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Hear archival interviews with Joni Mitchell and Tom Rush on last night’s Folk Show with Gene Shay

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell

Last night on WXPN, long time Folk Show host Gene Shay began his final run behind the mic with a dip into his archives as well as a showcase of the present-day folk world. The show included a live session from long-running West Chester trio Mason Porter, as well as a revisit of sessions with Tom Rush from 1994 and 2001. In addition, Shay dug into his archives for a 1967 interview with Joni Mitchell, originally broadcast on WMMR. Continue reading →

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“A Godfather of Folk”: The Folksong Society weighs in on Gene Shay’s retirement from the air

Gene Shay | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Gene Shay | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

“Who’s he going to hand the baton to? Who’s the next Gene?” wonders Lisa Schwartz. “Because he just knows so much. … Everybody knows him, everybody loves him, he’s got an incredible ear.”

The president of the Philadelphia Folksong Society was reminiscing about a man she described as “a well-deserved godfather of folk,” Gene Shay, who this week announced his retirement from the airwaves. Sunday, January 11th, is the first of his final four runs hosting The Folk Show on WXPN, with his final show coming on February 1st.

“I can’t imagine a Sunday night without him on the airwaves,” Schwartz says. Continue reading →

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“The Dean of Folk DJs” Gene Shay will retire from the airwaves in February

Gene Shay | Photo by John Vettese
Gene Shay | Photo by John Vettese

An icon of the Philadelphia region’s music community, “Dean of Folk DJs”  Gene Shay will retire from the airwaves this winter after more than five decades on the air. The bittersweet announcement was made by WXPN this morning that his final turn at the helm of The Folk Show will be on February 1st.

Shay, who debuted on Philadelphia radio network WHAT in 1962 – and has hosted the folk show on WXPN since 1995 – says retirement affords him the time to travel and take on special projects that remain important to him. “[It] will allow me to enjoy spending more time with my family,” he says. “It gives me an opportunity to do more for the organizations that I have been working with over the years, such the American Composers Forum in Cleveland, the National Recording Academy in Hollywood, and other organizations.”

The weight of Shay’s departure is being felt by his colleagues; his retirement from broadcasting leaves big shoes to fill. Continue reading →

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Listen to Gene Shay and Michaela Majoun’s tribute to Pete Seeger

600x600Countless people can say Pete Seeger influenced them – as musicians, or as songwriters, or as folks with an empathetic view of the world around them.

Few can say that Pete Seeger was their friend.

Gene Shay of WXPN’s Folk Show is one of those few, and this morning he phoned into the XPN airwaves to share his memories of Seeger – who died yesterday at 94 years old – with Morning Show host Michaela Majoun. Listen to their tribute to Seeger below.

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The Week So Far: 10 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Jessica Pratt, Northern Arms, Gene Shay)

Father John Misty | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com
Father John Misty | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

Get caught up on the week’s shows with reviews and photos from appearances by Miguel, Pearl Jam and more [link]

Congratulations to XPN Folk Show host Gene Shay, who will be inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame today [link]

Read XPN host Mike Vasilikos’s review of Dr. Dog‘s B-Room, this week’s featured album [link]

San Francisco’s Jessica Pratt performed unreleased songs for this week’s Folkadelphia Session [link]

The Wonder Years’ Nick Steinborn will release a solo EP next month; listen to a new song now [link]

Blayer Pointdujour & The Rockers Galore are throwing a Kompa party at The TLA with T-Vice in December [link]

Delco Pacers will celebrate the release of Stereo Streets at Milkboy on 11/14 [link]

Reef the Lost Cauze has announced a free show at Hard Rock Cafe tonight and a free song called “92 Flow” [link]

Northern Arms stopped by for a mysterious and powerful Key Studio Session [link]

Local rock band Rob, Lately has released a new EP called The Liar [link]

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Gene Shay, to be inducted into the Philadelphia Walk Of Fame tomorrow, talks with XPN’s Morning Show host Michaela Majoun

Gene Tomorrow, Thursday, October 24th, WXPN’s Folk Show host Gene Shay is being inducted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame. The ceremonies, free and open to the public, are scheduled at Noon on 10/24 in front of the Doubletree Hotel along the Avenue of the Arts. Other inductees include producer and label executive Joel Dorn (“Killing Me Softly”); songwriting team Madara & White (“At the Hop”); producer-songwriter-publisher Jerry Ross (“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” with Gamble & Huff; “Venus”); producer-arranger-conductor Vince Montana Jr., (whose work with TSOP and the Salsoul Orchestra is legendary) John Davis & The Monster Band (who had the 1976 disco hit with a cover of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,”) and Macy’s Grand Court organist Peter Richard Conte. Gene had a chance to talk with WXPN Morning Show host Michaela Majoun about his career and told stories about his early years in the folk music scene, copywriting radio spots for Woodstock and an important phone call he made to Bob Dylan in the early Sixties.

