Monday, August 3, 2015

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
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?”

POSTED: Saturday, June 13, 2015, 9:48 AM
Singer Taylor Swift performs with dancers at the Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia during The 1989 World Tour on Friday, June 12, 2015. ( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )

Nobody bonds with their audience like Taylor Swift, and on Friday night in South Philadelphia, the 25 year old pop superstar from Wyomissing, Pa. spent more than two hours connecting with 50,000 of her closest fans in the first of back to back sellout shows at Lincoln Financial Field.

This is the tour for 1989, the 2014 album named after the year of her birth that is closing in on selling an astonishing 5 million copies in the U.S. It’s completed Swift’s trajectory from teenage country singer to unabashed pop artist who’s left curly haired precociousness behind and is now finding her way as a young woman on the biggest stage.     

To make that theme clear, Swift began her show just a few minutes after 9 p.m. (the Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy,” which, yes, came out in 1989, was the final lead-in music), with “Welcome To New York,” the album opener that celebrates reinvention with synth-pop buoyancy. “Everybody here was someone else before,” she sang, as she moved about the massive stage with a dozen male dancers lit to appear as if they were stuck in black and white, while the singer alone came of age in living color.

POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2015, 12:40 PM
Ornette Coleman (WENN)

One of the most mind blowing musicians of all time, jazz great Ornette Coleman has died at the age of 85. 

From the beginning, Coleman was an energetic innovator intent on moving the music forward. The saxophonist, who was raised in Fort Worth, Texas and played early on with Pee Wee Crayton's band and a Silas Green from New Orleans tent show, started off his solo career in 1958, leading a band that featured trumpeter Don Cherry on the appropriately titled Something Else!!!!

His next two releases, Tomorrow Is The Question! and his 1959 debut on Atlantic Records, The Shape Of Jazz To Come, also made it clear that Coleman was an avant gardist at heart. His band didn't include a piano or guitar, he often played a plastic alto saxophone and played keening 'harmolodic' runs - a self-coined term that conveyed a mash-up or harmony and melody - with a timbre that cound sound harsh, and or convey staggering beauty.

POSTED: Friday, June 5, 2015, 11:27 AM
The O'Jays perform during the Opening Ceremony of the 2009 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 31, 2009. (Getty Images)

It's Black Music Month, and time for the 12th annual African America Heritage night at Citizens Bank Park tonight as the Phillies play the world champions-as-usual San Francisco Giants.

Sound of Philly stalwart Bunny Sigler will sing the National Anthem, and in a 6:30 p.m. preshow concert, The O'Jays will perform their two of their three greatest Philadelphia International hits "For The Love Of Money," and "Love Train" (what, no "Back Stabbers"?) and Jean Carne will do her 1978 hit "Don't Let It Go To Your Head."

The O'Jays and Carne will receive the Phillies Gamble and Huff Community Partnership Award. 

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