This year’s Lancaster Roots and Blues festival featured close to 70 artists from around the world on 11 different stages throughout downtown Lancaster last weekend. The city’s music and arts scene shined throughout the entire weekend as the participating venues were key to providing an atmosphere crucial for live music.
From folk and Americana to New Orleans jazz and delta blues, the Roots and Blues Festival had something for everyone. Festival founder Rich Ruoff has been serving up incredible festivals for the last three years and this wasn’t any different. There were so many talented artists at the festival, but it was impossible to see each set, so I carefully chose a few that stood out. Continue reading →
Foot-stomping folk rock band Katie Frank and the Pheromones will fill MilkBoy with their Americana roots sound tonight. This is the band’s record release party for Counting Your Curses, their debut full-length from Elizabethtown, Pa. native Frank. The band broke through with their country-influenced, twangy sound and shared their tunes with us in a Studio Session. Fit to their sound and style, their newest record was recorded in a homey, carriage-like recording studio outside of Philadelphia with Kawari Sound, according to an interview they did about the new album with The Vinyl District. Joining them will be indie-pop folk favorites The Lawsuits and folk/Americana artist Kevin Killen. This 21+ show will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 at the door and can be purchased here.
The annual Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival will take place on February 21st and 22nd of next year, with over 50 musicians set to perform during the multi-venue event. Currently billed artists range from folk to bluegrass to funk and include Loudon Wainwright III, Edgar Winter, and James Cotton, who recently closed out XPN’s Mississippi Blues Project. The local contingent includes Carsie Blanton, Dana Alexander and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. Tickets and information can be found here. Check out videos of some performers below.
Annenberg Center Live‘s African Roots, American Voices is an ongoing program that explores “the African diaspora’s unique contributions to American culture,” tracing the lineage through various musical genres. For their 2016/2017 season, the Center will look at the history and legacy of blues music through several film screenings, concerts and performances.
April is Public Radio Music Month. To celebrate, Alligator Records is offering a free 17 song download of a Blues and Roots music sampler with some great artists that you hear on XPN including, The Holmes Brothers, Jesse Dee, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland, Charlie Musselwhite, Marcia Ball, James Cotton and many others. Every Saturday night, WXPN broadcasts The Blues Show with Jonny Meister at 7PM, and be sure to check out our Mississippi Blues Project web site with concerts, videos and essays here.
Download the sampler from the Alligator Records Facebook page here.
Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.
Much as I may pride myself on keeping my ears as wide open and omnivorous as possible, I’m often struck, as the time of reckoning draws nigh, that so much of the music that really affects me from any given year tends to fall into a few relatively narrow categories.Looking back on the 2017 releases that I’ve spent the most time with and returned to most consistently, most of them can be sorted into two general buckets: emotionally resonant electronic pop made by (relatively young) women – Lorde, MUNA, Sylvan Esso, Kelly Lee Owens – or wordy, wide-ranging critical statements made by opinionated and perhaps over-analytical old (or at least aging) men: Randy Newman, Jens Lekman, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.
Is there a throughline there?I tend to think of it in terms of personality: if there’s one thing most likely to pique my interest in a new artist, or keep me engaged with a familiar one, it’s in their music’s ability to serve as a tool for human expression, straightforward or otherwise; a means of telegraphing a vivid and recognizable individual identity – whether that individual be a quote-unquote “real person,” a constructed persona or, as it surely is in the vast majority of cases, some ambiguous, unparseable intertwining of the two.Perhaps that quality is more readily apparent in the second group of aforementioned artists.It’s not that those verbose songmen are single-mindedly preoccupied with age and mortality – though it’s clearly on their minds (see: Newman’s heartwrenching “Lost Without You”; Murphy’s “tonite”; Lekman’s bouncy but pensive “Wedding in Finistère”; the entire conceit of Merritt’s 50 Song Memoir) but it certainly informs their outlook, helping to distill a clarity of perspective (and tendency toward warts-and-all honesty) translating into albums that function as poignant, if sometimes roundabout self-portraits. Continue reading →
The Legendary Roots Crew played an epic Tiny Desk Concert in DC over the weekend, and the whole place was bouncing. Most artists fill their slot at NPR with two or three songs, but The Roots were jamming out to one song, twelve minutes, eight people crammed behind the desk brass band style.
The song is a new one called “It Ain’t Fair,” and featured fellow Philly native Bilal on vocals for a performance of enormous proportions. A true ballad, it began quietly, with the drums and the tuba taking reigns on the rhythm. Then, in full force, the rest of the brass joined in, and it was electric. Bilal has a voice reminiscent of Prince, and I drew the connection instantly. So soulful and jumpy, he truly stole the show when he walked in a few minutes into the song. Continue reading →
Widowspeakbring their dreamy, 90’s inspired, self-described “cowboy grunge” to Boot & Saddle tonight. Touring behind their recent LP Expect The Best, Widowspeak are known for their nostalgic, narrative-driven tunes which will thrive in the intimate Boot & Saddle setting. Chicago indie rockers Clearance and Philly bedroom grunge outfit Sun Hat also perform. Watch Widowspeak’s video for the shoegazey “Dog” below, and find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
For Atlanta-to-Philly rapper STS and multi-instrumentalist / producer Khari Mateen, combining their musical powers for epic results is no new phenomenon. It comes naturally to these extended Roots crew members, and this smooth easiness emanates from every fiber of their new track, “Better On A Sunday.”
With Mateen grounding the track in slow-tempo bluesiness through achey guitar twang and the soulful, steady chorus, STS peppers in texture as he raps verses in tribute to the everyday blue collar worker. Continue reading →
When local rootsy blues rockers Hoots & Hellmouth released their fourth album In The Trees Where I Can See The Forest last fall, it raised the bar quite high for the four-piece. Their new EP Uneasy Pieces, however, seems to have no problem exceeding those lofty expectations.
The chilling title track opens up the EP with an atmospheric spookiness that just sounds big. Sans the eerie vibes, the rest of the songs follow in the same grand nature as Hoots & Hellmouth are large and in charge of their trademark passionate, lively sound. Single “The Down Part of Town” and “Oh The Bugs” bring the folky organ-searing soul, while last tune, “Soft and Lazy” slows things down for a self-condemning bluesy-gospel mix. Continue reading →