Author Archives: A.D. Amorosi

Ursula Rucker: tender, torrid, tough

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Ursula Rucker:  tender, torrid, tough

Ursula Rucker | photo by Neal Santos | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia’s Ursula Rucker is part of America’s continuum of Afro-conscious performance poets such as Gil Scott-Heron, Wanda Robinson, Sonia Sanchez and The Last Poets. Yet, since the early 90s – her work with King Britt, Josh Wink, The Roots, a series of electronically devised solo albums – Rucker has modernized its musical form, while maintaining a uniquely seductive éclat that is hers and hers alone.

In the last several years, she has tucked into her past, and that of her family’s to come up with a lengthy performance ...

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Ursula Rucker: tender, torrid, tough

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Ursula Rucker:  tender, torrid, tough

Ursula Rucker | photo by Neal Santos | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia’s Ursula Rucker is part of America’s continuum of Afro-conscious performance poets such as Gil Scott-Heron, Wanda Robinson, Sonia Sanchez and The Last Poets. Yet, since the early 90s – her work with King Britt, Josh Wink, The Roots, a series of electronically devised solo albums – Rucker has modernized its musical form, while maintaining a uniquely seductive éclat that is hers and hers alone.

In the last several years, she has tucked into her past, and that of her family’s to come up with a lengthy performance ...

Read full article >>

Ursula Rucker: tender, torrid, tough

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Ursula Rucker:  tender, torrid, tough

Ursula Rucker | photo by Neal Santos | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia’s Ursula Rucker is part of America’s continuum of Afro-conscious performance poets such as Gil Scott-Heron, Wanda Robinson, Sonia Sanchez and The Last Poets. Yet, since the early 90s – her work with King Britt, Josh Wink, The Roots, a series of electronically devised solo albums – Rucker has modernized its musical form, while maintaining a uniquely seductive éclat that is hers and hers alone.

In the last several years, she has tucked into her past, and that of her family’s to come up with a lengthy performance ...

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Two to Tango: New York City’s Shilpa Ray and Philly’s Shawn Kilroy team up Sunday at Kung Fu Necktie

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Two to Tango: New York City’s Shilpa Ray and Philly’s Shawn Kilroy team up Sunday at Kung Fu Necktie

Shilpa Ray photo by Ebru Yildiz / Shawn Kilroy photo by Bill Di Cecca || courtesy of the artists

New York City’s Shilpa Ray makes oddly noir-ish, neo-jazzy pop on albums such as her lustrous new Door Girl on the Northern Spy label. Philadelphia’s Shawn Kilroy has an angular, Bowie-like demeanor to whatever brands of music he chooses to essay, especially now in his most recent electronic excursions. Ray and Kilroy may not know each other, but they will share a journey (or at least a bill) at Kung Fun Necktie on November 19. Here is their story.

The Key: ...

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Lukas Nelson and Co. bring the real

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Lukas Nelson and Co. bring the real

Lukas Nelson | photo by Myriam Santos | courtesy of the artist

Two years ago, Lukas Nelson, his brother Micah Nelson, and the membership of the ragged Promise of the Real were just coming into its own as backing band-collaborators of Neil Young for his Monsanto Years album and tour. The Nelson Brothers and their surfer buddies in Promise had recorded rough, jammy, Cali-countrified albums such as 2010’s Promise of the Real, and 2012’s Wasted, by that time (Micah is a solo artist under names such as The Particle Kid and Insects VS Robots), yet, between this ...

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RunHideFight brings Geeta Simons from motherhood to garage-rocking mother-f$#&ing-hood

Source: The Key (WXPN)

RunHideFight brings Geeta Simons from motherhood to garage-rocking mother-f$#&ing-hood

RunHideFight | photo courtesy of the artist

Toward the end of the mad, bad, 90s in Philadelphia, blunt, forceful guitarist-singer Geeta Simons was part of several essential bands, with the revved-up garage rocking Rockula and the poppy, post-punk Swisher being two of her most notable and notorious. Like other musical artists before her, Simons was effected by two things, for better and worse: physical problems involving the dexterity of her hands, and marriage, then children. So she became, in her words, “freaking Donna Reed, if she was tanned and cool,” for over a decade of (still wedded) bliss, and raising ...

