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The Week Ahead: Selwyn Birchwood, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sinkane, Sweet Spirit and more

Sun Ra Arkestra | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s a big week for shows big and small — noisemakers NOTS taking to Boot & Saddle tonight, The National bringing their sweeping new record to The Mann on Tuesday, Sun Ra Arkestra leader Marshall Allen celebrating his 95th at Union Transfer on Thursday, Dave Matthews Band settling into the BB&T for a two-night stand this weekend. And that’s just for starters; here are 16 concerts to see in the next seven days, all around Philly. Continue reading →

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Man Man returns to play Philly Music Fest 2019 alongside Sun Ra Arkestra, Vacationer, Restorations, Arnetta Johnson and more

clockwise from left: Man Man | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | Arnetta Johnson | photo by John Vettese for WXPN | Vacationer | photo by Joe Bloss for WXPN | Sun Ra Arkestra | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Philly avant-garde rockers Man Man have risen from hibernation this year, and will headline the 2019 edition of the Philly Music Fest, just announced today.

The project of songwriter Ryan “Honus Honus” Kattner and drummer Chris “Pow Pow” Powell was a highlight of the 2014 XPoNential Music Festival, but has since gone bicostal, with Kattner releasing solo music. Along with some previously-announced west coast tour dates, this gig marks their formal return to action, and their first time playing the city where they got started in four years. Continue reading →

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Celebrate Marshall Allen’s 95th birthday with Sun Ra Arkestra at Union Transfer

Sun Ra Arkestra | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Since the beloved cosmic liberation jazz visionary Sun Ra moved on to the next plane some 26 years ago, his spirit has been kept very much alive in the form of the Sun Ra Arkestra, under the leadership of saxophone and synthesizer playing wizard Marshall Allen. This spring, Allen turns 95, and to celebrate, the Arkestra will convene at Union Transfer on June 13th (a few weeks after his actual birthday) to play a set with support from Sounds Of Liberation, and Eli Keszler. Tickets are on sale now, more information can be found at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: October is haunted with thrift store discos, horror flicks in cemeteries, and gigs from Swearin’ to Sun Ra Arkestra

Sun Ra Arkestra | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

“This year Halloween fell on a weekend and me and the Geto Boys were …” Wait a minute! Halloween isn’t on a weekend this year! But even when it falls on a Wednesday I’m still more excited for Halloween than just about any other day out of the year. It’s not just the special, yearly concerts – Dead Milkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, all the cover shows happening around town – though that’s a huge part of it. Halloween is this huge celebration of the weird and the wonderful, an excuse to dress up and have fun and get real obsessed with ghosts. And there’s really no better city for Halloween than Philadelphia, which embraces the holiday the second the clock turns midnight on October 1st.

Welcome to the Skeleton Key, your monthly DIY calendar and column here in The Key. Let’s get spooky! Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Sun Ra Arkestra to play Johnny Brenda’s on Halloween

Sun Ra Arkestra
Sun Ra Arkestra at Johnny Brendas | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Sun Ra Arkestra, the eclectic and virtuosic ensemble of the late jazz legend Sun Ra are bringing their cosmic talents back to Johnny Brenda’s for a two-hour Halloween show. The Arkestra performs the visionary, multi-stylistic compositions of Sun Ra under the guidance of longtime alto-saxophonist Marshall Allen. This will be the Arkestra’s third Halloween appearance at Johnny Brenda’s and a rare opportunity to experience one of the truly singular legacies in the music world. Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Kamasi Washington and Sun Ra Arkestra at Union Transfer

Kamasi Washington | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Union Transfer was packed to the rafters Saturday night when West Coast jazz visionary Kamasi Washington headlined with his octet. Touring in support of this year’s EP Harmony of Difference, Washington got to share the stage with the Sun Ra Arkestra, the storied Philly ensemble carrying the legacy of an artist pivotal to Washington’s own musical development. Check out a gallery of photo from the show below, and read more about Washington in this interview with The Key’s Alex Smith.   Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sun Ra Arkestra at Parks on Tap, Algiers at Johnny Brenda’s

Sun Ra Arkestra
Sun Ra Arkestra at Johnny Brendas | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Space is The Place for the mythical Sun Ra Arkestra, but tonight so is Parks on Tap. The Twilight Music Festival welcomes the eclectic ensemble for a night of futuristic jazz, funk and soul at the free event. Founded and led by Sun Ra until his death in 1993, the group is now led by multi-instrumentalist Marshall Allen as they carry on the spirit of Ra. Watch The Arkestra’s Tiny Desk sesssion below. More information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Worldtown Soundsystem, Bardo Pond, Sun Ra Arkestra and more will play along the Schuylkill this summer for Parks on Tap’s Twilight Music Festival

Worldtown Soundsystem | Photo by Charles Shan Cerrone | courtesy of the artist
Worldtown Soundsystem | Photo by Charles Shan Cerrone | courtesy of the artist

Tis the summer for free shows under the Philadelphia skies. After an exceedingly solid lineup at Spruce Street Harbor Park was announced last week, today we’ve got word of another excellent round of gigs next river over.

As Philly.com’s Dan DeLuca reports, the Parks on Tap folks — the organization responsible for the pop-up beer gardens you saw all over Philly public spaces last summer — are bringing live music to MLK Drive every Sunday this summer for a series they’re calling Twilight Music Festival.

It begins July 9th, with DJ and multi-instrumentalist Taylor McFerrin (son of the famed Bobby) and from there boasts an all-local run of shows including the internationally-infused house jams of Worldtown Soundsystem, the spaced-out soundscapes of Bardo Pond, the boundary-pushing jazz of Sun Ra Arkestra, the earthy psychedelic harmonies of The Dove and the Wolf and more. Continue reading →

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Sun Ra Arkestra, Anthony Braxton and more to play inaugural October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music

Sun Ra Arkestra
Sun Ra Arkestra at Johnny Brendas | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Inspired by jazz great Bill Dixon’s 1964 gathering of a similar name, Ars Nova Workshop and FringeArts have announced a new “deep listening festival” happening this fall called The October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music. Scheduled for October 5th through the 8th and based at the riverfront HQ of FringeArts, OctRev revives a pivotal moment in jazz history with a new crop of boundary-pushing artists.

Continue reading →