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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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The Week Ahead: The Posies, Strand of Oaks, King Britt, Inara George and more

XPoNential Music Festival | photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com

Let’s send out January in a big way, friends. The weather is unseasonably warm and we’ve got 24 concerts over the next week for you to choose between, centered in Philadelphia with a couple day trips to locales like Bethlehem and Ardmore. Dig in below, and happy concertgoing. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs by Kelela, Parquet Courts, Fever Ray, Alvarius B., Special Request, Circuit Des Yeux and more

Fever Ray | via facebook.com/FeverRay

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 →