Tuesday, December 1, 2015

POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 11:45 AM
Filed Under: Made In America | Music News
Fans cheer during the Budweiser Made in America Festival, on the Ben Franklin Parkway, in Philadelphia, Pa. on August 30, 2014. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)

Beyonce fans and anybody else hoping to go to the Budweiser Made in America festival who haven't grabbed tickets will have to start looking on the secondary market: The Labor Day weekend concert on the Ben Franklin Parkway is already sold out.

Despite the absence of a major rock headliner, the Jay Z curated two-day multistage show has sold out quicker than in any previous year. There are plenty of reasons for that, from the tried and true drawing power of Beyonce - who also headlined the festival in 2013 - to the growing pop success of The Weeknd, the dirty-minded Canadian R&B singer (real name: Abel Tesfaye) whose new album Beauty Behind The Madness, comes out Friday and is headed to the top of the charts.

This year's fest also features a hot hip-hop undercard with Future, J. Cole, Earl Sweatshirt, Action Bronson and Philadelphia's own Meek Mill, plus a straight up pop element with Nick Jonas and rising Badlands star Halsey, as well as EDM headliners Bassnectar and Axwell Ingrosso, and a strong Philadelphia indie rock contigent led by Hop Along and Waxahatchee.

POSTED: Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1:00 AM
The Beach Boys.

In this Sunday's Inquirer Live Life Love Arts & Entertainment section, my In the Mix column annotates a summer road trip playlist, heading down the highway, with lot of songs about cars, and in some cases, motorcycles. Read all about it here.

Songs that are not available on Spotify with disqualified, which is why neither Prince's "Little Red Corvette" nor Neil Young's "Long May You Run" were included.

The 25 songs that did make the cut are included in the Spotify playlist below, along with some bonus tracks by Rosanne and Johnny Cash, The Blasters, among others.

POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2015, 11:05 AM
Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan of Milli Vanilli with their Best New Artist Grammys in 1990.

The new episode of The Dan and Dan Music Podcast playlist kicks around a very serious question: Historically speaking, what have been 'Music's Worst Ideas'?

Dan Reed of WXPN and I discuss Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines, Milli Vanilli, the 1978 Sgt. Pepper movie, and more, along with a variety of other topics, including Dr. Dre's Compton album and the Straight Outta Compton movie, the end of the Columbia House record club and the greatest album-opening tracks of all time. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, like it on Facebook here and follow on Twitter here and listen on Soundcloud here.

And before or after you do that, you can check to the Spotify playlist below, which is made up of songs discussed on the Worst Ideas episode. Which doesn't mean all the music contained therein is awful: We talked about some good stuff, too, like new songs by Foals and Titus Andronicus, and not-bad-at-all Sgt. Pepper Beatles covers by Earth, Wind & Fire and Aerosmith. And lucky for you, some of the sounds discussed, like the Cher-Gregg Allman album Allman & Woman are not available on Spotify.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 11:14 AM

Before Wonder performed, Mayor Michael Nutter, whom Wonder later referred to as “Mayor Nutley,” talked to him backstage.
“He said he loves Philly,” the Mayor said. Asked who was cooler, Wonder, Pope Francis, or Jay Z (whose Made in America festival is due Sept. 5-6), Nutter gave a noncommittal response. “They’re all unique,” he said. “we’ve got Stevie Wonder now, then Jay Z, then the Pope then, the Dalai Lama in October. It’s not bad for Philadelphia.”
When asked about the relevance of the 1976 album and the response it has gathered from fans some nearly four decades after its release, Wonder spoke of the joy of recording “Isn’t She Lovely?” for the album, and how much he enjoys singing about being a “nappy-headed boy” on “I Wish.”
That masterpiece of gritty 1970s urban funk was one of two other Key Of Life songs he sang in its entirety, along with “As,” for which he was joined by a melismatic Jazmine Sullivan, with the Strawberry Mansion-reared singer reading the song’s lyrics on her phone.
Before Sullivan could leave the stage, Wonder made her promise she would “come jam with us” at the Wells Fargo center. And then — when she again started to exit — he again pulled her back by starting up “Superstition,” the climactic workout he normally closes shows with from 1972’s Talking Book. That  closed the show for real. “I love you!,” he said, and got up to go.
Wonder had reason to be in a hurry. Wonder had done a similar mini-performance/press conference at 10 in the morning in Washington, D.C. to announce the tour, which he said would be the last times the album is played in its entirety in the United States. He’ll perform in Washington on Oct. 3.
And after flying to Philadelphia — whose influence on his music he celebrated by name-dropping Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, remembering American Bandstand, and singing a snippet of McFadden and Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” he was off to New York to repeat the ritual in Central Park. There’ll he’ll announce the tour’s final performance at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 24. He’ll thus end what’s become a yearlong tour in the same town where it began.
Asked if he had ever performed in two cities on the same day before, let alone three, Wonder genially answered — in song — that he had not, “never in my life.”
Tickets for Wonder’s Songs In the Key of Life show at the Wells Fargo Center go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday on LiveNation.com.

POSTED: Monday, August 17, 2015, 4:07 PM

Stevie Wonder showed up on a stage on Dilworth Plaza on the west side of City Hall just after three o'clock on a sweltering Philadelphia day.

After warming up with a few instrumental selections before the highly excitable crowd gathered to see him, he took a few minutes to explain what he was doing there.

"Hello, Philadelphia, I'm so happy to be here," said the 65-year-old musical genius, who had just arrived from Washington, D.C., on a whirlwind tour to announce the final 20-city leg of his tour for the 1976 album Songs in The Key of Life. He'll play the Wells Fargo Center in south Philadelphia on Oct. 7.

POSTED: Monday, August 17, 2015, 7:19 AM
8/16/15 -- Country music legend Willie Nelson puts his hand to his ear as he listens to the audience sing along while he performs at the Borgata Festival Park in Atlantic City Sunday night. (Avi Steinhardt/ For the Philadelphia Inquirer)

Willie Nelson is an extraordinary octogenarian. The 82 year old Red Headed Stranger - still ponytailed, though now mostly gray -  played outdoors at the Borgata Festival Park in Atlantic City on Sunday, and he was frisky and inventive all night long.

The tour stop with openers Old Crow Medicine Show was billed as a “Willie Nelson & Family” concert, but with Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah off backing up Neil Young this summer, the only family member on stage throughout the briskly paced, 90 minute set was his piano playing older sister Bobbie.

The other band members, though - starting with drummer Paul English and harmonica player Mickey Raphael, who have both been aboard since 1973 - are so simpatico with their boss that they might as well be blood relatives. And they follow their amiable Abbot, Texas-born national treasure leader - with a beat-up gut string Martin classical guitar, nicknamed Trigger, hung around his neck with a red white and blue strap - wherever he takes them.     

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.

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Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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