Soap Blues Band, Sun Flights and Jaclyn Marie to commemorate the release of their new album Cultivar at the historic Old Swedes Church in Queens Village.
The opening act was Jaclyn Marie, for Sweetbriar fans she’s the eerie whistle that sounds like the wind blowing on a spooky night in “Lily of the Valley”, accompanied by Sweetbriar Rose’s E.J Simpson and his mandolin. The duo played an awesome set, Jaclyn Marie’s voice told a story and had the depth and vibrancy of fine oak. The set was made all the more striking by the intimate nature of Old Swedes Church, the performer not more than a few feet away from you.
Jaclyn Marie sang songs such as “I Don’t Care” and “Forget About You” off her 2009 release Late July, which she describes as “a decade of song writing through my twenties. About finding yourself, love, what’s your purpose.” Since her move to Lodi which she calls a “transition to simpler life,” her new songs are tending to be more universal. She’s ready to record a new album, she just needs to find the musical community in Lodi.
After Jaclyn Marie, Sweetbriar Rose took the stage for their first set, starting off with “Sweetbriar Rose” because before the set “a little girl I’ve never met came up to me and said ‘Miss Heather “Sweetbriar Rose” is my favorite song.” They ended their set with a cover of the Jungle Book song “I Want to be Like You”.
Next up was the Dirty Soap Blues Band. Dirty Soap brought tons of energy to the stage and you couldn’t help moving along with them. They were followed by the Sun Flights composed of Claire Duncomde and Natalie Butts, both talented singers whose voices and lyrics draw you in and won’t let go.
All together Sweetbriar Rose, the Dirty Soap Blues Band and the Sun Flights make up the main nucleus of the rotating cast of characters that make up the Fishtown Circus. This circus was created as a way for all of them “to stay together and play together”, the cultivation of communities is of major importance to lead singer of Sweetbriar Rose and ringleader of the Fishtown Circus Heather Blakeslee, “none of it really works unless there’s a community doing it.”
Sweetbriar Rose’s murder ballads were saved for the second set. The set began with “In the Bramble Briar,” the story goes there was a couple, the girlfriend came from a well to do family and the brothers didn’t like her boyfriend. One day the brothers go hunting with the boyfriend, three go out two comeback. The girlfriend is visited in dreams by the ghost of her lover, she goes and finds his body, cuts off his head and plants it in a pot.
Sweetbriar Rose’s new album Cultivar, which means the cultivation of plants for their desirable characteristic, is central to the themes of the album that’s been ten years in the making. As the album is musically a cultivar of all of Blakeslee favorite parts of music. In the coming months, Sweetbriar Rose along with the Fishtown Circus plan to cultivate an audience and community at 3G Lounge on 3rd and Girard.
If the Fishtown Circus is ever near you I recommend you give them a listen, they put on a show you won’t soon forget.