TAKE A MAG
FROM HOOD TO
HOLLYWOOD THE NEW PHONE, WHO DIS? ISSUE: H.R. FROM BAD BRAINS, KATIE ELLEN, PALACEBURN AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!
CONTENTS | Issue #25
THE JUMP OFF cranes are flying, DJ HVNLEE, DJ Lean Wit It, Sophie Coran, DiPinto Guitars, Creem Circus, Tierney Guitars, You Do You, Maitland, Circadian Rhythms, Palaceburn, Blumbros, Philly Music Fest, Live Band Karaoke, DJ Junior and Street Teams.
MUSIC & EDUCATION Through Drumhenge, an experiment in acoustic synthesis, a Philly musician and an engineering doctoral student created a new, interactive musical experience.
THIS PLACE ROCKS NOTO offers a place to get dressed up and dance to world-class DJs without leaving the city.
COVER stories Once a young hustler in Southwest Philadelphia, Charlie Mack has helped numerous Philly performers - from Boyz II Men to Meek Mill to Yazz the Greatest - find fame and success. Now, the legendary figure is trying to have an even larger impact on his hometown. H.R., the frontman for the legendary punk band Bad Brains, battled severe health issues and then moved to Philadelphia. He's still performing and spreading the good word. Except his genre is now reggae. Anika Pyle, who used to front pop-punk faves Chumped, started a new band, called Katie Ellen. They've released their debut album, which Pyle says brings her closer to her personal truth. The Dove &The Wolf crafted their EP and forthcoming full-length album in the wake of terror attacks, bizarre world events and personal difficulties. The results are stunning, with harmonies that soothe and music that haunts the soul.
FOOD THAT ROCKS A bunch of musicians with no experience in the food industry launched Hello Donuts in May and they're already looking for a storefront.
FRONT COVER: Charlie Mack, by Ben Wong. BACK COVER: H.R. from Bad Brains, by Charlie Wrzesniewski. CONTENTS PAGE: (top to bottom) DJ Junior, by Brianna Spause; Sophie Coran, by Ashley Gellman; The Dove and The Wolf, by Natalie Piserchio. JUMPphilly.com
publisher G.W. MILLER III managing editors BETH ANN DOWNEY, CHRIS MALO photo editor CHARLES SHAN CERRONE contributing editors RACHEL DEL SORDO, TYLER HORST, BRENDAN MENAPACE, BRIANNA SPAUSE contributors LISSA ALICIA, MIKE ARRISON, KYLE BAGENSTOSE, KEVIN BARR, GABRIELA BARRANTES, VINCE BELLINO, MICHAEL BUCHER, JUMAH CHAGUAN, ASHLEY COLEMAN, KEVIN COOK, DARRAGH DANDURAND, CHESNEY DAVIS, MATT DEIFER, GRACE DICKINSON, EMILY DUBIN, BRANDEN EASTWOOD, MEREDITH EDLOW, LAURA FANCIULLACCI, DUSTIN FENSTERMACHER, ERIC FITZSIMMONS, CHIP FRENETTE, JEFF FUSCO, JENNIFER GRANATO, ASHLEY GELLMAN, JARED GRUENWALD, DAN HALMA, BRAE HOWARD, MORGAN JAMES, JOSEPH JUHASE, SEAN KANE, EVAN KAUCHER, RICK KAUFFMAN,KARA KHAN, DONTE KIRBY, HANNAH KUBIK, MINA LEE, MATTHEW LEISTER, DAN LEUNG, ERIN MARHEFKA, MEGAN MATUZAK, TERESA McCULLOUGH, JOHN McGUIRE, MAGGIE McHALE, NIESHA MILLER, DAVE MINIACI, ELIAS MORRIS, SAMANTHA MOSS, TIM MULHERN, IAN NEISSER, MAGDALENA PAPAIOANNOU, NATALIE PISERCHIO, ANDY POLHAMUS, CAMERON ROBINSON, DAVE ROSENBLUM, BONNIE SAPORETTI, IAN SCHOBEL, EMILY SCOTT, CASSI SEGULIN, ROSIE SIMMONS, MORGAN SMITH, KEVIN STAIRIKER, SYDNEY SCHAEFER, BRIAN WILENSKY, BEN WONG, CHARLES WRZESNIEWSKI WE PRINT 10,000 FULL-COLOR ISSUES FOUR TIMES PER YEAR, IN MARCH, JUNE, SEPTEMBER AND NOVEMBER. WE DISTRIBUTE THEM FREE AT PHILLY AREA 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. We are not influenced by advertisers or people we do business with. We put together the content in every issue based upon what we see happening around the city. We point out stuff we think you should know about. Of course, if you were willing to pony up some cash, we're open to testing our journalistic integrity. Flash the green. And don't be stingy. Six figures could get you lots of JUMP love. Unless you suck. Then you get nothing. This is a full-on, DIY, community effort. If you want to get involved, if you have story ideas or if you just have something to say, email us at email@example.com, tweet us @JUMPphilly or find us at facebook.com/jumpphilly. Philly rocks. Spread the word. facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Friends in High Places Greg Seltzer was insistent we meet at 11 am despite my pushing for our meeting to be at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I was trying to be more efficient with my time - I had a 2 o'clock appointment near his Center City office and didn't want to have to bike downtown twice. So, I was worried he was going to be a douchebag. I mean, he works at a high-powered, politically connected law firm, where a single billable hour can cost as much as two people earn while working at minimum wage for an entire week. His area is corporate law, which means he works for The Man. And he has this grandiose plan to create a mini, all-local version of SXSW here in Philadelphia that will actually launch in September. I don't know. I was skeptical, to say the least. People have been talking about doing an all-local music fest for years. Remember the Philly FM Fest a few years ago? It's hard to get fans to attend shows with local acts, whom they see fairly often already. And this fancy lawyer I never heard of is actually going to put it together? In protest, I decided not to shower. I threw on the T-shirt and shorts I wore a few days prior. And I biked over in the humid August heat, meaning I arrived pretty sweaty (and late ... because I'm always late). Once in the building, I looked out the window of the 48th floor waiting room and braced myself to meet some obnoxious rich guy in a suit. Then Greg walked in. He wasn't in a suit. He wore black pants and a Puma workout shirt. He didn't have Republican hair (see: Mitt Romney). He looked like a random person you'd bump into at a show at Kung Fu Necktie. I was confused. Still, I began our conversation talking about money, as I assumed his Philly Music Fest was just that - a business venture. Greg, who holds an MBA and law degree from Temple, explained that his legal practice involves helping start-ups, many of which can't afford the regular billing rates. So, his firm discounts them. Or offers free services. He even started an incubator for small companies with big ideas. Then Greg began talking about his lifelong love of music. He dropped all the right names - Kurt Vile, John Vettese, Eric Osman, Hop Along, The Districts, etc. He talked about all the love Philly bands have been getting from Pitchfork, and how there are so many more acts in the pipeline that could be the next War on Drugs, Cayetana or Dr. Dog. I started to like the guy. A lot. Like, his fest and this magazine have parallel missions. We both want to celebrate the talent we have here and tell everyone about how awesome our scene really is. But then he told he he had to run. As I packed up my stuff, Greg explained that he had to make a few phone calls before he hopped a train to New York. Again, I assumed he was dashing off to a power lunch or something. But he had Phish tickets. He was ducking out of work early to go party. And all of the sudden, I had a new friend. - G.W. Miller III JUMPphilly.com
Photo by Charles Shan Cerrone.
The JUMP Off
INSIDE: CRANES ARE FLYING p. 8 / DJ HVNLEE p. 10 / DJ LEAN WIT IT p. 10 / SOPHIE CORAN p. 13 / DIPINTO GUITARS p. 14 / CREEM CIRCUS p. 15 / TIERNEY GUITARS p. 17 / YOU DO YOU p. 19 / MAITLAND p. 20 / CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS p. 21 / PALACEBURN p. 22 / BLUMBROS p. 24 / PHILLY MUSIC FEST p. 26 / LIVE BAND KARAOKE p. 26 / DJ JUNIOR p. 28 / STREET TEAMS p. 29 /
The West Philly
Musical Polyglots Things are changing in West Philly but the DIY music scene still abounds with talent, like cranes are flying, whose latest album is a reflection of the neighborhood. It's intelligent and loaded with meaning. Robin Carine, brother Lucas Carine and George Cosgrove spent Thanksgiving 2016 creating an EP at The Zone, the practice space for the three members of cranes are flying. The room is one of many in the half-industrially skeletal, halfdrywall West Philly warehouse where multiple bands rehearse and make a cacophony of sounds. “It’s pretty noisy in [the building] sometimes,” Lucas Carine says. “So a holiday is going to be our best chance of having some quiet time in here so we can make a record.” Lucas Carine wrote the track “Polyglot,” a term for a speaker multiple languages, and the indie punk band decided to name the EP Code Switching after the linguistic practice of alternating multiple languages in a conversation. “In a nonlinguistic way, some of this terminology kind of applies to use as musical polyglots,
switching instruments around and switching roles around,” Robin Carine says. Now in the middle of the summer, the trio meets inside The Zone to practice that EP. The six-song record dropped in August, an album ringing with themes of linguistics and what it means to be in a particular part of the city. cranes might move about musically on Code Switching but the influences of the records are locally sourced in West Philly. Jim Jackson, who co-directed the band’s “Don’t Wake Me Up” music video with Paul Little, sees Code Switching as “absolutely indirectly or directly” influenced by the music scene there. “The community in West Philadelphia is incredibly intelligent and very cultured, and are able to talk about how art affects them in a very honest and real way,” Jackson says. “I think that just having been in that environment for that long, this album is kind of a natural extension of those ideas. This album is a reflection of them better knowing themselves and the kind of music that they want to make.” The track “ESPO” references slogans on the murals of Steve Powers, a muralist whose art appears throughout West Philly. Robin Carine borrows Powers’ phrase “See Me Like I See You, Beautiful” from a mural at 50th and Market streets. Robin Carine sees this as a rejection of tribalism, gatekeepers and poser-shaming at shows, online - wherever.
