Courtney Marie Andrews’ American Dream: Get to know the nomadic singer-songwriter and storyteller, XPN’s April Artist to Watch

Courtney Marie Andrews | photo by Laura E. Partain

Courtney Marie Andrews is an observer. She’s seen the world at its best and its worst, and written a few songs about it — but observing, for Andrews, isn’t just a surface-level thing. She doesn’t hesitate to dive deep into the root of someone else’s problems, or to analyze the economic state of America through the places she’s seen and people she’s met. It probably helps that she’s a skilled storyteller with a natural knack for empathy, values kindness above all, and finds glimmers hope and optimism wherever she goes.

Andrews may write about the lives of others, but lately eyes have been on her. She is XPN’s Artist to Watch this month, and she’s been touring constantly behind her new album May Your Kindness Remain. (That tour will bring her back our way this summer for the XPoNential Music Festival.) It’s fitting that when we talked on the phone, Andrews was on the road, driving to San Francisco to play a show later that night. She’s spent a lot of time on the road — not just lately, but over the last decade or so. May Your Kindness Remain is Andrews’ fourth full-length, but it was only with her 2016 album Honest Life that she started to receive critical acclaim. Now, with a new record in tow, she’s preparing for her voice to be heard by more listeners than ever before.

In a world like ours, and with a nomadic lifestyle like Andrews’, it seems all too easy to become jaded and worn down. “When you’re trying to be tender but instead you come off cold; when your sweetness surrenders to the cruelness of this world,” Andrews sings on “Kindness of Strangers.” “All the small stuff, and the bad luck, when it all becomes too much, how do you find solace in a place so quick to judge?” She says she doesn’t have an answer to that question; there’s no easy solution. But just a moment later in the song, she does answer it, in a way: “You rely on the kindness of strangers.”

Read our conversation with Andrews below. Continue reading →


Listen to new albums out today by XPNFest artists Sunflower Bean and Courtney Marie Andrews

Sunflower Bean | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

New Music Friday has blessed us this week, with the release of two new full-lengt albums from artists we’ll be getting better acquainted with this summer at XPNFest.

First, Sunflower Bean‘s Twentytwo In Blue – written while the band were all 22 years old – sees the New York City trio grappliing with an array of modern day topics, ranging from dealing with relationships to reacting to the current political climate. An eclectic range of sounds, the band takes inspiration from glam rock and punk, shoegaze and hints of folk. XPN hosted the trio of Brooklynites for a Fee at Noon set this past January, and the then-unreleased songs sounded sublime.

Throughout the album, frontwoman Julia Cumming displays her wide vocal range, from the angsty anthemic-punk track “Crisis Fest” to the blissfully atmospheric “I Was A Fool.” On the former, the band channels everyday anxieties, ranging from mounting student debt to seemingly-more-frequent missile tests and false alarms. Cumming shouts “Reality’s one big sick show,” a sentiment many can relate to in this day and age. Read our recap of their Free at Noon set and stream today’s World Cafe Session including a live performance and interview with contributing host, Stephen Kallao. Continue reading →


Listen to #XPNFest artist Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album May Your Kindness Remain via NPR Music

Courtney Marie Andrews | photo by Laura E. Partain

Courtney Marie Andrews has spent a lot of time on the road — so much that she wrote an entire record about what she’s learned, about herself and about the world, along the way. The Americana singer-songwriter is taking no break from the tour life anytime soon, but before she heads our way to play the 2018 XPoNential Music Festival this July, she’s releasing that record. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Courtney Marie Andrews at Boot & Saddle, The Record Company at Chameleon Club

courtney marie andrews
Courtney Marie Andrews | photo by Susy Sundborg | via artist’s Facebook

Courtney Marie Andrews brings her latest (and breakout) album Honest Life to Boot & Saddle tonight, a record whose first songs were written while the Seattle country musician was experiencing heartbreak and homesickness in Belgium. A collaborator of many and a longtime session player, Andrews recently teamed up with Bonnie “Prince” Billy for a duet of the classic gospel tune “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” – a track featured in this month’s Now Hear This installment. Watch “Put the Fire Out” below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show with The Dove & The Wolf here.

