Lancaster songwriter Matt Wheeler experiments with solo guitar, plays downstairs at World Cafe Live 4/22

Matt Wheeler Photo Courtesy of the Artist
Matt Wheeler | photo courtesy of the artist

Matt Wheeler often performs with a backing band, but on his new EP Matt Wheeler On the Hill, the Lancaster singer-songwriter experiments with a solo acoustic sound.The record features a mix of old and new — while it begins with some reworked acoustic versions of songs that Wheeler has already recorded, the EP’s second half includes the two new tracks “Cedars” and “Lexington.” Continue reading →


Celebrate Philly’s Tiny Desk standouts with Tutlie, The Bul Bey, Joy Ike and NPR Music at World Cafe Live

Tutlie | Photo by Morgan Smith | courtesy of the artist

NPR’s All Songs Considered crew is taking their popular Tiny Desk Concert series on the road, landing in Philadelphia on April 19th at World Cafe Live for an evening of live music, free Lagunitas beer and food.

Host Bob Boilen will be on hand for an evening of local acts hand-picked by WXPN and the NPR Music crew from the submission box of this year’s TDC contest; you’ll see chamber pop group Tutlie, soulful pianist/singer Joy Ike and hip hop artist The Bul Bey. The event is free, but you must reserve your spot here. Continue reading →


Philly jazz legend Jymie Merritt is featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America

Jymie Merritt
Jymie Merritt | photo courtesy of the artist

Longtime Philly jazz bassist Jymie Merritt was profiled on the most recent episode of NPR’s Jazz Night In America. The 89-year-old musician and composer is a legend in the world of jazz, but has always managed to remain somewhat behind the scenes — though he’s played with the likes of John Coltrane, B.B. King, and Dizzy Gillespie, Merritt has never released his own record as a bandleader.

The NPR Story, which will run this weekend and early next week, is built around a concert given by Merritt’s old band The Forerunners at World Cafe Live in January. Though Merritt is retired from playing, many of his old bandmates were on stage, and his son, Mike Merritt, took over on bass duties for the show. Continue reading →


Watch The Cactus Blossoms’ World Cafe session on VuHaus, see them at World Cafe Live tonight

The Cactus Blossoms
The Cactus Blossoms | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

Minneapolis singer-songwriter siblings Jack Torrey and Page Burkum released a knockout debut earlier this year under their stage name, The Cactus Blossoms. The songs are a simple and endearing throwback to country-infused 50s pop, with twangy harmonies that recall The Everly Brothers. Their self-titled debut was produced by J.D. McPherson and released on January 22nd. Tonight they perform at World Cafe Live, but back in January they appeared on World Cafe with David Dye. Continue reading →


Beyond the Bars benefit adds Queen of Jeans, The Bul Bey

Queen of Jeans
Queen of Jeans | photo by Kelly Kurteson | courtesy of the artist

Next month’s Beyond the Bars benefit concert was already going to be phenomenal, with The Districts, Frances Quinlan, Ben Arnold, Milton and Lushlife set to perform in support of a program that gives music education opportunities to the city’s incarcerated youth. Now we have two more reasons to grab some tickets and head to World Cafe Live on April 17th: local “denimcore” trio Queen of Jeans and West Philly rapper The Bul Bey have been added to the bill. Check them out below and learn more about the fundraiser here. Tickets for the all-ages event (which begins at 5:00 p.m.) can be found here.

Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Rising Appalachia sisters sing ballads for World Cafe Live

Rising Appalachia | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN
Rising Appalachia | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

Downtown Atlanta sisters Leah and Chloe Smith brought Rising Appalachia to Philadelphia for today’s Free at Noon concert. The folk duo was backed by percussionist Biko Casini and bass player/ guitarist David Brown to deliver a full sound as they sang their ballads of love and life.

The multi-instrumental sisters produce a traditional, harmonic sound with multiple string instruments from the violin to guitar, including bass and bongos. Their songs are influenced by experiences, like trips to an island off of Naples, Italy, combined with their down-south roots. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dreambook at Boot & Saddle, The Family Crest at World Cafe Live

Dreambook | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philadelphia atmospheric rock four-piece Dreambook headlines Boot and Saddle tonight. The band is preparing to head into the studio to record its second EP, and will debut a handful of new songs at tonight’s show. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Listen to last year’s burn the light out EP below. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: American Babies at Ardmore Music Hall, 3rd Planet Festival at World Cafe Live, and Mock Suns at Johnny Brenda’s

American Babies
American Babies | Photo by Skylar Carfi | courtesy of the artist

Tom Hamilton’s American Babies return to Ardmore Music Hall tonight to support their new album An Epic Battle Between Light And Dark. Opening the show will be Aron Magner of The Disco Biscuits, Tom McKee of Brothers Past and The 9’s. More information can be found here. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Progressive pioneers Tortoise give post-rock an electronic twist


As fans filled into World Cafe Live, Tortoise walked on stage ready to deliver their one-of-a-kind instrumental rock sound. John McEntire’s drum set was placed front and center on the stage, making rhythm the focus as the band members alternated turns on instruments through the performance.

They kicked it off with “The Catastrophist” the title track of their newest album, which was released in January earlier this year. The song rides a wave between synthesizer tunes from the keys and heavy drum solos serving an insight as to how the rest of the album sounds. Their mixes maintain an electronic vibe rooted with a jazz and post-rock influence. While their sound remains unique, what made their performance interesting was the interchange of instruments between songs. One bass and guitar held steady, while three of the members would alternate between percussion, a second bass guitar, and three different sets of keys. Continue reading →