Jawnts: Educators by day, a band by choice

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The Song Dogs - educators all - are (from left) Ryan McCloskey, Dan Cooper, Michael Southerton, Emily Southerton, Sam Conver and Mariama O'Brien. They will be performing Friday.

By day, they're educators. In their fleeting spare time, they're Song Dogs, a six-piece Americana band playing the kind of bluesy prairie rock that mellow twentysomethings and their parents could probably bond over.

Their album Wild Country (available at http://wearesongdogs.com) brings to mind sweeping vistas, endless horizons, all that Route 66 stuff. Their songs - "Buffalo Crossroads" and "Law of the Land" - are the kind that would fit nicely on road-trip soundtracks. (Think the Allman Brothers.)

Each band member works in education - preschool instructor, public school teacher, City Year administrator. In fact, the band formed when several members worked at South Philadelphia High School. They are rooted in the city, recording Wild Country in East Falls last year - they financed it through a Kickstarter campaign. And they don't tour or play much outside the city. It just doesn't make sense to take the time off from work. "We're not delusional," says Sam Conver, who plays bass and shares lead vocal duties. "We can't really take that time away from work. So we mostly play in Philadelphia, sometimes we cross the [Delaware] river."

But they've built up enough of a reputation - bolstered by praise in the New York Times - that they are invited to play all over town as part of Philly's burgeoning classic, blues, and country scene. They have no manager or label, so any money they make goes back into the band - they pay for everything out of their own pockets. It's like a sub-minimum-wage part-time job that they actually like.

Next up, a hiatus from live shows to record album No. 2 in Powelton Village. It might cost some vacation days, sure - and some cash - but they get to record their own music without living in artistic penury.


The Song Dogs will open for Black Horse Motel at the Boot and Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, on Friday. Doors will open at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for 21-plus only.


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@jblumgart jake.blumgart5@gmail.com