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Sun Ra Arkesta and Sounds of Liberation head up a night of powerful, purposeful cosmic jazz at Union Transfer

Sun Ra Arkestra | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

When jazz pianist, composer and iconoclast Sun Ra and his Arkestra moved to Philadelphia in the late 60s, they took up residence in the city’s Germantown section, living and practicing out of a house owned by the father of saxophonist and current Arkestra leader Marshall Allen. When Sun Ra arrived in Philadelphia, he encountered a city steeped in a rich history of “traditional” jazz. The sounds of be-bop, swing and hard bop lived in nightclubs and bars like Prince’s Total Experience right off of Broad & Hunting Park or Pep’s Lounge in South Philly.

In addition to the city’s “traditional” jazz sounds, Philadelphia was also home to a small cadre of young players and listeners who had embraced the avant-garde sound that Sun Ra and his Arkestra had gained infamy for. Amongst the hippies and progressives that lived in Germantown at the time, there were a host of creative musicians who sought to experiment and stretch the possibilities of jazz. Some of these young upstarts would join and play in Sun Ra’s Arkestra, others formed ensembles of their own. One of those ensembles, Sounds of Liberation would release one ultra-rare album New Horizons in 1972 before going dormant and reemerging nearly 5 decades later in 2019.

Last night at Union Transfer, Sounds of Liberation would make their return to the stage alongside The Sun Ra Arkestra in celebration of Marshall Allen’s 95th Birthday as well as the release of a newly-discovered full-length album of material. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Craig Finn brings his new story-filled album to the World Cafe Live stage

Craig Finn | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Earlier today, singer-songwriter and storyteller Craig Finn arrived at World Cafe Live to perform a few songs from his newest solo album I Need A New War. According to Finn, the album dedicated to our world’s fast-changing times, and tells many stories about his previous 19 years spent living in New York. The frontman of rock faves The Hold Steady, Finn has been embarking on his solo endeavor for a few years now, with this album being his fourth. Continue reading →

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The Roots’ Dice Raw brings MLK / Nina Simone homage The King of Love to New Freedom Theatre on Juneteenth

Dice Raw | photo courtesy of the artist

Karl Jenkins, better known as Philadelphian hip-hop artist Dice Raw, has written and produced The King of Love, a theatrical tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It will be performed by the New Freedom Theatre for one night only on June 19th at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). It coincides with the observation of Juneteenth, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865.  Continue reading →

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Black Thought to bring “Delirious” comedy night to the TLA

Black Thought | photo courtesy of the artist

This summer, The Roots’ Black Thought is reviving his Delirious show, a comedy series that had previously been held at Punch Line back in 2017. This time, he brings it to The TLA on Sunday, July 28th.

When asked about his start to doing comedy, Black Thought told The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Dan DeLuca: “I’ve been doing that for a few years now. I don’t see it as being any different from what I do with music, in that it comes from a real place. It’s given me a deeper appreciation for the craft and for what comedians do. You’re super vulnerable. It’s just you up there. You have to be fearless. It’s about timing, and so many different elements that I use as a performer elsewhere come into play.” Continue reading →

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Watch Orville Peck dance in a barn for his “Hope To Die” video, see him at The Foundry this fall

Orville Peck | still from video

Our favorite masked cowboy will be riding back into Philly this October. Last month, Orville Peck put on a rousing set at our 2019 NonCOMM and now he has announced that he’ll be returning to play The Foundry on Thursday, October 10th. Peck’s upcoming tour is in support of his spectacular debut album, Pony, which came out in March via Sub Pop. In addition to announcing a slew of tour dates, Peck has also shared the video for Pony‘s heartbreaking penultimate track, “Hope To Die”.

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Charli XCX is collaborating with your favorite artists on her new album; maybe she’ll bring a few of them to Union Transfer

Charli XCX | photo by Marcus Cooper | courtesy of the artist

The road to Charli XCX‘s third album has been long and winding. Her last official album, Sucker, came out in 2014 and since then it has felt like Charli was just as eager to get another out as her fans were. In Fall 2015 Charli canceled her joint tour with Bleachers in order to get started on the record. In late January 2016 she posted on Instagram claiming that she was going to finish recording the record that week. Less than a month later she released not an album, but an EP. Vroom Vroom was produced by SOPHIE and PC Music’s AG Cook and marked Charli’s first foray into the hyper-digital pop world. By the time 2017 rolled around it seemed as if the album would never materialize. Charli had put out some singles but they didn’t seem to go anywhere or lead to anything.

Then suddenly in March 2017, Charli dropped Number 1 Angel, the first of two sublime mixtapes. Angel and its successor Pop 2 are collaboration-filled pop masterpieces. They brought Charli a devoted cult following, largely made up of LGBTQ individuals. While riding high on the mixtapes’ success, dozens of tracks, rumored to have been intended for an album, leaked online. Since the leaks Charli has spoken publicly about how devastated they made her and how they stripped her of her desire to ever make an album. Summer 2018 saw Charli releasing a series of singles, including the Troye Sivan featuring “1999”. Now, three years after it was assumed to arrive, Charli is finally and officially coming on September 13th.

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The National and Courtney Barnett kick off their summer tour with a rowdy night at the Mann Center

The National | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

The National and Courtney Barnett both delivered punchy sets of new and old material at the Mann Center on Tuesday night as The National kicked off a summer tour in support of their new album I Am Easy to Find. Barnett was unflappable in her power trio, and The National — sharing the stage with several new collaborators — showed the full spectrum of emotions they could evoke with the songs from I Am Easy to Find. Continue reading →

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Eight things we loved about the new and improved Roots Picnic (and three things we didn’t)

The Roots | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com

For the twelfth year running, Philly icons and global hip-hop heroes The Roots brought their pre-summer throwdown back to their hometown. The Roots Picnic touched down in its new home at The Mann Center at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 1st, with rap-soul duo &More opening a day of sun, sounds, and multi-sensory experiences, all the way up to the show-stopping performance of The Roots’ breakout album Things Fall Apart, which turned 20 in February. The Key was on hand from bottom to top, and here is what we saw all day — beginning with the immense amount of stuff there was to love. Continue reading →

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David Bazan documentary Strange Negotiations will be screened at Johnny Brenda’s

David Bazan | still from film

Strange Negotiations, a new documentary about the life of Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan, will make its East Coast premiere at Johnny Brenda’s on June 21. The Kickstarter-funded film premiered at SXSW this year, and now filmmaker Brandon Vedder is taking it on tour, with a series of screenings later this month. Bazan will join Vedder for a Q&A following the screening. Continue reading →

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Beano French, A.M. Mills, Octave Cat and more join the Waterfront Sessions July lineup

A.M. Mills | photo by Joshua Cicetti | courtesy of the artist // Octave Cat | photo by Ben Wong | courtesy of the artist // Beano French | photo courtesy of the artist

On a Thursday night in the summer, there’s no better place to be than Spruce Street Harbor Park. The park’s annual Waterfront Sessions encourage you to “tap your toes and groove to jams by some of Philly’s finest artists,” with a free concert each week throughout the season. The sessions kicked off last week, and the July lineup has just been announced, bringing us four more weeks of music to look forward to. Continue reading →