March 17 in Music History: Grateful Dead release their debut, Ray Davies receives his CBE

The Grateful Dead Self-Titled Debut Album

1957 – Elvis Presley buys the Graceland mansion from Mrs. Ruth Brown-Moore for $102,500. The 23-room, 10,000 square foot home on 13.8 acres of land is expanded to 17,552 square feet of living space before the King moves in a few weeks later. The original building had at one time been used as a place of worship by the Graceland Christian Church and was named after the builder’s daughter, Grace Toof.

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Sir Ray Davies of The Kinks partners with The Jayhawks on American retrospective “Poetry”

Ray Davies | photo by Steve Gullick | courtesy of the artist
Ray Davies | photo by Steve Gullick | courtesy of the artist

British mastermind Sir Raymond Douglas Davies, better known for his jaunt with rock staple The Kinks, announced his new record Americana and released his first single “Poetry”. The single marks something special for Davies, as he enlisted alt-country kids The Jayhawks as recording partners.

A gloomy look at the materialism in America, Davies uses Dylan-esque vocals to soulfully inquire where art has gone in our country (“And every shop window goods are designed to please / Oh but I ask / Where is the poetry?”). Although some bad blood may still come from The Kinks’ 1960s ban from America, Davies raises some good points inside an enjoyable yet simplistic indie rock ballad, all from a third-party source that may become ignored in the next couple years. Continue reading →


This Weekend’s XPN Welcomes: Bell X1 at Johnny Brenda’s, Ray Davies at Temple, Drive-By Truckers + more

Photo of Ray Davies compliments of the artist

Here are this weekend’s XPN Welcomes concerts.

Bell X1 is Ireland’s best barely-kept secret. The group, originally known as Juniper, used to feature Damien Rice as its lead singer; unfortunately, it’s still often recognized for that fact, rather than for its Talking Heads- and Flaming Lips-inspired fusion of rock and electronic music. Bell X1 is a sensation in Ireland, nominated for Best Irish Band at the Meteor Music Awards three different times. It was also nominated twice for Best Irish Album and Best Irish Live Performance. However, the band’s success in the states and in the UK barely compares to its fame at home. The chance to see a festival-headlining band up close and personal is rare, but Bell X1’s current international tour for its new album, Bloodless Coup, provides just that opportunity. The new material walks the fine line between early Radiohead and contemporary UK folk like Mumford And Sons and they’ll be performing it at a series of smaller, intimate shows in the states. Bell X1 performs with Favourite Sons at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $18–$20. —Naomi Shavin

Eilen Jewel performs two shows (7:30 and 10:00 p.m.) at Tin Angel. Tickets to the 21+ show are $15.

Intuition and tenacity have driven Ray Davies’ extensive songwriting career. Davies, the prime lyricist of The Kinks, has been deemed responsible for the England-based band’s literate rock ballads. Now, 15 years after The Kinks’ split, Davies is writing more than ever. Recently he stated, “I think it’s an instinct, a desire to want to communicate things to people… you try to find a unique way of doing it.” His most recent album, See My Friends, might be his most unique attempt at communicating yet. The record is composed entirely of collaborations with well-known acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, and Mumford And Sons. Davies’ determination to create at the age of 67 outshines that of many 20-somethings. So, despite a six-month hiatus due to health concerns and a conflict-ridden relationship with his brother (once-bandmate, Dave Davies), Ray Davies is touring to promote even more new songs (and a few oldies). Ray Davies performs with Dessolf Choir at 8 pm at the Temple Performing Arts Center; tickets to the all-ages show are $55. —Caitlyn Grabenstein

Chris Smither performs with Andy Friedman at 7:30 p.m. at World Cafe Live; tickets to the all-ages show are $30-$40.

Drive-By Truckers perform with Jessica Lea Mayfield at 8 p.m. at the Theatre Of Living Arts; tickets to the 21+ show are $35.


Just Announced: Ray Davies to play at Temple Performing Arts Center in November

Former Kinks frontman Ray Davies is bringing his solo act to Philadelphia November 19th. Davies’ lengthy solo career was recently capped with 2010’s See My Friends, which charted to number 12 in the UK. See My Friends was a collaborative re-recording of many of Davies’ original Kinks compositions. Among the other artists featured on the record are Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Spoon, and the late Alex Chilton. Tickets to the show are not yet available.