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 (
Photo via
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 |

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.


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

Johnny Showcase | Photo via

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.


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.


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.


Poor murdered “Pretty Polly” and a session with Chris Kasper, who fronts a strong local crew, tonight on Folkadelphia Radio


Pretty Polly” is the name of a rather grim and gruesome American murder ballad based on an even older British ballad called “The Gosport Tragedy.” The biggest difference between the two is a matter of narrative darkness. In both versions, a man murders his girlfriend after he learns she is pregnant, but, whereas in “Gosport,” the murderer receives his swift comeuppance while trying to escape his fate, the perpetrator in “Pretty Polly” often leaves the scene of the crime without punishment in this world, instead deferring his “debt to the devil” until the end of his own life.

Depending on the version, things can take a cringeworthy turn involving incest, insanity, premeditation, pejorative language, obsessive behavior, and, of course, the supernatural. It’s no wonder that this story continues to be one of the most popular and widely covered in the folk music world and beyond. To put it plainly, it’s a messed-up story. We’ll hear a few of the many versions available to us on the air.

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Hear Chris Kasper’s Musicians on Call benefit performance tonight on the Philly Local Show

Chris Kasper | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |
Chris Kasper | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |

Join me tonight on the Philly Local show to hear a playback of Chris Kasper’s performance at our annual XPN Musicians on Call Benefit concert. The concert was on February 20th at the World Café live in Philly.  It was truly a wonderful evening of music and a sold out crowd to hear Matt Nathanson and Chris Kasper. (See photos from the show here.)

Chris performed as a trio with Kiley Ryan (fiddle) and Phil D’Agostino (bass).  Both Matt and Chris donated their performances to raise funds and awareness for the XPN Musicians on Call program.

Chris Kasper’s new album is Bagabones. He has been on tour with The Wood Brothers and Amos Lee. He stopped by my show to perform during the Leicht Lunch on September 27, 2013 to talk about this new music. Listen below, and check out the Philly Local show tonight at 8 p.m. to hear Chris’ set from the Musicians on Call benefit.


Levee Drivers cover Chris Kasper’s “Walking on Water” in a new Cover Club session

Levee Drivers | photo courtesy of Root Down in the Shadow
Levee Drivers | photo courtesy of Root Down in the Shadow
Starting off the second season of Root Down in the Shadow’s Cover Club series are Levee Drivers with their version of Chris Kasper‘s “Walking on Water.”  The local roots rock band, led by August John Lutz III and featuring steel guitar by Kyle Perella and Ben Plotnick on bass, took the acoustic pop original and gave it a dreamy, Americana make-over, warmed by three-part harmonies and a soothing down-tempo shift.  On choosing this particular Philadelphia compatriot to cover, Lutz explained:

Chris Kasper is just a great singer/songwriter – period.  He’s been a personal favorite of mine for years now, whether it’s his solo work, his live shows with a full band, or his side project Foxhound.  He has a very honest voice and an amazingly polished yet rough sound, especially on his new album Bagabones.  I’m really excited to see what he comes out with next.

Watch the video below and then listen to the original.


Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 (feat. Amanda X, Balance and Composure, Mean Lady and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 9
Album cover photo by Tiffany Yoon |

Today we bring you our latest Key Studio Sessions compilation, pulling together the best of what we’ve recorded in the final four months of 2013. I’m always psyched about these comps, but The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 in particular presents a tremendous variety of musicians from around the Philadelphia region that I’m excited to showcase for you. Bucks County has a healthy showing, from the acoustic alt-punk swagger of Balance and Composure and the retro-grunge of Daylight to the booming Americana of Levee Drivers and the flower child folk stylings of Lily Mae. We trip away into a spacious, 12-minute jam by Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel Band, rock out to Amanda X and get chillingly meditative with ambient musician and filmmaker Michael James Murray. A Christmas selection from Jersey’s The Classic Brown makes the cut, sultry new jammers from Delaware’s Mean Lady and Central Pa.’s Kate Faust, a fierce bass-backed rap by Curly Castro, an Afro-Cuban jazz rocker from Toy Soldiers, and more. Special thanks to guest engineers Steve Poponi and Mike Kennedy, to Tom Volpicelli at Mastering House for his post-production help, and to production assistants Dan Hutton and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Megan Kelly, Laura Lynn, Caitlin McCann, Ally Newbold, Kellie O’Heron, Tony Oppenheim, Matthew Shaver, Mike Trutt and Tiffany Yoon, and videographers Bands in the Backyard and Bob Sweeney for sharing their work this fall. Listen to the 17-song set and get a free download below.

Want more? Get a roundup of our previous free-downloadable Key Studio Sessions compilations after the jump. Continue reading →