From the Santa Monica Pier to Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble, with three solid years of touring under their collective belt, Angel Band has rapidly expanded their following from opening act up to headliner status. No audience has been known to have been unmoved by Angel Band's all-out stage presence, signature rootsy, bluesy Americana songs, superb back-up band and the vocals of leader and lyricist Nancy Josephson and fellow Angels Kathleen Weber and Aly Paige. Initially performing as opening act and backup singers for Josephson's husband, world-class roots musician David Bromberg at Bonnaroo, Merlefest, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and other high profile events, Angel Band has moved up to playing prestigious concert venues on their own. Voted one of the Top 10 Favorite Bands at Bonnaroo, Angel Band are clearly a group on the ascent.
Born and raised in new York City, Nancy Josephson says "I don't ever remember not singing," and was thumping on an acoustic guitar at age six. She learned to play stand-up bass and was a founding member of the all-girl bluegrass group, the Buffalo Gals. After a move to California in the mid 70's she performed with a number of well-known bluegrass and "new grass" performers, including Arlo Guthrie, Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick (of the Good Ol' Persons), and The David Bromberg Big Band. She has also sung back-up with Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow, among others.
In 1980, David and Nancy moved to Chicago, where he studied violin making while Nancy sang commercial jingles, joined The Annettes as the only Caucasian in a 30-voice women's choir, raised two young children and switched to visual arts as her main creative outlet. When the city of Wilmington, Delaware asked David and Nancy to become artists in residence in 2002, Nancy initially refrained from joining the bluegrass sessions David organized there, until Bromberg started raving about a mother and sister vocal duo that might accommodate a third voice. "Mainly to satisfy David" Nancy attended the next jam and was hooked by the resultant three-part harmonies. Thus began the formation of Angel Band.
Kathleen Weber comes from a musical family in Philadelphia. She is a four-year veteran of the Angel Band and a lifelong singer; one critic exclaimed "her deep, bluesy voice seems almost out of place in her small frame." You can really hear her influences channeled: Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and and Alison Krause, among others. Her versatility allows her to move easily between Angel Band's low down and dirty and simple, sweet songs. Aly Paige's vocals are clear, clean and powerful. Originally from Delaware, now living in Philadelphia, Aly joined the band as a novice in the Americana world, but with some roots in the world of opera. Aly belts with the best of them, and one can hear a little Etta James in her approach to the material; soulful, soaring, then close up and intimate, Aly's approach captivates and ignites the audience.
Matthew Sweet is on tour in support of the 20th Anniversary re-issue of his classic 1991 album, Girlfriend and plays World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, on Friday night October 28, and Sellersville Theatre on Thursday, November 3. He'll play XPN Free At Noon at the Queen on Friday, October 28.
Creating catchy rock/powerpop music seems to always have been an integral part of Matthew Sweet's life. Sweet was off to an early start in his musical career, self-recording several solo pieces onto four-tracks and later recording with his high-school band Specs for a battle of the bands LP. Such mild stepping stones in Sweet's life lead him straight to the heart of the 80's Athen's music scene. After settling in Athens for college, he found himself collaborating with several groups and top artist including Community Trolls with Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Oh-Ok and Buzz of Delight. By the mid-80's, Sweet landed himself a deal with Columbia Records and later A&M Records. While his poppy tunes and catchy riffs were praised, he never quite achieved mainstream status. It wasn't until the release of his third album "Girlfriend" (1991) that his expanding melodic sound broke through the boundaries of the pop aesthetic and paved the way to a more successful career. With a newfound momentum, Sweet embarked on assembling new bands, such as The Thorns (2002), and working on several new solo projects. Among his most recent work is his solo-album Modern Art. Full of yearning pop, infectious medolies, and witty wordplay, "Modern Art" proves to be another successful release for Matthew Sweet.
Formed in New York City in 1988, the Spin Doctors have been honing their unique blend of pop, funk, and progressive rock for over twenty years. Current members Chris Barron (vocals), Eric Schenkman (guitar and vocals), Aaron Comess (drums and percussion), and Mark White (bass guitar) have been releasing singles and playing one-off shows throughout the US and Europe up until the present. The unique brand of alt-rock built by the Spin Doctors, infused with elements of funk and an unmistakable flair for pop, has seemed to grow even more revered with time.
In fact, 2011 marks the twenty-year anniversary of their five-time platinum-selling debut album, "Pocket Full of Kryptonite". Fueled by the mega-hit singles, "Two Princes" and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," the album, was a critical and commercial success. After a string of other successful releases – and more Platinum certifications – the Spin Doctors are have rereleased "Pocket Full of Kryptonite". Known for their catchy jams, clever lyrics, and laidback vibe, the Spin Doctors continue to earn the adoration of fans and critics alike. In addition to the special release, the Spin Doctors embarked on a tour with stops throughout the US. They're wrapping things up with a stop at the World Cafe this weekend.
