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Chris Kasper’s Bagabones takes flight with the help of BalletX

BalletX dancers with Chris Kasper and his band performing "When We Are All One" | Photo courtesy of BalletX
BalletX dancers with Chris Kasper and his band performing “When We Are All One” | Photo courtesy of BalletX

When we heard our Philly blogger friend Dan McGurk of Root Down in the Shadow was attending opening night of Chris Kasper’s collaboration with BalletX  at the Wilma Theater, we asked him to share his impression of of the performance. You can read his review below.

During a Q&A at the Wilma Theater Wednesday night, when Chris Kasper was asked what it was like to see his music performed with ballet dancers, he said “It’s fulfilling at a level that’s hard to describe.”

“A song-writer always hopes that the music continues to grow after it’s been put to pen,” Kasper told the opening night crowd at the Wilma Theater. Nearly two years after Bagabones evolved from muse to paper to songs to record, the album grows once again with the help of choreographer Adam Hougland and Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company, BalletX. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: P.S. 118 at Silk City, Rosemary Fiki at Dock Street Music Fest, Chris Kasper at Bourbon & Branch and more…

silk city
P.S. 118 | Photo courtesy of the artist

Local duo P.S. 118 celebrate the release of their Vol. 1 EP at Silk City tonight. Jansen Scott and Lucas Hough have been working on their EDM music for awhile, drawing influences from scenes in Chicago and the UK as well as Hough’s jazz background. We premiered their song “Function” last week, which you can listen to below. Get more information about tonight’s release show here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mason Porter & Chris Kasper’s Grateful Dead Tribute at the Ardmore Music Hall, Tei Shi at Milkboy, Toro y Moi at Union Transfer

Mason Porter
Mason Porter | photo by Lisa Schaffer

After a stellar midday tribute to the Grateful Dead a few weeks ago, Mason Porter and Chris Kasper bring the show to the Ardmore Music Hall tonight. Kasper and his band will perform American Beauty, the 1970 record that included “Sugar Magnolia,” “Truckin’” and “Box of Rain.” For Mason Porter’s set, he’ll do versions of “Uncle John’s Band,” “Casey Jones” and others from Workingman’s Blues. Tickets and information for the 21+ tribute show can be found here. Watch Mason Porter perform “Cumberland Blues” at the Free at Noon below.

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Chris Kasper to collaborate with Philly Dance Company, BalletX

Chris Kasper | via Facebook.com/ChrisKasperMusic
Chris Kasper | via Facebook.com/ChrisKasperMusic

Philly singer-songwriter Chris Kasper has embarked on a unique, collaborative project with Philly dance company BalletX for seven shows from July 8-12 at The Wilma Theater, where he’ll perform tracks off of 2013′s folk/soul Bagabones - tied into the residency is his Indiegogo campaign to create a music video with BalletX for the track “Raven and the Rose” and a spring tour in support of it, which kicks off tonight at Ballet X’s spring preview premiere party. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jukebox the Ghost at Union Transfer, Chris Kasper at Johnny Brenda’s and Lili Anel at Melodies Cafe

Photo via Jukebox the Ghost Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jukeboxtheghost)
Photo via facebook.com/jukeboxtheghost
Indie rock trio Jukebox the Ghost will play Union Transfer this evening. The group appeared at our Free at Noon concert a few months back and brought the house down. With an ongoing flow of witty banter and high-energy performances, Jukebox the Ghost has quickly become a band known for a kickass live concert. They have recently released their self-titled album last week and are offering an opportunity to meet and greet with them. Tonight’s show is bound to be filled with indie pop fun and hilarious chatter from the musicians themselves. For more information on tonight’s show, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch their video for “The Great Unknown” below.

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Celebrate Chris Kasper’s homecoming show with a free 8-track sampler

Chris Kasper

Chris Kasper | photo by Lisa Schaffer | www.skylerbug.com

On Saturday, November 1st, Philadelphia singer-songwriter Chris Kasper will bring his full band to Johnny Brenda’s for a one-off show alongside Maitland and The Bones of J.R. Jones. This will be Kasper’s first and only full-band concert in Philadelphia since October of last year following the release of his most recent album Bagabones.

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Listen to Chris Kasper’s Daytrotter session

Singer-songwriter Chris Kasper recently stopped by the Daytrotter studios in Rock Island, Illinois, to record a four song studio session. Listen to the session here. Kasper performed four songs from his recent album, Bagabones. The studio album recordings captured a more soulful side to the singer-songwriter’s folk stylings. The Daytrotter session recordings regain some of the intimacy of the his voice and musical accompaniment, yet still showcase Kasper’s attention to story telling detail.

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For the Kids: Psych and funk combine for Yes!…And Collaborative Arts’ first benefit concerts

Johnny Showcase | Photo via facebook.com/johnnyshowcase

This summer, Yes!…And Collaborative Arts launches its summer camp season, bringing elementary and high school students together to learn theater skills, expand their imaginations and develop their creativity. But tonight, you can see some of the counselors (and campers) in a bit of a different setting.

