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Philly Music 101: The basics everyone needs to know about the Philadelphia scene right now

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

Philadelphia is a city of many wonders: a buzzing food scene, an established craft beer culture, and a parade of historical landmarks. But one aspect of our city that we are particularly passionate about is our magnificent local music community and all that is has to offer. Here at The Key, we often focus on the particulars of our scene – where artists will be playing each night, brand new local releases, etc. - so much so that we can forget how overwhelming it can be for newcomers to get their bearings.

So for those of you having trouble finding where to start, we are introducing this new Philly Music 101 series as your guide through the wonderful world of the Philadelphia music scene: all of its passionate, loving members, from artists to venues to studios and more. It’s meant to help new fans navigate the scene as much as emerging musicians looking to break in and behind-the-scenes folks trying to get their start. We hope it will illuminate just what makes it so damn exciting for music lovers to live here. To kick it off, here is a by-no-means-complete overview of the different pieces of the Philadelphia music scene that have come together to make up its sturdy foundation. Continue reading →

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Philadelphia is blowing up NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest and it’s amazing

Levee Drivers' Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney
Levee Drivers’ Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney

For those of you who don’t know about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, you may want to head over to their site and root through their enormous and equally impressive archive. Their 15-minute videos feature live performances from artists of all genres held in the quaint offices of NPR at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk.

Ranging from big names like Adele and Alt-J to up-and-coming artists such as Angel Olsen and Rubblebucket, viewers are able to watch the artists perform in the intimate setting, giving the performances a stripped-down, no B.S. vibe. While these videos are ultra fun to watch (perhaps continuously, one after another…), NPR kept things interesting this winter by kicking off a contest to feature a new artist in their series.

Based entirely off of video submissions from all over the United States, an artist will be chosen to perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. as well as snag a slot in the big Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ showcase in Austin, Texas. Philadelphia, brimming with the amazing musical talent that it is, seems to have jumped at this opportunity. Continue reading →

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Every musician in the building got onstage at New Sweden’s 5th Anniversary show

New Sweden | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |
New Sweden | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

New Sweden‘s Birthday Party Concert was indeed a party. With openers Levee Drivers (who played a sensational cover of New Sweden’s “Dick Wolf”) and a high-energy, goes-to-11 set from Scantron, what followed was a New Sweden show like we’d never seen before.

Mixing brand new tracks with classics from over the last five years of their existence, and having members of other regional bands fill in or completely take over the stage, the show did feel like a celebration. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Robbie Basho tribute ft. Daniel Bachman, Arborea at Johnny Brenda’s, Can You Canoe at World Cafe Live at the Queen, and Up the Chain at Tin Angel

arborea
Arborea | photo courtesy of the artist

Tonight, Johnny Brenda’s will help raise money for the documentary-in-progress, Voice Of The Eagle: The Enigma Of Robbie Basho, a study of the late and influential steel guitar player and composer. Performers will include Daniel Bachman, a fingerpicking folk guitar player who is a master of the six strings, along with Arborea, a husband and wife duo from Maine, Check out Daniel Bachman’s amazing NPR Tiny Desk performance below. Tickets for the show can be purchased here. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Queens of the Stone Age at the Mann Center, The Clientele at Boot and Saddle, Turks Head Festival at Everhart Park

Photo via facebook.com/QTSA
Photo via facebook.com/QOTSA

Desert rock legends Queens of the Stone Age return to play the Skyline Stage at the Mann Center tonight. Last year, the veteran rockers played a fantastic show at Made in America. The group just released their latest LP …Like Clockwork. Bassist Josh Homme recently appeared in an episode of Portlandia. The band also released an action-filled, drunken adventure for “Smooth Sailing”. Watch the video below. Get more information about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. 

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: New Sweden at World Cafe Live at the Queen, Natalie Merchant at Keswick Theatre, Northern Arms at Johnny Brenda’s and more

New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo
New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo

Americana indie-folk band New Sweden will be at World Cafe Live tonight at The Queen. The five-piece band, which just played the Firefly Music Festival in its home state of Delaware, has a robust, scratchy sound that makes it a folk powerhouse. New Sweden is set to release its latest album, Fabric Room, in four days, but is available for streaming now. Check out the song, “Burdened Days” off the new album and go to the XPN Concert Calendar for more information and tickets.