Come check out the Spin Doctors with XPN on Friday, October 14, for another awesome Free at Noon!
And, you can hear the band perform Kryptonite live, in its entirety, Friday night, October 14, at World Cafe Live.
One of the longest-running bands to come from the first-generation British punk
movement, The Mekons have been making music since 1977. Punk at the core but not afraid to mix it up, The Mekons have dabbled in a range of other genres, from folk to reggae. But the eight members of The Mekons are still defined by their brand of post-apocalyptic cowboy punk, which has garnered them a significant amount of acclaim. Their 28th album, titled Ancient and Modern, was released just this past September--and it holds to Mekon sound, albeit some evidencing some of the Mekon's mellowing over time. But that doesn't mean it's any less charming.
True to form, the Mekons have infused Ancient and Modern with plenty of hooks and clever, thought-provoking lyrics. Group choruses abound in The Mekons' music and the band actually sound they are having fun when they play. It is this fact that makes The Mekons so appealing: in an age where being cool means acting unaffected, The Mekons are still not afraid to put everything on the table and to have fun while doing it.
Wrapping up a list of tour dates in the Midwest and Eastern US, the Mekons will be visiting World Cafe. Come see one of the longest-running, and still rocking, bands in the history of punk at XPN's Live Friday on October 7. It's free and it's undoubtedly the best way to start your weekend.
Scarcely over 30 years old, Rachael Yamagata is a vibrant and emotional songstress. She honed her skills as a vocalist for the funk band Bumpus, touring extensively and recorded three albums. As she shifted into a solo career in 2001, her rich vocals – tinged with jazz influences – landed her a record deal with Arista. With the 2004 release of her first full album, Happenstance , Yamagata distinguished herself from a coalescing crowd of contemporary pop artists.
Her newest album Chesapeake only heightens Yamagata's reputation as one of today's most gifted singer-songwriters. With a smoky voice that rises above elegant keyboard melodies, the album is a lush landscape of bluesy-pop rhythms. In anticipation of the album's release, Yamagata joined forces with her brother, director Josh Ruben, to produce a video for the single "Even If I Don't." You can watch the video on The Key. The product was a whimsical yet heartbreaking tapestry of lost love.
Yamagata was an XPN Artist To Watch in 2004, and her album Happenstance reached no. 11 that year on the XPN Year In Review Countdown. In addition to XPN's Live Friday Free At Noon, you can catch Rachael at World Cafe Live in Philly on October 31.
Click here to stream/download the just-released "Starlight," a first taste of the new record.
XPN Artist To Watch, Diego Garcia is on tour in support of his debut album, Laura, and plays two shows at the Tin Angel on September 21. He'll be here for a Free At Noon show Friday, September 23.
Former frontman of the indie band, Elefant, Diego Garcia went solo in 2010. His new album Laura is on many "Best of the Year 2011" lists, and is also a XPN Featured Album of the Week.
Incorporating his Latin background – his parents are both Argentinean – into his lush, delicate music, Diego Garcia’s deeply reflective music calls to mind the likes of Leonard Cohen and Morrissey. Garcia writes incredibly introspective, often-anguished lyrics, and subtly fuses the Spanish guitar with a more traditional folk sound. With lyrics that explore a range of emotional planes, Garcia is a master of subtlety: Whether it is with panicking guitar strums, twinkles of Spanish guitar, or his soft and intimate musings, Garcia is able to delicately move the listener on an emotional level. He manages to weave his sounds like a tapestry, crafting a dreamlike, confidential album that is sure to leave listeners wanting more. After all, the album is all about his wife, Laura, and signifies a new, more personal chapter in music-making for this talented artist.
Don't miss this Free at Noon--Diego Garcia's emotional web of sound can't be beat when it comes to starting off the weekend.
And be sure to listen to his live session in the World Cafe Archives, including two web extra songs - at WorldCafe.NPR.org.
Fresh off an appearance on the David Letterman Show, and just nominated by Mojo Magazine as "Best Live Band," The Jim Jones Revue play The Blockley in Philly on Friday September 16, and will surley rock, on the next XPN Free At Noon on September 16!