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RunHideFight brings Geeta Simons from motherhood to garage-rocking mother-f$#&ing-hood

Source: The Key (WXPN)

RunHideFight brings Geeta Simons from motherhood to garage-rocking mother-f$#&ing-hood

RunHideFight | photo courtesy of the artist

Toward the end of the mad, bad, 90s in Philadelphia, blunt, forceful guitarist-singer Geeta Simons was part of several essential bands, with the revved-up garage rocking Rockula and the poppy, post-punk Swisher being two of her most notable and notorious. Like other musical artists before her, Simons was effected by two things, for better and worse: physical problems involving the dexterity of her hands, and marriage, then children. So she became, in her words, “freaking Donna Reed, if she was tanned and cool,” for over a decade of (still wedded) bliss, and raising ...

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Shamir Shamone: Upping the pureness with Philly’s Shamir

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Shamir Shamone: Upping the pureness with Philly’s Shamir

Shamir | photo by Jason MacDonald | courtesy of the artist

There are a hundred reasons to write about Shamir Bailey – known professionally as simply Shamir – beyond a recent relocation to Philadelphia. With a piercing contralto/tenor falsetto, Shamir demonstrates a musical curiosity ranging from 90s house, soul, country (all on 2015’s Rachet album), and now, lo-fi rock and fizzy pop (2017’s Hope and its follow-up, Revelations).

The-Vegas-to-NYC-to-Philly transplant has a singular voice, making any song identifiably theirs – be it silly (“90’s Kid”) or heartbreaking (“Like a Bird”) or angrily disgusted (“I Fucking Hate You”) in its lyricism. With Revelations ...

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Lydia Lunch Isn’t as intimidating as you think (unless you let her be)

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Lydia Lunch Isn’t as intimidating as you think (unless you let her be)

Lydia Lunch | photo courtesy of the artist

Ever since Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and the restless No Wave movement, Lydia Lunch has aggressively made noise (or made aggression, noisily) her primary color palette in which to paint pictures of haunted, hunted souls, rabid sexuality, amber decay or something in-between the three, with provocative albums and new bands to represent such tones and changes.

Lunch’s newest ensemble – Brutal Measures, a live-in-the-studio duo with drummer/electronic manipulator Weasel Walter – is what Philadelphia audiences will see October 22 at PhilaMOCA when she graces this city with one of a ...

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Liberian pop lives in Philly

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Liberian pop lives in Philly

Still from Because of the War

When the Philadelphia Folklore Project hosts the premiere of director Toni Shapiro-Phim’s Because of the War, it isn’t just a celebration of the organization’s stealth (it’s a party for PFP’s 30th birthday with an October 15 screening at International House), but a study of the strength of five women – Phim and four vocalists from Liberia who live in the Southwest Philly and Upper Darby area.

“Each of them was an accomplished touring and recording artist in Liberia for years before moving to the U.S.” says Shapiro-Phim. To this Fatu Gayflor – one ...

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Bruce Klauber on life, love, Frank, Buddy, Gene and the swing of big band jazz

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Bruce Klauber on life, love, Frank, Buddy, Gene and the swing of big band jazz

Bruce Klauber | photo by Jim Dofton | courtesy of the artist

Along with being the principle literary and video biographer of big band rhythmatists Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, Philadelphia’s Bruce Klauber holds his own legend – local and beyond – as a jazz drummer and vocalist.

As a young man, Klauber played with top-tier instrumentalists such as Al Grey, Charlie Ventura and Milt Buckner. For the better part of this decade, he’s been the drumming part of the All-Star Jazz Trio, an inventive outfit whose weekly gigs as a threesome are often highlighted by dynamic local vocalist, Peggy ...

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Playing the Fool: Rinde Eckert

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Playing the Fool: Rinde Eckert

Rinde Eckert | via brynmawr.edu

When Rinde Eckert presents My Fools: A Life in Song October 6-7 at Bryn Mawr College’s Hepburn Teaching Theater in Goodhart Hall, it won’t just be a “where-the-hell-you-been-welcome-back.” Sure, the artist hasn’t played Philadelphia since his American Music Theater Festival premiere of his 1989 work, Power Failure.

But My Fools is a celebration of one of the avatars of musical genre-juggling, performance-art-opera, a man with ten radically diverse albums under his belt, a handful of admirable characters at the tip of his pen, and more Guggenheim grants than you’ve had hot meals.

Recently (like last ...

