Thursday, February 11, 2016

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 8:58 PM
MKTO performs during Philly 4th of July Jam & Fireworks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. The group consists of Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller. Photo: MICHAEL PRONZATO / Inquirer

Los Angeles pop band MKTO — the duo of singer Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller — preceded the three principal acts on stage, presumably on the strength of their fitting-for-the-Fourth signature song “American Dream,” which establishes the band’s generational identity by contrasting themselves with John Cougar Mellencamp: “This ain’t the same summer song that you used to know, because Jack left Diane 30 years ago.”

They followed that na-na-na singalong with the relentless hybrid hip-hop rock positivity of “Just Imagine It” and, lest they come across as overly serious types, reminded listeners that what they're really interested in is “Bad Girls.”

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 7:16 PM
Kate Faust sings on the Questlove stage during the Welcome America 4th of July Festival on the Ben Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. (MICHAEL PRONZATO/Staff Photographer)

Before the prime time portion of the show began, Independence Day revelers along the Parkway were entertained by a stream of acts playing on the smaller scale Questlove Stage, curated by Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

As the cheesesteak-and-funnel-cake-munching crowd milled about in red, white, and blue garb — often topped with funny-looking foam fin hats promoting Shark Week programming on event sponsor Discovery Channel — Philadelphia songwriter Kate Faust played a compelling set of brooding electro-pop and energetic R&B entertainer Julian King got the crowd fired up with a slickly choreographed mix of originals from an upcoming debut EP and covers of radio hits like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” 

POSTED: Friday, July 3, 2015, 10:39 AM
Singer Miguel attends a celebration of the 57th annual GRAMMY Awards hosted by Delta Air Lines, the official airline of the GRAMMY Awards, with a private performance from Charli XCX on February 5, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines)

Proud to be iconoclastic, Miguel explains himself on “What’s Normal Anyway?,” the seventh track on Wildheart (RCA ***), the Los Angeles polymorphous and musically adventurous love man’s third album. The co-headlining guest, along with Jennifer Nettles, at Saturday's 4th of July Jam on the Parkway hosted by The Roots, describes himself as  "too proper for the black kids, too black for the Mexicans, too square to be a hood," and asks, "What's normal anyway?” 

Good question. The singer and songwriter, whose full name is Miguel Jontel Pimental moved past the straight ahead R&B of his 2010 debut album All I Want Is You to open up to rock and other influences on 2012‘s Kaleidoscope Dream, is as good of an example of the benefits of refusing to be bound by musical limitations as anyone on the pop charts. The Prince-influenced, often dirty minded Wildheart is an ode to the sleaze and beauty of Los Angeles, and takes a NSFW detour to the porn hub of the San Fernando Valley. But it also works as a search for identity and an exploration of socio-cultural in-betweenness. “I never feel I belong," the 30 year old  genre blender sings.  “I wanna feel I belong."  This album does not peak as high as Kaleidoscope Dream, and neither the featured cameo by Dogg Pound rapper Kurupt on “NWA” nor Lenny Kravitz’s on “Face The Sun” bring added value. Still, the place Miguel belongs is in the company of the most compelling pop personalities working today.

Previously: Rogers Waters to bring The Wall to Citizen Bank Park Follow In The Mix on Twitter here

POSTED: Saturday, June 27, 2015, 10:45 AM
Singer Blake Shelton performs onstage during day 1 of the Big Barrel Country Music Festival on June 26, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Big Barrel)

The ongoing battle for country music's soul is being waged on side by side stages this weekend at the inaugural Big Barrel festival in Dover, Delaware.

On Friday night on the main stage - where Paul McCartney and Snoop Dogg played last weekend at the Firefly fest - Blake Shelton, star judge of music reality show The Voice, headlined.  His set took turns pleasing genders in the multi-generational crowd. He sensitively promised that his favorite thing is “Doin’ What She Likes,” with one song. And then Shelton - who took the stage to a recording of “Something Bad,” a duet between his wife Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, who are scheduled to top the Big Barrel bill on Saturday and Sunday, respectively -  shored up his hillbilly bona fides by declaring himself a “down home, backwoods redneck" in “Kiss My Country A--.” 

POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 4:55 PM
Filed Under: Made In America Music
Beyonce performing at the Made in America Festival. (Colin Kerrigan /

The lineup for the fourth annual Budweiser Made in America festival has been announced, and the big star headliners are pop queen Beyonce, who also headlined in 2013 (and is married to festival curator Jay Z) and Canadian crooner The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) who was also recently featured at the Roots Picnic.

Here's the full list of names playing the fest:

Axwell & Ingrosso
J. Cole
Modest Mouse
Death Cab For Cutie
Meek Mill
Big Sean
Duke Dumont
Nick Jonas
De La Soul
Claude VonStroke
Action Bronson
DJ Mustard
Earl Sweatshirt
Vic Mensa
Jacob Plant
Saint Motel
Young Rising Sons
Grits & Biscuits
The Struts
Flatbush Zombies
Lola Wolf
Hop Along
Strand of Oaks
Remy Banks
Mick Jenkins
Marian Hill
Post Malone

POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 11:02 AM
D’Angelo performs at Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pa. on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. (Gabrielle Bonghi /

D’Angelo has no shortage of lost time to make up for.    

The Virginia soul man, who played a sweaty, muscular, unrelenting nearly two hour show at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside on Tuesday, has been more absent than present during his two decade career.

After emerging with his debut album Brown Sugar in 1995, the singer born Michael Eugene Archer struggled with writer’s block and took five years to release its  follow-up, Voodoo.

POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2015, 9:58 AM
Paul McCartney sings during his concert June 21, 2015, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. BEN MIKESELL / Staff Photographer

With the possible exception of the cult favorite “Temporary Secretary” from his 1980 solo album McCartney II, the song least familiar to Paul McCartney’s ardent fans during his sold out 2 hour 45 minute show at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday night was called “Hope For The Future.”      

His baby boomer fans - on average a good three decades older than the youngsters who sang along at the Firefly Festival in Dover, Delaware two nights before - may not know it, but Sir Paul has been writing music for video games.

Specifically for Destiny, a sci-fi first-person shooter for which he composed elements of the score as well as penning “Hope,” a song that (naturally) rides a soaring melody to (of course) express a cheerful confidence about the shape of things to come.

POSTED: Saturday, June 20, 2015, 9:47 AM

It doesn’t get much cheerier than the scene round about midnight on Friday at the Firefly Music Festival. The world’s greatest surviving Beatle was bringing his headlining set at the largest music fest on the east coast to a crescendo by leading scores of thousands of fans - most more than forty years younger than he - in a singalong, dance-in-the-mud version of “Hey Jude.”

For Paul McCartney, who turned 73 on Thursday, the celebration had begun two hours earlier when he began his set on the main stage at The Woodlands at Dover International Speedway singing an exultant, rocked-out rendition of his former band’s “Birthday” before a sold out crowd of 90,000 spread over Firefly’s sprawling grounds, which had been soaked with heavy rains earlier in the week.     

“Good evening, Firefly!” the enduring cute Beatle said in greeting the crowd early on, before following “Save Us” from his 2013 album New with a robust “Got To Get You Into My Life.” “It’s a bit of a party, isn’t it?”

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