Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Bird and The Bee at Underground Arts, Whaler at Boot & Saddle, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry at Union Transfer

the bird and the bee
The Bird and The Bee | photo courtesy of the artist

California indie pop outfit The Bird and The Bee headline Underground Arts tonight. The duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin released their fourth studio LP Recreational Love last year, following a 2010 Hall & Oates tribute album (check out “I Can’t Go For That” here). This tour features Inara sans Greg, though she’ll still be joined by her stellar backing band. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here. Watch “Will You Dance?” below.

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NonCOMM Recap: Billy Bragg and Joe Henry led a trip down the dusty trails of America

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry | photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry | photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

Legendary singer-songwriters Billy Bragg and Joe Henry brought their collaborative new album Shine a Light to the PRX Music Stage upstairs at NonCOMM tonight. Recorded during a 65 hour train ride across America, the record digs into the country’s rich locomotive and folk music history.

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Photo recap: Billy Bragg played the Keswick Theatre and Main Street Music for Record Store Day

Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg was a busy guy this past Saturday. He did an in-store performance at Main Street Music in Manayunk for Record Store Day, and played the Keswick Theatre in the evening. All photos by Chris Sikich; check out his website here.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Billy Bragg at the Keswick, Bleached at The Fire, Ladyfest Benefit at Little Berlin

Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg

Garage-punk Los Angeles natives Bleached headline The Fire tonight. Signed to Dead Oceans, Bleached released their debut album Ride Your Heartearlier this month. Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with Hunters, Omar and Catnaps can be found here. Watch the video for Bleached’s “Next Stop” below.

The Ladyfest Philly benefit concert presented by Girls Rock Philly is happening tonight at Little Berlin.  With sets by Bad Braids, Cayetana, and Girls Rock Philly bands Wrong Castle and Barracuda Club House Band, the event was organized by participants in the after school program who are learning the ins and outs of putting on a DIY show.  Ladyfest, a summer festival celebrating women in arts, culture and activism, will take place at The Rotunda on June 7-9.  Tickets and information for tonight’s benefit show can be found here.  Stream “Clover” off of Bad Braids’ forthcoming LP Supreme Parallel below.

British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg performa at The Keswick Theatre tonight. A political activist and influential folk musician, Bragg released his first studio album of original material in five years last month with Tooth & Nail. Tickets and information for tonight’s show can be found here.  At noon today, Bragg will be performing at Main Street Music in Manayunk for Record Store Day. Below, watch Bragg’s video for “No One Knows Nothing Anymore.”

WXPN Welcomes Graham Parker and The Rumour at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware.
Work Drugs at Buzz Ware Village Center in Arden, Delaware.


Just Announced: Billy Bragg returning to The Keswick Theatre in April

Boy oh boy do wish the news this afternoon was that urban folksinger and activist Billy Bragg was performing at The Keswick Theatre amplified only by a pair of speakers and microphone strapped to his shoulders as he used to in the olden days. Alas it’s just a regular concert tour. Which is fine – Bragg’s populist sensibilities lend him an engaging onstage persona, whether he’s backed by a full band or simply by his own dang self. Tickets for the April 20th show go on sale this Friday, January 18th, at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster. Below, watch Bragg perform the classic “To Have and To Have Not” (from 1983’s Life’s a Riot With Spy vs. Spy) in Bochum, Germany on May 30, 1985.


#XPN5050: 1998

For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, John Vettese is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1998.

An absolutely, utterly ridiculously number of now-classic albums first made their way into the world in 1998. Neutral Milk Hotel’s in The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Lauryn Hill’s Mis-Education. Tori Amos’ From The Choirgirl Hotel. Billy Bragg and Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue. Air’s Moon Safari. Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. Madonna’s Ray of Light. Belle and Sebastian’s Boy With The Arab Strap. Jay-Z’s Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life. Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

That’s just a short list — I could go on and on, honestly — and outside the full album zone, think about the hits that year from Fatboy Slim, Pearl Jam, Semisonic, Fastball, Lenny Kravitz, Natalie Merchant, Soul Coughing, New Radicals and so much more.

Suffice it to say, 1998 was a solid year for music through and through, and it was a thing of joy to celebrate it on the #XPN5050 this week.  Continue reading →


Worriers covers The Magnetic Fields’ “Grand Canyon” for No More Dysphoria benefit

Worriers | photo by Molly Adams | courtesy of the artist

Punk outfit Worriers are the closing artist on the new benefit compilation You Can Sing Me Anything: A Tribute to 69 Love Songs. The album pays tribute to The Magnetic Fields’ landmark opus, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next September, and raises money in the process for No More Dysphoria, a non-profit that provides trans individuals with financial assistance for medical costs.

Worriers’ frontperson Lauren Denitzio covered “Grand Canyon” for the project; on the original album, it is the 29th love song (or disc two, song six), but the compilation resequences the record so it ends on “Grand Canyon,” and Denitzio’s solo electric rendition gives it a resonant, Billy Bragg-ish quality to close out the set, as compared to the shimmering synthpop of the original. Continue reading →


Here’s what you’re saying about the 80s #XPNAtoZ

Even in detention, Ally Sheedy’s Allison Reynolds knew that Prince was going to be a hit in the #XPNAToZ | still from video

The 80s edition of the #XPNAToZ special has been in full 24/7 swing for the past week, and the conversation on social media and in the real world is booming. People love it, people can’t stand it, people are generally into it but didn’t like that we played that one song, people don’t understand the Springsteenian excess. Here’s a roundup of some of The Key’s favorite Tweets from the #XPNAToZ hashtag. Join the conversation over that-a-ways, and keep listening; we’ve still got a lot of 80s A to Z to go! Continue reading →


Warm up for the XPN 5K with this playlist from Team Rave On founder Debbie Blum

Team Rave On | photo courtesy of Debbie Blum

This fall, WXPN will hold our fifth annual 5K Run to raise awareness and funds for the Musicians On Call program.

Last year was a very special run in memory of XPN supporter Andy Katz, who passed away on October 14, 2016. His wife Debbie Blum, along with his sons Aaron (20) and Daniel (18), began Team Rave On with family and friends to celebrate Andy’s life. It was an amazing day for everyone, and after the run, Debbie’s mother, Gwen, became a MOC volunteer guide and is working at St. Christopher’s Hospital.

Team Rave On will be joining us again this October. I asked Debbie to put together a list of songs that celebrate Andy, an XPN member, lover of music and a believer in the healing power of music. Continue reading →