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#ThrowbackThursday to the 2015 Pitchfork Music Festival in words and photos

Sleater-Kinney rages at the Pitchfork Music Festival | Photo by Scott Troyan | scotttroyan.com
Sleater-Kinney rages at the Pitchfork Music Festival | Photo by Scott Troyan | scotttroyan.com

Summer once again proved itself to be Festival Overload – most recently, the successful Philadelphia Folk Festival! But right before WXPN hosted its annual XPoNential Music Festival, I headed over to Chicago to celebrate ten years of Pitchfork and their annual summer music festival.

What makes Pitchfork a unique music festival is the broad stroke they use when booking music for their three stages over three days. From the most modern hip-hop, electronic dance and alt-rock to showcasing some iconic “classic” artists from the past few decades. It creates a melding of communities and age brackets that is second to none when it comes to outdoor summertime festivals. Continue reading →

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Rocking and Rolling Down South: A recap of Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival

Dr. Dog | Photo by Tom Beck
Dr. Dog | Photo by Tom Beck

There’s usually a downside to festivals having stacked lineup: with so many great artists, you’re never going to be able to see them all. So when I made the trek down south to attend what is becoming the best indie-rock festival in North America – the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta – there were a lot of difficult choices to be made. Do I see The Kooks or Wavves? Kaiser Chiefs or Manchester Orchestra? Wilco or Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds? Dr. Dog or Diamond Rugs?

But even with all these conflicts (my picks: Wavves, Manchester Orchestra, Wilco and Philly’s Dr. Dog), I wasn’t disappointed. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion


As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, and that’s exactly the case with the married dynamic duo of songwriters Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. Both are stellar musicians solo, but together, the sum is greater than the parts – that’s some chemistry! You might say that America runs strong in their veins — SLG is the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie (and daughter of Arlo) and Irion is the grand-nephew of John Steinbeck. The two have been crafting their own brand of Americana since the turn of the millennium and have, in addition to solo and other collaborative work, released four albums, including last year’s Wassaic Way. On their latest, recorded with help from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone, the couple indulge their sweet tooth, maximizing big ol’ hooks and bolstering their twang with some heavy power-pop guitar. All in all, you can’t help but have a good time with the band.

On their visit to our studio, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, along with their band, stripped the songs from Wassasic Way down to bare bones, shining new light on these wonderfully catchy compositions. They return to Philadelphia to perform at the Boot and Saddle on June 25th.

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Guitar wizard Nels Cline mezmerizies a sold-out Johnny Brenda’s crowd

Nels Cline | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Nels Cline | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Buck, Brownstein, Hitchcock, Stern, Timony, and Cline. On Friday I added the final of this list of great guitarists to my list of whom I have seen on the small stage of my favorite Philly venue, Johnny Brenda’s. (And in case first names are necessary, they are Peter, Carrie, Robyn, Marnie, Mary, and Nels.) With his oddly named crew in tow — Nels Cline Singers — 120 minutes or so of experimental jazz and rock crackled and popped among the packed audience.

Hanging on Cline’s every guitar flourish, the crowd was certainly mesmerized. From six strings to twelve, Cline employed his guitars with unexpected twists and turns. With pedals, knobs, metal apparatuses galore and even some plastic box he blew through into the guitar, Cline kept one’s ears and eyes startled with his techniques. The rest of the Singers belted out notes from their varying instruments to further build on the texture. Trevor Dunn played both the upright bass and bass guitar with expertise, while two percussionists had a blast — drummer Scott Amendola and toybox and triangle soundsmith Cyro Baptista.

Vocals did appear in minor spurts, even from Cline himself, but they played a backing role to the cacophony of aural information. By the end of the encore, the Philadelphia audience’s applause also became a common piece of sound that Cline will never be a stranger to.