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Beyond the Bars: The Districts, Queen of Jeans and more rip it up for a good cause

The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

I could sit here and regale you with stories and stats about the Prison-Industrial Complex all day, but is that going to do anything? Even for the most #woke among us, it’s hard to know where to start to deal with something as massively unassailable as a for-profit prison system that funnels young lives straight into jails. But—much like music—it’s best to start with stories. Sunday night at World Cafe Live, Philly organization Beyond the Bars hit home with a massive benefit show incorporating both to strike back.

By going into prisons and teaching music to incarcerated youth, Beyond the Bars staff and volunteers are able to bring hope and respite to members of society that most people have already written off as a loss. “Even though they’re in prison, they’re still people, man. Just people,” said Bars staff member Christopher Thornton. Continue reading →

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The Districts, Frances Quinlan, and more to play Beyond The Bars benefit at World Cafe Live

 

The Districts
Photo by John Vettese | for WXPN

Well this is happening: The Districts, Frances Quinlan, Ben Arnold, and Milton will be performing at World Cafe Live on Sunday, April 17th at World Cafe Live to support Beyond The Bars. In addition, Lushlife‘s Raj Haldar will be DJing in between sets.

Beyond The Bars is a program that benefits music education for incarcerated youth in Philadelphia. Their programs consist of providing instruments and music lessons to “empower young men and women as they navigate the criminal justice system.” Beyond The Bars was founded by Matthew Kerr, Eric Ammon, Brian Thomas, and Christopher Thornton. The organization has been gaining momentum and was recently featured on WHYY. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Two Piece Fest IX at First Unitarian Church, Ben Arnold at Underground Arts, Winter Doldrums Fest at World Cafe Live and more…

two piece fest
Joint Chiefs of Math | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

The ninth annual Two Piece Fest takes place at the First Unitarian Church today. As we previously reported, the day-long event is “an exercise in mayhem and minimalism that brings the DIY scene together, one duo at a time.” This year’s line-up includes Joint Chiefs of Math, Brown Rainbow, Empty Vessels and a dozen more. Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here; listen to Joint Chiefs’ “Get Rich or Try Dyin'” below.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Ben Arnold, The Dans and more…

ben arnold
Ben Arnold | Photo by Alyssa Dempsey for WXPN

This week’s Key Studio Session featured local musician Ben Arnold, who brought his band with him to preview songs from their new record. Lost Keys will be released next week and they’ll be back at XPN for a Free at Noon performance. Sign up for that here, stream “Detroit People” below and get the full session here.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Ben Arnold

Veteran Philly singer-songwriter / rock-n-roller Ben Arnold has covered a lot of ground in the two decades he’s been making music. In the mid-90s, he was signed to Ruffhouse / Columbia and released the slacker-pop nugget Almost Speechless – which is a tiny bit ironic since the man is the total opposite of a slacker.

By the early aughties, he had grown into a more nuanced singer-songwriter and received a lot of attention from WXPN for In Case I’m Gone Tomorrow, as well as his acclaimed 4-Way Street supergroup with Jim Boggia, Scott Bricklin and Joseph Parsons. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Locals weigh in on the Greatest Year in Music

Greatest Year

The theme for WXPN’s annual countdown this year is The Greatest Year In Music, and WXPN invites you to vote on what you think was the greatest year (or years) were in music.

Polls for XPN’s Greatest Year in Music close tomorrow – Monday, October 26th – and if you’re still on the fence about what to vote for, read through some cases we gathered from local musicians and writers. Below, check out snippets from Ben Vaughn (1964), Tara Murtha (1989), Aaron Parnell Brown (1971) and more. Then vote for your favorite year in music here and listen back to winners during the Greatest Year In Music countdown starting Monday, November 2nd.

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Free at Noon Flashback: Arkells rocks, charms and teases the Philly crowd

Arkells | Photo by Liz Waldie | lizwaldie.com
Arkells | Photo by Liz Waldie | lizwaldie.com

The Canadian band Arkells kicked off today’s Free at Noon double-header, bringing their indie-pop stylings to the buzzing World Café Live crowd.

On the back of their charismatic lead singer, Max Kerman, Arkells ran quickly through an impressive set of larger-than-life indie pop jams. Kerman built a quick rapport with the audience, joking about everything from ripping off John Lennon — they have a song literally titled “John Lennon” — to the Blue Jays beating the Phillies in the World Series over 20 years ago. Continue reading →