Saturday, December 20, 2014

POSTED: Monday, November 17, 2014, 10:23 AM
Stevie Wonder, along with singer India.Arie, serenades a packed house Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Wells Fargo Center. (Photo: Dan DeLuca/INQUIRER
It was a cold and miserable November night, and the traffic getting to the Wells Fargo Center was brutal. And all Stevie Wonder was going to do, anyway, was play a 38-year-old album from start to finish. What’s the big deal? Wouldn't it have been easier to just stay home, punch up Songs in the Key of Life on the sound system and nurse your Eagles wounds on the sofa?

That would have been the wrong move. Because the show that the 64-year-old musical marvel put on Sunday night more than lived up to its billing as the concert event of the season. It also served as a rare, wondrous example of the kind of magic that can happen onstage when an extravagantly big band of exemplary musicians sinks its teeth into an opus of Key of Life's magnitude in support of a creator still at the height of his performing powers.

Of course, such opportunities don’t come along all that often because few opuses of Key Of Life’s magnitude exist. From the moment Wonder walked on stage on special guest India.Arie’s arm and exclaimed “Philadelphia Freedom!” till he finished the non-Key of Life encore of  “Superstition” accompanied by over 40 musicians and singers more than three hours later, it was clear that it was as special an occasion for its star as it was for the interracial, intergenerational (though leaning to Wonder’s years) sold-out crowd.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 7:33 PM
The Sugar Hill Gang: Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike and Master Gee.

RIP to Big Bank Hank, the 57 year old rapper born Henry Lee Jackson who was one third of the Sugar Hill Gang, who had the first rap pop hit with "Rapper's Delight" in1979.

Hank was a charismatic pizza maker in an Englewood, N.J. shop who would rap while tossing dough when he was discovered by the son of Sylvia Robinson, Sugar Hill Records founder. His gregarious nature made him a natural fit with fellow rappers Wonder Mike and Master Gee, but his rhymes were actually written by Grandmaster Caz.

Hank's obituary is here. Watch "Rapper's Delight" below.

POSTED: Friday, November 7, 2014, 9:13 AM
Parquet Courts.

There are two chances this weekend to see Parquet Courts, the superb Texas-born Brooklyn-based punk rock-plus band who have released two albums in 2014.

First up is Friday at noon at the World Cafe Live for the band who released their excellent sophomore album Sunbathing Animal in the spring and have already followed it up with another 2014 full length release called Content Nausea. (This one is released under alternate band name Parkay Quarts to reflect its different lineup, if you're with me). The good thing about that show: It's free.

Then on Saturday, the Andrew Savage and Austin Brown fronted band - who are getting WXPN radio airplay with their raved up cover of Nancy Sinatra's "The Boots Are Made For Walking," and who were on my Top Ten list last year with Light Up Gold - will head across town to headline PhilaMOCA. the good thing about that show: rising Philly trio Amanda X, whose debut album Amnesia came out on Siltbreeze this summer.

POSTED: Thursday, November 6, 2014, 8:45 AM
James McMurtry.

If you're looking for reasons to be cheerful, don't go see James McMurtry. Not many do crusty and cranky better than the Texas songwriter, a sharp eyed observer with an aversion to sentimentality. The son of novelist Larry McMurtry whose son Curtis is also a tunesmith has been at it since 1989's exemplary Too Long In The Wasteland, and "We Can't Make It Here," his embittered 2005 salvo on the diminishment of American hopes and dreams is a modern classic.

McMurtry will release his first album in six years, Complicated Game, in February. "How'm I Gonna Find You Now," is the fast talking banjo-flecked first cut from the album which finds its narrator barreling down the road "washing my blood pressure pill down with a Red Bull." McMurtry plays the Sellersvile Theater in Bucks County tonight. Tickets are here.

Previously: Daniel Radcliffe's "Alphabet Aerobics" Follow In the Mix on Twitter

POSTED: Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 9:59 AM

This morning's viral content from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon features Harry Potter thespian Daniel Radcliffe. He was  was on the show promoting his new movie Horns,  showing off his high speed rapping (and lyric memorizing skills) on a rapid fire rendition of Blackalicious' tongue twisting "Alphabet Aerobics." The Roots back him up, and Fallon handles Bob Dylan "Subterranean Homesick Blues" cue card tossing duties.

Check it out below, and find the original by the Northern California rap crew here.

POSTED: Friday, October 10, 2014, 11:34 AM
Neil Young and Frank Sampedro (L) of Crazy Horse perform on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park on July 12, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. (Getty Images)

The second set of the second show of Neil Young’s two night stand at the Academy of Music on Thursday night served as an object lesson on the perils of the intermission.

Which is to say that after a first half that was absolutely sublime, the magical vibe went missing during a 25 minute bathroom break, and for the final hour the 68 year old Young was inconsistent, rambling and only intermittently brilliant.

According to the back of a bootleg T-shirt on sale on Broad Street, these two sold-out nights were the the 36th and 37th times that Young has played Philadelphia (or Camden) since a 1970 gig at the old Electric Factory at 22nd and Arch which he remembered on as consisting of “a half hour of tuning, and then we left the stage.”  

POSTED: Thursday, October 9, 2014, 10:40 AM
Lou Reed.

Nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 have been announced. These aren't the acts that are going in. They're the acts who are candidates to get in. Out of these 15, five to seven will be chosen. 

This year, Hall & Oates went in. This year's Philadelphia connections are The Spinners and Joan Jett.

And the nominees are:

POSTED: Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 6:23 PM
God only knows who everybody is in this picture.

Today, on the 17th anniversary of the release of their noteworthy all-star version of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day," the BBC put out a bold faced named super lush promo clip on the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," from their 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds.

Brian Wilson is there, along with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Lorde, Pharrell Williams, Sir Elton John, Florence Welch, Kylie Minogue, One Direction, Chris Martin, Steve Wonder, Chrissie Hynde, Jamie Cullum, Dave Grohl, Sam Smith, Baaba Maal, Jake Bugg, Jools Holland, Brian May and Emeli Sande, among others. Bengal tigers, too.

Watch it below.

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