Watch Todd Rundgren and David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket perform “Open My Eyes” at Philly Folk Fest

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese
Todd Rundgren and David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket each performed a set at this year’s Philly Folk Festival on Saturday night, however, during the In The Pocket set, Rundgren came out to perform his classic “Open My Eyes,” which was one of the highlights of the night. Watch the video below, and check out our recap of the show here.


The Key’s Week of Folk: Impressive Saturday sets from Spirit Family Reunion, Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars and The Mavericks

Photo by John Vettese

This past Saturday at the Philadelphia Folk Festival was a breezy, sunny perfect summer day topped off with some excellent performances from some new names and familiar faces. XPN’s Helen Leicht curated and hosted the Camp Stage with performances from local musicians Ali Wadsworth, Juston Stens and The Get Reak Gang, Modern Inventors, Lile Mae, and Ginger Coyle. Over on the Lobby Stage, New York’s Spirit Family Reunion became everyone’s favorite new band, playing an upbeat set of folk-rock bluegrass Americana influenced stompers. On the Main Stage, the music got underway with local hero Ben Vaughn and his Quintet, and continued with excellent sets from Black Prairie(who were joined by Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding), a high energy set from The Mavericks, and a gorgeous performance from the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. Ending the evening’s Main Stage performances were sets by Todd Rundgren and David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket who were joined by Rundgren during their set. Photos by John Vettese and Abi Reimold.


The Key’s Week of Folk: Gene Shay on what it’s like to be an MC

GeneThe 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. In this installment, we talk with festival host Gene Shay about the art of MCing.

Gene Shay has always had his wittiness about him. His wits might be another story, especially presented with images like the one above – an actual calling card from his days as an advertising exec.

But having a clever and irreverent persona comes in handy for the founding MC of Philadelphia Folk Fest – and longtime host of The Folk Show on WXPN – especially when you’re the anchor onstage, guiding a field of thousands through a bustling concert. It might look seamless from the audience, but it’s actually wildly unpredictable.

“That’s where I came up with the idea of telling jokes,” Shay says, talking about one of his trademark devices to ease the transitions onstage. “Cornball jokes, getting groans, anything to lighten up the moment. Sometimes the crowd is out there in the cold, sometimes in the rain, sometimes waiting much too long for a stage set to get changed up.”

So Shay, 78, resorts to something that’s always been a passion – humor. Continue reading →


Premiere: “Love is Weight,” a new single by The Lawsuits

Lawsuits fourFolksy pop-rock outfit The Lawsuits have released a catchy new tune, “Love is Weight.” Much less Americana than most of their other work, the single is a soaring, nostalgic 70s-style poppy tune that still manages to have a bit of a slight folk feel. Tracked in the Converse Rubber Tracks studio back in June, it has hints of synth in the beginning that lead into an overall breezy, smile-inducing track – good stuff. The band is playing both the Philly Folk Fest on August 16th and the Brandywine Folk Festival in Kennett Square on August 24th.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dice Raw at City Hall, Kalob Griffin Band at Penn Museum, Prefuse 73 / Spaceship Aloha at Morgan’s Pier, At Fest at the Troc

dice raw

Philly hip hop artist Dice Raw will be performing for free at City Hall tonight as part of the City Hall Presents concert series. His newest album, Jimmy’s Back, is available. The album’s is based on The New Jim Crow, a bestselling book by Michele Alexander. Along with the LP, Dice Raw is releasing a short documentary that explores mass incarceration and the prison system, especially in Philadelphia. The concert will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall courtyard. Listen to Dice Raw’s new track, “Animal,” below.

Continue reading →


Watch a video of Toy Soldiers playing live for Paste Magazine

Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 9.52.33 AMLast month, Philly blues-Americana dudes Toy Soldiers traveled a couple hours south to tape a performance for Paste Magazine’s Live at Aloft series. The session is out as of last night, and its a deadpan performance of “Heart in a Mousetrap” from Toy Soldiers’ 2012 EP Tell The Teller, rumbling amps and all. Watch the video here. Toy Soldiers perform at the 52nd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival next month, and their forthcoming LP The Maybe Boys comes out in September, with an album release show at Johnny Brenda’s on 9/13. Get tickets and information on Fest here, and on the Johnny Brenda’s show here.


The Trocadero will screen the world premiere of Philadelphia Folk Festival documentary At Fest on 8/7


In 2011 independent production company Mastodon Films packed up their gear and trekked out to Old Pool Farm in Schwenksville, PA to get the scoop on a festival tradition older than Woodstock.  The 50th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival was underway, with 20,000 music fans from across the country gathered together for three days of music, art and camping.

Now on the eve of this year’s 52nd annual festival, Mastodon Films presents At Fest – a look at the inner-workings of the festival and its 2,500 volunteers, countless hours of live music and dedicated attendees.  With a soundtrack by Folk Fest bands including Hoots & Hellmouth, David Wax Museum and US Rails, At Fest is a true-to-life time capsule of a most-important and beloved Philadelphia music tradition.

The premiere screening of At Fest will happen at The Trocadero on August 7th; tickets and information can be found here.  The 52nd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival takes place August 15-17; more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar.  Watch the trailer for the documentary below.