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Growing Up Folk: Michael Braunfeld on the road from Spring Gulch to Driver

Michael Braunfeld | photo courtesy of the artist

This weekend, Spring Gulch Folk Festival enters its 33rd year of kicking off the summer festival season for the singer-songwriter community, and one artist in particular is taking the stage in a sort of homecoming.

Tomorrow, Michael Braunfeld will perform Spring Gulch with his band The Boneyard Hounds. He’s intimately involved in the event — his family has been going for three decades, his father Andy is a former MC, and he and his dad have been booking and managing the event for the past 18 years.

Braunfeld, 44, made his live debut at the festival in 1990 at age 15, and recorded his debut album the following year at age 16. He spent the 90s and very early thousands as a touring artist in the folk circuit, releasing live albums and paying gigs around the country. After taking a decade-plus break, he re-emerged on the scene at the 50th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival (another event he grew up at) and this year released his first studio album since the 90s, Driver. It’s a stirring selection of contemplative roots and Americana songwriting, some of a more of a delicate John Prine style of observational folk, some (like the powerful “Washed Away” and the rousing “Breathe”) of anthemic, Springsteen-esque quality.

We caught up with Braunfeld over the phone to talk about growing up a folkie, running Spring Gulch, taking time off, and the statements he wanted to make upon his return.  Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Jay Farrar is cool, calm, and soulful on the NPR Music stage

Jay Farrar | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Jay Farrar‘s soulful folk sound graced the NPR Music stage Friday afternoon for the last day of NonCOMM. While he softly strummed his acoustic guitar, his Son Volt bandmate Mark Spencer backed him up on electric. He harmonized with Farrar on a few songs; their vocals joined beautifully together for the chorus of “Devil May Care.” Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Lizzo pops by for a surprise acoustic set

Lizzo | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

NonCOMM’s final day stated with a blast as a surprise guest took to the stage. That guest was none other than pop superstar Lizzo, who hung around for a two-song acoustic session.

Currently on her “Cuz I Love You Too” Tour, Lizzo graciously took time out of her busy schedule to acoustically perform two songs from her most recent album, Cuz I Love You. She began with the title track, bursting out at the top of her lungs as each chorus came. She then hit the audience with her biggest hit at the moment, “Juice.” Clapping, shouting and rejoicing ensued as Lizzo belted out the lyrics to the feel-good anthem. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Andrew Bird dazzles with trio arrangements of “My Finest Work Yet”

Andrew Bird | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Andrew Bird put on a dazzling display of musicianship and personality on the NPR Music stage Thursday night. The veteran folk-rock multi-instrumentalist played a crisp set featuring four selections from his new LP My Finest Work Yet, all beautifully executed with the accompaniment of bass guitarist Alan Hampton and guitarist/vocalist Madison Cunningham — Bird added that Cunningham, who also performs as a singer-songwriter, has an “outstanding” full-length record of her own coming out in August. Continue reading →

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Soul Glo calls for action and calls out performative activism on “21”

Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Today, Philadelphia punk outfit Soul Glo is on the way from Novi Sad, Serbia to Vienna, Austria, in the midst of their 2019 European tour. In a couple weeks, their latest album, THE N___ IN ME IS ME, will be released on SRA Records. Tracks have been trickling out since the announcement — the harsh industrial noise / rapped vocal burner “32,” the doubletime hardcore screamer “22” — and today we’re happy to bring you another advance cut from IN ME IS MEContinue reading →

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Baroness is lean and mean on the new single “Throw Me An Anchor”

Baroness | photo by Dana Distortion | courtesy of the artist

Philly metal titans Baroness are releasing their new Gold and Grey album on June 14th, and on the record’s new teaser, “Throw Me an Anchor,” the band takes approximately the opposite approach as the lead single “Borderlines.” That song is an expansive six-minute journey, a burner that holds its core with a shimmering melody throughout; the new song might have a tighter run-time, but it finds the band at its most aggressive, a leaner / meaner Baroness, ready to take on its extended world tour. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: K.T. Tunstall fills World Cafe Live with pure acoustic energy

K.T. Tunstall | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

As the last night at NON-COMM was winding down, K.T. Tunstall was able to give the crowd one last hoorah. She closed down the night alone, only with the help of her guitar, keyboard, a looper, and a tambourine. Tunstall’s set mixed the old and the new nicely, playing anything from covers and mashups to her most recognizable hits. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Mattiel shakes the PRX stage with unreleased tracks

Mattiel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Mattiel‘s five-song set shook the PRX stage on Thursday night, giving their audience a taste of Satis Factory, their upcoming June release. Lead singer Mattiel Brown was backed by a four-piece band that really knows how to rock. Their set began with “Rescue You”, a track that has yet to be released. Brown wasted no time getting started; her energy was immediately through the roof as she commanded the crowd’s attention with soulful yelps.

The group’s set was dynamic in tempo but consistently vivacious. The unreleased “Heck Fire” was carried by a heavy bass line that I could feel deep in my bones. Things slowed down slightly for “Millionare” but the energy remained high. The set concluded with “Keep the Change”, the first single that Mattiel released with ATO Records. The band was very much in sync with one another, making for a tight performance. Continue reading →