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Just Announced: Vita and the Woolf will headline Boot and Saddle on 10/6

Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com
Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com

Philly electro-pop/rock act Vita and the Woolf will headline Boot and Saddle on Thursday, October 6th before heading to the midwest and west coast for a string of dates. Fellow locals Square Peg Round Hole and imprssive Massachusetts artist Mal Devisa join the bill as well, making for a deep lineup that will surely provide a great evening. Continue reading →

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Inside the Aspiring Young Artists program, a six-week songwriting workshop for high schoolers

Nyjiah Jenkins
Nyjiah Jenkins | photo by Nnamdi Ejim | courtesy of AYA project

Across the street from the Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, through the rusted blue foundation of the Market-Frankford Line and past the opposing gravel-filled vacant lot, there are murals. On the left is a zoomed-in portrait of a hoodied black teen with the caption, curving around his head, “Trying to be a good person.” To the right, another face, this one anonymous, silhouetted with black paint. Inside the face is an assurance, or maybe even a plea. “Don’t worry I’m not gonna rob you.”

Ricky Strickler, a 27-year-old master’s student at Temple studying Urban Education, sees beyond this stereotype. An experienced worker in Philadelphia schools through programs like AmeriCorps and YouthBuild Philly, a charter school specifically for high school dropouts, he got a firsthand view of a school system that was both broke and failing to recognize its own students’ talents. “It was amazing to see how much incredible music talent was passing through that building, who had been pushed out or had left our regular high schools,” he says. “So that got me thinking about music and how it could be used pedagogically, in education.”

Before grad school, Strickler majored in business and wanted to pursue a job in the music industry. A drummer since age 12 and a member of a multiple bands growing up, it seemed the natural path. Until it wasn’t anymore. “Somewhere along the way, my last couple of years in college,” he says, “I got really interested in education in America and the inequalities that exist, specifically in inner cities.”

Strickler was still passionate about music; he just had to figure out how to combine this with his newfound interest in education. The result is the Aspiring Young Artists program, which piloted this year at KCAPA. Serving also as the capstone project for his Urban Education degree, the program is a six-week songwriting workshop that culminates with students taking their carefully crafted compositions to the studio and turning them into real, tangible songs. Continue reading →

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Bondage & Discipline announce album series Love Me Like I’m Dead, first edition NO ONE out July 12th

Bondage
Bondage & Discipline via Facebook.com/bondageanddisciplinemusic | Photo by Jon Stars | jonstars.com

If you’ve been waiting patiently for the first LP from Philly rock/electronic outfit Bondage & Discipline, your wait is almost up — well, sort of. The band announced Wednesday that they’ll be releasing their first album Love Me Like I’m Dead this summer, albeit through a series of smaller sets of songs. The first part of the series, a three-song collection entitled NO ONE, will come out July 12th. The rest of Love Me Like I’m Dead will be spread out over the course of the next four months. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Lauryn Hill will headline the Mann Center for the Performing Arts this summer

Ms. Lauryn Hill | via facebook.com/mslaurynhill

Super exciting news of the day: singer-songwriter-r&b-soul-hip-hop great Lauryn Hill – or Ms. Lauryn Hill, if you prefer – returns to Philly this summer to headline a show at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, August 27th. Tickets go on sale Thursday, June 30th at 10 a.m., and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Thy Friends Profanely Rage: mewithoutYou celebrates the long homecoming at Underground Arts

mewithoutYou | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
mewithoutYou | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Thursday marked one year of mewithoutYou’s most recent record, Pale Horses, and what a year it’s been. When I interviewed frontman and songwriter Aaron Weiss last year before the record’s release, I distinctly remember him saying “Every time we finish one, I’m so grateful and I tell myself ‘never put yourself through that again.’” If there was ever a year that he would choose to lay it all down, this would have been it. Continue reading →

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A Day In My Life: The collaboration between Henry H. Houston School and LiveConnections


LiveConnections has once again proven how important it is to showcase the musical talent of Philadelphia’s youth, and to contribute to the musical education of students. The nonprofit teamed up with Henry H. Houston School in Mount Airy to produce a full album entitled A Day In My Life. In a year long residency program led by Andrew Lipke and other musicians, students participated in weekly workshops focused on poetry, songwriting, and music composition. The core group of students from grades 4-8 who worked on the project are known as “Lyrical Productions.” They took trips to various locations for inspiration, including days spent at the National Constitution Center and World Cafe Live, as heard on “One Life Taken, One Life Saved” and “Dance Like No One’s Watching,” respectively. Continue reading →

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Hardwork Movement is the first signing to Chill Moody’s #nicethingsMUSIC label

Hardwork Movement
Hardwork Movement | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Very exciting news for our favorite nine-piece Philly hip-hop band of the moment: Hardwork Movement is officially the first artists to sign to Chill Moody’s digital label #nicethingsMUSIC. Their single “Take Time” will be available via iTunes tomorrow, and the band plays Spruce Street Harbor Park next Thursday, June 23rd with New Sound Brass; more information on that free show here. Continue reading →

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Al-Bustan, Bowerbird, PRISM Quartet among recipients of Pew Center for Arts & Heritage grants

pew center
PRISM Quartet | photo by Jacqueline Hanna

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage announced its list of 2016 grant recipients, supporting 53 Philadelphia area artists, organizations and innovators in their cultural explorations. Over a dozen of the grants have been awarded to musicians, whose proposed projects include creating compositions that bring broken instruments back to life (Temple Contemporary), revisiting the city’s published jazz history (Jazz Bridge) and starting dialogues through traditional African folk songs (Tokay Tomah).

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Mumblr invite us inside their world (and kitchen) on their Swell Tone session

Mumblr
Mumblr | photo by Peter Murray Photography | http://petermurrayphotography.com/

A perfect snapshot of the DIY mentality that’s been pumping through the Philly music scene’s veins, our friends at Swell Tone captured local punks Mumblr in their living room-turned-practice space for a personal look at one of the cities stand-out bands. Performing their new song “Microwave” off of the anticipated sophomore release The Never Ending Get Down, out this Friday June 10th on Fleeting Youth Records, the video finds the guys of Mumblr shredding amidst the eccentric decor of their home. Continue reading →