Okkervil River is an indie-rock band with folk influences and hailing from Austin, Texas. Formed in 1998 by high school buddies from New Hampshire, Okkervil River went through the typical garage-band phase when they self-released their first work. The band, taking their intriguing name from a Russian piece of fiction, paired with producer/engineer Brian Beattie in March of 2000. The result was the band's first full-length album, "Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See". The debut was later picked up for release by indie label Jagjaguwar in 2002, and Okkervil River has been producing numerous EPs, compilations, and albums ever since.
A critics' darling from inception, Okkervil River is keeping its numbers up. The band's recognizable lyrics and music—full of deep storytelling supported by emotional performances—combined with frontman Will Sheff's quavery, paradoxically strong voice have built Okkervil River a sturdy reputation for satisfying, emotional music. Their last release, The Stand Ins, was the band's highest-charting record, reaching 42 on Billboard 200, and critical reception wasn't half bad either. Now Okkervil River is back. I Am Very Far is their sixth release, and the Austin-based band is pushing their music to even greater limits. Out on May 10, the album includes a string and horn section. Front man Will Sheff will also no doubt be adding what he learned from producing and collaborating with Roky Erickson and The New Pornographers during the band's break.
Okkervile River is on tour in support of their brand new release, I am Very Far. They play the Trocadero in Philly Friday night, June 3.
From World Cafe Live In Philadelphia, 88.5 XPN and NPR Music present "The Philly Folk Parade". Four great Philadelphia Artists on stage including Hezekiah Jones, The Spinning Leaves, Plus Chris Kasper and the Great Unknown.
The Philly Folk Parade is a music community initiative, maintaining a 'rolling revue' of its 40 local musician members. Since most of the members are well-known within the Philadelphia area, some fans have named them the local All-Stars. It's based on an idea of empowering the community through joyous music as well as spreading the word about the great Philadelphia music environment; so far, the group has pushed along a string of performances and a tour.
This latest showcase, spread out across the month of May, features four great Philly artists: Spinning Leaves, Hezekiah Jones, Chris Kasper, and the Great Unknown. The Spinning Leaves, a traditional yet psychedelic folk duo, is comprised of Barbara Gettes and Michael Baker--organizers of the Philly Folk Parade. Hezekiah Jones is a group of artists itself, rotating with songwriter Raphael Cutrufello, creating folky tunes infused with styles like reggae. Chris Kasper is an Americana songwriter who treads in between genres and has cultivated a devoted fan base. The Great Unknown is an alt-folk outfit who take their performances seriously, hand-decorating venues and baking food for the audiences.
The end of the Philly Folk Parade's month-long Fire residency is drawing to a close--don't miss the last of this great musical revue together with XPN!
Juno-Award winning Canadian rocker Sam Roberts started out as a humble singer-songwriter without much success with his home-recorded debut "Brother Down". But the release of his second album about-faced his fortune, and now Roberts and his eponymous band are one of the best-known Canadian rock acts.
After several years of being in and out of bands, Roberts had developed a unique yet wholly indie-rock style with hints of garage-blues and soul. Disbanding his latest project Northstar in 1999, he went solo. He self-recorded and self-released two collections of songs--one of which, The Inhuman Condition, quietly hit the shelves in 2001. Sales started gathering steam, and the next summer the EP was re-released with Maplemusic Recordings. Suddenly, Sam Roberts became a household name. With pure vocals, catchy riffs, and insightful lyrics, the album smashed Canadian records, becoming one of the best-selling indie releases of all time. Roberts then stinted with Oasis and Tragically Hip, signed an international record deal, and put together a band. They've released a total of five full-lengths, and all have been nominated and/or won Juno awards.
The latest from the Sam Roberts Band is due out this month. Coming off the radio-friendly, rootsy "Love at the End of the World", they've been working on Collider. It's full of ear-catching pop melodies, and features Califone percussionist Ben Massarella and Antibalas woodwind man Stuart Bogie. Produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse and Iron & Wine), this album is no doubt hotly anticipated by fans and critics alike.
Don't miss out on seeing this Canadian sensation, live at the World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday, May 21.
