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Watch Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise perform with Play On, Philly! students

Kuf Knotz, Christine Elise, and the Play On Philly students | photo courtesy of the artist

Here at WXPN, we know how powerful music can be, and we’re psyched to talk about a program that feels the same way. Play On, Philly! is an organization that provides underserved children in Philadelphia with a musical education experience that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. The group has made it their mission to inspire K-12 students and help develop their personal skills through the learning of orchestral instruments, all from their instructional sites at three different schools throughout the city. Continue reading →

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Catch Kuf Knotz’s new collaborative project with Christine Elise at Johnny Brenda’s later this month

Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise | photo via kufknotz.com

Philly native Kuf Knotz has a new project in the works. Paired with classically trained harpist Christine Elise and backed by the Trap Rabbit band, it may seem like an unlikely combination, but their music — right now all we have are some live concert videos, but there’s an album on the way — proves that the joined musical forces are onto something good. Currently on tour, they’ll play Johnny Brenda’s for the first time on August 28, opening for Liniker e os Caramelows. Continue reading →

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What’s happening at The Living Room at 35 East? We discussed the burgeoning venue with owner Laura Mann

The Living Room | photo courtesy of Laura Mann

In early 2018, The Living Room at 35 East opened on Ardmore’s Lancaster Avenue. Since that time, the intimate forty-seat venue has grown widely popular for its eclectic mix of events: rock shows, acoustic shows, classical and jazz performances, poetry readings, film screenings and more. Earlier this summer, Philadelphia Magazine named The Living Room the area’s Best Small Music Venue in its Best of 2019 issue. The venue has also recently announced a Grand Re-Opening on September 8th, new weekly hours and the opening of a new café.

To hear about the evolution that has been taking place at The Living Room in the past year, we spoke to the venue’s owner Laura Mann — who is also a singer-songwriter with an album release show at World Café Live coming up this October — and publicity director Fern Brodkin. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: From the first show back at The Khyber to one of the last shows at 1026, we’ve got you coming and going for the rest of this packed July

Soul Glo | photo by Yoni Kroll

Hello Philadelphia! By the time you read this I will most likely be back home but right now I’m in the back of a van hurtling between DIY venues across the Midwest. My band embarked on our first ever tour in the last week of June and I’ve never eaten more fast-food in my life.

Tour is funny because while you might play to literally only the other bands one night — including one group of guys who when they were also only performing in front of other musicians still made it a point to tell everyone there to “stick around for the other bands” — the next night you can play to a crowded room of moshing Midwestern teenagers. Oh, and I was interviewed by someone, which as a journalist is a completely bizarre experience. All in all, no complaints.

But you’re not here for the tour tips. You don’t care where to get a bite to eat before playing the Trumbullplex in Detroit, though if you did I’d recommend Pie Sci right down the street for those massive Detroit square pies that are almost as good as what you’d get at Pizza Gutt up in Fishtown. No, what you want is the Philadelphia calendar listings and some good DIY news and gossip. I got you. Let’s go! Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Josh Ritter, Tash Sultana, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Jim James and more

Tash Sultana | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Yes, we get it — it’s a crazy busy musical week here in Philly, between NonCOMM kicking off at World Cafe Live tomorrow and a certain mega-sold-out Saturday night show that will be packing in the crowds on South Street.

But don’t let that stop you from getting out and seeing music; if you’re not grooving to Lizzo’s “Juice,” might we suggest Juice WRLD? Or how about the dazzling guitar stylings of Tash Sultana, or Rodrigo Y Gabriela? There’s a modern rock benefit on Sunday, two killer jazz events, singer-songwriters galore…here are 16 concerts to see in the next 7 days, all around Philly.
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The Week Ahead: Hardwork Movement, Ivy Sole, YallaPunk, Made In America and more

Hardwork Movement | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

We’re in the last week of summer, people. Even though the season officially continues for another three weeks, with school starting this week and Labor Day on the horizon, this is pretty much it — so let’s make it count. Here are 12 concerts you can see in and around Philadelphia this week, starting out tonight at Johnny Brenda’s with rapper Kuf Knotz’s classically-oriented new project, and wrapping up with the giant party on the Parkway that is Made In America.
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Scenes from the 57th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival

Philadelphia Folk Festival | photo by Lisa Schaffer | SkylerBug.com

The Philadelphia Folk Festival is about more than just the music. Even with a lineup that included everyone from legends like Patty Griffin and David Bromberg to newer names like Valerie June to Philly locals like Kuf Knotz and Matt Santry — and a long list of others — the essence of the festival cannot be summed up by the artists that were there or the songs that were sung, but rather by the sense of community and excitement that has been filling the rural setting of Upper Salford Township, Pennsylvania each August for 57 years. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Porter & Sayles

Christian Porter and Regina Sayles have been friends and musical collaborators for over a decade, and two summers ago, the Stroudsburg singer-songwriter duo released their debut album of songs that straddle the worlds of poppy folk and contemporary country. They’re a little bit Civil Wars, a little bit Lady Antebellum, and their self-titled record caught the ear of XPN midday host Helen Leicht, who connected with the moving contemplation of “This Guitar,” a yearning ballad about balancing the conflicting passions of one’s music and one’s relationships.

This summer, Porter & Sayles returns with its latest single since that record, following up on the spring release “#IAmOne.” It’s a revved up country ripper and unofficial Pocono Speedway anthem “Buckled Up In Drive,” which the duo played acoustically for us during their Key Studio Session. In the set, you’ll also hear “Country,” which reflects on the universality of their preferred form of American music — even for folks who don’t come from down south — as well as “You Had Me From Hello,” a jangling pop tune about first impressions. Continue reading →

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Deer Scout, The Naked Sun, Tin Bird Choir and more are among 30+ locals added to Philadelphia Folk Fest

clockwise from left: Tin Bird Choir | photo by Mike Santarelli | courtesy of the artist // Bethlehem & Sad Patrick | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // deer scout | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // The Naked Sun | photo by Charles Wrzesniewski | courtesy of the artist

As the 57th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival finalizes its lineup, over 30 local and regional artists were added to the bill, among them Bethlehem & Sad Patrick, deer scout, Deb Callahan, The Naked Sun and Tin Bird Choir. Continue reading →