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Meek Mill reigns, Janelle Monae dazzles, Orion Sun and Armani White rep Philly at Made In America Day One

Meek Mill at Made In America | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Grey skies hugged the city of Philadelphia earlier in the day before the sun peeked out from the clouds, sending relief to everyone at Made in America who was geared up for the possibility of rain. From there, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was flooded with people from all walks of life, ready to dance and party ’til dusk. From amazing early sets by local artists Armani White and Orion Sun, to incredible performances from Sabrina Claudio and Saba, a massive throw-down from Janelle Monae and a tremendous homecoming from rapper Meek Mill, the first day of the festival was a blast. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Orion Sun

Few artists have captured the spirit of the scene over the past year as much as Orion Sun.

The Jersey-born, Philly-based singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Tiffany Majette released her breathtaking project under that celestial banner just over a year ago; A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams mostly made its way around by word of mouth, but as soon as listeners heard it, they were instant converts. The music is immersive and full of feeling, drawing inspiration from by Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill, Kanye West and Daniel Caesar. The lyrics, however, come from such a deeply introspective place that Majette told The Key this winter that she almost didn’t release the project because it felt so personal.

“It was during a time when everything was falling through and I had very few people to talk to about it,” she says. “So when I was sitting down, writing for myself…it just became a very spiritual kind of thing for me. It was very meditative, so I’ve been trying to channel that energy more and more.”

That energy made its way to low-key Orion Sun gigs at places like Space 1026 and Johnny Brendas, a self-contained setup with Majette using her laptop to play beats from Ableton, while accompanying herself on electric guitar as she sang and rapped. But as the profile of Orion Sun grew, so did her vision for the live show, and for this week’s Key Studio Session, we are ecstatic to welcome the Orion Sun seven-piece band into WXPN Studios.   Continue reading →

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Orion Sun, Hero / Victim will play benefit and training event to combat opioid crisis at Vox tonight

The numbers are chilling: 1,217 people in Philadelphia died following a drug overdose last year, according to the Department of Public Health. These figures have steadily increased over the past decade – they’re up 34% from just 2016 – leading to what is currently being described as an epidemic.

While it might be easy for those who aren’t dependent on opioids to ignore this crisis, users don’t exist in a vacuum. They are our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors and their plight is very much intertwined with ours. The arts and music scenes have historically been heavily affected by drug and alcohol abuse. This is also true today in Philadelphia, with numerous musicians and artists dying after overdoses just in the past couple years.

Because of stigma surrounding drug use, the conversation around how to prevent these tragedies is oftentimes muted. Sarah Kim is trying to change that. The artist and journalist has helped put together an event tonight at the Vox Populi art gallery that is both panel discussion and training for the overdose-reversal drug Narcan, as well as a concert featuring electronic acts Hero/Victim and Orion Sun.

Money raised at the door will go towards the local harm reduction organizations Project SAFE and Philadelphia Overdose Prevention Initiative (POPI). Continue reading →

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Slingshot Dakota, Mal Devisa, Ill Fated Natives, Orion Sun, Old Maybe, Deer Scout and a gabillion more will play Pi Lam’s 40th BBQ

Slingshot Dakota
Slingshot Dakota | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

The annual Pi Lam BBQ turns the big 4-0 this year, which is kind of bonkers to think about. It’s been around longer than SXSW, longer than Lollapalooza. Independent minded folks have been bringing a daylong live music extravaganza to Spruce Street’s legendary “punk rock frat” since before most artists on this year’s lineup were born, and the show continues to get wilder and more expansive every year. Continue reading →

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Nostalgia Ultra: Rising Philly star Orion Sun fuses decades of classic music into something new and bold

Orion Sun | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | <a href="http://agellmanphotos.com/" target="_blank">agellmanphotos.com</a>
Orion Sun | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Ever since seeing her open up for Daniel Caesar at the Rotunda, my friends and I have been hooked on Orion Sun. The one-woman project of Jersey-born, Philly-based singer, producer, and multiinstrumentalist Tiffany Majette crafts music that is relatable, and cathartic. With clever lyrics and mellow beats, it feels like she’s soundtracking my tumultuous young adult life. She makes songs to dance to, cry to, fall in love to. I recently got the chance to sit down with her and ask her all about it. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Sondra Sun-Odeon (with Orion Rigel Dommisse)

