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XPoNential Artist Spotlight: Keeping mountain minstrelsy alive with Marah

Marah | Photo courtesy of the artist
Marah | Photo courtesy of the artist

The underdog set of this XPoNential Music Festival belongs to Marah – one known as a raucous Philadelphia rock band, now a raucous Central Pennsylvania folk band. Led by Dave Bielanko and Christine Smith, its project of late is the excellent 2014 offering Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania, where the six-piece recorded its own rearrangements and renditions of songs collected in 1931 by folklorist Harry Shoemaker.

This is where the underdog aspect comes in: as Dave explains, the songs they drew from – while they are as striking and resonant in a modern context as I imagine they might have been three-quarters of a century ago – are nonetheless the music of the people, everyday real people, the sort that cultural critics might tend to eschew and not anthologize in favor of somebody more…I don’t know…poetic. But this is poetry nevertheless. Continue reading →

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Watch #XPNFest artist The Hold Steady rock out on Conan

The Hold Steady | courtesy of the artist
The Hold Steady | courtesy of the artist

This week XPoNential Music Festival artists The Hold Steady appeared on Conan to perform “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You,” from their latest album, Teeth Dreams – it’s a song carried the trademark story-telling lyrics by frontman Craig Finn that we all know and love. So far, the album has received great reviews from outlets such as The Guardian, and USA Today. Continue reading →

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Explore the perils of fitting in with #XPNFest artist Jenny Lewis’ new “Just One of the Guys” video

Photo courtesy of artist.
Photo courtesy of artist.

XPoNential Festival headliner, Jenny Lewis, just released the video for “Just One of the Guys”, off of The Voyager out July 29th. Co-produced by her fellow headliners Beck and Ryan Adams, Lewis recently released the reflective title track. She also put on a great performance at this year’s Gov Ball.

The video is pretty funny. It starts with Jenny singing, sporting her trademark, fantastic rainbow suit, while Kristen Stewart, Ann Hathaway and Brie Larson accompany her. Keeping with the subject matter, the stars attempt to be “one of the guys,” in Adidas track suits. Hathaway dons a rat tail and attempts to break dance, while Stewart grows a mustache and sweeps the floor, and Larson denies getting Lewis pregnant. The video highlights Lewis’s frustration with trying to fit in – “No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys / there’s a little something inside that won’t let me.”

Watch her perform “Just One of the Guys” as well as the new songs from Voyager at XPN Fest. Get details about the Festival here. Watch the video below.

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Watch #xpnfest’s Rodrigo y Gabriela perform “Torito” from the Artist’s Den

Photo by Jim Mimna, courtesy of artist.
Photo by Jim Mimna, courtesy of artist.
Mexican acoustic rock duo Rodrigo y Gabriela recently did a session with the Artists’ Den, where they performed “Torito” off of their newest album 9 Dead Alive. The album, their first in five years, came out in April this year. 9 Dead Alive is a movement away from 2012′s Area 52, and a return to the duo’s more “heavier” side. The energetic, live performance highlights what is best about Rodrigo y Gabriela: their phenomenal guitar skills. The two guitars overlap, collide and combine to play a truly beautiful tune. Somehow, this performance feels more intimate than having vocals. Watching the two play live is mesmerizing. Earlier this year, they did an equally entrancing live session with Lumbini Studio in Mexico, where they played “The Russian Messenger”. The duo actually made “The Russian Messenger”, as well as four others, free for download through The Soundmaker EP via NoiseTrade.

Check out Rodrigo y Gabriela live at XPoNential Music Festival Friday July 25th. Purchase tickets here. Watch the performance below.

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Download a Key Studio Session recording of “Palace” by #XPNfest artist Commonwealth Choir

Commonwealth Choir Key Studio Session | Photo by Ryan Boswell RBCameraWorks.com
Commonwealth Choir Key Studio Session | Photo by Ryan Boswell RBCameraWorks.com

One of the many local bands playing the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru is Commonwealth Choir. The Doylestown indie-rockers will be opening up the day on Saturday, July 26th at 12:30. Earlier this year, the band recorded a Key Studio Session, performing songs from their recent EP and a couple of new songs. Below, download “Palace,” and make sure you watch the video of their performance of “Pacers.”

Commonwealth Choir are playing World Cafe Live at The Queen in Wilmington, tomorrow evening, Friday, July 11th at the New Sweden record release party. And you’ll be seeing them at #xpnfest on Saturday, July 25th. Go here for tickets to the fesyival.

Pacers by Commonwealth Choir from James Powers on Vimeo.

