Free at Noon Flashback: Paul Keen of Pawnshop Roses warms up for Wayne Music Fest at World Cafe Live

Paul Keen | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Pawnshop Roses may call Philadelphia home, but the band’s sound is not inherent to the area. They make music heavily influenced by blues and bluegrass, but with that familiar Philly grit. Banjos and typical grass bass is coupled with more typical rock vocals. Band members Paul Keen, Kevin Bentley, Jason Jonik, and Zila are veterans to the local music scene, they have played together for 17 years.

Keen, the lead singer of the group, took the audience by surprise with a solo performance at WXPN’s Free at Noon on June 7th. Accompanied just by the guitar slung over his shoulder, he was able to show off his captivating voice. Without the rest of the band, all eyes were on Keen, but he more than managed to take control of the stage. Continue reading →


Steve Gunn, Paul Sukeena Band to perform at Anthony Campuzano’s book launch party at Temple Contemporary on 2/2

Philadelphia visual artist Anthony Campuzano (a 2009 Pew Fellow) will celebrate the release of his book Stars: Even The Sun With All Its Warmth Is Detatched at Temple Contemporary (Tyler School of Art) on Saturday, February 2nd with performances by Steve Gunn and the Paul Sukeena Band.

Gunn is a Philadelphia native currently based in Brooklyn who blends beautifully intricate, raga style guitar compositions with Americana / singer-songwriter sensibilities.  Following up 2009’s Boerum Palace LP, he will be releasing Time Off this spring with trio bandmates John Truscinski and Justin Tripp (formerly of Aspera) through his new label Paradise of Bachelors.

Mining an all together different, and much louder, quarry of virtuosic guitar playing, Paul Sukeena jumps effortlessly between the fuzzy, scuzzy noise rock of Philly buzz band Spacin’ and his own distorted, looping organ arrangements.  Spacin’ released their debut record Deep Thuds last April. To RSVP for this free event go here; more information can be found here.  You can also catch them at Johnny Brenda’s on February 23rd when Steve Gunn performs with Light Heat and Spacin’ (tickets and information here).  Below, watch Gunn perform “Old Strange” for Fader TV.



A banterous night with Angel Olsen (and Paul) at Union Transfer

Angel Olsen | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

Gazing into the eyes of the audience like a cat who wants attention, Angel Olsen ever so slightly grazed the strings of her ’79 Gibson S-1 as she sung the words “I ain’t hanging up this time / I ain’t giving up tonight.”

The 1,200 people inside the sold-out Union Transfer sang it with Olsen, who was decked out like Lady Stardust, wearing a glammy and metallic one-piece spacesuit-looking outfit. It was the moment the audience had been waiting for, and they didn’t have to wait very long for it. After opening with “Hi-Five,” a track from Olsen’s 2014 record, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, she dove straight into “Shut Up Kiss Me,” the radio-hit that propelled her into the spotlight. Seconds later, the rest of the band, sporting grey-blue pants and blazers and bolo ties, chimed in for the chorus in their ongoing sloppy-cool, not-trying-too-hard musical style.

It was a ballsy move. Playing your hit song so early on in the setlist? it can open the door for a steep drop-off in energy as the night progresses. But Angel Olsen’s a pro. This ain’t her first rodeo. Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: JR JR strips their set down for World Cafe Live

JR JR | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

After Paul Keen of Pawnshop Roses graced the stage for today’s Free At Noon, indie pop group JR JR followed up with a set that, to everyone’s surprised, wound up being semi-acoustic. Down a drummer, the band’s Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein played stripped-down arrangements of songs from their newest album Invocations / Conversations, as well as some older cuts and a cover. Continue reading →


Catch Tommy Conwell, Ben Arnold, Rosemary Fiki and more at the Roxborough Solstice Music Festival

Ben Arnold
Ben Arnold | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

With the summer solstice less than a month away, our days are about as lengthy and bright as they get. And there’s no better way to spend the extra sunlight than with some grub, drinks, and live music. On Saturday, June 11th, the Roxborough Solstice Music Festival will provide just that. Starting at noon, they’ll have 10 musical acts, food trucks, a beer garden, craft vendors, and local businesses at Gorgas Park on Ridge Ave in Philly. Continue reading →


Christopher Brooks releases debut album with members of Hop Along

Christopher Brooks self-titled | via
Christopher Brooks self-titled | via

Singer-songwriter Christopher Brooks (of the Wayfairs and Conversations with Enemies) is releasing his self-titled debut album on Monday, June 16. For his debut, Brooks brought together a collection of local artists, including Frances Quinlan, Mark Quinlan, and Joe Reinhart of Hop Along, as well as Alex Smith of Cold Fronts. It was recorded at Headroom Studios in Fishtown with Joe Reinhart and Kyle Pulley and mastered by Ryan Schwabe. Continue reading →