Teaming with the passion and excitement of a young new band, they are optimistic about their future--a buzzing confidence that has followed them through their debut album up until now. After receiving hand clapping praise for 2009's White Lies for Dark Times, Haper and The Relentless 7 went back to the studio to piece together their upcoming album "Give Till It's Gone." With Harper's determination to flesh out the groups sound, the quartet went to record in Santa Monica with some big-name collaborators--Ringo Starr playing on one song and Jackson Browne providing background vocals on another. The result is a solid album, just recently released this month, that maintains the same interlocking exchange of Harper's soulful singing, cascading electric guitars and upbeat percussion. Harper is enthusiastic about the project, as are his loyal followers, so this is your opportunity to catch some of the new material live in concert.
At the core of The Jayhawks acclaimed alt-country is the paired talent of Gary Louris and Mark Olsen. These guys seem to have it all--impeccable guitar lines, smooth harmonies, and songwriting capabilities that could rival just about any musician (or group of musicians) around.
Formed in Minneapolis in 1985, the Jayhawks perfected their bar band style with years of on stage performances. Drawing inspiration from influences like Gram Parsons, the Louvin Brothers, Tim Hardin, and as always, Bob Dylan, the Jayhawks had soon attracted quite the following in Minnesota for their innovative yet retrospective sound. Adding a bass and percussion, the quartet released their eponymous debut in 1986. Quickly becoming a local favorite, the Jayhawks' hard Americana could be heard all over Twin Cities, and they kept recording.
Their big breakthrough came with major label release Hollywood Town Hall in 1991. Making the top of many critics' lists, the Jayhawk's third album, full of 'spare country rock', elicited praise from Rolling Stone as 'sweeping', 'a marvel', and 'raggedly beautiful'. From then on, despite an evolving lineup, the Jayhawks released a stream of acclaimed albums until their unofficial hiatus in 2005. They've occasionally reunited for brief tours--Louris announced a few shows this spring on the festival circuit but not much else. However, The Jayhawks released their first ever compilation in July, 2009 North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology. Featuring video, B-sides, and their greatest hits, this album is sure to rekindle old fans' excitement as well as bring new admirers to one of alt-country's greatest modern groups. Rumor has it that they will also be releasing a new album in mid 2011.
Visit NPR Music to hear the concert.
Over the years, Ben Harper has built a strong world wide fan base with his up-beat soul singing and genre-bening rock. Covering every style under the sun, including blues, folk, reggae and rock, this two-timeGrammy-Award-winning musician has long established a reputable standing as a multi-instrumentalist. Though widely recognized for his work as a solo artist and with the band Innocent Criminals, he took a courageous turn in the middle of his career in taking a temporary break from the band in 2008. That year, Harper teamed up with long time friend Jason Mozersky as well as Jesse Ingalls and Jordan Richardson to form the Relentless 7. Dispelling any sort of preconceptions, Relentless 7 is not simply another one of Ben Harper's side projects, but rather a new phase in his career. Together the band trashed some of Harper's previous material and replaced it with some fresh stripped down rock.
Teaming with the passion and excitement of a young new band, they are optimistic about their future--a buzzing confidence that has followed them through their debut album up until now. After receiving hand clapping praise for 2009's "White Lies for Dark Times," Haper and The Relentless 7 went back to the studio to piece together their upcoming album Give Till It's Gone, With Harper's determination to flesh out the groups sound, the quartet went to record in Santa Monica with some big-name collaborators--Ringo Starr playing on one song and Jackson Browne providing background vocals on another. The result is a solid album, just recently released this month, that maintains the same interlocking exchange of Harper's soulful singing, cascading electric guitars and upbeat percussion. Catch some of the new material live in concert at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, as part of the 2011 NonCOMMvention!
Lauded as a modern day soul revivalist, Raphael Saadiq (born Charlie Ray Wiggins) is an esteemed Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and record producer. The formerlead vocalist of the dance trio Tony! Toni! Tone!, Saadiq has produced records for top profiled artists such as John Legend and Joss Stone, and has collaborated with the likes of Whitney Houston, D'Angelo, Stevie Wonder, The Bee Gees, The Isley Brothers and The Roots. His 20 years in the R&B scene has left a remarkable old-school footprint in the musical world, fusing classic sounds of the 1960's and 70's with a solid background in classical music, spirituals and jazz.