“I was sort of thinking like, ‘Hey, man, nobody was born punk,’” he says. “You know what I mean? Everybody gets to try stuff out. Authenticity doesn’t always come from, like, how many records by this band you owned before you bought this shirt. We all want to be seen for who we really are instead of some checklist of clothing items or hairstyles or whatever.” The West Philly D.I.Y. music scene is facing some changes: some showhouses are fading away and gentrification is creeping in, pushing both the longtime residents and D.I.Y community from living in the area’s affordable housing. “Cool things and cool people are still going to be around,” Lucas Carine says. Not that Lucas Carine sees cranes are flying as cool. “Kinda grumpy, sarcastic pieces of shit,” he says when describing the band. “But we like to have fun and try to make beautiful things out of that.” Code Switching is evident of Lucas Carine’s claim on coolness. According to Jackson, the music on the new album embodies their personality as a band. “There’s this kind of quirky charm to them,” Jackson says. “There’s this passion and intensity. I think that, on this album, they started to kind of have a good ear for their impulses creatively and non-creatively. It’s only going to continue to get better. It’s only going to continue to get more them and more quirky.” - Shealyn Kilroy facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photo by Charles Shan Cerrone.
The JUMP Off
Photo by Jennifer Costo.
The JUMP Off
The Student Gives Back DJ Lean Wit It benefited from the mentorship of Philly DJ legends. Now that he's spinning at parties and finding success, he's looking to inspire the next generation.
Blowing Minds DJ HVNLEE grew up surrounded by the arts. But she never dreamt of DJing. Now, it's her life. When you experince DJ HVNLEE spinning at Saint Lazarus Bar in Fishtown, it’s hard to imagine she has only been performing for four years. It doesn’t take long before her set compels those sitting on bar stools to move to the dance floor. Her eyes flit between her laptop and the crowd as she gauges its reactions. As natural as she may appear, becoming a DJ is not something she ever planned on. Growing up in a family of artists, the North Philly native was fully immersed in the world of visual expression. DJ HVNLEE, or Dee Dee Lee to her friends, spent much of her adolescence attending the Charter High School for Architecture + Design and participating in the Mural Arts Program. “I couldn’t think of anything else but art at the time,” Lee explains. “It’s, like, in my family. My choice to DJ is still blowing other people’s minds. It’s blowing mine, too.” It wasn’t until 2011 Lee began deviating from the path ahead of her. While going out to different clubs in the city she became enamored with the relationship between the crowds and the DJs, and their influence over the room. “I wanted to be responsible for the crowd’s mood,” Lee reminisces outside of the Saint, where she currently holds a residency. “I wanted that feeling when you play a song and a person in the crowd just loves the song and starts singing and dancing along.” Lee studied the craft on her own before reaching out to Philly veterans DJ Lean Wit It and DJ Aktive. After seeing the passion and drive Lee possessed, her mentor, DJ Lean Wit It, inducted her into his DJ collective, UGLYBASS, which also includes DJs Mr. Sonny James, DJ Damage and DJ Royale. Through the collective, Lee landed her first gig — the 2013 Temple BlockOut, a block party with more than 1,500 attendees. Lee performed a short, 15 minute set but it was enough to make her realize
this was her calling. One year later, Lee played alongside Lean Wit It at the Firefly Music Festival. With a number of high profile gigs under her belt, Lee has become a name regularly heard within the Philly party community. Admittedly shy and reserved, it’s been a surreal experience for the 26-year-old. She credits DJing for allowing her to grow as a person. “I can express myself more,” Lee elaborates. “I go out more. I network more. It broke me out of my shell.” This confidence has shown itself in Lee’s bold choices and evolving style. At first, she spun mostly EDM and Top 40 hits. But she now throws an array of other genres into her sets, including Afrobeat and Caribbean rhythms, along with ’80s and ’90s R&B. She surprises Lean Wit It regularly with songs he has either forgotten about or wouldn’t have thought to play. Additionally, she has learned how to transition songs in a seamless manner, which can be a challenge for many DJs. “She’s starting to make records talk to each other and that is a very important thing in terms of DJing,” Lean Wit It says proudly. Lee's success flies in the face of the many hurdles put in her path. Even as an established presence, she still faces sexism and struggles to be taken seriously at times. She hopes to see an inclusive community in the near future, when non-male DJs can be judged for their talent and skill level alone. “She doesn’t look at herself as a female DJ,” says Lean Wit It. “She considers herself a DJ, which is very important to me because I don't ever want anybody to say, ‘Yo, she’s good for a girl.’ I want people to consider her good as a DJ, and she works very hard to be respected as a DJ and not by her gender.” This is a fact not lost at all on Lee. “There aren’t as many women as there are male DJs,” she notes. “And when you are new, they try to intimidate you. So those are definitely two of my biggest obstacles. But I feel like I’m still overcoming them. I still go through things every time, like even with bookings. I try to stay focused and I try to make people understand that I am here, and I am going to be here.” - Jennifer Costo
Music has always moved Robert Chaz Flores. Whether it was participating in a theater company, playing three instruments or DJing at 13, Flores found himself inspired by sounds and beats. And sneaking into a club at 15-years old changed his life. Now, a decade later, and known as DJ Lean Wit It, Flores is spinning records and making other people move. He has regular sets at Morgan’s Pier and Pub Webb, among other venues in Philadelphia. But he was once just a kid who liked music. He started by playing the violin, viola and cello. At 13, a friend of his mother’s asked Lean Wit It if he wanted to make money. In turn, he gifted Lean Wit It some old DJing equipment and Lean Wit It took to it quickly. He earned a few bucks here and there with some early gigs. But it wasn’t until a few years later until his passion really grew. J Dilla, a prominent hip-hop producer from Detroit, had recently passed away and the nowclosed Fluid Nightclub off South Street held a tribute night. “I had never seen anything like it before, never seen DJing like that,” he recalls, then slaps the table repeatedly. “That’s when I knew this is exactly what I want to do with my life.” He didn’t let the moment, or epiphany, slip by. “I hung out in the booth and met so many people that night who I have worked with and are now like family to me,” he says. One of those people was Mr. Sonny James, aka DJ Statik, who took Lean Wit It under his wing. The two have gone on to tour with one another, collaborated numerous times and currently host a radio show together. “He sat in the booth with us and just studied everything we were doing,” James recalls. “Later, he told me that was a defining moment for him. It’s fulfilling for me. It’s great to see a lot of the things I’ve shown people that they have used to create things that inspire them.” Lean Wit It continued taking as many gigs as he could. For a young, novice DJ, there weren’t many to pick and choose from. facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photos by Ben Wong.
“They were the kind of places you get shot at,” he says with a chuckle. He continued through high school and then attended St. John’s University in New York before transferring to Temple. He majored in TV production, wanting to try something different from his usual audio work for his degree. Of course, he didn’t stop DJing. He continued cutting his teeth and finding gigs at clubs and house parties while at both St. John’s and Temple, remarking on how sometimes he didn’t sleep. “I would legit go to class, then go to a meeting, then do my radio show on WHIP, then leave school and go DJ, then go home and do homework and study, then take a shower and go to class,” he says. He made it work and graduated with a degree. He even filmed a beer documentary for class, with a potential sequel in the works. Lean Wit It began to realize his potential when DJing on Temple's campus at Maxi’s, where he noticed people climbing through the windows to get inside for his DJ set. “He’s one of the few DJs I really enjoy going out to hear,” James says. “He has a traditional Philly DJing style. He’s all about high energy and making sure the records make sense in the order he plays them. I’ve brought him to places like Miami and he rocks every crowd.” Lean Wit It also helped organize and DJ several Temple block parties, including the Temple BlockOut. JUMPphilly.com
“The whole block was packed and we had some of the best DJs in the city and everyone was having a good time,” he says. “It was just good vibes. No one getting hurt. And the students helped clean up afterwards. Being a part of that was special.”
For Lean Wit It, it was one example of how music can foster togetherness. “It gives me hope for humanity that people can just come through and have a good time, from all walks of life, and then offer to help me when they don’t even know me and be a part of something good, something for the community,” he notes. His work at Temple also helped him become involved with his mother’s organization, the Do Remember Me project, which teaches digital media literacy to disenfranchised youth and also helps promote collaborative projects with children
and students in other countries. “It’s important for me to give back however I can,” he says. “I’ve gone and spoken to classes and kids have come up to me after and we have stayed in touch. Philly has a thing where people don’t really pass the torch or pass on knowledge. For me, if I see somebody who is serious, I’m gonna teach them. If you’re serious, you’re gonna invest in it. I will do what I can to help you out if you’re serious. Even if it’s just making a phone call or passing along some music or tips.” Currently, Lean Wit It holds residencies at Saint Lazarus Bar in Fishtown and Pub Webb off Temple’s campus. He also founded UglyBass Media with James and DJ Damage as a way to expand their horizons and their brands. His goal is to “make UglyBass a household name.” For now, he keeps playing and enjoying what he does. Whether it’s through life or on the dancefloor, Lean Wit It just wants to help people move. “I want people to leave feeling happier than when they walked in,” he says. “Philly is one of the poorest big cities in America. A lot of people have reason to be angry. My goal as a DJ is to make people forget whatever happened before they walked in. Even for a little bit.” It’s not only those on the dancefloor that need a respite. “DJing is an escape for me too,” says Lean Wit It. “I’ll have stuff going on in my life and DJing helps me escape. A party or event should be the same thing. I want everyone to leave sweaty and smiling with high vibes.” - Dave Miniaci
The JUMP Off
The Artist Finds Her Sound
Photo by Ashley Gellman.
