Ted Leo takes on the priesthood, irreverently, in Philly-made short film Main Blessings

Main Blessings | still from film

My friend BJ does this thing he calls The Challenge and the basic idea is that you listen to everything that a musician or band has done, in order, and if there’s anything bad you can’t skip it. It can be, well, pretty challenging sometimes to get through a band’s entire discography. Take for example Henry Rollins challenge, where you get the good – Black Flag, those first couple of Rollins Band albums – the bad – much of what he did in the late 90s, some of the more over-the-top spoken word – and… everything else.

If you were really going all out, you might want to watch some of the films he’s starred in, like The Chase (good) or Morgan’s Ferry (really not that bad!) It’s a great way to spend a long road trip or, if you’re the nerdy type, to just get really into a band or a specific artist who has made a lot of music over the years.

All this is to say that if you were to do Ted Leo challenge – from Citizens Arrest to Chisel and on through all of the Pharmacists and other releases – once you listened to his latest album, 2017’s absolute banger The Hanged Man, you’d truly be doing yourself a disservice if you skipped out on the short film he recently starred in called Main Blessings.

The Philadelphia-made movie was written and directed by Abigail Bruley, best known for the cult comedy series Down The Show. She first thought up Main Blessings while recovering from a traumatic brain injury following a car accident two years ago. Continue reading →


Free At Noon Flashback: Ted Leo brings The Pharmacists along for a revved up, reflective set

Ted Leo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Things I was not expecting when arriving at work today: that it would be snowing by mid-day. That Jersey indie rock vet Ted Leo would have his longtime band The Pharmacists in tow for today’s Free at Noon set. That I would be screaming along to “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” while attempting to shoot photos and not bump into the people around me too drastically. (Sorry, everyone.)

It’s true, Leo’s been on the road with this remarkable group of players — multi-instrumentalist James Canty, saxophone player and vocalist Adrienne Berry, drummer Chris Wilson, guitarist and singer Ralph Darden and bassist Marty Violence — since September, in support of his new record The Hanged Man. And the album is his first released under his own name, versus the standard “and the Pharmacists” credit…so the billing I read versus the performance I saw should not have totally caught me unawares. Continue reading →


Ted Leo is playing a priest in the new short film Main Blessings

Ted Leo in Main Blessings | courtesy of Femme Flash Films

Indie rock legend Ted Leo has taken up acting, and will appear in a forthcoming short film by Philly filmmaker Abigail Bruley. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as such a surprise, as the film evidently has music at its heart — Main Blessings promises to showcase some Tom Petty appreciation alongside its dark comedy, drawing on Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” for some lyrical inspiration. Leo appears as “Father Ted,” a jaded priest who is visited by the film’s recovering alcoholic protagonist Lars, played by fellow musician and R5 Productions founding member Josh Agran. Continue reading →


Ted Leo announces new album and Union Transfer show; shares “You’re Like Me”

Ted Leo | via Consequence of Sound

Ted Leo is back, and this time, he’s flying solo. Switching things up from serving as frontman for Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, and as the other half of The Both with Aimee Man, Leo has announced an album titled The Hanged Man, which will be available on September 8th via him, Kickstarter, and his generous fans.

Yep, you heard me — no label here. Leo evaded corporate music land by entirely funding The Hanged Man through a Kickstarter campaign back in February. Now we’re seeing the fruition of those efforts with the first single off the album, “You’re Like Me.” Continue reading →


My Boo Boo: New Toro y Moi, Broken Social Scene & Beach House on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Toro Y Moi | Photo by Andrew Paynter, courtesy of the artist

The Indie Rock Hit Parade returns to (relative) normalcy tonight at 11pm on XPN. Shortly after the July edition of Making Time RADio with Dave P, listen for a full two-hour show that, let’s face it, will be anything but normal. We’ve got a few new releases to spotlight, namely Broken Social Scene‘s rousing Hug of Thunder, the return of Chaz B. as Toro y Moi on Boo Boo, and Beach House‘s career-spanning set of B-Sides and Rarities. Also in the mix, new singles from Ted Leo, Widowspeak, Frankie Rose, L.A. Witch and more! Preview some of the new tracks below…

Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ted Leo at Underground Arts, Family Volleyball at Goldilocks Gallery

ted leo
Ted Leo | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

We’ll take Ted Leo any way we can get him, whether it’s with Aimee Mann in The Both, with his band The Pharmacists or, like tonight, solo. XPN welcomes the Indiana-born musician to Underground Arts, where he’ll open for Husker Du frontman Bob Mould. There have been hints that a new Pharmacists album could be released this year, which would be the band’s first new material since 2010’s The Brutalist Bricks. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here.

Continue reading →


Not Your Parents’ Christmas Show: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo bring tongue-in-cheek cheer to Union Transfer

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller |
Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller |

Call me a grinch, but I was so ready to hate this show. Whatever, don’t judge me. Christmas crap just isn’t my thing, and despite all the talent due to be onstage Friday night at Union Transfer for The Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show, when I found out from the two guys standing next to me (who by the way had come from New York to be there, having just seen the same show at The Town Hall the night prior) that this was gonna be upwards of 80% Christmas-themed-and-related music – christ, I was really starting to question my own judgment in deciding I wanted to cover this.

I mean this is what happens when your childhood idol writes “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” and it gets forcibly funneled and shoe-horned into your consciousness year over year at every store you walk into from Halloween to Martin Luther King Day. Yeah, I am mad, bro.

What the hell though – two songs into Mann’s and Leo’s set, I realized I was actually enjoying it. Continue reading →


Soaking up the sounds of Summer and lots of sunshine: Photo recap of Make Music Philly

Photo by Rich McKie
Photo by Rich McKie

The 2nd annual Make Music Philly took place this past Saturday. Under mostly sunny, blue skies, and gorgeous first day of Summer weather, the City of Philadelphia was the stage for several hundred music performances. The day started off at Love Park with a percussion play along with the Philly Drum Project and ended with a harmonica play along led bu John Colgen-Davis of the Dukes of Destiny followed by a concert featuring Ted Leo and Lee Fields & The Expressions.


Today’s Concert Picks: Make Music Philly, Make Music Philly, Make Music Philly (and a few other cool things)


There’s no doubt that the big event this Saturday is Make Music Philly. Free concerts all over the city all day — what else could you ask for? Join XPN and kick off the day 10 a.m. at Love Park with A Play Along Percussion Party with Philly Drum Project. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own percussion instrument to join PDP in the party. There are a ton of shows around the city that you can catch from dawn till dusk, but make sure to see XPN Presents Ted Leo, Lee Fields & the Expressions & Play Along Harmonica Event w/ John Colgan-Davis at 6:30 p.m. at Penn’s Landing. Bring along a harmonica to join in on Colgan-Davis’ set. For a full list of events and showtimes today, check out the Make Music Philly website here.

Also playing tonight:

Jolie Holland at Milkboy Philadelphia ($12-$15, 21+, 8:30 p.m.)

Robert Francis at Boot & Saddle ($10, 21+, 8 p.m.)

Real Estate and San Fermin at Verizon Hall ($30, all ages, 8 p.m.)