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Just Announced: John Prine will be joined by Kurt Vile at Merriam Theater this April

John Prine | photo by John Kurc | courtesy of artist

Not only will legend John Prine grace the Merriam Theater this spring, he’ll also bring Philly hero Kurt Vile along for the wise ‘n folky party on April 14th.

This year, Prine released a songbook titled John Prine Beyond Words through his own independent label, Oh Boy Records, which featured selected songs from Prine’s catalogue and the stories behind them. Kurt Vile has been rocking his incredible tour with Courtney Barnett, which recently brought an intimate-feeling gig to Philly at Tower Theatre. Continue reading →

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Watch Kurt Vile cover John Prine for Beyond Words

Kurt Vile | still from video

In the grand scheme of American music, of influential musicians and genre-leaders, John Prine is undeniably one of the greats. The living legend recently published an autobiography titled Beyond Words: John Prine’s American Songbook on his Oh Boy Records label that is filled with memorabilia and stories from his childhood to the beginnings of his prolific career as a singer-songwriter, as well as original handwritten lyrics of some of his most famous songs.

The magnitude of the Americana-folk-country singer’s influence is clear, as next-gen (or much-later-gen) musicians come forward to celebrate John Prine. At this year’s Eaux-Claires Festival, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) put together a big-name collaborative set titled “Bon Iver presents John Prine and the American Songbook,” featuring Vernon, Jenny Lewis, Spank Rock, Jeff Tweedy, and Prine himself among others.

Musicians are also celebrating the release of Beyond Words. Watch below as Kurt Vile sings a snippet of the Prine 1978 classic “That’s the Way the World Goes Round,” although his young daughter is much more impressed with the magic of her slinky toy. Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Jeff Buckley’s journals, John Prine’s songwriting memoirs will hit bookstores soon

Jeff Buckley | via Rolling Stone

“In choosing these pages to share with the world, I’m giving Jeff the chance to speak with his own voice, for the record… and for his fans to see what a sweet, funny, amazing human being he was.”- Mary Guibert- Jeff Buckley’s mom

It’s hard to believe that this coming May 29th will mark the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley’s death, and now comes word that a new book — Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice — is in the works that will feature, for the first time: handwritten journals, along with some unreleased recordings from the late singer-songwriter. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Yeasayer at Union Transfer, Permanent Wave Benefit at Cha-cha’razzi, The Miners at Milkboy Philly, John Prine at Merriam Theater, METZ at Kung Fu Necktie


XPN Welcomes electro-pop/rock band Yeasayer to Union Transfer tonight. The group is currently touring in support of their third album, Fragrant World, which was released in August. The band’s psychedelic sound draws a mix of influences from electronic music, folk, and world rhythms, heard best on the 2010 release of Odd Blood, which skyrocketed their reputation, even earning the title of 2010’s most-blogged artist on The Hype Machine. Go here for more information about tonight’s all-ages performance; doors open at 8. Below, watch Yeasayer’s new video for “Longevity” from Fragrant World.

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John Prine playing Merriam Theatre in November

Photo by Jim Shea

Legendary singer-songwriter John Prine is playing the Merriam Theatre on Friday, November 16th. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, September 28th. Go here for tickets and more information about the show. Below, watch a couple reminders of Prine’s brilliance as a songwriter, including a version of “Angel From Montgomery” recorded at the 2004 Philadelphia Folk Festival.

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Gene Shay takes us through the Philadelphia Folk Festival photo album

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Folksong Society

Five decades can contain a lot of history, especially in the world of folk music. Thankfully, Gene Shay has an incredible memory. With the 51st Philadelphia Folk Festival descending on Schwenksville this weekend, we sat down with Shay and a collection of photos from the Folksong Society archives to get a picture of where the festival began and how far it has come.
The scene you see above is Wilson Farm in Paoli, the location of the very first Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1962, and the three subsequent festivals through 1965. Shay remembers the owner of the land, C. Colket “Collie” Wilson, as a patron of the arts in the Philadelphia region. “The Pennsylvania Ballet needed a place to rehearse during the summer, and he said ‘I’ll build a stage.’ There was no canopy, no sides, just an open platform on cinderblocks. The dancers would come and rehearse, swim in the swimming pool when they were exhausted. And that was the stage he offered us. He thought it would be nice to have somebody out there other than the ballet. There was an old barn, that was built in the 1700s; it was in ruins when we were there, but people used to play guitar along its wall.” Continue reading →