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Free At Noon Flashback: Mwesno & the Shakes bring the festival vibe to World Cafe Live

On August 16th, 1969, Woodstock didn’t start its second day of music until 12:33 p.m.  Little did they know that 50 years later, this would allow WXPN just enough time to fit in it’s usual Free At Noon Concert before flipping back to #XPNstock – a broadcast of the entire Woodstock festival, as it happened, 50 years on. Fans listening in early couldn’t have been more satisfied, as XPN booked the perfect band to kick off the day.

Led by Michael Mwenso, Mwesno & the Shakes, a troupe of global artists, brought the festival vibe to World Cafe Live. A set of 3 horns along with two hype men (one on keys and another on stand up bass) start the show, getting the crowd in motion even before Mwesno, accompanied by two singers, joined them on stage. It was quickly apparent that this would be one hell of a set, mixing various styles of Jazz, blues and world music to an all-out party. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Molly Burch warms up for her Johnny Brenda’s performance tonight with a stellar set at World Cafe Live

Molly Burch | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Austin-based singer-songwriter Molly Burch is currently on her U.S tour and is set to play Johnny Brenda’s later tonight. Earlier today, she stopped by World Cafe Live and gave a nice preview of what the show will be like: lively, energetic, and full of emotion. Burch’s music truly can touch your soul and have you relating to her lyrics of loss and heartbreak amidst various uplifting instrumental elements. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: The Seratones bring some afternoon power to World Cafe Live

The Seratones | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Southern rockers The Seratones re-introduced themselves to Philadelphia this afternoon, ahead of the release of their new album Power later this month. Energized by the three and a half cups of coffee frontwoman A.J. Haynes said she drank this morning, the Louisiana band opened with “Gotta Get to Know Ya,” the new album’s lead single which XPN listeners are already familiar with. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: RFA make a strong case for getting to XPNFest as early as possible

RFA | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

There are different kinds of tired. There’s the defeated kind, the bored kind, the relaxed kind, etc. In between songs at their Free at Noon set, RFA were a special kind of tired. They were the kind of tired that you are when you’ve been doing a lot of something you love. Yet, despite their apparent weariness and immense sweat, the Philly garage rockers threw themselves into each song, expending more energy on each one than they had on the previous. Their playing seemed to energize them, and it definitely energized the crowd.

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Free at Noon Flashback: Los Coast debuts Samsara on the World Cafe Live stage

Los Coast | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Los Coast showcased their debut album Samsara for today’s Free at Noon concert. At first glance, they seem like the sort of group that could fall by the wayside. On paper, Los Coasts is a multi-genre, southwestern band from Austin with a quintessential hipster aesthetic. They make music influenced by soul, funk, pop, gospel, and everything in between. Without getting a solid grasp of the group, they could easily be dismissed as mildly pretentious. However, to think that would be poorly misguided. 

The band opened with “Cymatics,” an instrumental track, while lead singer and guitarist, Trey Privott stood idly on the side of the stage. In just a few moments, Trey sauntered over to the mic and the band began playing “Masquerade” from this year’s Samsara. Privott’s was raspier than ever as he repeated, “You gotta keep steppin’.” Having grown up in Georgia and Alabama before relocating to Austin, his voice very much takes inspiration from church music and the gothic Americana grit of the deep south.  Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: P.A.C.E.’s Trumpet Chics bring the brass to World Cafe Live

Trumpet Chics | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Trumpet Chics brought the party to Free at Noon today, making audience members glad they stayed in town for the holiday weekend. Part of P.A.C.E. program (Preparing Artists for College Entrance) in Camden, NJ, which helps increase opportunities for students in the arts, the ensemble features a talented group of young musicians who aren’t afraid to have some fun onstage. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Pure Bathing Culture showcase new sounds and old at World Cafe Live

Pure Bathing Culture | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Portland, Oregon’s Pure Bathing Culture came by World Cafe Live to deliver a fantastic set of new and old tunes from their expansive discography, which dates back to 2012.

Pure Bathing Culture is Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman, who first met in 2011 in New Jersey. The two began writing together, moved to Portland, and began seriously pursuing their new musical adventure. Their sound can be described as 80’s-influenced synth pop, with a clear modern presence. After being dropped from their previous label, the duo took some time to figure out their situation before jumping back in, with many songs from their new record already written. Finding new ground, the group is finally back with Night Pass, their newest project released in April. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: JD Simo brings down the house

JD Simo | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Blues rocker JD Simo came by WXPN’s Free at Noon to deliver an insanely loud and proud blues performance. Fresh off the release of his new solo record Off At 11, Simo played hits from that as well as older cuts.

JD Simo is the frontman of Nashville blues-rock band Simo, formed in 2010. They’ve performed at notable festivals like Bonnaroo, Warren Hayne’s Christmas Jam and Mountain Jam in their time as a band. JD has since started a solo career, touring with Tommy Emmanuel. Simo is now joined by the band’s original drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Andraleia Buch.

The trio showed insanely good chemistry on stage as they rocked out to Simo’s crunchy blues riffs like those heard in “Temptation” off of Off At 11, turning the six-minute tune into a 10+ minute jam session. That was the case for many of the other songs as well, as JD joked – “we never know how long are sets are going to be.” A nice surprise, Simo performed an upcoming single titled “All I Got Is You,” another blues-rock tune that featured fast changing time signatures. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Rod Melancon Makes His Philadelphia Debut at World Cafe Live

Rod Melancon | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Rod Melancon opened XPN’s Free at Noon double-header performing before, J.D. Simo. He sang tunes from his newest album, Pinkville, which was released in early April. With a name like Pinkville, you might think Melancon’s music verged on country pop, but that is far from the case.

Pinkville is not the kind of country, blues you can kick back and mindlessly listen to. Each song tells a story, and never a pretty one. Melancon opened his performance with title-track, a song that’s more like a story put to music than a song in the traditional sense of the word. Through the lyrics, Rod Melancon explains a scene that he repeatedly passed driving to his family’s crawfish pond in Gueydan, Louisiana. Every time they drove, he saw a man pacing in front of a faded grey house wearing nothing but long johns and a pair of combat boots. One day he worked up the courage, and his dad explains that the man was a Vietnam Vet that was scared by his experiences. He says, “His boots were on American soil, but his mind was far off in the burning villages of Pinkville.” Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Craig Finn brings his new story-filled album to the World Cafe Live stage

Craig Finn | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Earlier today, singer-songwriter and storyteller Craig Finn arrived at World Cafe Live to perform a few songs from his newest solo album I Need A New War. According to Finn, the album dedicated to our world’s fast-changing times, and tells many stories about his previous 19 years spent living in New York. The frontman of rock faves The Hold Steady, Finn has been embarking on his solo endeavor for a few years now, with this album being his fourth. Continue reading →