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Watch Aretha Franklin’s final Philadelphia performance from the Mann Center in 2017

Aretha Franklin performs at the Mann Center on August 26, 2017 | photo via twitter.com/MannCenter

Last summer, the late great Aretha Franklin gave her final Philadelphia performance in Fairmount Park at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on August 26th. It was her next to last concert overall, followed only by a festival set in the Chicago metro area on September 3rd, and it found the Queen of Soul singing a mix of classic hits and deep cuts.
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R.I.P. Aretha Franklin: Remembering the incredible career of the Queen of Soul

Aretha Franklin | via facebook.com/arethafranklin

The queen of soul, the dynamic voice that bridged gospel to R&B to rock and beyond, the one and only Aretha Franklin, has passed away today at her family’s home in Detroit. She was 76 years old.

According to news reports in NPR Music and  the Washington Post, Franklin’s representative Gwendolyn Quinn confirmed the death to the Associated Press and said the cause was pancreatic cancer.

Amazingly, Franklin spent 57 of her 76 years in the spotlight – her debut pop record was recorded in 1960 and released in 1961, and she worked and toured until her retirement in 2017. If you further consider that she sang in her father’s church choir from a young age and recorded her first gospel album at age 14, the number of years only expands.

Aretha Franklin is the rare example of someone dedicating their life, wholly and completely, to their art – in her case, her music, and her uplifting, soul-shaking, roof-raising voice. Continue reading →

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Paul McCartney has released a ultra-poppy new song called “Fuh You”

Paul McCartney | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Sir Paul McCartney releases his 17th solo studio album, Egypt Station, on September 7th via Captiol Records. Today, he released his latest single from the project, a sparkling, ultra poppy song produced by Ryan Tedder (the singer of OneRepublic who has produced singles for Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Maroon 5, U2, and many more). The name of the song? “Fuh You.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Porter & Sayles

Christian Porter and Regina Sayles have been friends and musical collaborators for over a decade, and two summers ago, the Stroudsburg singer-songwriter duo released their debut album of songs that straddle the worlds of poppy folk and contemporary country. They’re a little bit Civil Wars, a little bit Lady Antebellum, and their self-titled record caught the ear of XPN midday host Helen Leicht, who connected with the moving contemplation of “This Guitar,” a yearning ballad about balancing the conflicting passions of one’s music and one’s relationships.

This summer, Porter & Sayles returns with its latest single since that record, following up on the spring release “#IAmOne.” It’s a revved up country ripper and unofficial Pocono Speedway anthem “Buckled Up In Drive,” which the duo played acoustically for us during their Key Studio Session. In the set, you’ll also hear “Country,” which reflects on the universality of their preferred form of American music — even for folks who don’t come from down south — as well as “You Had Me From Hello,” a jangling pop tune about first impressions. Continue reading →

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Arlo Guthrie kicks off his “Alice’s Restaurant” tour next week; it comes to the Keswick Theater in the fall

Arlo Guthrie’s classic Alice’s Restaurant

Some folks will never tire of a certain masacree with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that, and for them, veteran folkie Arlo Guthrie is hitting the road again this fall, celebrating his seminal 18-minute song / comedy routine / countercultural monologue “Alice’s Restaurant.”

The tour kicks off next week and comes to the Keswick Theater on October 7th; close, but not too close, to the song’s traditional Thanksgiving setting. (For super fans, he gives a post-Thanksgiving performance at Carnegie Hall in NYC on November 24th.) Continue reading →

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Hardwork Movement catches “Summer Vibes” in their latest single

Hardwork Movement | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Summertime jams are a hot commodity in Philadelphia, which makes sense as we practically invented them. The latest locals to throw their hat in the Ultimate Summer Anthem ring are Hardwork Movement, who just dropped the effervescent “Summer Vibes” this afternoon via Chill Moody’s nicethingsMUSIC. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Anthony Green

It seems like there’s a fountain of wisdom coming from Anthony Green these days. Maybe it’s his hard-won sobriety and the introspection that comes with battling depression. Maybe it’s the fact that he just came off of a tour that simultaneously looked back and looked ahead, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his solo debut Avalon as well as his latest record, Would You Still Be In Love, released last month on Memory Music. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s fully embraced his role as a rock and roll dad — as anybody who follows him on social media will tell you, this dude clearly loves the heck out of his kids.

But as Green played songs from the new record in a breathtaking, intimate solo acoustic session at WXPN Studios recently, it felt at points like he was letting those experiences had and knowledge obtained over his 36 years creep into the room through his striking tenor voice. Continue reading →

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Start your day with Mitski’s burning new ballad “Two Slow Dancers”

Mitski
Mitski | photo by Bao Ngo | courtesy of the artist
For the first single from Mitski’s forthcoming album, she went epic and orchestral. For the second, she hit the dancefloor.

This morning, the indie rock singer songwriter brings us to the end of the night, long after the lights have come up, long after the doors are locked, long after everybody else has moved on, and all that remains are “Two Slow Dancers.” The song is withdrawn and contemplative, a solitary Rhodes-sounding keyboard as the scene is set with an estranged couple reunited in a high school gymnasium and reflecting how “it would be so much easier if we were young again.” Continue reading →