Ani DiFranco shows she can turn any setting into an activist platform at her NPR Music Tiny Desk performance

Ani DiFranco at NPR’ Music’s Tiny Desk | still from video via NPR Music

Ani DiFranco can now add ‘performing in front of the famed knick-knack-covered shelves at NPR offices’ to her thirty-years-long list of musical accomplishments, as the similarly famed singer-songwriter recently made her Tiny Desk concert debut.

It’s no secret that DiFranco values and utilizes the political platform that being an artist has offered her, as she is known for being a strong voice in progressive human rights activism. And being how times are right now, she’s got a lot of things to say — which is exactly what she does on her latest album, Binary.  Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ani DiFranco at the Keswick Theatre, Manchester Orchestra at The Fillmore, The Bad Plus at Ardmore Music Hall

Ani DiFranco | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ani DiFranco makes a stop at the Keswick Theatre tonight following the release of her recent 20th studio album, Binary. After spending much of 2016 encouraging audiences to vote on her “Vote Dammit!” tour, DiFranco continues her political message with Binary — “As an artist, I like to be out in the world, and what initially compelled me was to try to push society to a better place,” DiFranco says of the album. Spoken word artist and poet Andrea Gibson will also perform. Watch DiFranco’s video for “Binary” below, and find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


NonCOMM Recap: Ani DiFranco hits the crowd with powerful messages from the new Binary

Ani Di Franco | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Ani DiFranco | photo by Rachel Del Sordo |


Ani DiFranco has been at it for a while. Thirty years, as she reminded the public radio-centric audience at the 17th annual NonCOMMvention tonight, and launching into her set, she gave them an Abbie Hoffman quote to think about: “Don’t hate the media, become the media.”

After a stirring performance of “Swan Dive” from her 1998 record Little Plastic Castle, DiFranco turned the set’s focus to the new Binary, her twentieth album, set for a June 9th release on her Righteous Babe Records. She played solo acoustic, magnetic and mesmerizing, and hit the crowd with powerful messages about reproductive choice and gender equality.  Continue reading →


New Music Show Preview w/ Ani DiFranco, Slowdive & more!

Ani DiFranco | photo by Charles Waldorf

It’s almost that time of year where you can crank up your radio AND roll down your windows.  In fact, tonight would be a good night to give it a try because we’ve got some exciting new albums to play for you.  Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach sounds rather cheery on his new one “Shine On Me”.  We’ll spin it for you.  Also on the menu, a preview of the new Father John Misty album that comes out later this week.  We’ll hear from Rave-Ups frontman Jimmer Podrasky who has a new solo album, the return of the Canadian super-group Broken Social Scene, and a few more …

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ani DiFranco at World Cafe Live at the Queen, Creepoid at The Fillmore, Dave Matthews Band at BB&T Pavilion and more…

Ani DeFranco | photo by Charles Waldorf
Ani DeFranco | photo by Charles Waldorf

She’s done it all over the course of here career, and now Ani DiFranco brings her massive catalog (over 20 albums) to World Cafe Live in Wilmington. Rooted in folk, DiFranco has gone from jazz to funk to spoken word to even some electronic stuff over the decades. Her most recent release is 2014’s Allergic to Water. The XPN Concert Calendar has you covered with tickets and more info on the show, at which Chasity Brown will play in support. We have you covered with a little Ani DiFranco sampling — listen to “Woe Be Gone” below. Continue reading →


Watch Tin Bird Choir cover Ani DiFranco at Burlap and Bean

Tin Bird Choir | via bandcamp

Philly folkies Tin Bird Choir have been making waves in the area for a while now, and are known for their long list of delicate cover songs. They have taken on everyone from The Rolling Stones to Christmas classics such as “We Three Kings”, and their latest video showcases a performance of Ani DiFranco‘s “Hour Follows Hour.”