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Snap, Crackle, Pop: The music of the Fringe Festival 2017

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Snap, Crackle, Pop: The music of the Fringe Festival 2017

Close Music for Bodies at Fringe Fest 2017 | photo courtesy of the artist

Tell Nick Stuccio, the president and producing director of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, that for this – his 21st fest – the topic of our discussion is “music” and he all but busts like a hot water pipe. “

Great great idea; no one’s ever focused on the music of the Fringe. Whether separate events, concerts or as part of the productions, music has always been so crucial to the Fringe.”

For Stuccio, the rich wellspring of music that is the soundtrack to the Fringe has always ...

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Snap, Crackle, Pop: The music of the Fringe Festival 2017

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Snap, Crackle, Pop: The music of the Fringe Festival 2017

Close Music for Bodies at Fringe Fest 2017 | photo courtesy of the artist

Tell Nick Stuccio, the president and producing director of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, that for this – his 21st fest – the topic of our discussion is “music” and he all but busts like a hot water pipe. “

Great great idea; no one’s ever focused on the music of the Fringe. Whether separate events, concerts or as part of the productions, music has always been so crucial to the Fringe.”

For Stuccio, the rich wellspring of music that is the soundtrack to the Fringe has always ...

Read full article >>

More Than Jake: Jake Clemons goes beyond what you think you know of Fear + Love

Source: The Key (WXPN)

More Than Jake: Jake Clemons goes beyond what you think you know of Fear + Love

Jake Clemons | photo courtesy of the artist

Calling from a solo tour stop in Montreal, saxophonist-singer Jake Clemons offered up a smart and pleasant, conversation and a humble man’s attitude when it came to being a guy you (think) you know from brand-name family ties, literal and figurative. Soft-spoken and easy to laugh, Clemons seemed pleased to open up about the studied songwriting process and the emotional connections to the songs on his new album, Fear + Love, a record he’ll pull form at World Café Live this Wednesday September 13.

The Key: Quick first question. Can you ...

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Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne

Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne

Queens of the Stone Age | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

The glam-sludge-boogie rock of Queens of the Stone Age and its singer-guitarist Josh Homme didn’t need Iggy Pop (their rough collaborator on his Post Pop Depression and its accompanying 2016 tour) to validate their sound or standing. Since leaving the stoner metal Kyuss and releasing its eponymous debut in 1998 (with the epic Rated R and Songs for the Deaf to follow, respectively in 2000 and 2002), Homme’s big signature has been his signature – a downright brand. Yet, at Thursday night’s celebration of his newest QOTSA album, Villains, at Festival Pier, Homme found nuances on the art of swagger he may not even realized existed before working with Pop.

With a cool evening’s breeze behind them, the black-and-red-clad Queens and its front-man Homme kicked out the glam jams of “My God is the Sun” and the sudsy sludgy “Turnin’ on the Screw” with the menacing finesse of Noel Coward in a leather bar. Really, outside of Pop and Tin Machine-era Bowie, no one has made gutsy gungy metal so mannered. Hell, I think I even detected a British accent coming from the Joshua Tree, CA-born Homme. This velvet-lined shimmy worked a treat, especially, on vintage glittering Stone Age stock such as the chugging “No One Knows” and “A Song for the Dead,” as well as coolly corrosive Villains’ cuts such as “The Evil Has Landed,” “Domesticated Animals” and the aptly-titled atmospheric “Head like a Haunted House.”

The one problem that was apparent was how, quite often, much of the Queens tug-and-chug rock-outs were muddy in the mix behind the clarion-clear Homme. It was like having a salted caramel cherry on top of a mucky chocolate muck: delicious and decadent, but more definition would have been sweeter.

Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne

Royal Blood | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

The Brighton rock duo of Royal Blood did not have a similar problem as its’ White Stripes-meets-MY Chemical Romance scrawl came through loud and clear, despite its reliance on a rather sinister and distorted fuzz bass sound. Bloody. Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr made munching crunching glitter-punk as wide and woolly as a marching band as they stammered through the theatrical neo-blues of “Where Are You Now?” and “I Only Lie When I Love You.” By the time, its set had finished, you had to wonder how QOTSA could top them.

If Thursday night in Philly as any proof or pudding, Queens of the Stone Age might already be high upon the throne, but Royal Blood is ready for its kingship too.

Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne
Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne

The Laser’s in the Background: Andy Molholt gets down in the Dark Nuclear Bogs

The Laser’s in the Background: Andy Molholt gets down in the Dark Nuclear Bogs

Laser Background | courtesy of the artist | Photo by Natalie Piserchio

You could lead with the cliché that Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Andy Molholt has worn many hats since his time in this city as he’s started The Armchairs and Laser Background, as well as maintaining a position in Northampton, Massachusetts’ Speedy Ortiz as of late. But hat-wearing makes Molholt seem like a dabbler, which he is certainly not; not from the passionately somber and angry lyrics of Laser Background’s newest work, Dark Nuclear Bogs.

Bathed in the grey glow of personal plight its lyrical mindset, but ripe with the gauzy effervescence of neo-psychedelic sound, this– and Moholt – prove just how deeply committed once can be to cause, even if they’re wearing a mini-dress. Before his August 31 release party at Johnny Brenda’s Moholt spoke about kaftans, his father and the mess that is the present day.

The Key: Let’s get the Speedy Ortiz question out of the way: how often is that band a concern at this point and – as you have your hands in so many musical pies – do you ever forget with whom you’re sharing a stage?

Andy Molholt: I made friends with all of Speedy Ortiz in the past few years from playing shows together and through mutual acquaintances. Last September, they needed a substitute guitarist for a few shows and approached me about filling in. The shows went really well – really fun positive experiences – and it just kinda gradually morphed into me being in the band full time. I wouldn’t say that playing in Speedy is a concern per se – I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far and have been happy and feel fortunate to join their team. I would say that anytime you commit to something full time like that, it can put other priorities – in my case Laser Background – on hold, especially when things start to get busy. So after this tour, I will be chilling out on this project for a minute, but I definitely anticipating releasing more material as Laser Background eventually and am actually currently working on the next EP / LP. And…I haven’t quite forgotten which band I’m playing with on stage, but there have been a few moments in my life recently where I’m playing consecutive shows with different projects and hafta juggle the different sets in my brain…I actually love that feeling. It’s fun. And a challenge, which I value.

TK: I met you not long after you got to Philly, and formed The Armchairs. Did you come here specifically to armchair – and why? What was so special about that band?

AM: Yes, I did move to Philadelphia specifically to start The Armchairs. I actually chose living in Fishtown because I wanted to play at Johnny Brenda’s, not realizing that in 2007 it had just started doing shows. That band was a really special formative experience for me. Armchairs was my first time taking a band really “seriously” – if you can call it that – and my first foray into extensive touring. I still play with Chadwick all the time – he’s my best friend and he’s actually been playing drums with Laser Background for the past two tours. What made it special? It was a platform for us all to feel true artistic freedom, like anything was possible, and we certainly pushed ourselves to the creative limit, maybe even to our own detriment. I look back at that time of my life fondly, for sure.

TK: You have a somewhat theatrical way of dressing – I think I’ve spied photos of you in teal mini dresses and mod kaftans. Was your mom always cool with that? I have my own long history of discussions with my mom, a designer/seamstress, about my youthful modes of dress.

AM: I don’t think it was actually a teal mini-dress, just matching shorts and tank top. But yeah, my mom is an amazing human being and has definitely always been down with me fully expressing myself, sartorially or otherwise.

TK: The notion of psychedelia: you seem to be able play it by rote. You can make it willowy or test its limits. Your stuff feels and sounds different from psychedelic music’s origins. Why choose that as a musical playground in which to splash around and how did you set out to make that mood your own?

AM: Truly, I don’t even self-identify as “psychedelic.” Like, sure I’ve experimented with psychedelic drugs…is that what the genre even means anymore? I just write the songs I write and am influenced by the music that I’m influenced by. I don’t think I’ve ever made a conscious decision to write in a particular genre. I would say that my style has naturally evolved over the years, and that’s just a result of me sharpening my ideological pencil point.

TK: Influences change, or at least mine do. What or who or where has been the one most recent inspiration on your aesthetic value that turned your head or work around?

AM: Good question. I would agree that influences definitely change. As far as recently, I have honestly been most influenced by the projects of my friends. Some examples are J Fernandez, Plum Professional, Jo Passed, Guerilla Toss, Celestial Shore, Ava Luna, Mild High Club. I feel like in some cases contemporary bands that play or tour together end up influencing each other in positive ways…I think that’s one of the coolest things about being part of a musical community.

TK: What was the first song penned for or around Bogs that would have steered the course of the entire album and why did that one song do as much?

