The Boxcar Children, a seven-piece band made up of Temple students, brings a new sound to Philly.
Folk music has always represented the rural and the natural in its music but the Boxcar Children has decided to blend the genre with the concrete jungle of Philadelphia which they refer to as “urban folk.”
Formerly known as the Noble Womanizers, the band was a trio featuring Kierstin Siegel, Zachariah Beaver and Ziggy Gamble. The members formed in Fall 2008 and began performing at some of Temple’s local open mics.
About a year later, the band began adding more members, including Andrew Yang, Kristen Rosser, John Vidumsky, Christie Offenbacher and Danny Jacobs. Gamble ultimately decided to leave the group.
But the band decided it was time for a name change as well. The remaining members decided to go with the children’s books series The Boxcar Children for a name.
“We really like the name we have now,” Yang said. “It kind of brings all of our ideas together as a band.”
Acoustic guitar, mandolin, harp, bass, accordion, banjolele, violin and other string instruments are all used in the band’s songs. Drawing on influences from contemporary folk artists like Iron and Wine and Horse Feathers, they also draw on Russian folk songs and old Appalachian folk music for song writing.
The urban part of the Boxcar Children’s urban folk music is due mostly in part to being here in Philadelphia.
“Zach and I both came from rural areas before coming to Temple, and it was a culture shock,” said Siegel, a sophomore sculptor major and vocalist/guitar and mandolin player for the band. “Playing folk music helped us to remain connected to home.”
References to the city are also in the band’s lyrics. Though the lyrics don’t outright reference the city, the songs instead use subtle themes, said Beaver, a sophomore mechanical engineer major who plays bass, accordion and sings low backing vocals for the band.
Looking ahead, the band has plans to record a full-length album featuring old and new songs. The members are tentatively looking to release it in the beginning of May.
Also, for those who are looking to see the band live, it will play Thursday, April 22 at the Bell Tower for the Philadelphia 4000 event, which is a benefit event to help the homeless in the city. The event begins at 10 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m.
Though the Boxcar Children’s future looks promising. members of the band still admit that in the long run, things are up in the air.
“We all want to continue playing music, but we all have different plans for our lives,” said Siegel. “We want to wait and see after we release the album.”
Stephen Kimmerly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.