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Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival brings an eclectic assortment of sounds to Central PA

The Peterson Brothers | photo by Lauren Rosier for WXPN
The Peterson Brothers | photo by Lauren Rosier for WXPN

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 →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Katie Frank and the Pheromones at MilkBoy, The Wood Brothers at Prince Music Theater, Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival and more

Photo by Will Hoover | Courtesy of facebook.com/katiefrankmusic
Photo by Will Hoover | Courtesy of facebook.com/katiefrankmusic

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 KillenThis 21+ show will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 at the door and can be purchased here.

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James Cotton, Loudon Wainwright III, Carsie Blanton and more playing the Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival on 2/21 and 2/22

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
James Cotton | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker

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.

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Annenberg Center Live celebrates the blues with African Roots, American Voices film and concert programming

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Terence Blanchard will perform at the Zellerbach Theatre on 10/21 | photo by Henry Adebonojo | courtesy of the artist

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.

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Download an Alligator Records Blues and Roots music sampler for Public Radio Music Month

alligatorrecords 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.

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Now Hear This: New songs from Cat Power, Elvis Costello, Matthew Dear, Half Waif, Richard Swift, Spiritualized and more

Half Waif | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist
Half Waif | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist

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

This past Saturday was my 36th birthday, and, as it happens, this is my 36th Now Hear This column.  (I’ve been secretly keeping track: the first fifteen installments ran weekly over at Philly Voice during the fall of 2016; the monthly columns for The Key started in February 2017).  Thirty-six feels like a significant year – more so than 35 in many ways (especially considering what’s been happening to the institution of the presidency).  It’s divisible by more numbers, even if five isn’t one of them.  As one friend pointed out, it means I’m now old enough to vote twice! And, more notably, it means that I’ve been a quote-unquote “adult” for fully half of my life; that the time since I left my parents’ house now equals the time that I lived there.

So it’s afforded a nice opportunity to reflect back on the time around my 18th year – an age perhaps less overtly mythologized in song than sixteen or seventeen, but probably even more transformative in real (contemporary) life – which in my case was also the era of Y2K.  I’d reckon that nobody felt the cultural and historical shift from the 20th to the 21st century, from the 1990s to the still-nameless-after-all-these-years 2000s, more acutely than those of us for whom it paralleled the end of high school and the start of what-comes-next; i.e. me and my fellow circa-1982 babies: the oldest, truest millennials.  Conveniently, just two days before my birthday, September Now Hear This boy-toy Troye Sivan joined up with plasticwave popgenius (and certified ‘90s bitchCharli XCX to drop a video memorializing and celebrating the pop culture of that period – specifically 1999, although the references span roughly 1997-2000 – when, as many have mentioned, its creators were still in single digits, if not diapers.  It represents exactly, and in exquisitely realized detail, the “borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered (late) ‘90s” that I have been ambivalently anticipating for quite some time now.

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The Week Ahead: Jupiter & Okwess, Stef Chura, Nothing, Soul Glo and more

Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Can we collectively agree to retire the aughties hipster cliche “Rocktober”? Not because the tenth month of the year is no longer jam-packed with live music — it absolutely is, moreso than ever, as any casual glance at the calendar will tell you — but because there are many more offerings at your disposal this month than mere rock.

This week alone, there is Nigerian-tinged R&B, homegrown hip-hop, jazzy folk, folky punk, and so much more. Here are 27 concerts you can see in Philadelphia in the next seven days, with a whopping eight options on Saturday night. Heck, even Monday has four shows you can choose from — Monday! GTTG, Philly.

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Now Hear This: New songs from The Internet, Dirty Projectors, Bodega, Daniel Bachman, Bad Bad Hats, Steve Hauschildt and more

Shy Boys | photo via shyboys.bandcamp.com

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

We are officially in the dull. drums. of the dog. days. of the slow end of summer. Musically speaking. Not that there’s nothing going on, of course. I mean, this month alone I have already seen fantastic shows by several of my longtime favorites – a triumphant return to Johnny Brenda’s from the perennially entertaining Jeffrey Lewis, and a basement show by the great guitarist Glenn Jones – both of them previewing material from super-promising new albums still forthcoming (later this month in Jones’ case; no official word yet from Lewis.) And yeah oh yeah, I got to see Radiohead for the first time in way too long and fall completely and utterly back in love with them, which seems like it was more or less the consensus regarding their just-wrapped US tour. That said, the column below, as it turned out, only manages to highlight a couple of shows this fall. (Several of these artists, I’m sorry to report, already played Philly in the last month or two, well before their respective album releases – some of them in opening slots, which gives me hope that they might return to headline before too long.)

The upside of a month with a relatively slow release schedule (at least for big-name new releases) is that it inspires me to dig a little further than I might otherwise. Because, let’s face it, we live in an age when it’s all but impossible to get away from worthwhile if not downright vital new music on a virtually weekly basis. Or anyway, it feels that way if you spend an ungodly percentage of your waking hours (and plenty of the ones you should be sleeping too) poking around on the internet as if furiously trying to prevent it from passing you by. (My lord, when will it stop?) Anyhow…here are some knockouts, knick-knacks and novelties from the last month or so. Enjoy, and I’ll See You In September! Continue reading →