Monday, July 28, 2014

August John Lutz II of Levee Drivers "All Dolled Up In Red" unreleased #CoverClub video

Cover Club crew Bob Sweeney & Paul Lorenz
Before putting Season One of CoverClub to rest, it seemed like a great time to share the demo session from August John Lutz II of Levee Drivers.

This first session brought together producer Peter Joseph (Married In The Aviary by Chelsea Mitchell's) and his Break Neck Studios with #Cover Club.  Two fantastic sessions were recorded at the Newtown, PA studio, but this hot August demo session is what started it all.  

Here's the still unreleased track, "All Dolled Up In Red" by the Levee Drivers front-man. The long-time live show fan favorite, has yet to be recorded on an album. Although, there are rumors of the song making its way to a new project soon, but only time will tell.  Make sure to head over to and let them know you want to have the song released!

Cover Club / August John Lutz II (Levee Drivers) 
"All Dolled Up In Red"

Levee Drivers can be next found live at Boot & Saddle on August 8th opening for The Bailey Hounds with fellow openers Katie Frank & The Pheromones! 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

More Cover Club / Church of Kong- Ladybird "Traveling Song" (original) & "High On A Mountain (Ola Belle Reed)

Hey There Ladybird album art
A few weeks back, we tossed a curve ball at our followers, releasing a cover song on a Thursday when we put out the Ladybird cover of Jersey Corn Pickers?  What gives, right?  For Cover Club, covers are Monday, originals are Thursday, right?  Well sometimes you just have to break the mold.  Since we only released one video that week, to make it up to our fans we have two more Ladybird videos from their Cover Club Session, live from Church of Kong.

First, we present to you their original "Traveling Song" written by Cecilia Ferneborg.  This original is expected to be on an upcoming album that is in the works by the three hard working ladies of Ladybird.  Meanwhile, the trio put out an EP this spring to whet your Ladybird appetites.  Hey There Ladybird is available now on

Ladybird - "Traveling Song"

As a special treat for our #CoverClub followers, we are also unveiling a second cover.  "High On A Mountain" is an Ola Belle Reed original.  Reed was a North Carolina transplant to the S.E. Pennsylvania area and is a staple of any bluegrass collection. 

Cover Club | Ladybird "High On A Mountain" (Ola Belle Reed) 

Catch Ladybird this weekend at the fabulous house series Live At The Rivals House.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Root Down In The Shadow and Swift Lessons present: LIVE AT THE RIVALS HOUSE

In just a few days, THIS SATURDAY, a line-up of epic proportions is ready to be unleashed AT THE RIVALS HOUSE.

Last month, we started off the joint series at the Rivals House with rockers Up The Chain and Satellite Hearts.  This month were turning down the volume and doubling the lineup.  Four acts will take to the mic with Sean Hoots, Emily Ana Zeitlyn (Divers), Ladybird, and The Rivals all ready to wow audiences.  Ranging from Folk-tonk to Bluegrass to cutting edge rock, these four local outfits are some of the best Philly has to offer.

The event is limited, so be sure to RSVP.    While the event is NOT FREE, please be prepared to pay according to how awesome you think the night is going ($10-20).  To get an idea of what incredible fantasitic-ness you'll be a part of, here are a few videos to get you ready.

Sean Hoots from his recent Cover Club session

Emily Ana Zeitlyn of Divers at Johnny Brenda's

The Rivals from their recent Cover Club session

Ladybird from their recent Church of Kong // Cover Club live session

Monday, July 14, 2014

An insiders guide to planning XPoNential Festival - Interview with WXPN's Event Producer Paul Severin

Across the globe, music festivals are getting larger and larger with dozens of bands gracing multiple stages.  One festival, XPoNential Festival, bucks this trend and still has only two stages at a time with a major effort taken to prevent overlapping live music.  A favorite for many, this festival comes together each year with such great bands and such few issues.  If you're wondering what their secrets are, now's your time to find out. 

