Helen Leicht’s Top Five Local Albums of 2011

This week, we’ll be taking a look at several WXPN/XPN2 staff members’ Best Of 2011 lists. Today, XPN’s Helen Leicht—host of Middays and XPN Local—tells us her five favorite local albums of the year.

1. Amos Lee, Mission Bell (Blue Note Records)


2. Matt Duke, One Day Die (Rykodisc) Listen to Matt Duke’s Key Studio Session


3. Hoots And Hellmouth, Salt (self-released)


4. Andrew Lipke, The Plague (self-released) Listen to Andrew Lipke’s Key Studio Session


5. Dana Alexandra, Wash Your Mouth Out (self-released)


Watch Matt Duke’s live interview and performance during today’s “Leicht Lunch”

Matt Duke performing at the 2011 XPoNential Music Festival

Today, during the noon hour, Helen Leicht will have local singer-songwriter Matt Duke in the studio for a live interview and performance. Click here to watch online.

You can listen Duke’s performance at this year’s XPoNential Festival here. Earlier this year, he came into the WXPN studio to record a Key Studio Session, which you can find here; he also appears on our new Key Studio Sessions 2011 XPoNential Music Festival Sampler (which also features exclusive tracks by Johnny Miles And The Waywards, Nicos Gun, Kuf Knotz, and Andrew Lipke).


Download the new Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume 2 for free

The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume 2—which you can download for free here —features one exclusive track recorded at the WXPN studios by 17 local acts, including Arc In Round, Dutch, The National Rifle, Denison Witmer, Hop Along, Matt Duke, Catnaps, Penrose, Arches, Lantern, Nicos Gun, Restorations, Ages, Sisters 3, The War On Drugs, Sonni Shine And The Underwater Sounds, and Work Drugs.

Want to hear more? Click here to listen to the full sessions by all 17 local acts. You can also download the previous edition The Key Studio Sessions Compilation, Volume 1, in its entirety as a .zip file here.


2011 XPoNential Music Festival Local Spotlight: Matt Duke

The second artist on the Marina stage this year, Matt Duke brought his cool mix of rock, jazz, and folk to hardy XPoNential attendees. Raised in Philly and first signed to the local Drexel label, Duke has been building a large following after signing to major label Rykodisc and releasing some highly acclaimed LPs and EPs. Today, he’s playing from his latest, pulling out some great melodies on his acoustic guitar. Not a bad way to beat the heat–Matt Duke has some awfully cool tunes here at XPO. —Bekah Larsen

You can listen to the audio of the full performance here; videos will be available soon. Last month, Matt Duke came into the WXPN studio to record a Key Studio Session, which you can find here. Matt also appears on our new Key Studio Sessions 2011 XPoNential Music Festival Sampler (which also features exclusive tracks by Johnny Miles And The Waywards, Nicos Gun, Kuf Knotz, and Andrew Lipke).

Set List
Dead Meat
Atrophy On The Brain
Sex and Reruns
Love You Anymore
Needle and Thread
Kangaroo Court

Visit Matt Duke’s band page at the XPoNential Music Festival website for complete coverage.


Download The Key Studio Sessions 2011 XPoNential Music Festival Sampler

Today at 5:30PM the WXPN XPoNential Music Festival starts with performances from two local bands, Johnny Miles and the Waywards and Nicos Gun (whose 2 part interview you can read here. There are 13 local bands (our of 31 bands all together) on the bill this weekend. Both of tonight’s opening bands along with Andrew Lipke, Matt Duke and Kuf Knotz (also performing this weekend) have each done Key Studio Sessions and we’ve picked two tracks from each of their sessions to put on a Key Studio Sessions 2011 XPoNential Music Festival Sampler. Download the sampler here.


The Key Studio Sessions: Matt Duke

For better or worse, South Jersey’s Matt Duke is a guy who sings and plays guitar, often acoustically. This makes his songs very direct, and his performances portable—he can work a traveling musician schedule like a five-piece band might not be able to. But this also means he’s got perceptions to fight; that of being yet another earnest guy who sings and plays acoustic guitar. His third LP, the new One Day Die, goes a long way toward breaking down that wall, exploring the range and potential that lies within his music. “Kangaroo Court,” which Helen Leicht recently opened our Songs In The Key of Philly stream with, tore up the room at Duke’s Key Studio Session, recorded on a Sunday afternoon in early May before a live studio audience (shoutout to Philly Local intern Nick Bookbinder for his production assistance).  The song has a blaring guitar line and an urgent tempo that’s the antithesis of “open mic.” Another high point was the dense “M.L.T.,” which takes a Cheever-esque perspective on Mount Laurel Township, Duke’s home. He has a tremendous vocal instrument and an acrobatic range I’ve admired since seeing him tackle Jeff Buckley’s “So Real” at Philadelphia Folk Fest a few years back; his backing players, Nathan Barnett on drums and Sean Ferry on bass, build his sound out with skill and nuance. (Listen to their chilling rendition of “Love You Anymore.”) It’s a simple enough song when played by Matt Duke the individual, but when tackled by the Matt Duke Trio, it cuts hard and stays with you. Look for them to bring this vibe to Wiggins Park this summer when they take the stage at the XPoNential Music Festival.


