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Just Announced: Smokey Robinson to headline the Mann Center

Image via NPR

Legendary singer, songwriter, and producer Smokey Robinson is coming to the Mann Center on August 25th for a night of his classic hits. With Grammys, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, his time at Motown, multiple classic hits, and years of experience under his belt this legend has a perfect formula to put on a good show. Tickets go on sale on Friday, March 9th at 10AM, so make sure to grab yours before they sell out. Continue reading →

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Jan 29 in Music History: The Beatles record their German singles, Smokey Robinson leaves the Miracles

The Beatles in German
1961 – Bob Dylan achieves his dream of meeting his idol while Woody Guthrie is on a weekend release from the NJ hospital where he is being treated for Huntington’s Chorea. Dylan plays “Song to Woody,” which appears on his first album the following year, and tells him, “I was a Woody Guthrie jukebox.” Guthrie gives Dylan a card that says, “I ain’t dead yet.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ash at Johnny Brenda’s, Smokey Robinson at the Strand Theater, Martha Wainwright at World Cafe Live, John Hiatt at Sellersville Theater

Northern Irish rockers Ash will be performing at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The alt-rock/pop four-piece from Downpatrick has been performing since 1992 with some change in their lineup over the years (including English singer Charlotte Hatherley, Bloc Party‘s Russell Lissack, and LaFaro‘s Alan Lynn). In 2011 most of the band’s performances included “Best of” sets as well as most of 2001’s Free All Angels. Go here for details and tickets to this evening’s 21+ show; doors open at 8. Below, watch the video for “There’s A Star” from Free All Angels. 

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Now Hear This: New songs from Andy Jenkins, Gang Gang Dance, Gorillaz, Arp, LUMP, Wilder Maker, and more

Orquesta Akokán | via orquestaakokan.bandcamp.com

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

Aw yeah, summer. The entropy, the lethargy, the visceral extremes.  Now, summer makes all sorts of things weird anyway, but I feel like summertime in music-land has gotten especially wonky in recent years. Basically, my take is that the focus on large-scale music festivals which has ballooned over the past decade or so has taken a palpable bite out of non-festival-centric touring itineraries, and thus summer concert calendars, and even, indirectly, album release schedules. (Aside from the overwhelming hype cavalcade of Drake, Jay-Zeyonce and Kanye and Co. all dropping within a matter of weeks, the last few weeks have felt a bit thin for noteworthy new releases, and the rest of July and August, peering ahead, are looking even sparser.) Maybe I’d be less sore about all this if I felt closer to the target audience for either Firefly or Made in America, but as it stands those festivals’ biggest impact on me, personally, has been (presumably) shutting Philly out of proper local headline dates for the makers of some of my favorite music of the year: Janelle Monáe, for instance, and Amen Dunes.

Still, there’s plenty that’s worth seeing, concert-wise, in the coming weeks – it just feels like (even) more of an unpredictable hodge-podge than usual. Some of it is coming in the form of smaller, locally-targeted festivals: there’s XPN’s own XPoNential Festival, of course, and the decidedly weirder and more DIY All Mutable Summer Jam which is running the same weekend (July 27th-28th); I’m also pretty hyped about the free, Latin Roots-affiliated Nuevofest which is coming up this Sunday (read on for more about that.)

Anyhow, this being summertime, what do you say we all take a trip? Just a little musical vacation around the globe and beyond, to points both familiar and strange; real, imaginary and somewhere in between. I can’t say that it will all be straightforward or entirely uncomplicated – what is nowadays, after all – but I do promise we’ll have some fun along the way. And it’ll feel oh so nice to arrive back home at the end.

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This Day in Music History: Elton John & Bernie Taupin sign their first contract, Alice in Chains release their self-titled album

Alice in Chains

1963 – The Beatles make their only two appearances ever in Ireland, playing at the Adelphi Cinema in Dublin. The group hooks up with screenwriter Alun Owen, who has been appointed to write the screenplay for their as-yet-untitled first motion picture. Owen spends three days with them, observing their hectic lifestyle.

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