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West Philly drummer Justin Faulkner brings Community Unity Music Festival to Clark Park

Justin Faulkner and his family organized West Philly's first Community Unity Festival, slated for Sunday. | Photo by Shaun Brady
Justin Faulkner and his family organized West Philly’s first Community Unity Festival, slated for Sunday. | Photo by Shaun Brady

Growing up in the Cedar Park section of West Philly, Justin Faulkner spent so much time with his nearby cousins that they felt more like brothers. So it hit particularly hard when one of those cousins fell victim to gun violence, killed just outside West Philadelphia High School when Faulkner was in his early teens. Not long after, another cousin met the same fate, followed by several of Faulkner’s childhood friends. Continue reading →

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…The culture of India & the Caribbean…Pancakes, Booze and Art…and so much more!

courtesy of http://www.mccannteam.com/join-the-celebration-indias-independence-day-at-penns-landing/
courtesy of http://www.mccannteam.com/join-the-celebration-indias-independence-day-at-penns-landing/

Penn’s Landing hosts two free cultural celebrations this weekend.  Saturday’s 21st Festival of India at the Great Plaza is sponsored annually by the Council of Indian Organizations to celebrate India’s Independence Day and bring her art, music, dance, and cuisine to the shore of the Delaware River.

Sunday’s Caribbean Festival is in its 28th year, and brings the offerings of 14 Caribbean islands to the Great Plaza:  reggae, roots international beat, hip-hop, steel band and gospel music…poetry…island skits and dances… a marketplace of Caribbean fashions, souvenirs, arts and crafts… and an African/Caribbean children’s village. Continue reading →

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The Taney Dragons Little League baseball champs share their walk up songs

Photo courtesy of: http://www.taneybaseball.com/
Photo courtesy of: http://www.taneybaseball.com/

Here at XPN we’re all pretty excited for Philly’s Taney Dragons Little League baseball team who are playing in the Mid-Atlantic regional championship game against Delaware tonight at 6PM. The game will be on EPSN 2. Taney is one win away, and will be the qualifying game to play in the Little League baseball World Series in Williamsport.

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UPDATE: Tanney won the Mid-Atlantic championship game, 8-0! Now moving onto the opening round of the Series at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, PA, their first game is on Friday Aug 15th at 3pm. Full schedule here

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One of the players on the little league baseball team is Tai Shanahan, the son of WXPN’s Associate General Manager Quyen Shanahan. Taney has gotten some fantastic press in their exciting march towards the little league championship game. Continue reading →

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Listen to a rare recording of The Delfonics and Billy Stewart from a live concert at West Philly’s Nixon Theatre

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Music journalist and Philly native, Mr. C – the host of Mr. C’s Soul Spectacular internet radio show, as well as a historian and record crate digger – has hipped us to an amazing live recording of a show at Philly’s Nixon Theatre featuring soul singer Billy Stewart and Philly’s The Delfonics. Stewart performed his classic “Summertime” and The Delfonics sang “You’ve Been Untrue,” a side they recorded early in their career on Cameo Records.

The Nixon Theatre, built in 1910, stood tall at 52nd and Market Streets until it was demolished in 1984. Continue reading →

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Love for Locals: Why XPoNential performances mean more to hometown acts

The Lawsuits | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
The Lawsuits | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

For the touring acts playing – and certainly the audience watching – this year’s XPoNential Music Festival can be summed up as a fun weekend full of great music, great people and relatively little rain.

But for local bands playing the festival, it means just a little bit more. For some, it was their first time playing outdoors in a festival setting. Others were returning to play for the third or fourth time. Several artists thought their sets went well, but a few had technical difficulties or other problems to work through.

From the Marina stage to the Susquehanna Bank Center, the hometown audience seemed to clap a little louder and listen a little more intently to the local acts. For Philly-based pop rock outfit Viv and the Revival, the first act to perform Friday, the admiration even elicited shouts of, “You rock!” and “Way to start our festival!” from the crowd. Continue reading →

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Who was that guy impersonating Forrest Gump throughout XPoNential 2014?

Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Forrest Gump impersonator Paul Dengler | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

You never know what you’re gonna get at a music festival. At least that’s what Paul Dengler wanted to make sure life was like at XPoNential this year.

Dengler, a Forrest Gump impersonator, was seen from Friday to Sunday watching performances, interacting with festival-goers and starting conga lines. Continue reading →

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Where do The War on Drugs like to eat and drink when they’re home in Philly?

Photo by Rachel Barrish
Photo by Rachel Barrish

Music, food and culture app Supper recently sat down with The War on Drugs’ Robbie Bennett and Dave Hartley, to talk about their favorite places to eat and listen to music in Philly. They recommend spots from Chestnut Hill to West Philly and of course show some love for the burgers at Johnny Brenda’s.  To hear more reccommendationss from the band read the full article over on Supper here.

