Free at Noon Flashback: Hailu Mergia powers through a lively set of Ethiopian jazz and funk

Hailu Mergia | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |

Yes, today’s Free at Noon with Hailu Mergia may have gotten off to a late start while some equipment errors were sorted out. But oh, was the wait worth it.

The Ethiopian jazz and funk artist is something of a living legend — in Ethiopia, that is. Until recently, the visionary musician was hardly known outside of his native country, and leads a relatively anonymous life as a cab driver in Washington, D.C., where he’s lived since the 80s. Now, Mergia has stepped back into the public eye with the release of his first new album in 15 years, Lala Belu. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s favorite reissues of 2014

The Allman Brothers | Photo by Jim Marshall
The Allman Brothers | Photo by Jim Marshall

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN Program Director Bruce Warren shares his favorite reissues of the year.

Some of the best “new” music I heard this year was old music. Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Underground, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Tears For Fears all got the reissue/remaster/bonus track treatment in 2014. Dylan released The Basement Tapes Complete, and Miles Davis completists must put their hands on every second of his 1970 Fillmore concerts. Personally I think 2014 was better in the reissue department than the new music department. Here’s a list of some of the best reissues of 2014. Continue reading →


The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Thin Lips, Sympathy and the Lion and more

Thin Lips
Thin Lips | Photo by Yowei Shaw

Thin Lips made their Key Studio Session debut this week. A spin-off of former Philly outfit Dangerous Ponies, Thin Lips refocuses the latter’s carnivalesque energy into high-octane punk. For this session they recorded two tracks from a 7″ called Gemini Moon. Catch the band playing new material at Johnny Brenda’s on New Year’s Eve with Hop Along and check out the title track to the 7″ below.

Continue reading →