The lineup for this year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival - the 54th annual, to be held as always on the Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford, near Schwenksville - will include old school folkies Arlo Guthrie and Tom Paxton, and new faces such as Kansas City family band Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, Austin, Texas troubadour Shakey Graves and rising Americana songwriter Parker Millsap.
Folk scion Guthrie will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his song "Alice's Restaurant." Dance music from down Lousiana way wil come courtesy of zydeco accordionist Chubby Carrier and Cajun bandleader Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. Locally connected world music will be represented in Brazliian percussion ensemble PhillyBloco and Colombian party band El Caribe Funk.
Among the pickers down on the farm with be America’s Got Talent alums The HillBenders - who will perform thier hillbilly version of The Who’s "Tommy" - and former Bob Dylan guitarist Larry Campbell along with his wife, Teresa Williams. Others acts on the bill include fiery bluesman Selwyn Bichwood and Canadian Celtic guitarist Dave Gunning.
On Thursday, Live Nation held a big press event to-do to announce the arrival this fall of The Fillmore. the two-music-venues-in-one $32 million project down the street from Johnny Brenda’s that the Inquirer broke the news about the morning of the event.
It’s an exciting proposition, with one 2500 capacity room with general admission on the floor and seated balcony, plus a more intimate 450 capacity space called The Foundry for starter bands.
That's basically the same room capacity combo as Live Nation has at the Borgata in Atlantic City, with the Event Center and the smaller Music Box (not to mention the new 5000 capacity outdoor Borgata Festival Park, which will be hosting the The Killers, Megan Trainor and Willie Nelson on weekend nights this summer).
Country-noir femme fatale Lera Lynn plays the Arden Gild Hall in Delaware on Friday night. I first caught the now Nashville-based songwriter and band leader at SXSW in Austin, Texas back in 2012 and could see that she was going places, though her music has an atmostpheric between rock-and-country quality that's hard to pin down or fit in any easily recognizable category. Lynn - who's no relation to Loretta - is the kind of kind-of-country artist who might stumble upon covering TV On The Radio or Bob Dylan on YouTube, and she has a solid, moody new album called The Avenues produced by k.d. lang and Sheryl Crow guitarist Joshua Grange.
And the news that's likely to garner her more attention is that her music seems to be set to be featured in the second season of Nic Pizzolato's celebrated HBO gothic crime series True Detective. When the trailer for the seceond season, appeared last week, obsessive fan geeks were in a tizzy trying to figure out who was responsible for the smoldering song playing while Rachel McAdams, Colin Firth and Vince Vaughan scowled at each other. According to Under the Gun Review, Lynn last week tweeted - and then deleted - “Excited about @TrueDetective Season 2 teaser featuring music I performed and wrote with @roseannecash & TBone Burnett!” after the trailer hit the web. It's already been viewed five million times, and you can watch it, along with Lynn's song, "Lying In the Sun" from The Avenues, below.
Ticket details for the Arden show are here.
Percy Sledge wasn't exactly a one-hit wonder, but the rest of the career of the Alabama born soul singer, who died at at 74 on Tuesday after a struggle with liver cancer is certanly overshadowed by the greatness of "When A Man Loves A Woman," the overpoweringly emotional song that he recorded at Rick Hall's FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1966.
When Percy Sledge's name is spoken - and when word of his death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana spread on Tuesday - the song that comes immediately to mind is the classic soul ballad that was his signature and the principal reason he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
But besides "When A Man Loves A Woman," which is credited to songwriters Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright but which Sledge claimed he co-wrote, what else? The other stone cold Sledge classic is "True Love Travels On A Gravel Road," another great emotionally frank love song that was covered most effectively by both Elvis Presley and Nick Lowe.
My column in this week's Sunday Inquirer Live Life Love section is about '60s nostalgia, anniersary journalism and this question: "Was 1965 the greatest year in the history of recorded pop music?"
You decide. But first listen to the streaming Spotify playlist below, which begins with James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" kicking it off and John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" closing it out. In between, there's The Who, Wilson Pickett, The Supremes, Fontella Bass, The Byrds, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, and more. Sorry, no Beatles: Their music isn't on Spotify.
Sufjan Stevens’ new album, Carrie & Lowell, is a beautifully intimate, intensely personal collection of songs that explore his grief following the death of his mother in 2012. It strips away all the elements in the Michigan-born, Brooklyn-based songwriter’s musical arsenal that might be considered excessive.
But Stevens is a tinkerer at heart, so the terrific tour- opening show he played at the Academy of Music on Thursday - with a repeat performance scheduled for Friday night - was by no means the entirely pared-down meditation on faith and loss you might expect.
Not that the hour and a half performance wasn’t a serious - and for the most part, seriously mesmerizing - affair. It was, so much so that when Stevens, seated at the piano, wearing an upturned trucker's hat and arty American flag t-shirt, thanked his audience before a closing encore of “Chicago” from his 2005 concept album Illinois, he accompanied it with an apology. “It’s a real privilege to be here in this beautiful theater in this beautiful city,” the 39 year old auteur said with a smile. “Sorry it’s a bit of a downer.”
Joni Mitchell's health crisis - the Canadian songwriter was found unconscious in her Los Angeles home last week and rushed to the hospital - put a scare into legions of fans who couldn't get that "you don't know what you got till it's gone" line from "Big Yellow Taxi" out of their heads.
Mitchell hasn't released a new album since 2007's Shine, and even ardent followers who scooped up last year's high-concept self-curated box set Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced or celebrated a victory against ageism when the 71 year old was featured in an ad campaign by French fashion house Saint Laurent would admit that her greatest work is decades behind her.
But then as now, you don't have to go very far in the singer-songwriter universe to encounter the presence of Mitchell, who "continues to improve" and "is resting comfortably" in a Los Angeles hospital, according to her website. (No details about the nature of her illness have been released, and it's unclear if her hospitalization has anything to do with Morgellons disease, the mysterious ailment she has often spoken of suffering from, and which media reports have fixated on.)
What beats arriving in Austin, Texas for the SXSW Music Festival? Getting out of Austin, Texas during the SXSW Music Festival.
A few days can feel like a month in the trenches at the round the clock gathering. Time compresses and experiences pile up, and the long march must go on as you steadfastly do battle with swarms of festival goers in search of the ultimate fabulously entertaining and enlightening SX experience to brag about to social media friends. The line to get your wristband goes on forever, and the party never ends.
The best strategy for dealing with such stress inducing conditions - What? Miley Cyrus showed up at the Mike Will Made It show at the Fader Fort, and I missed it?! - is to convince yourself that it really will be no great loss if you skip the Spotify house or pass on the Pitchfork party and find a way to get out of town for an afternoon for your own sanity's sake.