PATTY CRASH THE POP
INSIDE: BLACK LANDLORD/ R6 CYPHER/ TOY SOLDIERS/ THE NEW FOLK REVIVAL/ BLONDELL REYNOLDS BROWN & MUCH, MUCH MORE
Photo of the crowd listening to tUnE-YarDs at the Piazza at Schmidt's during the 2nd Street Festival, by G.W. Miller III.
CONTENTS | Issue #3 Fall 2011
THE JUMP OFF Da Rezarekt, CAT VET, The New Connection, Emily Pukis and the Vagrants, Black Landlord, R6 Cypher, O.H.M., Chalk & The Beige Americans, the Legacy of Black Radio, Y-Not Radio, Toy Soldiers, how music connected Eric Smith and Peter Marinari, Logan Neubauer, the healing power of music, Beatbox doctor David Gudis, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Doo Wop and the sounds of the city.
the JUMP concert calendar
Every summer, teenage girls are taught how to be rock stars - and strong women. The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club is nearing 150 years of song.
THIS PLACE ROCKS
MUSIC & POLITICS Councilwoman at large Blondell Reynolds Brown talks about the importance of art and culture.
JUMP PRESENTS People have been dancing around a bonfire in Philly for nearly 30 years. Catch the latest wave of folk music. Modern Bropar talks to Matt Bones.
FOOD THAT ROCKS Little Bar is a mystery. It was an Italian restaurant. Then it became a sports bar. And now it's an intimate music venue with craft beers, bar food and weekly jazz.
There's a lot of activity in the Philly music scene. We have info about the Hard Rock Cafe, the new Milkboy in Center City, Black and Nobel, and Vox Populi.
COVER STORY: PATTY CRASH She's been laying low in recent years, plotting her route to musical domination. The Iceland native who now calls Philly home is finally ready to break out.
We give you our picks for shows to see over the next two months.
MUSIC & EDUCATION
LINER NOTES Keith Birthday of Norwegian Arms accidentally meets a master guitar craftsman in Ecuador.
COVER PHOTO: Patty Crash at the Nicos Gun loft. Photo by Marie Alyse Rodriguez. Styling by Madison Rupert. JUMPphilly.com
publisher G.W. MILLER III senior staff KELSEY DOENGES LAUREN GORDON COLIN KERRIGAN CHRIS MALO MEGAN MATUZAK BRANDEE NICHOLS staff LAUREN ARUTE, SOFIYA BALLIN, BRITTNEY BOWERS, CHRISTOPHER BROWN, NICK BRYDELS, CARY CARR, JACOB COLON, MATTHEW EMMERICH, CHRISTIE FRANCIS, ASHLEY HALL, SARAH HULL, AARON JOLLAY, EVAN KAUCHER,RICK KAUFFMAN, ROSELLA LaFEVRE, ERIK LEXIE, KIM MAIALETTI, NIESHA MILLER,CORY POPP, JOE POTERACKI, MARIE ALYSE RODRIGUEZ, JANE SORENSON, KEVIN STAIRIKER contributors MADDY COURT, TOM Di NARDO, DAVID MAIALETTI, BRENDAN MULVIHILL, MADISON RUPERT, TIM WHITAKER much love and thanks to KYLE BAGENSTOSE, PHIL BECK, MIKE BIXLER, CINDY BONFINI-HOTLOSZ, JARED BREY, RUSS CAMPBELL, MEREDITH EDLOW, MARY BETH RAY, LIZ SCHILLER special thanks to IRVING NAVARRO (email@example.com) for devloping our new design scheme WE PRINT 10,000 FULL-COLOR ISSUES FOUR TIMES PER YEAR, IN MARCH, JUNE, SEPTEMBER AND NOVEMBER. WE DISTRIBUTE THEM FREE AT PHILLY MUSIC VENUES, STUDIOS, RESTAURANTS, RECORD SHOPS, BARS, CLOTHING BOUTIQUES, GYMS, BOOK STORES, COFFEE SHOPS, UNIVERSITIES, CLUBS AND OTHER PLACES WHERE MUSIC LOVERS HANG OUT. IF YOU WANT MAGS AT YOUR LOCATION, EMAIL US AT JUMPPHILLY@GMAIL.COM. JUMP is an independent magazine published by Mookieland Inc. The magazine was created by a bunch of passionate people with no money and no plans to get rich in publishing. This is a total break-even-at-best venture so please, please don't sue us. We welcome your input. If you want to get involved, if you have story ideas or if you just have something to say, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We really need advertisers. Advertising money allows us to print this magazine and tell stories about the awesome people doing awesome stuff in Philly. By supporting JUMP, you are supporting the local music scene. Philly rocks. Spread the word.
Four Words of Advice
SEPTEMBER 23 RD
THE SHINS CAGE THE ELEPHANT
Look around, dude. Things are kind of bleak out there. That War on Terror thing is still going on. London burned this summer, followed by several other UK cities. Our federal government almost closed for business in August. A few dozen teenagers ransacked downtown Philly so much that the mayor told all kids they were no longer welcome on Center City streets after 9 pm. Of course, now that kids are back in school, everything will be good, right? Because Philly schools are safe havens, yeah? Here's the deal: the government is full of self-interested shills for big business, on both sides of the aisle. The economy is not going to bounce back anytime soon. The unemployment rate is not going to decrease significantly, regardless of who gets elected (or re-elected) president next year. And Philly schools? The public school system was a mess long before Queen Arlene arrived and it will continue to be a mess now that she's gone. Cheery stuff, eh? What can you do, aside from moving to Jersey and watching copious amounts of Netflix in the perceived safety of your cookie-cutter home (which is steadily depreciating in value)? How about this: start a band. Learn to play an instrument. Write lyrics. Sing. Become a DJ. Do it. The best music was born out of difficult times. The folk revival of the late 50s and early 60s was spurred by anti-war sentiments and Civil Rights struggles. Punk was spawned during crappy economic times, as was hip hop, and, later, grunge. When life gets tough, people get creative. They experiment and they pour their passion into their art. Life will be pretty rough over the next few years. That massive debt the government keeps growing isn't going away. The Chinese will one day ask for their loans to be repaid. We can only rely upon our good looks and brash attitude for so long. Our glory days may be over. So, channel your energy. Find your passion. Find an audience. Fuck the workaday world and their consumer culture. Buying new stuff won't give you a sense of purpose in life. But having a voice through the music you create? That is self-empowering.
PANDA BEAR • ELBOW THE HOLD STEADY
THE THE PAINS PAINS OF OF BEING BEING PURE PURE AT AT HEART HEART THE THEJOY JOYFORMIDABLE FORMIDABLE• COMPANY • COMPANYOF OFTHIEVES THIEVES DALE DALEEARNHARDT EARNHARDTJR. JR.JR. JR.• YUCK • YUCK • DEAD MINIATURE TIGERS MINIATURE TIGERS • DEADCONFEDERATE CONFEDERATE SATURDAY
SEPTEMBER 24 TH
GATES AT 10:30AM
PRETTY LIGHTS GIRL TALK
FOSTER THE PEOPLE • RAKIM CULTS • KREAYSHAWN
BLACK BLACK THOUGHT THOUGHT && J.J. PERIOD PERIOD MIXTAPE MIXTAPE TITUS TITUS ANDRONICUS ANDRONICUS •• DJ DJ ?UESTLOVE ?UESTLOVE THE THE VACCINES VACCINES • TENNIS • TENNIS • THE • THE BUDOS BUDOS BAND BAND CHARLES CHARLESBRADLEY BRADLEY• MATES • MATESOF OFSTATE STATE• ZEE • ZEEAVI AVI ••ANAMANAGUCHI BLACK BLACKLANDLORD LANDLORD• ANAMANAGUCHI ANAMANAGUCHI PATTY PATTYCRASH CRASH A2
- DAY PARTY •¬H
NERS PERFO RMI EADLI
N G F U LL S E T S !
FRIDAY & SATURDAY, SEPT 23 & 24 ACROSS FROM THE SOUTH PHILAD DELPHIA SPORTS COMPLEX
3 STAGES| | MUSIC, MUSI MU SIC, C, C C, COMEDY OM MEDY & FOOD B BAZAAR
Start a fucking band. If nothing else, go appreciate the amazing creative talent that exists in this city that manufactures next to nothing anymore. Where we were once the "Workshop of The World," Philadelphia is now a city that needs a reason to exist. To me, music - and the arts in general - could be our raison d'etre. That's what we should be known for.
FOR TICKETS, LINE-UP LINE-UP & & SHOW INFO: SHOW INFO: POPPEDPHILADELPHIA.COM, TICKETMASTER.COM, TICKETMASTER OUTLETS, CHARGE BY PHONE AT 800-745-3000, OR THE ELECTRIC FACTORY BOX OFFICE LOCATED AT 421 N. 7 TH STREET, MON–SAT, 12 PM–6 PM & SHOW DAYS (NO SERVICE FEE FOR CASH PURCHASES!)
SCAN FOR MORE INFO!
- G.W. Miller III
P RO D U C E D B Y:
GATES AT 2:30PM
FOCUS on Science Interested in a behind-the-scenes look at cutting edge biomedical research? Subscribe to the FOCUS podcast series by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for interviews with innovative scientists whose research opens the doors for new therapies and potential cures in human health. Visit bwfund.org/podcasts or search for â€œWellcomeâ€? in iTunes.
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is a private foundation located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Find out more at bwfund.org
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
The Super Friends
Da Rezarekt teaches Lauren Gordon how funk, hip hop and rock & roll can live in blissful harmony. Cramped around the small Grape Room stage in Manayunk, a sea of partially-popped collars, fedoras and tight T-shirts use the last few moments of downtime between sets to order their beers. Then Da Rezarekt takes the stage. Marisa “Guitargrrrl” Salazar, petite and clad in an Avenged Sevenfold shirt, begins shredding a lick that could put members of the aforementioned band to shame. Puffy Dee Miller slides in with a smooth, funk-bass groove, his light-colored dreadlocks whipping around frantically. Derek “Supa Star Dar” Gallagher keeps the beat on drums, as his formally serene demeanor morphs into a burst of pulsating rhythm. Front man Supreem spits lyrics with such force in his deep, gravely voice that he already needs to shed his thick Sixers jersey. The reactions in the crowd suddenly go from wary, creeping smiles to full-blown grins. Their light toe tapping turns into a full-blown dance celebration. The formerly aloof people wearing sunglasses indoors shamelessly break out their best dance moves. The veteran hip hop/funk/rockers know how to get a party going. “Everyone brings something to the table,” says Marisa, referring to her bandmates. “We're like the Super Friends. Seriously, if you ate the same JUMPphilly.com
kind of foods every day, it starts to get on you. We bring a variety.” Their sound is diverse enough that they can’t be pigeonholed. “We bill ourselves as rock/ funk/ hip hop,” Supreem says after the Grape Room show. “I was thinking how that relates to our personalities: Marisa is the rock. Puff is the funk. I'm the hip hop. And Dar is the pulse, the heartbeat of what keeps all the genres together. We formed our own musical genre by coming together.” Supreem had been a member of the four-piece band Simple & Supreem, which dropped an album and started getting a loyal following before they broke up in 2006. After meeting Puffy through a mutual friend, Supreem and Puffy launched the new band. They experimented with a few lineups before landing Marisa and Dar. Then, the chemistry blossomed. “Sometimes we practice in Puff's basement and we just click,” Dar proudly boasts. “What happens is like magic.” Da Rezarekt will release their album Bang Da Bricks this fall, most likely followed by a tour. They have a love for the road and they say they are ready to take their eclectic sound nationwide. “We play what we love,” Puffy explains simply, “the way we want to do it.” 7
The JUMP Off
Photo by Evan Kaucher.
Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner Maddy Court hangs at The Bathhouse, home of CAT VET, the band that bonded over "Dirty Dancing." It's a quiet Tuesday night in Cedar Park. A dozen and a half people file into the Unholy Trinity House, which contrary to its contentious name, is a basement laundry room decorated with Christmas tree lights THE TIME OF THEIR LIFE: (L to R) Jesse Riggins, Dawn Riddle and Kristin Hankins at their West and a portrait of President Obama taped to Philadelphia home, where traveling punk bands frequently crash. the water heater. Four bands are on tonight, including Cher Horowitz, a punk quartet Jesse, 28, and Dawn, 29, go way back - they were neighbors in Portland, from San Francisco that encourages everyone in the audience to take off Oregon . Both coincidentally moved to Philadelphia, where they met their shirts (with limited success). After several rowdy performances in Kristin, 23. The trio moved in together and bonded over a love of "Dirty the sweaty room, West Philadelphia's CAT VET, the final act of the night, Dancing," which Kristin watched every day in a post-breakup slump. takes the floor and begins a rumbling session. Geographical biases aside, They made the leap to band mates during the summer of 2010. One of they get the crowd bouncing, slamming and head-nodding the hardest. the band’s favorite songs is entitled “Dirty Dancing.” There's not much significance behind the name of the band, for the CAT VET is the collective sound of roommates Dawn Riddle, Jesse record. Jesse simply overheard a guy at work say he had to take his cat to Riggins and Kristin Hankins. Dawn and Jesse alternate playing guitar the vet. She thought the name sounded cool. and drums, while Kristin sings lead vocals. Their set is a raw jambalaya of noise that, in the grand tradition of lo-fi punk, makes distinguishing the Over the year and a half since their inception, CAT VET has become a precise lyrics impossible. On one song, it sounds like Kristin sings the staple of the small but loyal basement punk scene. words "cat vet" over and over. In some ways, the scene's smallness can also be stifling. The members The definite set highlight is their song “Time Boner.” of CAT VET admit that it sometimes feels like they're playing the exact All Kristin has to do is divulge that it's a song about the fourth Terminator same set list with the same lineup of bands to the exact same faces at the movie and the audience goes crazy, screaming out Arnold impressions. same few venues. “Are any of you even old enough to have seen the Terminator movies?” "There's a network and we all kind of know each other," says Jesse. someone in the crowd sasses during the Unholy Trinity show. Weary of exhausting their welcome, they've put themselves on The majority of the crowd, however, rushes to defend CAT VET’s temporary hiatus from playing at The Marvelous record shop in West credibility and for a moment, there’s tension. Thankfully, the song starts Philly. The Unholy Trinity House may be next to be barred. before things get too out of hand. They are also tired of being referred to as a girl band. "People will come up to us after shows and say, 'You sound like When they're not playing local venues or touring, Dawn, Jesse and Bratmobile,'" says Kristin. “Like, that's the only band they've heard of Kristin retreat to their home, dubbed the Bathhouse because it has an old with girls.” sauna. The Bathhouse is cavernous in that high-ceilinged, echoey way of CAT VET's got nothing against Bratmobile. They just do not think they West Philly Victorian rowhomes. The trio frequently offer it out as a crash sound much like them. pad for wandering punk groups. "People say we're cute,” Jesse adds. “I hate being called cute. If we were After the Unholy Trinity House show is no exception. Members of Cher dudes, no one would say we're cute. They'd say we were dudes in a band." Horowitz make BLTs in the Bathhouse kitchen and it feels like a summer Yet CAT VET remains unfazed in the face of backhanded compliments camp for punk bands. and inaccurate riot grrrl comparisons. In the living room, Jesse cuddles with Cher Horowitz’s bassist, telling The trio is resolute that anyone can start a band and go on tour. They the joke about the guy who walks into a psychiatrist's office wearing would especially like to see more women playing music. nothing but Saran Wrap. "I think there are fewer women in bands because they're intimidated and "And the doctor says, 'I can clearly see you’re nuts!'" Dawn bursts, when they do, they're discouraged," says Jesse. "Start a band. Just do it. stealing the punch line. Stop being a baby and just do it." 8
Photo by Brandee Nichols.
