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This Is Not A Drill: Bootsy Collins and Branford Marsalis will play a free show in Clark Park for Community Unity Music Festival

Bootsy Collins | via facebook.com/communitymusicfestival

Yes, you read that correctly. Philadelphia’s 2019 Community Unity Music Festival will feature funk-soul legend Bootsy Collins, along with celebrated saxophonist Branford Marsalis. The festival will take place in West Philly’s Clark Park on Saturday, August 3rd, from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Natalie Prass at Boot & Saddle, Branford Marsalis at Zellerbach Theater, Jason Isbell at the Keswick

Natalie Prass
Natalie Prass | photo via www.facebook.com/natalieprass

Natalie Prass brings her debut LP to Boot & Saddle tonight. You might recognize her as the keyboard player on Jenny Lewis’s tour last year, but this first offering from the Cleveborn singer-songwriter shows her talents reach much further than piano. Her “Bird of Prey” single was XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week back in January, its playful yet self-assured arrangements of horns and strings buoying Prass’s up close and personal vocals. Listen to the song below and pick up tickets for tonight’s show with Lady Lady here.
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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in December

Laurin Talese | photo courtesy of the artist

Another hectic year is coming to a close, which for those of us who spend our time ingesting music and trying to string words together in response means that it’s list-making time. You can seek out my Top 5, and expanded / slightly different lists elsewhere, a little later this month. But a few quick mentions of some albums that shouldn’t go unnoticed this year: the ambitious trumpeter/composer Ambrose Akinmusire has crafted an utterly singular hybrid of diverse influences on his staggering Origami Harvet (Blue Note), while the great guitarist Bill Frisell released a heartrendingly gorgeous career highlight with Music IS. If I can stray from the jazz fold for a moment, I also spent a lot of time this year with Philly choir The Crossing’s monumental new album If There Were Water (Innova), highlighted by Stratis Minakakais’ ancient-meets-unexplored “Crossings Cycle,” with Ryley Walker’s mesmerizing Deafman Glance (Dead Oceans), and with Revocation’s blistering The Outer Ones (Metal Blade), which unleashed my inner Beavis with each listen. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live music around town in November

Kamasi Washington
Kamasi Washington | photo courtesy of the artist

Many of jazz’s most creative voices have had a lot to say this year. For whatever reason, 2018’s best releases include a staggering volume of music, albums that sprawl to 2 or 3 discs in length. Witness Tyshawn Sorey’s monumentally minimal Pillars, three hours of sparse, delicately textured gestures that leave the listener to wander through a limbo of sound and genre. Guitar innovator Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl ran to two discs of arcanely angular song forms, while her collective trio Thumbscrew (with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara) paired an album of original music with an accompanying set of covers. The brilliant composer Henry Threadgill doubled up with releases by his ensemble Double Up and another by his latest conglomeration, the 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg. That’s just to mention a few. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Amanda X at Boot and Saddle, Madalean Gauze at Johnny Brenda’s, R. Ring at Everybody Hits and more

Amanda X | photo courtesy of the artist
Amanda X | photo courtesy of the artist

Kensington power punk trio Amanda X will bring their high-energy tunes to Boot and Saddle tonight. Comprised of Cat Park on lead guitar, Melissa Brain on drums and Kat Bean on bass, the group doles out hooky guitar riffs, bumping drum grooves and memorable melody lines. This summer, they will release their second full album later this summer, Giant, and based on opening track “Exquisite,” they keep up with their tendency toward dance-able guitar licks, passionate vocal work and well-crafted melodies. Check out the song below and show details at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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April 6 in Music History: Carly Simon and James Taylor meet, Bruce Hornsby releases his first solo album

Bruce Hornsby Harbor Lights

1956 – Capitol Tower, the home of Capitol Records in Hollywood, CA, is dedicated. Resembling a stack of records, it is the first circular office tower designed in America. It is 13 stories tall and 92 feet in diameter, housing three new recording studios where Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Linda Ronstadt, and many other stars will lay down tracks. The building becomes an LA landmark, with the red light at the top flashing “HOLLYWOOD” in Morse Code.

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In 1985, the 20th Greatest Year In Music, it was all about Live Aid

Photos via facebook.com/liveaid1985

This post originally was published on July 13th, 2015.

Like most people, I experienced Live Aid not in the massive crowd of Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium thirty years ago today, but in the televised broadcast that had people watching around the world.

The all-day concert was held in London at Wembley Station and Philadelphia at JFK Stadium; it was organized by musicians Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox to raise money for the people of Ethiopia. The country was experiencing a famine due to drought – among other factors. After the success of their charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?” – as well as Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World” – the time was right to strike while the giving iron was hot. Continue reading →

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Broad Street’s Clef Club celebrates the next class of jazz greats with event this Saturday

Clef Club
Nazir Ebo, Immanuel Wilkins and Yesseh Furaha-Ali

Philly has enjoyed a bumper crop of jazz prodigies in recent years, the roots of which can almost always be traced to the Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts on Broad Street. The Clef Club’s education program is run by the revered Lovett Hines, whose former students include notables like bassist Christian McBride, organist Joey DeFrancesco, and saxophonist Jaleel Shaw.

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Ten videos and 30 years of memories from Live Aid Philadelphia

Photos via phillymag.com

Like most people, I experienced Live Aid not in the massive crowd of Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium thirty years ago today, but in the televised broadcast that had an audience watching around the world.

The all-day concert was held in London at Wembley Station and Philadelphia at JFK Stadium; it was organized by musicians Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox to raise money for the people of Ethiopia. The country was experiencing a famine due to drought – among other factors.  After the success of their charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?” – as well as Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World” – the time was right to strike while the giving iron was hot.   Continue reading →

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West Philly drummer Justin Faulkner brings Community Unity Music Festival to Clark Park

Justin Faulkner and his family organized West Philly's first Community Unity Festival, slated for Sunday. | Photo by Shaun Brady
Justin Faulkner and his family organized West Philly’s first Community Unity Festival, slated for Sunday. | Photo by Shaun Brady

Growing up in the Cedar Park section of West Philly, Justin Faulkner spent so much time with his nearby cousins that they felt more like brothers. So it hit particularly hard when one of those cousins fell victim to gun violence, killed just outside West Philadelphia High School when Faulkner was in his early teens. Not long after, another cousin met the same fate, followed by several of Faulkner’s childhood friends. Continue reading →