Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals ‘Call It What It Is’ at The Fillmore

ben harper
Ben Harper | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals are back, and they showed Philly just what they are bringing to the table last Sunday when they played at The Fillmore as a stop along their Call It What Is tour.

Kicking off the set with some cowbell and heavy rock and roll guitar in “When Sex Was Dirty,” Harper and the band introduced their newly released album Call It What It Is. The album was released on April 8th, and was the band’s first album back together in eight years. XPN welcomed Harper and the band back on April 1st when they played a Free at Noon show for World Cafe Live at The Queen, but this was Harper’s first time back in Philadelphia proper since his acoustic set at the Merriam Theater in October 2012. Continue reading →


Folkadelphia Session: Christopher Paul Stelling

In 2013, I met Christopher Paul Stelling on one of his visits to Philadelphia and watched him perform a couple of times (we also tracked our first session with him). I came face to face with the embodiment of enthusiasm and passion in songwriter and performing. This is no hyperbole – Stelling is as genuine as anyone I’ve ever met and it comes across in all of his actions and his inventions. Over the course of his recorded career, now three albums in with his brand new release Labor Against Waste out now via Anti Records, Stelling has sung of people, politics, persecution, of everyday struggle and of everyday success. Continue reading →


The Week’s Best MP3s, incl. Magic Man, Christopher Paul Stelling, Our Griffins

P6098646 1

Folkadelphia shared its session with Christopher Paul Stelling, a musician from New York who is quick-fingered and impassioned.  Stelling performed songs from his new False Cities LP, including “Every Last Extremist,” which you can stream and download below.  Grab the full set here and tune into XPN’s Folk Show with Gene Shay on September 15th to hear more from Stelling.

Our Griffins‘ debut Michael Boyd LP was the focus of this week’s Unlocked series.  The Lehigh Valley project of DJ Brown has grown since its Conversations EP was released in 2012, expanding its introspective hushed sound to a Bon Iver-esque proportions.  Stream and download the “Blood On My Sleeves” below and check out the full feature here.

Kate Faust stopped by for a Key Studio Session recently.  The local singer and collaborator  released her solo Crucial Companion EP this year and performed three songs from the record for this session.  Soaring and personal, the tracks, alongside two new ones, are stellar introductions to Faust and her new band.  Stream and download “Crucial Companion” below and get the full set here.

Wednesday’s My Morning Download was a track from This Frontier Needs Heroes called “It’s Over Now.”  Based in Brooklyn, the brother-sister duo came down to Philly to record Hooky at Dr. Dog’s studio.  Tight vocals and trickling drums float between sitar-sounding melodies, bridging Americana and psychedelic worlds in a delicate and memorable way.  Stream and download the song below.

XPN was happy to premiere Magic Man’s new single “Every Day” this week after getting to know the New England-based band with a My Morning Download earlier this year.  It’s a colorful electro-pop track featured on Magic Man‘s new You Are Here EP, set for release this Tuesday, September 10th.  Download “Every Day” via Noisetrade below.


The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Our Griffins, Made in America Festival, Kate Faust)


Our Griffins‘ Michael Boyd LP is the focus of this week’s Unlocked series [link]

XPN Morning Show host Michaela Majoun highlights the best Fall arts events with her 30 Days of Philly Arts daily feature [link]

Watch Younger Me‘s warpy summer video for “Swimming Pool” [link]

This year’s 215 Festival is set for Oct. 17-20, with a preview night to be held at Port Richmond Books on Sep. 13 [link]

Christopher Paul Stelling stopped by for a Folkadelphia Session [link]

Get to know Ohio’s The Sidekicks, summer tourmates of Hop Along and masters of punk disguise [link]

Revisit this week’s Key Studio Session with musical chameleon Kate Faust [link]

Fitz and the Tantrums announce new Philly show at the Electric Factory on 11/1 [link]

New England’s Magic Man premiered a new song called “Every Day” off of their upcoming You Are Here EP [link]

Get a full recap of Labor Day Weekend’s Made in America Festival with videos, photos and reviews [link]

Listen to XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week, “The It-Switch” by Johnny Marr [link]

Get a free download of Luray‘s “The Wilder” off of the singer-songwriter’s debut LP [link]


Folkadelphia Session: Christopher Paul Stelling

When you talk about Christopher Paul Stelling, it’s hard to omit the more empassioned adjectives at your disposal, and you wouldn’t be wrong to use them. The New York based songwriter is a lot closer to fanatical street poet than candlelit cafe reveler on the musical spectrum. That is not to say that Stelling lacks an emotional and introspective side; in fact, when he introduces little moments of quiet revelation into a song, its juxtaposion next to a fiery verse is extremely effective in conveying his lyrical content as well as his artfulness as a performer. It’s true – while he certainly could howl, growl, and yowl until the cows come home, and his fingerpicking speed on the nylon stringed guitar could rival some masters of Scruggs style banjo playing (mesmerizing to watch), it is his well-timed restraint that is arresting. In our session, I feel chills when Stelling switches from fervid chorus to a soulful verse, harmonizing with Julia Christgau, on the spiritual-tinged devotional “Who I Am.” There are many chances to feel this way listening and watching Stelling. But when he needs to, like on “Brick x Brick,” CPS can really kick some ass and soon leads you in the protest “Brick by brick, I’ll tear this whole city down…!” Stelling is definitely carrying that true American folk singer torch (and using it to burn things down) that was prominent in the revival of the ’60s, but has been relegated to the sidelines since, in favor of more personal, diary-like musical entries. I think Christopher Paul Stelling proves that you can combine personal song, polemic, and passionate plea in one song to great effect.

Christopher recently released his second full-length record False Cities. He will appear live on Gene Shay’s Folk Show on WXPN on Sunday, 9/15 and will be performing at Maysie’s Farm Fest in Glenville, PA on 9/21.