Sophie Coran left Philly for school and then honed her craft in London. She's back, and her evolution continues. “I feel like I’m always trying to find other artists who I can sort of relate to, or who are similar to me,” Sophie Coran comments over Korean BBQ tacos at Kraftwork in Fishtown. “But I’m also just trying to figure out, you know, what do I do? And I know what I do. I know my music. I know my style. I know my vibe.” Coran, born and raised in Philadelphia, isn’t necessarily new to the music scene. The soulful songstress attended the Manhattan School of Music for composition and piano performance before moving to London for a year to pursue a songwriting program, which she classifies as “basically songwriting boot camp.” In the program, she was instructed to write a song every week in various styles, influences and production values, and Coran acknowledges it definitely opened her eyes to the more technical side of music making. Coran’s blue eyes light up as she talks about her experience living in London. She wrote and recorded her debut EP, 2015’s Better, while she was there. She notes that many of the songs she wrote JUMPphilly.com
while at boot camp ended up on the EP as well. She moved back to Philadelphia a little more than a year ago and has been pleasantly surprised by the city’s welcoming music scene. “Growing up in Philly, I didn’t really think it was anything special and I didn’t even want to move back here after London,” Coran says. “But then I realized, oh, wait a minute. There’s actually a really cool scene here.’” Upon moving back to the city and immersing herself in the music scene, Coran found herself meeting weekly with a group of musicians at something they dubbed the “Tuesday Night Music Club.” To her, this felt like a continuation of songwriting boot camp, as she was still writing a new song every week. Now anticipating the September release of her sophomore EP, All That Matters, Coran says the consistency of this new release is similar to her debut. However, she’s begun taking jazz piano lessons and she's playing around with her melodies and harmonies. Her personal lyricism is another of Coran’s staples, a derivative of her extensive songwriting schooling. “Sophie is such a soft-spoken and sweet person, but her music has an edge, perhaps a darkness to it that is unexpected if you know her,” says Rich Straub, a musician featured on Coran’s new EP. “She's able to draw upon such raw emotions and channel them into incredibly effective songwriting. As a musician, she is in control and particular.” All That Matters, produced by Philadelphia eight-piece super group Darla – who also served
as Coran’s backing band on the record, is an examination of the restaurant industry and how that has impacted and influenced her everyday life. Straub, Darla’s drummer, says they all spent around half a year figuring out the EP together. “It was a really different record-making process than what I'm used to,” Straub notes. “She was looking to use this record as a way to really hone in on her unique sound as an artist. It was really exciting to be there each step of the way as it all developed.” The EP will feature six songs, including the single “Jimmy,” which tells the story of a night out with a coworker from the restaurant where Coran works. “I think I’ve evolved a lot,” Coran says of her style. She notes how listening to Carole King and Fiona Apple gave her first EP more of a singersongwriter feel. For her upcoming release, Coran spent time listening to her idol, Amy Winehouse. “My music has become a lot more soulful, more inspired by what I was listening to,” she says. “So, it’s definitely evolved, and I feel like now I kind of know sort of what I want to do.” At just 27, Coran has embarked upon worldly adventures that most only dream of, making music in intensely competitive environments and has subsequently discovered herself in the process. She is comfortable with herself and her musical creation. Even with her petite frame and soft-spoken voice, she exudes confidence. “I’m excited because I’ve honed in on my style with this,” Coran says of the new album. - Maggie McHale
Wild Lefty Guitar City DiPinto Guitars began out of necessity: if you wanted a lefthanded guitar, you had to build one. Inside an unassuming storefront at 407 E. Girard Ave. stands DiPinto Guitars, a legendary spot for locals and musicians from around the world who desire a guitar that looks unlike any other. Equally unassuming is the store’s namesake and co-owner, Chris DiPinto. His soft-spoken nature and slight frame give no indication he is one of the most sought-out guitar makers in the world. DiPinto started the business in Old City with his wife, Sophy, in 1995. “Old City at that time was a desolate area,” he says. “We watched it build up around us.” As his reputation grew, so did the list of musicians he came in contact with, including the likes of Thurston Moore and Jack White. “We had such a great time. We met a lot of our artists there,” he says. After being priced out of Old City and then Northern Liberties, the DiPintos were determined to buy a storefront. They targeted Fishtown, and purchased an old five-and-dime store in 2005. While DiPinto has always loved guitars, creating them came more out of necessity. “I’m left-handed,” he explains. “Ninety-nine percent of guitars made are right-handed. In order to get the guitars that I want, I have to start building them. And I don’t just want a regular old guitar. I want a weird, ’60s, wild guitar.” With no formal training, DiPinto created his first guitar from extra pieces of an oak floor. He proudly points to an odd, bright blue guitar on his office wall that looks straight out of an episode of “The Jetsons.” While playing his creations in his band’s shows, other musicians noticed and wanted one for themselves. It was an “a-ha” moment. “If I can make guitars for a living, I’m in,” he recalls thinking. However, not everyone initially dug his cartoon-like designs. “It was tough to keep it going because people were against what I was doing,” he says. “I make a retro-looking guitar that looks like it was made in 1968, to the detail. I was the first to do that. People thought I was crazy. People were laughing at me. I could hear them!” He credits tastemakers like Cheap Trick, Earl Slick and David Bowie for keeping him afloat. “If you’re going to do something different, step out and do it because you’ll get noticed, and people who are early adopters, they want that,” DiPinto explains. “David Bowie was known to be one of the first ones to have certain guitars or certain looks, always ahead of the curve. So, if I had made what everyone else was making at the time, none of those guys would have cared.” If not setting the trend, DiPinto, at minimum, was ahead of the curve. “Retro guitars are totally all over the place,” he points out. Local musician Peter Santa Maria has used the DiPinto Mach IV on stage and in recordings with his bands Sonic Screemers and Jukebox Zeros since striking that first power chord in the store. “It's lightweight, plays easy with low action,” Santa Maria says. “The custom pickups roar and, perhaps, most important of all, it looks cool!” DiPinto remains humble despite his success. “Any music store is a struggle,” he dryly admits, noting that it's been a long time since there was a popular guitar band. “If I was smart, I would have opened up a bar.” DiPinto has expanded services, from the making, fixing, buying and trading of guitars to teaching others how to play or even make one. In the coming years, DiPinto hopes to continue making more custom guitars and using more sustainable and reusable materials. The mission of the store remains the same as it was in 1995. “We’re doing this to make awesome guitars,” he says. - Lauren Silvestri
Photos by Ben Wong.
The JUMP Off
Immersion Experience The man behind DiPinto Guitars also fronts Creem Circus, a ’70s era glam rock band complete with sequined outfits, high-heeled shoes and heavy guitar riffs. In addition to creating retro guitars, Chris DiPinto creates music harking back to the ’70s with his glam rock band, Creem Circus. “The glam rock era is the best era, as far as I’m concerned,” he says. “It’s theatrical, edgy and it’s still shocking to this day.” Creem Circus is his brainchild. He plays guitar and sings, but also writes all the music and lyrics, and even decides on the outfits for the band. Creem Circus also includes drummer Rob Giglio, Dave Janny on bass and Jim Cara handling guitar duties. The project allows him to live out his alter ego fantasy.
“I become another person,” DiPinto proclaims. “People say when I put on those big glasses, it all changes. I’m a total asshole - in a fun way - when I’m on stage.” The band is much more than a kitschy act, however. Just listen to a song like “Riff Mountain” to hear elaborate guitar solos reminiscent of early Van Halen. After five years together, they’ve reached some milestones. The band recently opened for Gene Simmons at The Trocadero and for surf rock guitar legend Dick Dale at the Ardmore Music Hall. DiPinto created a guitar for the left-handed musician more than 10 years ago. For DiPinto, it’s always 1973 in his mind. “You can’t recreate it unless you’re living it,” DiPinto says of the era. “You have to immerse yourself in that time period.” - Lauren Silvestri JUMPphilly.com
Photo by Ben Wong.
The JUMP Off
Photo by Sydney Schaefer.
Michael Tierney learned the art of guitarmaking from Chris DiPinto. Now, he has his own shop in Germantown. Michael Tierney first picked up a guitar in 8th grade, not knowing that the instrument would transform his life. Fast forward more than 10 years — Tierney now builds his own line of guitars and owns his own guitar shop in Philadelphia. Tierney Guitars is located in an old, three-story carriage home in Germantown on West Haines Street. Tierney renovated the property himself after finding two houses on Craigslist that both needed fixing up and happened to be right next door to each other. Now, Tierney lives in one and the other is his guitar workshop and showroom — the first floor serving as his work space and the second floor as the showroom. His story goes back to his undergraduate days at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where he majored in industrial design. He thought he would be able to learn how to make a guitar there, but that wasn’t the case. Tierney came across a school in Georgia called Atlanta Guitar Works School of Building and Repair. “It was kind of like a summer camp,” he says. The school offered what Tierney describes as a crash course on how to make a guitar and fix common problems. As the program was only six weeks long, it was the perfect amount of time to take a semester off at Art Institute and learn the JUMPphilly.com
art of his true passion. Upon returning from the program and finishing his degree, Tierney attempted to get a job working at DiPinto Guitars in Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood. Chris DiPinto is the guy in town everyone goes to for guitar work, Tierney explains. “I annoyed the shit out of Chris DiPinto,” he says. “I just kept showing up.” Eventually DiPinto gave him a job working parttime in his shop. Around five years later, Tierney became a full-time employee, opening and closing the shop almost every day. Until he decided not to. “It was kind of out of nowhere,” says Tierney about quitting DiPinto Guitars. He had reached the point where he thought he could do it himself and, financially, he needed to support himself with more than he was making at DiPinto. So, he applied to a cabinetmaking job. After being told he got the job, Tierney put in his two weeks at DiPinto Guitars, then found out he no longer had the cabinetmaking position. At the end of those two weeks, he would no longer have any employment. Or a source of income. So, one night while drinking beers with a friend, he found his current properties online and went for it. Despite not having electricity, Tierney bought both properties in July of 2015 and began working on the project of a lifetime. It took more than a year to complete. “It was three floors of just somebody else’s junk,” Tierney recalls. However, in October of 2016, Tierney was able to open the doors to his very own guitar shop. Despite the decision to leave DiPinto Guitars rather suddenly, there’s no bad blood between the two owners. “I thought it was an excellent move,” DiPinto
says. “I believe that going off on one’s own path is the only true way to be original and influential.” So far business has been pretty good. It comes in waves. Sometimes, he’ll have nothing to do. “Other times, I’m slammed,” he says. “I don’t have enough room to put stuff.” He offers a variety of services like repair, maintenance and restoration work that Tierney describes as the real bread-and-butter of the shop, which allows him to also make his own custom guitars and amps. A variety of local Philly bands are regulars in his shop, dropping off gear before they hit the road to tour. Tierney says one client, such as The Districts, can allow him to have a lot of work on his hands considering how they beat the shit out of their instruments. “Mike has been our go-to guitar man for quite some time now,” says Pat Cassidy, one of two guitar players in The Districts. “We love working and hanging with him, so it's really a no brainer,” Tierney is able to cater to Rob Grote, the other guitar player in The Districts, and Cassidy’s preferences when it comes to their guitars, which is something difficult to get at just any guitar shop, says Cassidy. The band first met Tierney while he was working at DiPinto and they haven’t taken their gear to anybody else since. The neighborhood helps Tierney out in lean times. His neighbors will give him odd jobs to do for a paycheck, allowing for him to have a stable income during less busy times at the guitar shop. Needing to supplement his income doesn’t discourage Tierney at all. “For being the first year of a new business, and a business that’s technically in a dying industry, it’s been pretty good,” he says. - Sydney Schaefer
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Photo by Ben Wong.