Root Down In The Shadow recently had the opportunity to connect with Paul Severin - Events Producer for WXPN to get all of our questions answered, finding out what goes into planning XPoNential Festival

[FOR LINEUP & TICKETS - Click over to XPN.ORG]

What is it about an artist that catches your attention or makes them a good fit for the festival?

Just like what we decide to play on WXPN, first and foremost we simply think about what our listeners will connect with the most musically as simple as that may sound. We exist to serve our listeners and giving them the best music we think is out there via all of our formats be it radio or a festival is always our primary goal. But since this an outdoor summertime music festival, we also want to make sure that they fit in this particular setting and not all artists are a match for the vibe we’re going for. There are some phenomenal artists who we adore but just would be better appreciated in an indoor club setting or on another festival bill amongst bands that share a more similar sound.

How do you decide how many - if any - local bands to add to the lineup?

WXPN’s commitment to local music is a long-standing one and we always ensure that we have strong representation of the amazing music coming out of the greater Philly area. There has never been a festival without several local bands on the bill. XPN’s midday host Helen Leicht and John Vettese who is the editor of our local music blog The Key lead the charge these days with finding the local bands we want to make sure our listeners are keeping their eyes and ears on.  

Nicole Atkins
Some bands keep coming back, like 2014 lineup additions Dawes and Nicole Atkins. How do you know if you’ve reached critical mass with those bands?

There are just some artists that develop a special relationship with our listeners and the station over the years, and who we think musically continue to evolve in such interesting directions over and over that it warrants inviting them back to the festival for several appearances. I think the vast majority of our audience are such strong music fans that they appreciate getting to see particular WXPN artists develop and grow not just on our airwaves but live at our festival, at our weekly Free at Noon concerts, and by doing multiple live sessions and interviews with David Dye on World Cafe. We call our festival “our biggest annual gathering of the XPN tribe” and that includes the bands nearest and dearest to us as well!  

All the stages have a remarkable blend of local and national, new and old. How many revisions do you go through coming up with the lineup?

I could show you a folder with a big stack of revised festival schedules from each year! It goes through dozens of revisions as it takes months and months to talk to a lot of bands to work out who is interested, who is available, who can make it work logistically, etc. We work hard to create that variety in the festival’s programming so a lot of times that means passing on a band or two who would be easy to plug into the festival schedule and just be done with it. But we’d rather dig deeper, keeping looking and find the right band to round out the lineup to make it all feel right cohesively and that just sometimes means making some more work for ourselves revising things until we get to that place.  

What nightmares do you have in the week preceding the festival? A repeat of the 2011 heat? The deluge of ‘13?

We have an amazingly dedicated staff and group of volunteers who become a very well-oiled festival production team every year. I’ve been around and worked a decent amount of festivals at this point, and I always say that I would put the XPoNential Music Festival staff and volunteers up against any other festival crew any day of the week! That said, yeah there is always something nightmarish to deal with leading up to the festival, for sure. The best thing you can do is prepare for all the things that are controllable ahead of time so you can leave yourself with the bandwidth to deal with the uncontrollable stuff that is going to happen no matter how much preparation you did. Festivals take on a life of their own as they are so complex and not just because of the weather, which is of course the one thing that is utterly and completely out of your control no matter how much you wish otherwise!  

How do you start planning the national acts? Is it a super secret meeting with Newport Folk Festival and Floyd Fest promoters?

WXPN exists in funny space in the “festival promoter” world in that we really aren’t one per se. We’ve built our relationships with national artists over the years via being a radio station and working with them via our flagship show World Cafe. So knowing who is touring and will be around the area during our festival comes more simply from the ongoing conversations we’re having with the artists’ camps all of the time in that regard. So we don’t have many conversations with other festival promoters or a super secret meeting in an undisclosed bunker (although that would be fun!).  

How much of the lineup for ‘15 is already penciled in? Was Dawes scheduled for ‘14 within minutes of their rainout in ‘13?