The Reconnected Free from school obligations, The New Connection tightened their sound and dropped a well-received album, as Brandee Nichols learns. The New Connection originally began as a three-piece band formed by a group of high school friends – Gerald Busz, Todd Mecaughey and Michael Winkler. Then Winkler moved to China, the others ran off to different colleges and the band sort of fizzled, temporarily. Four years later, when Mecaughey was an audio engineering student at Drexel, he met classmate Alex Baranowski. They needed a senior project, so they revived the old band, previously known simply as The Connection. They called Busz, who was attending West Chester University, to see if he’d be up for using their old songs for something new. A fellow Drexel student, Rory Geoghegan approached his friends about joining the band. “I was like, ‘Hey, do you need a guitar player?’” he remembers asking. “And they were like, ‘No, we’re gonna be a three-piece. Sorry.'” A few weeks into the project, however, the trio realized they needed
Geoghegan on guitar. Matt Sommer, who was then acting as the band’s manager and promoter, was later brought in to play keys. Another Drexel friend asked them to play at Millcreek Tavern, so they needed a name. “We were The Connection,” Mecaughey recalls, “but now it’s a new thing. So, The New Connection.” They draw influences from well-known bands like The Beatles, Minus the Bear, Queen, The Clash and Bob Marley & the Wailers. They bring together the best parts of lesser-known bands, like Paulson and The Hush Sound, while aspiring to be as good as indie rock harmonizing geniuses Local Natives. “I think a lot of people don’t achieve that level of amazingness,” Busz adds passionately. “We are influenced by them big time.” The New Connection reluctantly refer to their music as progressive pop rock, though there are definitely hints of reggae and other genres. What was reborn as a senior project evolved into their first album, Mentally-Physically, in 2007. Without the stress of studying or doing homework, The New Connection successfully tweaked and tuned their sound into a significantly more mature progression. The band celebrated the release of their self-titled follow-up album last May with a show at Johnny Brenda’s. “In a way, our new record is kind of like our first record because MentallyPhysically was a student project,” Geoghegan says. They spent the summer promoting the new album by playing concerts and festivals, including stops in the the East Village and Maine. Even after performing away from the city, they are loyal to the Philly scene. “There’s a reason why people have recognized Philadelphia as a great music scene,” Busz says. “There’s a lot more camaraderie. I think it has to do with the Phillies. I’m not even bullshitting. It’s going to hit a peak when the Phillies win the World Series this year. If they don’t, I’m going to kill myself.” Baranowski joins in on the joke by adding, “So, if anybody can sing, send your stuff to The New Connection…” “ReplaceGeraldBusz.com,” Sommer sarcastically adds.
Photo by Mary Kinsley.
The JUMP Off
We're Not a Cult Mary Kinsley hangs on the roof with Emily Pukis and the Vagrants, who, despite the blood and five-foot tall cross, are not Satan worshippers. Emily Youcis crawls through the open window onto the roof, the tar still a little sticky from the hot, humid day. The South Philly streetlights illuminate her as she strolls over in her black skate sneakers, the gentle breeze stirring her T-shirt and skirt. “This is Franzia,” Youcis says, identifying the light pink liquid inside the two-liter A&W root beer bottle she then takes a swig from. With her is Leanne Martz, carrying a Wawa iced tea jug, as she is the designated driver for tonight’s festivities. It’s Youcis’ 21st birthday but the two girls are more than willing to speak about matters concerning their performance art/basement punk band, Emily Pukis and The Vagrants. Youcis sings and Martz, 20, plays the guitar. The two met at Temple’s Tyler School of Art, where they are both students, and immediately started making music together during the 2009-2010 school year. “I was starting to get into GG Allin and I wanted to perform myself,” Youcis says. “I think I couldn’t hold myself back anymore.” She had been developing a reputation behind the scenes as the creator and primary voice of the psychedelic, animated Internet show, "Alfred’s Playhouse," which stars a talking, often obscene dog. “Me and my friend knew of Emily,” Martz explains. “We knew she was kind of infamous. I heard she was trying to put a band together.” Now the two play loud shows at DIY venues around the city, usually in costume – faux blood-splattered shirts and raccoon-eyed makeup, for instance, or fishnet stocking-clad Strawberry Shortcake outfits. And they have a handmade, fake blood-covered cross as a prop (it’s name is Buddy the Bloody Cross). The pair converse on the roof as the night darkens, the air losing its scent of barbeque. Youcis sits on her knees, chugging her Franzia, and says, “I want to create an experience. I want to shock an audience.” The Vagrants perform songs titled “Child Abuse” and “Catholic Moms.” Because the band has no official recordings, they need to make an impression during shows. The antics at one recent show got wild. “We played two songs and people were hanging from the ceiling,” Martz says. “The sprinklers went off and everybody had to leave.” “The fire people asked if it was a Satanic cult,” Youcis adds, mentioning the bloody cross. Martz leaves the roof to grab her acoustic guitar. “We learn from every show,” Youcis says. “Something weird happens but that’s what we want.” When Martz returns, Youcis says, “We should cover ‘Born to Be Wild.’ I loved that as a kid.” “I don’t want to sound like another band,” Martz replies as she sits down and tunes the strings. She begins to play the Misfits’ song “Last Caress.” The Vagrants’ style and sound reflect their lack of concern about fitting into the mainstream. Both Martz and Youcis cite Bikini Kill, Black Sabbath, Cannibal Corpse, Queen and, of course, GG Allin as some of their major influences. Youcis sings in a soulful falsetto, dramatically howling for emphasis at times. “I wish I could watch you and play at the same time,” Martz says and then smiles at Youcis. The Vagrants’ writing technique is collaborative. Martz will test out a 10
new song on acoustic guitar. “Then Emily makes it Emily,” she says. The Vagrants’ self-recorded acoustic videos display their chemistry – Youcis’ impulsive but clever vocal style is steadily supported by Martz’s heavy strumming and backup vocals. Youcis and Martz decide to hold a brief, spontaneous concert on the roof. They dangle their feet over the edge of the rowhome and enthusiastically burst into an acoustic version of their song “Retarded People.” This casual session differs drastically from the Vagrants’ electric shows. “It’s heavy as fuck,” Youcis says, describing the Vagrants’ sound. “We call ourselves a punk and metal band but we’re good old rock and roll. We like it heavy but we got soul.” The Vagrants play two new songs, untitled as of yet, but the lyrics are memorable enough. The first song contains the line, “One day I will be a zombie/ and slit the throats of my enemies.” The second: “I like to get drunk/ it’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt/ I’m not being sober tonight.” “Let’s play ‘Sodomy’ and call it a night,” Martz says. “Everyone knows this one!” Youcis replies. It’s the Vagrants’ rendition of The Cranberries’ song “Zombie,” with altered lyrics (“sodomy” for “zombie,” etc). It’s a fan favorite at shows. Tonight, the rooftop performance is spot on, as usual. Youcis’ sweetly sings the chorus (“in your ass, in your ass”), promptly making a neighbor look out his bedroom window to see what’s going on. “I think that was kinda loud,” Martz says when the song is finished. “It would brighten everyone’s night,” Youcis answers. Not everyone appreciates Youcis and her musical stylings. In April, a local baseball blogger discovered that his pistachio vendor at Phillies games, Youcis, is also an irreverent artist and musician. He warned his readers to avoid buying pistachios from her due to her “creepy and disturbing” off-duty activities. It’s approaching 11 p.m. and Youcis must get ready to go to the bars. The Vagrants perform one last piece, “City of Love,” a song fundamentally hardcore but with a rap breakdown from Youcis in the middle. “We have a goldmine of songs,” Youcis says afterward. That, combined with their energy and talents, has many thinking Emily Pukis and The Vagrants could blow up. “We have the potential to be more creative and poetic,” Martz explains. “We’re just too lazy about it.” JUMPphilly.com
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
Black Landlord Wants You to Dance Kevin Stairiker catches the band's frontman at a bad time. But he finally gets to talk to the leader of Philly's favorite party band. “I knew as soon as I went to take a dump, you would call!” MAxx Stoyanoff-Williams bellows into the phone. “Can you call back in, like, two minutes? You can totally use this as the article intro if you want.” The proprietor of this wondrous statement is a bartender at Standard Tap and Gunner’s Run who also happens to be the frontman of one of Philly’s most energetic and entertaining bands, Black Landlord. Over the past few years, the talented collection of Philly all-star musicians has turned neighborhood events and daylong music festivals into raucous, funkadelic/rock and roll/hip hop parties. “I wanted the music to be party, dance stuff,” MAxx explains two minutes later, “and for the lyrics to have almost a contrary meaning. You know, lyrics come in secondary and that’s just the truth. So if I can have music that people want to move to and then take in the lyrics later, that’s awesome.” Of course, many of the band’s lyrics are about smoking pot, drinking, meeting girls and general partying. But you can also hear a definite intellectual cheekiness and social consciousness from MAxx, whose old school JUMPphilly.com
delivery is rooted in his days as part of the legendary ‘90s Philly hip hop trio, The Goats. In the early 2000s, MAxx spent a few years in Europe developing demos and working on other electronic-based projects. When he returned, he rounded up some of the best musicians he knew in Philly until he had amassed a group that currently boasts nine members: Meagan Rumberger, Marc Soulstein, Bob Bannon, Bruce Reckahn, Alan Abel, Michael Tramontana, Ken Brune, Adam Campos and himself. The result is the always-winning combination of MC rhyming over horn-based grooves and pounding percussions. Their new album, What You Mean To We (which has cover art featuring an homage to the '70s pop rock album Waking and Dreaming by Orleans) features six incredibly danceable and horn-drenched tracks. It’s currently available in digital format and will be available on CD and vinyl this fall with a track remixed by King Britt. The songs are catchy and the instrumentals are tight. But by listening closer, you can find another layer. This is more than just a party. Some of the songs reference substance abuse,
family issues and racism. A line in “Have I Told You” talks about MAxx getting stabbed. “I’ve never actually been stabbed but I have had girls pull knives on me,” he explains with a laugh. “I’m somewhat of a mean drunk. Me and Irish whiskey? I’m that kind of drunk that goes for the worst possible insults, you know? It’s either gonna make you cry or pull a knife out on me. Go big or go home!“ Black Landlord primarily plays in Philly due to the large number of members and their importance to the local service industry (several members, like MAxx, work at area restaurants and bars). “We don’t travel,” MAxx says. “It would be virtually impossible.” They’ll perform at the Popped! Music Festival at FDR Park on September 24, sharing the stage with the likes of Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Titus Andronicus, Rakim and Girl Talk. It’s a huge show for the fiercely Philly band. “I don’t know how long we’re gonna have but we’re gonna play the hits, man!” MAxx says. “I’d like to get a trumpet player for that show so we can have the biggest sound possible. We’re really looking forward to that.” 11
Hip Hop Revolution
Photos by Brittney Bowers.
The JUMP Off
Every other Sunday, the crew from R6 Cypher brings local MCs together to rap. R6 videotapes the whole thing and then broadcasts the events for the world to see. Our Sofiya Ballin listens in.
small crowd gathers outside the Premier League sneaker shop on Girard Avenue. Mostly men, they seem relaxed, slightly aloof, as they lean against the store’s large windows. But there is excitement and a slight nervous energy in the air. The MC known as Too Much Raw stands in the middle of the pack, laughing. But his brow is furrowed from the weight of responsibility – he’s one of the founders and organizers of the R6 Cypher, a bi-weekly cypher that is filmed and packaged, then broadcast online, showcasing Philly talent for the world to see. “Our number-one goal is to get every MC, producer, DJ, graffiti artist, B-boy/B-girl, skateboarder, photographer, videographer and host in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties on the R6 to showcase,” Raw says. “It sounds impossible but it’s not at all.” Raw started R6 with Nadira Rae Williams and Mic Stewart. The mission was simple: they wanted to reinvent, reintroduce, redefine, rejuvenate, revamp, resurrect hip hop, especially here in Philadelphia. “There aren’t enough MCs in Philly getting the credit they deserve,” says Raw, a 26-year old MC from West Philadelphia. “There are a lot of DJs and a lot of producers that nobody knows about. This is an opportunity to build a platform for those cats to get their name out there and get the credit they deserve. It’s also giving us a chance to build a platform for our city.”
he performers wait outside the sneaker shop for the cypher to begin. A clique of young men stand near the corner - Bucky Da Heartbreaka, Blizzy Beatda Beatup, King Skitzoe and Standin Cannon. Collectively, they’re Soul Rock Entertainment. They all grew up together in the Logan section of Philly and they’ve been rapping for six years as a collective. They found out about R6 through YouTube and submitted their music for consideration. Now, they’ll be part of an episode. “This is really giving up and coming Philly hip-hop artists a chance to get recognized and network with each other or collaborate,” Blizzy says emphatically. “It’s bringing back that hip-hop feeling of unity.” Heartbreaka adds, “It’s giving people with different styles a chance to shine because we have the hardest city to please.” Raw begins to usher people inside and the artists line up in a semicircle, surrounding a microphone on a stand. Sneakers line the walls behind them. Some of the performers bounce slightly on their heels as if ready for a boxing match. “I mean it’s just like any other sport,” Cannon explains. “Everyone has their way of getting ready. Me, personally? I like to zone out in my own way.” Raw preps the ten rappers who will freestyle as the camera rolls. The (continued on page 13)
REPRESENTIN' PHILLY: (top to bottom) Bucky Da Heartbreaka, Standin Cannon, Rich White and DJ G-Buck on the turntables. 12
boutique becomes a temporary refuge from the summer heat. Then DJ G-Buck starts the beat and Montana Blak steps up to the mic, delivering rhymes with extreme intensity. He scowls behind a pair of white sunglasses, spitting lyrics at a furious pace. Though this isn’t a battle there is an undertone of competitive edge. “Hip hop is a competitive sport,” Blak says later. “You always want to bring your A-game because there are younger guys like Soul Rock killin’ it.” However, the R6 Cypher wants to make it clear that there is no battling involved. “Battling is overrated,” Raw says. “We don’t want to see a bunch of insults. We want to showcase talent. We want to know who you are. I don’t know who you are from a battle rap!” Nadira Rae Williams agrees, saying, “There are already enough negative ideas about Philly. The foundation of the R6 was more networking and community. We didn’t want it to be about the individual.”
he community element is evident as the cypher continues and each artist takes a turn in front of the mic. If someone stumbles, the others push to continue. All heads bob and eyes stay steady in concentration listening to each other’s words as they take part in this lyrical séance. King Skitzoe, the first of the Soul Rock crew, begins rhyming at the mic. Where he was quiet and reserved, he now transforms, rapping with a deep, guttural power. As the cypher continues, people outside begin to stop and press their faces against the glass window, curious as to what’s going on. “It speaks to every demographic,” Raw explains of the R6 performers. “We have your backpackers over here, you have your conscience rappers, your hood rappers, and your Christian rappers. You might not think you can collaborate with someone because y'all are not from the same genre but this is breaking down the barriers, all of the barriers.”
he R6 Cypher project launched last spring in reaction to the direction mainstream hip hop has traveled. It’s boring, stereotypical and without soul, the R6 founders say. They released six episodes in four months. Today’s session will be the seventh episode, though only Raw is here of the three founders. Already, there are personal and professional differences pulling the three apart. “We didn’t see eye-to-eye on certain things and that’s really it,” Raw states. But he thinks the project is important enough to continue. The shoot comes to a close after each of the performers gets mic time. But the beat doesn’t stop. DJ G-Buck continues to spin. As the cameramen pack up, everyone slowly filters outside. Then another cypher erupts. The energy doesn’t stop. “The ghetto gonna be the death of me if I don’t make it out of here,” Montana Blak repeats solemnly with DJ G-Buck’s muffled beats emanating from inside the store. Everyone nods their heads in understanding. Each has their own story, hungry for a platform to tell it. “You mad?/ My bad/ but I don’t have to thank you/ my name holds the weight a fat kid’s ankle!“ rhymes rapper Rich White, who sports an elegant script tattoo of his 8-year old daughter’s name, Jocelyn. “I go out of town and I hear about our city,” Raw announces. “They look at us like we’re just a bunch of gang bangin’, hip hop, bullshit!'”
he founders of R6 say they’ll put aside their differences in order to continue pushing Philly’s talent out. “People from other countries comment on the videos saying it’s bringing hip hop back,” Williams says. “That’s all we really ever wanted.”
