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Songs We Love: Diane Cluck, 'Red August' (Live At Folkadelphia)

Diane Cluck performs live in the studio for Folkadelphia.MoreCloseclosemore
Diane Cluck performs live in the studio for Folkadelphia.

Diane Cluck wrote "Red August" in 2012 for her personal "Song of the Week" project, though it's yet to be officially released. Still, she's been performing the song live for a while, apparently not wedding it to any one set of instrumentation — maybe keyboards one time, cello or toy accordion the next.

Cluck recorded this version as part of her session for WXPN's Folkadelphia, accompanying herself with a pitched percussion instrument she crafted out of copper plumbing pipes. "About ten years ago I had my eye on a fine wooden instrument from the 1930s," Cluck says. "Maybe a cross between a marimba and a glockenspiel with a damper pedal. It got away from me, but the copper pipe instrument I made satisfies some of that desire in a less costly, more hand-built way. Piano was my first instrument as a child and I've always related to melodic percussive instruments."

The other element here is Cluck's lilting vocal, which lends gentle movement to the performance. The overall effect is delicate but assured, calling to mind fairies frolicking in a meadow overgrown with wildflowers — when Cluck incants "pale blue chicory," the phrase bewitches like a magic spell.

To mark the end of Folkadelphia's third year of in-studio performances, host Fred Knittel has curated a collection of the Philadelphia organization's favorite live sessions from the past year. Folkadelphia Sessions Volume III features "Red August" alongside equally special appearances by Indigo Girls, Christopher Paul Stelling, Joan Shelley, Ryley Walker and more.

Download the compilation for free at Bandcamp or on this page.

Copyright NPR 2018.

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