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Watch Bonnie Raitt and Amos Lee perform “Angel From Montgomery”

Bonnie Raitt | Photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN | deltufophotography.com
Bonnie Raitt | Photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN | deltufophotography.com

This past May, legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist Bonnie Raitt appeared at WXPN’s Non-Commvention. Performing material from her recent album, Dig In Deep, Raitt also performed a few classics from her back catalogue.

At the end of her set, Bonnie invited Philly singer-songwriter Amos Lee out to duet on John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” a song that Raitt originally recorded with Prine on her 1974 album, Streetlights. Not having any time to rehearse, Lee played the part perfectly, and it was a highlight of Raitt’s set. Continue reading →

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Moor Mother signs to Don Giovanni Records; listen to “Deadbeat Protest”

Moor Mother | via Don Giovanni Records

We’ve admired Philly artist Camae Defstar since catching her genre-smashing band Mighty Paradocs on Res’ Silk City residency RESET back in December 2010. In the six years since, we’ve gotten to know her as a community organizer and activist, a co-founder of the ROCKERS! DIY concert series and an interdisciplinary artist. On the sonic end of things, that means Moor Mother, which channels societal outrage into textural, hard-hitting, experimental expanses. A prime example, which caught my attention three autumns ago, is the video for “Of Blood” – it’s totally gripping, and like Moor Mother’s work as a whole, strikes a balance between confrontationally unsettling and utterly captivating. It’s punk, it’s performance art and it’s sonic unrest of the sort that is more important now than ever.

Which is why it’s so awesome to get the word today that Moor Mother has joined the ranks of Don Giovanni Records, with her debut record Fetish Bones due out on September 16th via the venerable NJ imprint. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Guitar solos and scenic skylines during Billy Hector

Billy Hector | Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
Billy Hector | Photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

The Riverstage at Wiggins Park is made for rockstars. Behind it lays a stunning backdrop of the Philadelphia skyline and Ben Franklin Bridge; in front sits hundreds of colorful beach chairs and hoards of fans. When our very own dayside host Helen Leicht introduced Billy Hector to the stage, she reminded the audience that Hector first came to her as a request for which area-artist to play on her broadcast showcasing local music. Lo and behold, the people wanted Hector, and next thing you know he was nothing less than a rock great gracing XPoNential Festival.

Hector and his band, made up of Sim Cain on drums and Winston Roye on bass, got the jams going with a good opening song that welcomed the crowd as they poured into the venue and gave them a taste of the beach blues they were about to experience. His next track began with a hint of Jimi Hendrick’s “R U Experienced,” before propelling into a jam session all their own. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Meet Rosemary FiKi, the force of nature kicking off the show on Friday

Rosemary FiKi
Rosemary FiKi | photo by John Vettese

Need a compelling argument to get to XPNFest early this year? Two words: Rosemary Fiki.

The Philadelphia singer / songwriter / rock and roller / entertainer caught our ear this past year based on an eclectic assortment of streaming songs on her Soundcloud page. One moment, it was a vibrant nightclub bump with soaring diva vocals, another moment there was an acoustic guitar strumming and FiKi’s plaintive vocals doing a sensitive Feist / Laura Nyro kind of thing.

These days, she’s straddling both of those worlds; as we saw when FiKi recorded a Key Studio Session last fall, she’s currently backed by a high-energy three-piece band, freeing her to dance at the mic, shake her tambourine and work the crowd with relentless energy. That’s on prominent display in the fired-up “Come To Me,” which you can watch a video of below, and the endlessly catchy “Ooh” — but FiKi and the band also delve into a more nuanced side of things with ballads like “The Great Unknown,” and the groovy askew rhythms of “Pro.” Chatting with her over email, it sounds like her music is about to explore another direction still after XPoNential.

For now, read on below to get to know Rosemary FiKi — and make sure you arrive at Wiggins Park tomorrow in plenty of time to catch her 4 p.m. set. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Veteran sidewoman Eliza Hardy Jones takes center stage

Eliza Hardy Jones
Eliza Hardy Jones | Photo by Ryan Collerd | ryancollerd.com | courtesy of the artist

Eliza Hardy Jones is a seasoned side-woman. She plays keys and sings in the Grace Potter band, Strand Of Oaks and Nightlands, she’s one-half of the founding partnership in Buried Beds. She excels in maintaining a stage presence that adds to live experience, begs the audience to turn their glances to her.

“Part of your job as a side person is to be a part of the performance,” she says. “You can’t stand there like a sad lump, like you’re bored. You have to be engaged to the music because that helps other people be engaged with the music.”

Hardy Jones has performed twice at XPoNential Music Festival before – once with Grace Potter and the other with Strand Of Oaks. This year she’ll perform, on the River Stage at Wiggins Park at at noon on Sunday, July 24, for the first time as herself. As a frontwoman. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Billy Hector brings his blues rock from the beach to Wiggins Park

Billy Hector | Photo courtesy of artist
Billy Hector | Photo courtesy of artist

You can take the man out of the shore but you can’t take the shore out of the man. Blues rock vocalist and guitarist Billy Hector has earned himself a rightful place as one of the Jersey shore’s musical legends, playing up and down the state for nearly four decades and counting. From opening shows for Buddy Guy and running in the same circles as Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Hector is as vivacious as ever and ready to take on one of his most exciting gigs to date — the band is packing their things and trading coastlines for skylines to perform at this weekend’s XPoNential Music Festival. Hector and his band, composed of drummer Sim Cain and bassist Winston Roye, have a set of big proportions planned, with an even bigger point to prove. Continue reading →

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Time Capsule: Kurt Vile on channeling blue-collar blues into “Space Forklift”

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

In Time Capsule, we ask artists to revisit songs they may have forgotten: pieces they wrote, released, and packed away—until now. Each month, we’ll pick one band who will pick one song and tell us the story behind where they were and what they were thinking when they wrote it.

It’s not news that Kurt Vile used to drive a forklift for a living; a lot of his work is influenced by a blue-collar attitude — from folky fingerpicking to his gravely voice and lyrics. In this city, to gain any respect, you better have worked a dead-end job shoveling shit, fixing radiators, or some day in, day out task that propels you to dream of something better — and deserve it when you get it.

Kurt spent two years handling a mini tractor, rising its giant prongs up and down, over and over, 9 to 5, between lunch and dinner. He lived in Boston at the time. Then, he quit and moved home.

Which is how “Space Forklift” came about. Continue reading →