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New Sweden have a new EP out next week and a busy weekend ahead

Courtesy of Joe del Tufo
Courtesy of Joe del Tufo

Wilmington folk-rock favorites, New Sweden are playing the the World Cafe this Friday, July 11th, and at Tellus 360 in Lancaster on Saturday, July 12th as part of their Fabric Room EP release party, out July 15th.

After forming in 2009, the band has won the Tri-State Indie Awards three years running and played at impressive venues, including a set at Firefly this summer. In early 2012, they recorded a Key Studio Session with songs from their 2011 full length the Mountain. Since then, New Sweden has become a five piece with the addition of an electric guitar and keys. Last month, XPN premiered Fabric Room. Hailed by Paste as a “countrified Bright Eyes with a twinge of punk,” New Sweden’s latest EP strikes the right balance between indie and folk.

Get more details about the shows at the XPN Concert Calender.

Listen to “Eighty Seven” below.

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Firefly Music Festival Day Three: Beck, Imagine Dragons, Outkast, Cage the Elephant and more

Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/ Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/[/caption]
Day three of the Firefly Music Festival brought out more big names like Imagine Dragons, Outkast, and Beck, who returns to town on July 2th for the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru. Below, check out the highlights from yesterday’s performances.

Outkast | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Outkast | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Beck | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Beck | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Imagine Dragons | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Imagine Dragons | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese
Third Eye Blind | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Third Eye Blind | Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/

Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
Firefly | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/
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PREMIERE: Listen to Fabric Room, the latest from resident Wilmington folk-rock five-piece New Sweden

New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo
New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo

Wilmington band New Sweden is back with its latest EP, Fabric Room. With its unruly, foot-stomping sound, New Sweden is a folk powerhouse, but its not just folk that can be heard in the new EP — there’s a little bit of everything that lands the band in limbo between genres. There is an essence of Dr. Dog to it, some of The Avett Brothers and maybe a little Dawes, as well, but even with these influences in toe, the band definitely doesn’t have problem finding its own voice. The sound is robust and rugged — distinct in its own way.

“It was certain that things had to change after going from a six piece to a five piece (we parted ways with our violinist),” frontman Will Dobies said. “Because of this, we were able to introduce new lead instruments: the electric guitar and keys seemed to do the trick. We are a rowdy bunch with a soft side.”

Fabric Room is set to be released July 15, but is available one week early here through the band’s pre-sale store. Each EP purchase comes with a free download of the new single, “Eighty Seven” and every purchase from the pre-sale will automatically enter you into a drawing for a free pair of Firefly Music Festival day passes for Saturday, June 21 when New Sweden will be playing at the festival. See New Sweden in Philly on June 26 at Johnny Brenda’s and listen to our premiere of Fabric Room below.

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The Key’s Week of Folk: Ursula Rucker, and four other artists you didn’t realize are playing #PFF2013

RuckerThe Key’s Week of Folk is our series of interviews, reviews, artist spotlights, playlistings and general ephemera to get you ready for the 52nd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, happening August 16th to August 18th at Old Pool Farm in Schwenksville. This installment highlights a handful of artists we didn’t even were realize were playing – so it’s possible you didn’t know either.

On Monday we talked about what a daunting task navigating a festival lineup can be. Between sheer volume of names, late lineup additions and lag time between initial announcements and the actual show, I find myself at festivals – any festival – saying at least once “oh, woah, they’re playing!” (Confession: it even happens at our own XPoNential Music Festival.)

For this installment of The Key’s Week of Folk, we’ll highlight a handful of don’t-miss you-almost-missed-thems, beginning with the one and only Ursula Rucker. Her’s is a name that Roots aficionados should know well; the Philadelphia poet first came to prominence closing the group’s first several albums with spoken word pieces (and appearing throughout the mix on 2003′s Phrenology). Sometimes tender, sometimes shocking, but always marked by beauty and eloquence, Rucker’s collaborations with The Roots – as well as with Bahamadia and King Britt – ultimately paved the way for a solo career that notably includes 2001′s Super Sista, 2006′s Ma’at Mama and most recently, 2011′s She Said. Along with writing, Rucker is an educator and activist, and recently has been combining her words with the stylish guitar of fellow Philadelphian Tim Motzer. The two will perform together at the Cultural Tent on August 16th at 7 p.m. Below, watch a video of Rucker and Motzer on the 1k Sessions, and listen to Rucker’s contribution to The Roots’ Things Fall Apart, “Return to Innocence Lost.”

Tim Motzer & Ursula Rucker – 1k Sessions, Episode 11 Preview from Dejha Ti on Vimeo.

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