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John Prine’s New Prime Time: Veteran troubadour holds court with Kurt Vile at the Merriam Theater

John Prine | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

There are not many of the old original issue John Prines left; that breed of craggy, earnest-but-dryly humorous storyteller-troubadour with Midwestern roots running as deep as ancient maples and ruminations of lives past that are equally old and pulsing and grainy. As a songwriter who poised his characters in a constant state of distress, distaste, wry sly circumstance, or even love with an historic downhome perspective, Prine was (and is, from the sound and furry of his first album in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness) a treasure. Add in his usual mix of rough-hewn country and folk with hints of soul and rockabilly, and you’re cooking with gas. Prine’s gruff and ready expressive voice is but icing on a savory confection. And now, Prine – still a mailman at heart, always a contemporary to elders such as Kris Kristofferson, Steve Goodman and Jackson Browne – has hollowed out a new niche as a godfather to the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Brandi Carlisle, and as a man who outran death (two cancers) and the age’s usual ravages to find himself comfortably humble (and hummable).

In a sold out performance at the Merriam Theater, Prine, his crack musical team (including multi-string man Fats Kaplin), and opening act/occasional on-stage collaborator Kurt Vile, formed a circle around material that was bruised, even busted, but never completely broken down and out for the count. Continue reading →

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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.

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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.