Thursday, May 14, 2015

The 15th Annual Non-Commvention: Ryley Walker, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Shelby Lynne

The Non-Commvention is an annual event, currently hosted at WXPN/World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, serving as a meeting of the minds for Non-Commercial radio stations across the country, record industry professionals, and music fans. The convention was founded in 2001 by Dan Reed at WFPK in Louisville, Kentucky and was brought to WXPN when Reed moved to the station in 2004. Now in it's fifteenth incarnation, Non-Comm consists of a balanced blend of industry panels and meetings as well as performances from both up-and-coming and well-established musicians from all over the world. The highlights from Non-Comm night one included Ryley Walker, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Shelby Lynne.

Ryley Walker is fresh off of an extensive European tour celebrating the March 31st release of his sophomore record, Primrose Green. It seemed as if everyone in the building had been told to absolutely not miss the Chicago native's set. It was impossible to get anywhere near the PRX stage, people were crammed in so tightly. Maybe it was the intimacy of his performance--he was performing sans his  backing band--or simply the urge to see the twenty-five-year-old's fingerpicking style in real life, but the crowd was pulled toward him with magnetic strength.

Canadian-American Cree singer-songwriter, social activist, musician, pacifist, composer, and visual artist Buffy Sainte-Marie, a legend with over two dozen albums under her belt, is seventy-four years old and one would have no idea. Sainte-Marie's catalogue focuses on the issues of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, as does her latest album, Power In the Blood. Her performance was dynamic and energetic, sporting a blonde streak in her black hair and a fringe jacket that inspired fashion designers to name entire products after her, she powered through a set that I overheard being referred to as "folk metal".

year marks the fifteenth anniversary of I Am Shelby Lynne--the record that earned her the Grammy for Best New Artist--and she is still going strong. Her distinctive contralto voice was soothing, powerful, moving and so much more. Though she founded her own record label, Everso Records, Lynne has recently joined the Rounder Records roster. It was through Rounder that her seventh album, I Can't Imagine, was released last week.

-Kendall Stewart

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