Guitar chords and heavy drums will replace jazz hands and script reads at a benefit concert for the group featuring Johnny Showcase and the Lefty Lucy Cabaret, an eight-piece psychedelic, funk band, folk rock artist Birdie Busch and singer/songwriter Chris Kasper at Connie’s Ric Rac.

“I know a lot of the kids,” said David Sweeny, the brainchild behind Johnny Showcase. “I think it’s a really special thing that kids are being allowed into a club in South Philly.”

Sweeny moved to Philly in 2000 and became involved with Yes!…And Collaborative Arts immediately. Years later, he developed an idea for a band that doubled as a sort of theatrical experience, and with the help of thespians and non-thespians alike, he started Johnny Showcase.

“What we do is definitely an extension of the stuff that [Yes!…And the Collaborative Arts] is teaching in the programs,” Sweeny said. “My thing is that I fool people who are just trying to see a rock ‘n’ roll show to see theater. I also fool people who are there to see a theatrical performance.”

Michael Brix, executive director of Yes!…And the Collaborative Arts, is also one of the founders of the organization and has known Sweeny since he joined. When Brix and other members of the nonprofit decided to organize a benefit concert, he said it was only obvious to ask Sweeny and his band to perform.

From there, he and other members chose the rest of the lineup. However, Johnny Showcase is known best for its racy and colorful performances – something not so suitable for a younger audience. But Sweeny said he “knows his audience” and is prepared to change his usual performance to something a little more family-friendly, though he’s not going “to dumb it down.”

“I guess it’s my mission to bring silliness back to the landscape to modern music,” Sweeny said.

Tonight’s show will start at 8 p.m. and the $15 tickets can be purchased here. All proceeds will go toward what Brix calls “camperships” – scholarships for kids to go to the summer camps.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Innoko, Charlie Hickey, Dirty Dollhouse and more

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

Delaware five-piece Innoko have released a debut EP called First Light, available as a free download on their Bandcamp.  The release bridges the mellow form of psych rock with a “beachy and serene vibe” perfect for the warm days ahead.  Stream and download the EP below.

Modern Baseball brought its basement-bred pop punk to the Key Studio Sessions this week, performing songs off of this year’s You’re Gonna Miss It All.  Along with the six live tracks, including “The Weekend,” which you can stream and download below, the KSS crew recorded a video of the band playing “Your Graduation.” Check out the full session here.

Fourteen year old Charlie Hickey was featured in Tuesday’s My Morning Download with his song “Odds.”  The track comes from singer’s new EP, which also includes a cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm.”

Chris Kasper brought friends Phil D’Agostino and Kiley Ryan along to his Folkadelphia Session, premiered this week and posted as a free download.  The local collaborator extraordinnaire performed cuts off of his latest Bagabones LP, as well as a few older numbers.  Stream and download the full set below.

Dirty Dollhouse have released a live session performed at East Coast Recording as a free download.  The six-track EP features vocalist Chelsea Mitchell with backup singers Vanessa Winters and Amber Twait singing beautifully harmonized and lyrically descriptive songs.  Download a copy below.

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Folkadelphia Session: Chris Kasper


Philadelphia is a true hotbed of musical activity. Cheap rent, collaborative vibes, an abundance of musically-minded people, and a solid support system for developing acts are just a few of the factors that help to make this city into a real deal music town. My favorite aspect of the greater musical community is, well, just that – that it’s a community. Philly feels tight-knit, but it isn’t exclusive or closed off to newcomers. It’s a support thing. Folks here play in lots of bands, they pop into each others’ recording sessions, and are always seeking ways to include one another in projects. Recently, I was thinking about the WXPN Performance Studio, the space where Folkadelphia, as well as Gene Shay’s Folk Show, World Cafe, The Key Studio Sessions, and most other WXPN-related in-studio sessions are tracked, and what musicians come through to record. I got to thinking that there is a contingent of local musicians that have spent a significant amount of hours in the room, that returning to WXPN is like coming home in a way. For these musicians and since the building’s construction, the space perhaps represents a safe zone for collaboration, experimentation, and uninhibited performance.

Chris Kasper is a Philadelphia local songwriter that we have looked for opportunities to include in what Folkadelphia does. We’ve seen how amazing he’s been working with WXPN on various events and we’ve listened to his four albums, especially his most recent Bagabones, with attentive ears, feeling considerable excitement at his impressive lyricism and turns of phrase. What has always drew us closer to Kasper is his collaborative spirit; many of our favorite Philly musicians play with or alongside Kasper, to name a few: Kiley Ryan (the two also work together with Foxhound), Phil D’Agostino, and Daniel Bower. For fun, you should construct a diagram where each of these musicians were connected to other bands they have collaborated with in some way, then expand from there, then expand from there, and so on. You’d need a lot of paper. What you’d get is a spider web of musical community goodness and that’s what Philadelphia is all about.

Towards the final days of 2013, Chris Kasper, along with Kiley Ryan on fiddle and Phil D’Agostino on bass, spent an evening recording with Team Folkadelphia. It’s a case of total chemistry, where the musicians are tight locked-in with each other, existing only in the present moment, and playing with a sense of joy. You didn’t need to give them a tour of the recording space, they’ve been here before.