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Nonstop Push You Do You makes funky new wave lounge disco music with a horn section and a big voice. Upon experiencing Philly funk-soul rockers You Do You, it becomes evident where their name came from. Musical expression and the freedom to be one’s self is a core element that brought this band together. Rather than one person writing all the parts, You Do You’s songwriting process begins with an idea for a song, and then members are given the liberty to spin off that idea and make it their own. “I had been in bands where people told you exactly how to sing and exactly what notes to play,” says lead vocalist Katie Feeney. “There was one person running the show who had the vision and thought everyone else had to execute that vision. I’m sorry but no, that’s garbage. I don’t think that works.” Shortly after being booted from one such band, Feeney sought guitar lessons to become selfsufficient and, in the process, met guitarist Drew Parker. What started out as fun songwriting about cats turned into a desire to create music with a message. Wanting to expand their duo, the pair welcomed Alex Baranowski on bass and keyboardist Crills Wilson. “I remember Alex was like, ‘I should be in your band,’” says Feeney. “Which is pretty much how everyone joined the band, except for Aaron.” JUMPphilly.com
Aaron Boczkowski - who became involved through Craigslist - was not the group’s first drummer. But after auditioning him for the position, they knew he was a perfect fit. “I must’ve brought the right beer,” says Boczkowski with a laugh. Jacques St. Clair from Vital Stats, who played with the group back in 2014 at Boot & Saddle, says You Do You had a full sound at that time with five members. Yet, with the recent addition of trumpet player Vince Tampio and Thor Espanez on baritone sax, St. Clair says their sound has become complete. “It is glorious,” says St. Clair. “I am jealous. Every time we play with them, I go back to my band and say, ‘Why are we not doing this? Why aren't we adding that?’ Don't even get me started on wanting a horn section.” Their sound can be described as new wave lounge disco, with a lot of soul, a little funk and a pinch of bossa nova. When the seven members take the stage, they generate an energy similar to that of Parliament Funkadelic. “If you thought you knew us and our sound before [Tampio and Thor joined], you haven’t seen us because we’re different and way funkier now,” says Feeney. The goal of this group is to deliver a societal and political message wrapped in a melody that is easy to get up and dance to. “Sidewalk,” from their new EP Political Party, is about the difficulty of being a pedestrian in a city where one can be targeted for skin tone and potentially killed. Released in July, Political Party is the first co-
written, collaborative project representing You Do You in its entirety. “I'm not sure I've seen another Philly band effectively play a disco song quite like You Do You,” says St. Clair. “Backup harmonies and everything. It's crazy. And honestly, no one sounds like Katie. She can sing in a whisper, she can sing with grit and she can belt it out like no one around here. She has an incredible vocal range.” With their band fully realized and their songwriting on point, the next step is making an imprint on their community and gaining greater exposure. “A lot of the struggle is getting good people to give us the chance to speak and play so they can put our names out there,” Baranowski says, reflecting on the difficulty of the task. “How hard is it to do that?” Willing to see this musical journey through despite the hurdles, You Do You focuses on the yes’s more so than the number of no’s they receive. They just keep pushing forward. For Boczkowski, pleasure comes by experiencing the journey for what it is and playing with the band. All in unanimous agreement with Boczkowski’s statement, the band is looking to bring their funky grooves in and out of the Philadelphia region. “We’re not coming up with anything new,” Baranowski states with confidence. “We’re not trying to fit in with any specific thing. What we do is what we do and we pride ourselves with being able to fit in with anything that is musically good, because what we are is good music.” - Hannah Kubik
The Detour Into Mindfulness A medical condition shut down Maitland temporarily. The respite healed their singer and it gave the band a new perspective on life. The concept of healing is a major theme in the story of Maitland. After going into the studio at Spice House Sound two years ago to record the band’s latest album, June’s Glimpse, guitarist/ vocalist Josh Hines blew out his voice. Rather than just sucking down on Halls lozenges and whispering until his voice returned, he took the health-induced hiatus to focus on healing all over—physically and emotionally. “I took four weeks and decided to go up to this holistic institute called the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York,” Hines says. “I planned to be there for a month but I fell in love with the place and ended up staying there for like five months while coming back to Philly off and on to record.” While his band, comprised of Adam Shumski, Evan Moffitt and younger brother Alex, were all back home in West Philly finishing school and playing in other projects, the elder Hines took time to focus on yoga, mindfulness and meditation. The break helped him come back with a fresh mindset for making music. “I think the biggest realization that I had had to do with just overall life,” Josh Hines says. “I feel
like I was pushing too hard to make stuff happen and putting too much pressure on myself within the band. And I think, as a metaphor, that’s why I blew out my voice.” When he returned, the band took another stab at finishing the album. But instead of picking up immediately where they left off at Spice House, they, along with producer Drew Taurisano, relocated to East Room in Kensington and tried things differently, recording incrementally instead of as one live unit. “Josh is a very intuitive person,” Taurisano says. “When we started the recording process earlier, he gave everything he could possibly have to the demo recording of his vocals, mainly because he wanted the boys to feel his energy and respond. And they did, and it worked.” But, Taurisano recalls, while Josh Hines was keeping the emotion and energy moving, he neglected to take care of his own vocal chords. His hiatus was an unexpected detour, but it allowed the band to shift their process for the second go-round. They were under the pressure of a pre-booked time allotment the first time, which made them feel rushed. “I hate that feeling of being on the clock,” Shumski says. “I despise it in my life, just in general. Let’s just let it happen when it happens.” That’s not to say that the live recording was a wash. Alex Hines says a lot of great moments came from the experience of playing together in a race of sorts. Some of those moments they recreated when they did things again at East Room with Taurisano, some they changed. “I think, obviously, we were still really intricate
and pushing to make it perfect, which might have also contributed to why it took two years,” Alex Hines says. “I think just in general it was more about playing more intentionally. Each part was played with a different mindset than it might have been in the Spice House live format.” “It gave us the opportunity to just hear the tracks,” Josh Hines says. “I think that provided some perspective to be like, okay, well this is what’s going on. We like this, we don’t like this. Let’s recreate certain elements and elaborate on other pieces – things that we weren’t necessarily doing in the studio at first. It allowed us to get a step back.” While he explains the emotional backdrop of the new album in his quiet, subdued tone, the loudest motorcycle in existence speeds up 42nd Street. After Shumski mockingly scolds the driver, they start discussing their plans for the future. It seems like new material won’t take another two years to develop. Moffitt says the new material came to be shortly after recording. “It was like the new material just formulated from the process of time and distance from the recording of this album and stuff like that,” he says. “While it was being mixed and mastered, for me personally, I wasn’t too involved in that. So it was nice to get some distance from the material that was wrapped up in the album and then have that spawn new tunes that Josh had written.” As drum circles from Clark Park become audible from where they sit, the band discusses what they’re looking forward to the most. Josh Hines announces he’s going back to Omega for three months. - Brendan Menapace
Photo by Ben Wong.
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Photo by Natalie Piserchio.
