The 2019 Non-Comm music convention is happening this week at the World Cafe Live in West Philadelphia, bringing in over 30 acts to perform for radio professionals in showcases happening from Tuesday to Friday.
The biggest brand names scheduled to are Morrissey, Bruce Hornsby and The National, but there are more than two dozen veteran and up-and-coming acts playing in the up and downstairs WCL venues.
They include: singer-songwriters Amanda Palmer, J.S. Ondara, KT Tunstall, Andrew Bird, Adia Victoria and Josh Ritter, hip-hop cellist Kelsey Lu, bluesman Christopher “Kingfish” Ingram, country singers Jade Jackson and Orville Peck, guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela and Philly rockers Strand of Oaks and Ali Awan.
Yes, Non-Comm — which is short for Non-Commvention, a gathering of (mostly) non-commercial adult-alternative radio stations from throughout North America who come to Philly every spring to schmooze and scout talent — is a music industry focused event and the tickets that are available to members of host station WXPN-FM (88.5) are sold out.
However, there are options to hear and see the acts that are playing from Tuesday to Thursday nights starting at 7 p.m. and at the Wednesday through Friday Free at Noon shows, which will feature acts like Delaware County-raised soul man Devon Gilfillian and Son Volt singer Jay Farrar.
The most intriguing name on the list is Morrissey, the former leader of The Smiths and perennially miserable Englishman. He has maintained a loyal following even as the veteran songwriter and animal rights activist - “I refuse to eat anything that had a mother,” he said last year — has been criticized for his support of the far-right political party For Britain and his habit of cancelling shows.
He postponed six scheduled shows in Canada last month due to a medical emergency, and cancelled his most recent scheduled Philadelphia show at the Fillmore in December 2017 due to an “illness in the touring party.”
All of the performances with be broadcast live on XPN, and also video streamed on the NPR Music video platform Vu Haus.
For those that actually attending the conference, there are also workshops and panels during the days, with titles like “Leveraging Music Podcasts for Station Success” and “#ShePersisted — Women Pursuing and Achieving Success in the Music Industry.”
On Thursday afternoon, World Cafe host Talia Schlanger will interview pianist Hornsby, who has a new album, Absolute Zero, full of songs about space exploration and scientific concept in which he collaborated with New York chamber rock group yMusic.