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Just Announced: Waxahatchee will open for Courtney Barnett this October

Waxahatchee at Union Transfer | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Just announced as opening support for Courtney Barnett’s Fall run of U.S. shows is local-favorite Waxahatchee, which includes a stop at Fishtown’s Fillmore on October 23. The announcement comes the day after Waxahatchee rocked Union Transfer, and we couldn’t be more excited for the pair of rockers’ show in October. Check back in to The Key later this afternoon for our recap of Waxahatchee’s set at last night’s co-headlining gig alongside Hurray For The Riff Raff. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Guided By Voices, Julien Baker, Bilal, Los Lobos and more

Guided by Voices | photo by Scott Troyan | courtesy of the artist

Get things started tonight with prolific indie rockers Guided By Voices; keep it running throughout the week with soul master Bilal, or heartrending songwriter Julien Baker; get lost in the tones of etheral soundscaper Madam Data, then wrap up with The Mountain Goats in Ardmore. Here are 16 shows you can see in and around Philly over the next seven days. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: The National is coming back to Philly and bringing Cat Power and Phoebe Bridgers along

The National | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Prepare yourselves, because there’s an incredibly good show coming our way this fall. So good that it may take a moment or two to process that it is actually happening. It hasn’t been too, too long since we’ve seen The National in town (those who were lucky enough to score tickets, that is) — the band played to a very sold-out Kimmel Center in December, and performed their new album Sleep Well Beast to an even more sold-out Union Transfer last September for NPR Music’s First Listen Live.

This September, The National is coming back to Philly — not to either of the previously mentioned venues, but to the Mann Center. And if that’s not reason enough to get excited, the opening acts will be Cat Power and Phoebe Bridgers. What?! How does a lineup like this even come together? Maybe it’s best not to ask questions, but just mark our calendars and thank whatever cosmic forces made this happen. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Summer Block Party brings Jill Scott, Boyz II Men and DJ Jazzy Jeff to the Mann

Jill Scott | photo via the artist’s Facebook page

A Block Party…at the Mann Center? Well, with a lineup like this, count us in. This June, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and poet Jill Scott will headline the first annual WDAS Summer Block Party, along with long-running Philly R&B faves Boyz II Men and DJ Jazzy Jeff, plus special guests still TBA.

It’ll be something of a hometown celebration for all performers. Scott got her start in Philly’s Black Lily open mic scene in the 90s, and still calls the city home, and Jazzy Jeff lives in the Philly region as well. Boyz II Men got its start when its members were students at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Though they no longer reside in Philadelphia, their legacy lives on — a section of South Broad Street was recently designated “Boyz II Men Boulevard.” Continue reading →

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John Prine’s New Prime Time: Veteran troubadour holds court with Kurt Vile at the Merriam Theater

John Prine | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

There are not many of the old original issue John Prines left; that breed of craggy, earnest-but-dryly humorous storyteller-troubadour with Midwestern roots running as deep as ancient maples and ruminations of lives past that are equally old and pulsing and grainy. As a songwriter who poised his characters in a constant state of distress, distaste, wry sly circumstance, or even love with an historic downhome perspective, Prine was (and is, from the sound and furry of his first album in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness) a treasure. Add in his usual mix of rough-hewn country and folk with hints of soul and rockabilly, and you’re cooking with gas. Prine’s gruff and ready expressive voice is but icing on a savory confection. And now, Prine – still a mailman at heart, always a contemporary to elders such as Kris Kristofferson, Steve Goodman and Jackson Browne – has hollowed out a new niche as a godfather to the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Brandi Carlisle, and as a man who outran death (two cancers) and the age’s usual ravages to find himself comfortably humble (and hummable).

In a sold out performance at the Merriam Theater, Prine, his crack musical team (including multi-string man Fats Kaplin), and opening act/occasional on-stage collaborator Kurt Vile, formed a circle around material that was bruised, even busted, but never completely broken down and out for the count. Continue reading →

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Lucy Dacus works double time at Johnny Brenda’s

Lucy Dacus | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

It feels like just yesterday when Lucy Dacus burst onto the scene with No Burden, her 2016 debut album, but she’s already released an even better follow up. It’s called Historian, and every track on it was performed by Dacus and her band Friday night at Johnny Brenda’s. In fact, they were played twice. The venue decided to add a second show on the same night just to meet Philly’s demand for the Richmond, VA singer songwriter – confirming a revelation that one of indie rock’s best kept secrets is a secret no longer.

