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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.

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

makemusicphilly_logo

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.)

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Just announced: Ted Leo opening for Lee Fields & His Expressions at Make Music Philly on June 21st

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

This just in: Ted Leo has been added to the Make Music Philly day closing concert on Saturday, June 21st at Penn’s Landing with Lee Fields & The Expressions. The second annual Make Music Philly day will make its mark on the City of Broetherly Love on the first day of Summer all over the city with free musical events. Leo was last seen here in Philly recently when he and Aimee Mann, The Both, headlined Union Transfer, and did a Free At Noon. The show is all ages and free. Go here to view the schedule of events for the day. Below, listen to a new song by Lee Fields & The Expressions and a classic from Ted Leo.

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Non-COMM Recap: The Both harmonized and cracked jokes for the afternoon crowd

The Both | Photo by Cameron Pollack
The Both | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Making their second stop in Philadelphia in two weeks, The Both rocked the second half of NonComm’s first Free at Noon doubleheader alongside Jessica Lea Mayfield. Every member of the audience was pleased as Aimee Mann and Ted Leo switched off lead vocal duties throughout the set, and as they cracked a good many jokes between tunes. The set featured various Ted Leo guitar solo’s, and was capped off with their track Milwaukee, having been introduced by calling Philadelphia “…the Milwaukee of New York City… that being cooler and a little bit cheaper.”

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A casual night of rock and conversation as Ted Leo and Aimee Mann’s The Both headline Union Transfer

The Both | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
The Both | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

When Aimee Mann and Ted Leo took the stage Saturday night at Union Transfer as The Both, they started chatting away. Their banter throughout the night ranged from Quaker meetinghouses to Jeb Bush to Paul Stanley of Kiss. They actually had to stop themselves so they could start playing music. This familiarity, paired with their vast live experience, put them at ease with a crowd and made for a glorious night of music. Playing all 11 songs from their self-titled debut plus selections from their respective catalogs, Mann and Leo were a true delight.

Though coming from seemingly different musical spheres, Mann and Leo paired nicely. Switching off lead vocal duties, with Leo leading on songs like opener “Gambler” and Mann beginning “You Can’t Help Me Now,” they expertly interwove their voices. Their spacing on stage, with the great divide between them filled by drummer Matt Mayhall, allowed for frequent encounters in the middle, more in line with a guitar-and-bass handshake than punk jamming. But that makes sense, as Leo’s harder sensibilities are more muted with The Both.

It certainly didn’t hurt that Mann and Leo showered love on Philly itself. Before “Save Me,” Mann regaled the crowd with the odd tale of playing the song during the Liberty Medal ceremony for Hilary Clinton at the National Constitution Center last year. And they seemed very happy to remember opening Boot & Saddle and filming part of the video for the catchy “Milwaukee” there. And before they broke into the tune, they even riffed on a Philadelphia-centric rewrite.

Two other highlights were of differing calibers. There was the humor in someone calling for the Leo song “Bottled in Cork” and Mann and Leo deliberately misunderstanding the request. They first claimed to hear the call for actor Bud Cort, but that devolved to the more playful “Butt Court.” (And, for the record, when they did play “Bottled in Cork,” it rocked.) The encore kicked off with another grand gesture as The Both launched into “Voices Carry,” the 1985 ‘Til Tuesday tune that was Mann’s first major success. In introducing the song, she shared her excitement for Leo’s falsetto. It certainly worked as the penultimate song before their wonderful Thin Lizzy cover, “Honesty Is No Excuse.”

Nick Diamonds and Evan Gordon of Islands opened with a bizarre set of songs by Islands, The Beatles, Wilco and Sinead O’Connor. The Both will return to Philadelphia for a Free at Noon concert at World Café Live on Thursday, May 15.

Continue reading →

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The Both introduce an overzealous new band member in “Milwaukee” video

Photo by Christian Lantry
Photo by Christian Lantry

With only a week until their self-titled collaborative project hits shelves, The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) have released the hilarious new video for “Milwaukee”. In the clip, shot at Boot and Saddle in South Philly, Leo portrays his own washed-up, wannabe rockstar uncle Ed Leo who joins the band. As he masks his face with black makeup, before heading on stage it’s clear that he doesn’t fit the image of the band. Do they let him go or tame his presence? Watch below and catch the band live at XPN’s NonCOMMvention on May 15th. Go here for more details and here for tickets to their Union Transfer show on May 3rd. Stream The Both early over on NPR.

