Tonight’s Concert Picks: Potty Mouth at Boot and Saddle, Communion Night featuring The Weeks at Underground Arts, Wesley Stace at Tin Angel and more

Photo via
Photo via

Power-punk quartet Potty Mouth will celebrate their debut album Hell Bent tonight on the Boot and Saddle stage. Their sound is a blend of old school punk and power pop as the new record builds on their 2012 EP Sun Damage. Check out our interview with drummer Victoria Mandanas where she discusses touring and the band’s stance on female empowerment. Get tickets here and watch their video for “The Spins” below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Flaming Lips at Festival Pier, Blondie / X at Keswick Theater, Wesley Stace at World Cafe Live and more

Hailed for their dense psychedelic compositions and exuberant nature, experimental alt-rock legends The Flaming Lips play alongside Tame Impala tonight at Festival Pier. Although the Oklahoma native, five piece outfit toned down their never-leave-a-dull-moment-untouched attitude with April release The Terror, front man Wayne Coyne tells Rolling Stone that the album is “possibly the best Flaming Lips record ever made.” However bleak the release may be, it has not stifled the internationally acclaimed band’s over the top personality; which can be seen in their recent “Turning Violent” and Devo cover “Gates of Steel” videos seen below. Find details and tickets for tonight’s show at the XPN concert calendar.

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Just Announced: Wesley Stace sheds his stage name for fall tour (playing World Cafe Live October 3rd)

WesleyStaceColorWesley Stace, better known by his moniker John Wesley Harding, just announced a fall tour to support his anticipated self-titled album coming out September 17th. Swapping the established stage name for his own, Stace mentions in his Wall Street Journal interview that this album portrays a more intimate feeling inspired by autobiographical accounts. Along with his headlining tour dates, Stace will also host a traveling version of his Cabinet of Wonders, featuring artists including John McCrea (from Cake), Alec Ounsworth (from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), and regular Cabinet collaborator Eugene Mirman. The World Cafe Live will welcome the celebrated author, NPR personality, and singer/songwriter October 3rd. Find more information and tickets for the All Ages show here. Listen to Stace’s single “Stare At The Sun,” off of his self-titled album below.


Saying Farewell to a Legendary East Coast Venue: After 35 years, Maxwell’s closes its doors

The Bongos’ grand finale at Maxwell’s | Photo by Chris Sikich |

All photos by Chris Sikich |

A rousing cover of Big Star’s “Thank You Friends” was a sincere and apt final song for the occasion last Wednesday in Hoboken, N.J.

On July 31, Maxwell’s closed its doors for good after 35 years of intimate gigs with established and unknown bands of local and international pedigrees. A full house of 200 attendees packed the back room of the restaurant, bar, venue and nexus of alternative musicology for a double-bill curated with an air of history. The first band to ever play the venue, “a,” which had not played its songs since 1978, and The Bongos, a Hoboken band of the past (and the future). As there was a dream for a Hoboken of a time gone by, there is a wealth of evidence for the spirit of Maxwell’s to continue on in bands, other venues and the desires of the public for great music.

“In a lot of ways, Maxwell’s was to Hoboken what J.C. Dobbs on South Street in Philly used to be in the ‘80s and ‘90s and what Johnny Brenda’s is to Philly now — a center of a great local music scene that brought in emerging national bands,” WXPN program director Bruce Warren said. ”I saw one of the earlier Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows, Freedy Johnston, the Bongos, fIREHOSE; I saw an insane Sonic Youth show there. I was also a fan of Bar/None Records, from Hoboken, which is still thriving, and if one of the bands on the label were playing, I’d go up.”

Scott McCaughey performing with Dennis Diken with Bell Sound in August of 2010 | Photo by Chris Sikich |

Musicians also eagerly reminisced about their Maxwell’s experiences.

“The closing of Maxwell’s is sad, primarily because of all the essential rock ‘n’ roll memories it brings to me,” said Scott McCaughey, who played there with Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5 and The Baseball Project.

McCaughey cited performing “The Gorilla” on the bar, singing with Dennis Diken and Bell Sound, “any number of rabble-rousing Fleshtones shows and especially the many ridiculous Young Fresh Fellows nights, going back to our earliest days.”

Linda Pitmon, who plays drums behind McCaughey in The Baseball Project, said Maxwell’s shows were particularly memorable.

“As a performer I’m going to miss that little thrill I’ve always felt walking in to that small, square, unassuming but perfect rock room,” Pitmon said. “Maxwell’s gigs never cease to stand out in my mind. They don’t become subsumed into the blob of generic shows.”

Glenn Morrow, one of the founders of Bar/None Records and member of two bands that played on the last night of Maxwell’s – “a” and The Individuals – will miss Maxwell’s more as a member of the public than as a performer.

