XPNFest Recap: Harmonica maestro James Cotton revvs up the Marina Stage

James Cotton | Photo by Michelle Montgomery |
James Cotton | Photo by Michelle Montgomery |

Mississippi harmonica master James Cotton took to the Marina Stage at the XPoNential Music Festival tonight, showing the crowd what blues is all about. He was backed by a lively three-piece rhythm section that riffed on an introductory number before the 79-year-old Cotton took the stage. Continue reading →


Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Hold Steady and more top the XPoNential Music Festival lineup

Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via
Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via

Dueling acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, eclectic New Orleans folk-blues combo Hurray for the Riff Raff, and stalwart rock n’ rollers The Hold Steady are just some of the 25 artists announced today in the full lineup of this year’s edition of the XPoNential Music Festival.

These acts will play the two stages in Wiggins Park from July 25th to July 27th of this year, alongside the festival’s headlining concerts at Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis and Dawes (July 26th) and Beck, Band of Horses and The Districts (July 27th).

Hurray for the Riff Raff | Photo by Kate McCann |
Photo by Kate McCann |

The Wiggins Park bill is filled with WXPN favorites, like alt-country heroes Old 97s, Jersey singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins and Diego Garcia, all of whom are return-XPNFest-ers.

There is also an assortment of up-and-coming names like countrified Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose (featured on World Cafe’s Sense of Place: Nashville series); Bear’s Den, a UK rock trio with a flair for drama (they made a splash at the March Edition of the Communion Club Night at Underground Arts), the jazzy / folky vocal combo Lake Street Dive and the art-pop powerhouse Lucius, (who knocked our socks off at Free at Noon late last year.)

Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish |
Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish |

The greater Philadelphia scene is nicely represented as well. Bigger names like avant-garde rockers Man Man (who leaked their appearance last week), punk rock troubadour Dave Hause and reinvented folklorists Marah will mix with emerging artists Commonwealth Choir, Our Griffins, Marian Hill, The Lawsuits, Ginger Coyle and Viv and the Revival.

And adding an even more eclectic scope to the lineup is a taste of zydeco from C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band and some Mississippi blues care of harmonica master James Cotton.

Three days passes for new and renewing WXPN members are available now here. Tickets for the general public go on sale on May 1st; as with previous years, three-day passes will include lawn admission to the Susquehanna Bank Center shows (seated tickets to those are on sale separately, here and here).

Below, listen to a Spotify playlist of the Wiggins Park lineup, and read the complete list of artists after the jump.

Wiggins Park
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Trigger Hippy (featuring Joan Osborne, Jackie Greene & Steve Gorman)
Lake Street Dive
Old 97’s
The Hold Steady
Hurray for the Riff Raff
C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band
Man Man
Nicole Atkins
Diego Garcia
James Cotton
J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Dave Hause
Jeremy Messersmith
Caitlin Rose
Bear’s Den
The Lawsuits
Marian Hill
Ginger Coyle
Our Griffins
Viv and the Revival
Commonwealth Choir

Susquehanna Bank Center
Ryan Adams
Jenny Lewis
Band of Horses
The Districts


Watch the James Cotton Blues Band’s Mississippi Blues Project concert from the TLA

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker

The legendary James Cotton played the TLA on Friday, September 6th for the final concert of XPN’s Mississippi Blues Project. The 78 year old blues man performed with the energy of a twenty-something to a sold out crowd, playing songs from his new album, Cotton Mouth Man, along with some classics including “Got My Mojo Workin'” that you can watch below. Listen to the entire concert here. The Mississippi Blues Project has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Continue reading →


Listen to the James Cotton Blues Band concert from the TLA

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
Blues legend James Cotton played the TLA on Friday, September 6th as part of XPN’s Mississippi Blues Project. Listen to the entire show here.

Set list
1. Noel’s Boogie
2. Waiting On The Other Shoe To Drop
3. Hard Times
4. How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong
5. Blues In My Sleep
6. Blow Wind
7. Honest I Do
8. Bird Nest On The Ground
9. He Was There
10. Hard Sometimes
11. Strange Things Happening
12. Going Down to Main Street
13. Rocket 88
14. That’s All Right
15. Got My Mojo Workin’
16. The Creeper

The Mississippi Blues Project has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.


The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Balance and Composure, The City and Horses, Toy Soldiers)


Get the details of Balance and Composure‘s new The Things We Think We’re Missing LP in this week’s Unlocked feature [link]

Stream new releases from Elvis Costello & The Roots and Sebadoh via NPR Music [link and link]

Check out recaps of the weekend’s best shows, including Laura Marling, James Cotton and Glenn Tilbrook [link]

Save the date: The Clark Park Music & Arts Festival is happening on 9/21 with The Fleeting Ends, The Districts and more [link]

Folkadelphia brings us a moving session with Allysen Callery, available to stream and download [link]

Celebrating the release of The Maybe Boys this week, Toy Soldiers stopped by to record a Key Studio Session [link]

XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week features Parquet Courts and their new track “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now” [link]

Download “Ravine Road” from Ben Smith‘s new EP of the same name [link]

Joseph Arthur, kd lang, Shelby Lynne and more contributed songs to the new Sweet Relief III: Pennies from Heaven benefit record [link]

PhilaMOCA will screen The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) with a live score by the Andrew Alden Ensemble in October [link]

Get to know The City and Horses, playing Kung Fu Necktie on 9/26 [link]

New show announcements from My Bloody Valentine, Mazzy Star and Eric Copeland [link, link, link]


James Cotton brings the year long Mississippi Blues Project to a dynamic close at the TLA

The legendary James Cotton brought WXPN’s year long Mississippi Blues Project to an explosive close last night during a rocking performance last night the TLA. Cotton, preceded by a Funky Friday dance party with David Dye and a Blues DJ set by XPN’s Blues Show host Jonny Meister, proved his legendary status with a dynamic 90 minute set of songs, including several from his latest album Cotton Mouth Man, and a rousing version of “Got My Mojo Workin.'” All photos by Laura Jane Brubaker. Audio from the entire show will be posted on Monday. The Mississippi Blues Project has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Glenn Tilbrook at World Cafe Live, Funky Blues Finale w/ James Cotton and David Dye at TLA, mewithoutYou at Musikfest Cafe

Squeeze80s British power pop sensation (and former Squeeze frontman) Glenn Tilbrook is playing at World Cafe Live tonight. Tilbrook has been touring the UK and U.S. in support of his upcoming solo release, expected to be out later this year. Find more information and tickets for tonight’s all ages event here. Watch as Tilbrook and his crew arrive to the states in his 2013 tour video below, and prepare for the show by listening to Tilbrook’s 2001 acoustic version of “Tempted” below.

Continue reading →


RSVP Now: The WXPN September First Friday Funky Friday dance party and free blues concert with the legendary James Cotton at the TLA!!

JamesCotton01_byChristopherDurst_600x300 The legendary James Cotton is playing a free show at the TLA on South Street in Philadelphia on Friday, September 6. It’s the finale concert of the year-long Mississippi Blues Project and will be hosted by Jonny Meister, host of The Blues Show on WXPN. In addition to James and his band playing a full set, the evening will also feature a Funky Friday Dance party with David Dye. In between Funky Friday and James Cotton’s set, Jonny Meister will be spinning the blues. James has an excellent new album on Alligator Records, Cotton Mouth Man that features special guests Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton, Warren Haynes and Keb Mo.

The event at the TLA is free, but you need to sign up. Go here to RSVP for the show. here.