Steady Progression Circadian Rhythms lost a bandmate but gained a few others, and now they are reaching the potential they want to attain. The journey for Circadian Rhythms between their first album and their brand new full-length album, A Peculiar Kind of Afternoon, was mostly about refinement and progress. “I think as we’ve gotten older, I think that we’re all into ‘less is more’ and focusing on the melody and how to carefully put songs together,” drummer Chris Clark says. Along with a new outlook, the band has also acquired a new sound due to several new members added to the mix. Since their last full-length album in 2011, the melodic indie band has changed its roster with the departure of baritone sax player Al Smith and the additions of violin player Jessica Tucci and clarinet and bass player Yeho Bostick. They’ve come a long way from their Northeast Philly roots as friends working at a car wash together and playing music when they could. Their first album, Circadian Rhythms LP, was written during this part of their life and consisted of the four original members - Clark on drums, Harry Murtha on trumpet and guitar, Mike Eckstrom on keyboard and Jim Mueller on keyboards and bass, with vocals primarily split between Mueller and Murtha. They recorded the album after-hours at their original practice and recording space in Port Richmond. “We recorded our first album on a big, old 8-track reel in a big room and I haven’t listened to it in a long time, but I’m not too proud of it,” Eckstrom says. “We weren’t really allowed to be recording where we were recording, so we just had to wait until everyone left the building.” Their last studio product, A Passing Thought EP, features their newest additions of Bostick and Tucci, as well as Smith. “That was probably our first attempt at the sound we have now,” Eckstrom says. “We always did a lot of overdubbing but it wasn’t always reflective of what we were capable of doing live. That EP was a closer step, and now our JUMPphilly.com
new album is definitely the closest we’ve gotten to the way we want to sound.” Uptown musician John Morrison, who has been friends with the band since they first started recording, is proud of their progression from when he first met them. “They’ve continuously gotten better at writing their own particular style of music,” Morrison says. “The arrangements are more elaborate. The songwriting is stronger melodically. It’s all the progression that you hope to see out of a band that you’re rooting for.” Newest members Bostick and Tucci bring something new to the band’s sound, adding two new instruments and years of classical training. Despite having six individual musicians with different styles, most of the original members say the album was collaborative and featured most of the instruments equally. “There’s six of us and we all have ideas, so sometimes I feel like I don’t really see our ideas that we’ve created collectively until we’re like looking back on them,” Mueller says. “I think this is our most collaborative album.” Bostick disagrees, but says he helped influence the band even if he hasn’t contributed directly to songwriting. “I’m more of the guy that adds the flavor,” Bostick says. “I have strong opinions but I don’t think that it causes any detriment to the band.” While most bands would instinctively try to follow an album release with a set of shows, Circadian Rhythms has not been able to access their practice space as a result of the large-scale drug bust that occurred in a neighboring building in April. Despite the setback, the band finds ways to spend time together, hanging out at Clark’s Kensington apartment or at friends’ places all over the city — most notably The Open Kitchen Sculpture Garden, which is run by friends of theirs. Besides preparing for an upcoming show at Ortlieb’s Lounge, the band manages to keep busy outside of practice by working on other creative pursuits, like shooting music videos. The video of their album’s title track features Philadelphians dancing to their music. The band expects to film and release more videos for their newest album. “We’ll probably release a couple more videos, just because it's fun,” Mueller says. - Sam Trilling
Uncomfortable Band Fronted by a singer with a powerful voice, Palaceburn makes loud rock and delivers a message you might not expect ... or like. “Bonecrusher,” says lead guitarist J. Miglionico, jokingly introducing himself. Laughter erupts in sync from each of the five members of Palaceburn and bounces off the drums in their practice space. “We make serious music but don’t take ourselves seriously,” says rhythm guitarist Darren Makins. Vocalist Meredith Bell’s roar is pleasant, contagious and carries above and beyond the scope of the room. Her voice led her to audition for the touring cast of the musical Hamilton. This particular, completely new lineup of Palaceburn are producing their debut release, an alternative metal album infused with personalpolitical tones. A transplant from Richmond, Virginia who moved to Philadelphia for love, Bell founded the band as a solo artist in 2012. Its early incarnation was often mistakenly referred to as the Meredith Bell Band, before settling on the name Palaceburn a nod to fellow Richmond metal band Lamb of God’s second album, As the Palaces Burn. Since its founding, Bell is the band’s only original member.
“We literally changed members as much as I change my underwear,” says Bell. Two EPs and five years later, Palaceburn now boasts members from different areas of the Philadelphia rock scene. The current lineup draws inspiration from Machine Head, Sevendust, Tool and Pantera. Bassist Michael Marks and drummer Jonah Kazman joined Palaceburn at different times, each bringing different musical influences into the fold, but the two have forged a connection. “We are on that rhythm section connection of doom,” says Marks. That feeling of doom could be heard in August 2016 on the record’s first single, “Stars Align.” For Makins, the song is about staying on a B minor scale. But for Bell, the song’s lyrics speak to a romance that would bud and fail, on and off again, for a decade. “‘Stars’ is [about], ‘You’ve been stringing me along this entire time,’” says Bell. “We’ve been going through all this turmoil and tension together. Are we ever going to reach a point where things actually mellow out or am I going to just have to end this?” Bell did, calling it one of the best decisions of her life. She uses her voice to infuse other personal topics like suicide and alcoholism into the album. “And then there’s ‘Kneel,’” says Bell. “And You Wonder Why They Kneel” is an eight-minute epic about the Black Lives Matter movement, its title inspired by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneel of protest during the national anthem. It addresses police brutality of people of color by commenting on society’s history of blaming the facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Top photo by Mike Arrison. Bottom photo by G.W. Miller III.
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victim, based on past criminal behavior, for cruel police interactions. “I just hear all these excuses in the news of people trying to justify someone dying,” says Bell. “And for me, it’s like that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter. You still have, you know, your rights as an American citizen to a fair trial. And you can’t go to trial if you’re dead.” As a black woman, Bell points out she’s not awarded certain privileges due to her gender and the color of her skin as her male, white band members. Bell had that conversation with the rest of Palaceburn who were not just willing to listen, but were beyond receptive. “We all just come from different walks of life,” says Makins. “This is, however, a topic that we all felt like we can get behind because we recognize that there’s a problem [and because], more or less to support my lead singer and make sure she was able to say what she felt like she would need to say.” “I want to be able to use my artistic expression to get the word out in regards to this situation,” says Bell. “But at the same time, this is [their] band too. All of them were fine with it. They said, ‘This is a topic that we don’t get, you’re right. But if it’s important to you, then we stand by you 110 percent.’” “Kneel” lives in a genre overwhelmingly played by and heard by white males. Kate Hallman, a friend of the band’s, has watched “Kneel” performed live and witnessed the emotions coming from both Bell and listeners. “Maybe [the audience] didn’t know what the song was about, but they felt the emotion behind it,” she says. “To me, if they’re listening to music, they don’t know need to know what it’s about, they just need to feel something from it. I think that song definitely has that effect.” Palaceburn plans to release the album next year. Despite being generally welcoming and good-humored, the members of Palaceburn are serious when they say they want an audience to listen to something else if they disagree with the band’s stances and songs. “If there’s something that you don’t like and you feel like something that offends you, don’t listen to Palaceburn,” says Bell. “I’m not going to sit here and change the way that I express myself and the music that I make and the art that I create to make people comfortable. We’re not a comfortable band.” - Shealyn Kilroy JUMPphilly.com
Photo by Cassi Segulin.
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Positive Energy. For Real. Brothers Raphy and Carty Perkins were separated when they were children. They reconnected as teens and formed Blumbros, a hip-hop crew with infectious energy, catchy hooks and feel-good vibes. Large houses and carefully manicured rose bushes differ from the surroundings Raphy and Carty Perkins used to call home. The two rappers who make up Blumbros currently live with their sister in East Germantown. They chill on their porch in the Saturday sun, the small Bluetooth speaker on the ground between them a remnant of an early morning writing session. The Norman Blumberg Apartments, leveled last year and where they and their nine siblings grew up, is always a hovering memory. “If we tell you, it probably sound like a movie,” Carty says. “Once we got out the house, for real for real, that's when we started seeing a lot of stuff. People getting killed in front of us. Cops, feds, raiding errbody. Two of my mom's kids just got put in indictment.” Despite their older siblings getting caught up, Raphy and Carty managed to evade what seemed like an inevitable draw. “The wave missed us,” says Carty. “We didn't hang around people that was into the streets, that really did that stuff,” Raphy recalls. “We always was the ones that stayed in our lane and [did] not try and be something else. We just was us." Early in their childhood, the two brothers were separated. When Raphy and Carty were around 6 and 8, respectively, Department of Human Services placed all 11 siblings in different homes. “And then when we did come back together, it probably was around like the teenage years,” Carty says. “And at that time, we really still wasn't with each other, 'cause we still lived in different places, for real.” Raphy had been singing since he was a teenager and Carty got his start dancing in the Philly party scene. The brothers identify as entertainers more than anything else. Around a year ago, the brothers moved in with an older sister, reconnected and began making music. Their shared goal to create and remain focused keeps them grounded. At first, they only wanted to make people feel good. "Before we really took it serious, it was just Carty and Raphy before the Blumbros,” Raphy says. Carty remembers the “common sense” logic followed in deciding on a name. "One of our managers actually came up with the idea,” he says. “He like, 'Y’all from Blumberg, and y’all blood brothers. Let's call y’all Blumbros.’” But the halls and units of Blumberg Projects were much like the shelter of a dragon’s wing - the environment dangerous and warm, all at once. Carty, the more vocal of the two, evokes the pain many residents experienced when the buildings were torn down. “Almost equal to a death,” he says. “Like family or a friend. Because we made so many memories in there. My first everything. If I sold a drug. Anything. It made us, for real.” That notion of the notorious projects embodying words like “family” or it’s end a “death” extend past the metaphorical and closer to literal. As with family, there was good, bad and lessons learned, all playing a part in molding and shaping of those within it. When that ended on March 19, 2016, it felt like the death it was. “When they knocked ‘em down, people was crying,” Carty continues. “Because, it was a lotta violence around there but, at the end of the day, everybody stuck together. Everybody love us on each floor. We can go in any apartment. That's how it was. So it took a big piece outta us. That's all we knew." As with any passing, the two brothers moved on and the duo acknowledges
their dreams will not be attained without sacrifice. They credit any success achieved so far to their by-any-means attitude. Their three-date mini tour at Penn State college would never have happened without it. “We probably had our last however-much-money I think for a round trip,” Carty recalls. “Probably wasn't even a round trip. It was a one-way, to Harrisburg.” Unsure if they even had a way to return to Philadelphia, their manager had found them a place to crash the first night with some girls. “Second night, they was like, 'Naw, y’all can't stay here!'” remembers Carty. But their infectious energy and catchy hooks have allowed them to connect with diverse fans. A fan connection with a Saudi student literally changed their entire Penn State tour experience. “So the guy had hit us up,” Carty says. “And he was just like, 'I feel stars. You guys are stars. I can't even believe I'm here with yaw right now. You guys are like Rae Sremmurd!’ That's somebody from a whole another country. And that feel good for somebody like that to really mess with ya music." "Not even that,” Raphy chimes in. “We ain’t have no way to eat, none of that. He fed us. He let us stay at his place. And he actually paid our way to get back home. We didn't even ask him. He just was so amazed by our vibes and errthing. How polite we was. He just was like, 'This is my gift to yaw.' And he got us back home and everything just worked out perfect." Garry Dorsainvil, who used to rap under the name Verbatum Jones, went in search of their YouTube videos after discovering them at a rap showcase at The Trocadero. “This music is super energetic,” Dorsainvil says. “Definitely has a Philadelphia-meets-Atlanta vibe. You see a lot of the same people in the music videos and I think that's a good thing. Shows the support system they have together.” Encounters like these have assured the brothers the most important factors for progression are focused and positive minds. “We be gettin’ negative vibes and comments sometimes,” Raphy says. “But we don't never pay that no mind. As long as we got good beliefs, we gon’ be good. I believe in us 1,000 percent. We go errwhere and they just love us, ‘cause we just keep positive energy. And that's with anybody." - Ebonee Johnson facebook.com/JUMPphilly
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Photo by G.W. Miller III.
