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Listen to the Dans discuss Chuck Berry and more in the latest Dan and Dan Music Podcast

The 51st episode of the Dan and Dan Music Podcast is here. This time around, the Dans tackle the recent passing of rock & roll legend Chuck Berry. In between reflecting on his highest highs and lowest lows, the dynamic duo listens to material from Berry’s soon to be released new album Chuck and lists their favorite Chuck covers. Eventually, their conversation leading them to a discussion of the interplay between a star’s career and their personal life. Stream the show below. Continue reading →

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Watch Chuck Berry jam with John Lennon on the Mike Douglas show in 1972

Chuck Berry and John Lennon on the Mike Douglas show in 1972

Yesterday we were saddened to hear the news that rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry passed away. Today, we bring you a local memory of him, in video form.

In February, 1972, John Lennon and Yoko One were invited to guest host the Mike Douglas Show in Philadelphia for a week, and they brought on Berry as  a guest. Douglas was an afternoon television talk show host; at the time, he taped in Philly at the KYW studios at 1619 Walnut Street. Lennon, with Ono and their band, backed Berry for two songs, “Memphis, Tennessee,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and sat for an interview with Douglas together.

“If you had tried to try and give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry,” Lennon said in his intro to the legend.

Seated in the audience at this performance was XPN midday host Helen Leicht, who worked in the production department at KYW TV at the time — you can see her clapping along to “Johnny B. Goode” beginning at the 10:48 mark. Continue reading →

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Rock and Roll legend Chuck Berry, dead at 90

Chuck Berry

The legendary Chuck Berry has died. The 90 year old rock and roller, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, defined rock and roll with songs like “Johnny B Goode,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Music,” “Maybelline,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and dozens of more classics. Continue reading →

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Chuck Berry Goes Classical: Listen to Andrew Lipke tackle “Roll Over Beethoven” with violinist Miho Seagusa

Andrew Lipke and Miho Seagusa of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia | still from video
Andrew Lipke and Miho Seagusa of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia | still from video

For the past couple years, Philly’s Andrew Lipke has branched beyond the confines of rock and roll singer-songwriter to collaborate with more classically-rooted music organizations in Philly. In the past year, he’s worked with Choral Arts Philadelphia on a recording project and joined the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia on the INTERSECT concert series, shows intended to bridge the worlds of classical and pop.

The next season of INTERSECT kicks off on Wednesday, November 30th at World Cafe Live, and to mark the occasion, Lipke and violinist Miho Seagusa put a fancy spin on a rock and roll favorite, Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” — which was kind of already a specimen of the rock world teasing the classical world.  Continue reading →

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hermetically Sealed: Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Dawes at the Wells Fargo Center

Jeff Lynne’s ELO | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

In a perfect world…. well, that’s it, isn’t it? A perfect world when it comes to tightly-strung, genius Anglo pop maestro Jeff Lynne and his airless-yet-wildly accessible ELO – itself, a differentiation in name and roll call from what 70s fans knows as Electric Light Orchestra, and the intentions of co-founders Roy Wood (who left after the first album in 1972) and Bev Bevan (who left, rejoined, left, then formed Electric Light Orchestra Part II).

When you entered Wells Fargo Center on Friday for Lynne’s ELO with opening act Dawes, you stepped into a world (literally, as dark universes, epic myth, spinning planets, and spiraling-out-of-control earth drama made metaphorically intimate are crucial to their live landscape) apart from the tonic usual, especially any sound relatable to the present. For Lynne’s songs – despite their lonely boy lost sci-fi-lite touch and future-forward sleekness – is singularly, melodically, rooted in the past: Lennon and McCartney, Mercury and May, Shostakovich and Beethoven, Chuck Berry and George Harrison and Barry Gibb. ELO may have released albums such as ZOOM and Alone in the Universe in the 21st Century, but the glory and grandeur of Friday night’s long-sold-out show was a love affair with the 70s and 80s, his and his audience’s. Continue reading →

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Taylor Mac’s 20th century: Twelve hours of song and struggle, solidarity and sex

Taylor Mac | photo courtesy of the artist

As I entered the Merriam Theater on Saturday, June 9th, as the PIFA street festival was slowly whirring into life outside on South Broad street, I braced myself. What I was about to experience, whatever it turned out to be, was definitely going to be way too much. How could it possibly not be? We’re talking about a non-stop, twelve hour long performance; an epic history-inspired drag cabaret-as-endurance feat, featuring upwards of one hundred songs – roughly ten per hour, or per decade since the starting point of 1896. Actually, this was only the second half of what is, in full, a twenty-four hour work, the first twelve hours of which – covering the decades between 1776-1896 – were staged a week prior. (It’s been presented as an uninterrupted 24-hour marathon only once – in Brooklyn two years ago – but the Philadelphia iteration notches a solid runner-up in the insanity stakes.) Still, much too much seemed like a foregone conclusion.

Here’s the funny thing though: it really wasn’t. Not everything in the twelve hours worked, of course, but an astonishing amount of it did. I was engaged more or less instantly – for one thing, I was called onstage twice within the first two hours (first as part of a wave of immigration from “Eastern Europe” – a.k.a. the back of the house – to an increasingly crowded turn-of-the-century “Jewish tenement” represented by the stage; second, along with every other male in the audience between 14 and 40, as a WWI conscriptee.) And I was never bored. I was never turned off, or overwhelmed in an unfavorable way. I only left the auditorium twice, for no more than two minutes (it was all I could bear.) And when I left for good, shortly after midnight, I was fully satisfied and yet still ready for more.

The show, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, is not just a cabaret performance; not merely a concert, but (also) a costume spectacular, a psycho-political identity-poetics deep-dive, an audience-participatory historical re-enactment and re-calibration, a rip-roaring communal performance art party. Or, as described by its mastermind, master of ceremonies, constantly captivating central figure and the singer of all but a handful of those seemingly-innumerable songs – one Taylor Mac – it is a “radical faerie realness ritual…sacrifice.” Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from Ry Cooder, Neko Case, Wajatta, Bernice, Dear Nora, Stephen Malkmus and more

Neko Case
Neko Case | photo courtesy of the artist

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

Happy summer, is it?  I guess I got all the pop out of my system last month, cuz it’s about to get pretty indie in here.  You like indy music, right?  Good, cause I’ve got nothing major planned for this month.  After all, independence day is coming up soon.  In this June installment of Now Hear This, at the halfway point of an already-pretty-excellent year for all kindsa music, we’ll take some stock of the wide, white, anglophone (though in this case, hardly at all male) world of probably the least useful genre descriptor there is.  Then, eventually, we’ll get to some other places – Holland, Africa, outer space, Takoma Park.  We’ll meet some bands named after names, check in with some artists who’ve been around for fifty years, or seventy years, and some who went away for a while and have come back to us.  First, though, let’s hear a heavy hit from one of the least-categorizable heavy-hitters out there… Continue reading →

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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 →