XPN Fest Recap: Cliff Hillis kicks off day two with power pop energy

Cliff Hillis | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman

Day two of the XPoNential Music Festival got under way with a shimmering set of homegrown power pop from local scene vet, Cliff Hillis. He’s been a fixture in Philly music going back to his time in the John Faye Power Trip in the 90s, and last year released his sixth project, Love Not War, the uplifting tones of which resonated from the Marina Stage this afternoon.
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Watch the video for Cliff Hillis’ catchy “Dashboard”

Via "Dashboard" | Produced by Rob Waters of W Films
Via “Dashboard” | Produced by Rob Waters of W Films

You may have heard “Dashboard,” the catchy track from Phoenixville singer-songwriter Cliff Hillis, in rotation on XPN.

If so, you can relate to the video for the track, a compilation of GoPro footage of people rockin’ out to the jam in their cars, drumming on the steering wheel and belting it out to Hillis’s lyrics (oh, and someone in a gorilla costume, several puppies, etc…) Continue reading →


Cliff Hillis, Lauren Hart head up benefit for victims of child abuse at World Cafe Live on 11/6

Following up on their Movin’ On charitable compilation released earlier this year, the folks at MECA Music Heals are throwing a benefit concert at World Cafe Live on November 6th.

Like the album, the concert looks to raise funds for The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of child sexual abuse. Performing are several of the local artists featured on the comp – Cliff Hillis, Lauren Hart, The Caulfields, Minerva and Nick Everett. In addition, participants in the Philadelphia Weekly’s storytelling initiative The Survivor’s Project will read excerpts from the book of the same name between sets, sharing their own stories about surviving sexual abuse. Tickets for the all-ages show are $15 for general admission, $25 seated, and are available at World Cafe Live’s website. For more information, visit the MECA Music Heals website.

Helen Leicht will spotlight Lauren Hart’s song “Promise” on her Philly Local Pick today at 1:30 p.m.; tune in to WXPN at 88.5 FM in Philly or online to hear it.


David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket announce release party for “I Ain’t Searchin” single 1/11 at The Colonial Theatre

Photo by Dallyn Pavey
Rock out with The Hooters’ David Uosikkinen’s and his project In The Pocket as they take over the Colonial Theatre January 11th in celebration of their new single “I Ain’t Searchin.” The collaboration, which is a cover of the 1970 hit by The American Dream, features fellows Hooters’ member Eric Bazilian, Ike’s Cliff Hillis on bass, David Uosikkinen, and Steve Butler from Smash Palace. Tickets for the all-ages release party are available here; the performance starts at 8. Listen to the track on SoundCloud here or watch the video for “I Ain’t Searchin” below.


Cool new video for Cliff Hillis’ song “Keep the Blue Skies”

Photo by Laura Keen |

Philly power pop singer/songwriter Cliff Hillis just released a new video for his song “Keep the Blue Skies” with the help of his wife, Beth Lennon. The video is a compilation of home movie clips from abandoned film reels from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s that Lennon rescued from a trash bin. After converting the film to digital, Lennon edited the long-forgotten footage of this unknown family to go along with the opening track on her husband’s latest album, Dream Good. The video depicts heartwarming images of children playing and family gatherings in a simpler time, without the Internet and smart phones. These images, combined with Hillis’ melodic voice and the song’s catchy tune, make for a unique and refreshing music video. “Keep the Blue Skies” will also be featured as today’s Philly Local Pick on WXPN’s midday show with Helen Leicht. You can watch the entire video in the player below and check out Cliff Hillis’ album, Dream Good here.


Download “Barely 5:30,” a track from the vaults of The Bigger Lovers (playing Johnny Brenda’s on Sept. 8)

Next month, reunited Philly power pop four-piece The Bigger Lovers celebrates the 10th anniversary of its album Honey in the Hive with an appearance at Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday, Sept. 8. Preparing for the show, the band found itself digging through the Lovers’ archives and dug out an unreleased nugget titled “Barely 5:30.” Says songwriter Bret Tobias:

I used to be hungover a lot. “Barely 5:30” is about that. Ya know, waking up mid-morning, sunlight glaring through the blinds, and feeling like, “Shit, swear I just went to bed an hour ago.” I occasionally get nostalgic for that stuff, and then I accidentally reacquaint myself with that kind of hangover and realize how incompatible it is with my current life. Not a bad song though.

Help yourself to a pay-what-you-wish download of “Barely 5:30” below. The Bigger Lovers play with Echo Orbiter and Cliff Hillis at Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 North Frankford Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 8. Tickets to the 21+ show are $10.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cliff Hillis with Modern Inventors at World Cafe Live, M83 at Electric Factory, Zeus with Juston Stens at North Star, and Kindred the Family Soul at @ World Café at the Queen

Tonight singer-songwriter Cliff Hillis celebrates the release of his latest album, Dream Good, with an official Philly record release show upstairs at World Cafe Live. The album is Hillis’ first release in three years and the show includes a performance by the Philly indie rock band Modern Inventors (who recently recorded with WXPN’s Helen Leicht on Leicht Lunch). The all-ages show starts at 9PM. Tickets are $10 and available for purchase here. Listen to Cliff Hillis’ new album in the player below.

French electronic band M83 are bringing their ambient vibes to the Electric Factory before they head to Lollapalooza and then continue their extensive three month-long U.S. tour. The all-ages show starts at 8PM and features support from Big Black Delta. Tickets are $40.40 and can be purchased here. Watch the official music video for the band’s infectious single “Midnight City” from their latest album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming in the player below.

Toronto band Zeus are headlining a show at the North Star Bar tonight along with Juston Stens & The Get Real Gang (featuring Juston Stens formerly of Dr. Dog) and Megan Reilly. The 21+ show starts at 8PM and tickets are available here for $10.

Finally, Philadelphia natives/married couple/musical duo Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon (AKA Kindred the Family Soul) are bringing their soulful sound to World Cafe at the Queen in Wilmington tonight at 8PM. Reserved seats for are sold out, but general admission tickets are still available for $29 here.


The Bigger Lovers celebrate 10th anniversary of Honey in the Hive with Johnny Brenda’s show

The hits keep on coming from re-energized Philly power-popsters The Bigger Lovers. After re-emerging last year with a brand new EP, a reunion show a gig supporting The Baseball Project and a small handful of other appearances, the band is back again this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Honey in the Hive, their popular 2002 album that garnered them a four-star review by Rolling Stone scribe David Fricke and a Live at the World Cafe session. The Lovers will play Honey in its entirety at Johnny Brenda’s on Sept. 8. Continue reading →