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Robert Drake returns for the 25th Annual #XPNNightBefore – and the second Holiday Card-Tastrophe!

Robert Drake gets ready for #XPNNightBefore | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

A quarter century ago, WXPN was in need of a body – any body – to work Christmas Eve. It was that pre-digital era when specialty shows were broadcast from reel-to-reel tape, which meant someone had to thread the shows into the machines and hit play/stop at the right cues. With no real plans in place, I volunteered to work – as long as the station would allow me an hour or two to play songs from my personal collection of holiday music. What they didn’t know was that, since I was a teenager, I began collecting obscure Christmas records. Over time I had a bizarre collection which was just begging for a little airplay. That was Christmas Eve 1993. Continue reading →

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It’s Official: Mayor Jim Kenney has declared it Philly Loves David Bowie Week

image002-1This fall and winter, I’ve been busy organizing and coordinating a week-long celebration around David Bowie, both the man and the music … As it stands we have over a dozen events beginning tomorrow and ending next Saturday, January 14. You can learn more about #PhillyBowieWeek at our website, PhillyLovesBowie.com. This morning, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney just issued a proclamation officially declaring January 6-14 PHILLY LOVES DAVID BOWIE WEEK! You can see the proclamation above, and read the text below. Continue reading →

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Announcing The 24th Annual #XPNNightBefore – It’s A Card-Tastrophe!

poster art by Neil Schuman
poster art by Neil Schuman

Twenty-four years ago, WXPN was in need of a body – any body – to work Christmas Eve. It was that pre-digital era when specialty shows were broadcast from reel-to-reel tape, which meant someone had to thread the shows into the machines and hit play/stop at the right cues. With no real plans in place, I volunteered to work – as long as the station would allow me an hour or two to play songs from my personal collection of holiday music. What they didn’t know was that, since I was a teenager, I began collecting obscure Christmas records. Over time I had a bizarre collection which was just begging for a little airplay. That was Christmas Eve 1992.

 
Here we are almost a quarter-century later and what was once a couple hours has morphed into The Night Before on XPN with Robert Drake: a twenty-four hour tradition for thousands of households worldwide.  Speaking of traditions – normally it’s the ‘25th anniversary’ that draws attention – but for me, it’s all about 24!  Twenty-four hours on the twenty-fourth day of December … seems fitting to do something special to celebrate twenty-four years, right?!
 
That said, I am rolling out Robert Drake’s All-Original Non-Denominational Strictly-Recreational 24 Karat Holiday CardTastrophe!

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#TBTXPN: DJ Robert Drake’s 10 best New Wave videos

Scene from a-ha’s “Take on Me” video | via EW.com

It almost goes without saying that without video there would be no music – – at least in regards to new wave music.

It took a perfect storm to create the new wave genre; frustration over the arena-rock icons of the 70s and the more-established industry artists of the day, mixed with the introduction of technology that gave the world the Casio (et al) and cable television (hello MTV) – toss in an young, artsy generation to embrace all of this and create … a culture club.

While there are hundreds of music videos that stand out when one thinks of ‘new wave/80s’ … there are some that really shook the walls and reached into the hearts and souls of the fans. These are what I consider to be MY Ten Best New Wave Music Videos (in no order). Continue reading →

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Get ready to melt with Modern English at Johnny Brenda’s

modern english
Modern English | photo by Richard Eaton | courtesy of the artist

These days much of America might associate Modern English with Hershey’s Chocolate thanks to their successful ad campaign last year.

But for those of us who know better, Modern English formed in ’79 and, as many bands did, had the opportunity to showcase their talents to England via a Peel Session on BBC Radio 1 recorded right before their debut LP dropped in 1981, which showcased a guitar-driven sound. Their second LP After The Snow is when things gelled and Modern English found their note. Their keyboard rich songs were compared to Simple Minds and Duran Duran, so much that Sire Records picked them up and released their LP in the states, where it broke the Hot 100 Album chart (up to #70) and their second single “I’ll Melt With You” made them a true One-Hit Wonder.

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#ThrowbackThursday to the 2015 Pitchfork Music Festival in words and photos

Sleater-Kinney rages at the Pitchfork Music Festival | Photo by Scott Troyan | scotttroyan.com
Sleater-Kinney rages at the Pitchfork Music Festival | Photo by Scott Troyan | scotttroyan.com

Summer once again proved itself to be Festival Overload – most recently, the successful Philadelphia Folk Festival! But right before WXPN hosted its annual XPoNential Music Festival, I headed over to Chicago to celebrate ten years of Pitchfork and their annual summer music festival.

What makes Pitchfork a unique music festival is the broad stroke they use when booking music for their three stages over three days. From the most modern hip-hop, electronic dance and alt-rock to showcasing some iconic “classic” artists from the past few decades. It creates a melding of communities and age brackets that is second to none when it comes to outdoor summertime festivals. Continue reading →

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: cozy up with Louis Armstrong and Twas the Night Before Christmas

Louis Armstrong

It’s the day before The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

There is really only one way to end this Twelve Days until The Night Before musical countdown – and that is with a story. Not just any story, but a Christmas classic: Twas The Night Before Christmas – as told by the incredible Louis Armstrong. This was recorded just four months before Armstrong died in his sleep of a heart attack at age 69.

With all the joy that this man brought to millions, it’s fitting that his final recording would be one for the children … in all of us.

Be sure to join me starting at midnight tonight for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

Continue reading →

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Soak in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pee-Wee Herman

It’s just 2 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

One of the coolest things about this time of year is the avalanche of Christmas specials on TV … from the tried and true to the sappy and silly, there is something for just about everyone. But you haven’t experienced a true Christmas miracle until you soak in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special!! Here, the opening number gives you an idea of the over-the-top camp that followed! Ho Ho Ho!

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

Continue reading →

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Dar Williams performs “The Christians and The Pagans” live

Dar Williams

It’s just 3 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Another highly-requested song each year comes from an XPN-fave, Dar Williams. By now many of you already know the song “The Christians And The Pagans” – but what you might not know is how close to home that song is to Dar and her family. Here, in a 2011 recording, she explains the creation of this holiday staple before performing the song live.

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

Continue reading →

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: It’s a white trash holiday with Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen

It’s just 4 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Nothing says Christmas than a box of tampons and some Marlboro Lights – at least that’s the story from Robert Earl Keen. This white trash Christmas tale has become a staple on The Night Before … easily one of my most-requested songs every year. So, in case you miss it next Wednesday, here ya go, complete with wishes of “Merry Christmas, From The Family.”

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

Continue reading →