It doesn’t have the most elegant name, but it is the country’s biggest annual gathering of pop music public radio programmers and the bands they play, and it’s happening in person at the World Cafe Live in West Philadelphia for the first time since 2019.

It’s the Non-Commvention, or Non-Comm for short. The confab hosted by WXPN-FM (88.5) will bring up-and-coming and established acts including Sharon Van Etten, Father John Misty, Allison Russell, Janis Ian, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Hurray for the Riff Raff plus 25 more to World Cafe Live, starting Tuesday night and running through Friday afternoon.

“It’s a get together of noncommercial contemporary music stations from all over the country,” says Dan Reed, XPN’s afternoon drive-time host and music director.

He founded Non-Comm while at WFPK-FM in Louisville in 2001 and brought it with him to XPN four years later. Sixty stations are sending representatives this year, only two fewer than in 2019, a number Reed is pleased with, considering COVID-19 concerns. (The 2020 Non-Comm was canceled, and last year it was all virtual.)

Most of the stations are adherents of the format known as “Triple A,” which originally stood for “adult album alternative” but is now commonly referred to as “adult alternative.”

There will be panels to discuss issues faced by the mostly left-of-the-dial stations that rely on fund-raising and community-building.

“We’re going to continue discussions that we’ve been having over the last few years virtually,” says Liz Felix, program director and evening host at WYEP-FM (91.3) in Pittsburgh, a Non-Comm regular since 2009.

“A lot of those discussions are around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the format. That issue is a big deal at public radio, which historically has had mostly white audiences. There’s been a lot of effort in the past few years to try to change things and invite new people in.”

Rebuilding in-person connections in the wake of the pandemic and providing a human-touch, music-discovery alternative to streaming services are topics on the agenda. One of XPN’s slogans is “Rhythms, not algorithms”

Panels include “Inclusiveness in Non-Comm Triple A Programming” and “#ShePersisted,” with women discussing industry experiences.

“I was on that panel in 2019,” said Felix. “So that’s something I’m really looking forward to. Plus, just getting to see bands and be with old friends and have a chance to see music together in person.”

Philly acts like The War on Drugs and Japanese Breakfast are Triple A heavy hitters, along with Brandi Carlile, Black Keys, and Maggie Rodgers, and XPN is an influential player nationwide.

Non-Comm acts in the conference’s 20th in-person year will alternate playing the WCL’s downstairs Music Hall and intimate upstairs The Lounge, where music will kick of with veteran Philadelphia bandleader Ben Arnold on Tuesday at 7. (Delaware rockers Grace Vonderkuhn and Philly buzz act Cosmic Guilt are two other featured local acts.)

Starting Wednesday, there will be three consecutive Free at Noon double bills, first with Russell and Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Alex Fischel, followed by Buffalo Nichols and Ibeyi, and Lucius and Joanna Sternberg.

All of the music will be broadcast live on XPN and also livestreamed on video on and also NPR Music Live Sessions at

Besides the 200 or so music bizzers, fans will fill the rooms — until spaces sell out; $160 badges that give access to all the music are available to XPN members and the general public. More information about that is at The Free at Noon performances are open to the public at

“I always like to open [Non-Comm] up to listeners,” says Reed, who — full disclosure — is the cohost with me of the on-hiatus Dan and Dan Music Podcast. “Have you ever been to an industry-only music showcase? It can be horrible. Having fans there brings the energy way up in the room. Plus, it gives our members a chance to see some incredible music.”

Former Non-Comm showcasers include Blondie, Willie Nelson, Dr. John, John Legend and the Roots, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lizzo, who was a surprise guest in 2019.

More information can be found at

Here’s a list of 10 recommended Non-Comm acts to see or hear, on the radio, virtually, or in person.

Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. The Welsh quartet are unabashed fans of earlier iterations of British Invasion rock, from the glam 1970s to 1990s bands like Super Furry Animals. Their affection is perhaps best demonstrated in “John Lennon Is My Jesus Christ,” in which singer Tom Rees praises the Beatles as well as Marc Bolan, David Bowie, and cult artist Bill Fay. May 3, 9:40-10:10 p.m.

Allison Russell. Montreal-born and now Nashville-based Allison Russell’s Outside Child was one of the absolute gems of 2021, turning harrowing experience into music of elegance and grace. This is a chance to see her up close, before she returns to open for Brandi Carlile at the Mann Center in August. May 4, 12:20 p.m.

Britt Daniel and Alex Fischel of Spoon. Austin, Texas, indie rockers Spoon released yet another tough, taut, exemplary record in February called Lucifer on the Sofa. The band was supposed to play the Fillmore April 15, but the show was postponed due to COVID-19 to May 4. Earlier that day singer Daniel and guitarist Fischel will do a stripped-down Non-Comm Free at Noon set. May 4, 12:20-12:40 p.m.

Father John Misty. The most infamous performance of Father John Misty’s career came at the Xponential Music Festival the week Donald Trump received the Republican nomination for president in 2016. He began with a six-minute monologue met with jeers and cheers as he proclaimed, “Stupidity runs the world because entertainment is stupid.” This year, FJM will be presenting music from his cinematic new album Chloë & the Next 20th Century. But who knows what he’ll do? May 4, 9:40-10:20 p.m.

Sharon Van Etten. Sharon Van Etten makes music that cascades in crashing waves of emotion, going back to her 2010 Epic, which was recorded in Philadelphia at Miner Street Studios. On May 6, Van Etten will release We Have Been Going About This All Wrong, her finest, most fully realized album yet, which makes cathartic art out of the torment of life during the pandemic. She’ll be at the Mann Center with Julien Baker and Angel Olsen on Aug. 19. This Non-Comm set ought to be a stunner. May 4, 8:40-9:10 p.m.

Buffalo Nichols. Carl “Buffalo” Nichols is at the forefront of a group of young Black artists engaging with blues tradition. He’s a solo performer, drawing on complex, gripping work of artists like Skip James, the Mississippi bluesman buried in Merion Memorial Park in Bala Cynwyd. Nichols is also playing the Xponential Music Festival in Camden in September. May 5, noon-12:20 p.m.

S.G. Goodman. Kentucky songwriter S.G. Goodman is a farmer’s daughter and gifted storyteller with an arresting voice. Her 2020 album Old Time Feeling was produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Its follow-up, Teeth Marks, is due June 3. May 5, 7:25-7:45 p.m.

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. Back in 2015 on their debut album Sidelong, the North Carolina country-punk Sarah Shook recorded a song called “Dwight Yoakam,” and their new Nightroamer is produced by Yoakam’s longtime partner Pete Anderson. It’s a fine distillation of their queer, outside-of-the-country-mainstream perspective. May 5, 8:40-9 p.m.

Nilüfer Yanya. A singer-songwriter of Irish, Barbadian, and Turkish descent who grew up in London, Nilüfer Yanya distinguished herself with her energetic 2019 debut Miss Universe, but she raises the stakes on Painless, her seriously entrancing new album. May 5, 9:05-9:35 p.m.

Charley Crockett. Texas country singer Charley Crockett is a traditionalist, and a prolific one. The cowboy-hat-wearing bandleader — who embraces his Cajun, Creole, Black, and Jewish ancestry and is a distant relative of Davey Crockett’s — has released four two-stepping albums since 2020, mixing originals like Music City, U.S.A. with sets such as the brand-new set of classic covers Lil G.L. Presents: Jukebox Charley. May 4, 10:25-10:55 p.m.