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Three Minutes of Fame The Live Band Karaoke night at Fergie's allows everyday folks to take the stage with a full band behind you and a cheering crowd in front and be a rock star for a few minutes.
Celebration of Talent In September, Greg Seltzer, an attorney at Ballard Spahr, is launching Philly Music Fest, a two-day celebration of Philly music, beer and food at World Cafe Live. Our G.W. Miller III spoke with him about the festival, which Seltzer hopes will become an annual event. What’s the origin of the fest? I’m a huge music fan. I’m very, very passionate about music. I always have been, my entire life. Over the last decade and a half, I’ve just been entrenched in the Philly music scene. Since it was not exploding nationally. Over the last five years, I started thinking about the fact that our scene is worthy of national attention but may be not getting as much as it ought to. The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, Dr. Dog – bands like that have broken out but our scene is so much deeper. Hundreds of bands deeper. If we could shine a little light on them, give them a platform, we could let them show themselves to our city. I don’t know if our city has embraced our scene as much as I’d like it to. For our scene to grow nationally, we all need to get together as a community. Once we do that, and we do that year after year, these artists will sell more records, get more tour dates, etc. That’s the genesis of it. I want to call attention to these 24 bands over two nights, on two stages. Bring the Philly breweries together. Bring Philly food leaders together.
When you say you’ve been entrenched in the music scene for the last 15 years, what have you been doing? Listening. Doing everything everyone else has been doing. Have you been promoting shows or anything? No. I’m a rookie promoter. A rookie promoter could not put this festival on without World Café Live. They have the production expertise. They have the marketing expertise. I have the vision and I have the ear to curate the lineup. And I have the ability to work within a budget and make it work. But they had the ability to put the festival together. Who was the first band you booked? The first yes we got was absolutely the Pine Barons. We went out to a list of 20 bands, with Strand of Oaks at the top of the list. We got an immediate yes from everyone we talked to. But then they had to check with their availability. I have some friends who say now that I’ve done this, who will play next year? They have no idea how deep this music scene is. We have a list of 200 bands who aren’t on this lineup who we will go back to. This is a spotlight on our local scene. This is a call to the Philadelphia music scene to rally around this. How have sales been going? According to World Café, they are going good. Of course, I’d like to be sold out already.
The first rule of live band karaoke is: do not take live band karaoke too seriously. Although it’s what guitar player Pat Finnerty, bass player Lucas Rinz and drummer Keaton Thandi are forced to do before their regular 10 p.m. set starts on a Friday night at Fergie’s. These three core members of the live karaoke band - though there are frequent fill-ins when one or more of these touring musicians are away on other commitments - discuss how the gig has become a staple for many music-loving people in the city. What started as a regular event on the last Wednesday of the month, is now a weekly Friday night party. “You have to be able to fly by the seat of your pants and basically just do whatever,” Thandi says of both the band and the audience members who choose to participate. “We’re talking so seriously about live band karaoke right now,” retorts Finnerty. “I can’t handle it.” This idea of going with the flow is the second rule of live band karaoke. Or, more accurately, it’s “trust and transition,” a mantra the band explains to the audience every week before accepting the first patron to the mic. It means that, even though you’ve given the band a choice of three songs that you’d like to sing, and they’re reading the tabs for the song off a large projector screen on the far wall, they’ll sometimes switch to a different song based on unreliable internet or the vibe in the room. But more likely than not, the band will be able to not only play each song thrown at them but also rip the guitar solo. “That’s, like, the secret,” Finnerty says. “We’re really good at figuring these songs out and having fun with the people. Even if you stink, we try to make it cool for you to come up and stink even though I might tell you that you stink. I’ll say it in a very endearing way. Like, ‘Listen you stink, it’s alright. It’s great! You know, I’m terrible. I don’t do my taxes, ever!’” Even if the talent is not quite there, the band revels in the ability to allow patrons to feel like a star for the evening. For some, it also may be less about the attention than it is about the therapeutic facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photos by Brianna Spause.
nature of being able to get up on stage with a live band and singing your heart out. “We play Jagged Little Pill in its entirety almost every time we do this,” Finnerty says. “I think that we should start charging people for therapy sessions, because the girls that come up to sing ‘You Ought to Know’ are working it out. It’s pretty unbelievable. They’re not here anymore. I look at them and they’re just getting it out.” Rinz and Thandi agree that Finnerty, who assumes an emcee role each night along with guitar player and backup singer, is a key reason why each Friday night becomes a party. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s Pat’s gig,” Rinz says. “He leads this band and he does it better than anyone else could do it. When he’s not here, we’re like, ‘Fuck, we have to be Pat tonight. We have to be funny and good.’” For regular James Dotson, who can be seen performing the Eagles’ “Take It Easy” and then The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” alongside friend Troy D. Richardson, Finnerty’s ability to play almost anything is a key reason why he keeps coming back each week. “Certainly, he’s a human being, so he can’t play every song, but his musical repertoire is really, really impressive,” Dotson says. “The bassist and the drummer that are here, they rotate, but all of them are really really impressive. But Pat is really the heart and soul of the show.” Along with Finnerty, another key ingredient JUMPphilly.com
to live band karaoke’s success is its location. Thandi says that the fact that Fergie’s is in Center City and is an intimate bar free of TVs and other distractions are all key elements to the ambiance. “People just come here to have fun and just be around other people,” he says. Ali Wadsworth, a renowned vocalist and a bartender at Fergie’s, notes that the bar feels like her second living room. And even though when karaoke nights used to be held on Wednesdays
it still felt like a monthly party, Wadsworth feels what the current iteration of the band puts on every Friday night is a great experience. “They are magical music trolls,” Wadsworth says. “The three of them live and breathe music. They're obsessed and I am constantly in awe of all they do. They communicate really well. That's key to any band, especially when you don't know
what song you're playing for the entire gig. They take it seriously and they have fun with it, which transfers to everyone in the room.” If there was a third rule of live band karaoke, it would be that this is not for everyone. That includes the rowdy patrons who get too drunk and spill beer on the stage or yell into the microphone, as well as anyone who disrespects the band and staff, both of which sometimes happen. “One time, some guy called me his Uber driver,” Thandi says. “Ya know, like stuff like that where you’re just like, ‘Dude, why do you have to go there?’” It’s also not for every musician. All of the band members have invited friends to try filling in but many try it and don’t come back. They know it takes both a certain type of musician and a certain type of person to do what these three do. But everything from past gigs to the past week seems to fall away when stepping up to that stage on Friday night. “Most of the people who come here are working people,” says Richardson, the regular. “We’ve had a long week, and to cap off this week with live band … everybody grows up listening to music so to feel like you’re that rock star or that R&B singer with the live band? For three minutes, you’re like a star up there and your whole week is summed up all into three minutes.” Fergie’s live band karaoke makes the city’s troubles fall away, one song at a time. - Beth Ann Downey
Photo by Brianna Spause.
The JUMP Off
New in Old. Old in New. DJ Junior discovers new music and then tells the world about it via his label, Record Breakin' Music, and his radio show, Eavesdrop. There are moments in life that define each individual and their respective life trajectories. In the case of DJ Junior, these pivotal moments tap into proclivities already latent within. “I listened to Two Pages by 4hero and it literally blew my mind,” he says. “It’s a beautiful album that crosses so many genres.” Up to that point, DJ Junior had been mostly influenced by hip-hop, having grown up in North Jersey and affiliating heavily with the New York music culture. His record collection was then primarily comprised of deep rap cuts, with a sprinkle of jazz and transitional breaks. He was introduced to 4hero, a British electronic music duo, by a close friend who at the time was working with DJ Jazzy Jeff at his studio downtown. 4hero’s album triggered Junior’s now longstanding appreciation of more transcendent, soulful production. It also helped build his commitment to wearing many hats. “Artists, especially older individuals,” he says, jokingly pointing at himself, “need to be able to be flexible with the times.” Challenge accepted. DJ Junior, also known as Bruce Campbell Jr., Ph.D., moonlights as a professor in the Department of Leadership for Educational Equity and Excellence at Arcadia University, where he often blends music and academia. He lectures with the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship and teaches a course that sends students to London to explore its music scene — a scene that greatly influenced his own artistry. This is evident in the type of music Junior, 43,
plays on Eavesdrop, a weekly radio show on WKDU 91.7 FM that he co-hosts with lil’dave of the DJ collective Illvibe. “We have a really good following,” Junior says. “Lots of London, Paris and Berlin. We play a lot of European artists who I know normally don’t get played on radio stations in the States.” DJ Junior moved to Philadelphia in 1996 to begin a master’s degree at Temple University. He started Eavesdrop Radio in 2000, while he was completing his doctorate at Drexel. At that time, Philly was the pinnacle of the burgeoning neo-soul genre. Junior’s world was reminiscent of a scene straight out of late ‘90s film “Love Jones.” “You know, we were wearing questionable clothing and snapping at spoken word poetry,” he laughs. “Rich Medina had this event called All That. Those were the first times I would see Ursula Rucker, first time I saw a young Jill Scott.” It was the era before Black Lily, which was a Philly music collective that skyrocketed the notoriety of singers such as Alice Smith, Melody Gardot, Jaguar Wright and, of course, Rucker and Scott. “I remember going to Amir’s [Questlove’s] house in Grays Ferry when they first did Black Lily and it was just in a house,” Junior says. “People were cooking... and vibing.” Those formative years in Philly helped shape and elevate Junior’s music aesthetic but would also cement his passion for curating sounds, particularly soulful ones. Hosting a radio show nowadays invites inboxes brimming with Soundcloud and Bandcamp links from artists seeking rotation. When Junior first began Eavesdrop, physical media was the standard delivery method. “Back then, I would get a lot of people who would mail or drop off CD-Rs with little Sharpie scribbles on Post-it’s,” Junior says. “I would think, ‘This is really good. Why aren't they putting this out?’” The typical response from the artist? “I don’t know anything about that. I just do music,” he recalls. And so Record Breakin’ Music was born.
