Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ben Harper at The Fillmore, They Might Be Giants at TLA, Dom Flemons at The Abbey Bar, and more…

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals just released their first collaborative LP in 8 years, Call It What It Is, and they just played a Free At Noon for World Cafe Live at The Queen in Delaware last week. Tonight, they take on The Fillmore for another round of slaying rock & soul. Opening the show will be Christopher Paul Stelling. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar.  Continue reading →


Beautiful truths with Over the Rhine at Underground Arts

Over the Rhine | Photo by Chris Sikich |
Over the Rhine | Photo by Chris Sikich |

Last Saturday’s cold and wet attitude could not prevent the warmth and beauty of Over the Rhine from overtaking Underground Arts. Husband and wife duo of Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler let their folk rock wrap the seated audience in the wealth of their 23-year musical history. With their newest holiday-themed release Blood Oranges in the Snow as a backdrop, they delivered their take on “reality” Christmas. And with some cuts from other works, including their masterful 2013 double album Meet Me at the Edge of the World, it would be tough to disappoint anyone in the rapt crowd. Though a seemingly odd venue for such a band, Underground Arts ended up being quite a fine setting for Over the Rhine’s beautiful truths. Continue reading →


Folkadelphia’s Year-End List of Discovery and Wonderment, Part II

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker |
Leyla McCalla’s Folkadelphia Session | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker |

With a mixture of pride about our recent accomplishments, sadness about closing the book on 2014, and a constant craving for snacks, we arrive at the penultimate episode of the year for Folkadelphia on WXPN, airing at 10 p.m. tonight. What a ride. Thinking back on the year, it’s a blur of music. Seriously, no one can hope to hear that much music, right? Does anyone have a solid system for intake, choosing what to pay attention to, how much time to devote to a particular album, and then making a succinct decision about if it’s “good” or “bad?” If you do, please email me at fred(at) and reveal to me your secrets, magician!

That’s why the end of the year is crucial for me; it’s a time for me to look to others (critics and other curating robots) for direction, to potentially discover albums that slipped through the gaping cracks in the asphalt that I call my life. I could care less about “top” lists, so we will be side-stepping that format here. I talked about this idea, using the end of the year for discovery instead of reflection at length in the previous part of this write-up. Maybe I can do the same for you.
Continue reading →


The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Fly Golden Eagle, Sturgill Simpson, Dom Flemons

fly golden eagle
Fly Golden Eagle | Photo courtesy of the band.

Graduates of the Nashville basement scene, Fly Golden Eagle are a thrashy, glam / blues quartet on the cusp of releasing a 26-song collection called Quartz on ATO in couple of weeks.  Check out the psych-laden number “Stepping Stone” below and see Fly Golden Eagle live at The TLA on November 8th when they open for J Roddy Walston and the Business. Continue reading →


Folkadelphia Session: Dom Flemons


I had more than one fan-boy moment during our recording session with Dom Flemons back in June of this year. Sometimes I can’t help it, my excitement disrupts my normally cool professional exterior. It’s just that I love Flemon’s music a lot – from his work with his former group the Carolina Chocolate Drops to his solo material, like this year’s absolutely phenomenal Prospect Hill – so, it was a bit of a coup on our part to snag him into the studio. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Dom Flemons steps out solo with “Have I Stayed Away Too Long”

Dom Flemons | photo by --
Dom Flemons | photo courtesy of the artist

Dom Flemons, founder of Grammy Award winners Carolina Chocolate Drops, has announced the release of a new solo effort called Prospect Hill.  The full-length comes a year after Flemons left his southern string band and sees the North Carolina musician stepping into comfortable shoes as he performs a range of folk, blues and jazz, though he has also incorporated electric guitar into some of the compositions.

Today we have the premiere of “Have I Stayed Away Too Long,” a song that has been performed mostly as a slow country ballad.  But Flemons adds some spunk with crisp instrumentation and upbeat syncopation, rejuvenating the song with some classic frontporch twang.  From Flemons:

I first heard this song on the Arhoolie Records album Blind James Campbell and His Nashville String Band. This is a real “tear in your beer” classic from the lesser-known black string band musicians that busked on the streets of Nashville next to the Grand Ole Opry. It turns out that this was a hit for Jim Reeves, as well as Willie Nelson, though I have heard neither of these versions. The first country music I ever heard were songs that my dad would sing around the house. It’s been a great thrill to be able to play the Grand Ole Opry several times over the years. One time, I sent my dad a photo of his favorite country singer, Charlie Daniels, and me. Sometimes life can be a trip!

Dom Flemons will perform at XFest in Telford, PA on June 14th.  More information can be found here.  Listen to the premiere of “Have I Stayed Away Too Long” below.

Dom Flemons, multi-instrumentalist of the Grammy-winning old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, along with acoutsic blues guitarist Boo Hanks, will be playing the upstairs stage at World Cafe Live tonight. The pair recently put out the collaborative country-and-blues-influenced album, Buffalo Junction, named for Hanks’ hometown. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available here for $12. Listen to the duo perform “Move to the Outskirts of Town” in the player below.