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NON-COMM Recap: Ali Awan wows us yet again with an explosive set

Ali Awan | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

As if Ali Awan hadn’t already proved his worth as WXPN’s Artist to Watch for the month of January with his fantastic Free at Noon set and Key Studio Session, he proved it tonight with a thunderous performance on the PRX stage. Awan and his six-person band opened with the bombastic “Be a Light.” The track, which Awan just released a surreal video for, highlights the band’s ability to make a lot of noise. The Philly artist’s whole set was drenched in sound, and yet the crowd always seemed eager for even more. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Troublemaker” by Devon Gilfillian

Devon Gilfillian | Photo by Lindsey Patkos | Courtesy of the artist

Nashville-based R&B and rock singer-songwriter Devon Gilfillian is the latest Philly native to be signed to a major label, Capitol Records. Gilfillian, from Morton, PA, draws musical influences from Al Green, Ray Charles, and Jimi Hendrix. He released his debut EP in May, 2016, and is currently working on his debut full length. Continue reading →

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Dig into the depths of Beck’s catalog in our Spotify playlist; #xpnfest tickets onsale today!

Beck | photo courtesy of the artist
Beck | photo courtesy of the artist

To say that we’re psyched that Beck is playing this year’s XPoNential Music Festival is a bit of an understatement. We were practically doing backflips when we found out that he was on the bill, and not because we remember that song “Loser” from the 90s and think it was a pretty good song.

Beck Hansen is a remarkably varied and adventurous artist: one who dabbles in blues, folk and bossa nova as readily as party-time funk, hiphop and punk rock. His twelfth album, Morning Phase, might skew mellow and melancholic, but that doesn’t mean the tenor of his Sunday night show will be sad-and-unhappy. Ever-unpredictable, he always mixes things up, whether its bringing uptempo dance moments to his show at Irvine Auditorium on the Sea Change tour or simmering down the Tower Theater on the high-energy Information tour with an aching “End of the Day.”

Tickets for Beck’s appearance at the XPoNential Music Festival with Band of Horses and The Districts go on sale today at noon. (That’s really soon, people.) You can purchase them through the Live Nation website. To provide you with a soundtrack to your ticket-buying, we’ve compiled an 18-track, “Loser”-free Spotify playlist giving you a primer on Beck’s career. The poppy, the introspective, the wild and crazy, the wacked-out and weird. Listen below, and stay tuned for the full XPNFest lineup announcement on April 17th.

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Hear Ryan Adams tell David Dye about re-learning to play guitar; get psyched for his #xpnfest appearance

Photo by David Black
Photo by David Black

“I remember sitting in the studio thinking I had never heard his voice as pure,” said World Cafe host David Dye of the last time he saw Ryan Adams. “Pretty good songs too.”

Adams appeared on World Cafe in 2011 around the release of his 13th studio album, Ashes and Fire, and today we’re spotlighting that interview as we collectively get psyched to see Adams headline the Saturday night Susquehanna Bank Center stage at this summer’s XPoNential Music Festival.

(Read More – Beck, Band of Horses, Dawes and more headlining the XPoNential Music Festival)

In the interview, Adams talks about relearning to play guitar following a wrist injury, expounds on his love of heavy metal and tells Dye what it was like to record with legendary producer Glyn Johns. The interview was featured on the show as a Vintage Cafe session a few weeks back; listen to it below. The XPoNential Music Festival goes on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. via Live Nation; tickets will be available here.

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Man Man announced their summer tour and, hey, it includes a stop at #xpnfest!

Man Man | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com
Man Man | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

The last time we saw Philly avant pop stars Man Man, they were throwing a wild pre-New Year’s party at Underground Arts. (Check out photos here.) Today we got some advance word that they’ll be joining us this summer at a festival whose lineup we’re kind of itching to announce around here.

The band rolled out its summer tour plans today, and it includes a July 27th stop at Wiggins Park for the XPoNential Music Festival Presented by Subaru. We weren’t going to tell you this until April 17th, when the rest of the lineup gets announced, but hey, you can’t blame the guys for being so psyched that they beat us to the punch!

The band is still on tour in support of its excellent fifth album, On Oni Pond, released last year; just before the album dropped, the band played an outstanding Free at Noon to wrap up the summer months on The Porch at 30th Street Station. Check out a short video and listen to the set in its entirety below.

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The Stray Birds take on the United Kingdom during three-week long tour

Photo by Jake Jacobson
Photo by Jake Jacobson

Lancaster folk trio The Stray Birds, who performed at this past summer’s XPoNential Music Festival, are making their way into Europe. The band has taken off on a transatlantic tour to United Kingdom for the past week and are expected to stay until February 16th. The Stray Birds have already started to sell out shows in Glasgow, Scotland and London, England. Check out the band’s performance for Wee Pop Up at the Celtic Connections Festival below.

(Hear More – The Stray Birds release Echo Sessions EP)

(Watch More – The Stray Birds perform “Might Rain” along the Delaware River)

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Scenes of the first-ever sold out crowd at the XPoNential Music Festival

Photo by Michelle Montgomery
Photo by Michelle Montgomery

Yesterday at 3:05 p.m., WXPN General Manager Roger La May made a big announcement in the history of the XPoNential Music Festival. For the first time ever, the show at Wiggins Park was sold out. Check out scenes of record-setting crowd in the photo gallery below, beginning with another XPoNential fest first: Geoff Ellings and Wendy Bell Miner got engaged just before John Butler Trio’s set!

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How Rock to the Future is filling in the gaps in Philadelphia music education (see them at #xpnfest this weekend)

Photo by Elizabeth Mazenko
Photo by Elizabeth Mazenko

“Our goal is to spark an interest in music for the kids,” Rock To The Future co-founder Jessica Craft says as I sit with her in a sectioned-off corner of a wood-floor church auditorium. “A lot of them have probably never even seen an instrument up close before; they probably have never had an opportunity to touch a guitar or a piano.”

With a small coffee table between us, two mis-matched couches, and a small stage on the other side of a makeshift wall, Jessica and her partner Josh Craft bask in the heavy breeze of the window air conditioner that blows down on the “lounge” as the other teachers help the summer camp participants downstairs with lunch. Holding their first-ever summer session, the couple chats about their plans for the XPonential Festival this weekend and ideas for future programs.

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Jessica and Josh Craft | Photo by Elizabeth Mazenko

The Crafts started Rock To The Future (RTTF) in 2010 with a mission to provide free music education to the under-served students of Philadelphia and their families. Their goals are high, but important: a 100% high school graduation rate and post-secondary program attendance rate. Most important, RTTF is based on the idea that learning music can have an overall positive effect on students’ lives, both in school and out. Continue reading →