There's sure to be not a little fire and brimstone. If you've ever wanted to see rock'n'roll incarnated, the Jim Jones Revue is probably the closest thing to it. The five-piece garage-and-blues rock outfit from London came together in 2008, when frontman Jim Jones (a veteran of rock, creating solid songs since the '80s) met guitarist Rupert Orton at the aptly named 'Not the Same Old Blues Crap' club night. They recorded an eponymous debut in just 48 hours that year, and news of their back-to-basics sound, inspired by the likes of The Sonics and Little Richard, quickly began to spread.
Now The Jim Jones Revue is onto their second release, which is out on August 16th in the US. They've created another masterpiece of bluesy riffs and raspy vocals, all infused with endless, primal energy. The band previewed "Burning Your House Down" at London nightclub Madame Jojo's for a sold-out audience last September. Oasis singer Liam Gallagher as well as members of Grinderman and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were in attendance, and it's safe to say that the reputation of The Jim Jones Revue is growing. "Burning Your House Down" could very likely take the US by storm, just as it has across the pond.
Produced by Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Grinderman), this 11-track collection catches most of the power of The Jim Jones Revue on stage, but to get the full effect of their take-no prisoners vibe, a live performance is necessary. Thus, this week's Free at Noon is not to be missed. There's not a better way to start the weekend!
Central PA's Kingsfoil are one of Helen Leicht's recent musical discoveries on the local scene. Fronted by the charismatic Jordan Davis, the four-piece released its latest album, On Our Own Together, last June. Kingsfoil began as a duo in the early '00s; Davis and guitarist/vocalist Tristan Martin released The Almond Tree EP in 2005. Joe Cipollini was later added on drums and in 2007 Tim Warren joined the group on bass. The songs from On Our Own Together are incredibly polished and catchy bring to mind the musical likes of Coldplay and The Fray.
The band played the XPoNential Music Festival this summer. You can listen to their full set here.
The band plays The 8X10 in Baltimore with Virginia Coalition on September 16, and the Dewey Beach Music Conference 2011 the weekend of September 24-25, 2011.
This York, PA native has figured out how to capture an audience. With a distinctly memorable voice that could relax even the most uneasy mind, Alexandra shows she is not only a beautiful voice but an accomplished songwriter as well. After her first released debut, "Fashionably Late" in 2008, Alexandra embarked on a 32 date college tour in Fall 2009. Taking a small hiatus from shows to bomb a highly anticipated album "Wash Your Mouth Out", recorded in Nashville, TN with producer Dustin Burnett, the album is due out on June 24th! Dana Alexandra is making the change from solo act to a full band and is ready to start throwing a dance party at every show all while keeping her sound grounded and straight from the heart.
Dana performed at this summer's XPoNential Music Festival, as guest vocalist with Kuf Knotz. She plays Tin Angel in Philly on September 8, and the York Fair, First Stage on September 10, in York, PA.
Complete with strings, drums, guitars, and bass, Deer Tick is a self-described rock-rock-rock outfit with a little something more--a twist of alt-country and gritty blues, as demonstrated on their 2010 studio album, The Black Dirt Sessions. With their serious music and humorous on-stage banter, these five young musicians have one goal: to rock across the continent.
US Rails is a diverse collective comprised of musicians Ben Arnold, Tom Gillam, Joseph Parsons, Scott Bricklin and Matt Muir. With their Philly-grown folk and rock-pop sensibilities, this members of this five-piece have been creating buzz for their great harmonies as well. Coming off a brand-new release called "Southern Canon", US Rails have been playing a slew of shows in the area. They will be at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington on Thursday, August 25, Steel City in Phoenixville on Friday night, August 26, and of course at the XPN Free At Noon!
Each of the band members has been forging their own path through the music world, long before the collective that is US Rails began to take shape. Frontman Ben Arnold hit it big in the '90s, signing to Columbia Records, playing European shows, and building quite the following in the States for his soulful piano and guitar ballads. He and Matt Muir (percussion) are also part of LA band Pistol for Ringo. Muir is another multi-talented individual, playing the parts of writer, producer, singer, and drummer at times--he's now contributing his up-front, precise beats to the US Rails. Scott Bricklin is yet another jack-of-all-music-trades: singer, bassist, guitarist, and producer. He knows what creativity is, and he brings it to US Rails. Tom Gillam was raised in New Jersey but he's got southern rock in his blood--his slide guitar is mixed with '70s pop influences as well, and he's toured all over the lower states proving it. Finally, Joseph Parsons is a successful solo artist, especially in Germany. He's released multiple albums over the years, all infused with his passion for story and an eclectic of genres.
Together, these five musical forces make up US Rails. They recorded "Southern Canon" in Germany late last year, and now they are releasing the deft mix of styles that is "Southern Canon" throughout their stops in the US, first here in PA. Don't miss them at this week's Live Friday!