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Just Announced: Grupo Fantasma will play World Cafe Live this April with Interminable

Grupo Fantasma | via NPR

Latin funk and cumbia band, Grupo Fantasma, is coming to Philly this April with their new album, American Music: Vol. VII

A 9-piece collective based in Austin, Texas, Grupo Fantasma fuses funk and Latin music to create a vibrant and unique sound. Their new album, their first release since 2015, will tackle identity and citizenship, borders, and questions of who is considered “illegal” in America. While Grupo has faced challenges from the press about the identity of their music, they have pushed back by creating narratives in their songs that complicate easy answers about the “nationality of music.” In their own words,“music is the ultimate assimilator, crossing borders and cultures and mutating to represent the experiences of its performers.” Grupo has six previously released albums and a star-studded collaboration lists with the likes of Prince, Spoon, and los Lobos. They even threw in a Grammy award in 2011 for good measure. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Interminable

A fanfare greets you in the opening seconds of Interminable‘s Key Studio Sessions performance this week, and it has a very intentional effect. The sounds of two trumpets and a trombone immediately grabs any listener’s attention, and as the beat kicks in on “El Camino,” the band immediately comes together into a cool groove as frontperson and songwriter Ximena Viiolante sings about, well, coming together. Unity and forward-motion.

On the chorus, Violante’s voice soars with the line “Este camino es largo / Y lo llevaré en mi voz / Caminemos juntxs / pa’ que avancemos mejor,” which means “This journey is long, and I’ll carry that in my voice / let’s all walk together / so that we can move forward stronger.”

As a band, Interminable is a model of the sort of unity its lyrics aspire to. Violante has a background in son jarocho, a style of folk music from the Veracruz region of Mexico, and is also an educator who gives community workshops on the history and versatility of her chosen instrument, the jarana. Trumpet players Becca Graham and Marty Gottlieb-Hollis both play in the hip-hop ensemble Hardwork Movement, though Graham comes at it from a classical background, while Gottlieb-Hollis leans more jazz and experimental. Trombone player St. Clair Simmons III plays in jazz bands, salsa bands, cover bands — he’s a versatile musician as well, as is the rhythm section of Yeho Bostick (who also plays in the psychedelic ensemble Circadian Rhythms) and drummer Joe Perullo (who ranges from chamber rock with The Up and Ups to Latin jazz with Viva and the Reinforcements). Continue reading →

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Watch Latin fusion group Interminable disrupt time itself in new music video “Buscando un Futuro”

Interminable | via facebook.com/interminablemusic

The futuristic Philly fusion project Interminable is adept at Latin, jazz, folk, and rock, and mixes them all on Rebirth, their new studio LP which releases November 16. So far we’ve heard two singles from the upcoming record, and the band just shared a video for “Buscando un Futuro,” filmed and directed by Koof Ibi (of Random Tea Sessions and a Key photographer as well).

The song showcases the stirring, powerful vocals of Ximena Violante accompanied by a complex, intertwining trumpet arrangement. In the video, dancer Bella Alvarez embodies Past while Sam Cogdon represents Future, the two futilely chasing each other in a forest meant to be allegorical of Time itself. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Aphra at MilkBoy, Callowhill at Boot and Saddle, Interminable at Dahlak and more

Aphra | photo by Ella Louise | via facebook.com/aphraphra

The Key’s Philly Music Showcase returns to MilkBoy for our second installment, this month bringing together luminaries from the city’s electronic pop and hip-hop scene. We’ll hear from headliner Ivy Sole in our latest Key Studio Session a little later this morning, but right now we’d like to remind you how much Aphra rules. The project of singer-songwriter-producer Rebecca Way released its dazzling debut Sadness Is A Gesture earlier this year; it’s a set packed with beautiful arrangements and heartrending emotion, which you can see on display in the brilliant “Geronimo” video below. Also in the mix is Cheeky, the like-minded project of local composer and writer Kaylee Sabatino. Tickets for the show are only $5, so it’s a solid deal all around; more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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Meet Philly fusion crew Interminable, see them Wednesday at Dahlak, or on tour this fall

Interminable | photo via facebook.com/interminablemusic

For the past two years, Philly five-piece Interminable has explored the meeting ground between folk music and jammy improv, working mainly in son jarocho — a regional style of music from Veracruz, Mexico — and incorporating elements of jazz, electronic music, and rock.