Nothing is penciled in for 2015 yet, but things will barely be packed away from this summer when we start having conversations about next summer’s lineup. Summer touring is so uber-competitive and crazy busy anymore that if you don’t get out ahead of it very quickly then you’ll find yourself hearing “sorry we’re already booked at that time” a lot. Dawes wasn’t scheduled within minutes after the rain out… but I’ll just say that when the opportunity came our way we wasted no time in making sure that got locked in immediately.  

Dawes had a perfect opening in their schedule in ‘13 coinciding with XPoNential Festival last year.  While the announcement of Dawes to the lineup in ‘13 was a somewhat obvious conclusion, is it hard to keep lineups from being announced prematurely, especially with apps like Bandsintown looking for an early jump?

Yes it is harder and harder to keep a festival lineup quiet until the date you want to release it all at once when the bands want to get out there with their summer tour schedules as soon as possible. Leaving obvious holes in their announced schedules makes it pretty obvious to the more savvy music fans what festivals the bands are going to be playing. But we don’t try to get too crazy about it. If some bands let the cat out of the bag before we go out with our whole lineup, it doesn’t seem to impact the overall excitement of our lineup announcement. I think most of the WXPN audience treats it like Christmas time when they were kids… sneaking a peek at the presents in mom and dad’s closet before Christmas morning ruins the excitement of the surprise.

Speaking of… Shovels & Rope and The Devil Makes Three, two favorites here at Root Down In The Shadow, seem to have this same perfect opening for XPoNential '14.  Let’s just say they end up on the lineup, what’s the benefit in delaying an announcement like that or Dawes in ‘13?

We typically end up with an act or two that we need to delay the announcement of on our lineup. It normally just boils down us having to wait until a show an artist has in the area in the weeks before our festival happens so we don't conflict with the promotions of that. Any promoter wants exclusivity with an artist when they are trying to move tickets to their show. Personally I don't mind having an artist or two that we announce a few weeks after our initial artist lineup announcement. It gives our promotional cycle for the festival a little kick in the pants to have a new band to talk up and for our audience to get excited about.  

What has been your favorite all-time performance of XPoNential Festival so far?

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - #XPNFest '11
That's like asking who you're favorite kid is! But okay if I'm cornered and have to pick one... Dr. Dog in 2010, which is the year Shame, Shame was released, which is one of my favorite albums. They were just firing on all cylinders, Erik Slick had joined the band that year on drums and I think he's a phenomenal drummer, and our audience was having such a love affair with them at that moment that the vibe was just insane during their set. I rarely if ever get to watch a band at our festival for more than a few minutes but I pretty much watched their entire set it was that good and I didn't care what else I had to deal with around the festival site... I wasn't missing their performance as I knew it was one for the ages. And Ted Leo and The Pharmacists in 2011 is a close second. WXPN's program director Bruce Warren and I think Ted Leo is the coolest and the band was touring to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of The Tyranny of Distance, which they were performing in its entirety. In hindsight I think the album and live performance was maybe a tad too aggressive for some of our audience, but Bruce and I were standing on the back of the stage losing our minds it was so freaking good!

Are bands encouraged to stick around for the fest and enjoy the show?

Absolutely! Luckily for us so many of the bands in the WXPN world are already friends with each other or admire each other's music so getting them to hang out doesn't take us having to ask. The "public-radio" grass-roots vibe of our festival permeates throughout the whole thing and the bands feel it too. They tell us that it just feels different than most festivals and it's a pleasant atmosphere to be in. Getting to meet our members in the the WXPN Members-Only Meet & Greet Tent, the hundreds of dedicated volunteers that help us run the whole festival, the amazing setting of the festival on the Delaware River with the Philly skyline in the background... they get that we have something special going on and they want to experience for as long as possible to.  

The Lawsuits
There is a great amount of exposure given to first time bands like Commonwealth Choir, Our Griffins, and The Lawsuits. What’s it like backstage for them? Do they get a chance to meet legends like Beck or James Cotton?

