Monday, July 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Friday, July 4, 2014, 8:07 PM

The Wawa Welcome America! Fourth of July music festival opened on a surprisingly soft, clear evening (after a day of lowering clouds), promising a night of celebratory, A-list entertainment.

The show kicked off with the Vicci Martinez Band, the five-piece outfit fronted by 2011 The Voice finalist and CeeLo Green protegée. Sporting a partially bleached blonde faux-hawk, the Tacoma, Wash., singer and guitarist warmed up the crowd with an agreeable enough five-song set of soul-rockers that peaked with her 2012 single "Come Along."

She then thanked the still-assembling crowd for letting her warm up the stage, and introduced a closing power ballad by saying, "This is about not wanting things to end." And in the song, she repeated the words "I don't know how to quit you" like a mantra.

Black Thought sings with The Roots performing at the Wawa Welcome America Jam on the Parkway, Friday, July 4, 2014. ( Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer )
POSTED: Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:42 AM

This Sunday, my Songs of the Summer playlist story will be in the Inquirer Arts & Entertainment section. 

There you will find astute critical observations and compelling arguments as to why the playlist begins with Michael Jackson and ends with The War on Drugs, and includes the likes of Sam Smith, Parquet Courts and Iggy Azalea. You can read that story here.

Of maybe you'll think I've lost my mind, and wonder how I could not out your favorite Ed Sheeran or Nico & Vinz or Ray LaMontagne song on there.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 4:41 PM
Robin Thicke's album cover for "Paula"

Does Robin Thicke creep you out? No matter how you felt about the Canadian R & B singer after he broke big in 2013 with the blithe “Blurred Lines” and seemed all too happy to have Miley Cyrus twerk on him at the MTV awards, chances are you’ll be put off by the skeevy aspects of Paula (Universal **).

It’s an album with a clear goal in mind: To “Get Her Back,” as its first single puts it, “her” being his onetime high school sweetheart and now estranged wife, actress Paula Patton, with whom he split earlier this year. In a celebrity obsessed culture driven by seemingly insatiable curiosity about what the stars are really doing behind close doors, Paula manages the difficult task of providing more information than any but the most pruriently curious could possibly want to know. At times, Thicke is stalker-ish (on “Lock The Door”), at times his tone is cluelessly off (on the goofy “Tippy Toes”), and mostly ("Too Little Too Late," Something Bad") he’s abjectly guilt-ridden in a way that’s not entirely convincing. The context makes you want to listen, but you’ll feel dirty once you have.

"Get Her Back" is below. 

POSTED: Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 11:37 AM
Leif Erikson guards the Hallgrimskirkja chuch in Reykjavik. (Dan DeLuca)

Homer Simpson called it "a craphole of an island that looks like the moon and smells like rotten eggs."

David Dye and WXPN-FM's World Cafe went to Iceland anyway, hot on the the trail of cool sounds for it's Sense of Place series. I tagged along and did some exploring of my own. I wrote about it in today's Inquirer. You can read it here.

Here's a few paragraphs of local color that got excised from the print version of the story:

POSTED: Friday, June 27, 2014, 3:00 PM
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 13: Cassadee Pope performs during 'FOX & Friends' All American Concert Series outside of FOX Studios on June 13, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

The final show listed on the calendar of the House of Blues concert venue at the Showboat casino in Atlantic City is Cassadee Pope, the winner of TV reality show The Voice in 2012, who's scheduled to play the boadwalk venue on August 29. 

That's going to be it. On Friday, Caesars Entertainment Corp. confirmed that Showboat will not live to see Labor Day. The casino will close on August 31, and "will honor all room reservations and events until that time," according to a press release.

According to Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson, the House of Blues, the 2380-capacity concert venue that has hosted The White Stripes, Erykah Badu and Elvis Costello, among many others since opening in 2005, will close along with the rest of the Showboat property at the end of August.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 9:48 AM
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported yesterday that Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, the Al Green and Hi Records guitarist who co-wrote "Take Me To The River," "Love and Happiness" and "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)," has died at age 68. 

Hodges, 68, died in Dallas from complications of emphysema.  He was taken ill with pneumonia after the SXSW music and film conference in Austin, Texas this year, where he was featured in two films, Martin Shore's intergenerational Memphis music doc Take Me To The River, and Susanna Vapnek's Mabon "Teenie" Hodges: Portrait Of A Memphis Soul Original.

The trailer for the latter film is below, as are clips of songs Hodges played on with Green, as well as Ann Peebles, and Cat Power, with whom he collaborated on the singer's 2006 album The Greatest. (That's Hodges prowling the the bar in an open necked shirt in Robert Gordon's video for "Lived In Bars.") The Commercial Appeal's obituary is here.

POSTED: Sunday, June 22, 2014, 1:54 PM
Tune-Yards at the Firefly Music Festival on Saturday. (Dan DeLuca)

While they waited for the transcendent moment to arrive - Andre 3000 of OutKast, performing “Hey Ya!” at the apex of the re-united Atlanta rappers’ headlining set on Saturday at the Firefly Music Festival - the 80,000 music fans gathered at the Woodlands at Dover International Speedway for the weekend had plenty of diversions to occupy their time.

Firefly, which has doubled in size since its inception in 2012, got under way this year on Thursday, with 20,000 campers in place for a low key opening featuring California indie-rock band Local Natives and Philadelphia singer-songwriter Amos Lee.

On Friday, the fest - which has expanded to take place on 154 bucolic if a bit dusty acres - revved up with rock headliners Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters, whose leader Dave Grohl pleased the Delaware crowd with tales of Rehoboth Beach vacations and an encore featuring Rolling Stones and Alice Cooper covers.

POSTED: Thursday, June 12, 2014, 11:32 AM
Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley in “The Fault in Our Stars.” (Twentieth Century Fox photo)

Bill Ricchini, the Philadelphia songwriter who specializes in making enticingly bittersweet melancholic pop under the musical moniker Summer Fiction, has a landed a song in The Fault In Our Stars, the Shallene Woodley- and Ansel Elgort-starring Josh Boone-directed adaptation of John Green's much-weeped-over young adult novel.

The Summer Fiction song in the movie, which made took in $48 million at the box office in the U.S. last weekend, is "Tell Me Once, Tell Me Twice" a subtly infectious piece of lovelorn piano pop that plays during a teen cancer group support scene early in the film. 

The song features the keyboard work of BC Camplight, the Philadelphia ex-pat now living in Manchester, England, Camplight - real name Brian Christinzio, read more about him here - who produced the new Summer Fiction album due later this year in Manchester.  But "Tell Me Once" actually dates back to a 2010 session in Philadelphia, which Ricchini, who splits time between Brooklyn and South Philly, released as the B-side to the single "By The Sea."

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