The music label was an organic progression of Junior’s network and interests. His longtime cohost lil’dave is a signed artist to the label as well as collaborator, designing album artwork and providing mixing input. “Record Breakin’ Music is Junior’s brainchild,” says lil’dave. “He always has the deep vintage cuts while I’m usually reaching for something more futuristic.” The artists Junior signs tend to have a new age spin on a vintage sound. One of Record Breakin’ Music’s first releases was a 7-inch vinyl of two tracks from an artist named Kissey Asplund from Sweden whose style is reminiscent of Erykah Badu and Amel Larrieux. “That record is definitely 10 years old,” he states proudly. “And yeah, it’s a real chill song that still gets licensed to this day.” Record Breakin’ Music is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a nearly 30-artist indie record label dedicated to presenting quality music to a culture that embraces it. The local DJ community has fully embraced Record Breakin’ Music, not surprisingly, as Junior himself is firmly embedded in the culture. Last year the respect and camaraderie between his peers in the city manifested in Dust + Dignity, an art exhibit that debuted at the Painted Bride. It was curated by Junior, King Britt, Rich Medina, Cosmo Baker and Skeme Richards. Record Breakin’ Music’s most recent release is from DJ Skeme Richards, another regular creative partner of Junior’s. Richards, also known as “The Nostalgia King,” is a natural fit for Record Breakin’ Music’s vintage flair. Richards’ 2017 project, New Library Sounds, is a 60-minute cassette tape mix of instrumentals inspired by 1970s blaxsploitation film scoring. “With Junior, it’s the a-alike, b-alike, c-alike thing going on,” Richards says. “We’re always in tune with each other, not only in music but in life in general. We both seem to appreciate things in the same way.” As an avid record collector, Junior frequents Brewerytown Beats, a record shop on West Girard Avenue owned by 7-inch record connoisseur P. Maxwell Ochester. Brewerytown Beats acts as a gathering place for vinyl lovers and it has hosted several Record Breakin’ Music artist release parties. “DJ Junior has been a supported educator and motivator in the larger Philadelphia music scene,” says Ochester. “He brings those qualities to the Beats community every time he comes through.” Junior’s particular appreciation for the new in the old and old in the new is a testament to his and his label’s longevity in the local scene. His penchant for intersectionality is evident in both his music career and career in academia. “Whatever your art is, you need to be flexible,” Junior says. “And if you aren’t and if you’re staying in one area, you're limiting yourself.” If there’s one thing DJ Junior has demonstrated in more than two decades of music curation, it’s that a flexible mind stands the test of time. “I’m a father, a husband, a professor, music enthusiast, I run a record label, have a radio show, I lecture and present,” he says. “All of those things are what I do and it’s just to show people a little insight into who I am.” - Morgan James facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photos by Sydney Schaefer.
Street teams seem so outdated in the digital age and yet, everywhere you go, you'll see posters taped to telephone poles. What's going on? The term “street team” quite literally means a team out on the streets, promoting live concerts and entertainment by handing out fliers or hanging up posters. Despite the digital age, the term has remained but its meaning has evolved. “What started out as quite literally a ‘street team’ has also turned into an ‘online team,’” says Justin Berger of Deathwaltz Media Group, a production, marketing and publicity company based in Philadelphia. “Now we rely so heavily on our promoters to use social media and write for blogs.” In this day and age, it’s much easier to send out Facebook invites or an email blast to promote an event, or post on a variety of other social media platforms to get the word out, says Berger. This tactic is also a useful tool for targeting a specific group of people. Berger built Deathwaltz the old fashioned way, from the ground up. He knows a thing or two about street teaming, since he and his team hung posters all around Philadelphia before digital marketing came into play. Back then, event producers had no way of knowing whether or not their posters and fliers were getting hung up in the right places and exposing their events to the right people. This is where social media marketing now comes into play, since promoters are able to target an exact audience at little to no cost through platforms like Facebook or email. Despite the fact that many promoters are testing out the whole paperless JUMPphilly.com
thing, promoters will still end up resorting to printing posters if a concert isn’t selling tickets, Berger says. “At some point, they start questioning their choice to go paperless and say, ‘Fuck it, let’s order some posters,’” he adds. Berger’s media group is an independent company, unlike other street teams in the city that are run by venues. Union Transfer and the Electric Factory, for example, have their own street teams. Tim Kane, a volunteer member of Union Transfer’s team, hangs up posters in different locations around the city in exchange for free show access. He hangs posters in logical areas, like near big intersections, in record shops, near El stops and coffee shops. “I prefer to go out on rainy days actually,” says Kane. “Love a nice, empty city to maneuver, throw an album on in my headphones and hit everywhere I can over a few hours. I meet a lot of cool music people and see a lot of the city you don’t see everyday.” Despite his preferred method of hanging posters, Kane agrees that event promotion going the digital route is a great thing. Reid Benditt, marketing director at Electric Factory and Bonfire Entertainment, is another in the industry who believes the shift is for the better. He still has a team on the street, though he monitors them via technology. “There are some tools that can help us track our street team now and see exactly where they are hanging a poster or putting out a flier,” says Benditt. “It's great for accountability in a number of ways.” These apps allow users to post photos that are geo-tagged, time-stamped and updated in real-time, allowing everyone to track their progress. “There will always be the old school posters and wheat-pasted signs,” says Berger. “They give this city character.” - Sydney Schaefer
Augmented Reality Through Drumhenge, an experiment in acoustic synthesis, a Philly musician and an engineering doctoral student created a new, interactive musical experience. Two days before the performance, the technology for the Drumhenge wasn’t working. Drumhenge is a year-long music project that takes a traditional musical instrument, like the drums, and augments it. The project was finalized in June with a performance at Drexel University. Peter English and Jeff Gregorio completed the project through resources at Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interactive Technologies (ExCITe) Center and through a grant from the Knight Foundation. But then Friday morning, hours before the performance, Gregorio entered in a line of code and the instrument worked. “We were all on top of our game and pulled together an amazing show,” English says. “It was one of the most amazing and scariest things I’ve ever done musically.” English was the ExCITe Center’s artist-inresidence for this project and Gregorio is an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. student at Drexel. Their augmentation is the addition of an electromagnet under each drum and mounted onto a custom bracket. When Gregorio sends a signal to the electromagnets through a synthesizer, it modulates the magnetic field and produces sound. This comes together when musicians play into a mic, which feeds back into a computer. The note is then harmonized and sent back to the drums for a reaction to the note, like a conversation. Gregorio built and designed the instrument’s hardware, including the modules and magnets, while English produced and designed the show’s musicality and artistic viewpoint, which included acquiring identical drum sets, writing music and hiring musicians. “Since we both played drums, we were like, well, if we applied this to drums, it’d be really surprising and interesting and could be very tonal,” English says. With drums, when the pad is hit with a stick, there’s an attack, a strike and then a decay.
“Remove the strike, and use a magnet just to affect the decay and you can do all of these things to that decay,” English says. “You can sustain it, you can add tonality to it, add different synth to it. It’s a hybrid instrument.” “So anything that responds to the magnetic field, like aluminum foil on the drum head, is going to induce the vibration at whatever frequency we set,” Gregorio says. “It’s like a digital synthesizer that produces sound.” This process is often called acoustic synthesis, a combination of digital and physical sounds or technologies. The ExCITe Center has created music projects with artists before. The Drumhenge project took inspiration from a previous ExCITe Center design. English previously helped start the nonprofit Weathervane Music, where he learned a diverse skill set which helped him think about projects more holistically and ambitiously. “So when I left to go back to making more music, I had this itch to do bigger ideas,” English says. That’s when he heard about the artist-in-residence program at the ExCITe Center. It was an ideal scenario to be in an environment with plenty of resources, a rare opportunity for many adult artists. The proposal Youngmoo Kim, director of the ExCITe Center and Gregorio’s adviser, created was for a technologically-enhanced music performance. It was purposefully left openended because of the interest in a collaborative process with the artist. “I really believe the process of developing technology is very much like the artistic process,” says Kim. “You have to try new things out. But until you actually try to build it and try to perform with it, you don’t know if it’s the right idea.” With technologicallyenhanced music performance, English says there are many ways it can be unsuccessful, like a downloadable application. “We’ve seen projects like that and, while sometimes it’s interesting tech, it’s not always compelling from an artistic or creative standpoint,” Gregorio says. What English and Gregorio like about acoustic synthesis is not only the element of surprise in the recognition of the instrument itself but the shock in how the instrument produces sound through this new process. Chris Powell, who plays in the band Man Man, was one of the musicians hired. “These days, music is just so oversaturated and so much stuff ends up feeling and sounding the same,” Powell says. “Adding the band, adding dynamics versus one instrument, it just made for a new experience for people and that is really essential these days with performance.” Although English’s residency is over, he and Gregorio agree their work with the project isn’t done. They want to add theremin technology onto the instrument and are interested in attending festivals to try out Drumhenge in front of different audiences. Gregorio also published a paper on Drumhenge and will present his research at a conference in London. “When you are making an interactive experience, the more people that can engage at a given time, the less anyone feels like they have agency,” English says. “We wanted it to be really personal. We put on a show that was more about showcasing the feature, but we are not done trying to build an emotional experience for - Emily Scott people.” facebook.com/JUMPphilly
Photos by Kristie Krause.