The younger bands definitely appreciate the exposure the festival offers and getting to share a bill with some of the legends we are lucky to have is a thrill for them for sure. Given the outdoor setting of the festival and lack of a true "backstage" with 10 separate dressing rooms with locked doors there is a lot of mingling and bands getting to meet each other... so it certainly happens that some younger bands get to meet some of the heavy-hitters coming through!

Check back for more XPoNential Festival coverage.  
Coming Soon:  Our 2nd annual band-centric lineup preview
Follow along @RootDownPhilly or @wxpnfm 
             #XPNfest  #XPNfest #XPNfest #XPNfest

Wiggins Park gates open at 5 PM

MARIAN HILL (6:10 PM-6:40 PM)
LUCIUS (6:45 PM-7:25 PM)
HOUNDMOUTH (7:30 PM-8:05 PM)
HOLD STEADY (8:10 PM-9:00 PM)
JAMES COTTON (9:05 PM-9:50 PM)
Wiggins Park gates open at 11:30 AM

OUR GRIFFINS (12:00 PM-12:30 PM)
CAITLIN ROSE (1:05 PM-1:35 PM)
MARAH (2:25 PM-3:00 PM)
STRAND OF OAKS (3:05 PM-3:45 PM)
DAVE HAUSE (5:40 PM-6:25 PM)

Susquehanna Bank Center gates open at 6:30 PM
DAWES (7:30 PM-8:00 PM)
JENNY LEWIS (8:30 PM-9:15 PM)
RYAN ADAMS (9:45 PM-11:15 PM)
Wiggins Park gates open at 11:30 AM

GINGER COYLE (12:00 PM-12:30 PM)
THE LAWSUITS (12:30 PM-1:00 PM)
BEAR'S DEN (1:05 PM-1:35 PM)
OLD 97s (3:00 PM-3:40 PM)
DIEGO GARCIA (3:45 PM-4:25 PM)
MAN MAN (5:20 PM-6:00 PM)

Susquehanna Bank Center gates open at 6:30 PM
BAND OF HORSES (8:15 PM-9:30 PM)
BECK (10:00 PM-11:30 PM)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bands Pick The Bands - 2014 XPoNential Music Festival Presented by Subaru Artists Preview

It's our favorite time of the year: XPoNential Festival time!  Like most things here at Root Down In The Shadow we're going to take a band-centric view of the festival and let them tell you who to go see this year at the 2014 XPoNential Music Festival Presented by Subaru, brought to you by WXPN.

Davis Howley - Vox/Guitar -Commonwealth Choir
Band Most Excited to Share the Festival Stage with:
"Jenny Lewis & Dawes are both really significant to the band.  Rilo Kiley(Jenny Lewis' former band) was sort of the cross over artist for us, as teenagers moving from punk & hardcore to a new genre, they exposed us to country & folk in a modern way, but still bad-ass & sexy.  It's really expertly crafted music."

Band Most Excited to see live at #XPNFest:  "We all became obsessed with Dawes.  Individually we started going to see them at shows, covering them at parties, drawing inspiration from them, modeling after how Dawes seems to operate and the professionalism that they seem to have.   Dawes is a throwback, but not.

Through the years they've been a great band to watch.  There was the  Free At Noon back in the day.  Their van broke down in Pittsburgh, so Taylor came solo.  What he did to the room was amazing.  He'd finish a song, there would be ten seconds of silence and then eruption.  The only thing like it was seeing Tallest Man on Earth."

Nick Cislak - Bass -Commonwealth Choir
Band Most Excited to Share the Festival Stage with:
 "We're excited to be on the same festival as Jenny Lewis & Dawes, especially the same day

Why to come early on Saturday: "We're working really hard on making the set for XPoNential to be memorable with new material and our original lineup.  We're want it be a launch of the day, giving back to 'XPN & fans for their wonderful support so far.  Come early for Our Griffins and Commonwealth Choir to get incredible start from beginning to end of the festival on Saturday.