Photo by Dan Lidon.
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O.H.M. Has Meaning The Arts Garage is quiet but there’s always calm before the storm. Omar Samir Roper, better known as the rap artist O.H.M., takes a seat at a small table, his long dreadlocks hanging behind the chair, his hand clutching a sword. Odd? Yeah. He knows. “It has a purpose, known to myself,” says O.H.M., who was one of the MCs featured on the very first R6 Cypher last April. The performer, also an 18-year old political science major at Temple University, leaves it at that. “I have a habit with things that frustrate me,” he continues. “I can’t leave them alone. And as I went through high school and I learned about our government and the political process, it pissed me off. I can’t ignore something that so glaringly offends me.” People begin to arrive at the club. He points out a few cousins - many of the early arrivals are relatives. “It’s entertaining to see how my mind works,” he says. “When I’m freestyling it’s a lot more fluid. I allow my mind to connect points, thoughts and ideas. It’s interesting to hear information that I’ve never used before come up in my freestyle.” He spent much of the summer preparing his debut EP, 10,000 Versus, the follow-up to his March mixtape, The Darker Nations. Besides having an avid interest in politics and hip hop, O.H.M. is also a poet. “Rap and poetry have similar ancestral roots,” he says. “The core of both is that heart-to-heart dialogue to another person or a group of people.” Suddenly a woman runs up and wraps her arms around him. “My grandson is the best rapper,” Rita Lee exclaims, grinning broadly. “And I know he’ll put on a wonderful show. I am so excited!” O.H.M.’s phone rings. He answers sheepishly, “I’m doing an interview. Everyone I’ve ever known is walking up to me. It’s really awkward.” More people arrive and a jazz band begins to play. He gets more excited. In a few minutes, he’ll open up for Cappadonna of Wu-Tang Clan. “It’s fucking awesome!” he says with a quick glance at his grandmother’s disapproving glare. “When I heard Wu-Tang, they made me want to be good at rapping.” The acronym O.H.M. stands for “Ohm has meaning” and the “Ohm” can be broken down infinitely, he says. The artist is as multi-faceted as his name - amongst all his other distinctive characteristics, he’s also been a practicing Buddhist his entire life. “I practice Nichiren Daishonin, a form of Mahayana Buddhism,” he explains. “That’s not passive. It’s not about distancing yourself from the world but about becoming one with the world. And rapping is one of the most bodacious ways for me to do that.” - Sofiya Ballin
Shades of Beige Chalk & The Beige Americans are the Fisher-Price version of The Roots, as Megan Matuzak discovers. Chalk & The Beige Americans were originally just named Chalk. But then lead vocalist David “Chalk” Mayers Jr. had a revelation. “We are all variations on beige,” Mayers explains. “White people aren’t white. Black people aren’t black. We are all variations of the shade. The name is just funny. There really was no reason.” The three-man group prides themselves on comical variations of their band’s name, including BeigeHeart, Beige Matthews Band, Beigetastic, Beige Jovi, and The Beige Mayers Trio, to name a few. Mayers jokes about calling their first full-length album, which is due to be released in the fall, The Beige Album. The two-year old band's laid-back style features smooth grooves and avant-garde lyrics. “If you took a whole bunch of A Tribe Called Quest grooves, with some ‘50s fucking-bass styling over that, with guitar over top, where the acoustics are very folksy and gospel,” begins bassist Dave Kasper, “that’s how we play. How do you really explain that to people?” “We have been struggling with trying to find a phrase or a compound word for this genre,” says Mayers. “People have been calling us ‘soul hop.’ It’s just hard because I feel like we touch on a lot of genres. It’s overdone but I think our music is just a melting pot of genres. If I had to anchor it down, it would be more like funk.” (continued on the next page)
(continued from page 14)
Photos by Megan Matuzak.
“Not funk,” says drummer Rich Breazzano. “It’s a groove. It’s so simple that you could drive a truck through it. It’s like a grilled cheese sandwich. You know, it’s all the cheese and bread and then you just eat it.” However you classify them, they figure they are doing something right if they can judge by the response to their music. Their live performances show off their eclectic freestyling and jazz-like improvisations, assuring you’ll never see the same show twice. On a recent summer night at The Legendary Dobbs on South Street, the doors of the bar were wide open and the band could be heard from several blocks away. Passers-by stopped to listen. Cops leaned on streetlights, bobbed their heads and tapped their feet. “We are the Fisher-Price version of The Roots in a way,” says Mayers. “We connect with hip hop heads and people who are into pocket grooves, as well as the most tattooed, angsty punks. Even the responses from 40-plus-yearolds is unbelievable because I wasn’t around for their musical heyday. If they get down with it, it says a lot too.”
BEIGETASTIC: (top to bottom) Dave Kasper, David "Chalk" Mayers Jr. and Rich Breazzano. JUMPphilly.com
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The Sound and The Fury At the far end of the radio dial, the original rappers did more than just spin the coolest vinyl. Their stations covered stories that were ignored by the mainstream white press. They provided valuable information to black audiences, as Tim Whitaker discovers. As a kid, I was a radio junkie. At home, in the car, on vacation, I’d go up and down the radio dial, fishing for something new, a sound or personality that would take me someplace I’d never been. Almost always, my explorations would take me to the far right of the AM dial (“the ghetto,” as it was called in many radio circles). There, no matter what city you happened to be in, you’d find the hippest disc jockeys on the dial playing records you’d never get to hear on mainstream radio. The jocks on these stations played the records they wanted to hear, and their enthusiasm for the sounds they put down on their turntables would blow right through the speakers. In Philadelphia, there were two radio stations at the far right end of the dial that fit that description - the legendary WDAS, at 1480 on the AM dial, and the long-departed WHAT, at 1340. In the ‘50s through the early-to-mid ‘80s in particular, these stations created radio personalities with a style all their own. In the beginning, there was Jocko Henderson (“Eee-diddly-ock, this is the Jock, back on the scene with my record ma-chine!”). Jocko worked stints at both WHAT and WDAS and had a top-rated show in NYC as well. Because of his rhyming style, he is often referred to as the first rapper. Jerry Blavat, an original radio rapper himself, credits Jocko as an early influence. In his early years, Blavat worked at a number of small AM radio stations at the far end of the radio dial, including WHAT. Scores of radio personalities made their bones at these two AM outlets. There was Georgie Woods (“The Guy with the Goods”), who in addition to his top-rated radio show hosted live soul revue shows at the UptownTheater; Jimmy Bishop, the hippest of the hip, ever the ladies
man; Louise Williams, the “Gospel Queen” who today broadcasts on WURD (900 AM) when not serving as a state representative; Butterball, still on the air at WDAS after more than 40-plus years; WHAT’s Sonny Hopson, the “Mighty Burner;” doo-wop and soul specialist Harvey Holiday, today broadcasting on WOGL; and there was Kae Williams, Sir Lancelot and scores of others. It wasn’t until years later, as an adult, that I learned that WDAS, in particular, was more than just a radio station that played the coolest sounds in town. WDAS was a pipeline to the black community, often covering stories that were ignored by the mainstream white press. Visitors to the WDAS studios included Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Ed Bradley, later of “60 Minutes” fame, was a member of the station’s news department. During the riots of 1964, WDAS stopped playing music and reported live from the streets so that the community would hear first-hand accounts of what was happening. WDAS also sponsored bus trips to the March on Washington, and created Unity Day, for decades an important date circled by thousands of Philadelphians. Today, with few exceptions, radio stations abide by strict formats, which means radio stations sound the same from city to city. Many of the early pioneers of black radio - the real innovators of the medium - are lost to history, their legacies forgotten. The sound and fury they brought to listeners helped shape the history of the people they served. They deserve to be remembered, not simply for the energy and excitement they brought to listeners, but for their commitment to justice and freedom for all.
STYLE AND SUBSTANCE: Georgie Woods hosted a dance party (left), spun records (above) and became a beacon of information for the black community in Philadelphia. At right, a poster with WDAS disc jockeys. Images courtesy of Temple Urban Archives.
Landow Calling Josh Landow started his radio career as an intern with Y100, the defunct modern rock station. He worked his way up to being a full-time DJ. Then the station shut down in 2005. He took his Y-Rock show to WXPN, a deal that lasted until July 2010. Now, Landow runs Y-Not Radio, an online outlet, out of his East Falls apartment. Jake Friedman learns about what drives Landow. When did you first find yourself interested in radio beyond listening to it?
the scene at that time and my boss, Jim McGuinn, was visionary enough to launch Y100Rocks.com immediately When WDRE announced they after. I thought it was a great were going off the air in 1997. opportunity to keep the station That station was pretty much alive in some way, so I was where I found out right there with him. about all the music And then we that I liked. Where continued it as would I find it now? Y-Rock on XPN for a Keep in mind that few years. When the this was before management there music was all over decided to end that, I the Internet. still felt that carrying on the legacy of How did you get Y100 and exposing involved in radio? people to music that Josh Landow they wouldnâ€™t hear YNotRadio.net When WDRE was anywhere on the going off the air, they had a Philadelphia radio dial was an 2-week countdown to the important thing to do, whether end of the station. I stopped we had funding or not. by the studio one day and met a bunch of the staff. That What are your goals for Y-Not? was when I first stepped foot inside a radio studio and I I just want Y-Not to keep going was mesmerized by the inner and keep growing. I think that workings. Fortunately some of Internet radio will keep getting those people I met went over bigger as the Internet itself to Y100 and I was able to get becomes omnipresent. When an internship with them that anyone can listen to Internet summer. radio on their mobile phone or on their car stereo, then why Why do you want to do Y-Not bother listening to the crap Radio? thatâ€™s offered up on terrestrial FM stations. When Y100 went off the air, I probably would have When that happens, Y-Not will thought that it was the end offer a brand that has been a of an era. But Internet radio trusted source of good music in was starting to come on Philly for many years.
Bottom photo courtesy of Toy Soldiers. Top photo by G.W. Miller III.
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brass to percussion to create a large, thumping sound. Their first album, Whisper Down the Lane, features the hit, “Throw Me Down.” The track opens with slow and subtle drumming that evolves into a loud and passionate cacophony, with Gallo wailing like a high-pitched Delta bluesman (the song won an Independent Music Award in the blues category this year). After what Gallo claims was a disastrous tour in 2010, Toy Soldiers needed to downsize. Managing 12 people was just too cumbersome. Later that year, a new iteration of the band was introduced: Gallo on guitar and performing vocals, Dominic Billet on drums, Matt Kelly on guitar, Bill McCloskey on bass and Luke Leidy on keys. Gallo is the initial powerhouse behind the songwriting. “Say someone says something in casual conversation, or you're walking down the street and you see something that catches your attention, or bigger things like a loss or gain, or an intense feeling or happening,” says Gallo. “I like to take those things and make something out of them that is relatively permanent. It's like preserving the things in life that could otherwise go unnoticed.” He takes those ideas to the rest of the band, who then lend their creativity. “We throw our minds into the mix, have a Texas tornado match and see who comes out victorious,” says Billet, the drummer. “If not, we totally just space out and jam on riffs for weeks at a time.” Kelly says that everyone gets their two cents in while arranging songs. “That makes each song worth at least 10 cents,” he says. Toy Soldiers have played nearly everywhere in Philly, from Connie’s Ric Rac to Festival Pier. They’ve also toured up and down the East Coast, spending a extensive amount of time down South. “People down in the South love it,” Gallo says. “That kind of music is rooted there.” Along the way, Toy Soldiers has played alongside countless Philly bands, Ron Gallo and the Toy Soldiers crew get crowds jumping with a modern developing a close relationship with many brand of rambunctious Americana music, as Chris Diehl discovers. “The rock/folk/blues scene in Philadelphia is booming,” says Billet. “Those who come out to hang at these shows always seem to have a good time.” Toy Soldiers began as a joke. Last spring, the band dropped their six-song EP, Get Through The Time. “We would get drunk and go in to Ron's old basement on Juniper Street Gallo explains that the EP reflects on the time after the difficult and and just write silly stupid songs,” says co-founder, now former member painful breakup of the original 12-member Toy Soldiers. Mike Baurer. “Ron was in a band at the time, so we didn't actually set out “It’s the result of being broken down, cracked open and then rebuilt to do much with our joke songs. One day we actually wrote a song very again,” he says. randomly called, ‘I Die Blues.’ BAM! Toy Soldiers was born. “ Gallo put a lot of heart and soul into the lyrics. On the chorus of Gallo was working at Black and Brew coffeehouse in South Philly at the “Laughing Pain,” Gallo sings: “I yearn for the day when I look back and time. A customer told him he looked like the kid in a painting by Antonio laugh at my pain." Mancini, "Boy with Toy Soldiers," which is housed at "Well, now I'm laughing," he says. "When I wrote the Philadelphia Art Museum. The name stuck. the song and most of the EP songs, I clearly wasn't." “There’s no real significance," Gallo says. “We just Toy Soldiers has never been about making it big or liked the sound of the title.” breaking even. For Gallo, it has always been about Since then, Gallo and his band of revelers have seeing new places, meeting new people and doing conspired to create a rambunctious brand of soulful, what they love. Americana music that brings crowds to their feet. The band is in the early stages of creating a label, They play with a level of maturity, craftsmanship tentatively called Backrider Records. The plan is to and retro style that is surprising and impressive build a community that supports each other. Gallo from such a crew of young musicians. Their music says they hope to launch by the end of the year or carries the weight of the world, yet you can’t help in early 2012. swaying, bouncing and singing along when you “It will be a collection of services that we provide hear it. By 2007, the band grew to include twelve players, SOLDIERING ALONG: In 2010, Ron for a very strict selection of bands and artists who including the dynamic Kate Foust matching Gallo’s Gallo (top image) reformed Toy Soldiers, we feel passionate about,” says Gallo. “It's built on reducing the band from 12 people to the the ideas of community, making noise in a group vocals. rather than as a sole voice.” The band employed everything from strings to crew pictured here.
