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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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Now Hear This: New songs from Ry Cooder, Neko Case, Wajatta, Bernice, Dear Nora, Stephen Malkmus and more

Neko Case
Neko Case | photo courtesy of the artist

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

Happy summer, is it?  I guess I got all the pop out of my system last month, cuz it’s about to get pretty indie in here.  You like indy music, right?  Good, cause I’ve got nothing major planned for this month.  After all, independence day is coming up soon.  In this June installment of Now Hear This, at the halfway point of an already-pretty-excellent year for all kindsa music, we’ll take some stock of the wide, white, anglophone (though in this case, hardly at all male) world of probably the least useful genre descriptor there is.  Then, eventually, we’ll get to some other places – Holland, Africa, outer space, Takoma Park.  We’ll meet some bands named after names, check in with some artists who’ve been around for fifty years, or seventy years, and some who went away for a while and have come back to us.  First, though, let’s hear a heavy hit from one of the least-categorizable heavy-hitters out there… Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Jenny Lewis, U2, Eternal Summers, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and more

Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis | photo by Rich McKie for WXPN

You can’t tell us that there’s nothing going on this week — even if you don’t count the Firefly Music Festival (which you should totally count), there are more artists moving through the Philly region that we can pin down. Massive arena shows like U2 and Harry Styles to modest DIY gigs like Cold Fronts and Eternal Summers, the spectrum is huge. Here are 27 concerts you can see in and around Philly this week. Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Hear Elvis Costello perform sweeping new song with lyrics from a Johnny Cash poem

Johnny Cash and Elvis Costello | photo via Consequence of Sound

“There was one lyric that was thought to be one that might suit me. And then I was glancing through the folio and that particular lyric was there on the page, and the next thing I could hear it in a very unusual way” –  Elvis Costello in an interview w/ Rolling Stone re: a song he wrote to a Johnny Cash poem.

Next month an album called Forever Words will be released featuring well-known singers who have taken poems and letters written by Johnny Cash, and have put his words to music. Elvis Costello is one of the performers.  Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Courtney Barnett covers INXS, Laura Veirs sings with Sufjan Stevens, Chris Cornell’s voice appears on a Johnny Cash tribute

Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist
Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

It’s a terrific Tuesday of new music including Courtney Barnett’s cover of the INXS classic “Never Tear Us Apart”; Chris Cornell’s contribution to a Johnny Cash tribute album, and Laura Veirs’ new song featuring vocals from Sufjan Stevens. Continue reading →