AM: Definitely “Hymnals.” I started writing that song in like…2009, back in The Armchairs days at the first house I lived at in Fishtown. It was one of those persistent melodies, in that I wrote it, completely forgot about it, and then years later in came flitting back to me as I was noodling. I couldn’t remember the chords or alternate tuning I had used, but I rewrote the song to fit my current mood at the time – dark – and then used that as a bit of a guiding principal for the rest of the record.

 

TK: Why Georgia in a lake house to do the new album? What did the Southern breezes bring that Philly couldn’t?

AM: I had this notion of making a “destination record.” I wanted to take a chunk of time, bring a specific palette of instruments an gear, and just make the record in one fell swoop. Making an album doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful, and I feel that too often when making a project over a long course of time, you can start to lose the spark of inspiration that you were going for in the first place. So that was my real idea of going somewhere isolated. The lake house in Georgia just happened to be available, through a close friend, and that’s why we chose that spot. It did help that it was in a really beautiful location on a lake! That was nice. For what it’s worth – the experience was so overwhelmingly positive that…if I had the option, I would only make destination records from now on. Highly recommended.

TK:  Why call the new album Dark Nuclear Bogs with its birth-to-death apocalyptic vibe? Did Leonard Cohen die or something?

AM: Oh boy. The world has been pretty fucked lately, huh? When I was initially writing the songs for this record, I was going through a bad breakup and was just in a really dark place. That kinda set the tone for the album.  My father had also been sick for quite some time  – and eventually passed away, only a few months after we tracked this album actually. I felt like the birth/death motif lined up nicely with my obsession with the idea that within the darkest dark you can also find the brightest bright. I had also come up with the anagram “Dark Nuclear Bogs” (of Laser Background) for a secret show, and that set me off in all these ways because…my father’s life work was centered around nuclear science, the songs already had kinda a swampy feel, and in the case of “Hymnals,” I had already used the word “swamp” in the lyrics. The vibe was dim overall. It just kinda clicked. Makes sense in my head, anyway.

TK: How and why did the membership of Ava Luna become part of all this – and are they going to tour with you? And are they going to eat like people?

AM: I met Ava Luna at a show we played together at Golden Tea House back in 2014. We hit it off, and Carlos and Julian had asked me if I ever wanted to make a record together. Up until that point I had only recorded with a few close friends, so taking a chance seemed like a good idea. We made Correct together, and it was such a positive experience that I decided to repeat the process with Dark Nuclear Bogs. I have a feeling we’ll probably do it again. Also worth noting that Julian and I have started a side project called “Coffee” that I’m really excited about. Not sure what you mean about them eating like people, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that Ava Luna eat like…machines.

TK: Can you imagine your life without music – and if it had to be, what would you fill it with?

AM: I was actually thinking about this like two days ago while driving. I can imagine it, absolutely. Although, if I dropped out of “the game” so to speak,  I would absolutely still make music and probably record in my free time. How far down the hole are we going here? Did I lose the ability to use my hands? If I couldn’t make music at all, I would go fucking insane. It’s compulsory for me. I need it. It’s therapy. As far as dropping out of the silly trivial rat race of the music industry goes, yes I could imagine it. I think whatever else I did would be me trying to help as many people as possible. Not sure what that would look like precisely. Both my parents have helped tons of people in their lives, and that it is a bit of an ideological sticking point for me. I think we should all try to do whatever we can to help anyone out that we can in life, and only punch up.

Laser Background headlines Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday, August 31st; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

Son Little Plays Ball

Source: The Key (WXPN)

Son Little Plays Ball

Son Little | photo by Marc Lemoine | courtesy of the artist

When Son Little sings “I got the blue magic / And I rock you so savage” on his upcoming New Magic album, there’s a grit and a swaggering gamesmanship to his voice that wasn’t apparent in past such as 2014s Things I Forgot EP and his eponymously-titled 2015 album. That strut may not even have been there when Aaron Livingston (Little’s birth name) recorded with The Roots or with RJD2 as Icebird.

Did the multi-hyphenate neo-bluesman and seemingly professional lodger (LA to NYC to Philly to somewhere in ...

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Whirling dervish: Bearded Ladies boss John Jarboe wears many hats quite well

Source: Philadelphia Weekly » Music

When Philadelphia’s Relache New Music Ensemble asked friend and Bearded Ladies composer Heath Allen to tackle this year’s Dina Wind Commission for the Mütter Museum, the pianist harkened back to the eight-piece group’s earlier (“and, at times, crazy and campy”)…

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