Five artists to see at the Exit Zero Jazz Festival

Preservation Hall Jazz Band | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

The Exit Zero Jazz Festival has been setting up shop in Cape May, New Jersey every spring since 2013, bringing a vibrant mix of jazz and jazz-adjacent sounds to the Jersey shore for some springtime revelry. The festival kicks off tonight, and runs through Sunday, and has a stacked lineup of players, many of whom will be quite familiar to XPNFest regulars. Here are five artists to see at this year’s edition of Exit Zero Jazz Fest. Continue reading →


Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live jazz around town in April

Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra | photo courtesy of the artist

Jazz Appreciation Month got off to an early start on Monday, as Mayor Jim Kenney presented the inaugural Benny Golson Award to Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste under the gaze of portraits of his predecessors at City Hall. Overlapping with Women’s History Month, the morning event also paid tribute to local legends Trudy Pitts and Shirley Scott and living legend Monnette Sudler (whose name proved an unfortunate challenge to the administration’s speakers). The month that follows will be bookended with a buffet of festivals as it draws to a close.

The entire final week, from the 23rd to the 30th, will mark the inaugural Philadelphia Jazz Festival, spearheaded by South’s Bynum Brothers and the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy. The fest will sprawl across a number of venues, including the Bynums’ South, Warmdaddy’s and RELISH along with Chris’ Jazz Café, World Café Live and the Ardmore Music Hall, among others. The fest will bring home several favorite sons, including trumpeter Randy Brecker, organ great Joey DeFrancesco, and longtime South regulars Gerald Veasley and Orrin Evans. Other headliners include pianist ELEW, 93-year-old singer/pianist (and voice of Schoolhouse Rock) Bob Dorough, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and a tribute to the legendary jam sessions at Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus.

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Weekend Picks: Sondre Lerche, Death Cab For Cutie, The Roots Picnic, Appel Farm Festival, Wildbirds And Peacedrums

Sondre Lerche

Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche is equally at home playing jazz, ’80s pop, and Brazilian folk. Lerche is the product of a diverse musical education—growing up, he practiced everything from bossa nova to the Beach Boys. And he’s also something of a wunderkind: He began learning guitar at age 8, and wrote his first song when he was 14; he was discovered a few short years later. Lerche has released five full-length albums (despite being only 28), with the sixth set to come out this month. His style is varied and interesting, but it’s not inaccessible by any means; he has an ability to repackage the complexities of the many genres he’s familiar with into a unified, catchy result. Sondre Lerche performs with Nightlands and Kishi Bashi at 8 p.m. at World Cafe Live; tickets are $22-$32. —Kiley Bense

Also playing: Okkervil River + Titus Andronicus, Future Islands at The Trocadero (9 p.m., all ages, $19); Sun Airway + Dustin Wong at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $12)

Death Cab For Cutie has come a long way since releasing its debut album in 1998. Ben Gibbard and Co. signed to Atlantic, appeared at the Grammys, and lent their music to The O.C., Wedding Crashers, and Twilight—which came amid controversy both external (they were accused of selling out) and self-perpetuated (they publicly protested the music industry’s over-reliance on Auto-tune). Despite claims that the recently released Codes And Keys represents a new direction reflective of the band’s move to L.A. from gloomy Seattle and (relative) happiness, it’s really more of the same. Gibbard coos melodramatic lyrics over an easy, pleasant pop groove; lead single “You Are A Tourist” sounds a little like a Stone Roses song, if you replace imagination with sentimentality. For fans of Death Cab’s previous six albums, this is a seventh entry that can be counted on. Death Cab For Cutie performs with The Lonely Forest at 8 p.m. at The Trocadero; tickets to the all-ages show are SOLD OUT. —Kiley Bense

Also playing: The Roots Picnic featuring The Roots + Wiz Khalifa, Nas, Esperanza Spalding, Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, The Dismemberment Plan, and Little Dragon at Festival Pier (noon, $79.75); Appel Farm Arts And Music Festival featuring Josh Ritter, Gogol Bordello (acoustic set), Ani DiFranco, Good Old War, Nicole Atkins, John Francis, more at Appel Farm (10:30 a.m., all ages, $45-$50); Penrose + Conversations With Enemies, Toy Soldiers at Danger Danger Gallery (9 p.m., all ages, $5-$10); SAT Black Landlord + Kuf Knotz, DJ Sean Smoove at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10); The So So Glos + The Fleeting Ends, Sunny Ali & the Kid at Kung Fu Necktie (7 p.m., 21+, $10)

Wildbirds And Peacedrums is like an inside joke between Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin, the couple that comprises the band. Their music is not a joke, of course, with the wild, Nina Simon-esque vocals from Wallentin and solidifying drums played by Werliin. But it seems like they’re playing to each other. They dropped out of music school together and formed the band a year later. They worked obsessively on the song “The Window”, which appeared on their first album, Heartcore. They make clear in interviews that the song is important to the couple—but, despite, mysterious lyrics such as “I could beat all, I’m not solely a lonely girl or a wild bird,” they refuse to let the public in on the specific meanings.  When they play live, Wallentin wonders off with creative melodies, often facing her husband, who keeps her centered with complex but traditional drum beats. Wildbirds and Peacedrums performs with Yellow Ostrich at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10. —Dave Simpson

Also playing: Rock To The Future benefit featuring Grandchildren + Creeping Weeds, Grand Nationals at World Cafe Live (5 p.m., $13); Drexel Music Industry Showcase featuring Hezekiah Jones + Slo-mo, Money Fame And Love, Kuf Knotz at TLA (3 p.m., $10.50)


The Week Ahead: King Krule, Mdou Moctar, Get Better Fest, Sheer Mag and more

King Krule | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN |

This week, your options include mysterious surprise sets and high-profile pop shows, roots and blues (Robert Randolph, Deb Callahan) as well as indie-minded benefits (The Districts playing for Beyond The Bars, the two-day Get Better Fest). Here are 16 concerts you can see in and around Philadelphia this week. Continue reading →