support from Cancer Treatment Centers Of America
Modern funk / soul great D’Angelo brings his critically-acclaimed Black Messiah album to the Keswick Theatre tonight. The Second Coming tour features D’Angelo’s band The Vanguard, a star-studded roster of music industry vets: bassist Pino Palladino (who’s played with The Who), guitarists Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey, drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave, keyboardist Cleo “Pookie” Sample and vocalists Kendra Foster (of George Clinton’s P-Funk), Charlie “Red” Middleton and Jermain Holmes. Anchoring the group is D’Angelo on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Soulful country crooner Shelby Lynne will take on the Keswick Theater this summer on June 21st where WXPN welcomes the artist to perform two of her albums, I Am Shelby Lynne and latest I Can’t Imagine, in their entirety. I Can’t Imagine is set to be released May 5th, but you can give a listen to her latest single release off the record, the title track “I Can’t Imagine”, below. For more information on her show this summer, head over to the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
“When I first heard Jessica sing this song, there was a spark,” Seth Avett said while sitting at the piano to the far right of the Keswick Theatre’s stage. He talked about when he realized their this common love for Elliott Smith had to become a project, and how he kept coming back to Jessica Lea Mayfield singing “Twilight” as the push to keep up with it over the years.
Conveying a sense of home, Avett and Mayfield performed in front of a kitchen backdrop on Saturday evening, complete with a working kettle, refrigerator, vacuum, shelves of teas and cereals, and a table placed to hold Seth’s various guitars. Touching on a bit more than cherished Elliott Smith tunes, the two musicians intertwined some of Smith’s influences along with their own works for the set. Continue reading →
Jessica Lea Mayfield’s introduction to Elliott Smith was the song “Clementine” – some dude with a Weezer tattoo played it for her after a gig in Ohio, hoping to impress her, and she was pleasantly surprised.
Seth Avett’s gateway song was “Say Yes” – a friend wanted to learn it, and asked the singer-guitarist of The Avett Brothers to teach him.
This winter, the two musicians – both big players in the American roots / rock scene – are releasing a tribute album to the iconic singer-songwriter, who died tragically in 2003 at age 34. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith is out on Tuesday, March 17th, and it’s an outstanding record (listen to it in its entirety via NPR Music’s First Listen to hear for yourself).
Over the course of twelve songs, Avett and Mayfield mix up well-known numbers with deep-cut fan favorites; some arrangements stay relatively faithful to the original recordings, others take thrilling liberties. And all around, they channel the raw emotion that lives at the music’s core. Continue reading →
February brings Valentine’s day (dreaded by some) and the sludge of mid-winter (presumably dreaded by most). Luckily, some revered artists and up-and-coming groups are coming through town to cheer us up. Here are five Philadelphia concerts to catch. Continue reading →
Local outfit Divers headline Boot & Saddle tonight. The dark-rock four-piece, comprised of Emily Ana Zeitlyn, Ross Bellenoit, Todd Erk and Tom Bendel, is finishing up a new record that was funded by fans through a PledgeMusic campaign. Divers recorded a Key Studio Session in 2013; check out “Eggshells” from the session below and learn more about the new record here, which is set for a release on December 15th. Tickets and information for tonight’s show can be found here.
Australian brother-sister act Angus and Julia Stone make an appearance at Union Transfer tonight. The duo teamed up again for this year’s self-titled LP, following a handful of solo efforts that were released after 2010′s critically acclaimed Down the Way. While primarily an acoustic folk project, the Stones approach their songs from a blues angle. Watch their video for “A Heartbreak” below and pick up tickets here.
Whether you hear Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” for the first time or the 50th, it is still unlike any song from 1989 or 2014. And to see Isaak performing this and any of the dozens of songs he has created or covered is a must-see. I finally caught him on Friday at the Keswick and was as ecstatic with the show as the rest of the nearly sold-out crowd. Continue reading →
Just about a year ago, Josh Ritter released a moving collection of songs called The Beast in its Tracks. It was notably the first time that this favorite of the singer-songwriter scene wrote from a true first-person perspective, collecting a range of thoughts and emotions in the wake of his 2011 divorce and channeling them into songs that were remarkably stirring, beautiful and – on standout track “Joy to You Baby” – even optimistic. The album went on to receive widespread critical acclaim, and Ritter toured in support of it both with his five-piece Royal City Band and by himself.
On Thursday night, he splits the difference, playing at The Keswick Theatre in Glenside acoustically, accompanied by musical collaborators Zack Hickman and Josh Kaufman. It won’t be a full-on rock set, allowing Ritter to touch on the more nuanced moments of his catalog, but he won’t be by himself either, allowing the set to be built around a dynamic rise-and-fall. “It’s something I’ve been jonesing for,” he told me when I caught up with him via phone enroute to a show in Louisville earlier this week. We talked about the differences between playing with a band and playing solo, the unexpected success of Beast and what to do when your opening act gives you an axe.
The Key: Does the opportunity to do solo or more intimate shows like this become more of a rare thing for you the longer you’re a performing musician?
Josh Ritter: I would hope not! I started playing solo, for many years. When I write, I write solo. And there’s so much about that part of it that I find to be the foundational aspect of my songs. I really believe that songs, to be lasting, should be able to played by anybody. It shouldn’t require virtuosic talent and instrumentation – and that’s good for me because I’m no virtuoso when it comes to playing guitar! [laughs] And then I also believe that a song should only need to be delivered by a single voice. I really like the idea of a strand of melody going around in my head and the words kind of dovetailing that. I live for those moments, and I believe in a show those can be really important. You don’t need to have anything else to reach an audience then just voice and guitar or voice and some instrument. You can always add on [in the studio], and that’s great. But it’s best to remind yourself every so often that you can do it on your own.
TK: Yeah, and chasing that a little bit further, can you compare and contrast playing with your full band to playing a more scaled-down version of it like you’re doing on this tour, or even straight up playing solo? What do you like about playing with the guys ,what do you like about playing alone?
JR: Well it all basically comes down to – without sounding too much like a hippie – is there’s a real tangible flow of energy between the performer and the audience. I think when you’re performing, that is a strand or a power that you don’t want to sever or dilute any. When you’re playing on your own it’s just you and the audience and that’s a really incredible thing. With a band, that gets trickier. You’re sharing your energy with the band the band is focusing its energy through you and it can be an ecstatic experience, but it can also be something you can all too easily fold yourself into and get lost in the energy of the band and pay less attention to what’s going on between you and the audience. Continue reading →