“I’m probably sadder as an audience member,” Morrow said. “I live four blocks away! Even more than being on stage, it was such a great place to see music. I saw so many great shows there: The Feelies, the Replacements, the Gun Club, Mission of Burma, Pylon, Husker Du, the dB’s, They Might Be Giants, Sonic Youth, Big Black, The Fleshtones, Ted Leo. The list is endless.” Continue reading →


The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. XPo Fest, Moreland & Arbuckle, Moon Taxi)


Photo by Joe Del Tufo
Photo by Joe Del Tufo

The 2013 XPoNential Music Festival was a rocking success – check out reviews, photos and videos of all the performers, including Lord Huron, DRGN King and Erin McKeown [link]

Meet Kyle Noone, the 13-year-old drummer who got to play “Home” with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at XpoNential [link]

Local bands shine at XPoNential – revisit sets by Dr. Dog, The Districts, Aaron & The Spell and more [link]

This week’s new show announcements include Fiona Apple & Blake Mills, a second Animal Collective date, Citizen Cope and more [link]

Out of Town Films recorded a few XPoNential artists over the weekend, including Kopecky Family Band and Matt Pond [link]

Folkadelphia introduced their Alan Lomax-inspired Suitcase Sessions with Skinny Lister [link]

XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week comes from an Elvis Costello / The Roots collaboration called “Walk Us UPTOWN” [link]

Monday’s My Morning Download featured Moon Taxi‘s “The New Black” [link]

Listen to a new song called “Stare at the Sun” from Wesley Stace [link]

The Key premiered the video for “Modern Boys from 7 Cities” from Moreland & Arbuckle – catch them at this Friday’s Free at Noon performance [link]

Khari Mateen gives us this week’s stunning six-track Key Studio Session [link]


Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding) releases new track “Stare at the Sun”

johnwesleyhardingRenaissance man Wesley Stace – formerly known by the stage name of John Wesley Harding but more recently going under his birth name – is set to release his latest solo record in September. This week he premiered the single “Stare at the Sun,” co-written by Eleanor Friedberger, via the New York Times website.  Friedberger, previously of the Fiery Furnaces, recently released her own version of the track on her critically acclaimed solo sophomore LP Personal Record. Stace’s own solo-endeavor, Self-Titled, is slated for release on September 17th via Yep Roc Records. While Friedberger’s version rocks out in classic 4/4 time signature, Stace’s take on in the song is much more subdued, peacefully waltzing along in 3. Check it out below via Soundcloud.


The artist formerly known as John Wesley Harding is now “Self-Titled”

Photo by Ebet Roberts
Photo by Ebet Roberts
John Wesley Harding is no more. Well, maybe he is a little. The singer-songwriter we’ve known as John Wesley Harding has finally decided to put an album out under his birth name, Wesley Stace. Actually though, his new album is called Self-Titled, so we’re not so sure that actually counts. Wes/John, who has been living long enough in Philly to finally call him a local musician, has been making the transition to his given name over the last several years as a fantastic fiction writer and is releasing his new album on September 17 on Yep Roc Records. The album features a couple of co-writes with Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces, including “When I Knew,” that you can listen to below.


My Morning Download: “Stare At The Sun” by Eleanor Friedberger (with help from John Wesley Harding)

Photo by Roger Kisby
Photo by Roger Kisby
Eleanor Friedberger will release her second solo album, Personal Record, on June 4th on Merge Records. The twelve song collection was written with musician and novelist John Wesley Harding (AKA Wesley Stace). Eleanor met Wes at a Bob Dylan tribute concert last year where they were both performing and soon after began collaborating together on songs for the album. “Stare At Sun” is a driving guitar fueled three minute instant classic. It’s like a cross between The Wedding Present and The Raspberries with a momentary Thin Lizzy-esque guitar solo. Download it below, lower those car windows, and blast it.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company

Read John Wesley Harding’s review of Neil Young’s memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, in the Wall Street Journal

This weekend, witty folk / rock songwriter (and recent adopted Philadelphian) John Wesley Harding reviewed Neil Young‘s new memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, in the Wall Street Journal. Writing under his offstage name, Wesley Stace, he observes that Young’s book follows in step with Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and Patti Smith’s Just Kids – both of which were free of co-authors, both of which capture a specific moment in music history. However, this book has a unique slant:

But Neil Young—Californian hippie, Canadian folkie refusenik, Godfather of Grunge—isn’t so easily sold. “Waging Heavy Peace” will likely find most of its readers among his audience, the “Rusties.” That is a shame, because the book is terrific: modest, honest, funny and frequently moving—an antidote. “Waging Heavy Peace” is typical, in structure and tone, of a man who has seemed at times to be consistent only in inconsistency, both in his artistic output and in his views: a songwriter who once scrapped album after album and now releases everything, a guitarist who creates unearthly random noise yet is annoyed by minor mistakes on the recording of “Like a Hurricane.”

You can read Wes’ entire review here. Find out more about Waging Heavy Peace here.


Wesley Stace (AKA John Wesley Harding) book reading this Saturday + playing World Cafe Live November 15th

Wesley Stace, the author also known as folk singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding, will hold a book reading and signing tomorrow (Saturday, August 6th) at The Spiral Bookcase in Manayunk. Stace, who was born in England but resides in Philadelphia, has written three novels in the past six years, all of which have been critically acclaimed. On Saturday he will read from his latest book, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer. Here is what his website had to say about the plot:

“This ambitiously intricate novel is set against a turbulent moment in music history, when atonal sounds first reverberated through the concert halls of Europe, just as the continent readied itself for war. What if Jessold’s opera was a betrayal not only of Shepherd but of England as well?”

The reading/signing will take place on Saturday, August 6th from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.; The Spiral Bookcase is located at 112 Cotton Street, Philadelphia, PA.

In addition to his writing, Stace has had a prolific music career, releasing 15 EPs and albums under his stage name John Wesley Harding. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because he shares it with the 1967 Bob Dylan album and song. Harding currently has an upcoming album entitled The Sound Of His Own Voice, which features backing by the members of The Decemberists, as well as Peter Buck. He will perform at World Cafe Live on November 15th in support of the new LP; ticket information will become available soon.

Below, check out a video of Eugene Mirman and Wesley discussing Charles Jessold: