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Just Announced: John Prine will be joined by Kurt Vile at Merriam Theater this April

John Prine | photo by John Kurc | courtesy of artist

Not only will legend John Prine grace the Merriam Theater this spring, he’ll also bring Philly hero Kurt Vile along for the wise ‘n folky party on April 14th.

This year, Prine released a songbook titled John Prine Beyond Words through his own independent label, Oh Boy Records, which featured selected songs from Prine’s catalogue and the stories behind them. Kurt Vile has been rocking his incredible tour with Courtney Barnett, which recently brought an intimate-feeling gig to Philly at Tower Theatre. Continue reading →

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Watch Kurt Vile cover John Prine for Beyond Words

Kurt Vile | still from video

In the grand scheme of American music, of influential musicians and genre-leaders, John Prine is undeniably one of the greats. The living legend recently published an autobiography titled Beyond Words: John Prine’s American Songbook on his Oh Boy Records label that is filled with memorabilia and stories from his childhood to the beginnings of his prolific career as a singer-songwriter, as well as original handwritten lyrics of some of his most famous songs.

The magnitude of the Americana-folk-country singer’s influence is clear, as next-gen (or much-later-gen) musicians come forward to celebrate John Prine. At this year’s Eaux-Claires Festival, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) put together a big-name collaborative set titled “Bon Iver presents John Prine and the American Songbook,” featuring Vernon, Jenny Lewis, Spank Rock, Jeff Tweedy, and Prine himself among others.

Musicians are also celebrating the release of Beyond Words. Watch below as Kurt Vile sings a snippet of the Prine 1978 classic “That’s the Way the World Goes Round,” although his young daughter is much more impressed with the magic of her slinky toy. Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Jeff Buckley’s journals, John Prine’s songwriting memoirs will hit bookstores soon

Jeff Buckley | via Rolling Stone

“In choosing these pages to share with the world, I’m giving Jeff the chance to speak with his own voice, for the record… and for his fans to see what a sweet, funny, amazing human being he was.”- Mary Guibert- Jeff Buckley’s mom

It’s hard to believe that this coming May 29th will mark the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley’s death, and now comes word that a new book — Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice — is in the works that will feature, for the first time: handwritten journals, along with some unreleased recordings from the late singer-songwriter. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Yeasayer at Union Transfer, Permanent Wave Benefit at Cha-cha’razzi, The Miners at Milkboy Philly, John Prine at Merriam Theater, METZ at Kung Fu Necktie


XPN Welcomes electro-pop/rock band Yeasayer to Union Transfer tonight. The group is currently touring in support of their third album, Fragrant World, which was released in August. The band’s psychedelic sound draws a mix of influences from electronic music, folk, and world rhythms, heard best on the 2010 release of Odd Blood, which skyrocketed their reputation, even earning the title of 2010’s most-blogged artist on The Hype Machine. Go here for more information about tonight’s all-ages performance; doors open at 8. Below, watch Yeasayer’s new video for “Longevity” from Fragrant World.

Continue reading →

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John Prine playing Merriam Theatre in November

Photo by Jim Shea

Legendary singer-songwriter John Prine is playing the Merriam Theatre on Friday, November 16th. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, September 28th. Go here for tickets and more information about the show. Below, watch a couple reminders of Prine’s brilliance as a songwriter, including a version of “Angel From Montgomery” recorded at the 2004 Philadelphia Folk Festival.

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Come on, get “Happy” and download this new song by John Fullbright

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

Oklahoma singer-songwriter John Fullbright is a young storyteller that has drawn comparisons to Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Randy Newman. Fullbright has a new album, Songs, the followup to his 2012 Grammy nominated debut, From The Ground Up. On it, he continues to wrote and perform songs that capture a broad range of emotions with subtlety and simplicity.

Writing about the song for NPR Music, World Cafe host David Dye says:

“Happy” opens the disc and sets the tone. Before the band kicks in, he delivers a line worthy of one of his heroes, John Prine: “Every time I try to write a song, it always seems to start where we left off.” There’s no artifice here, and no new ground — just a songwriter trying to connect with his emotions and doing so in an elegant, restrained, refined manner.

Fullbright is playing the Eagleview Summer Concert Series in Exton on Tuesday, June 17th. Below, download, “Happy” from John’s new album, via NPR Heavy Rotation

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: And so it goes, some things are meant to be

Overwinter | photo by facebook.com/overwinterpa

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

Oh my. Has it really been… *gulp* …43 days since our last edition of Items Tagged Philadelphia? Kindly disregard the word “weekly” in that intro blurb up there, and trust me when I say that I never stopped listening to all the amazing Philadelphia music making its way on to Bandcamp this autumn, even if I fell short on time to tell y’all about it.

Hopefully today’s installment, which rounds up some 24 releases that I dug in recent weeks, will make up for it. Continue reading →

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Soulful singer Robert Finley breaks down his new album, Goin’ Platinum!, track by track

Robert Finley
Robert Finley | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of the artist

When Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Revue rolls through Union Transfer this spring, keep a lookout for one of his featured performers — 63-year-old Robert Finley, a self-taught bluesman and soulful vocalist from Bernice, Louisiana. After touring Europe as the United States Army’s bandleader in his teenage years, Finley made a living for decades as a carpenter, playing music as an informal side hustle — sometimes busking, sometimes leading his band Brother Finley and the Gospel Sisters.

After retiring in 2015, he set to work on his debut album, Age Don’t Mean a Thing, with the help of Music Maker, a nonprofit that gives a financial leg up to older and underprivileged musicians. When the record came out last fall, it caught Auerbach’s ear, and he co-wrote and produced Finley’s sophomore album, Goin’ Platinum!, which releases on Easy Eye Sound next Friday, December 8th. The record mixes the searing vocals of Howlin’ Wolf with delta grooves in the vein of John Lee Hooker and and Booker T, and Finley co-wrote its songs with John Prine, Nick Lowe, and more.

Ahead of the album release and the Union Transfer gig, Finley shared a stream of the new album with us, as well as a track-by-track breakdown of what the songs mean to him — a story about life and reality. “It puts the cards on the table and allows people to say what they really feel and what’s on their heart,” Finley says. “It tells a great part of my life story, and the songs feel predestinated because the songwriters telling it didn’t know anything about me when they wrote it. Faith has a great part in album – believing in your dreams. I’m living witness that dreams do come true. Thank God that here at the age of 63, my dream is coming true. Greatest testimony to my kids and grandkids is hold on to your dreams and beliefs – faith will pay off.”

Listen and read below, and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.       Continue reading →