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Porch Stomp Presents: Belle-Skinner

Each week this summer we'll be presenting some of our favorite artists from the Porch Stomp community. Today, we have the distinct pleasure of introducing singer-songwriter Belle-Skinner (aka Masha Brosgol).

Our connection to Masha came out of the blue: we had first heard of her work through the grapevine after our house beer brewer Alex Apfel saw Masha in a concert in upstate New York, and as luck would have it, we ran into each other one fateful night at the Northeastern Regional Folk Alliance conference a few years back. Soon after, she moved to New York City and became a regular staple of our events at the Haylaught, including the performance we captured in the video below (co-billing the Nick Horner Family and Cricket Blue).

It's impossible to deny the gravity of her performances. With subtle allure she draws the listener into her own world.

You can feel the way Masha's words seem to meld seamlessly across her lyric soprano melodies and lilting vocal cadenzas, each recalling old-world folk songs and familiar classical tunes reminiscent of times come and gone. We've had the privilege of watching her silence even the rowdiest of rooms as well as both enrapture and engage audiences of all ages.

We could continue, but our words would pale in comparison to the live experience. For now, enjoy Belle-Skinner's "Little Cuckoo Bird" performed live at the Haylaught on February 7th, 2017.

A brief Q and A with Belle-Skinner:

So... tell us a little about yourself!

I'm originally from upstate New York (Capitol Region), first generation Russian-American. I play guitar finger-picking style mostly and sing high notes. At one point I wanted to be an opera singer but life took me somewhere else.

We could definitely see that! You seem to have a diverse set of influences--- care to rattle off a few?

Neko Case, Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, Radiohead, Francoise Hardy, The Beatles, Maria Callas, Iron and Wine. Russian movies and music. Opera and jazz.

And what was the origin of the song "Little Cuckoo Bird"?

I was walking alone down a tree-lined boulevard in San Francisco when the first lines popped into my head. I didn't know what to do with it so I stowed it away for about a year until I got fed up and finished it in one evening. Many things happened to me in the meantime that helped write the song. I take inspiration from things I see, books, film, melodies that pop into my head.

Now, surprisingly, Porch Stomp 2017 was your first time playing our June festival on Governors Island. Tell us about the experience! How was it?

It rained! It was my first time at PorchStomp this year so I had no idea what to expect, but it was really cool. I loved the old buildings we played at and the dancing on the field to music was really wonderful.

Finally, what do you feel is the biggest challenge facing new-comers to the NYC music scene?

Beginnings are always hard. You just have to make an effort to meet people and support each other.

You can find more from Belle-Skinner at her website: Special thanks to our videographer, Katherin Machalek, and please check out the rest of the Porch Stomp blog for more artists, videos and more, including our Porch Stomp Presents series all summer long!

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