Tuesday, September 1, 2015

POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2015, 2:27 PM
The world's most powerful Low Cut Connie fan.

Take that, Apple Music!

President Barack Obama has joined streaming music service Spotify and posted two said-to-be "hard picked" Summer Playlists, themed "Day" and "Night." 

The local band makes good angle is that Philadelphia's own Low Cut Connie's "Boozophilia," a drinking song from 2013's Call Me Sylvia made the cut, strangely on the daytime list, perhaps implying a Presidential endorsement of day drinking. Piano playing frontman Adam Weiner, described himself on Friday afternoon as "totally and utterly shocked and speechless." The band plays at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Ray's Happy Birthday Bar in South Philadelphia, where the "Boozophilia" video was shot. I'm guessing that the Prez was smitten by the song in part by the way Weiner sings about "the south side of Chicago," his former neighborhood.

POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2015, 11:43 AM
The Otis Taylor Band headline the Hidden River Blues Festival on Saturday on Venice Island in Manayunk.

The inaugural Hidden River Blues Festival happens on Venice Island in Manayunk on Saturday afternoon. 

The fest's headliner is Otis Taylor, the Colorado bluesman who excels in creating both trancey electric blues and quieter soul searching sound on the new Hey Joe Opus Red Meat, which features a cameo from Bucks County-bred songwriter Langhorne Slim. He's be preceded on stage by Sugar Blue, the Harlem-born harmonica player whom you've heard before, though you may not know it: He played on the Rolling Stones' "Miss You." 

Hidden River will take place in the outdoor rec center amphitheater on Venice Island off Main Street, and also  features a number of acts representative of the Philly b;ues scene, including Tattar Tucker Blue Band, Deb Callahan Band and ace harp player Steve Guyger with his band The Excellos. Tickets are $15. Details are here at Manayunk.com.

POSTED: Friday, July 31, 2015, 6:00 PM
Courtney Barnett.

'Tis the time of year for a Songs of Summer playlist, and my column in the Sunday Inquirer - which you can read right here - lays out and annotates a 25 song mid-season mix that blends big hits by your new amusingly named  favorites OMI, Fetty Wap and Silento, rap battlers Meek Mill and Drake, Philly indie acts Hop Along and Kurt Vile, rising stars Liane La Havas and Courtney Barnett as well as veteran rockers such as Wilco and Keith Richards.

Listen up on Spotify below.

Previously: Neil Young at Suquehanna Bank Center  Follow In The Mix on Twitter here

POSTED: Friday, July 17, 2015, 10:58 AM
Singer/songwriter Neil Young. (Getty Images)

 What would it take for Neil Young to not be great?

For his show at the Susquehanna Bank Center on Thursday night, the 69-year-old rock legend stacked the odds against himself. His new album The Monsanto Years is an unrelenting salvo against factory farming, genetically modified organisms and general corporate greed, one of those full-length rants that the cranky Canadian is able to get away with without completely alienating his fan base because - well because he’s Neil Young.

Meanwhile, Young has been taking up media space, squabbling with Donald Trump - scolded for playing “Keep Rockin’ In The Free World” in announcing his Presidential candidacy - and planning to pull his music from all streaming services because of sound quality complaints. This album and its accompanying ‘Rebel Content’ tour is a collaboration not with Crazy Horse or any of the other esteemed players Young has worked with over the years, but a quintet of youngsters called The Promise Of The Real, anchored by guitarists Lukas and Micah Nelson, sons of Neil’s co-Farm Aid founder Willie.

POSTED: Saturday, July 11, 2015, 8:02 AM
Philly-born Meek Mill has a concert stop here with girlfriend Nicki Minaj next month and will be a headliner at Made in America in September. (Andrew Renneisen/For the Inquirer)

I spent a recent Thursday afternoon sitting in a 17th floor artist lounge at the Atlantic Records office in midtown Manhattan talking with North Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill on the occasion of the release of his second full length album, Dreams Worth More Than Money.

Meek Mill talks fast and has a lot to say - “Make sure you put that in,”  he stressed, on more than one occasion - and much of it can be found in a profile of him in this coming Sunday’s Inquirer Live Life Love arts & entertainment section. Do what's good for your and go out and buy a copy, or read it here

But it wouldn’t all fit. So what you have here is more of the rapper born Robert Rahmeek Williams’ thoughts, on other rappers like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, on the iniquities of the judicial system, and about the bike, motorcycle and ATV culture, which he sees as an unfairly persecuted force for non-violence in the city.

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 10:48 PM
Singer, songwriter and producer, Miguel performs during Philly 4th of July Jam & Fireworks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. (Michael Pronzato/Staff Photographer)

After The Roots played a second wildly energetic set featuring ginger-haired special guest Jeremy Ellis on the beatbox — plus a break for TV commercials — the band brought out Miguel, the songwriter whose just-out third album, Wildheart, keeps him on the leading edge of a movement of alt-R&B artists who freely mix musical elements from all over the pop and rock landscape into their sound. 

Dressed in flowing white from head to toe — in contrast to Nettles’ black evening gown — he played the role of the genre-blending love man who at his best — as in the falsetto-fluttering come-on “How Many Drinks” — makes music that lives up to the example of his musical heroes like Prince.

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 10:31 PM
Jennifer Nettles performs during Philly 4th of July Jam & Fireworks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. Nettles is the lead singer for country music act Sugarland. Photo: MICHAEL PRONZATO/ Staff Photographer

The Roots took the stage for the first part of their expansive performance shortly after 9 o’clock, introduced by a hyped-up Mayor Michael Nutter. He reminded the crowd that they were part of “the largest free outdoor concert in America” and called the Roots, led by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, “the best house band in America, if not the world!”

The band then launched into a free-flowing jam, starting with “Game Theory,” the title track from their 2006 album, located in “downtown Philly, where it’s realer than a heart attack.” They moved during which they moved for sharply snapping funk to playful marching band rhythms and jazzy interstitial interludes. Black Thought, shadowed by sousaphone player Damon Bryson (also known as Tuba Gooding Jr.), displayed dazzling verbal dexterity and a breath control so impressive it made you gasp just to listen to him.

Nettles, one half of the Nashville country-pop duo Sugarland, brought members of her band to play along with The Roots, and with Questlove snapping her songs to attention, the results were impressive. As popular a mainstream country force as Sugarland are, Nettles was hardly a natural fit for a Philadelphia audience more open to an “urban” act like Miguel, but she’s an undeniable powerhouse singer, and she had the gumption both to play an as yet unreleased single called “Sugar” for the first time live and to remake Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock” with gospel overtones in a way that surpassed the original.

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.”

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Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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