Since the young age of six, Saadiq professed a strong knack for music, playing the bass, singing in professional gospel groups, and performingonstage for his church and school. Now hailed the leader of the neo-soul movement he has come a long way. And while his collaborations with others placed him at the forefront of the industry, his solo albums marked a steady career as an artist. Following the overwhelming success of his 2008 release "The Way I See It," Saadiq presents "Stone Rollin,'" an album that surely has a lot of shoes and expectations to fill. But according to Saadiq, "both the attraction and reaction to my music from my listeners has giving me all that I need to continue pushing the envelope and making music that wakes and rocks the soul of many..."
This Friday, Saadiq will be on stage with venerable rocker Ben Harper in a not-to-miss performance at noon - World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware. Let Raphael Saadiq show you music "that wakes and rocks the soul of many"--it's a great way to start the weekend.
Visit NPR Music to hear the concert.
The six-time, Grammy-Award-winning gospel group, Blind Boys of Alabama, was first formed at Alabama's Talladega Insitute for the Blind in 1939. It was here that the original five memebers came together under the name "The Happyland," which was later changed to its current name in 1948. In their incredible 70-year career, the group has released over 60 albums, several awards and in 2007 were inducted into the gospel Music Hall of Fame. Maintaining their staple four-part harmonies, they have experimented with various styles within the gospel tradition. Their blend of traditional and contemporary gospel soul and R&B once confined them to smaller gospel venues, but after collaborating with artists such as Mavis Staples, Tom Petty, Prince, Peter Gabriel and Taj Mahal, the group has become a global sensation.
The Blind Boys' 2008 release, "Down In New Orleans" (2008), revealed a never-ending love for infusing new styles into their music. Recorded for the first time in New Orleans, they infused elements of dixieland jazz, soul and funk into their style, which is already a fusion of traditional American music through time. Their latest release, "Take the High Road", is a continuation of this expansion into other genres. This time, the Blind Boys are exploring the connection between traditional country and gospel. This 13-track collection has an all-star guest list including Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr, Lee Ann Womack, and The Oak Ridge Boys. The album material is a moving mix of old and new, but all with the soulful feel that the Blind Boys infuse into their work.
Join us at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on THURSDAY, MAY 19, 12noon, for a celebration of country and gospel with The Blind Boys of Alabama, fresh off their latest release.
John Popper is probably best known for his role as a frontman of Blues Traveler, the rock outfit full of harmonic jams straight from Popper's vituosity. He's also got some serious guitar skills and vocals, which he's been honing since the 1980s. Though he first wanted to be a comedian, the young high school age Popper found that the harmonica was his thing and formed several garage bands before Blues Traveler evolved. The band, holding blues-rock, psychedelic rock, folk rock, soul, and Southern rock influences, broke into mainstream in the '90s, winning an Grammy and breaking chart records.
Popper began his solo career while in Blues Traveler, and his latest eponymous release, John Popper and the Duskray Troubadours features 12 original tracks. It's described by Popper himself as 'liberating, scrappy, roots-rock alter ego of Blues Traveler', and he's pretty much got it down. This album contains hardy, heartland rock as well as fresh, adult-alternative tracks; all in all, it makes for nostalgic yet exploratory listening. And as always, Popper's incredible harmonic moves are in no short supply. All six of the artists that make up John Popper and the Duskray Troubadours are 'rock solid', and their live performances are energizing.
Don't miss out on John Popper and the Duskray Troubadours on THURSDAY, MAY 19, as they headline along with the Blind Boys of Alabama at another Free at Noon concert. They're here to "channel the loose, limit-less spirit of simpler days" on stage, and it's not a performance to be missed - the 2011 WXPN Non-COMMvention at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware.
Recent Release: John Popper and the Duskray Troubadours
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Label: 429 Records
Origin: Philadelphia, PA
Visit NPR Music to hear the concert.
...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead has a name that unravels as epically as their music and is as lengthy as their band's history. With a career that spans over seventeen years and seven albums, their story begins in Olympia, WA, where in 1994 the band's core members Conrad Keely and Jason Reece first started playing together. After moving to Austin,TX they would form Trail of Dead. Their line-up continued to grow and in 1998 they released their self-titled debut album, capturing the ears of epic rock lovers with their wildly energetic shows. the group would shift through various labels including Trance, Merge and Interscope Records for their album releases until they created their own Richter Scale Imprint label (with Justince Records and Superball Music).
