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Livin’ legend Mavis Staples to grace Berks Jazz Fest

Mavis Staples | Photo by Chris Strong | courtesy of the artist
Mavis Staples | Photo by Chris Strong | courtesy of the artist

There’s only one Mavis.  By this point in her storied, singular career, Mavis Staples’ legacy as a soul music legend and civil rights activist is well past secure.  Her iconic, imitable voice, sixty years on from scoring her first gospel hit with the Staple Singers in 1957, remains a vital, “could sing the phone book”-type national treasure.  But the 76-year-old – who’ll light up Scottish Rite Cathedral as part of the Berks Jazz Fest this Friday, before returning to Philly this summer to open for old flame Bobby Dylan at the Mann – shows no signs of slowing down or resting on her laurels. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “High Note” by Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples | Photo courtesy of the artist
Mavis Staples | Photo courtesy of the artist

Legendary R&B singer Mavis Staples is releasing her new album, Livin’ On A High Note on February 19th. Produced by singer-songwriter M. Ward, who has a new solo album of his own coming out on March 4th, the Staples collection features Mavis singing songs written by an all-star cast of collaborators. Aside from M. Ward, High Note features songs by Neko Case, Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart, and Philly’s Son Little. Continue reading →

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Berks Jazz Fest celebrates 25 years with Gerald Veasley, Billy Cobham and more

Berks Jazz Fest
Gerald Veasley | photo via www.eddiebaccusjrmusic.com

The Berks Jazz Fest began life in 1990 as a way to bring visitors to the Reading area for something other than outlet shopping. In the 25 years since it’s taken on a life of its own, becoming a highlight of the region’s cultural calendar each spring. While the festival’s tastes run toward the smoother side of the jazz spectrum, the ten-day fête habitually boasts an eclectic and diverse line-up. Below are a few highlights from this year’s more straightahead offerings during its April 10-19 run. Continue reading →