Photo by Ashley Hall.
Of Lines & Lyrics Musician Peter Marinari (right) and writer Eric Smith tell Lauren Gordon how their DIY projects led to a unique collaboration. Peter Marinari and Eric Smith probably would have stumbled across each other at some point. They are both savvy with technology and obsessed with social media. But it was music that ultimately brought them together – albeit through the Internet. “I've been obsessed with music all of my life,” says Marinari, a local singer/songwriter. “I was that 5-year-old kid in the back seat of the car who had my headphones on because I needed my tunes.” While attending Masterman High School, he wrote countless songs. He continued writing while at Drexel University. He started taking voice lessons and he began hitting as many open mic nights as possible. Then, a few years after graduating from college, his best friend, Gina Martinelli, suggested they take their playful songwriting to the next level. In 2007, Marinari and Martinelli formed Arcati Crisis. They've played all around the region, cherry-picking lyrics from Marinari's unbelievable archive of songs. “For every song that makes it into the band, I've got 25 more songs piled up,” Marinari says. To build the band's following, Marinari turned to social media. He already had been a blogger. He launched his site CrushingKrisis.com in 2000, and now claims to be the longest-running blogger in the city. He held blogathons when he released 25 songs in 24 hours annually between 2001 and 2003. And he operated a podcast from 2000 to 2008, with many of his listeners becoming regulars at concerts. He wound up following Eric Smith on Twitter because of a mutual friend. The co-founder of the local geek culture website Geekadelphia, Smith has an impressive background stretching from editing Uwishunu to marketing for Quirk Books. In November of 2010, he added "novelist" to his resume with his debut work of fiction, "Textual Healing." The novel is a Nick Hornby-esque tale of a once-famous writer, Andrew “Ace” Connors, who just lost his literati girlfriend, found his book on the discount rack and was suckered into buying an apartment-wrecking sugar glider. Ace goes on myriad adventures in a short span of time in an attempt to rekindle his passion for writing. He's surrounded by a cast of eclectic characters, who readers could easily identify or fall in love with. "Textual Healing" was a DIY project, self-released and self-promoted. Smith created an audio version, casting his friends as characters in a “podiobook.” Marinari found it through Twitter and gave it a listen.
Logan Neubauer performs with Backslider and Gash, and books basement shows around the city. - Mary Kinsley JUMPphilly.com
“The way Eric writes is this super sarcastically realistic,” Marinari says. “I actually had a tangible vision of the apartment where the character starts out.” Naturally, Marinari had his guitar in hand as he listened to the first few pages of Smith's novel. He began playing a few riffs with a few words stuck in his head. Suddenly, he wrote a whole song inspired by Smith’s lead character. Marinari played it once for his wife, Elise Wei of the band Filmstar, videotaped it and released it immediately on YouTube at 2 a.m. The next morning, Smith found himself tagged in a Twitter post, linking him to a song called “Curves Sketched In Letters.” “Peter's a poet,” Smith proclaims. “I loved his interpretation of the story. It really spoke to the whole struggling writer aspect.” Marinari and Smith exchanged several emails of gushing compliments. That led to a second song, “End With Me,” based on more of the book. Marinari played the book's release party at Tattooed Mom's and he and Smith have developed a friendship. “This all happened through social media,” states Marinari. “I always encourage local artists to constantly engage. You need to talk to people, constantly.”
Why do you think it's important to keep Philly's punk/hardcore scene alive? The city has potential to have a fucking great scene. Like every city, there are enthusiastic, creative individuals who can and do contribute to the scene, and deserve an outlet for their frustration. It always bums me out when I meet someone in a sick band that's had trouble finding shows or hospitality in
Philly. I want to change that. What is the moment or experience in your musical career that stands out to you most? Luc Lemay of Gorguts bought a Backslider shirt at a show in NYC and wore it on stage at their show here. Their first album is one of my favorite death metal records, so that was a huge geek-out moment for me. 19
Photos by Brandee Nichols.
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The Healing Power of Music Our writer, Brandee Nichols, watches as musicians make people feel better at the Magee Rehabilitaion Hospital.
eg Ryder is busy making sure everything is in place for this evening’s live music performance. The second floor conference room of the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital is nearly empty, save for a single volunteer parked in front of a nearby television, watching the Phillies game. Filled with empty chairs that will soon be filled by patients, family members and volunteers, the evening’s musical guests set up for their sound check. Ryder, Community Programs Coordinator for Magee, converses with the two performers, members of the folk band Digging Up Earth, about the best way to bring music to patients who can’t leave their rooms. “Whatever the patients want!” Julia Lebonitte, 23, responds enthusiastically. As bandmate Allison Coulter, 22, sets up her microphone stand, Ryder walks through halls to promote tonight’s performance. Originally scheduled as a rooftop concert, the executive decision was made to move it inside due to the overwhelming heat outside. A patient and relative waiting by the elevator overhear chatter about the concert and they are eager to attend. “We’re planning on it!” the relative tells Ryder.
agee has seen a variety of live music performances this year in the cafeteria during meal times as well as on the Center City building’s rooftop, which boasts amazing skyline views. Opera and Irish singers visited, and an Elvis impersonator put on a show. The performances are part of Magee’s informal music therapy program.
The idea is that music can help people heal – by taking their minds of their ailments, and by inspiring them to move, sing and/or dream. Sometimes, the shows are with larger audiences. Other times, the musicians enter patient’s rooms and perform at their bedside. Ryder loves the idea of these intimate sessions, having more one-onone experiences between musicians and patients. Inspired by Musicians on Call, the 12-year old national program where musicians perform in hospitals, she wants to continue these performances on a regular basis. “We’re hoping to possibly partner with them at some point,” she says. “Or maybe even just create something on our own. We have some musicians and talented people who want to give back.” Digging Up Earth, here tonight for their third time, may become the new house band at Magee, appearing once per month. “I just think they have great music,” Ryder says. “But they also have great personalities. They’re very warm and caring. They bring a brightness and a calmness to anybody’s room that they visit.”
ith sound check complete, Lebonitte and Coulter stroll through the halls of Magee to play songs for the patients who can’t attend the concert. With ukuleles in hand, they stop to play songs like “This Little Light of Mine” and The Beatles' “Here Comes the Sun.” “It’s nice, it’s nice,” says temporarily wheelchair-bound patient Hubert Brown, 86, as he flashes a grin at the performers. “I like it.” Recovering from bilateral knee surgery, Brown has some music experience as well. He sings in a group called The Stillman Specials. The a cappella group is made up of five friends from five different churches. They’ve been singing gospel songs together for the past twenty years. Lebonitte and Coulter’s effortless harmonies gently echo through the JUMPphilly.com
fter roaming the halls like acoustic candy stripers, the duo make their way back to the conference room where they'll perform. Digging Up Earth, joined by their upright bassist Dan Cunha, take to the stage, providing the patients and family members with a much needed break from the daily stresses of being a patient in a hospital. Brown, making the trek from his room to the mostly-filled conference room, takes it one step further and joins the duo on stage for “This Little Light of Mine.” The octogenarian’s eyes light up as he sings, and afterward, he hugs Lebonitte and Coulter. They move from Bob Marley to Weezer, and mix in a few of their original songs. They close the night with an encore performance of “Here Comes the Sun” leading into “You Are My Sunshine.” When the performance ends, patients and guests bombard the musicians with gratitude. "You guys are great,” one patient says. “When are you coming back?”
MUSIC IS MEDICINE: Julia Lebonitte (brunette) and Allison Coulter at Magee, where they played with patient Hubert Brown (opposite). JUMPphilly.com
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
hallways, into the rooms of the recovering patients. More and more people stray into the hallway, and the performers stop in random rooms. Lebonitte and Coulter have known each other since grade school. They did musical theater together at the Moorestown Arts Advocacy Council in New Jersey. In high school, however, the two lost touch. “We didn’t really talk for years, and then she just called me,” Lebonitte says. “That’s when we moved to California together to work on the farm.” The pair traveled across country for a yearlong internship on a farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, near Sacramento. “It was inspiring, the kind of work that we did,” Coulter says. “Breathing the air. Making your lunch from the food that you were growing.” While in California, they started writing a cappella songs together. They soon began to sing and write with Kevin Dunne, guitarist of Nice Nugs and a Half, as well as sing backing vocals for a reggae band, Zuhg. Along the way, they both learned to play the ukulele. They didn’t officially form Digging Up Earth until they returned to Philly last October. Then, they spent their time buskingaround town, which led to their first regular gig. “We were just playing and a woman came up to us and wanted us to play music for her kids,” Lebonitte recalls. “So she got all of her neighborhood together and we would have music hour with all of the kids every Tuesday morning. It was awesome.” Last spring, they started playing for crowds in Rittenhouse Square, educating as well as entertaining them. This fall, Digging Up Earth will give music lessons to children at Little Bar in Bella Vista. “Like a school of rock for little kids,” Coulter adds excitedly. They connected with Magee when Lebonitte’s mother was a patient. Her father suggested that they consider playing for the patients. Lebonitte and Coulter had both considered music therapy as a career. Coulter even briefly studied music therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “I know how it feels to be affected by music,” Lebonitte says. “Hearing certain types of music just uplifts you.” “It’s really nice to see the patients smile,” Coulter responds.
Paging Dr. Beatbox Dave Gudis has beatboxed around the world. And now he's a doctor who helps people hear, as G.W. Miller III learns. David Gudis overheard a kid in high school making cool drum noises with his mouth. He was drawn to the rhythmic sounds – it was music, and the only instrument was that guy. Gudis decided right then that he had to learn how to do the same thing. “I didn’t even know it was beabtboxing the first year I was doing it,” he says now with a laugh. He continued making beats when he went to Columbia University as a pre-med student. In New York, he began performing at open mic nights under the name MC Squared. He met DJs and rappers and they started inviting him to their shows. Then, Gudis went big time. He made it onto "Showtime at the Apollo," and won. He performed numerous times on the program. He started making appearances with legendary beatboxers like Doug E. Fresh and Kenny Muhammad. Over the last decade, he’s performed in Spain, Germany, Rwanda, Cambodia, Japan and all across the United States. “Beatboxing is a great outlet,” Gudis, now 30, says. “If I have any thought in my head, I can make people feel it. There’s just a mic between you and the people. It’s so raw. There’s nothing else like it.” Despite all the perks of being in show business, Gudis always knew that medicine was his calling. In 2004, he entered medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He has continued performing though. One of his most memorable nights, he says, was at Transit on Spring Garden Street. He was on the same bill as M.I.A. and Diplo. Gudis took the stage for soundcheck after M.I.A. went through her sound. So, while testing the system, Gudis did a beatbox version of M.I.A.’s hit “Galang.” “She loved it,” he recalls. “She came up on stage and started singing. Diplo came up and started scratching.” They repeated the routine later during the actual performance. Gudis is currently a resident at Penn, and he works often with people suffering from hearing loss. His two worlds now collide. “I can be a doctor and help people hear?” he says. “Shit. That’s what I want to do.” Gudis will perform as part of the Philly FM Fest on September 24 at Invincible Pictures Sound Stage (1600 N. 5th Street) before the screening of the documentary Beatboxing: The Fifth Element of Hip Hop. 21
The JUMP Off
World-Class Music in Intimate Settings For more than 25 years, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society has brought internationally-renowned musicians to the city. Tom Di Nardo explains how the organization has thrived by keeping ticket prices low. Can you imagine hearing the world’s greatest artists, in venues scattered around the city, with their promoters actually insisting on ridiculously low ticket prices? That’s been the mantra of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, an organization with a formal name but with the virtual patent on audiencefriendliness. They presented 64 programs in their 25th season last year and they have 60 on tap this season, making them the largest promoter of their kind in the country. Virtually every internationally-renowned pianist, violinist, instrumentalist, vocalist, major chamber ensemble and string quartet has cycled through Philly, happy to play imaginative and inspiring programs of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Schubert and many other musical giants to enthusiastic houses. Intimate venues help too - the Kimmel’s Perelman Theater, the Port of History Museum, American Philosophical Museum, Fleisher Art Memorial, the Art Museum, Settlement School and Temple’s Rock Hall. There’s a secret why the artists return: reverence and respect for the principles of founder and artistic Anthony Checchia director Anthony Checchia, who insists on relatively inexpensive ticket prices ranging from $16.50 to $23 (only the Perelman Theater tacks on an additional $4). Many of the touring artists and ensembles play the same program a few nights later at New York’s Carnegie Hall - for $65 to $85, or more. Love of music, rather than profit, has always been Checchia’s guide. In the late 1950s, he and Frank Salomon took over the administration of the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, founded in 1951 by legendary pianist Rudolf Serkin. This intense crucible of gifted young musicians working closely with master artists (the current artistic directors are the unparalleled pianists Richard Goode and Mitsuko Uchida) has launched three generations of major names. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, for instance, insists he decided to become a performing musician at Marlboro. “In the 1960s,” says Checchia, “there were a few small concert series
in Philadelphia but nothing that lasted. We presented combinations of Marlboro players a few times, though there weren’t many good venues then. But we saw there was an audience. We incorporated in 1985 and our first performances by the Juilliard and Guarneri String Quartet sold out, with hundreds turned away. The next year we began a piano series and the concerts grew from seven to 10, then 13, 21, 26. “Our principle has always been not to expand unless there was a need but we found there was great interest in wind players, vocalists and new music. We presented jazz for a while and all kinds of diverse programs. In recent years, we have teamed with the great young artists from the Curtis Institute, the Academy of Vocal Arts, Settlement Music School and Temple Prep, and offered master classes in schools.” Another of Checchia’s fields of expertise is choosing the right venue, recognizing that smaller ones are often better for young talents who haven’t yet established big names. “Some things sound better in certain places and some concerts require more intimacy,” said Checchia. “But artists know we care about them, and Philadelphia is now an important Philip Maneval touring stop with a sophisticated audience - that doesn’t clap between movements!” The Society’s executive director Philip Maneval, also a composer, is intensely proud of the 45 new works commissioned in the last 20 years especially when arts funding is the first to be cut. “We’ve presented new music by most local composers,” he says, “and take pride in a huge number of world premieres and Philadelphia premieres commissioned by the touring ensembles themselves. “We try to connect with younger people, and stress a friendly environment. At the Philosophical Society (425 Chestnut Street) we have a social series, in which attendees have sampled wine, beer, cupcakes, chocolate and other delicacies by local vendors while getting acquainted.” Checchia and Maneval attend virtually every concert. They’re the smiling guys you’ll see in the lobby afterward, being thanked by a blissful crowd.
