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 →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Orion Tango at Ortlieb’s, Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme at Roxbury Performing Arts Center

Orion Tango
Orion Tango | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN |

Local experimental power trio Orion Tango bring their ambient instrumentals to Ortlieb’s tonight, playing along with Graffiti Wisdom, Taylor Kelly and Progressive Overload. The band features Philly musicians Tim Motzer on guitar, Jeremy Carlstedt on drums, and Barry Meehan on bass; they released their second album The Apple of No this summer. Revisit Orion Tango’s Key Studio Session below and find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar.   Continue reading →


The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Sun Ra, The GTVs and more

The GTVs | Photo by Eric Schuman
The GTVs | Photo by Eric Schuman

Mount Airy based outfit The GTVs stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session.  Armed with a vintage Hammond organ and a few tracks, the band performed songs that showcased their wide-ranging sound.  Check out the instrumental Ventures-inspired number “Sleeper Agent” below and get the full session here.

Sing-along-friendly “Strangers” from The Rebel Light was Tuesday’s My Morning Download.  The upbeat power-pop song was released as a single from the L.A. band last month and is a great summer kick-start track for this Memorial Day weekend.

Local musician That Dream Was Our Life continues his monthly EP project with a collection of six new songs that cover everything from Center City traffic to friends getting married.  Check out “Early Spark” below and get the full EP here.

Folkadelphia brought Brooklyn’s Sondra Sun-Odeon in for a session to showcase her boundary-bending songs, joined by tour-mates Orion Rigel Dommisse.  Take a listen to “Paradise” below and download the full session here.

NPR celebrated what would have been jazz legend Sun Ra’s 100th birthday with an in-depth profile on Thursday.  In 1976, Sun Ra appeared on WXPN during a program called Blue Genesis, performing music and reading poetry.  You can download the two segments below.


Pretty Polly redux and a sonic dreamworld session with Sondra Sun-Odeon, tonight on Folkadelphia Radio

Sondra Sun-Odeon's 'Live at Studio 34' release
Sondra Sun-Odeon’s ‘Live at Studio 34’ release

More often than not, I can be found walking down the street and whistling “Pretty Polly.” It’s one of those timeless melodies that has a way of needling its way into my brain. I’m not alone; the ballad has been performed throughout the years by Dock Boggs, Burl Ives, Aoife O’Donovan, Judy Collins, Sandy Denny, and even Kevin Spacey on House of Cards, to name a few. That being said, I thought it would be proper to revisit the American murder ballad on this week’s episode of Folkadelphia Radio. We first featured the song about a month ago on the air, discussing its ties to an even older British ballad called “The Gosport Tragedy.” Depending on the version you listen to – and there are hundreds of variations – you might be hearing it told as a first person narrative (“I courted Pretty Polly”) or a third person narrative (“Then he threw a little dirt on her and started for home”), you could have elements of the supernatural (ghosts), insanity, incest, and obsession. All in all, the tale remains grim and violent however or whenever you hear it.

Also tonight, we’ll air a brand new Folkadelphia Session featuring the Brooklyn-based, but perpetually touring experimental songwriter Sondra Sun-Odeon, formerly of the dark psych act Silver Summit. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Mike Vasilikos’ all-Philly best of 2018

Orion Sun | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |
Orion Sun | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. Today, XPN’s Mike Vasilikos recaps the best music he’s heard come out of the Philly scene this year.

More lists! Yes, it’s almost time to flip over the calendar but not before everyone gets a chance to reflect on their favorite music of the past 12 months.  I guess it’s my turn!  Last year, I altered my approach to year-end reflections.  The idea being: focus on what’s happening locally, because in all honesty Philadelphia is a special place for music.  Across all musical landscapes, the artistry in our community rivals anywhere in the country.  So that said, here’s what I was listening to in 2018. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s top five Philly jawns of 2018

Armani White at Made In America | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN |

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. Today, XPN program director Bruce Warren reflects on his favorite Philly moments of the year.

5. The rise of &More

Early in 2018, word dropped about a new musical collaboration, &More, between Philly rapper Chill Moody and singer Donn T. One of Philly’s most exciting new collaborations this year, watching their musical lovechild grow has been exciting. Their first public appearance was as part of the lineup of local bands for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest on the Road at World Cafe Live, they’ve been on the road with Philly rock and rollers, Low Cut Connie, and they put on a great show at the XPoNential Music Festival in July. 2019 has some big things in store for &More; the next chance you get you should see them. Their synthesis of R&B and hip-hop is intoxicating.

Below, watch &More perform “My Own Light” at XPNFest. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top Six Philly Music Finds of 2018

Low Dose | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps six of his favorite Philadelphia music finds from the past 12 months.

This page of the calendar is always a blur for me. Thinking back over the 300-some previous days of listening to records from Philly musicians, getting to their gigs, recording them in the WXPN studio, and spinning their music on the air is a lot to take stock of. Putting together my annual rundown of jaw-dropping artists that were new to me in 2018 quickly went from “hmm, I know I was stoked about these three” to “OMG I already have 20, I need to narrow this down.”

But that’s the blessing of living in Philly, as I say every year. We have amazing musicians operating on all tiers — the broadly-reaching Meek Mills releasing the best and most poignant records of their career, the War on Drugs-es returning home this week for a sold-out run of underplay shows, the Hop Alongs garnering widespread acclaim for their own masterpieces — but we also have musicians who are still sweating it out on basement show bills, touring in battered vans, hustling across the bar scene, and grinding to make it all work for them.

Finding the most exciting musicians in that latter space, and watching them make their way to the former, is easily my favorite part of my job. Here are a handful of artists I hope to see make that journey this year.

Continue reading →