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M.I.A., Busta Rhymes, Tierra Whack and more will join Lauryn Hill at Festival Pier next month

Busta Rhymes | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // M.I.A. | still from video // Tierra Whack | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

When iconic singer/rapper Ms. Lauryn Hill announced her upcoming tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it seemed too good to be true. She’ll be playing the classic album in full, but if that isn’t reason enough to attend, we now know the opening acts for the Philly stop on the tour, happening at Festival Pier on July 13.

Two well-loved and long-running rappers are lined up for the show — Busta Rhymes, who recently appeared at the Firefly Music Festival for the second consecutive year, and M.I.A., whose last album was 2016’s AIM. Also in the mix is reggae artist Jo Mersa Marley (who just happens to be the grandson of Bob Marley). But perhaps the most exciting part of this announcement is the addition of a local act — Philly-based hip hop artist Tierra Whack. She released a new visual album, Whack World, last month, and recently appeared at Roots Picnic and Firefly. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Elvis Costello will make two area appearances in November

Elvis Costello | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Legendary rock ‘n roller Elvis Costello and his band The Imposters have some news of the tour and album variety. They haven’t shared too many details about the new music just yet, but we know that there is a new record on the horizon, and according to a press release more information is coming “very shortly.” It will be Costello’s first album for Concord Records and his 25th solo full-length overall. Costello’s last release was 2013’s Wise Up Ghost, in collaboration with The Roots. Continue reading →

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Firefly On The Fly: Sunday sundown with Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Lord Huron, Kamasi Washington, Warren G and more

Kendrick Lamar | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

We rolled back into Philadelphia last night around 1 a.m., sweaty and exhausted from the final and hottest day of the 2018 Firefly Music Festival. It started with hip-hop — classic West Coast g-funk originator Warren G , whose signature jams “Regulate” and “Summertime in the LBC” played perfectly in the early afternoon — and ended with hip-hop — the Pulitzer Prize winning Kendrick Lamar, whose set was gripping and participatory, if a bit phoned-in (he twice told the crowd “This is my first time here in Delaware,” despite playing Firefly previously in 2013). Continue reading →

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Janelle Monae gives us a sneak peak of her prep for the Dirty Computer Tour

Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae | still from video

Janelle Monáe is back with her third album, Dirty Computer, and a top-billed slot on the Made In America festival in September. Now the pop goddess has gifted us with a short video showcasing her prep for the tour. The one-minute teaser begins with her leading track “Dirty Computer”, featuring Brian Wilson, playing in the background. The video then fades into a variety of clips of the crew and her at work. In every shot, Monáe is of course dressed to the nines, working hard and killin’ it. Even though the video is only a minute long, it’s enough to get you excited for what is to come. Continue reading →

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Firefly On The Fly: Saturday shines with The Killers, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Lucy Dacus, Alex Lahey and more

The Killers | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Saturday is always the longest haul of Firefly weekend, and we took in a huge range of music today. Pop rock four-piece The Aces started us off on the Lawn Stage, with Philly singer-songwriter Ben O’Neill not far behind in the coffeehouse. A doubleheader of Australian rock featuring Middle Kids and Alex Lahey lifted up our afternoon.

Philly rockers Foxtrot and the Get Down performed a rare acoustic set, something they should get in the habit of doing — these songs sound like they were written to be performed in this intimate, elegant way. Continue reading →

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“Both Sides of Love” will celebrate Elaine Hoffman Watts’ life and work in classical and klezmer this Sunday

Elaine Hoffman Watts drums at a Curtis Institute of Music holiday party in 1951 | photo courtesy of Mark Rubin

When noted klezmer and classical percussionist Elaine Hoffman Watts passed away in September, it seemed like a given that there would be a memorial concert for her at some point. After all, how else do you honor the life and career of someone who made music for more than seven decades and taught literally thousands of students? This Sunday at Temple Beth Hillell-Beth El in Wynnewood is “Both Sides of Love,” a celebration of Watts and her contributions to the music world. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Kacey Musgraves lights up the stage with her unique brand of country

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Later this very night, Kacey Musgraves will play on a much larger stage to a much larger crowd. But this afternoon, the rising country star was more than content to bring things down a notch and play a soft, intimate set to a crowd brimming with enthusiasm.

Before today’s performance even began, as a line of eager audience members filled the World Cafe Live stairs and spilled out the door, it became clear that this would not be your average Free at Noon. And if you were lucky enough to score a spot at today’s sold-out show, you had the rare chance to see Kacey Musgraves on what may just be the smallest stage you’ll ever see her. But even though the Texas native is accustomed to playing bigger shows these days — especially on her current arena tour with Harry Styles, which makes a stop at the Wells Fargo Center tonight — she seemed downright thrilled by venue’s homey feel and awestruck crowd.

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The Wonder Years played two packed houses at The Fillmore Philly with Tigers Jaw, Tiny Moving Parts and Worriers

The Wonder Years | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Last weekend, Philly modern rock heroes The Wonder Years brought their tremendous new record Sister Cities home for two nights and two packed houses at The Fillmore Philadelphia. Joining them on the bill were Scranton indie pop band Tigers Jaw, as well as punk outfits Tiny Moving Parts and Worriers. Check out photos from the tremendous lineup below, care of Ashley Gellman.
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Intimate crowd swoons over Bucolic’s set at The Barbary

Bucolic, photo by Dylan Eddinger

Wednesday night, Pitman, New Jersey’s favorite instrumentalist Bucolic headlined a cozy show at The Barbary, and, though the crowd was made up of mostly familiar faces, none of them are tired of hearing those swirling tracks from Ropes Wing and Glow Worm. I always love talking with Bucolic’s Seth Carpenter before he performs, because he’s always in this state of pure calm, which then easily translates to his onstage persona. We chatted about his next hiking adventure and I complimented him on repping Philly metal band Parius with his t-shirt. Continue reading →