The Star-Studded NonCommvention Takes Over World Café Live This Week

Ron Gallo plays with Baskery, Laura Marling and Real Estate on Thursday. (Lindsey Michelle Gardner)

WXPN’s annual NON-COMMvention is really an insidery type deal — a place for music programmers from non-commercial/independent/triple-A radio stations from all over the country to gather for panel discussions and performances by big-name talent. Every night (and some afternoons) from May 17 to 19 features acts with new or coming-soon records. Some of them never play a venue this small.

But Pat, you say, I’m not in the biz. How can I see Wednesday’s Blondie/Ani Difranco/Chicano Batman gig, for example?

Check it out: There are still some tickets available for XPN members. And if you’re not one, I bet you know one.


CONCERT REVIEW: Escondido at World Cafe Live

Escondido Photographed by Chris Sikich

Photographed by Chris Sikich

It would not have been surprising to see Dale Cooper at World Cafe Live Upstairs on Friday, June 10th, enjoying headliners Escondido. The Nashville-based act goes way beyond its alt-country origins to a space that is otherworldly, of the past and a timeless present and future, not unlike the world of Cooper and Twin Peaks. The radiant duo of Jessica Maros and Tyler James, playing with a top-notch backing band, powered through a stunning mix of tracks from their debut and 2016’s Walking With a Stranger. Read more »

INTERVIEW: Curtis Alumni Gabriel Cabezas

Gabriel Cabezas

Gabriel Cabezas

Chicago-born Gabriel Cabezas isn’t afraid to call Philly a second home.

“I graduated from Curtis in 2013, so I haven’t worn out my welcome just yet,” he said. In fact, the highly in-demand cellist, who has been praised for his versatile style and sound, has a plethora of Philly engagements this season, including his upcoming concert with Sandbox Percussion for LiveConnections at World Cafe Live. He later returns for performances with yMusic at the Kimmel Center, the Dolce Suono Ensemble, and with Ben Folds at The Fillmore. We chatted with the talented musician about how Philly helped shape his craft, and what listeners can expect from his upcoming projects.

I always like to ask Curtis grads how that institution shaped them as artists.
It’s really insular. It’s a closed experience in a very positive way, which was a good because I could focus and learn music. It was a great place for me because, like most people, in college you discover new things that you didn’t know you liked. I started listening to different kinds of music and playing music that I wouldn’t have normally have looked at. Read more »

Philly jazz vocalist Joanna Pascale teaming up with Curtis 20/21 Ensemble

Joanna Pascale

Joanna Pascale

At first, it may seem like a mismatch: a jazz singing superstar with a classical musical cohort. But, if you know anything about Curtis Institute’s 20/21 Ensemble and LiveConnections, their upcoming concert at World Cafe Live is actually a perfect fit. Philly-bred jazz diva Joanna Pascale will be presenting a jam session with the group of classically-trained musicians this week.

The Friday evening show is quite typical when one looks at the offerings LiveConnections has presented through the years. The nonprofit organization prides itself on collaborative music making, and unlikely performer pairings during their six-concert seasons. Read more »

PHOTOS: Arc Divers, Angela Sheik and Ponyhof Dazzle at World Café Live

Saturday night, World Café Live Upstairs saw a trio of bands warm up a brisk night. First up was Brooklyn-based Ponyhof. Usually a fourpiece, on this night it was just lead-singer and keyboardist Carrie Erving and cellist Chris Loxley. The duo lit the night with their shimmering indie rock currents.

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PHOTOS: True Detective Songstress Lera Lynn at World Café Live


There is an inherent all-sensory mood in the music of Lera Lynn. Old alcohol and smoke reside in the nostrils while the eyes can only faintly see the figures on the stage through the dimly lit room of sound. And there is the voice: a rich, sultry concoction that veers to country and folk, sometimes simultaneously. The guitar rumbles, sometimes gutturally, sometimes slight, layered with percussion that is never an afterthought. This sound certainly made her the perfect partner to the art of  the second season of True Detective (for which she created the soundtrack).

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School of Rock Youth Slayed in AllStar Concert at World Café Live

The School of Rock AllStar Concert this week at World Café Live brought me back to a time of pop quizzes and social ladder-climbing. Yet, I doubt any members of the School of Rock band have to worry about winning popularity contests. Their all-star talents automatically make them the coolest kids in town.

An army of teen rock prodigies took center stage on Tuesday night to deliver a psychedelic show that would have made Jack Black proud. Two Allstar teams and two local school house bands took turns working the stage in half-hour increments throughout the night. At any given time there were about a dozen teens rocking the platform at once, accompanied by an instrument of their choosing. Instrumentalists included electric guitarists, keyboard players, and those on bass and drums. And let’s not forget about the show-stopping vocalists whose pipes were so powerful, it was hard to believe they’re barely post-pubescent.

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7 Shows to See in Philly This Week

Parachute Wow World Café Live Despite Absence of Ailing Third Member


Will Anderson strapped on an acoustic guitar at World Café Live on Friday night and opened the show with the powerful yet simple “Hurricane.” After the first song Kit French joined Anderson on stage, multitasking on the keys and saxophone while singing backup. The two performed a couple seamless sets, and then I began to wonder when the third Parachute member, Johnny Stubblefield, would join them.

“Johnny is sick,” explained Anderson. Well, that answered that. They expressed some disappointment in their band member’s absence, but then Anderson turned to French and casually admitted, “More sex for us. Hahaha.” The sold-out crowd of mostly women broke into a fit of laughter. I too let out a few giggles and then I realized they probably weren’t joking.

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Q&A: Grammy-Winning Guitarist Jason Vieaux and His Philadelphia Connections

Jason Vieaux Header

Jason Vieaux‘s mother was a school librarian who bought him his first classical guitar for $50 when he was a young boy. Fast forward several decades later and Mr. Vieaux is now a Grammy-winning musician who tours internationally, performing to eager audiences at almost every major classical guitar festival in the world. Vieaux is also no stranger to Philly: He’s Curtis faculty, and he’s performed numerous concerts here. He’ll be returning to World Cafe Live on May 7th to perform with the Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, part of the LiveConnections concert series which aims to pair unlikely artists for interesting music making. We caught up with Vieaux to discuss his upcoming show and why Philly is such a hotbed for classical music. Read more »

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