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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 16 (featuring Queen of Jeans, Hardwork Movement, Abi Reimold and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 16
The Key Studio Sessions Volume 16

Four months can be a long time, but it totally flies by — it seems like only yesterday that we were coming at you with our last free-downloadable compilation of songs by regional artists recorded for us live in the studio for The Key Studio Sessions. And here we are, 94 days and 20 songs later. Continue reading →

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Pablo Batista will premiere his epic El Viaje at the Temple Performing Arts Center

Pablo Batista | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com
Pablo Batista | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com

Master percussionist Pablo Batista might be based in Philadelphia, but he is a world-class musician who has toured with Grover Washington, Jr, Alicia Keys and Gladys Knight. His latest project, El Viaje (The Journey), is a direct result of his international and personal experiences, combining the musical traditions of Afro-Caribbean and European cultures in an operatic narrative. He’ll bring the production, which was co-created by Dennis Guevara and Victor Pablo, to the Temple Performing Arts Center on June 25th and June 26th.

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Watch The Bul Bey throw down in a high-energy set for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Road Show

The Bul Bey performs at World Cafe Live for NPR Music's Tiny Desk Road Show | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | <a href=http://racheldelsordophotography.com target="_blank">racheldelsordophotography.com</a>
The Bul Bey performs at World Cafe Live for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Road Show | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Philly rapper The Bul Bey had a busy couple days last week. After kicking off the Beyond the Bars benefit concert at World Cafe Live, Bey returned to the venue’s upstairs stage on Tuesday April 19th to throw down at NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Road Show.

Bob Boilen and his team brought their popular video contest on the road this spring, and threw a party for a sold-out crowd upstairs at World Cafe Live that featured three standouts from the crop of 131 Philly submissions. Bey took the stage in the middle and immediately got the crowd moving with a high-energy performance backed by DJ John Morrison (a contributor to The Key), delving into his 2015 project Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies and telling the stories behind them. Continue reading →

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Watch singer-songwriter Joy Ike serenade the NPR Music Tiny Desk Road Show

Joy Ike performs at World Cafe Live for NPR Music's Tiny Desk Road Show | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | <a href=http://racheldelsordophotography.com target="_blank">racheldelsordophotography.com</a>
Joy Ike performs at World Cafe Live for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Road Show | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Back on Tuesday the 19th of April, Bob Boilen and his team at NPR Music made a visit to Philadelphia for the first stop of their Tiny Desk Contest Road Show. The popular video / performance series opened itself up to submissions from across the country this winter, drawing in 131 entries from the Philadelphia music community.

Three of the standout submissions from Philly – as chosen by WXPN, NPR Music and Lagunitas – performed for a sold-out crowd at World Cafe Live upstairs on the 19th, beginning with singer-songwriter Joy Ike. Accompanied on percussion by her sister Peace – yes, their names are actually Peace and Joy – the duo played moving and catchy, piano-driven pop songs. Moments of the set recalled Fiona Apple and Leonard Cohen, and the mood ranged from contemplative to celebratory. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Nora Jane Struthers

Photo by Jim McGuire, courtesy of the band.
Photo by Jim McGuire, courtesy of the band.

Nora Jane Struthers and her group the Party Line give me what I always want from a band: kick-ass music that straddles the boundaries between typical genres, enthralling performances, and the best damn attitude. Bonus points given for being some of the nicest people around. These are folks here for the love of the game – all about creating and sharing, and when you’ve got that, you just know good music is apt to follow.
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PREMIERE: Del Sur pulls us into summer with Eating in Bed

del sur
Del Sur | photo by Megan Meehan | courtesy of the artist

The last time we premiered an EP from Del Sur, it was late September and the summer winds were cooling off – H.A.G.S. was a lingering reminder of sunny days down the shore and late nights on the boardwalk. This time, the Yardley-born outfit of Michael Collier is ushering us into the warmer season with a collection of brightly toned pop songs on Eating in Bed.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Abi Reimold

Wriggling, the debut LP from Philly’s Abi Reimold, is the very definition of “music with feeling.” Over the course of a dozen tracks, the album cavorts with joy and seethes with rage. Through an unbridled vocal delivery Reimold conveys pain and sorrow in a way that few of her peers can match; backed by members of Mumblr and Roof Doctor, dynamic arrangements echo the sentiment.

But these feelings, even when heavy and unpleasant, are greatly preferable to feeling nothing at all. They’re part of life, and I think that Reimold – an optimist at heart – is trying to embrace all of that with her art, both visual (she’s a talented photographer) and sonic. Wriggling is about hurt and mortality as much as it’s about love and friendship, and Reimold and her band put it on bold display when they stopped by WXPN to record a Key Studio Session. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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The Key Studio Sessions: The Lawsuits

Over the course of their five-year career, Philly rockers The Lawsuits have tried just about everything. Truckstop country and introspective, spectral folk. Shimmering psychedelic rock and bright 60s pop. Smooth Philly soul and boisterous hip-hop (for those who remember that legendary gig when they backed up Ground Up in Rittenhouse Square).

In short, the Philly-via-Bucks-County five piece has serious range – they can take whatever style fits their mood and make it work. But on the band’s latest, Moon Son, we hear The Lawsuits bringing that broad range into into focus. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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PREMIERE: Party with HOUND, disturbingly, in the “Emotional Collapse” video

HOUND
HOUND | Photo courtesy of the artist

If you’re not already tuned in to rifftastic Philly trio HOUND, here are a few things you should know: they’re incredibly loud. They’re incredibly fun. And they’re unapologetic weirdos. Those three things collide in the best way on the new video for “Emotional Collapse,” a song from their LP Out of Space – released last winter on SRA Records.

The theme is a bright and boisterous birthday party for singer / guitarist / frontman Perry Shall, and a ton of his friends are in attendance: Jake from Golden Tea House, Carolyn Haynes from Ghost Gum, Jarrett Dougherty from Screaming Females, Emily Burtner from Marge. Plus his own bandmates Chris Wilson (drums) and Pat Hickey (bass).

It’s super colorful, everybody’s having a great time and singing along – even when Perry starts opening gifts that run the gamut from a dead fish to a severed hand flipping the bird to used cat litter.  Continue reading →