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Hit Frankford Ave’s First Friday art shows hosted by Bleeding Rainbow’s Sarah Everton and Hound’s Perry Shall

PerryOne night, two art opening, probably LOTS of musicians. Probably. First, we’ve got Sarah Everton, bassist for Bleeding Rainbow, hosting “The Month Punk Broke: Drawings, & Miscelleneous Shit by Sarah Everton” at Rocket Cat Cafe. Everton has done the album artwork for Bleeding Rainbow’s past releases and album artwork for fellow fuzz-rockers Eternal Summers, among a multitude of other projects. Everton’s colorful approach to a multimedia-patchwork aesthetic promises to deliver a compelling collection of work. Continue reading →

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The Other Repo Man: A look at the life of Repo Records owner Dan Matherson

Dan Matherson, owner of South Street music institution Repo Records | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com
Dan Matherson, owner of South Street music institution Repo Records | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

“We’ve been open, what, 26 years now?” His voice goes up at the end as if he’s asking me. Of course, Dan Matherson is aware of how long his store has been open. He’s just being modest, which is impressive given that he owns and operates a record store, selling music in a physical format even as the industry trends digital.

The first Repo Records opened in 1986 in the main line suburb of Wayne. The side street it was located on was the best location Matherson could find given his tight budget. “The rent was so cheap, like, $400 a month,” he says. The slab of real estate wasn’t the best, but Matherson was able to draw in customers by advertising on train stops and fliers posted around the locality. As his business expanded, he relocated to a second site in Bryn Mawr, where business took off. Eventually, he was able to open a second store on the 500 block of South Street in Philadelphia – the main hub for Repo since the Bryn Mawr location closed in the mid-aughts.

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LPs ranging from Iron Maiden to The Front Bottoms line the Repo Records walls | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

Matherson grew up in Devon, an area in which the few existing record stores were chains, which typically sold whatever was at the top of the charts that week. However, New York was his home away from home, and it was there that he would frequent record stores of a different type. The record stores in New York didn’t care about what was popular. They sold what was good. Knowing there was nothing like this in his Pennsylvania suburb, Matherson found his calling.

He nicked the store’s name from the 1984 movie, Repo Man. Given the movie’s punk rock soundtrack featuring artists like Iggy Pop and Circle Jerks, he figured it would make a good name for his store, which specializes in punk and underground records.

Matherson is a huge fan of punk; he loves bands like Joy Division and The Buzzcocks. In 1981, he traveled to New York to see The Clash play at Bond’s Casino, which he described as “one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.”

As he lists some of his favorite bands, it’s clear he’s quite the rock and roll connoisseur. He gravitates towards lots of new wave bands from the late 70s and early 80s such as Wire, The Teardrop Explodes, and especially The Chameleons. In fact, Matherson helped organize a Chameleons concert at J.C. Dobbs when he found out the band had no Philadelphia dates on its 2006 American tour. Continue reading →

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How should musicians handle bloggers that want freebies of their physical releases? Here’s what Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner did.

japanese bfastIt’s one of those double-edged swords of being a music journalist. Unless you’re a shameless mooch – the sort our buddies at Philebrity once pointedly dubbed “promosexual” – you probably made your way into the industry so you could turn other people on to artists that you’re personally excited about. However, in the process of doing that, you kinda sorta have to hit up those artists (or their label / industry reps) for freebies from time to time.

As a writer, there are various ways to altruistically handle this. One, simply purchase anything you’re writing about with your own money (nobody does this). Two, approach the artist / their people and ask for a download of the 7″ single / LP full-length / cassette you’re looking to review. Three, if advance leakage and lack of mp3 monetization are a concern for the artist or label, simply make do with a streaming-only version of the music (not as portable as a download, but whatever) and use that in your research.

Amazingly, in 2014, there are still journalists who require a physical copy of a release before they cover it. This recently led to a curious incident involving Japanese Breakfast, the solo lo-fi project of Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner.

The project’s two 2014 EPs are being released as a limited-run cassette, American Sound and Where is My Great Big Feeling via Sea Green Records this month. Zauner was recently hit up by a music blogger for a copy of the aforementioned limited-run cassette, and the exchange was a little disheartening. She was upset enough that she posted the emails to her Tumblr page last night – we’ll leave the blogger’s name out of this on our end, but if you’re curious, Zauner did identify them in her post.

Here’s how it went down: Zauner replied that she couldn’t afford to send a copy of the cassette, however, free downloads are available on her Bandcamp page, and the writer could feel free to review that. “It will most likely sound better on your computer anyway,” she joked. The blogger didn’t find this funny. Continue reading →