UPCOMING HIGHLIGHTS: (L to R) violinist Leonidas Kovakos performs on October 7, pianist Richard Goode on October 11, Time For Three play on October 14, pianist Di Wu performs on October 23, mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager takes the stage on November 15. Check www.pcmsconcerts.org for details on these shows, as well as other events. 22
The Sounds of the City (50s-Style) On September 17, the Doo Wop Festival will take place on Penn's Landing, celebrating the signature sound of 1950s urban teenagers. Jillian Mallon traces the genre to its roots, and learns why the style has practically disappeared. On a busy Tuesday afternoon at the Bourse building on Independence Mall, Lee Jolles mans his station at the Grande Olde Cheesesteak booth, rushing to feed a crowd of hungry 8th grade tourists in matching T-shirts. Jolles started the shop more than 30 years ago so that visitors to Philadelphia could taste a real Philly cheesesteak while visiting the nearby Liberty Bell. His passion for the flavors of Philadelphia, however, extends beyond the stereotypical sandwich. Jolles’ other passion is street-corner harmony, better known as doo wop. “I was about 8-years old and I had an older brother listening to it,” says Jolles, who grew up in West Philly. “It was our music. That meant a lot to me because what was out there was pop: Sinatra, Doris Day, Perry Como, Dean Martin. Doo wop was just for us, you know, with the hoodlumism that went with it.” The term “doo wop” was coined in 1961 by a writer for the Chicago Examiner. He was describing the type of music that blossomed in the 1950s when groups of people gathered to harmonize on the street corners of urban areas. Doo wop is an early form of rhythm and blues music, featuring a capella singing about everyday lives of youths. Jolles, now known as DJ Mister Lee to his listeners on Warminster’s WRDV 89.3 FM, hosts an oldies show that includes an artillery of doo wop hits that rarely – if ever – have been heard on the radio. He’s also the current president of the Philadelphia Group Harmony Association, a group dedicated to the preservation of doowop music and street corner harmony. “I was raised on a corner, which is not unusual,” Jolles proclaims while leaning back in his chair, a pack of Kent cigarettes popping out of his shirt pocket. “Everybody hung out on a corner.” When he was a kid, his family parties featured performances by the local act The Fantasies. Jolles and his friends would try to harmonize with them. Bands emerged all around his neighborhood. Group harmony in America dates back to the 1800s with slave songs. It evolved in the 1930s when The Mills Brothers formed the JUMPphilly.com
basis of modern group harmony by imitating instruments through their voices, according to Charlie Horner, the longtime WXPN radio host and co-leader of "Classic Urban Harmony," a website dedicated to the history of doo wop and rhythm and blues music. Formal singing groups followed this trend until the 1950s, when group harmony took to the streets, morphing into the spontaneous and infectious sounds of doo wop. The songs evoked the congested urban existence the young performers experienced – lyrics bragged about cars and wooed girls, and the harmonized rhythms mimicked the frenetic sounds of the city. “I recall times when I was young going into Center City Philadelphia and hearing groups singing around City Hall in the tunnel area,” recalls Horner. “You get a natural echo. They would sing in subways and in tunnels and places where you had a little bit of echo. It filled out the voices.” Singing outside also brought the inner city communities together – every corner had their own group, and every neighborhood had their own sound. That also created rivalries among the young greasers in white T-shirts and black leather jackets. “It was part of the neighborhood,” says Jerry Blavat, the longtime deejay known as "The Geator with the Heater." “You were a part of the neighborhood and the music was a part of our culture. That music was not our parents’ music. Our parents related to Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Lane, The Mills Brothers, The Four Aces. Our music was Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, The Cliptones, The Five Satins, The Del Vikings, The Penguins.” Though doo wop was popular in a number of urban areas, Philadelphia doo wop has certain characteristics that other cities do not. “The Philadelphia sound, particularly in the early 1950s and the mid-1950s, would be strong with a high tenor lead and a strong first tenor floating in the background,” says Horner. “Philadelphia influenced doo wop by virtue of the fact that you had a heavy, inner-city black population in need of some sort of recreation. If a couple of kids started singing on the
schoolyard, they would attract attention. Other groups would listen to them and start singing and it would spread throughout the city.” Philadelphia produced a number of artists who had national hits and toured around the world. But just as fast as the genre seemed to catch on, it was obscured. “It was taken away from us very early by the British thing,” explains Jolles. “It didn’t die a natural death. It was an overnight death.” As Jolles speaks about the demise of doo wop, his voice fills with anger. “Our music was going toward Motown at that point but that was acceptable because it was similar with group harmony,” Jolles says. “The Beatles thing was absolutely different music, period. It knocked all the singers out of the box. And I think we felt we were cheated.” Because the genre was cut down in its infancy, much of the music never reached audiences beyond neighborhoods or hometowns.
“It didn’t die a natural death. It was an overnight death.” - Lee Jolles “They did not have the distribution we have today,” Jolles continues. “There was a lot of material that never got heard.” Doo wop had a revival in the 1970s after the nostalgia act Sha Na Na performed at Woodstock. But the fad waned by the end of the 70s. The interest in doo wop bands today has declined as the audience has grown old. Jerry Blavat still hosts a few shows every year at the Kimmel Center and Jolles and his Philadelphia Group Harmony Association book occasional gigs. But these days, it’s more about preserving the legacy of the doo wop. That’s the primary function of the annual Philly Doo Wop Festival, which takes place at Penn’s Landing on September 17. “Philly played a major part in the development of doo wop music,” says Horner, “and the festival is one way the city recognizes its historic contribution to this genre of music.” 23
9/6-9/11 Tuesday 09/06 Vivian Girls, Widowspeak Johnny Brenda's $12 21+
SEE THESE SHOWS Thanks to TheSwollenFox.com for listing info. Check the site for updates.
9/12-9/18 Monday 09/12 Black Landlord, Work Drugs, Hezekiah Jones & Andrew Lipke World Cafe Live FREE All ages Tuesday 09/13 Japandroids, Bass Drum of Death Kung Fu Necktie $12 21+ Wednesday 09/14 Turning Violet Violet, Bravo, Utah, Levee Drivers The Trocadero (Balcony) $8 21+
Wednesday 9/07 SESSION w/ Solomonic, Ital & Rascul Int'l Sound Systems (reggae night) Silk City $5 21+ Wednesday 09/07 The National (night 1 of 2), Yo La Tengo, Wye Oak Academy of Music $39.50 All ages Thursday 09/08 Erasure (Tomorrow's World Tour) Theatre of the Living Arts $35 All ages
Thursday 09/15 Mark Rose, Joe Walker, Lucas Carpenter The Fire $10 All ages
Monday 09/19 Born Gold (formerly Gobble Gobble) The Barbary $10 All ages
Friday 09/16 Dragon King, Railbird, Norwegian Arms Kung Fu Necktie $5 21+
Tuesday 09/20 Girls, Nobunny Theatre of the Living Arts $15 All ages
Saturday 09/17 Philadelphia Doo Wop Festival River Stage at Great Plaza FREE All ages
Wednesday 09/21 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Union Transfer (opening night) $18 All ages
Saturday 09/17 Gang, Hank & Cupcakes, Pink Skull Milkboy Philly (opening night) $8 All ages
Thursday 09/22 OMD, Washington, DJ Robert Drake Theatre of the Living Arts $27 All ages
Sunday 09/18 Dropkick Murphys, Street Dogs, Chuck Ragan, The Mahones and more Electric Factory $29.50 All ages
Friday 09/23 POPPED! Music Festival: The Shins, Cage the Elephant, The Hold Steady and more FDR Park $59.50 All ages
Friday 09/23 Deadmau5 (Philly FM Fest) Festival Pier $50 All ages
Monday 09/26 Sean McCann & the Committed Tin Angel $10 21+ Tuesday 09/27 CAVE Kung Fu Necktie $10 21+
Friday 09/09 TV On the Radio, Broken Social Scene The Mann Center $29.50-$39.50 All ages Friday 09/09 Two Door Cinema Club, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Lonely Forest Theatre of the Living Arts $20 All ages Saturday 09/10 Declan Bennet, Cait Black, The Strange Heat The Grape Room $7 21+ Saturday 09/10 Peter Bjorn and John, Memoryhouse The Trocadero $18.50 All Ages Sunday 09/11 Jaguar Wright and Levi Little World Cafe Live $23 All ages
Friday 09/23 SHAKEDOWN w/ Rob Paine, Willyum & special guest TBA The Barbary $5 21+ Saturday 09/24 Girard Fest (Philly FM Fest): Cheers Elephant, Talain Rayne and more Girard Ave (near 2nd Street) FREE All ages Saturday 09/24 POPPED! Music Festival: Pretty Lights, Girl Talk, Rakim, Cults, Black Landlord, Patty Crash and more FDR Park $59.50 All ages Saturday 09/24 Red Bull Riot Fest East (Philly FM Fest): Descendents, The Dead Milkmen, X, Plow United and more Festival Pier $35 All ages Sun 09/25 Philly F/M Sunday BBQ (Philly FM Fest): Good Old War, The Head and The Heart, Nicos Gun, Reading Rainbow, Toy Soldiers and more The Ukie Club $35 All ages
Wednesday 09/28 Mac Miller Electric Factory $20 All ages
Friday 09/30 Zeds Dead Union Transfer $15 All ages
Satrday 10/01 East Hundred Johnny Brenda's $10 21+
Thursday 09/29 West Philadelphia Orchestra, The Great Unknown Milkboy Philly $10 All ages
Friday 09/30 Da Rezarekt The Legendary Dobbs $TBA 21+
Saturday 10/01 The Bangles Theatre of the Living Arts $22 All ages
Sunday 10/02 Imperative Reaction, God Module, System Syn, Twitch the Ripper, Sonik Foundry Starlight Ballroom $12 All ages
Monday 10/03 David Uosikkinen’s IN THE POCKET: ESSENTIAL SONGS OF PHILADELPHIA World Café Live $20 All ages
Monday 10/10 The Foreign Resort, The Vandelles, Last Remaining Pinnacle, Music for Headphones Teri's Diner FREE 21+
Tuesday 10/04 The Sky Drops, The Orange Drop Teri's Diner FREE 21+ Wednesday 10/05 SESSION w/ Solomonic, Ital & Rascul Int'l Sound Systems (reggae night) Silk City $5 21+ Wednesday 10/05 Anesa LaRae The Grape Room $5 21+
Friday 10/14 Esperanza Spalding, Chamber Music Society Merriam Theater $TBA All ages
Saturday 10/15 SHAKEDOWN w/ special guest Jimpster. Alongside residents Rob Paine & Willyum The Barbary $5 21+
Tuesday 10/11 Cuddle Magic, The Powder Kegs, Is and Of The Johnny Brenda's $10 21+
Saturday 10/15 Corey Glover, Daniella Cotton World Cafe Live $19 All ages Saturday 10/15 Dick Dale North Star Bar $20 21+
Wednesday 10/12 Chimaira, Impending Doom, Revocation, Rise to Remain The Trocadero $18.50 All ages
Sunday 10/16 Sidi Touré Calvary United Methodist Church $20 All ages
Thursday 10/13 Trentemøller Theatre of the Living Arts $20 All ages
Thursday 10/06 Jens Lekman Philadelphia Ethical Society $15 All ages
Friday 10/07 The Toasters, Ruder Than You North Star Bar $12 21+
Thursday 10/20 Gym Class Heroes, The Dirty Heads Electric Factory $20 All ages
Saturday 10/08 Skrillex Electric Factory $25 All ages
Monday 10/17 Duran Duran, Neon Trees Tower Theater $45 All ages
Friday 10/21 CSS, MEN, EMA Union Transfer $15 All ages
Sunday 10/09 The Philadelphia Orchestra River Stage at Great Plaza FREE All ages
Tuesday 10/18 Brass Heaven The Blockley FREE 21+
Saturday 10/22 The Wombats, The Postelles, The Static Jacks Johnny Brenda's $15 21+
Sunday 10/09 tUnE-YarDs, Pat Jordache Union Transfer $15 All ages
Wednesday 10/19 NOFX, Anti-Flag, Old Man Markley Theatre of the Living Arts $25 All ages
Sunday 10/23 Portugal. The Man, Alberta Cross Theatre of the Living Arts $16 All ages
Monday 10/24 The Naked and the Famous, Chain Gang of 1974, White Arrows Theatre of the Living Arts $16 All ages
Thursday 10/27 Chuck Prophet Tin Angel $20 21+
Friday 10/28 Boris, Asobi Seksu Union Transfer $15 All ages
Tuesday 10/25 Friendly Fires, Theophilus London, Chad Valley Union Transfer $15 All ages
Saturday 10/29 G. Love, The Apache Relay Electric Factory $25 All ages
Wednesday 10/26 Circa Survive, Maps & Atlases, Sleeper Agent Electric Factory $20 All ages
Sunday 10/30 Wednesday 13, Vampires Everywhere, Polka Dot Cadaver The Trocadero $14 All ages
Monday 10/31 Battles, Strawberry Mansion DJs TLA $15 All ages Tuesday 11/01 Matt Hires, Rachel Platten World Cafe Live $13 All ages Wednesday 11/02 St. Vincent Union Transfer $16 All ages Thursday 11/03 Agnostic Front, Bracewar, Mongoloids, Naysayer, Black Feathers, Good Times Broad Street Ministry $13 All ages
10/3111/6 Friday 11/04 Frank Turner, Andrew Jackson, Into It. Over It TLA $15 All ages Saturday 11/05 Amos Lee, Brett Dennen Academy of Music $34.50 All ages Sunday 11/06 Shelby Lynne Tin Angel $35 21+
This Place Rocks Photos by G.W. Miller III.
Pay Attention! There is a lot of activity in the Philly music scene these days. Union Transfer (utphilly.com) opens on September 21 in the former Spaghetti Warehouse on Spring Garden Street near 10th Street. A 3,000-person venue has been proposed for Port Richmond, near the Delaware River. Music now emanates from unusual places, like the book warehouse Bookspace (phillybookspace.blogspot.com), the former tombstone showroom PhilaMOCA (philamoca.org) and the former neighborhood restaurant, now known as Little Bar (see page 44). Here are a few other interesting items.
