Take a midday Friday concert break with WXPN

John Legend


For a quick Friday get-away, try WXPN’s “Free At Noon” concert series, showcasing live performances at World Cafe Live. R&B artist and Penn alumnus John Legend performed at "Free At Noon" in November of 2008.

By the time Friday rolls around, lots of people are ready for a break, sometimes as early as noon.

For a quick get-away, try WXPN’s “Free At Noon” concert series, showcasing live performances at World Cafe Live. The concerts, which last about an hour, are a joint production between WXPN, Penn’s public radio station, and National Public Radio (NPR).

“You can take a chance on an artist that you’ve never heard before and maybe come away from the experience with a new favorite band,” says WXPN Music Director Dan Reed, the founder of the “Free At Noon” shows.

The performers range from local bands to internationally renowned entertainers. R&B crooners John Legend, a Penn alumnus, and Adele are among the stars that have performed in previous shows.

“Adele personally asked to be on the show again [last year] right before her latest album ‘21’ came out,” says Reed. “It was rewarding to find out that she enjoyed the experience so much that she wanted to come back and do it again.”



Soul singer Adele performed at "Free At Noon" in November of 2009, and returned last year.

The idea to stage Friday concerts originated in 2005, when WXPN moved from its old headquarters on Spruce Street to its current home at 31st and Walnut streets.

“When we moved to this space alongside World Cafe Live, we knew we wanted this location to be a clubhouse of sorts for members,” says Kim Winnick, marketing director at WXPN.

The lunchtime concerts draw 300 to 600 people each week. As a special treat for the live audience, some singers have performed a post-broadcast encore. The band Dr. Dog recently treated concertgoers to 10 additional songs after the live broadcast ended.

“Free At Noon” is open to the general public, but registration is required. To receive information about the concerts and to learn who will be performing, sign up for the weekly WXPN newsletter. WXPN members receive advance notice about the performers and can sign up early for the concerts.

Music lovers who can’t make it to World Cafe Live can listen live on WXPN 88.5 FM, and also on the NPR website. The concerts are also archived at NPR and can be accessed at the WXPN website.

Originally published on February 2, 2012