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Kacey Musgraves brings love, smoothness, and even an engagement to The Fillmore

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

Having witnessed the magic of East Texan singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves on an earlier turn through Philly country (the Trocadero, 2015), there were certain elements of her live showcase that I was prepared for when she hit the stage at the Fillmore for a waaaay sold out gig on Friday night. That she would be sassy and foul mouthed. That her well-dressed band would hit any joint passed up to the stage from the audience. That she would chattily interact with the audience. That there would be hats, and not all of them cowboy. That she and her ensemble would spend lots of time backlit and in the dark so to create an air of mystery that has little to do with her forthright songwriting skills and salted caramel vocals.

Touring then after the release of the sugar honky tonk modern classic, Pageant Material, required all toes and several fingers tucked into the tones of traditional country, skiffle rhythm and rockabilly to go with her sophisti-cosmopolitan take on C&W pop.

What a difference, however, several years, emotional and aesthetic growth and maturation, marriage, a shimmering new Golden Hour, and Grammy noms for Album of the Year make. The Musgraves & Co. that took that Fillmore stage on Friday night were a smoother, shinier lot with far fewer detours like the raw “Family Is Family,” the acoustic fairy tale “Merry Go ‘Round,” and the tender lyrical pragmatism of “We get bored, so we get married / Just like dust, we settle in this town.”

What was the order of the night — played to a super hyped-crowd, several ‘rainbow yeehah’ fans up front, and even a marriage proposal in VIP (congrats Navy serviceman Daniel Caton and Avery Davis) — was a set of love and like songs that was gentler, smoother, sleeker and even in tone. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Kacey Musgraves’ winter tour will make a stop at The Fillmore Philly

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Kacey Musgraves released her album Golden Hour earlier this year, and just wrapped up a tour with Harry Styles. Just a month after gracing the stage at World Cafe Live for Free at Noon, she has just announced the dates for her own headlining Oh, What A World tour. The North American leg includes a visit to Philadelphia on January 18th at The Fillmore. Natalie Prass is opening for her in Philly; supporting acts elsewhere on the tour include Soccer Mommy, and Liza Anne. The charming country star just released a video for her single, “High Horse,” a warm-palette period piece that nods to 70’s disco; watch it below and get tickets and more information at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Kacey Musgraves lights up the stage with her unique brand of country

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Later this very night, Kacey Musgraves will play on a much larger stage to a much larger crowd. But this afternoon, the rising country star was more than content to bring things down a notch and play a soft, intimate set to a crowd brimming with enthusiasm.

Before today’s performance even began, as a line of eager audience members filled the World Cafe Live stairs and spilled out the door, it became clear that this would not be your average Free at Noon. And if you were lucky enough to score a spot at today’s sold-out show, you had the rare chance to see Kacey Musgraves on what may just be the smallest stage you’ll ever see her. But even though the Texas native is accustomed to playing bigger shows these days — especially on her current arena tour with Harry Styles, which makes a stop at the Wells Fargo Center tonight — she seemed downright thrilled by venue’s homey feel and awestruck crowd.

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Now Hear This: New songs by Kacey Musgraves, Alexis Taylor, Gwenno, Baloji, Young Fathers, Mount Eerie and more.

Young Fathers
Young Fathers | photo by Julia Noni | courtesy of the artist

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

Last month I was seeing double; this month I’m going solo.

I spent a probably unreasonable amount of time in the last couple weeks compiling a list of my personal top 25 albums of the past 25 years – a time period which happens to correspond, more or less, with my lifespan as an active, conscious listener to contemporary music – and then discussing/dissecting said list in detail via Facebook comments, which turned out to be a surprisingly emotional process.  (The whole undertaking was inspired by a prompt commemorating the 25th anniversary of Philly-based staple Magnet Magazine, wherein the list will eventually be published.)

One thing that struck me along the way was how astonishingly many acts from this time-frame – even the earliest years of it – remain (or have again become) relatively musically active.  Now, maybe it’s just a factor of my age, but I don’t really remember the musical landscape of the ‘90s, for instance, being quite so well populated by artists who’d been around since the ’70s.  Of the twenty-five artists who made my list, all but four are either still at it or at it again: two have died (Elliott Smith and Aaliyah; three if you count Stereolab’s Mary Hansen), but only two – Rachel Stevens and Aberfeldy – have, to my knowledge, simply stopped making music.   Continue reading →

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Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and Kacey Musgraves playing the Mann 6/13

WillieNelsonAlisonKrauss_tour[1] Willie Nelson and Family, Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, and Kacey Musgraves are playing The Mann on June 13th.

(Read more: Listen to Willie Nelson’s Free At Noon from May, 2012)

According to Nelson’s site, there will be a ticket pre-sale on Wednesday, February 19th. Tickets go on sale this Friday, February 21st at Noon. Go here for more information.

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Natalie Prass covers Prefab Sprout’s “Wild Horses”

Natalie Prass | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist
Natalie Prass | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist

Natalie Prass found herself in Philly so often in 2018, following the release her sophomore album The Future and The Past, that we were beginning to forget that she isn’t a local. Thankfully, the Richmond-based singer-songwriter will be back in town next Friday, January 18, for a show at the Fillmore supporting Kacey Musgraves. And ahead of the show, she has a new song for us to hear.

Prass has shared a new cover of “Wild Horses” by 80s Britpop band Prefab Sprout for Amazon Music; it’s available to stream and purchase exclusively at Amazon, but you can see a video of the song filmed live at Seattle venue Chop Suey below. Continue reading →

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Your top 50 XPN songs of 2018

Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of artist
Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. In this installment, WXPN’s listener-voted best songs of 2017.

We played songs, you listened. You voted, we listened. After tallying up the numbers and playing back the jams, we are delighted to bring you a recap of your top 50 XPN songs of 2018.

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19 Philly concerts we’re looking forward to in 2019

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN // Anderson .Paak | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN // Steve Gunn | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

After the excitement of ushering in the New Year, sometimes the winter months can become a bit bleak. The holiday season is over, but the freezing cold temperatures remain, and it can be tempting to stay indoors as much is possible. But we all know that the best way to keep the doldrums away is by catching some live music, and lucky for us there are a lot of great shows coming our way this winter. Here’s what The Key recommends. – Sarah Hojsak Continue reading →