LISTEN: Brittany Ann Tranbaugh Dives Into Old-Timey Folk Traditions Via “Like Dustbowl Refugees (Sam and Billy”

Brittany Ann Tranbaugh (pronounced TRAN-baw) is a singer/songwriter based in Philadelphia, PA. Originally from the Lehigh Valley area in PA, she kicked off her music career as a teenager playing at Godfrey Daniels, one of the country’s only remaining bona fide folk listening rooms. She has since performed all over the US and Canada in theaters, living rooms, basements, bars, coffee shops, backyards, and on festival stages including Firefly and Philly Folk Fest. She has shared stages with Adrianne Lenker, Caroline Spence, Liz Longley, and The Other Favorites, to name a few. 

Tackling the age-old problem of addressing what it means to be authentic in the world of folk music, on “Like Dustbowl Refugees (Sam and Billy)” Tranbaugh takes a soft edge approach to a thorny topic with wit, elegant humor, and a healthy dose of self-awareness throughout. In a genre defined by tradition, incorporating contemporary themes and styles without becoming something else entirely is a feat only a few have effectively pulled off. Tranbaugh acknowledges the challenge while, at the same time, realizing that we all like to play dress-up every once in a while. Her latest EP, entitled Quarter Life Crisis, is out now.

“I wrote this song when I was driving home from a folk alliance conference. I was thinking a lot about the concept of authenticity, and how it seems like a lot of folksingers feel like they have to put on this old-timey persona and use imagery in their writing that isn’t relevant to their actual lives at all. I wanted to critique that whole phenomenon in a playful way, which resulted in a song that’s sort of a parody of itself,” says Tranbaugh.

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