Brendan Cunningham - Bass  - The Lawsuits
Brendan has been to the XPoNential Festival each of the last four years, watches the most live music of the band members, based on a most eclectic collection. 

Band Most Excited See Live at the #XPNFest: BECK! I've been a fan since early childhood.  I still remember watching MTV with my dad & sister watching “Loser”.  Beck is a true artist, he seems to make the music for himself, almost indifferent to what fans might be looking for.   Who else could make a a sheet music only album (Song Reader).  His creativity is inspiring. He doesn’t worry about how the music will be received, similar to Elvis Costello that he can bounce from pouplar to psychedelic to country

Favorite Beck Song"Debra" towing the line between being over-the-top and ironic.

Beck Reimagines David Bowie's "Sound and Vision"

Band Most Excited to Share the Festival Stage with:  I really respect Dawes.  It's weird, I feel they are not getting the respect they deserve.  Their kinda of the band that 10-15 years from now other bands will cover, but songs weren’t as popular as they could have been.  I'm still disappointed that Dawes was rained out last year, but it was incredible in '13 on the Rive Stage while the rain came down. 

Favorite Beck Song:  "A Little Bit of Everything"

Excited for: Lake Street Dive, Hurray for the Riff Raff

SUNDAY - Susquehanna Bank Center - 7:15 PM-7:45 PM
Photo by Caitlin McCann

The Districts played the Marina Stage in '13 and graduate to Susquehanna Bank Center after playing nearly every major festival across the globe in '14.
Braden Lawrence - Drummer  - The Districts
Band Most Excited to Share the Festival Stage & See Live at #XPNFest:
Beck:  "I've never seen Beck live before and I'm a big fan. I love his new album, Morning Phase, and am curious to see if he mixes old and new stuff or if he 'l just stick to his newer recordings

SATURDAY - JerseyArts.Com Marina Stage - 12:00 PM-12:30 PM
Alex Luquet - Bass  - Our Griffins
Band Most Excited to Share the Festival Stage with:
Band of Horses:    "I saw these guys for the first time at The Trocadero with my dad and brother before I could even driver myself there.  I think they rlease consistently good albums, but I haven't actually been ableto see them play since.  That's a pretty good chance to see some change in a bands performance. If they play "Cigerettes, Wedding Bands," I'll consider my weekend a success. "

Band Most Excited to see live at the #XPNFest:
Strand of Oaks: "I feel like I've said that name a million times lately. My concert count for them is getting ready to escape the realm of "I can count on one hand." I havn't seen him since the new album came out, though! I have no doubt they'll tear it up for the festival too, Tim seems to be a huge XPN fan. Looking forward to it!

John Kimock - Drums  - Our Griffins 
Band Most Excited to Share the Festival Stage with:  
Strand Of Oaks, played a show with them a few years ago when it was just acoustic. Looking forward to full band.

Band Most Excited to Live at the #XPNFest: "Excited to see Dawes. Young bands that back up Jackson Browne, etc are not to be missed."

Our Griffins "Last to Swim" (Strand of Oaks)

FRIDAY - JerseyArts.Com Marina Stage - 5:30 PM-6:00 PM 
Marian Hill
Band Most Excited to Share the Festival Stage with:
Lucius: "Lucius on Friday - we became big fans recently and have heard great things about their live set - can't wait to see it. "

Band Most Excited to see live at the #XPNFest:
Ingrid Michaelson: We also feel so honored to be playing the same festival as Ingrid Michaelson, an artist we both grew up on in our high school days and whose songwriting we really respect.

Dan McGurk - catalyst 
Band Most Excited to see live at the #XPNFest:  
J Roddy Walston & The Business.  These guys kick ass! Their 2010 Self titled J Roddy Walston & The Business is incredible. Essential Tremors, the new album,  is just as amazing. After  the Lawsuits start off the River Stage stage at 12:30pm on Sunday and J Roddy goes on at 1:40pm we will have seen two of the most underrated bands in existence today!