Mason Porter’s Heart of the Mountains (2016), their second EP in two years, showcases the band’s rapid growth and momentum. The album was produced by Brian McTear at Philadelphia’s Miner Street and musically is the band’s most far-reaching effort to date. A fine companion to 2015’s Key to the Skyway, the band builds on the themes of traveling and adventure, this time with an emphasis on nature and personal discovery. The title track “Heart of the Mountains” draws inspiration from the writings of John Muir, American naturalist and early advocate of US wilderness preservation.
Mason Porter will be releasing the new EP in conjunction with the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration and will be collaborating with the NPS on several events this year.
Heart of the Mountains adds to the excitement of an already hot year which started in January with the release of “The Tell-Tale Heart”, a single based on Edgar Allen Poe’s short story. In March the band produced Porter Fest, a collaboration with Sly Fox Brewery, and the first release of their custom craft beer “Mason Porter Porter”.
Mason Porter’s 2015 release Key to the Skyway was called “…a leap forward in both confidence and sound for the band.” by Mike Mannon of No Depression. 2015 also showed the band’s willingness to work hard and follow their own vision. With the help of their community, they were able to host their first annual music and camping festival, the Midnight Mountain Music Show, which was met with great success. In addition the band organized some very successful tributes, including several sold-out Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty shows and the much talked about “Folk Roots of the Grateful Dead” set that landed them two main stage sets at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
Mason Porter’s 2014 release Home For The Harvest was met with great enthusiasm and helped usher in the next wave of growth for the band. The album, which drew comparisons to the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty and Neil Young’s Harvest, received significant airplay from SirusXM’s The Coffee House as well as national AAA and Folk DJ support. Fred Knittel of Folkadelphia says: “What continues to make West Chester, PA’s Mason Porter a force to be reckoned with in the Americana and roots community, especially regionally, is the intimacy that they bring to each song. Whether it’s in live performance, or on record (like their latest, Home For The Harvest)”. He also notes the band’s “uncanny ability to draw the listener in and keep them close. I can only think that this magical power is the result of a strong and long-standing chemistry between the members.”
Mason Porter got its start in late 2006 informally as friends playing folk songs together at parties in West Chester, PA. The band released their debut EP Mason Porter (2008) resulting in immediate praise. Les McIntyre of Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine wrote of this inaugural recording “The music of Mason Porter could be best described as alternative bluegrass…in this debut recording, the eclectic trio show musical prowess that is difficult to overlook.” Following up with full lengths Thunder In The Valley (2009) and a collection of traditional folk and covers Story Of the Rifle (2011), the band became a fixture on the regional scene. Through the process of writing, recording and constant gigging, the band developed its original sound blending folk, bluegrass, blues, country and rock influences into the unique personality that is Mason Porter. The band consists of founding members Joe D’Amico (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Tim Celfo (upright bass, vocals), Paul Wilkinson (guitar, vocals) with Evan Smoker (drums) and Sarah Larsen (violin).
Mason Porter has become a favorite on the regional festival and club circuits and is constantly pushing itself into new musical ground and making new friends. They have shared the stage with acts such as Ralph Stanley, Greensky Bluegrass, Peter Rowan, Larry Keel, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Charlie Daniels, Spirit Family Reunion, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Black Lillies, Will Hoge, American Babies and more.
“Bluegrass musicianship meets jam-band exploration, delivered with a self-confident Philly attitude.” Rolling Stone, No Depression
“…have clicked tremendously and their chemistry shines on their fourth studio outing.” Dylan Muhlberg, Grateful Web
“…they continue to showcase their excellent acoustic music chops and songwriting.” Bruce Warren, The Key
“The full band has a power and joyful energy that’s absent from many other folk bands in town, and the crowd loved it on Friday, with most staying until the encore and many dancing with abandon. ” Elizabeth Thorpe, The Swollen Fox
“Top 10 Musical Acts at the 54th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. #2 Mason Porter” Greg H, The Jaunty Jam Report
“The band’s live show, as Wilkinson alludes to, has been the primary driver of the buzz, with Mason Porter winning over fans not only at its own headlining dates, but also while sharing stages with the likes of Ralph Stanley, Peter Rowan, Greensky Bluegrass, Spirit Family Reunion, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Charlie Daniels.” Michael Lello, Highway 81 Revisited