Sunday, November 29, 2015

POSTED: Saturday, May 16, 2015, 11:38 PM
Brian Wilson performing at the Non-Comm convention at the World Cafe Live on Friday May 15. (Dan DeLuca)

"Here's probably the best song I ever wrote, in 1966, off the Pet Sounds album," Brian Wilson said on Friday afternoon at the World Cafe Live. "It's called "God Only Knows"." 

That was from the oh-my-god-there's-a-pop-music-genius-onstage portion of Non-Comm, the 15th annual (and 9th in Philadelphia) convention of mostly non-commercial public radio stations that brings in deejays and programmers and record label muckety mucks from all over the country for three days of networking and band-seeing at the WCL.

Most deal in the adult-alternative format of which host station WXPN (88.5-FM) is an industry leaders. It makes room for everyone from legacy artists such as Wilson to indie rockers like fellow Californians Best Coast (who kicked off the fest with a winning set of fuzzy garage pop on Wednesday night) to rising retro-soul and R & B acts - a particularly strong presence this year - like Saun & Starr, Leon Bridges and Anderson East. 

POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 11:09 AM
FILE - MAY 14: Blues legend B.B. King has died in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 89 years old. CIRCA 1975: Blues musician B.B. King performs onstage with his Gibson hollowbody electric guitar nicknamed "Lucille" in circa 1975. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) (Getty Images Contributor)

The great bluesman B.B. King has died at age 89. Read his Inquirer obituary here.

Below, check out five King performances, including one from the White House with Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Shemekia Copeland and President Obama in 2012.

Specking of Obama, he had this to say about King's passing: "The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend. B.B. King was born a sharecropper's son in Mississippi, came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, and became the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world. No one worked harder than B.B. No one inspired more up-and-coming artists. No one did more to spread the gospel of the blues.Three years ago, [Michelle Obama] and I hosted a blues concert at the White House. I hadn't expected that I'd be talked into singing a few lines of 'Sweet Home Chicago' with B.B. by the end of the night, but that was the kind of effect his music had, and still does. He gets stuck in your head, he gets you moving, he gets you doing the things you probably shouldn't do—but will always be glad you did. B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever. And there's going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight."

B.B. King, "Three O'Clock Blues"

B.B. King, "Sweet Little Angel"

B.B. King, "You Upset Me Baby"

B.B. King, "Sweet Home Chicago," with Barack Obama, Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger.

B.B. King, "The Thrill Is Gone."

POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 3:56 PM
Leon Bridges leads his band at Willie Nelson's Heartbreaker Banquet in Luck, Texas on Thursday March 19. (Dan DeLuca)

Tonight, the annual Non-Comm radio convention, which brings in programmers from mostly non-commercial stations that hew to the adult-alternative music format, kicks off both upstairs and down at the World Cafe Live.

It's not the muckety mucks who are in town that are of interest to music fans, however - it's the bands they come to see. Starting with comedian Rob Schneider's songwriter daughter Elle King, who plays at 7 tonight upstairs at the WCL and ending with Neil Young-ish rocker Israel Nash downstairs on Friday at 11, a total of 30 acts will play at the 15th annual Non-Comm.

The biggest names would be Beach Boys music genius Brian Wilson, playing a Free at Noon on Friday, with Calexico, and country star Wynonna, who does a Thursday afternoon at three taping of the World Cafe with David Dye. But there's all sorts of other compelling upstart and veteran acts, from country torch singer Shelby Lynne to 12 string guitar whiz Riley Walker to rising pop songsmith Borns to Sharon Jones back-up singers Saun & Starr to Philly's own Dr. Dog and Son California dreamers Best Coast, whose singer Bethany Cosentino showed up at Sara Sherr's karaoke night at 12 Steps Down in South Philly on Tuesday. (She sang Oasis' "Wonderwall.")

POSTED: Sunday, May 10, 2015, 11:43 AM
Tommy Stinson, Paul Westerberg and Dave Minehan of The Replacements. (Christopher Hoffman)

Before the energized, bang-up, tighter-than-they’ve-ever-been show they put on at Festival Pier at Penn's Landing on Saturday night, I had seen the Replacements six times (that I can recall) before.

There was a show at the Ripley on South Street on the Let It Be  tour in 1984 that was cut short halfway through, after which I ran into singer Paul Westerberg in the men’s room, where he defended himself from charges of self sabotage and blamed neighborhood noise complaints.

In 1986, the Minneapolis quartet - whose original bassist Tommy Stinson, is on the the band’s current Back By Unpopular Demand tour with Westerberg plus new members Dave Minehan (guitar) and Josh Freese (drums) - played Houston Hall on the Penn Campus. That same year, I caught the band in a disco in Manchester, England in a show (naturally) undermined by bizarre sound problems. (Top that, hard core Replacements geeks!) And I later saw them back home at the Chestnut Cabaret, opening for Tom Petty at the Mann and headlining at the Tower Theater.

POSTED: Saturday, May 9, 2015, 1:35 PM
Prince at the Golden Globe awards earlier this year (PAUL DRINKWATER / NBC/AP)

The best reason so far to pay attention to Tidal is that on Mother's Day, Jay Z's new streaming music service will present a free stream of the first hour of Prince's 'Rally 4 Peace' concert in Baltimore.

The concert happens at Royal Farms Arena at 8 p.m. You can check it out here. You don't have to sign up for Tidal to do so. Tidal will match any donations made to the Baltimore Justice Fund whose mission is "to end racial discrimination, create schools that are welcoming and safe, reduce the impact of drug addiction and eliminate police brutality in Baltimore."

The centerpiece of the show - which hopefully Prince will do during the portion of the performance streamed on Tidal because, let's face it, he'll probably play for four hours - should be "Baltimore," the effectively protest jam that pairs surprisingly upbeat music with  lyrics that ask: "Does anybody hear us pray for Michael Brown and Freddie Gray?" and chants "If there ain't no justice, there ain't no peace."

POSTED: Monday, April 20, 2015, 8:45 AM
Singer/Songwriter Arlo Guthrie performs at The GRAMMY Museum on April 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

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.

POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2015, 2:10 PM
The Fillmore banner covering the old Ajax Metal Company in Fishtown. (Dan DeLuca)

 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).

POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2015, 11:32 AM
Lera Lynn. (Image via (Gina R. Binkley)

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.

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