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Free at Noon Flashback: Greg Holden impressed the crowd with sincerity

Greg Holden | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com
Greg Holden | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com

Singer-songwriter Greg Holden knows the peaks and valleys of life like an old friend. And at today’s Free at Noon, he sung about his triumphs and troubles to a passionate audience.

He almost didn’t make it to this point – in 2011, he spent a lofty sum of money to put out his album I Don’t Believe You, then watched helplessly as his record label went bust. Shortly after, he embarked on a sold-out tour of Holland even though he was in debt. By that point, Holden’s attitude towards music had become grim. The curtains had just about closed on his musical dream.

Then, Holden wrote the song “Home” – yes, that one, the chart-shattering single that rocketed American Idol winner Phillip Phillips to stardom. Holden regained his motivation and purpose, and after a trek to India and Nepal, he immediately wrote the songs that would become his major-label debut, Chase the Sun. 

Holden has a knack for weaving his tales into impactful songs. This was best exemplified during today’s Free at Noon concert with the touching “Boys in the Street,” a song about a father’s struggle with his feelings about his gay son. Continue reading →

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Feel Like We Do: Peter Frampton plays an ecstatic set at Sands Bethelehem

Peter Frampton | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com
Peter Frampton | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com

Tuesday night, guitar rock legend Peter Frampton played for an enthusiastic crowd at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem. His set only totaled about ten songs, but it was by no means short: many featured extended jams with his guitar counterpart, Adam Lester. All of the originals from his classic 1976 album Frampton Comes Alive! were featured, and he played its opening three songs – “Something’s Happening,” “Doobie Wah” and “Show Me the Way” – in order at the start of the show. Continue reading →

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Iron and Wine and Ben Bridwell showcase musical friendship at Union Transfer

Iron and Wine and Ben Bridwell | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Iron and Wine and Ben Bridwell | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

While walking east towards Union Transfer on Tuesday night, loud rain could be heard in the immediate distance. This was odd because no rain was falling where I was. Then, like out of a movie, I walked into a rainstorm. It was this otherworldly experience that ushered in a night of music with Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell.

Playing behind Sing Into My Mouth, a covers album they recently released, Sam Beam (aka Iron and Wine) and Bridwell (frontman of Band of Horses) showcased their musical friendship to a sold out crowd. Trading lead vocal duties and often singing in harmony, these old friends give their own folksy rock take to a number of varying tunes. Standout moments included Sade’s “Bulletproof Soul,” the unexpected Americana turn of Spiritualized with “The Straight and Narrow” and a rousing version of David Gilmour’s “There’s No Way Out of Here.” Continue reading →

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Feeling the heat with The Appleseed Cast at a sold-out Johnny Brenda’s

The Appleseed Cast | Photo by Joe Lamberti | www.jlamberti.com
The Appleseed Cast | Photo by Joe Lamberti | www.jlamberti.com

The Appleseed Cast took to the stage Wednesday night to a sold out crowd at Johnny Brenda’s. Guitarist Taylor Holenbeck addressed the group a few times, joking about the abundance of body heat in the room; he encouraged everyone to move around, not to dance, but to embrace the heat and raise the temperature further. He then tangled himself up in strands of the venue’s iconic beads, which hang on stage. The quartet went on to play for about an hour, radiating loud, whirring walls of model post-rock sound. Continue reading →

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Here are all our favorite covers from this past weekend’s XPN Fest

George Ezra | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
George Ezra | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Missed out on the festivities this past weekend? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. As entertaining as it was seeing some of our favorite bands play some of our favorite songs at XPN Fest, it was equally fun seeing them play some of their own favorite songs. Without fail, there is always a fantastic collection of covers played by the various performers throughout the festival, and we’re here to break down the best of the weekend for you. Continue reading →

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Scenes and stories from the 56th annual Newport Folk Festival

An all-star tribute to Bob Dylan featuring Dawes, Robyn Hitchcock, Gillian Welch, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more | Photo by Kate McCann
An all-star tribute to Bob Dylan going electric featuring Dawes, Robyn Hitchcock, Gillian Welch, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more | Photo by Kate McCann | flickr.com/photos/126156760@N07

There is a certain energy in Newport, Rhode Island the day before the folk festival begins. Maybe it’s because venues and movie theaters hold pre-fest shows to welcome everyone into town, or because you’ll see Deer Tick wandering the streets after midnight in pirate costumes. But this year it was the anticipation surrounding the newly added “unannounced” guests of the weekend.