Go here for more information about the events and awards luncheon.

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WXPN’s Gene Shay to be inducted in the Philadelphia Walk of Fame this Thursday, October 24th

Gene Shay and his wife Gloria
Gene Shay and his wife Gloria

This Thursday, October 24th, The Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame, along the Avenue of the Arts, will induct seven new Philly musical movers and shakers, including WXPN’s Gene Shay. A big congratulations goes out to Gene. We’re thrilled and honored to have Gene host The Folk Show on Sunday nights at XPN. Other inductees include producer and label executive Joel Dorn (“Killing Me Softly”); songwriting team Madara & White (“At the Hop”); producer-songwriter-publisher Jerry Ross (“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” with Gamble & Huff; “Venus”); producer-arranger-conductor Vince Montana Jr., (whose work with TSOP and the Salsoul Orchestra is legendary) John Davis & The Monster Band (who had the 1976 disco hit with a cover of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,”) and Macy’s Grand Court organist Peter Richard Conte. The ceremonies, free and open to the public, are scheduled at Noon on 10/24 in front of the Doubletree Hotel along the Avenue of the Arts. Philadelphia Walk of Fame Alumni, including Bobby Rydell, Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, Kal Rudman, Earl Young (Baker, Harris & Young); Jerry Gross (The Dovells); Joe Tarsia; Dave Appel (of Cameo-Parkway) will also be there. Jerry Blavat, The Geator With The Heator is the MC and host for the events.

Gene, known as the “Grandfather of Philadelphia Folk Music,” and “the Dean of American folk DJs,” has been playing folk music on the radio since 1962 and was the co-founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Shay’s early interviews with Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, John Denver, Tom Waits, Phil Ochs, Bonnie Raitt and Judy Collins are legendary. He was the first to bring Bob Dylan to Philadelphia in 1963 for his debut concert. As an advertising writer and producer, he wrote the original radio commercials for Woodstock. He helped design the famous “smiling banjo” logo for the Philadelphia Folk Festival and came up with the name World Cafe for the show.

For more information about the ceremony and the PMA here.

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Philadelphia Music Alliance to honor the MFSB Orchestra, XPN’s Gene Shay, Joel Dorn, Salsoul Orchestra and others on 10/24

Yes, that's the legendary Gene Shay with his wife Gloria.
Yes, that’s the legendary Gene Shay with his wife Gloria.
The Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame, along the Avenue of the Arts, will welcome seven new inductees on Thursday, October 24th. In addition to the induction of the “Dean of American Folk DJs” – XPN’s Gene Shay – other inductees include producer and label executive Joel Dorn (“Killing Me Softly”); songwriting team Madara & White (“At the Hop”); producer-songwriter-publisher Jerry Ross (“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” with Gamble & Huff; “Venus”); producer-arranger-conductor Vince Montana Jr., (whose work with TSOP and the Salsoul Orchestra is legendary) John Davis & The Monster Band (who had the 1976 disco hit with a cover of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,”) and Macy’s Grand Court organist Peter Richard Conte. The ceremonies, free and open to the public, are scheduled at Noon on 10/24 in front of the Doubletree Hotel along the Avenue of the Arts.

The Philadelphia Music Alliance is using this ceremony as a means to renew the organization’s activity in the city. Founded in June, 1986 as a “community based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Philadelphia as a vital contributor to the international music landscape,” the PMA has created a musical instrument donation program in partnership with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, an annual piano competition, the Philadelphia International Airport Music Project, Music In The Schools, music education scholarships and grants, a speakers bureau, as well as music business seminars and workshops. The PMA’s Walk Of Fame has been on of the organization’s most high profile programs.

For more information about the ceremony and the PMA here.

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The Key’s Week of Folk: Gene Shay on what it’s like to be an MC

GeneThe Key’s Week of Folk is our series of interviews, reviews, artist spotlights, playlistings and general ephemera to get you ready for the 52nd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, happening August 16th to August 18th at Old Pool Farm in Schwenksville. In this installment, we talk with festival host Gene Shay about the art of MCing.

Gene Shay has always had his wittiness about him. His wits might be another story, especially presented with images like the one above – an actual calling card from his days as an advertising exec.

But having a clever and irreverent persona comes in handy for the founding MC of Philadelphia Folk Fest – and longtime host of The Folk Show on WXPN – especially when you’re the anchor onstage, guiding a field of thousands through a bustling concert. It might look seamless from the audience, but it’s actually wildly unpredictable.

“That’s where I came up with the idea of telling jokes,” Shay says, talking about one of his trademark devices to ease the transitions onstage. “Cornball jokes, getting groans, anything to lighten up the moment. Sometimes the crowd is out there in the cold, sometimes in the rain, sometimes waiting much too long for a stage set to get changed up.”

So Shay, 78, resorts to something that’s always been a passion – humor. Continue reading →