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Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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Norah Jones, Jack White, Lord Huron, fun., and more to be featured on Beck’s Song Reader

Beck at Firefly 2014 | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/concert.htm
Beck at Firefly 2014 | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/concert.htm
Two years ago, Beck released his new “album” – Song Reader – a book of sheet music and art featuring twenty new songs. The new songs weren’t recorded by Beck at all; the idea was that the songs would be recorded by others using the sheet music. “There are no rules in interpretation,” said Beck in an interview with McSweeney’s, who released Song Reader. “These songs are meant to be pulled apart and reshaped,” he said in the interview. “The idea of them being played by choirs, brass bands, string ensembles, anything outside of traditional rock-band constructs—it’s interesting because it’s outside of where my songs normally exist,” said Beck.

On July 29th, Norah Jones, Jeff Tweedy, Lord Huron, Jack White, Beck himself, and others will be featured on Warby Parker Presents Song Reader. Co-produced by Beck with Wes Anderson and Randall Poster, proceeds will be donated to 826 National – a nationwide nonprofit organization that offers a variety of opportunities to students, ages 6-18, to “explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.”

Beck is playing on Sunday, July 27th at the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru. The set list for Song Reader is below.

1. Moses Sumney, “Title of This Song”
2. Fun., “Please Leave a Light on When You Go”
3. Tweedy, “The Wolf Is on the Hill”
4. Norah Jones, “Just Noise”
5. Lord Huron, “Last Night You Were a Dream”
6. Bob Forrest, “Saint Dude”
7. Jack White, “I’m Down”
8. Beck, “Heaven’s Ladder”
9. Juanes, “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard”
10. Laura Marling, “Sorry”
11. Jarvis Cocker, “Eyes That Say ‘I Love You’”
12. David Johansen, “Rough on Rats”
13. Jason Isbell, “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings”
14. Marc Ribot, “The Last Polka”
15. Eleanor Friedberger, “Old Shanghai”
16. Sparks, “Why Did You Make Me Care?”
17. Swamp Dogg, “America, Here’s My Boy”
18. Jack Black, “We All Wear Cloaks”
19. Loudon Wainwright III, “Do We? We Do”
20. Gabriel Kahane & Ymusic, “Mutilation Rag”

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#XPNFest artist Nicole Atkins shares new animated video for “Who Killed the Moonlight”

Nicole Atkins | Photo by Cameron Pollack
Nicole Atkins | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Nicole Atikins put the task of creating a video for “Who Killed the Moonlight” in the hands of Ilinca Höpfner, an animator known worldwide for her work with Nick Cave and his side-project Grinderman.  The result, premiered this week on NPR Music, borrows its narrative from the song’s lyrics, which were adapted from a dream Atkins had while recording the album.  From Atkins:

“In the dream I lived next door to four magical and beautiful Sicilian sisters,” she writes. “They were preparing me for a wedding. As the night fell we went to the riverside to toast the new full moon with wine. As we toasted the moon slowly fell from the sky and landed in the river. Slowly flickering off and on like a light and dying. As it died, all the fish died, then the birds, then the air and everything with it. Yet [though] it was sad or scary, it was beautiful.”

Watch the clip below.  Nicole Atkins will perform at this month’s XPoNential Music Festival.  Tickets are on sale now here.

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#XPNfest band Bear’s Den premiere video for “Elysium” on NPR

Bear's Den | photo courtesy of the artist
Bear’s Den | photo courtesy of the artist

NPR has premiered a new video for “Elysium” by Bear’s Den, taken from the UK group’s upcoming 10″ EP.  Filmed by James Marcus Haney, the video follows Haney’s younger brother and his group of friends at Seattle Pacific University over the course of a few days in early June.  But what was supposed to be a documentary of care-free college students enjoying the last few days of the semester suddenly turned tragic and heartbreaking when the campus experienced a shooting. Haney’s brother and his friends were deeply affected by the shooting, and you can read the filmmaker’s full statement on the circumstances here.  Bear’s Den will perform at this month’s XPoNential Music Festival on Sunday, July 27th.  Tickets are still available here.

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Listen to a new song, “The Voyager,” by #XPNFest headliner Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis | photo courtesy of the artist
Jenny Lewis | photo courtesy of the artist

Jenny Lewis has shared the title track off of her upcoming LP The Voyager.  The track follows “Just One of the Guys” as Lewis preps for the albums July 29th release date, but captures an entirely different mood from the inward-looking first single.  Slow and echo-y, “The Voyager” pairs acoustic guitar with outer-spacey synths and strings as Lewis sings “The voyager’s in every boy and girl / if you want to get to Heaven get out of this world.”  Early bird ticket pricing ends Monday, July 14th, so pick up tickets to see Lewis at this month’s XPoNential Music Festival here.

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Listen to #xpnfest band Lucius cover Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”

Lucius at Governor's Ball | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Lucius at Governor’s Ball | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Lucius are releasing a limited edition 7″ single of “Genevieve,” featuring a cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” The band are playing the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru on Friday, July 25t at Wiggins Park in Camden, NJ. Purchase tickets here. Below, listen to the band’s near reinvention of the Tears For Fears classic.

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