Ruston Kelly came onstage for today’s Free at Noon with the demeanor of a road-weary troubadour who thought it felt more like 9 a.m. than noon, but it didn’t take long for the musician to reveal the powerhouse energy that takes his songs from sleepy, whispered country tunes to soaring belted-out ballads in the span of seconds. The Nashville-based singer songwriter is touring behind his debut album Dying Star and is just in the beginning stages of becoming a familiar name in country music, but with his refreshing, raw sound that’s nothing like what you’d hear on mainstream country radio, he’s well on his way to becoming a champion of country fans who don’t necessarily want to hear about beer and pickup trucks in every song. Continue reading →
Courtney Marie Andrewsis an observer. She’s seen the world at its best and its worst, and written a few songs about it — but observing, for Andrews, isn’t just a surface-level thing. She doesn’t hesitate to dive deep into the root of someone else’s problems, or to analyze the economic state of America through the places she’s seen and people she’s met. It probably helps that she’s a skilled storyteller with a natural knack for empathy, values kindness above all, and finds glimmers hope and optimism wherever she goes.
Andrews may write about the lives of others, but lately eyes have been on her. She is XPN’s Artist to Watch this month, and she’s been touring constantly behind her new album May Your Kindness Remain. (That tour will bring her back our way this summer for the XPoNential Music Festival.) It’s fitting that when we talked on the phone, Andrews was on the road, driving to San Francisco to play a show later that night. She’s spent a lot of time on the road — not just lately, but over the last decade or so. May Your Kindness Remain is Andrews’ fourth full-length, but it was only with her 2016 album Honest Life that she started to receive critical acclaim. Now, with a new record in tow, she’s preparing for her voice to be heard by more listeners than ever before.
In a world like ours, and with a nomadic lifestyle like Andrews’, it seems all too easy to become jaded and worn down. “When you’re trying to be tender but instead you come off cold; when your sweetness surrenders to the cruelness of this world,” Andrews sings on “Kindness of Strangers.” “All the small stuff, and the bad luck, when it all becomes too much, how do you find solace in a place so quick to judge?” She says she doesn’t have an answer to that question; there’s no easy solution. But just a moment later in the song, she does answer it, in a way: “You rely on the kindness of strangers.”
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Adia Victoria is WXPN’s Artist To Watch for July. Having just released her impressive debut album, Beyond the Bloodhounds, the Nashville based musician digs deep into her Southern musical roots for a collection of songs that blend, blues and rock with touches of psychedelia and dark imagery and haunting storytelling. Continue reading →
WXPN’s June Artist To Watch is singer-songwriter Karl Blau, a multi-instrumentalist from Anacortes, Washington. His 20 year career boasts over 40 recordings, many self-released in handmade packaging and mailed to subscribers and others released through iconic indie Northwest record labels like K and KNW-YR-OWN label. Blau’s collaboration list is also pretty impressive, having toured and recorded with Laura Veirs and other Pacific Northwest bands.
WXPN’s February Artist To Watch is singer, songwriter, guitarist, millennial cosmic cowboy OJR, born Oliver John-Rodgers. His new album, Nashville Demos, an album the runs the American music gamut. There are strains of country and folk informed by indie and psychedelic rock. It’s fresh and refreshing, and there’s a dual musical nature on this record that presents OJR as both the singer-songwriter and the rock and roller that is very impressive. The Key reached out to OJR via e-mail to talk about some of his musical inspirations and influences. Continue reading →
Meet OJR, a singer-songwriter based in Nashville, who just completely shines on his new album, Nashville Demos.
OJR (real name Oliver John-Rodgers), recorded his new album in “various bedrooms” (presumably his!) and with the exception of a handful of contributions from players from Nashville he recorded most of the songs himself on Garage Band. Continue reading →
Meet WXPN’s January Artist To Watch, singer-songwriter Dylan LeBlanc.
LeBlanc was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and moved between Shreveport – where his mom lived – and Muscle Shoals, Alabama where he lived with his father James LeBlanc. James is a singer, songwriter and guitarist whose songs have been recorded by Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Gary Allan, Jason Aldean, Martina McBride, Travis Tritt and many others. Continue reading →
WXPN Artist To Watch Son Little took the stage today at World Cafe Live and put on a smashing performance. With rip-roaring guitar riffs and playful, booming synths, Son Little amped up the crowd with his unique sound and endearing interaction.
After a pause during his song “All Wet”, a toddler’s voice came blaring through the silence blurting out “Blah, blah, blah.” Little continued for a few moments then stopped, chuckled into the microphone and muttered “From the mouths of babes. I’ll try and keep it moving up here.” The crowd answering with roaring laughter. Continue reading →
Celebrating WXPN’s 10 year anniversary of the Free At Noon concerts was an absolute blast today with Artist To Watch The Lone Bellow. After hopping on stage, the folk rock trio launched into an incredible, spot-on performance in front of an ultra packed World Cafe Live. Continue reading →