The band is comprised of Ximena Violante on jarana, violin, and vocals; John Cole on drums; Rodrigo Pichardo on bass; Brian O’Connell on piccolo bass; and Becca Graham from Hardwork Movement on trumpet. This summer, they recorded a new single, “Consecuencia,” with the folks at Weathervane Music that they plan to release ahead of their first-ever U.S. tour, which kicks off next month at The Lilypad in Boston and wraps up a week later at the AfroFuturist Affiar’s Time Travel Camp in Philly.

While we wait for it to roll around, you can catch Interminable plaing an acoustic duo show this Wednesday, August 30th, at Dahlak Paradise in West Philadelphia. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top Six Philly Music Finds of 2018

Low Dose | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps six of his favorite Philadelphia music finds from the past 12 months.

This page of the calendar is always a blur for me. Thinking back over the 300-some previous days of listening to records from Philly musicians, getting to their gigs, recording them in the WXPN studio, and spinning their music on the air is a lot to take stock of. Putting together my annual rundown of jaw-dropping artists that were new to me in 2018 quickly went from “hmm, I know I was stoked about these three” to “OMG I already have 20, I need to narrow this down.”

But that’s the blessing of living in Philly, as I say every year. We have amazing musicians operating on all tiers — the broadly-reaching Meek Mills releasing the best and most poignant records of their career, the War on Drugs-es returning home this week for a sold-out run of underplay shows, the Hop Alongs garnering widespread acclaim for their own masterpieces — but we also have musicians who are still sweating it out on basement show bills, touring in battered vans, hustling across the bar scene, and grinding to make it all work for them.

Finding the most exciting musicians in that latter space, and watching them make their way to the former, is easily my favorite part of my job. Here are a handful of artists I hope to see make that journey this year.

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The Week Ahead: Letters to Cleo, Caroline Rose, Keyon Harrold, (Sandy) Alex G and more

Keyon Harrold
Keyon Harrold | photo by Deneka Peniston | courtesy of the artist

It’s starting to get cold out, friends. And before you find yourself faced with the prospect of bundling up in heavy winter attire to get groceries, much less to get to the gig, we recommend you fit in many shows this week as possible this moth. Here are 25 concerts to see in the next seven days all around Philadelphia: free shows, jazz gigs, folk and funk, and one of the most jam-packed Fridays we’ve seen in a while.    Continue reading →

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Listen to the Philly Local Home for the Holidays special ft. Vita and the Woolf, Cole Redding, Samantha Gongol of Marian Hill and more

The 6th Annual Philly Local Home for the Holidays show was recorded at Morning Star Studios in Montgomery County PA. It was a return visit to this studio and once again Glenn Barratt recorded the session. It’s always a wonderful day of music. A time for getting together with friends and making new friendships in the music community. I love hearing the artists warming up and working on arrangements. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Birdie Busch on hip-hop, live recordings, and what the greatest night in history means to her

There’s something so warm and so likeable about Birdie Busch, West Philly’s whimsical, verse-weaving siren—that hearing her sing is like being greeted with a wave of energy. Her lyrics are quirky, candid, and refreshing, and she infuses each song with a real sentimentality that makes you think she’d make a great listener and a great best friend.

So when she croons—voice breaking like the sun’s rays through the trees—to “settle in for the greatest night in history,” as she does on new tune “Sitgreaves Pass—one can’t help but wonder exactly what she’s referring to.

“It’s part this extremist idea of what anyone’s greatest night would be individually,” she remarks ponderously, over coffee at G-Ho’s Ultimo. “But then there’s also this idea of getting through a tough time.”

Celebration and struggle are two themes present on Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night, Busch’s fourth record, out now—which also delves into issues like finding time for your passions, staying focused, and staying true to yourself.

But on “Sitgreaves Pass,” Busch is mostly focused on describing a personal “great night”…spent with a friend in the unassuming town of Bisbee, Arizona. Continue reading →