“Mothers On Musicians” Part 3: Helen Leicht interviews Matt Duke’s mom, Angela Duke

Matt Duke photo complments of his family

This month in honor or Mother’s Day, XPN Midday and Philly Local host Helen Leicht has launched a five-part series called “M.O.M.s: Mothers On Musicians.” Helen recently interviewed Sylvia Thornton (Kuf Knotz’s mom) and Joanne Anderson (Brian Kenneth of Fooling April’s mom) that you can listen to here. Upcoming interviews include Amos Lee and Mutlu. Click here to listen to Helen’s interview with Angela Duke, mother of singer-songwriter Matt Duke. And don’t forget that Matt will be joining us this year at the XPoNential Music Festival Presented By Subaru.


“Mothers On Musicians” Part 1: Helen Leicht interviews Kuf Knotz’s mom, Sylvia Thornton

Left: Kuf Knotz and his cousins (courtesy of the family). Right: Kuf with his mother, Sylvia Thornton (photo by Helen Leicht)

In honor of Mother’s Day, XPN Middays host Helen Leicht has launched a five-part series called “M.O.M.s: Mothers On Musicians.” Helen spoke with the mothers of local musicians, including Amos Lee, Kuf Knotz, Mutlu, Brian Kenneth Anderson (of Fooling April) and Matt Duke. The first interview is with Sylvia Thornton, Kuf Knotz’s mom; you can listen to it here (and watch the video below). New interviews will be posted on The Key each Wednesday (after they have aired on XPN Local With Helen Leicht on Tuesday night).


XPoNential Music Festival lineup announced! Headliners include Ben Folds, Booker T., Ted Leo

This just in: A partial lineup for 2011 XPoNential Music Festival—WXPN and Camden County Board Of Freeholders’ annual three-day festival (running from Friday, July 22, to Sunday, July 24, at Wiggins Park on the Camden Waterfront)—has been announced. So far, the confirmed list of performing acts includes Ben Folds, Booker T., Shemekia Copeland, North Mississippi Allstars Duo, Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, Hayes Carll, Ra Ra Riot, Carbon Leaf, and Jukebox The Ghost; local acts include Susan Werner, Sun Airway, Johnny Miles And The Waywards, David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket, Nicos Gun, Hezekiah Jones, Andrew Lipke, Matt Duke, Kuf Knotz, and Kingsfoil.

Tickets to the XPoNential Music Festival are available now for members only, and start at less than $12 a day (for a three-day pass purchased in advance). Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, May 16th. Go to’s support page (or call 1-800-565-WXPN) to become a member; if you pledge $24 per month, you’ll receive a pair of weekend passes, two festival t-shirts, and an XPN membership that gets you free beverages and artist meet-and-greets all weekend long.


This Weekend’s Concert Picks: Jedi Mind Tricks, Phantogram, Matt Duke


Jedi Mind Tricks
Jedi Mind Tricks performs Oct. 29 at The Trocadero

Jedi Mind Tricks’ Vinnie Paz has had a busy 2010. As co-owner of the new Philly-based hip hop label Enemy Soil, Paz has had a hand in putting out records by acts such as Dutch, Reef The Lost Cauze, and Army Of The Pharaohs (as well as Vinnie’s own solo material). So, we’re glad that JMT was able to squeeze a local show in before heading across the Atlantic Ocean for a European tour. With a new album, Violence Begets Violence, slated for a 2011 release on Enemy Soil, we’re looking forward to hearing some new tracks tonight. Jedi Mind Tricks performs with Freeway and Reef The Lost Cauze at 7:30 p.m.; tickets to the all-ages show are $22.

Also playing: The Intelligence + Hot Guts, Landlords at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $8); Social Distortion + Lucero, Frank Turner at Electric Factory (8:30 p.m., $30).

Electronic rock duo Phantogram has been making a name for itself on the Interwebs since the release the band’s debut LP, Eyelid Movies, back in February. Fans of Portishead and Massive Attack will find plenty to like on the album, which features 11 tracks of (mostly) detached pop with trippy atmospherics to spare. It’s perfect background music for a late-night walk through the city, which makes the fact that the band is from the rural town of Saratoga Springs, NY, and recorded the album in a barn all the more surprising. Phantogram performs with Josiah Wolf at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10-$12.

Want to see Peter Gabriel’s 1986 classic So—which includes hit singles such as “Sledgehammer,” “Red Rain,” and “Big Time”—performed live on stage, but don’t necessarily want to see a 60-year-old Gabriel doing it? You’re in luck: Local singer-songwriter Matt Duke will be at World Cafe Live on Halloweeen night and will play the album in its entirety. “So was one of those records that inspired my creative side and was a big reason why I began pursuing music and the arts,” Duke says. “It has just about everything I ever wanted in a record—great lyrics, some sparkling, pop compositions with darker undertones, a duet with Kate Bush, and a couple of odd timings peppered here and there. It’s been a challenge, but every time the band and I wrap up a rehearsal I feel like that little kid listening to that record for the very first time—inspired and really, really excited.” Matt Duke performs at 7:30 p.m. at World Cafe Live; tickets are $16-$21.

Also playing: WXPN Presents The Blue Method + Sophistafunk at The Blockley Pourhouse (9 p.m., $12)