The City Hall Courtyard summer music series comes to a close tonight with a free solo performance by Kurt Vile. Today has been dubbed Kurt Vile Day by the City of Philadelphia, which will present the Philly native with the Liberty Bell Award in recognition of his “outstanding professional achievements and civic generosity.” Vile released his highly-regarded Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze LP earlier this year and will be back for a full-band show at Union Transfer on October 25th. More information for tonight’s free concert can be found here. Watch Vile’s video for “KV Crimes” below.
Local indie folk outfit Norwegian Arms are pairing up with the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia for a special City Hall Series performance. It’s all a part of Make Music Philly, which will be bringing you free music all day, all across the city. Norwegian Arms released a great, quirky, emotive album earlier in 2013, Wolf Like a Stray Dog, that both displays a variety of styles but maintains a unique, cohesive sound.The Jazz Orchestra was founded by renowned trumpet player Terell Stafford, who also happens to be Temple University’s Director of Jazz Studies.These two great acts will be holding down City Hall from 5 – 7:30 p.m. Check out “My New Toy Piano” from Norwegian Arms below.
Philly psych-pop four-piece Cheers Elephant brought a high-energy set to the Philadelphia City Hall courtyard yesterday evening for the City Hall Presents summer concert series. Their hour-long set drew heavily on their two most recent albums – Man is Nature and Like Wind Blows Fire - and theband momentarily lapsed into an impromptu cover of AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” as the clock tower chimed 6 p.m. Cheers Elephant plays locally a couple more times this summer, hitting the Pastorius Park concert series on July 17th and MilkBoy on July 20th. And of course they’ll be on the lineup of the Caravan Music Festival in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, this August. Check out a gallery of images from the show below.
Touring behind their debut album Hokey Fright, The Uncluded stop by World Cafe Live tonight. Quirky folk musician Kimya Dawson (The Moldy Peaches) and indie rapper Aesop Rock teamed up a few years ago to form The Uncluded, recording Fright over the course of a year and releasing it earlier this month on Rhymesayers Entertainment. Tickets and information for the show with Hamell On Trial can be found here. Watch their video for “Delicate Cycle” below.
City Hall Presents begins its new season next Wednesday, May 29 with Philly based Brazilian band Alo Brasil in the City Hall Courtyard at 5:30PM. City Hall Presents is a series of free performances that showcases the diversity and richness of the Philadelphia performing arts community. The events are free and take place every Wednesday at 5:30 in the City Hall Courtyard. WXPN has curated several of events this Summer including the opening event with Alo Brasil, followed by Cheers Elephant on June 5, and Andrew Lipke with the Azreal Quartet on July 10. There will also be a special Make Music Philly edition of City Hall Presents on Friday, June 21 featuring Norwegian Arms and the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia. WXPN’s Dan Reed will be broadcasting live from the City Hall Courtyard next Wednesday starting at 4PM for the kick off of the series with Alo Brasil.
Other highlights of the season include: The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts on June 19, Illstyle & Peace on June 12, Dice Raw & Company on August 7, and the series closes with a special performance from Kurt Vile. Go here for more information and the complete schedule.
In terms of personnel, instrumentation and sheer sound, Philadelphia-based traditional Brazilian ensemble Alô Brasil might be the biggest band we’ve recorded for The Key Studio Sessions. The photo above gives you a sense of just some the stuff they brought to WXPN the other night: multiple percussion instruments, including the conga, the timbau, the pandeiro and the quinto. Melodic accompaniment including guitars, cavaquinho, keys and horns. Eleven players – including band leader Alex Shaw – weaving in between the instruments to create a massive, emotional eruption of body-moving sound. The opening song below is a medley of songs in the Brazilian capoeira tradition – a mix of music and martial arts that evolved under the era of colonial slavery, and employs the sonically singular berimbau (a musical bow). Other moments dipped into samba, reggae, batucada and even carried a hint of jazzy looseness and improvisation. Listening to their set is like a cultural education, especially when Shaw explains each song’s background and significance – as he does with children in the Live Connections series at World Cafe Live. Seeing the band live is even more of a multi-sensory experience, with dancers and much pagentry. Which is to say you’ll love seeing them when they kick off the City Hall Presents series on May 29th, and you’ll love them even more at this summer’s XPoNential Music Festival. Below, download “Capoeira Medley” below, and stream the other songs – new arrangements of contemporary and classic 20th century Brazilian songs.
Powerhouse Philly singer Ali Wadsworth just released two rocking new songs from her forthcoming full-length solo album, just in time for her free show at City Hall tomorrow. The songs feature Tim Arnold of Good Old War on drums, Jaron Olevsky of Amos Lee on piano/organ, Toy Solders’ Dominic Billett on congas and percussion, as well as fellow local musicians Phil D’Agostino on bass, and Dan Schwartz and Joe Bisirri on guitar. Below, listen to Wadsworth’s new tracks and, if you like what you hear, make sure to RSVP for her City Hall Presents performance tomorrow night. The show runs from 5:30PM to 6:30PM at the Mayor’s Reception Room (City Hall, Room 202). RSVP ahead here, as seating is limited.
The free “City Hall Presents” concert series that the folks at Creative Philadelphia have been running all summer continues on Wednesday the 19th of September with a performance by singer and songwriter Ali Wadsworth. The versatile vocalist used to perform in the band Goldiebox with her sister Claire, and Unlikely Cowboy with Dan Schwartz (the “war” in Good Old War). She’s backed up Kuf Knotz, Fantasy Square Garden and Aaron Brown in Aaron and the Spell…and is also the one I challenged to cover Harry Nilsson’s “Without You” earlier today. With previous City Hall Presents shows cancelled due to weather, this one takes place indoors in Mayor Nutter’s reception room (fancy!) and runs from 5:30 to 6:30, but you have to RSVP at CreativePHL.org. Below, grab a free download of Wadsworth performing the jazz standard “Someone to Watch Over Me” from Folk You Philly’s Franks and Deans radio show.