When one thinks of Philadelphia, what comes to mind? Cheesesteaks? The second verse of Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air? How about a thriving folk scene? Nestled alongside Philly’s storied musical history and current buffet of local talent, lies a massive group of folk musicians and enthusiasts. One of the bands building a loyal fan base among that scene and beyond is New Sweden. New Sweden consists of Billy Dobies, Caroline Stratton, Dan Weirauch, Jimmy Dukenfield, and Zac Dukenfield. While most musicians often specialize in one instrument, the members of New Sweden each can play a bevy of instruments ranging from a mandolin to a pump organ. The end result is a charming blend of indie folk sounds.
“We’re influenced by artists like Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and the Low Anthem,” says vocalist Billy Dobies over the phone. “Really strong piano-driven stuff. A lot of regular country. A little bit here and there.”
For a band that has been in existence for less than two years, New Sweden has made considerable steps. In 2011, the band turned to Kickstarter to raise funds to record its first studio album, The Mountain. By the second month, the band had exceeded its goal of $7,500. But while Dobies said he was “really nervous” about the outcome, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has attended a New Sweden show. The Mountain’s release party at the World Cafe Live At The Queen Theater in Wilmington, DE was packed to capacity. Then there’s also the fact that the band won the Beta-Hi-Fi Emerging Artist Competition, beating a slew of local artists.
New Sweden has a lock on its sound, an upbeat, alt-country party with vocals that evoke comparisons to Conor Oberst. And, while it might seem like the band also has a lock on its fanbase, Dobies says they’re still aiming to evolve as a band in 2012. “We want to push our boundaries and keep trying to get our name out. There’s so many bands out there,” says Dobies. “We just want to play wherever we can and share our music with whoever wants to listen–to get out of our comfort zone and spread.”
New Sweden is currently on tour supporting The Mountain. During its downtime, the quintet has been crafting songs for an EP that should be released sometime this year. But If that’s not enough, the band was recently added to Pandora, which is a cherry on top of an already excellent year for New Sweden.
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