“I saw Bono earlier!” “It’s definitely CSNY.” “Man, I don’t know, I think I heard Dawes was playing XPNFest this year instead.” The rumors began Friday morning, and didn’t cease until the minute the show ended Sunday night when over 40 people were all on stage singing “Rainy Day Woman,” paying homage to Dylan’s 1965 infamous set at the NFF. Continue reading →

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Eaux Claires Day 2: More mud, more sweat, a lot more tears

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

The Eaux Claires festival in Eau Claire, WI continued (read about Day 1 here) July 18 with a much slower start, a combination of Friday’s intense heat and thundershowers through the night having broken some of the pressure.

Leaving no time to waste, staff photog Jeremy and I headed over to the dome marked “Eternity Awaits” that I described yesterday. Once inside the dome, recorded “confessions” and “Alleluias” played as a soundtrack for the experiment as the hay bales started to fill with those anxious to confess. These recorded confessions included everything from a woman sharing she was really a cat to friends admitting they deceived each other; really weird mix of stuff. I pulled the number “12” from the ticket wheel and patiently waited. Astronautalis came out from the confessional between hearing confessions in full priestly regalia, guzzling a Miller Lite and sizing up every sinner in the room with his own appearance-based evaluation – never mind what each person was actually going to confess.

Finally, my ticket was called and I approached the confessional, totally unsure of what to do once I got up there. But, just like in my Catholic upbringing, I entered one side of the confessional and Astronautalis entered the other. The walls of the small box were filled with photobooth-like mugs of others; a kneeler and a screen were also present in on the wall facing Astronautalis. Continue reading →

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Quick, Furious, Enthralling; R. Ring takes on Johnny Brenda’s

R . Ring | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
R . Ring | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

Johnny Brenda’s hosted the glories of R. Ring on Monday night for a small, eager Philadelphia crowd. Kelley Deal of The Breeders and Mike Montgomery of Ampline rocked their way through a brisk 40-plus minute set, with the occasional drumming help of Leo DeLuca for good measure. With songs coming from various EPs, some released, some unreleased, as well as cuts by The Kelley Deal 6000 (“Trixie Delicious”) and Shellac (“Ghosts”), R. Ring engaged with tightknit arrangements. Deal had 10 pedals at her disposal and even played a few songs free of guitars. It was quick, furious and enthralling ear candy. Continue reading →

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XPNFest Recap: Grace Potter and George Ezra shut down the festival with a pop / rock finale

Grace Potter | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Grace Potter | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Like any good music festival, XPoNential requires stamina for those dedicated enough to take it in from top to bottom, front to back. This year was no exception, but those who stuck around to catch the closing night SBC show headlined by Grace Potter and George Ezra were in for a treat. Both performers were totally captivating and engaging, but in different ways – Ezra putting on the storytelling charm and crafting intimate moments with just his voice and guitar, Potter getting all in-your-face with a big and bold six-piece band. Continue reading →

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XPNFest Recap: Indigo Girls play to the faithful, closing out the day at Wiggins Park

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Indigo Girls | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Longtime XPN favorites Indigo Girls ended this year’s XPoNential Music Festival with a rewarding set of old and new songs.

They got things kicked off with the poignant “Shame on You,” and kept the momentum going throughout.  Songs like “Least Complicated,” and “Joking,” involved much audience participation.  Singer and guitarist Amy Ray performed a blistering “Spread the Pain Around” from their new album One Lost Day,proving that Courtney Barnett and the Indigo Girls have more in common than many of XPN’s younger listeners may think.   Continue reading →