We fell in love with the sound that Brooklyn-based (though perpetually touring) experimental songwriter Sondra Sun-Odeon was making back in the Spring of 2013 and we’ve been hooked ever since. Sun-Odeon, formerly of psych rock group Silver Summit, was fresh off the release of her new solo work Aetherea when we worked with her on a show in Philadelphia at the Studio 34 space. At that concert, we recorded her set and those song eventually became Folkadelphia’s first official release – it’s available as a pay-what-you-will download and limited poster design. Seeking more ways to collaborate, we partnered with Fire Museum Presents on her most recent Philadelphia concert this past November at the now-defunct Highwire Gallery for a bill that also featured Orion Rigel Dommisse and Fursaxa, two songwriters that also push at the boundaries of traditional songwriting and music making. It was on this visit to the City of Brotherly Love that Sun-Odeon recorded this Folkadelphia Session at the WXPN Performance Studio.

Sondra Sun-Odeon’s sound is not easy to pin down, but the aptly-titled name of her album Aetherea points you in the right direction. The music is of the air, the sky, the limits of existence and consciousness – it is not necessarily the music of the earth, the dirt, the basic and base emotions. However to describe the sound as elemental would be germane. Distant, but ever presently glowing like a beacon in the fog of reverb and echo, Sun-Odeon’s voice leads the listener through a dynamic soundscape. Silken strands of guitar lines and melancholy cello can quickly transform into dark, swirling clouds of noise, distortion, and powerful percussion. Sun-Odeon is a mercurial force of nature, drawing upon her many talents to create an immersive experience.

While we are a folk radio show, in vague terms, we find that it is important to seek out musicians, storytellers, and artists that are breaking beyond the boundaries of their disciplines to create art that is unique and imaginative, rather than rehashing what has already been done. Sondra Sun-Odeon takes the classification of “singer-songwriter” and completely stretches, skewers, and severs our safe definition of what that means. Let her guide you.

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Deer Scout, The Naked Sun, Tin Bird Choir and more are among 30+ locals added to Philadelphia Folk Fest

clockwise from left: Tin Bird Choir | photo by Mike Santarelli | courtesy of the artist // Bethlehem & Sad Patrick | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // deer scout | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // The Naked Sun | photo by Charles Wrzesniewski | courtesy of the artist

As the 57th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival finalizes its lineup, over 30 local and regional artists were added to the bill, among them Bethlehem & Sad Patrick, deer scout, Deb Callahan, The Naked Sun and Tin Bird Choir. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Orion Tango at Ortlieb’s, Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme at Roxbury Performing Arts Center

Orion Tango
Orion Tango | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

Local experimental power trio Orion Tango bring their ambient instrumentals to Ortlieb’s tonight, playing along with Graffiti Wisdom, Taylor Kelly and Progressive Overload. The band features Philly musicians Tim Motzer on guitar, Jeremy Carlstedt on drums, and Barry Meehan on bass; they released their second album The Apple of No this summer. Revisit Orion Tango’s Key Studio Session below and find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar.   Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Sun Ra, The GTVs and more

The GTVs | Photo by Eric Schuman
The GTVs | Photo by Eric Schuman

Mount Airy based outfit The GTVs stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session.  Armed with a vintage Hammond organ and a few tracks, the band performed songs that showcased their wide-ranging sound.  Check out the instrumental Ventures-inspired number “Sleeper Agent” below and get the full session here.

Sing-along-friendly “Strangers” from The Rebel Light was Tuesday’s My Morning Download.  The upbeat power-pop song was released as a single from the L.A. band last month and is a great summer kick-start track for this Memorial Day weekend.

Local musician That Dream Was Our Life continues his monthly EP project with a collection of six new songs that cover everything from Center City traffic to friends getting married.  Check out “Early Spark” below and get the full EP here.

Folkadelphia brought Brooklyn’s Sondra Sun-Odeon in for a session to showcase her boundary-bending songs, joined by tour-mates Orion Rigel Dommisse.  Take a listen to “Paradise” below and download the full session here.

NPR celebrated what would have been jazz legend Sun Ra’s 100th birthday with an in-depth profile on Thursday.  In 1976, Sun Ra appeared on WXPN during a program called Blue Genesis, performing music and reading poetry.  You can download the two segments below.