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XPN Fest: Amy Ray closes the weekend sans Sailers in stellar solo performance

Amy Ray Band | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

The Indigo Girls are incredibly prolific. The duo of Amy Ray and Emily Sailers have been around for nearly 35 years, making politically driven folk-rock. So when a pair is that well known, it can be hard for each member’s solo project to find success. However,  Amy Ray is an anomaly. She has found the time to release six solo studio albums while continuing to make music with Sailers. On Sunday night, Amy Ray played a stellar festival-closing performance at the XPNFest waterfront stage.  Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Guster relaxes in a borrowed lawn chair, bring Barenaked Ladies to the River Stage

Guster | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

When I interviewed Ryan Miller, Guster’s lead singer and guitarist, earlier this month about the band’s new Labi Siffre cover, he told me that he might get a new suit for XPN Fest. I don’t know if it was new, but his Sunday evening suit was most definitely notable. Stepping out onto the River Stage in a head-to-toe pineapple pattern, Miller led Guster through an eventful set consisting of a balanced array of new and old songs from their 25-year-long repertoire. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Kathleen Edwards makes a grand return on the River Stage

Kathleen Edwards | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

Singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards is an XPN fest veteran. She’s also been on hiatus since 2012, and appeared very eager to be back and in action today. Upon jumping on the River Stage, she told a story about her many times performing, even before we were situated at Camden waterfront. “Change The Sheets” was a fantastic way to begin her set, as it set the mood that Edwards was going for. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Lucy Dacus breaks through the simulation on the River Stage

Lucy Dacus | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

Lucy Dacus had a big day at Newport Folk Fest yesterday, and was coping not only with losing her voice, but with whatever the mental state is that comes from meeting Dolly Parton. But even though she was existing in what she called an “alternate thread of the simulation,” and didn’t feel like any of this was real, she kept the energy high throughout her River Stage set, winning over a crowd of old and new fans with her thoughtful indie rock. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Dave Hause & The Mermaid perform a powerful, heartwarming set at the River Stage

Dave Hause | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

Roxborough punk rocker Dave Hause & The Mermaid riveted the waterfront stage at XPN Fest this afternoon, providing healthy amounts of heartfelt moments and a dose of surprise. Switching between acoustic and electric guitar, Hause never let the heat bother him, and encouraged the crowd to do so also. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: RFA breezes through their early Sunday set at the River Stage

RFA | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

RFA opened XPN Fest at noon with a refreshing sense of urgency. The band flew through their setlist, seldom introducing songs or speaking to the audience. But as a group that is still somewhat under the radar, they made the best use of their time. RFA sought out to do one thing, showcase their immense musical talent and garner new fans. Which as a young, stylish, talented indie band they undoubtedly did. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Elvis Costello and Blondie celebrate the past while looking to the future

Elvis Costello | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

When an artist has been making music for over four decades, there are a couple common routes they can take with they live shows. One: stick to the tried-and-true, deliver a crowd-pleasing hit-parade, dial down the surprises or spontaneity. Two: write immersive new records and focus only on them, jettison the career-making singles that they’re tired of playing and don’t feel connected to anymore anyway.

Or they could find a third option in between phoned-in and alienating. On Saturday, two elite members of the post-punk / new wave vanguard, Elvis Costello and Blondie, did just that, headlining night two of the XPoNential Music Festival with sets that played equally to the casual listeners and the die-hards. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: The McCrary Sisters channel the divine in an incredible Marina Stage set

The McCrary Sisters | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

The McCrary Sisters are a powerhouse quartet, able to channel the inner workings of your soul through their unique style of gospel music. Today at the Marina Stage, they used their powers for good, putting on a spectacular performance.

The sisters began with “Mighty Good Time,” fully supported by their highly skillful backup band. Moving and grooving, the sisters harmonized beautifully with one another. It was clear that they had a special bond that most siblings could only dream of. During “David Dance,” they began to let loose, encouraging each band member to improvise.

The set took a magical turn once they began singing a cover of “Amazing Grace,” injecting it with their gospel roots. Different from the traditional arrangement of it, the band changed up the chords, making them more dark and emotional. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Caroline Rose provides endless laughs high-energy rock at the Marina Stage

Caroline Rose | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

Pop-rock favorite Caroline Rose could have a fallback career as a comedian if the music thing gets boring. On the Marina Stage for day two of XPN Fest, Rose had the crowd laughing and dancing to her set, which included a preview of new material. Beginning with “Everybody’s Making Out,” Rose nearly decapitated her drummer after flicking a sandal straight into the air. Just a taste of what was to come, she continued on. The heat was no match for Rose, who came dressed in her signature red jacket, pair of fuzzy socks, and headband.

Her dance moves truly began to come out on “Jeannie Becomes a Mom,” where she and the band all jammed out. Rose extended the last chorus to further improvise on her dance moves at the edge of the stage. Continue reading →