Why? Well, that’s because when you write songs with catchy hooks and melodies as memorable as “Addictions,” which kicked off the setlist, the word will get around. You’ll get played on public radio, profiled on The Ringer and people will show up to your shows – even twice in one night. Spending a tour opening up for Hamilton Leithauser doesn’t hurt either. For the record, I went to the second show. Continue reading →

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Wynonna Judd and the Big Noise, Patty Griffin, Valerie June, Shovels and Rope top Philadelphia Folk Fest’s 2018 lineup

Wynonna Judd and the Big Noise at NonCOMM 2018 | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

The annual Philadelphia Folk Festival returns for its 57th year this August, and just announced its initial lineup, led by famed country singer-songwriter Wynonna Judd and her current band The Big Noise.

After appearing at the 2015 NonCOMM-vention, Judd and the band released their self-titled debut, Wynonna and the Big Noise, in 2016; the album featured collaborations with Derek Trucks, Sudan Tedeschi, Rapheal Saadiq and more.

Also high up in the festival billing are veteran Austin singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, emerging Memphis artist Valerie June, and the high-energy Charleston duo Shovels and Rope. Festival regulars David Bromberg QuintetChris SmitherJohn GorkaBeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet also perform. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: The Shacks put us in a Haze on this beautiful afternoon

The Shacks | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

New York indie band The Shacks stopped by for WXPN’s Free At Noon concert today, and their performance was mesmerizing. Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed when I was walking in, was 19-year-old lead singer Shannon Wise’s voice. I stopped midway through the entrance and actually blocked everyone behind me from getting in. Instantly, I was sent into a dream-like state where I felt like I was floating on a cloud with the sun softly hitting my face. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is bringing his singular sound to Everybody Hits

Image by Lex Vasquez via Facebook @nnamdisoopersecret

Chicago rapper Nnamadi Ogbonnaya makes music that’s hard to describe or label, and it’s exciting for that exact reason. His 2017 album DROOL is an experimental fusion of hip hop, math rock, pop, jazz, and everything else he likes. Growing up in the Chicago DIY scene, Ogbonnaya played in as many bands as possible, citing 11 different groups on his Bandcamp page. His constant involvement gained him a sold fanbase and he’s been able to tour the US, Canada, and Mexico. Continue reading →

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Good Spirits, Bad Spirits: PhilaMOCA channels the occult for Cinedelphia 666

Cinedelphia 666 flyer | via philamoca.org

Alfred Hitchcock famously said, “A glimpse into the world proves that horror is nothing other than reality.” This year’s Cinedelphia Film Festival aims to prove that quote true by focusing not just on horror movies but on the evil that exists in our day-to-day environment. The two week event, which officially starts tomorrow with a sold out screening of the Italian masterpiece Suspiria at the International House, is a mix of films and concerts all under the theme of “Spirituality, The Occult, and Outsider Art.”

This will be the sixth year of the festival. It is curated by Eric Bresler and mostly hosted at PhilaMOCA, which he runs. The programming includes a screening of 1970s psychedelic horror musical Phantom of the Paradise; The Allins, a new documentary about shock rock musician GG Allin, The Ranger, a horror movie about a deranged park ranger stalking a group of NYC punks who are hiding out in the woods following a brush with the law; and Zerzura, which is described in the program as, “The world’s first ethnographic acid western! A spiritual journey into the Sahara set to the sounds of improvised Tuareg-style guitar.”

There will also be two concerts during the festival: the first, on April 20th, is with Wax Trax! Records industrial legends My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, performing their first two albums in their entirety. Opening that show will be 7th Victim, Rodney Anonymous from The Dead Milkmen. The next day is the Mausoleum Monster Hop all-ages dance with The Crimson Ghosts, an instrumental Misfits cover band, and The Primitive Finks.

We caught up with Bresler to discuss Cinedelphia and everything going on at PhilaMOCA for the next couple weeks. Continue reading →