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Sudan freestyles about success and self-love on Instagram

Sudan | still from video

Philly rapper Sudan has begun teasing fans on his Instagram, getting them ready for what he has in store next. His two most recent minute-long snippets, “Narcissus” and “Synergy,” showcase the MC rapping about success, and further spreading his narrative of love that he laid out in his last full-length project, Pay Me In Love. Continue reading →

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Philly rapper Khemist and drummer Anwar Marshall come together in acoustic performance on “It Don’t Get No Easier”

Khemist | still from video

Logan Valley rapper Khemist teamed up with fellow Philadelphian and jazz-schooled drummer Anwar Marshall for an impressive performance of “It Don’t Get No Easier,” another new track off Khemist’s forthcoming Khemtrails EP. The two fuse together strongly as Marshall’s complex rhythms match nicely to Khem’s intricate lyrical flow. Continue reading →

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Philly native Barney Cortez pays homage to lost loved ones on new Farewell Dogs EP

Barney Cortez | photo via barneycortez.bandcamp.com

Philadelphia native Barney Cortez is back with a new EP, Farewell Dogs. This release sees Cortez strip back from the power pop sounds of his previous release, Pretty Thin, and remember some dearly departed friends along the way.

Previously a co-founder of Philly indie dance group Nicos Gun, and currently a touring guitarist with Rayland Baxter, this is Cortez’s second official solo release. He strips down his approach on Farewell Dogs, echoing a similar vibe to that of Grizzly bear or Fleet Foxes. On “Out of the Wheel,” a lovely harmonica melody accompanies Cortez’s subdued vocals. On “Culture Club,” Cortez sings about feelings of inclusion and wanting to feel unique. The EP includes two short interludes, “Hush” and “Purple Shields,” which mesh nicely with the other songs. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Lizzo pops by for a surprise acoustic set

Lizzo | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

NonCOMM’s final day stated with a blast as a surprise guest took to the stage. That guest was none other than pop superstar Lizzo, who hung around for a two-song acoustic session.

Currently on her “Cuz I Love You Too” Tour, Lizzo graciously took time out of her busy schedule to acoustically perform two songs from her most recent album, Cuz I Love You. She began with the title track, bursting out at the top of her lungs as each chorus came. She then hit the audience with her biggest hit at the moment, “Juice.” Clapping, shouting and rejoicing ensued as Lizzo belted out the lyrics to the feel-good anthem. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: K.T. Tunstall fills World Cafe Live with pure acoustic energy

K.T. Tunstall | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

As the last night at NON-COMM was winding down, K.T. Tunstall was able to give the crowd one last hoorah. She closed down the night alone, only with the help of her guitar, keyboard, a looper, and a tambourine. Tunstall’s set mixed the old and the new nicely, playing anything from covers and mashups to her most recognizable hits. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Sibling trio Bailen bring stellar energy to the PRX Stage

Bailen | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Family trio Bailen put on an electrifying performance for NonCOMM Tuesday night. Their six-song set on the PRX stage upstairs at World Cafe Live highlighted songs from their most recent release, Thrilled To Be Here, out now on Fantasy Records. Drawing inspiration from The Staves and Fleet Foxes, Bailen have crafted their own unique sound and are keen to reveal it to the world. Continue reading →

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#XPNFest artist J.S. Ondara plays “Saying Goodbye” in a greenhouse for a breathtaking KXT performance

J.S. Ondara | still from video

Folk newcomer J.S Ondara delivered a moving performance of his song “Saying Goodbye” for KXT this week. For fans of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Ondara will certainly evoke a sense of nostalgia for their respective heydays.

The 26 year old hails from Minneapolis, but has his roots in Nairobi, Kenya, where his love of Dylan first flourished. After obtaining a Green Card visa, Ondara set out for Dylan’s home state, Minneapolis. As the years passed, Ondara solidified his sound, performing and working his way up to where he is now: a major label deal with Universal Music Group. Ondara released his debut album Tales of America back in February, and it has been met with widespread praise. Continue reading →

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Philadelphia Jazz Project contemplates freedom and celebrates Walt Whitman in New Songs Of The Open Road

flyer via Philadelphia Jazz Project

The Philadelphia Jazz Project will highlight the 200th birthday celebration of American poet Walt Whitman this summer with a series of shows themed New Songs of the Open Road.

The event is comprised of four “singing walks,” taking place in different Philly neighborhoods including North Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, Center City and Germantown. The walks will be led by choirmaster Waverly Alston and vocalists Toby Vent Martin, James Solomon, and V. Shayne Frederick. Aptly named after one of Whitman’s poems, the walks will shine a light on the feelings Whitman experienced writing his poem “Song of the Open Road,” from Whitman’s 1855 collection Leaves of Grass, where he contemplates westward expansion and American freedom. The series puts Whitman’s poem in the context of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, where protesters pushed freedom further, and took it to the streets. Continue reading →