In 2017, The Roots recorded “It Ain’t Fair,” a protest song written for the movie Detroit, about the 1967 riots in that city. Lyrics like “when your protector becomes your predator” and “I hear they turning downtown into the front line” resonate achingly in Philadelphia and nationally right now. This week, The Tonight Show re-aired a 7-minute performance of the song with singer Bilal and a full orchestra, with powerful new spoken intros by Roots leaders Black Thought and Questlove. On YouTube.
— Dan DeLuca
Rhiannon Giddens has explored American folk tradition from all sorts of angles over the last decade, from her years with the Carolina Chocolate Drops to the quartet Our Native Daughters more recently. Her latest is last year’s superb There Is No Other, produced by Joe Henry, a collection that traces the influence of African and Arabic music on European and American folk styles. The album features Giddens’ partner, Italian jazz musician Francesco Turrisi, who will join her when she plays a Parlor Home Sessions show on Friday at 12:30 p.m.
This year’s XPoNential Music Festival is canceled, but WXPN-FM (88.5) is restreaming videos from past festivals on Friday nights. This week, a 2015 Courtney Barnett show and a 2017 Low Cut Connie set will air back to back. (LCC’s Adam Weiner is also doing his regularly scheduled Tough Cookies performance on Saturday at 6 p.m.) Next week, the live-on-tape pairing from Wiggins Park will be gospel great Mavis Staples and L.A.'s Chicano Batman. The series will continue through July 17. Friday at 6 p.m. at wxpn.org.
Music documentaries have been circling around the Los Angeles rock scene of the late ’60s and ’70s. Echo in the Canyon from 2018 and last year’s Remember My Name both tell part of the story. Director Alison Elwood’s 4-hour Laurel Canyon (not to be confused with the 2002 Frances McDormand drama) completes the picture. Elwood’s doc makes time for the Byrds, Joni Mitchell, Love, the Doors, the Monkees, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — all in their glorious youth. Part 1 is on demand on Epix. Part 2 airs Sunday at 9 p.m.
Katie Crutchfield, who records as Waxahatchee, put out her excellent, country-leaning album Saint Cloud in March. It’s her best album to date, but she released four other good ones before then, and is performing each of them in their entirety over a series of five weeks. It started last week with her 2012 debut American Weekend, and continues with her 2013 breakthrough Cerulean Salt, which she’ll play from start to finish on Monday. The series continues with Ivy Tripp June 15, Out in the Storm June 22, and Saint Cloud June 29. 9 p.m. Monday on Noonchorus.com, $15.
This YouTube commencement in honor of graduating high school and college seniors will be headlined by Barack and Michelle Obama, both of whom will be delivering commencement addresses. It also features a cavalcade of pop stars, including Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Korean boy band BTS, Colombian reggaeton star Maluma, Megan Thee Stallion, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Camila Cabello, and Finneas. (That’s Billie Eillish’s brother.) Saturday at 3 p.m. on YouTube.
The Philadelphia School District’s virtual graduation ceremony — airing at 11 a.m. Tuesdayon PSTV (Xfinity channel 52/FiOS channel 20, YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitter, and hosted by the Kimmel Center — has Malcolm Jenkins as the keynote and some truly remarkable grads lined up to sing, recite, and speak. Expect a timely and powerful message. Return at 7 p.m. for the half-hour after-party, with DJ Aktive, Good Girl, SimXSantana, and last-minute surprises. Details at philasd.org/2020grad.
— Lauren McCutcheon
They came, they saw, they made some changes. The Philly-filmed fifth season of the life-makeover show takes the Fab Five all over town (and down the Shore), zhuzhing up everything from small businesses to big life transitions. Come for the Tan France shopping sprees and the Bobby Berk interiors, stay for the pre-pandemic hugs (so many hugs), the cathartic tears, and the look at Philly from five outsiders who seem to wish us well. (Friday, Netflix)
— Ellen Gray
Long before Hamilton made him a household name, Lin-Manuel Miranda was part of a hip-hop improv group whose members included future Hamilton and In the Heights director Thomas Kail, Hamilton star Christopher Jackson, and actor Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect). In 2005, director Andrew Fried began filming Freestyle Love Supreme’s sidewalk performances, little knowing how famous these guys would become. Consider this documentary your new excuse for never recording over anything ever again. (Friday, Hulu)
Yvonne Orji (Insecure) taps into her Nigerian American roots — and her mother’s disappointment that she’s neither married nor a doctor — for her first HBO comedy special. 10 p.m. (Saturday, HBO)
Many people probably won’t even need the song lyrics on-screen to warble along with John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, and Stockard Channing, as the pandemic-postponed 2020 Tony Awards broadcast is replaced with the 1978 movie. 8:30 p.m. (Sunday, CBS)
New series written and produced by Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum, Black Earth Rising) stars Coel as a young writer struggling to deliver her second book, while dealing with issues that include fragmented memories of a sexual assault. Note for those who like to watch a show when it’s first on: The schedule for this one bounces around a bit, as it moves to 10:50 p.m. the following Sunday and to 9 p.m. Mondays starting June 22. 10:30 p.m. (Sunday, HBO)
If you’ve already watched every season of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix and are looking for something almost equally soothing, this one says it with flowers, not flour. It’s also in a dome and not a tent and involves teams of two (including some Americans), but the format’s comfortingly familiar. Teams are given a relatively short time to produce showstopping floral creations, one wins, one’s sent home, everyone’s pretty nice. (Netflix)
This upbeat documentary, written and directed by Damon Gameau, was conceived as a letter to his young daughter about a future that takes the best ideas of reform and improvement — in the environment, business, government, human rights, and medicine — and imagines them implemented for the next generation. Available Friday on AppleTV+, Microsoft Movies & TV, and through several independent movie theaters via togetherfilms.org/2040-screenings.
— Gary Thompson
If you’re in the mood for a “female-driven revenge” saga, you might consider this bleak Australian comedy about warring puppeteers (Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman) navigating envy and tragedy. Available Friday on Fandango Now.
A documentary profile of Ursula Von Rydingsvard, one of the few female artists in the world to make large-scale “monumental” sculpture — including the spectacular Bronze Bowl with Lace at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden. We meet the artist and the circle of metal workers and staffers who make her visions a reality. The film gets a local art house “release” Friday via the Lightbox Film Center and its website, and a Q&A is included.
— Howard Gensler
The Trojan War separates two young lovers in William Shakespeare’s tragedy, based on a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer. Allegiances and emotions shift and diverge in this emotional drama about the pain of war — and love — offered as a reading by the Lantern Theater Company. Free, via Zoom, at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Registration required, via lanterntheater.org.