Continue reading →


The Week Ahead: Miguel, Gepe, Deb Callahan, CRUISR, Palm and more

Miguel | Photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

As I type this, people around me are fretting about snowfall predictions and travel routes home; kind of unusual for a spring equinox. At the same time, we’ve got the first weekend of the new season ahead of us, and a whopping six concerts to choose from this Friday to kick it off, so things are looking up. From a couple shows from country icon k.d. lang to expansive experimental sounds from Philly’s Palm, punk rock from Yankee Bluff and hip-hop from Tiani Victoria, here are 18 concerts you can’t miss this week. Continue reading →


Now Hear This: New songs by Natalia Lafourcade and Caroline Rose, Car Seat Headrest and Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Ezra Furman and Johanna Warren…and more

Caroline Rose
Caroline Rose | photo by Matt Hogan | courtesy of the artist

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

Another month, another haphazard assemblage of sounds, culled from near and far, old and new, this and that, recent recordings and forthcoming performances (another solid line-up of the latter!) Somehow, unpredictably, through-lines tend to emerge, and I try to take them for what they’re worth without overstating the point. For whatever reason, in compiling this second monthly batch of new 2018 tunes – jazz, ambient, country, folk, pop and rock, and very little of it on quite square – I kept encountering forms and notions of duality: binaries, opposites, mirrors, twins. Below you’ll find pairings as superficial and arbitrary as similar-sounding artist names, as specific and deliberate as conceptually conjoined album projects, as intriguing if incidental as strikingly parallel career arcs. Well, we’ve gotta find something to talk about. First, though, let’s have some fun. Continue reading →


XPNFest 2018 brings Josh Ritter, Margo Price, Bermuda Triangle, Phoebe Bridgers and more to Wiggins Park

clockwise from left: Josh Ritter | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN // Margo Price | photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN // Phoebe Bridgers | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Bermuda Triangle | photo by Harvey Hale courtesy of the artist

The Wiggins Park lineup of the 2018 XPoNential Music Festival was rolled out today, and it will bring veteran singer-songwriter Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band to the Camden Waterfront this July, along with country breakout Margo Price, the Nashville trio Bermuda Triangle (featuring Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser) and returning festival favorites The Lone Bellow. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hamilton Leithauser at Union Transfer, Ratboys at Everybody Hits, Telepathic at Kung Fu Necktie, and more

Hamilton Leithauser at Firefly 2016 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Hamilton Leithauser played a stunning show at Johnny Brenda’s at the beginning of the year, and now he’s moving his expansive sound into a bigger space with a headlining gig at Union Transfer. Known as the former lead vocalist of the Walkmen, Leithauser released an album with Rostam last year and a song with Angel Olsen just a few weeks ago, which you can listen to below. Courtney Marie Andrews opens tonight’s show; find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Now Hear This: New songs by Sylvan Esso, Juana Molina, Colin Stetson, White Reaper, Shugo Tokumaru, Alice Coltrane and more

sylvan esso
Sylvan Esso | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

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

Let’s see. Cruel April gave us DAMN., Coachella, the debacle-du-spectacle that was Fyre Festival (not actually much a music story, as it turned out)… oh, and Record Store Day. Which, I gotta say, is the one capitalism-based holiday I can fully get behind – not so much for the cavalcade of exclusive releases, which feels more extraneous and vaguely exploitative every year, but for the explicit excuse/occasion to go hang out in record stores, which I sadly rarely do otherwise. And also because quirky devised human-scaled social rituals like that are just great.

I missed RSD this year for the first time in a while, but I made up for it later in the week by swinging by the Numero Group “Factory Outlet Roadshow” tour stop in Kensington: a traveling pop-up shop from the peerless Chicago-based reissue label: where I stocked up on gorgeously-packaged reproductions/assemblages of 20th-century pop ephemera. (Including, to keep things semi-2017-related, the supafunky sample source of Jens Lekman’s megajam “How We Met (The Long Version)” which has also been in my head for about a week.) So far I’ve barely even scratched the surface of my Numero haul – I’ve been much too busy combing through new releases in order to winnow out the month’s absolute finest strains to share with you, dear reader – but I’m pretty amped to dig in deeper as soon as I hit publish! Continue reading →


Damien Jurado conjures tales from Maraqopa for a sold-out Boot and Saddle crowd

photo by Eric Schuman
photo by Eric Schuman

The frigid, slushy aftermath of a mid-afternoon snow shower is something that Damien Jurado is probably used to by now. The Seattle singer-songwriter is, in many ways, an archetype of the ‘musician’s musician.’ Beloved by fellow artists and producers, Jurado has crafted his own world inside his songs; many of the stories and characters occupying the fictitious place called Maraqopa. His devoted cadre of fans packed the intimate confines of the Boot and Saddle for a sold-out performance that was just as mystifying as Jurado’s charmingly esoteric lyrics.

Referring to his solo/acoustic setup as the “book tour” version of his act, Jurado showcased songs from his newly released eleventh album, Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Sun. In not trying to duplicate producer Richard Swift’s spacey arrangements, Jurado’s minimalist renditions gave the new songs like “Silver Timothy” and “Jericho Road” added weight and emotionality.

Continue reading →