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Kamasi Washington brings The Epic to life at World Cafe Live

Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese
Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese

Saxophonist/composer Kamasi Washington brought an 8-piece version of the West Coast Get Down to World Café Live on Thursday as part of his first east coast excursion in support of his attention-grabbing debut The Epic. Even stripped of the orchestra and choir, his band lives up to that album title. Both roof-raising showmen and envelope-pushing adventurers, Washington and company delivered on the converging promises of George Clinton’s Afro-futurist funk and the boundary-obliterating jazz reinventions of late Coltrane and electric Miles. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Yo La Tengo brings Stuff Like That There to World Cafe Live

Yo La Tengo | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com
Yo La Tengo | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com

Today is record release day for Yo La Tengo’s new collection of covers and re-workings, Stuff Like That There, and the Hoboken indie rock heroes celebrated with a performance in front of a sold-out Free at Noon crowd. The album explores the decidedly mellowest side of YLT’s sonic palette, but the crowd was hushed and attentive, nodding along to the doo-wop flavored cover of The Cosmic Rays’ “Somebody In Love” that opened the show, and singing along to Georgia Hubley’s wistful, breezy version of “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Kamasi Washington at World Cafe Live, Meg Baird at Johnny Brenda’s, Set and Setting at Kung Fu Necktie

Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist
Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, LA saxophonist and acclaimed band leader Kamasi Washington brings his aptly-titled debut LP The Epic to World Cafe Live with an eight-piece band. In an interview earlier this week with The Key’s Shaun Brady, Washington talked about breaking down the boundaries of genre:

The word ‘jazz’ and the word ‘hip-hop’ have a separation, but the music doesn’t really have that same separation. You can’t talk about hip-hop without talking about A Tribe Called Quest, and their music is inundated with jazz. You can’t talk about west coast hip-hop without talking about James Brown and Parliament.

Read the whole interview here, listen to “Miss Understanding” below and get tickets and more information on the show via the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Cheerleader revved up the crowd

Cheerleader | Photo by Megan Lynch | meglynchart.tumblr.com
Cheerleader | Photo by Megan Lynch | meglynchart.tumblr.com

Philadelphia indie pop act Cheerleader delighted the crowd with their high energy set at today’s Free at Noon. Fresh off of XPN Fest, attendees were familiar with their shimmery and fun-spirited sounds. Cheerleader kicked off their set with “Do What You Want” and was met with much applause from the F@N Caravan who biked 521 miles from Boston to attend the event, during the opening line “I feel like driving out of Massachusetts.” Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Good Old War took the crowd’s breath away, onstage and off

Good Old War | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
Good Old War | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Philly’s own Good Old War received a warm hometown welcome at today’s Free at Noon, and delivered a dazzling set. Tim Arnold – who left the band last year to raise his family – was back on the drums, once again adding his voice to the band’s signature 3-part harmonies.

Good Old War just returned from a tour in support of their fourth studio album, Broken Into Better Shapewhich was released this past June.  They played several cuts off that record, as well as old favorites.

The band was quite spirited on stage – vocalist/keyboardist Keith Goodwin showed off his dance moves, and guitarist Dan Schwartz kept an electric guitar on a stand, occasionally stepping up to shred some electric solos. Continue reading →

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Delta Spirit waltzes into World Cafe Live

Delta Spirit | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Delta Spirit | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Delta Spirit have decided to make this tour an unforgettable one. Instead of playing complete albums or orchestral versions of songs, as a number have bands have done lately, they have taken a page from The Last Waltz, The Band’s phenomenal farewell show that featured an impressive cast of special guests. On this tour, Delta Spirit have played with the likes of Dawes, The Walkmen, The Lumineers and many others. Philly had its own impressive cast in tow last night. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Greg Holden impressed the crowd with sincerity

Greg Holden | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com
Greg Holden | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com

Singer-songwriter Greg Holden knows the peaks and valleys of life like an old friend. And at today’s Free at Noon, he sung about his triumphs and troubles to a passionate audience.

He almost didn’t make it to this point – in 2011, he spent a lofty sum of money to put out his album I Don’t Believe You, then watched helplessly as his record label went bust. Shortly after, he embarked on a sold-out tour of Holland even though he was in debt. By that point, Holden’s attitude towards music had become grim. The curtains had just about closed on his musical dream.

Then, Holden wrote the song “Home” – yes, that one, the chart-shattering single that rocketed American Idol winner Phillip Phillips to stardom. Holden regained his motivation and purpose, and after a trek to India and Nepal, he immediately wrote the songs that would become his major-label debut, Chase the Sun. 

Holden has a knack for weaving his tales into impactful songs. This was best exemplified during today’s Free at Noon concert with the touching “Boys in the Street,” a song about a father’s struggle with his feelings about his gay son. Continue reading →

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Interview: Radiohead’s Philip Selway on pushing beyond his comfort zone with Weatherhouse

Philip Selway at Bush Hall in London | via philipselway.com
Philip Selway at Bush Hall in London | via philipselway.com

In an August 2001 issue of The New Yorker, author Alex Ross described a brunch at Radiohead bassist’s Colin Greenwood’s Oxford home. Someone had asked Greenwood if he’d gotten a sense of the size of a crowd at a recent Radiohead show at Oxford’s South Park during the third leg of the Kid A / Amnesiac tour, a gathering that Ross suggests might have been the largest to date in Oxford’s history. “’Fraid not,” Greenwood responded to his guest, smiling, “I was too busy looking at Phil’s calves.  That’s where the beats are.”

Greenwood was referring to Radiohead drummer Philip Selway.  The unforgettable punchline seemed to testify so succinctly to so much about the backbone of that band: to the proficient work of a drummer that Radiohead fans have come to know as one of the most technically excellent in rock, at turns muscular, soulful, metronomic, mathematical. To the connection that the bandmates in team Radiohead felt for one another. To all the reasons their music, album after album, is able to transmogrify and reinvent and evolve as much as it does and never, ever miss the mark.

Over twenty years after the formation of Radiohead, Philip Selway ventured to create his first solo record, Familial. Five years on, is back with his second solo effort Weatherhouse, and his tour in support of it brings him to World Cafe Live next week. We got Selway on the phone to discuss the challenges of being a “solo artist,” the influences that inform his songwriting, and how an exploration of songwriting and of learning other instruments has helped him grow as a musician – and even renew his love for the drums.  Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Langhorne Slim and the Law got everyone’s hips shaking

Langhorne Slim | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com
Langhorne Slim | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com

Langhorne Slim, a Philly native, returned to his hometown for our Free at Noon doubleheader today. His performance was received quite warmly, and the crowd was dancing like they just didn’t care.

Slim’s music spread like wildfire after years of touring with bands like Cake, The Avett Brothers, The Violent Femmes, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. He’s been to huge festivals like Bonnaroo, but his music is just as magical and intimate when played in a smaller setting like the World Cafe. The performance was even more special because his mom and grandmother were in the audience. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Jesse Malin powered up the crowd with punk rock

Jesse Malin | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com
Jesse Malin | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com

NYC punk rocker Jesse Malin brought his enthusiastic act to the stage today for Free at Noon.

Malin got his start in the NYC punk scene early, at age 12. After spending time fronting the hardcore band Heart Attack and the glam punk band D Generation, among other projects, Malin decided to go solo. He spent time reshaping his sound to emulate the greats, such as Neil Young, Tom Waits, and Steve Earle. Eight albums later,  he arrived at World Cafe Live today, touring in support of his newest effort, New York Before the War. Continue reading →