XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Can’t Hold Out (Talk To Me Baby)” by Johnny Winter featuring Ben Harper

Johnny Winter | Photo courtesy of Facebook |
Johnny Winter | Photo courtesy of Facebook |

Recently, the music world was stunned by the death of the legendary blues and rock guitarist and singer Johnny Winter at the age of 70. Sadly, he didn’t survive long enough to see the release of his new album, Step Back. Continue reading →


Listen to Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven (featuring Jackson Browne, Ben Harper, Josepth Arthur, She & Him and others)

sweetrelief On the heels of the 20th anniversary of the first release, Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams comes Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven on Vanguard Records. The last edition in the series since was Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, a collection dedicated to Vic Chestnutt, in 1996. SWIII: Pennies from Heaven features 13 new recordings of songs by an all-star cast that includes Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Shelby Lynne, Victoria Williams, She & Him, Eleni Mandell, Ron Sexsmith, k.d. lang, Rickie Lee Jones, Joseph Arthur and more. The cover art is by pop art legend Peter Max.

Sweet Relief is a non-profit charity that maintains a fund that professional musicians can draw from when in need of medical care or financial needs. It started after musician and singer Victoria Williams was diagnosed with MS in 1993 and had no way to pay for her medical expenses. Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven is an excellent collection of covers. Some of the highlights include Ron Sexsmith’s gorgeous take on the title song, Joseph Arthur’s reading of “If I Needed You,” Ben Harper’s cover of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” and “Don’t Let Us Be Sick” by Jackson Browne. Working on the project, Brown said:

“Musicians are always among the first to give their energy and talent to help other people in times of emergency, though they are very often without health insurance themselves, and need our support when they fall prey to illness and hardship. Sweet Relief has been helping musicians for years, and has helped some whom I am very much indebted to for enriching my life. I am very happy to take part in this CD project, and for the chance to support Sweet Relief’s very soulful work.”

Stream Sweet Relief III in its entirety and watch a couple videos from the recording sessions below.

Purchase Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven here.


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Michaela Majoun’s five most sonically addictive songs of 2012

For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, XPN Morning Show host Michaela Majoun shares her five most sonically addictive songs of 2012.

By which I mean songs you just can’t get out of your head, not necessarily because of lyrical content or musical depth, but because of a sound that hooks you.  I suspect it has something to do with repetition and viscerally-felt clapping or drum noise and the other things noted below. There are studies about why music is addictive – read more here and here. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Neil Halstead at World Cafe Live, Animal Collective at The Mann Center, Nick Waterhouse at Johnny Brenda’s, Polica at Union Transfer, Ben Harper at The Merriam Theater

British singer-songwriter Neil Halstead will be at World Cafe Live tonight.  A founding member of indie-folk group Mojave 3 and shoegazers Slowdive, Halstead has spent the last ten years building a solo career and released his latest record, Palindrome Hunches, in September.   Also playing tonight are Jim Hanft with Samantha Yonack.  Tickets are $15 at the World Cafe Live website; doors open at 6:00 p.m. with music beginning at 7:30 p.m. Watch Neil perform “Tied to You” off of Palindrome Hunches below.

Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Album Leaf at Johnny Brenda’s, Shellac at Union Transfer

The Album Leaf is a solo project founded by Jimmy LaValle, whose musical style emulates many of its Sub Pop counterparts. The California-based post-rock band’s latest album, 2010′s A Chorus Of Storytellers, is a mellow affair that thrives on synth, ambient noise, and occasional acoustic guitar. Each song has a decently long build up and instrumental layering that should intrigue any fan of the post-rock genre; the lyrics, on the other hand, are rarely complicated (lines such as “One day we began/To fly again/And now we start/To fly and then” are pretty much par for the course). However, any lacking lyricism is excusable as the focus of the music is the instruments themselves. LaValle capitalizes on lo-fi, experimental sounds that ultimately sooth and entrance the listener. The Album Leaf performs with Sister Crayon at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $14–$16. —Caitlyn Grabenstein

Also Playing: Shellac +  Helen Money at Union Transfer (8:30 p.m., all ages, $13); Ben Harper at Electric Factory (8 p.m., $52.55)


Contest: Win a pair of tickets to see Ben Harper at Electric Factory on Sept. 29th (PLUS a vinyl copy of Give Till It’s Gone)

This week, we’ve got a pair of tickets for Ben Harper‘s performance at Electric Factory on Thursday, September 29th, PLUS a copy of his latest album, Give Till It’s Gone, on vinyl to give away. For a chance to win the tickets and LP, all you have to do is leave a comment below by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28th. We’ll select the winners at random that evening and notify them via email; once you’ve confirmed that you and your guest will be attending the show, your names will be added to the venue’s guest list. (Just, you know, make sure to use a valid email address when posting your comment; we promise not to sell your contact info or sign you up for anything—we just want to be able to get in touch with you if you win.)


Ben Harper playing the Electric Factory September 29th

Ben Harper will be performing in Philly on September 29th at the Electric Factory in support of his latest album Give Till It’s Gone. Harper recently played a Free At Noon show during the Non-Comm 2011 at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington. You can stream the entire performance here. Below, listen to “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Free” from his recent album. Ben Harper performs on September 29th at 8 p.m. at the Electric Factory; tickets to the all-ages show are $49.45 (fees incl.) and are available here.

Ben Harper – “Rock N’ Roll Is Free” by theaudioperv


Listen to Ben Harper’s Non-Comm performance at World Cafe Live At The Queen in Wilmington

Via NPR Music:

Over the years, Ben Harper has built a worldwide fan base for his genre-bending rock. The two-time Grammy-winner established himself in the mid-1990s as a solo artist and later with his band Innocent Criminals.

Harper has recorded with several different backing bands, but the new Give Till It’s Gone finds him returning to his roots as a solo singer. He performed songs from the album on Friday during a special afternoon show at The Queen in Wilmington, Del.

You can listen to the entire performance here.