When their sixth studio album "The Century of Self" came out in 2009, they became the raved progressive rock noisemakers of our day, receiving high praise from press critics. But just when it seemed as though they had topped their well established prog-rock standing, they spent the past two years honing in on their latest epic tale "Tao of the Dead." After teaming up with famed indie producer Chris Coady, they tap into 70's rock inspiration from Pink Floyd, Yes, NEU and the like. Conceptual in nature, the album is more of an unfolding two part tale with melodic jam sessions that fit within the frame of several chapters and movements.
In support of "Tao of the Dead" they will be engaging the crowd in one of their many unpredictable live performances at this Friday's Free at Noon. Some expected highlights include new tunes, energetic switching of instrument playing and possibly some instrument destruction... you never know what they'll do next.
The band is on tour in support of the new album, kicking things off in Europe this past March on a co-headlining tour with Rival Schools and then heading out in the US at the end of April. They play First Unitarian Church on on Thursday night, May 12, and will hit the XPN Free At Noon stage at World Cafe Live on Friday May 13.
This Philly-based trio, originally formed while guitarist Tommy Siegel, pianist Ben Thornewill, and drummer Jesse Kristin were in college in Washington, D.C. – is described as whimsical, quirky, energetic indie band featuring melodic pop tunes driven by a sizzling rock momentum. Jukebox The Ghost has a unique sound, with an eclectic mix of elements from artists Ben Folds, Elvis Costello, Queen, They Might Be Giants, and The Flaming Lips. Their debut album, Let Live and Let Ghosts was described as "a sunny, piano-led explosion of pop exuberance" by the group, and their new album, Everything Under the Sun, has been popularly accepted as catchy and skillfully structured, yet wildly diverse. The band has toured extensively, most notably with Guster and will soon be on tour with The Barenaked Ladies. They played SXSW in the spring, Lollapalloza in Chicago in August, and appeared on David Letterman in early September featuring their song "Schizophrenia." As their fan base grows and excitement over the recent album release increases, it is easy to guess that this group could be the next big thing in indie rock.
Jukebox the Ghosts' latest release, Everything Under the Sun, is still full of rich pop undertones, but there's something a bit more introspective, a bit more serious, about this 11-song collection. Released this past September, the record has undeniable Brit-pop influences but also some Philly flavor; JTG relocated to the City of Brotherly Love on a whim after their first release. "The music scene here is amazing," said Siegel. "A lot of bands here, like Dr. Dog, have a heavy Beatles vibe going– I think that made us realize that it's OK for us to wear our influences on our sleeves a little bit."
"We've been keeping our eyes and ears on Jukebox The Ghost since they debuted a couple years ago." The band really nailed it on their new album, Everything Under The Sun, and has grown a lot over the last couple years.Jukebox The Ghost was chosen to be WXPN's Artist To Watch for October, 2010. ~Bruce Warren, Assistant GM of Programming for WXPN
This week's free at noon performance features the renowned Duncan Sheik, a multiple award winning singer-songwriter and Broadway composer, who from the start of his career was a top Billboard charter. After releasing his self-titled debut album in 1996 on Atlantic Records, his smashing single "Barely Breathing" brought Sheik into the songwriting spotlight and the album was certified Gold. Despite his incredibly strong start, Sheik continued to take each of his subsequent albums to new territories of sound, content and structure. Expanding from pop elements to orchestral arrangements and important social concerns, his sound exponentially matured with time. So while Shiek's occasional returns to pop territory brought him back into mainstream popularity, his additional projects as a composer exposed his talent for putting together elaborate works.
While continuing to produce albums, Sheik also forayed into the world of Broadway plays. Teaming up with Stephen Sater, he composed music for the Grammy and Tony award winning musical Spring Awakening, for which he won awards for Best Orchestration and Best Original Score. His success as a composer lives on, but to many fans, the announcement of his upcoming release comes as a pleasant surprise. Following 2009's Whisper House, his sixth full length album to date, he plans on releasing an album full of synth-pop 80's covers. Due for release on June 7, the album is aptly called Covers 80's and explores takes on classic tunes from Depeche Mode, New Order, The Cure and more. Featuring some additions from folk vocal sweethearts Rachael Yamagata and Holly Brook, the covers are undeniable Sheik and personal.
Duncan's new album, Covers 80's will be out in June. He'll play a full show at World Cafe Live in Philly on June 12.