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Milwaukee” by The Both (Aimee Mann & Ted Leo)

Photo by Christian Lantry via RollingStone.com
Photo by Christian Lantry via RollingStone.com

The Both is the new collaboration between singer-songwriter Aimee Mann and punk/indie rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Ted Leo. They’re releasing their self-titled release on April 15th on Aimee’s Super Ego Records and play Philly on May 3rd at Union Transfer.

(Read more: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo open Boot & Saddle – photos, review)

Mann and Leo met each other in 2001, and over the years have become friendly, bonding over twitter, their shared love of music and respect for each other’s work. They decided to begin writing together after touring together. Below, listen to “Milwaukee,” and watch Aimee and Ted talk about their collaboration together.

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Report: Opening night at Boot and Saddle with The Both (Ted Leo and Aimee Mann)

The Both | Photo by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com
The Both | Photo by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com

All photos by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com

Being the new guy on the block in a city that is already saturated with quality music venues is a potentially awkward position to be in. Making a good impression can be an especially daunting task when there is no shortage of smaller venues willing to host the latest up-and-comers, hidden gems, and eternally indie acts. But Boot and Saddle, the newest R5 Productions joint venture, definitely made a good first impression.

The Show
Gonna go ahead and dump my street cred down the sewers: I didn’t get in to Aimee Mann until the Magnolia soundtrack found my CD player. Sorry. [Note: me either. -ed.]  I’ve loved her ever since, if that makes up for it, even a little. Ted Leo, on the other hand, is sort of an adopted son of DC, my hometown, and so I’ve been heavily invested in whatever he does for ages. Both of them have had extensive plays on my iPods over the years, but I can say with 99% accuracy that they have never been on any of them at the same time.

So, the combination of the two seemed curious to me at first, but, after last night, I would declare them a royal duo. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: XPN welcomes Aimee Mann & Ted Leo to World Cafe Live at The Queen, Sparks at The Trocadero, Modern Baseball at The Barbary

aimee

XPN welcomes Aimee Mann and Ted Leo to World Cafe Live at The Queen tonight.  After sharing a bill last fall while Mann was promoting her latest Charmer LP, the singer-songwriter and Ted Leo teamed up for a proper collaboration called #BOTH earlier this year.  The pair will return to their usual roles for this tour, however, with Leo filling in the support slot and probably reprising songs from the discography of his band The Pharmacists, as well as possibly (and hopefully) previewing songs from a new album he’s been working on.  Tickets and information for the Wilmington, DE show can be found here.  Below, watch Aimee Mann perform “Labrador” on Conan with help from Ted Leo.

Sparks headline The Trocadero tonight.  The LA synthpop duo got its start in the early 70s, subsequently making their mark with over 20 albums.  Their quirky stage presence is reflective of their quirky songwriting style, as the band of brothers Ron and Russell Mael have become known for their witty lyrics and cultural references.  Sparks latest studio release was 2009′s The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman and they put out their first ever live recording, titled Two Hands One Mouth, last month.  Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here.  Below, watch the band perform “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us.”

Local band Modern Baseball play The Barbary tonight.  Recent headlines for the punk / pop four-piece have made references to their signing with Run for Cover Records, a reissue of their wildly popular Sports debut, a Valentine’s Day split for highly-regarded label Topshelf records and their ability to draw a crowd when they play a show.  Currently on tour along the East Coast, Modern Baseball will help out fellow Philadelphians The Wonder Years with their record release show in May (more information here).  Tickets and information for tonight’s show with Light Years and Safe can be found here.  Below, watch Modern Baseball perform “Broken Cash Machine” for Maggot House Records‘ Piss Couch Sessions.

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Just Announced: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists playing Morgan’s Pier on July 31st

Ted Leo at the XPoNential Music Festival 2011
Ted Leo at the XPoNential Music Festival 2011

While righteous indie-punk torchbearer Ted Leo has been making the tour rounds sans-Pharmacists lately (either solo basement shows, like we saw at Nacho House back in November, or solo theater gigs opening for Aimee Mann), a round of full band shows has been announced today via Matador Records, and it includes a date at Morgan’s Pier on July 31st.

While this also answers a question that’s been on our minds as summer approaches (Q “Will Morgan’s Pier be hosting live music again?” A “Yes, evidently!”), it’s not clear as of yet whether this is a free show (as all of last summer’s were) or a ticketed gig. [UPDATE 4/18: It is a free show. Woohoo!] Either way, Ted and the RX always slay in concert, so this one’s bound to be a treat. Below, check out a video (dang near ten years old) of the band playing “Mia and Mia” in the First Unitarian Church basement.