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Excerpts from the blogs of Inquirer critics.

Non-Comm at the World Cafe Live in Wilmington

From Dan DeLuca's "In the Mix"


The 11th Annual Non-Commvention got underway Thursday at the World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, and all kinds of bands played at the new venue in the old Queen Theatre on Market Street through Saturday afternoon.

Givers, the Bonnaroo-bound upstart band from the bayou country of Lafayette, La., performed on Thursday afternoon, as did gospel greats the Blind Boys of Alabama.

For those of you who aren't music-business insiders, Non-Comm is an annual convention of mostly public, mostly adult-alternative radio stations that draws a wide range of acts because it gathers together plenty of influential radio-programmer types. WXPN-FM (88.5) has hosted the event since 2008 at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. After this year's visit to the new World Cafe site in Wilmington, the gathering will return to the World Cafe Live in West Philadelphia next year.

Despite rumors of its Internet-hastened demise, radio is still a significant player in the music industry. In an interview with WXPN DJ Dan Reed, Cliff Burnstein of Q Prime Management, who works with Metallica, Sleigh Bells, the Black Keys, Gillian Welch, and Josh Groban, said that in his company's model for success, "radio is one through nine in our Top 10."

Burnstein, by the way, was quite the raconteur of Metallica-misbehaving stories, and, for a little local color, the University of Pennsylvania grad told tales of "Beef Power," the Captain Beefheart-inspired radio show he hosted in 1969 along with Michael Tearson on 'XPN.

And speaking of music-industry heavy hitters, I ran into power-broker publicity mahoff Marilyn Laverty of Brooklyn and Ocean Grove, N.J.-based Shore Fire Media at the Queen on Thursday, after watching David Dye interview Robbie Robertson for future airing on 'XPN's World Cafe.

Laverty, visiting Non-Comm for the first time, talked up worthy Americana fiddler and songwriter Amanda Shires (who plays the Grape Room in Manayunk on June 2) and Philadelphia soulstress Nikki Jean (whose star-studded album is due in July).

"Publicists more than ever are reaching out to NPR, and noncommercial radio stations, because the stations support both aspiring and established artists . . .," Laverty said. "It's really a democratic format based on talent and quality of songwriting."

Other songwriters of particular quality scheduled at the Queen for Non-Comm included Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Justin Townes Earle, the Civil Wars, and Jose Gonzalez of Junip. The Non-Comm schedule wrapped up Saturday afternoon with noontime performances by the Sam Roberts Band and the Jayhawks.