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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

annenberg center
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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Fantastic Negrito reveals desperation and urgency in his new album PLEASE DON’T BE DEAD

Fantastic Negrito | photo by Johnny Galvan | courtesy of the artist

“He’s the story of a man who struggled to ‘make it’, who ‘got it’, and who ‘lost it’ all.” Fantastic Negrito has been through hell and back over the years. The Oakland native has used his struggles as a tool to make meaningful, inspiring music through its narrative and sound, representing that old school blues rock and his black roots. After winning the inaugural Tiny Desk Contest from NPR Music, then his 2016 album The Last Days Of Oakland, Fantastic Negrito followed up with PLEASE DON’T BE DEAD via Cooking Vinyl and Blackball Universe.

The eleven track collection reveals desperation and urgency, and Fantastic Negrito says it is “for anyone who ever felt like it was over yet hoped it wasn’t.” He wrote this album based on his fears with the uncertainty of how his children’s lives will turn out due to the chaotic society we now live in. Each song shreds light on the darkness that waiting for you at every corner. Continue reading →

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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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Firefly Guide 2018: 20 artists to discover in the Woodlands this week

Firefly 2017 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Dover, Delaware’s annual Firefly Music Festival kicks off this Thursday, and will jam-pack some 130-plus artists into four days. For a few of those artists, like headliners Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, it’s safe to say that most of the tens of thousands in attendance will be watching. For several of the artists — electropop duo Marian Hill, alternative vets Jimmy Eat World, Alaskan modern rockers Portugal. The Man, 90s R&B hitmaker Warren G — the crowds will be be reliably huge.

But for many of the acts on the bill, the audience might be less automatically robust. It might take a little bit of discovering to see them, and these are often times the most thrilling sets to catch. In the past, this has meant Bishop Briggs playing the intimate confines of the treehouse stage, or Laura Stevenson rocking the Toyota Music Den; it’s been the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff spinning the hits on a sunny midday, or singer-songwriter Hamilton Leithauser at the Coffeehouse Stage; it’s been rapper Pell rocking a Porch Stage set in the twilight, or Maggie Rogers starting the day off at the Lawn Stage at 1 p.m.

In short, it’s established names in much smaller settings than we expect, or unfamiliar names that we go on to remember. This year, we present you an assortment of artists to discover at all tiers of Firefly 2018 — from newcomers like Cali punks The Regrettes and Philly rapper Tierra Whack each playing two sets on Friday, all the way to acclaimed jazz visionary Kamasi Washington taking to the festival main stage on Sunday. Listen up, pack your sunscreen, stay hydrated, and get ready to explore. – John Vettese

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The Week Ahead: Harmony Woods, Kendrick Lamar, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, The Wonder Years and more

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar in the “Alright” video | still from video

Between the ridiculous rain and the Ticketfly “cyber incident” shutdown, it’s been a weird week to be a concertgoing Philadelphian. Don’t let that stop you from getting out and getting to the gig, though. Here are 22 concerts you can see in and around town in the next week, from indie folk true believers The Decemberists to reigning rap king Kendrick Lamar and his Top Dawg Entertainment showcase tour. Continue reading →