By

Meet Sean Bennett and Franco Yugga, the Philly buskers Glen Hansard brought onstage at NonCOMM

Sean Bennett, left, and Franco Yugga, right, with Glen Hansard backstage at NonCOMM | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Sean Bennett, left, and Franco Yugga, right, with Glen Hansard backstage at NonCOMM | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Sean Bennett is glad that it’s getting to be summer – it’s a much better time of year to be a street musician. People are outdoors more often, they’re less rushed and more willing to listen, and it opens the door to better money and more opportunities for he and his best friend Franco Yugga.

You may have seen the two classically-trained violinists performing in Suburban Station on your commute to and from work; their playing reverberates beautifully across the cement walls by the 17th Street staircase. It wasn’t too far from there yesterday afternoon that Bennett, 19, and Yugga, 18, were performing their rendition of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 when renowned Dublin singer-songwriter Glen Hansard happened to be within earshot. Continue reading →

By

Recap: Jarekus Singleton’s infectious blues closes out night two at NonCOMM

Jarekus Singleton | Photo by John Vettese
Jarekus Singleton | Photo by John Vettese

Mississippi-bred blues guitarist Jarekus Singleton wowed the crowd and closed out the night on the second day of NonCOMM 2015. His following has been steadily growing since the release of his 2014 album Refuse to Lose on Alligator Records, and this year the 30-year-old  Singleton finds himself nominated for three awards from the International Blues Foundation: Contemporary Blues Male Artist, Contemporary Album and Album of the Year.

His set showed why: the volume was high, the playing was highly skilled but never ostentatious, and his brother Jackirus on drums and cousin Ben Sterling on bass helped complete the power trio configuration. Give Singleton’s performance a listen below and check out a gallery of photos from the set. Continue reading →

By

Recap: Heartless Bastards previews Restless Ones at NonCOMM

Heartless Bastards | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Heartless Bastards | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Cincinnati garage rock quintet Heartless Bastards closed out the festivities at the NPR Music Stage at NonCOMM. The group came on with a rocking set in support of their upcoming release Restless Ones, out this coming June on Partisan Records. Lead vocalist Erika Wennerstrom’s pipes were in top form throughout the set, and Jesse Ebaugh’s stage presence and Mark Nathan’s memorable guitar solos across various tracks made the set memorable for everyone downstairs at World Cafe Live. Gates of Dawn was a crowd favorite, and the fans and NonCOMM attendees left downstairs for the night feeling satisfied with one of XPN’s longtime favorites. Check out a gallery below and listen back to the concert archive!  Continue reading →

By

Recap: Saun and Starr turned it up at NonCOMM with help from the Dap-Kings

Saun and Starr | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Saun and Starr | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Powerhouse vocalists Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan Lowe are getting their moment in the spotlight this spring. The longtime backup singers for soul sensation Sharon Jones are releasing Look Closer, their debut LP as Saun and Starr, on Tuesday. Tonight, backed by the mighty Dap-Kings, they gave NonCOMM a taste of what they can do. Continue reading →

By

Recap: Glen Hansard treats fans to new songs (and surprise guests) at NonCOMM

Glen Hansard | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Glen Hansard | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard opened his set of all new material with a song “dedicated to Sean and Frank,” two musicians he met earlier in the day. Later in the set he explained: while exploring the city during some downtime he came across the pair of buskers in front of a cafe at 17th and Walnut. Impressed, Hansard, who got his start busking on the streets of Dublin, invited them to join him here at NonCOMM. Sean and Frank came out on the stage for two songs at the end of the set, accompanying the guitarist on violin. It was a wonderful moment for everyone involved and made Hansard’s already moving compositions even more special. Listen back to the set and check out photos below.

Continue reading →

By

Recap: Blues Traveler jams out to new songs and classic hits at NonCOMM

Blues Traveler | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
Blues Traveler | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

This year’s NonCOMM has not only provided a platform for up-and-coming artists, but also a place for heritage artists to prove they still have the goods. Blues Traveler was no exception. The band was greeted with thunderous applause by the crowd before launching into songs from their new album Blow Up the Moon, including the reggae-tinged “Castaway” and a song they collaborated on with Hanson called “Top of the World.” Popper’s voice has not aged a day – he’s still as soulful and powerful as he was back in the 90’s. Continue reading →

By

Recap: Borns brings vibrant pop to NonCOMM

Borns | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Borns | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Michigan-LA transplant Garrett Borns (stylized BØRNS) took to NonCOMM’s PRX stage early Thursday night, and immediately blew the minds of everyone standing in WCL upstairs. His falsetto is unparalleled, even androgynous, and his grooves stood somewhere between the dance beats of MGMT and the dreaminess of Beach House. Continue reading →

By

Recap: JJ Grey & Mofro bring some Florida heat to NonCOMM

JJ Grey and Mofro | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
JJ Grey and Mofro | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Jacksonville, FL blues rockers JJ Grey & Mofro opened the NPR stage on night two of NonCOMM. Complete with a two-piece horn section, Grey’s band put on an impressive display of songs from its new record Ol’ Glory, released earlier this year. The band stuck to their tried and true blues rock for most of set, peaking with set closer “Ol’ Glory,” which featured ripping solos from all band members (and some choice dance moves from Grey). But they also snuck in some Floridian sunshine with bubblegum pop-leaning “Everything’s a Song.” Check out photos and the set list below.

Continue reading →

By

Recap: A smooth set from Son Little kicks off night two of NonCOMM

Son Little | Photo by John Vettese
Son Little | Photo by John Vettese

Getting the second night of NonCOMM 2015 off to a smooth beginning, Philadelphia’s Son Little took to the upstairs stage for a set of his trademark psychedelic / electronic soul. The project of singer-songwriter-guitarist Aaron Livingston made a splash last year with the driving single “The River,” which appeared on this winter’s Things I Forgot EP on Anti- Records. Joined by Stephen Greenberg on bass and sampler and Jesse Maynard on drums, the band brings a dynamic energy to Livingston’s songs in concert.

While “The River” is a barnburning jam, most of the songs in his setlist are a bit more nuanced, starting off mellow and slowly building. The new single “O Mother” is a great example, opening as a whisper and building to an expressive, explosive finale. Give a listen to the performance in its entirety below, check out photos from the set in the gallery and catch Son Little again when he joins us this summer for the XPoNential Music Festival!
Continue reading →