The Hard Rock Goes Local
Milkboy Philly Opens
12th & Market streets www.hardrock.com/philadelphia
1100 Chestnut Street milkboyphilly.com
The Hard Rock Café unarguably has a pretty bad reputation; it’s generally seen more as a theme restaurant where out-of-towners come to purchase T-shirts and trinkets than as a live-music venue. Thankfully, the local branch of the international chain is trying to do something about that. “It’s a work in progress,” says Jacqueline Allen, the sales and marketing coordinator of the Philly Hard Rock. “We‘d rather it not be like, ‘I‘m coming from out of town so I should go to the Hard Rock.’ It should be more like, ‘I live in Philadelphia so I should go to the Hard Rock.’” The restaurant opened in 1998 but they didn’t begin regular music events until about two years ago. They have slowly been doing more and more shows, and trying to bring local folks into the venue. Over the last few months, they've featured local acts such as June Divided, Dave Patten, Justin Baron, Lydia Rene, SezHu and Funk Church. This fall, the Hard Rock will undergo major renovations that Allen thinks will turn the building into one of the top venues in the city. “I can’t give away too many specifics but in the next couple of months, the venue is going to get a lot bigger,” she says. “We’re getting a newer look and a bigger stage, all the while bringing in bigger bands each week.” - Kevin Stairiker 26
It’s not easy finding time to talk to Tommy Joyner. Joyner, who runs Milkboy Studios and operates three Milkboy Cafes (in Ardmore, Bryn Mawr and a new location in Center City, pictured above) is in constant motion. Even when he’s standing still, he’s on the phone, tweeting, thinking about one of his businesses or otherwise planning the success of his ever-growing, yet humble empire. “There have been times when I’ve had to leave a session at the recording studio to go to one of the cafes to fix a toilet, and then go straight home and spend time with my family!” Joyner says with a laugh. “It’s a never ending job.” His days are about to get longer once the new Milkboy officially launches in September (the location quietly began operating in August). Unlike the suburban locations, the Center City spot is a full-blown bar as well as a coffee shop. It will open around 6 a.m. for the workaday crowd and then close at 2 a.m., after clearing out the revelers. The two-story corner location across the street from Jefferson Hospital, features a 200-person, standing-room-only performance venue. Joyner describes the space as a “down-and-dirty, fun bar.” The landlord of the building contacted Joyner about the location. “He had a grant and a loan from the city of Philadelphia to improve the area,” Joyner explains. “They were looking for a business that was a coffee shop or an eatery or a music venue, something exciting. So when the landlord plugged in all those things for a search, guess what came up? They came to us and said, ‘We’ll build this place to suit if you’ll operate here.’ It was kind of an offer we couldn’t refuse.” - Kevin Stairiker OPENING NIGHT: Gang performs with Hank & Cupcakes on September 17. Black Landlord (see page 11) plays on September 24.
Photo by Chris Malo.
Black and Nobel Slings Hope 1409 W. Eries Avenue (at Broad Street) blackandnobel.com In the heart of North Philadelphia, in arguably one of the city's most drug riddled neighborhoods, is a different type of business, one offering the opposite type of product that many of the other corners peddle. Located at Broad Street and Erie Avenue, Black and Nobel is a community resource that slings hope, information, books and music. Black and Nobel owner Hakim Hopkins began selling books on the sidewalk in 2003 before doing enough business to rent a location on the same block. Eventually, he expanded to the current location, a high-traffic area adjacent to the Broad Street Line subway entrance. You enter the store by walking up the steps through a poster-and-flier covered staircase to the second floor. You are greeted not only by the books, movies and CDs that line the walls but by Tyson Gravity, who has worked at the store for more than six years (or, as he explains, long enough to see his long black dreadlocks turn a silvery gray). What is striking is that there is a constant stream of people who come to Black and Nobel – not just to shop, but to engage with the community. They come to talk, trade ideas, discuss anything and everything. The guiding philosophy, Hopkins says, is to teach people - from simple manners to business concepts. On the far wall there are shelves with books dedicated to educating people about the music industry. In addition to retail, one of the programs that has become the pride and a cornerstone of Black and Nobel is shipping to prisons. Around twenty to thirty packages per day are mailed to correctional facilities around the country, serving those who are locked down. Recognizing the possibility of hard work and entrepreneurship, Black and Nobel makes their entire inventory available for wholesale, to encourage people to find the same success they have. Black and Nobel has become a staple to the Philadelphia hip hop industry. A who's who walks through the door on any given day. From Freeway and Peedi Crakk to Jakk Frost, Tone Trump, Oschino and Meek Mill. It has even attracted out-of-town legends like Raekwon, Professor Griff from Public Enemy, Styles P and Rick Ross. There's even a story about a cypher taking place out front, when a hooded figure strolled up, jumped in an pulled off the hood to reveal the D-Block General Jadakiss.
Vox Populi: Music & Art Photo by Eliza Morse.
319 N. 11th Street voxpopuligallery.org
But what is, and will always be, important is the hometown team. “We are hip hop,” Tyson states. “It's important because from the outside looking in, a lot of labels say that Philly artists are a liability. If we don't support each other, we are showing we are a liability.” In these difficult economic times, with bookstores filing for bankruptcy and music labels scrambling to come up with a new business plan, Black and Nobel is optimistic about what lies ahead. They know they offer what other brick-and-mortar or online businesses can't: a sense of community, in their own community. - Chris Malo Vox Populi, the art gallery in Chinatown North, recently launched a new performance space, AUX, allowing them to intertwine art, music and dance into a multi-dimensional experience. “We hope the new space will function as a continuous testing ground for local artists and musicians," says Greg Rossi, program director at Vox. “Billing music and performance art together is part of this experimentation and we hope to generate a dialogue between these worlds that isn’t always active in other venues.” The space was filled to capacity - around 70 people - during each of the three nights of the official opening in July. The christening included a long string of multi-disciplinary and experimental performances, including dancers, musicians and artists of various styles. “Philadelphia has a thriving, vibrant performance scene," says Becky Hunter, Vox Populi’s press officer. "There’s clearly audience demand for more crossover between art, music and dance." The performance area was built in part with a $30,000 Creative Industry Workforce Grant. Check the gallery's website for show schedules. Most events will be free, all-ages and open to the public. - Christopher Brown CROSSOVER ARTIST: Greg Rossi in the new performance space.
Photo by G.W. Miller III.
Music & Politics
The Dancer in City Hall Democrat. Educator. Advocate for youth and women. Councilwoman at large Blondell Reynolds Brown is known as a forceful politician who isn’t afraid to take a stand for minorities in Philadelphia. But the Penn State University graduate also identifies herself as a life-long dancer, former member of PHILADANCO and an enthusiastic fan of jazz music. That’s why her responsibility to support Philadelphia’s arts and culture fits perfectly into her life in the world of politics. While the city faces an uphill battle to protect the arts against a diminishing budget, Brown uses her passion for song and dance to keep the music playing as she maps out her next public policy victory. Our Cary Carr learns all about the councilwoman's determination - whether in mastering difficult choreography or convincing council members to see her vision. How did you get involved in the dance world?
Who are some of your favorite jazz artists?
At age 16, I was able to get a job. I took my pay from Genos (the defunct fast food chain, not the cheesesteak shop) and I started to pay for my own dance lessons. I went to Penn State and I was invited to audition for the Penn State dance company.
George Benson. Joe Sample. Some might call that old school. I love Billie Holiday. Love Billie Holiday. I actually have a black and white photo in my home that I bought forty years ago of Billie Holiday.
I came back home to Philadelphia, learned about the Philadelphia Dance Company, was invited to audition and it changed my life forever. I got a chance to dance professionally, which was unusual for a 21, 22, or 23-year old because, you know, dancers really need to start very early if they want to fully develop the body so they can execute complicated movement. So I got a chance to live my dream at PHILADANCO as one of their members for many years. What was your favorite genre of dance? Jazz. I love jazz music. I love the jazz form, and I love the often times asymmetrical aspects of jazz music. 28
How did you transition from dance to politics? I had a career. I’m a teacher by training, both undergrad and graduate. Dance was by avocation. I got a chance to live it professionally. I got interested, or my curiosity about politics sparked, when I watched the Democratic National Convention on TV in 1980. President Jimmy Carter was running. I watched the convention and I was just struck by this fabric of people from around the country who were there to figure out how to nominate the next president of the United States. Fast forward. At one point in my career I was in this job that really broke my spirits, so I decided to leave the job. I called Chaka Fattah (now a U.S. Congressman) and said, ‘You know, I think I’m going to do law school. JUMPphilly.com
I’m out of work. I’ll probably go back to the classroom.’ He had an opening in his staff at that time. He was then a state senator. He said, ‘I have a legislative aid position open on my staff. Are you interested? It requires commuting to Harrisburg.’ I took it. That changed my life forever.
all of their music. Because Michael Jackson was such a superior dancer, who was, in many ways, from another planet in terms of his level of creativity, he probably would be the one I would turn on. Do you still take dance classes?
When I came to City Council, President Anna Verna knew of my strong interest in the arts. She knew my background and profile. So she asked if I would chair City Council’s committee on the arts, parks and recreation. I said yes. It was wonderful because I lived my life as a dancer. I love all forms of art and now was going to be on the public policy side of helping to advocate and champion and pass legislation around the arts. What do you think are the similarities and the differences between dance and politics? Some may say politics is a dance. You can visualize things – movement, forms, montages in your head, and then you have to figure out how you translate that. Everyone can look at the same piece of art and you'll get as many interpretations of that art piece as there are people looking at it. In politics, we all have our point of view, we all have our perspective. The challenge is in getting, in my case, nine council members to agree that a particular course of action is the way we should we go. What do you think government can do to help support the arts? Philadelphia’s number two industry in town is tourism. It has that distinguished factor because of the more than 250 arts and culture institutions that we have in this city. Our arts and culture feed the tourism industry. Our city recognizes that. Our mayor recognizes that. Meryl Levitz (the CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation) does a brilliant job of that, and they include the arts in their promoting and marketing of the city every chance that they get.
I don’t get a chance to take classes. I go to concerts as often as I can. I love old-school, so I hang out with girlfriends at old-school nights. There’s an old-school (party) on Sunday nights hosted by Butterball and Patty Jackson, so I do that once in a while. I go there non-descript. I just show up and dance my twinkle toes off. Do you think that dance can empower women? It gives us a sense of discipline, a sense that we can soar, that we can accomplish anything. When you’re in a dance studio and you have to execute a movement 1,500 times to get it perfect, really, that’s life. You’re going to be faced with challenges when you have to do it over until you get it right. What is your biggest hope for the arts and culture in Philadelphia in the future? I am now doing research for a Philadelphia children’s art and music festival. A lot of other cities do it. Our city does not. I am investigating that now as we speak. What do you think is more exciting, dance or politics? I love my work. I really do. To have a chance to be an advocate and a champion for another part of my life that made me very happy has been in some ways a blessing. I never put that all together until right now.
Can we do more? Always we can do more. But when you have so many competing strains on your budget as mayor and as council members, we have to make the oftentimes very delicate but tough decisions and find the balancing act where we adequately or aptly fund our arts while we take care of all these other demanding ties to the city’s budget. With schools having their art programs cut because of the budget, how do you think they can manage to keep the arts alive and keep children interested? When we’re faced with the kind of times we have now, when more and more schools have to use their budgets to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic, it’s an opportunity for your larger cultural institutions to play a bigger part in partnering with neighborhood schools to ensure that some form of arts and culture continues. I would challenge every large – and large is relative – arts and cultural institution in our city to partner with, link with, wrap their arms around a local elementary, middle or high school, and make their presence known in those schools around the city. We’re going to have to be innovative in learning, how we do more with less. Higher-ed institutions have a duty - and a responsibility, quite frankly - to help us with this huge endeavor. I believe some of our highered institutions get it. And some don’t. Does music inspire you when it comes to your work in politics? No doubt. There is nothing that makes my soul happier than listening to good music. I work out with music. I brush my teeth with music. What’s your favorite music to dance around to? Michael Jackson, Barry White, Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross. I have JUMPphilly.com
PHILADANCO DAYS: The councilwoman (center) in a 1977 photo. 29
Music & Education
Girl Power Boot Camp For one week every August, young women congregate at Girard College to learn how to be rock stars. But the students involved in Girls Rock Philly learn so much more, as Ashley Hall finds out. Photos of 2011 GRP camp participants by Rick Kauffman.
eth Warshaw-Duncan caught wind of an all-girls rock camp starting in Portland, Oregon a decade ago and she was intrigued. “It was just something I wished I had,” says the 30-year old who lives in South Philadelphia. In 2005, she heard about an affiliate of the same camp starting up in New York. So, she went to see what it was all about. She wound up volunteering there over two years for the nonprofit organization. Then Warshaw-Duncan decided to launch her own girls rock camp here in Philadelphia. “It’s a big town,” she says. “It’s a town that deserves it.”
he first full Girls Rock Philly camp operated in August 2007 and has since made its mark on the Philadelphia music scene and the women within it. The annual, week-long rock camp brings girls, ages 8-17, together and
empowers them through music at Girard College. Over seven days, they learn an instrument of their choice, form a band, write original songs, and finally, perform their art at a live showcase. Whether campers are wailing on drums, riffing on guitars or belting out vocals, Warshaw-Duncan says there is only one rule: just say yes. “Ultimately,” she says, “it’s just about saying yes to girls because a lot of people, whether you realize or not, are saying no through assumptions and attitudes.” The founder recognizes that women have always been a huge part of the music scene. She blames the reflections of music and portrayals of musicians in the media for the lack of attention talented women receive. Erica Rubin, 17, of Queen Village, a GRP camper who plays five instruments, explains the situation as somewhat of a self-fulfilling JUMPphilly.com
prophecy. “A lot of people think girls can’t play guitar, or they can’t play anything except for violin and piano,” Erica offers. “I think the reason why they don’t as much is because people have said those things so they’re too scared.” Warshaw-Duncan says they discourage these negative voices by encouraging girls to use the golden word, "yes," to themselves and others. However, she acknowledges there is a limit to the rule. “The most challenging part of the week and camp is learning how to say yes to people without letting them walk all over you,” WarshawDuncan says. In addition to the music training, the campers are taught to voice their opinions, respect others and reach a compromise on their songs, band name and even T-shirt logos. Erica’s mother, Susan Proulx, 53, says the empowering environment of GRP has been life changing for Erica. “I think it’s really focused her into her interests,” Proulx says. “It’s gotten her so much more involved in music.” The program has also influenced Proulx’s life. She is now the parent representative on the GRP board. She’s known as the resident mom. “I am always giving people rides home,” Proulx admits. “I am kind of the mother.”
he liberation through music continues as the girls take varying workshops throughout the week. Themes range from the technology behind distortion pedals, to the history of women in music, to a mandatory workshop called "Image and Identity," where girls are encouraged to see images beyond the superficial. In conjunction with this workshop, the camp strives to promote a strong sense of individual identity. The adult leaders in the program make a conscious effort to compliment personal traits and talents, rather than praising purchased items. They also try to teach that it’s not all about playing on expensive equipment or hanging out with cool, famous people. “Trying to be cool implies that you're not cool,” Warshaw-Duncan says.
The camp week is intense with practice, bonding and character development, but the reward for the hard work is worth it: a showcase event where campers perform before a live audience. The event this year was held at the World Café Live with 15 new bands showing off their skills. On November 12, GRP will hold a party at Johnny Brenda’s celebrating the release of the 2011 camper compilation CD and the showcase DVD. Warshaw-Duncan says it is hard for her to choose a favorite part of the camp. She finds herself overwhelmed with pride throughout the week - not only in the young rockers but also in the dedicated volunteers. “Every year we get more and more amazing women who come and volunteer and become part of our network of women,” she says. But she says her proudest moments come from watching everyone work together to play as a unit. “There is a point at which I cry every year, like, in a good way,” she says.
irls Rock Philly started with only 20 girls four years ago. This year, the camp had more than 80 young ladies attending, half of whom attended on some form of financial assistance, thanks to GRP. The organization recently moved to a new practice space on Frankford Avenue where they have multiple practice rooms and offices. In February, GRP launched the Ladies Rock Camp, a weekend-long camp for women 19 and older. “I feel like people seem to know us,” Warshaw-Duncan says. "It’s become it’s own entity versus this thing I do, or this thing our friends do. And I feel like that’s really good for us in the quest for sustainability.” The steady success has the organizers dreaming of running GRP programs year round. Erica says that she loves the message GRP puts forth. She offers similar advice to other girls. “Just do what you love to do,” she says. “If you really are dedicated, you shouldn’t let anyone hold you back. "I think if you have the dedication and the passion, you can succeed.” 31
Photos courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club.