The song, which was performed by the band at Burlap and Bean back in March, was originally on DiFranco’s 1995 album “Not A Pretty Girl.” TBC’s cover comes as a duet between vocalist and guitarist husband-wife duo Heather and Eric Hurlock, and features Heather’s honest and melodic vocals. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: John Zorn’s Simulacrum at Johnny Brenda’s, Ani DiFranco at Scottish Rite Auditorium, Promised Land Sound at Kung Fu Necktie

John Zorn | photo by Chad Batka
John Zorn | photo by Chad Batka

How often do you hear this description of a musical act: “the prog-metal organ trio of Downtown alchemists”? Not very often, presumably. Tonight, noteworthy composer John Zorn brings his extreme organ trio, Simulacrum, to Johnny Brenda’s. The trio of John Medeski (Medeski, Martin & Wood), Matt Hollenberg (Cleric) and Kenny Grohowski (Abraxas) will bring riffs, solos, and improvisations to the stage tonight. Get show info and concert tickets at the XPN Concert Calendar and listen to the trio’s “Marmarath” below. Continue reading →


Q&A: Matt Duke on his new record Singer/Songwriter, lyrical moods and opening up for Ani DiFranco (plus get a free download of “Susannah”)

Matt Duke | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |

Last Friday, XPN members and listeners were treated to a special opening set by local musician Matt Duke at the Free at Noon, which also featured a performance by Ani DiFranco and took place in Wilmington at World Cafe Live at The Queen.  Duke released his latest full-length record Singer/Songwriter in March so I asked him a few questions about pulling together the new LP and who he looks to for musical inspiration.  Following the Q&A, get a free download of Duke’s song “Susannah” and listen back to his Free at Noon performance.

Helen Leicht: Matt you just released a new album Singer/Songwriter.  Your fans helped you with this music with your Kickstarter campaign, what was that like?

Matt Duke: The Kickstarter experience was both humbling and empowering and I’m really glad that I decided to give it a shot.  For so long, I was at the mercy of record labels and the music industry when I wrote and recorded anything.  Through that experience, there’s certainly a chunk of yourself that can get lost, while even the trivial aspects of your songwriting get scrutinized to the point where the song (or even the whole album) feels like it’s exhausted and a bit soulless.

Regardless, I found that it was always important to remind myself that the songs I wrote were really meant for myself and for the fans of my music (and, hopefully, future fans) – much like the way I hope St. Vincent gets as much pleasure out of writing and recording her music as I do listening to her new records when they’re released.  I’m not St. Vincent, but you get the idea.

Kickstarter linked the two most important pieces to the artistic equation – the artist and the fans – and I was moved by the support I received during my campaign.  With that said, the pressure was on to create something that I was not only proud of (by my own expectations), but something that was absolutely authentic and that would require a lot of hard work.  I think Marshall Altman and I were able to do that and I’m proudest that this album derived from the love and support of people that have stood beside me for many, many years.

HL: You have a definite edge to your songs, a darker side.  What music do you listen to?  And what artists have influenced your songwriting?

MD: There’s a bit of a dark side to my songwriting, but I try my best to level it out with either some upbeat, pop hooks or an entire song where I call out my own morose lyricism (“Anything Will Do”). I suppose my writing could be described as introspective and that would give me the benefit of the doubt when I start using words like “self-immolation”, etc.

My songwriting and guitar playing blossomed near the end of the grunge-era, so I was steeped in Soundgarden and Nirvana and Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins and so on, as well as Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Sunny Day Real Estate, Nine Inch Nails.  But the influences that stuck with me when I really started to dig into songwriting were artists like Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate), Jeff Buckley, Ani DiFranco, Peter Gabriel, Conor Oberst, Tori Amos, Dave Matthews, and bands that my Dad had me listening to like The Band, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Supertramp, and Bruce Springsteen.  Depending on my mood, I could be listening to Dillinger Escape Plan or Sigur Ros or Béla Fleck…who knows.  Also, my daughter has a say, so these days it’s a lot of Fleetwood Mac.

HL: Last Friday you opened for Ani DiFranco at World Café live at the Queen, who you just said was an early songwriting influence.   What was that experience like?

MD: The experience of opening for Ani DiFranco at the Free at Noon can best be summed up by imagining butterflies in someone’s stomach, but instead of butterflies, they’re miniature atom bombs and they don’t stop through your entire opening set and you simultaneously feel like you could faint from pure, unmitigated elation and vomit from nerves that make you shake worse than sub-zero temperatures.  That was my experience in a nutshell.  Once in a lifetime; a dream come true.