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NON-COMM Recap: Jay Farrar is cool, calm, and soulful on the NPR Music stage

Jay Farrar | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Jay Farrar‘s soulful folk sound graced the NPR Music stage Friday afternoon for the last day of NonCOMM. While he softly strummed his acoustic guitar, his Son Volt bandmate Mark Spencer backed him up on electric. He harmonized with Farrar on a few songs; their vocals joined beautifully together for the chorus of “Devil May Care.” Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Lizzo pops by for a surprise acoustic set

Lizzo | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

NonCOMM’s final day stated with a blast as a surprise guest took to the stage. That guest was none other than pop superstar Lizzo, who hung around for a two-song acoustic session.

Currently on her “Cuz I Love You Too” Tour, Lizzo graciously took time out of her busy schedule to acoustically perform two songs from her most recent album, Cuz I Love You. She began with the title track, bursting out at the top of her lungs as each chorus came. She then hit the audience with her biggest hit at the moment, “Juice.” Clapping, shouting and rejoicing ensued as Lizzo belted out the lyrics to the feel-good anthem. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Andrew Bird dazzles with trio arrangements of “My Finest Work Yet”

Andrew Bird | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Andrew Bird put on a dazzling display of musicianship and personality on the NPR Music stage Thursday night. The veteran folk-rock multi-instrumentalist played a crisp set featuring four selections from his new LP My Finest Work Yet, all beautifully executed with the accompaniment of bass guitarist Alan Hampton and guitarist/vocalist Madison Cunningham — Bird added that Cunningham, who also performs as a singer-songwriter, has an “outstanding” full-length record of her own coming out in August. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: K.T. Tunstall fills World Cafe Live with pure acoustic energy

K.T. Tunstall | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

As the last night at NON-COMM was winding down, K.T. Tunstall was able to give the crowd one last hoorah. She closed down the night alone, only with the help of her guitar, keyboard, a looper, and a tambourine. Tunstall’s set mixed the old and the new nicely, playing anything from covers and mashups to her most recognizable hits. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Mattiel shakes the PRX stage with unreleased tracks

Mattiel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Mattiel‘s five-song set shook the PRX stage on Thursday night, giving their audience a taste of Satis Factory, their upcoming June release. Lead singer Mattiel Brown was backed by a four-piece band that really knows how to rock. Their set began with “Rescue You”, a track that has yet to be released. Brown wasted no time getting started; her energy was immediately through the roof as she commanded the crowd’s attention with soulful yelps.

The group’s set was dynamic in tempo but consistently vivacious. The unreleased “Heck Fire” was carried by a heavy bass line that I could feel deep in my bones. Things slowed down slightly for “Millionare” but the energy remained high. The set concluded with “Keep the Change”, the first single that Mattiel released with ATO Records. The band was very much in sync with one another, making for a tight performance. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Rodrigo y Gabriela show us what two guitars can do

Rodrigo Y Gabriela | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

Rodrigo y Gabriela may have started off their set with a soft, lullaby-ish tune, illuminated only by a single spotlight. But don’t get too comfortable with that mellow sound, beautiful as it is, because what followed after was a loud, jarring song that gave us a taste of what heavy metal might sound like if it could only be played with two guitars. Nearly 20 years into their career, the duo is continuing to push the boundaries of guitar music, showing off the full range of what the instrument is capable of — and what they as songwriters can imagine into existence. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Orville Peck makes a strong case for the “Yeehaw Agenda” on the PRX stage

Orville Peck | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Yeehaw is having a moment. With Kacey Musgraves snagging the top prize at The Grammys, “Old Town Road” being the biggest song in the country, and artists like Solange and Mitski embracing cowboy imagery, country’s future has never seemed brighter. Toronto-based Country crooner, Orville Peck, treated NonCOMM attendees to a taste of that future. With his bulletproof voice, punk -inspired playing, and masked face, Peck put on a rousing and fringe-filled set.

Peck and his band, which included two bassists, a drummer, and one guitarist/synth player/vocalist, arrived in their Western best. They each had a bolo tie and many wore cowboy hats. Peck dawned one of the BDSM meets cowboy mask-hat combos. With fringe and leather covering his face, one might expect his music to be similarly inaccessible. Luckily, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. With a voice reminiscent of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, Peck delivers every lyric with supreme conviction, continuously intriguing his audience more and more.

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NON-COMM Recap: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram proves he is well worth the hype

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Even before his set started, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram had won everyone over. All those lingering around the PRX stage were blabbering nonstop about how they all believed he was one to watch. He then blew everyone away with a soundcheck that many, understandably, thought was his actual show. Once the set actually began, Mississippi artist quickly proved that he is worthy of all the hype.

He opened with “Before I’m Old”, off his debut album Kingfish which will be released tomorrow via Alligator Records. Ingram’s otherworldly guitar playing and ridiculously rich voice make it hard to believe that he is only twenty years old. He is clearly aware of the absurdity of his talent given his age, as he sings “they say I got an old soul and I ain’t even 21.” Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Amanda Palmer reflects on personal freedom in a powerful set

Amanda Palmer | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Amanda Palmer walked onstage tonight with a big glass of red wine and a lot to say. That’s nothing unusual for the artist, who is known for her unabashed embrace of writing political issues into her evocative songs. The major difference between this set and any of her others, though, had to do with time. Palmer is used to playing a set that lasts at least four hours, especially on her current tour behind her new album There Will Be No Intermission. Tonight she had 20 minutes. Continue reading →