Music & Education
The Brotherhood of Song (and Dance!) The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club has been entertaining the world with song and dance for nearly 150 years. Kelsey Doenges learns about the history, traditions, reactions and purpose of the troupe that formed way before it was cool to sing in school.
arry Me, McCartney” signs flooded New York’s John F. Kennedy airport on February 7th, 1964. Thousands of teenaged girls didn’t notice the cold because they were too fixated on screaming until their voices disappeared, jumping until their legs fell off and hoping to catch even a glimpse of four boys with mop-top haircuts who would soon be stepping on to American soil, starting the British invasion.
imilar scenes hold true whenever the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Glee Club, a group composed of three-dozen male choral performers, touches down in a far off place. Erik Nordgren, current director of the club, affectionately tells one tale from when he was a performer in the club. The year was 1999 and the Penn Glee Club was on one of their overseas tours, this time in Japan. It was their last big concert of the tour, in an all-girls high school in Hiroshima, jammed to full capacity with around 1,500 people. The ladies of Hiroshima became so emotional and excited that they didn’t know whether they should scream or cry. So, many just did both. “It was literally ridiculous,” Nordgren recalls. 32
The glee club received fanfare as if they were a crazy pop sensation. It must be something about choreographed, singing boys in Oxford button-down shirts, khaki pants, blue and red striped ties and navy blue blazers that gets the girls going.
he University of Pennsylvania Glee Club started in 1862, long before beautiful, shiny teens pranced across your TV screens singing pop songs on Hollywood soundstages made to look like immaculate high schools in Lima, Ohio. With the Civil War raging, eight Penn undergraduate men gathered to perform traditional glees, a type of song originating in 18th-century England that employs three or more unaccompanied male voices. At that first concert, nearly 150 years ago, the men wore blue and red ribbons from their collars, thereby becoming the first group at Penn to incorporate university colors into their uniform. The club is the oldest performing arts group at the university and is among the oldest glee clubs in the United States. After nearly 150 years of performing, the Penn Glee Club still holds true to its roots, performing many traditional songs, but they also incorporate many new and different styles of music, and even dance, into their JUMPphilly.com
repertoire. It’s now a cappella meets Broadway, with costumes, attitude and songs ranging from Cole Porter to The Beatles to Steve Perry, in performances that bring crowds to their feet – sometimes almost crying with joy.
appeared on television, performed at Phillies games and recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Traditionally, every show ends with a tap routine filled with Fred Astaire flare. “We don tap shoes, ties and tails, sometimes a cane, a kick line, the lub member Reza Mirsajadi walks into the practice studio in whole bamboozle,” explains Ventre, a current member. the Platt Student Performing Arts Center on the University of Why put singing boys who barely dance in a pair of tap shoes? Well it’s Pennsylvania’s campus and simple. his cohorts instantly comment on “Tap dancing makes a great finale,” the music book in his hand. Nordgren explains. “Like any “It’s Etta James,” Mirsajadi says. Broadway show, there’s a kick-ass “It’s an essential.” finale at the end.” His friends are impressed. But the majority of the glees never There’s a baby grand piano sitting wore a pair of tap shoes before. A in the corner, music scores are lot of them never danced prior to written on the dry erase board and joining the club. a semicircle of plastic chairs occupy Every year in the fall, the glee in the middle of the room. club collaborates with another Mirsajadi sits, joining Nordgren, club on campus, Penn Dance, Scott Ventre, Mike Yee, Marcus the university’s first performing Mundy, Jon Ferrari and other club dance company, which is primarily members. These gentlemen range influenced by modern dance. from rising sophomores to graduate Usually the show opens and closes students at the university, majoring with a combined performance from in a variety of subjects. They hail both groups, requiring these singing from across the country, with boys to do a little dancing. members from Korea and China. “At first, you walk in and you’re a What brings them together is an freshman and you are surrounded by appreciation for song and a love of SHOWSTOPPERS IN BLAZERS: The University of Pennsylvania Glee all these kids who can’t dance,” says Club hitting the final pose after performing the song and dance former choreographer and Penn performing. They are dressed casually today - number, "Chicago," at the Dumbarton Church in Georgetown, Dance member, Jeanne Michele in shorts and T-shirts. Ventre and Washington, DC in 2010 (opposite). Members of the club in front of Mariani. “You are like, ‘What the Nordgren, the club director since the posh Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel in Atlantic City in 1929 (above). frigg is this?’ But the really nice 2000, are coincidently wearing The singing sensations circa 1966 (below). thing about glee club is it is full of the exact same outfit: khaki cargo genuinely nice people who are ready shorts, a maroon glee club T-shirt and willing to try anything.” and running shoes. That draws a lot The supportive crew works hard of good-humored ribbing from the to get everyone up to speed, even others. though many of the new recruits In 2009, a mostly different set were really more interested in of gentlemen formed the Penn singing. Glee Club. That crew performed Ferrari says, “It’s really cool to see for about 500 children in a people who are first like, ‘I can’t crammed auditorium in Colombia. dance. I won’t be able to do this.' But Pandemonium similar to that in after the first week, they really start Japan ensued. to get stuff down and enjoy it, which According to Yee, the glee clubs’ is really fun.” former president, this was the first tap finale isn’t the only time these children saw people who tradition in a performance were native English speakers, and by the glee club. There is they were completely fascinated by a song that has been branded into the singing and dancing. their repertoire and will be there “One of the girls asked if I had a infinitely. “Afterglow” is a Penn Glee Club original, written in 1964 by girlfriend,” Yee says with a smirk and a chuckle. ”I did. I broke her heart.” their former director of 44 years, Bruce Montgomery. Nordgren pipes in saying, “We brought along ballpoint pens with ‘Penn During the early days of the club, after rehearsal, there would be an Glee Club’ written on them and the kids thought they were the coolest afterglow, a social gathering intended to promote a sense of brotherhood, things. They all had pens, so they all wanted autographs. But they didn’t happiness and camaraderie. Montgomery wrote the song for an external have any paper so we were signing people’s hands.” performance, never expecting it to stick with them. But it has turned into a signature piece - the bonds members form tend to be for life. uring the 19th century and early 20th, the glee club was a staple of campus life. The club performed at football games and other During nearly every performance, glee club alumni flood the stage, sporting contests, as well as alumni events and regular shows. joining current members, and sing: By the early part of the 20th century, the club grew in popularity and “And soft and low in the pale afterglow/ the voices of students ring with began performing off-campus. The club has performed around the the songs/ and cheers for their fair college years/ the songs they loved to sing.” world, in all 50 states and in more than 35 different countries. They’ve
SCENE STEALER PATTY CRASH IS STARTING SOME NEW SHIT Kevin Stairiker hangs with the genre-jumping Icelandic beauty who now calls Philly home. Photos by Marie Alyse Rodriguez inside the home of the guys from Nicos Gun. Styling by Madison Rupert.
n a past episode of her hybrid web show/video blog, “The Adventures Of Patty Crash,” the titular heroine recounts her excitement about being featured on the Gym Class Heroes song “Drnk Txt Romeo.” She then drives to Target and buys the album, if only so that she can see the effects of her just-blossoming success - her name in the liner notes as a featured artist alongside other guests such as Busta Rhymes and Daryl Hall. That was three years ago. (continued on page 36)
(continued from page 35) Despite other guest appearances on songs by Tyga and The Roots, among others, there hasn’t been a full release from the Iceland native who has called Philly home since 2006. She’s been forever stuck in a sort of self-enforced development hell. “I'm finally working on one now!” Patty says. “For the past five years, I've literally been jumping from genre to genre, trying everything to figure out what I want to do. I haven't put anything out for that specific reason.” Now she knows. Patty Crash wants to be a pop star.
he certainly has the demeanor of a pop star: charming, slightly outrageous, enormously energetic, seemingly always happy and driven to make sure that everyone knows her name. With her newfound focus, famous friends and copious amounts of talent, she’s likely to blow up in a big way. "I'm making an album right now that is insane,” she continues. Her most recent song, the high-energy “Loop & Rewind” could fit in perfectly on anyone's late-night party playlist. With the proper push, it could be right at home in the current pop landscape. However, one scorcher of a party song doesn't make a pop star. Fortunately, Patty says she has amassed more than 100 unreleased songs in recent years. “My goal is to get a publishing deal and sell the songs for other people to sing,” she says. “They're different genres and wouldn't fit on this album.” A student of music, Patty scrutinizes songwriting almost as someone would analyze language or interpret history. 36
“When I was growing up in Iceland, all we would get was Top 40 radio, so of course that's all I listened to,” she says. “I must have ADD because I never really had the time to listen to whole albums.” She absorbed what she heard, like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and she researched Kurt Cobain and his bandmates. One of Patty's biggest idols is Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, who inspires both Patty’s music and her wardrobe. A collaboration would be a dream come true, she says. For now, she’ll channel Love during her set at the upcoming Popped! Festival at FDR Park in South Philly. “It's my first show in a while,” she says. “The last time I had a show, I was crawling on the floor screaming with loud guitar all over the place. This time, I have two dancers and DJ Suga Shay backing me up. It's gonna be sweet!”
hen the subject of her YouTube show comes up, Patty is excited but is quick to point to how YouTube and the Internet have changed music in recent years. While the Internet has invaluably helped thousands of artists such as herself become established, she feels it has led to the gradual disappearance of local scenes and regional identities, especially here in Philly. “The Internet's changed things so much,” she says. “Scenes aren't happening like they used to. I think the last time there was one here was with Spank Rock. It's time for some new shit!” She releases an infectious laughter. Then it all becomes pretty clear: Patty Crash is trying to start “some new shit.” And really, who's going to stand in her way? JUMPphilly.com
The Fire Dancers of Philadelphia Our intrepid writer, Caroline Newton, finds the weekly urban bonfire/drum jam and learns about it's nearly 30-year history. Photo by Colin Kerrigan.
tiptoe my way through the trees, carefully stepping over the plants that drape over the narrow dirt path. It’s dark, well after 10 p.m.. I see a bonfire in the distance, flickering between the dancing people. Following the sound of music, my buddies and I meander toward a small, circular clearing where at least two dozen people bang drums and twice as many hang nearby, watching the activity. For a moment, I stand off to the side. And then I join the festivities. Instantly, I’m at ease. Although I don’t know anyone, no one knows everyone. Most of the people are strangers to each other. The ones who aren’t know only a few others. I feel the energy in my bones and in my chest. I don’t feel uncomfortable just watching the dancers around the roaring fire because
the majority of the spectators around me are neither drumming nor dancing. Ask anyone here tonight how they learned about this Pagan-like, weekly ritual and without a doubt, you’ll hear, “I heard about it through a friend.”
he infamous drum circle - a hippie haven - has operated on word of mouth since it was first conceived in 1983. It's been at this location since the late 1990s. So as not to ruin the tradition, I will not disclose the exact location of this intimate Tuesday-night gathering, deep in the wooded heart of Philadelphia. You’ll just have to find a friend who knows where to find us. A child, no older than 8, sits with her parents on a blanket in front of me. Their dog, off-
leash, wags his tail, greeting the people who steadily arrive in the clearing. In front of the family, hefty fallen logs act as benches surrounding the raging fire. There isn’t an open seat on the logs. Hands hit the tightly stretched heads of bongo drums. The rhythmic pounding of the drums increases as more and more people arrive with drums tucked underneath their arms. By 1 a.m., now Wednesday, a school or work night for most of the world, there are nearly 150 people in attendance. Free spirits from different backgrounds dance around the fire, giving the music visual representation. Among the attendees, I’m told there is a goat herder and the owner of a multi-million dollar construction company, as well as students, artists and environmentalists.
One man started the drum circle with a couple of his friends behind the old Spectrum in South Philadelphia in 1983. Shortly thereafter, the gathering moved out of Philadelphia to an undisclosed suburban location.
n 1996, the drummers began meeting in Love Park, where they would often stay until six in the morning. A radio station discovered the event and revealed the drummers’ festivities on air. Swarms of people soon scrambled to join the celebration. Kegs and nitrous oxide tanks were snuck into the mix, and the event grew out of control. The police cracked down on the crew, so they fled Love Park. The troublemakers didn’t deter the drummers and their chilled-out brethren from continuing to make music. They moved the celebration to the Eakins Oval fountain near the Art Museum. They were only making music and hanging out. Without illegal substances to attract the police, they thought the fountain was a safe bet. But people started complaining about the noise and the peaceful celebration became
illuminated by the flashing lights of squad cars. “When the cops rolled in with their lights flashing,” one of the longtime drum circle participants recalls, “the drummers held up their lighters in response.” It was a humorous gesture to a negative situation. As it turned out, the cops were understanding of the drummers’ purpose. They even suggested a new location.
he circle was nomadic for a while, testing different locations, looking for a proper fit. For a while, the crew met behind the Art Museum and then continued in a small meadow located near its current location. At one point, vendors began selling products on blankets and small stands near the circle. Drama ensued as nitrous oxide tanks began appearing at the gatherings again. One man recalls helicopters and cops invading the scene. Everyone scattered. Veteran attendees say the purpose is not to get wasted and dance around a fire, though an unmistakable aroma pervades.
The purpose, they say, is to connect with the Earth, with new friends, with love. The purpose is to feel empowered and healed, and to feel at one with yourself, everyone and everything around you.
ou can dance, you can drum and you can even bring your Hula-Hoop. You can bring yourself, your friends, your dog and your family. Alcohol, however, is not permitted. New people filter into the clearing every week, drums in hand. Several regulars say they feel a new, stronger, more positive energy. One man now lives in Mexico but finds himself drawn back to the drum circle during the warm months. “For many, this is the weekly connection to the spirit, each with their own interpretation of what that is but we somehow can't seem to live without it,” he says. “We are drawn back every week - same place, same time, same people, same energy. Call it love, or call it healing, or connection. We are one with the infinite sun, forever and ever and ever.”
Hezekiah Jones photo by Lisa Schaffer. Lion Versus photo by G.W. Miller III.
