Chicago's JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound play Kung Fu Necktie with Sunny Day in Philly on Thursday night, December 15. They'll be here for a double header with Gary Clark Jr., for a Free At Noon on Friday, December 16, 2011
XPN Artist To Watch, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are hopelessly nostalgic, in love with the Chicago soul scene from the 1970s. self-described as heavy-soul, and guitarist Billy Bungeroth explained that the group marries classic soul with contemporary sound thus: they take rock and R&B from prior to 1975, before it lost its novelty, and the then underground punk and hip-hop movements of the same period. "Our music is just re-imagining that first era with the knowledge of the second underground era," he explained in a 2009 interview, after their debut album "Beat of Our Own Drum," was released. Since then, they have collaborated with the likes of Syl Johnson, Renaldo Domino and Nate Evans from the Impressions. They've also released another album, "Want More." Their shows are outrageously fun, and it's difficult to believe that singer JC Brooks isn't a soul legend from the '70s when he belts out their danceable, lyrically packed tunes. JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are reincarnating a moment in music history by breathing fresh air into it. Here's to hoping they never move on.
JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will be performing here at WXPN and World Cafe Life on December 16 at noon. Make sure to come out for a show that's sure to be as soulful as it is fresh.
And just about every listener feels the pull as keenly with the Peace Creeps on stage or through headphones. Don't miss them on the stage with Beck & Cauthen this Friday at noon.
Boasting a trio of self-produced albums under his belt, Gary Clark Jr. is a rising star of the thriving music scene in Austin, Texas. He began playing guitar at the tender young age of 12, and has since expanded his repertoire to the harmonica, bass, and drums; he's also the winner of multiple accolades, including the Austin Music Award for Best Blues Band in three separate years. But he plays more than just blues, cutting through genres to produce a stunning blend of reggae, rock and soul. Though still only in his 20s, Clark has shared the stage with legends like Jimmie Vaughan, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. And, this past summer, he played the XPoNential Music Festival (http://www.xpn.org/events/xponential-music-festival/2011/artist?artist=23). Clark can sing some sweet R&B but mostly he's a blistering blues and rock artist at heart
In Augst, he released his third offering, an EP entitled "The Bright Lights EP." The four-song collection has already gotten rave reviews, with Rolling Stone describing Clark as a mind-blowing young blues guitarist. If anything, this tantalizing release has built Clark an eager audience, excitedly anticipating a full-length.
Gary plays The Mercurry Lounge in New York City on Debember 13, 8x10 Club in Baltimore on December 16, and Red Palace in D.C. on December 17.
Gary Clark Jr. joins JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound for a free noontime concert this Friday at WXPN and World Cafe Live. There's no better way to start the weekend, especially if it's a double dose of blues and soul.
JD Souther is a veritable country-rock living legend, writing songs over his impressive career for the likes of The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne. He's on tour in support of his latest album "Natural History," and will be here for an XPN Free At Noon on December 2, along with a special set by Magnolia Memoir.
After Souther relocated to Nashville, he wrote for an even greater variety of artists--India Arie, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, and Brooks & Dunn and over time has accumulated numerous awards for hit records, Grammy nominations and gold and platinum albums. He's also a successful solo artist, releasing several charting albums in the '70s and '80s. In 2008, he released his fifth solo album. Though "If the World Was You" is undeniably Souther--hearty, solid country-rock--the years of change are evident in this collection. Now he's back with a follow-up, released just this past May.
"Natural History" is retrospective and hearty, full of a mix of obscure recordings from Souther's long history, a new song, and plenty of reclamations from his past - the Eagles with 'The Sad Cafe', 'Best Of My Love' and 'New Kid In Town', and Linda Ronstadt with 'Faithless Love' are now all Souther's again. Souther described the result as "smoky and rainy", almost like "film noir", full of occasionally jazzy acoustics and his sophisticated vocals.
Don't miss JD Souther at this Free at Noon, as he brings some truly inspired country rock to the World Cafe stage. There's not a better way to start the weekend!
And, be sure to catch him for a full show on Saturday night, December 3 at Sellersville Theater.
Magnolia Memoir brings the sultry danceability of jazz to contemporary rock. Self-described as "Billie Holiday meets the Killers with a dash of the Clash," LA-based Magnolia Memoir is making waves. Vocalist and songwriter Mela Lee boasts a five-octave range and a girlishly sweet voice, which has been featured in numerous movies, television shows and commercials. With Alexander Burke as music director and keyboardist, bassist Gordon Bash, guitarist Aron Forbes and Matt Lucich on drums, the ensemble will be doing a special acoustic set opening for J.D Souther this week's Free at Noon show. They are currently touring their EP "What's A Good Girl Do?" and their debut album "The Perfect Crime" will be released on eOne Music Group in February.
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.
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.
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.