The Latest Wave of Folk Music The genre has deep roots in the region, and it just keeps coming back, stronger and stronger, as Jillian Mallon discovers.
aph Cutrufello sports jeans and a navy blue T-shirt that is torn at the seams above his left shoulder blade. He blends into the scenery of the part convenience store, part diner where he is eating his breakfast. “You see on that shelf right there? That lampshade?” he asks after ordering his whitefish sandwich. “My mom has one. I think there’s one in my house.” Cutrufello’s calm and homey style does more than just echo the style of the diner. It also has a place in his music. He is the founder of the Philadelphia-based contemporary folk act Hezekiah Jones. The band was first picked up in 2006 by Yer Bird Records after the label discovered recordings that Cutrufello had put online under the name of his pet snail, Hezekiah, claiming that the snail wanted to bring these songs from his home in Indonesia to the United States. Those first songs - and many of the others that followed - were different than what Cutrufello used to play. As an adolescent, his musical focus was jazz piano and instrumental songs. However, when he first picked up an acoustic guitar and began writing lyrics, the gentle folk sound of Hezekiah Jones came to be. “I never had any real fascination with folk music,” Cutrufello says. “It was just, you know, I started playing the guitar and the guitar just kind of sounds like folk music.”
e is not alone. Within the past few years, Philadelphia has seen a swelling of musicians who, like Cutrufello, have gravitated toward playing, writing and listening to folk-style music. “I love it,” says Cutrufello of the folk-revival trend. “I think it’s really great. It’s not only just musicians who are from Philly who are great
in the kind of burgeoning folk scene going on. There are a lot of people moving here.” A large number of the folk acts in Philly have brought their music from other cities – from as close as West Chester and Lancaster and as far off as Georgia and Indiana. Arrah Fisher brought her folk-pop project Arrah and the Ferns to Philly from Muncie, Indiana. Hilary White brought her self-proclaimed “swamp folk” project Lion Versus to Philadelphia from its birthplace in Savannah, Georgia. “Writing for me is different here than in Savannah,” says White. “It's the difference between Spanish moss on a giant oak and a pair of sneakers hanging on the telephone wire. It's all beautiful and inspiring, just in different ways.” White says that there are some specific things that make Philadelphia a suitable home for creating and bringing new music. “The best part of the Philly music scene is the willingness for expansion,” she says. “There are more opportunities to play where people will take notice. You have to work hard at the music you want to do but Philly lets you experiment.”
ood Old War experimented in Philadelphia and now they are a popular touring act. Formed in part by former members of the progressive rock band Days Away, Good Old War traded in the full rock feel for acoustic guitars, accordions and three-part harmonies. After signing with Sargent House records in 2008, they went from harmonizing in bars to touring with Allison Krauss and Union Station. “I think the choice was not necessarily to adopt a folky sound,” explains Good Old War percussionist, vocalist and accordion player Tim Arnold. “It was kind of just to simplify things and, you know, tone it down. Use acoustic instruments. But we weren’t really, like, saying, ‘Hey, let’s make a folk band.’ We were kind of just like, ‘Let’s just turn the volume down and concentrate on writing songs.’ It kind of evolved naturally that way.” One reason why these contemporary folk musicians feel at home in Philadelphia is the sense of community that the City of Brotherly Love provides. Most of the musicians know each other and each other’s music. JUMPphilly.com
German people, from the Pennsylvania Dutch. They had their traditions, their dances and music. Some of those songs still exist.” As the Vietnam War quietly approached in the late 1950s, the most notable folk revival began in America. It flourished during the 1960s when young people used the genre to speak out against the escalating war, the draft and violence in general. College students picked up nother artist contributing to the guitars and wrote protest songs. They played budding community is Brad Hinton. at coffeehouses and their idols were Woody He has shared the stage with Hezekiah Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Jones, and Cutrufello played harmonica with That movement took roots in Philadelphia, Hinton at the 50th annual Philadelphia Folk especially along South Street and in West Festival in August. Philadelphia. A strong MODERN FOLK: Hezekiah Jones (opposite). Hinton’s style of community developed. Hilary White (below, in the foreground) with music is more of an And while people came her "swamp-folk" band, Lion Versus. homage to the past and left the city, the than many of the sense of camaraderie contemporary folkamong the folk crowd influenced musicians. remains strong. He creates country/ “We sit together as a blues music with The crowd,” says Shay. “We Brad Hinton Band tend to get to know and roots music with each other because Wissahickon Chicken Philadelphia is a big Shack. city but it’s also small. “There’s something Community is one magical about that of the features of folk old music,” Hinton music. In fact, it’s even explains. “It speaks to in the kind of songs something in me that they sing. In non-folk I can’t describe, a link music, a lot of the to my heritage. I’m songs are about me or drawn to the roots of she. There are songs American music.” where she’s great or she As an artist who should come back to shares his talents with me. They are all I. It’s ‘I many new musicians love you’ versus ‘We’re who are adopting the all in this together.’ We. folk style, Hinton appreciates the communal The ‘we’ attitude. ‘We shall overcome.’ Songs tendency of the Philly folk-inspired artists. like that are the people talking about how it “The artists in this scene are just as happy could be better if we all cooperate and put our to listen to their peers’ music as they are arms around one another and all you need is to perform their own,” he says. “There is love, you know?” a huge sense of collaboration. There’s no hay calls the latest wave “contemporary competition.” folk-style music.” ene Shay, the longtime disc jockey “They are not folk,” he says. “They are at WXPN and founder of the folk-style. They write things that sound like Philadelphia Folk Festival, says that they could have been written by an old-timer, this folk renaissance is just one of many or they sound like something by somebody revivals. Folk music itself is difficult to define who lives up in the mountains. Or they sound as it’s such a huge genre, with roots in just about like an old blues man. These guys, they know every indigenous population. The earliest folk the blues. They know the original folk songs. musicians, Shay says, were storytellers who They can interpret.” passed music through the only channel that Cutrufello estimates there are around 40 such was available - voice and repetition. bands in Philly working within that category. “Mothers would sing to their daughters,” he “We all legitimately like each other’s stuff,” says. “Daughters would hear them and sing Cutrufello observes. “There’s a lot of talent them to their daughters, and therefore a song here, you know? And maybe everyone says like ‘The Water is Wide’ is passed down. There it about their city. Maybe the guy from were songs like that about making moonshine Minneapolis says they have a very talented that went back to the 1700s, songs that started city and there’s a lot going on in Minneapolis. out as Irish tunes. Songs came from the I don’t know.” “If we were to sit down and write a song with Raph,” Arnold says, “it might give us a little insight on a different way to do it. And that’s another way to grow: playing with other people. I think that’s why, maybe, the Philly folk thing is thriving at this point. Everyone is friends and everyone works together and makes the best music that they possibly can.”
Good Old Tim Arnold Here's more of the conversation between our Jillian Mallon and the percussionist from Good Old War. Do you feel that old-fashioned group harmony should be preserved? Vocal music will always be around. It’s the ultimate instrument, you know? Everyone’s born with it. You’re not born with a guitar in your hands. You’re born with a voice. Do you think your vocal harmonies are an homage to those in the past? Sometimes we try and say, “Oh, let’s do this kind of harmony, like a Beach Boys-y type thing. We were actually just talking about, you know, how doo wop groups sing. Like “shaboom” and “ramalamadingdong” and all that stuff? We’re trying to come up with some new ones. A new vocal onomatopoeia? Yeah, exactly. We’re working on it. The next record might have some of that on it. Any ideas? Actually our sound guy had one. It was “tomdelongedelay.” What’s that? He was talking about the effect he was using in some session he was having in the studio about how you can put some Tom Delonge (from Blink 182) delay on there. And we were like, “Tomdelongedelay!” That’s amazing! That’s perfect! So maybe we’ll do that, I don’t know. It seems like you care a lot about the music you listen to. Yeah. I mean, it feels good to listen to good music. It’s the ultimate drug.
Food That Rocks
Neighborhood Speakeasy Kim Maialetti tries to understand the mystery of the new Bella Vista reastaurant and music venue, Little Bar. Photos by David Maialetti.
itting outside Little Bar on a recent Friday night, owner Michael D’Addesi excuses himself from the table as a young, leggy brunette approaches. The two embrace at the corner of 8th and Fitzwater streets before she disappears inside to order a drink and he returns to light another Camel. She walks outside and sits quietly next to D’Addesi as he talks. She’s a bit of a mystery, this woman who is reluctant to reveal her name. But Little Bar itself is still sort of a mystery. A former sports bar, reincarnated as a neighborhood speakeasy, it is continuing to evolve into what D’Addesi ultimately envisions as a cultural center that promotes and supports local artists and musicians. “I’m too old to be in the bar business,” the 39-year-old D’Addesi says. “To help people with their craft and their art is important to me.”
’Addesi has owned the Bella Vista space for more than 10 years. Little Bar represents a wholesale shift from its previous life as Vesuvio, which was born as a fine dining restaurant and reinvented a sports bar when the economy collapsed three years ago. Remnants of Vesuvio still exist, including the giant sign on the outside of the building and the flat screen TVs in almost every corner and on nearly every wall. But the vibe is pure dive. In fact, it almost feels as if patrons are being let in on a secret when they’re escorted to a back room for the weekly jam session that attracts musicians from across the city, including bassist Mike Boone, a Philadelphia jazz legend in his own right. Wearing a West Oak Lane Jazz Fest T-shirt, Boone plays the upright with an easy style. He and drummer Rob H. Henderson and pianist Jim Holton riff off each other, while the people in the crowd nod their heads in appreciation. “He (Boone) is a great guy,” says 23-year-old piano player Jim Torchon. “He’s so humble and he cares so deeply about the music and young
musicians in the city.” Torchon would know. He studied under Boone while a student at Temple University and credits the self-described old head with nurturing his love for jazz. “I learn something every time I hear him play,” says Torchon, who teaches music at Germantown Friends School. As he talks, a tattooed server pops in to take food orders and refill drinks.
ittle Bar prides itself on its offerings of craft beers in a can (though one could argue that calling PBR a craft is a stretch) and on its kitchen that stays open until 1 a.m. The menu is pretty standard bar fare: chicken wings, nachos, curly fries, and $2 tacos. However, manager Valerie Boyle says that just like the space – which also hosts comedy nights, rock concerts and art exhibits – the menu will evolve too. “See us in a year,” says Boyle, who joined D’Addesi after tending bar at the Farmers' Cabinet and the Ranstead Room. She is eager to see Little Bar succeed. D’Addesi credits her with being the brain behind Little Bar. “God sent her to me!” he exclaims.
’Addesi is somewhat eccentric, to say the least. Consider that he self-published a book under the pseudonym Armitage Shanks, which is the name of a British manufacturer of bathroom fixtures. Why? He’s not telling. What he will say is that Little Bar is more his style than Vesuvio ever was. “I love the opportunity to give artists the opportunity to grow and shine and express themselves,” D’Addesi says. Artists like Jeannie Brooks, a Philly vocalist who takes the stage with Boone to perform Ella Fitzgerald’s “Imagination.” “Imagination is funny/ It makes a cloudy day sunny/ makes the bee think of honey/ just as I think of you.” Her voice rises and falls taking listeners on a three-minute journey away from the back
room at Little Bar into an earlier decade when jazz clubs in Philadelphia could be found in every neighborhood and when the city boasted a thriving jazz scene. “We really just want to bring that back,” says Boyle. “We want to be a small intimate space that focuses on local artists.” Imagine that.
nd that mystery girl? When questioned about her relationship with D’Addesi, she looks at him and then smartly asks if her answer would be in print. After learning that it could, she just shakes her head and smiles. JUMPphilly.com
Located at 8th and Fitzwater streets, Little Bar is open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and hosts weekly jazz jam sessions on Wednesday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight. Check their website, littlebarphilly.com, to learn about upcoming events.
VESUVIO ERUPTS: Mike Boone (above, center) mans the bass on stage at Little Bar, as he does every Wednesday. Vocalist Jeannie Brooks (left) belts out Ella Fitzgerald. JUMPphilly.com
The Unexpected Artist Keith Birthday of Norweigan Arms meets a craftsman in a run-down village in Ecuador.
o clarify our geographical location: the fourth stop of the South American ESL folk tour*. Myself and three others, funded to go to various cities along the Andes and introduce a selfwritten curriculum/textbook about teaching English through traditional American folk music. This is the first stop where we are being ushered around by the embassy staff. Next day, wake up in a gated community, pile into a 12-passenger van. Drive to the place deemed ‘impoverished’ by the US government, get out. Watch the whole city fly by in between. After our workshop, the man approaches us again. I study his face some more. Looks like he is descended from the actual natives of the region, exclusively non-European features. Looks like he has recently cut off the ponytail common for men of the region. His hair sticks out awkwardly, cut in a straight line in the back. Later, it would be implied that maybe he had done this specifically to make himself seem “less native” to us. 46
Apparently, it’s possible to guilt a ponytail off.
had already judged him earlier, had decided that he was just a novelty or something. Foreigners have a tendency to attract bullshitters. I assumed he was one of them. He says he lives next door, wants to show us his workshop. We’re polite, say we are interested. I don’t really want to, don’t want to see a pan flute workshop. Our embassy host looks hesitant, strainedfaced. He repeats he lives next door, won’t take long. We file out and walk about three houses down, to a rather inconspicuous house. He leads us around back, through a small gate. We step into a guitar workshop, pieced together. Woodchips on the floor, machines and scraps of wood everywhere. The machines he uses have been assembled from what appear to be discarded parts from various types of unrelated equipment. All of it looks unfamiliar, non-standard, like he invented everything himself. To the left, a half-made guitar, the sides of the body being formed, held in place by at least one hundred binder clips. The air is woodperfumed and I take a deep breath. Meanwhile, our host disappears into the house, returns with a mostly finished guitar. It is crafted expertly, smells like a tree. I ask him what he does with them. He says he sells them. He says he gave classes. He says that he teaches people from the
neighborhood how to make guitars and only charges them for the cost of materials. I ask him if has any finished guitars and he says no, has sold them all. I stand in silence for a moment, try to take it all in. Impossible to stay. Want to. It’s time to go. Our embassy guide ushers us out of the workshop. She still looks nervous, unimpressed. I feel upset and embarrassed because she has no idea what she is seeing. I look at my companions and feel reassured because they get it.
ater, snapping out of the delirium, it feels like a dream. I don’t get to see much of the city, am limited to the small groups of people who attend our workshops. Usually faces that just stare and smile. But I know there’s a man with a cut-off ponytail, making guitars in a slapdash workshop in his backyard. I’m pretty sure he’ll never be able to escape his slum on the outskirts of Quito, and while that seems sad on the surface, I can’t help but feel jealous. I’m pretty sure having met him is better than only having dealt with tourism and its nonsense but as I look around the neighborhood, at all the run down everything, it’s hard to be sure. For now, out of the fringes of town, we head away from the poverty, back toward where the money is. To stop at a massive mall for lunch at an “American Sports Bar.” To eat a terrible hamburger. To return to the socio-economic comfort zone. *Learn about the tour at ESLfolk.com
Photos by Gillian Grassie.
’m probably half delirious. Fifteen hours of airport the previous day, 12 hours late to our destination - Quito, Ecuador. Fuzzy-headed with the altitudinal change. Five hours of sleep, maybe. Bussed to the edges of town, poverty stricken, we are told. Looks that way. A small, hot room with some people inside. A man setting up some PA equipment. Dark complexion, middle-aged maybe. He walks up to us, speaks in Spanish. Our broken skills put it together: he makes instruments. He’s going to go get some right now. He lives next door or something. He comes back with a black case, pulls out some homemade pan flutes, starts to play. They sound good, as far as I can tell. I don’t know much about pan flutes. We thank him and start getting our things together to begin our workshop.
Published on Aug 30, 2011
JUMP magazine documents the music scene in Philadelphia. In this issue: Da Rezarekt, CAT VET, The New Connection, Black Landlord, Toy Sold...