Music & Education
This Place Rocks
A Little Vegas in Gritty Philly
Photos by Sydney Schaefer.
NOTO offers a place to get dressed up and dance to world-class DJs without leaving the city. Stepping into NOTO, the extravagant new nightclub that recently opened at 12th and Vine streets in the Callowhill neighborhood, one might think they’re anywhere but Philly. From the vaulted ceilings and dazzling bar tops, to the open space dance floor and the roped off VIP booths, the club gives an air of elegance once reserved for cities like New York, Las Vegas and Miami. NOTO, which stands for “not of the ordinary,” was opened by Toronto native James DeBerardine. After looking at several other cities as potential candidates, DeBerardine moved to Philadelphia to try and make his mark on the nightlife industry. The idea of NOTO is to bring the noteable club scene atmospheres more often seen in Las Vegas or Los Angeles to the city. “I think that Philadelphia, historically, has been underserved in this sector,” says DeBerardine. There was skepticism in Philly’s media at first. DeBerardine wasn’t from the area, let alone the country, and NOTO is an upscale club settled into JUMPphilly.com
a city that favors dive bars and beer gardens. Plus, this is DeBerardine's venture into the nightlife business. The club strives to prove itself and, in the four months it's been open, has been well received by attendees and those in the industry. “NOTO is a new step for the Philly upscale club scene,” says Timm Mattiola, a frequent NOTO attendee. “I’m glad I can go somewhere where everyone is dressed well and has positive energy.” Jason Ewell, another attendee of NOTO, has
worked in the nightlife industry for the past 18 years. As someone who travels frequently for work, he has seen a lot of clubs. NOTO is at the top of his list of places to go when in Philly. “It’s truly a top notch venue,” Ewell says. “I would compare it to the Las Vegas and Atlantic City mega clubs.”
The venue was created in collaboration with another local Philly club owner, Ryan Dorsey, owner of Recess Lounge. Neff Associates, an advertising agency in Old City, helped with the club’s branding. The name was Dorsey’s idea, and he remains on the NOTO team as a director. He works closely with DeBerardine, who books the talent alongside the venue’s director of marketing, Zach Seidman. In NOTO’s short time in the Philly club scene, it’s been able to bring in big DJ names such as Steve Aoki, DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Esco. “They bring a variety of top of the line acts from all over the world,” says Terrence Powers, another NOTO attendee. When asked what sets NOTO apart from other nightclubs in Philly, DeBerardine offers a rather extensive list, but the attention to detail and size of the club are the first things mentioned. “There’s definitely the demographic drive behind the demand here,” DeBerardine says. “But for some reason, there’s never really been a proper, big room nightclub.” Having one giant room at NOTO, putting everyone together in one space, creates one giant party, says DeBerardine. “I think we’re starting to get more traction now that everyone sees that we’ve delivered,” says DeBerardine. “I think that most people think of us as the premier nightlife experience in Philly.”
- Sydney Schaefer
CHARLIE MACK IS THE
CONDUIT SUCCESS TO
Once a young hustler in Southwest Philadelphia, Charlie Mack has helped numerous Philly performers - from Boyz II Men to Meek Mill to Yazz the Greatest - find fame and success. Now, the legendary figure is trying to have an even larger impact on his hometown.
Story by Sofiya Ballin. Photos by Ben Wong.
harles “Charlie Mack” Alston has spent his life following light. He drives through Philly like he is flipping through a photo album. His smile broad with nostalgia. To many, he is manager, gatekeeper, philanthropist, film producer or “Philly’s big brother.” As he cruises past Rittenhouse Square, he remembers the days he would spend in the park as a teenager, envisioning what his life would be like. “I always believed that I would be someone,” Mack says. He did become someone. He is the someone who also knows somebody you probably need to know. One scroll through his Instagram and Mack is the link in the six degrees of separation between you and some of Hollywood’s biggest names. The 51-year-old speaks fast, with confidence, candor and humor. His voice booms and fills his car. “Your gift is your gift from birth,” he says. “It just needs to be activated.”
ack has built a career out of noticing gifts. He’s had a hand in the success of numerous acts and entertainers, from Boyz II Men, Meek Mill and Yazz the Greatest . As he drives through his old neighborhoods in South Philly and Southwest, he points out where he bagged groceries at ACME, the stoop where he hugged his first love when he was 8 years old, where he played stickball, Edwin Stanton Elementary, where he was often late - even though he lived across the street, where he sold dope and where his two brothers were shot and killed at different times over two different women. Mack compares his relationship with the city to a relationship with a woman. “I don’t care if she’s been with everyone and she doesn’t love me,” he says. “I love her.”
e pulls up to his Aunt Mattie’s house in Southwest Philly. His 6’7” frame dwarfs the home. In here, he’s not Charlie Mack. He’s “Charles Earl.” Aunt Mattie says she never knew the child who mumbled (and still mumbles, she points out) would grow up to be this public fixture in Philadelphia. “He always had a kind heart,” she says. She displays photos of Mack with Michael Jackson and another with Will Smith in Paris. Mack notes it wasn’t until his parents separated that he experienced poverty. He remembers being 11, having holes in his sneakers and slipping cardboard into the soles to prevent snow or mud from creeping in. “I was eager to come out of that,” Mack says. His break into the entertainment realm came through doing A&R and
promotion work for April Records, working closely with emcees Grandmaster Nell and Robbie B. At 15, he began to throw house parties via the entertainment company Charlie Mack Productions. He was also doing security for Philly rapper, M.C. Breeze. It wasn’t long before Mack solidified his reputation in the music and party scenes in Philly. But at a party in 1986, at a venue called The Castle Southwest, he saw an old classmate from John Bartram High School - Jeffrey “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes. Jazzy Jeff says he always knew Mack as the big, personable guy at all the Philly functions. “I remember looking at him and asking, ‘You want to go on the road?’” says Jeff. Mack then became the security and road manager of the now iconic hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. But back then, the duo were still a new group, in a new genre. Mack fit right in and it wasn’t long before he was a part of the crew. He was touring with the group on Run-D.M.C.’s “Run’s House” tour in 1988. “You ask Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy and they knew Charlie just as much as they knew us,” Jeff says. In fact, there were times when Charlie would come out on stage and dance. You can catch him in their music videos and episodes of the Fresh Prince (including the popular title sequence where Mack was one of the guys who were up to no good and got hit with the basketball). Jeff says Mack was fun and lovable, but his large stature could also calm a room. “Charlie was so much of a protector,” says Jeff. “He’s so good at knowing his size. It showed me that security isn't someone who goes to beat someone up. It’s someone who does everything they have to do to not beat someone up.” That’s why Charlie Mack was always the first out the limo. It rang so true, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince released the single “Charlie Mack (First Out the Limo)” in 1988. “I loved the fact the Will was very animated, funny, and full of life,” Mack says. “And Jeff is magnificent. There’s nobody better than him on the turntables. That combination is light.” For Jeff, watching Mack grow into a businessman, manager and community activist has been incredible. “It’s not like we don't remember where we came from,” says Jeff. “He bought the place that we met and is basically turning it into a place safe for the community...that’s us now.”
e’s right. Mack wants to build Charlie Mack Cares Center, a community center in Southwest Philly for teenagers. Programs at the center will focus on physical fitness, education and the arts. For Mack, this is personal. Southwest was where he hustled and the parties were a result of his street dealings. “Everything I dirtied up, I wanted to clean up,” he said. “I want to put back what I’ve taken out.”
n 1976, when Mack was 11, he realized his own gift. He recalls when Philly music legend Kenny Gamble threw a massive neighborhood cleanup in South Philly. Gamble brought artists like Billy Paul, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass and Lou Rawls to South Philly for a big community clean up and concert. “For me, the light was on Kenny Gamble,” says Mack. “He cared about the community. He cared about substance. I was drawn to substance. He was that. facebook.com/JUMPphilly
He spoke to my spirit because that's who I was, an unapologetic Robin Hood.” Almost 30 years later, Mack collaborated with Gamble and created 10,000 Men in Philly, inspired by the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. in 1995. They gathered more than 10,000 black men to discuss the state of the community, especially black businesses. In 2004, Mack created Party 4 Peace Celebrity Weekend, a fundraiser where all proceeds went to organizations like Mothers In Charge, which is dedicated to the eradication of violence in Philly. He invited celebrities like Morris Chestnut, Mike Epps, Nia Long, T.I. and, of course, Will Smith. “I’m the conduit for the hood to Hollywood,” says Mack.
is record supports it. Mack met Nate Morris when Morris was just a kid. In 1989, Morris introduced him to the other three members of a group he put together with his classmates from the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. After hearing them, Mack brought the group backstage at the Powerhouse concert, where they sang “Can You Stand the Rain?” for Mike Bivins of New Edition. Bivins went on to manage and produce for the group, known to all as Boyz II Men. When Mack heard Meek Mill’s mixtapes, he wanted to meet with Mill, who is also the nephew of Grandmaster Nell. “I was like got damn, that youngin is fire!” says Mack. After meeting with a young Mill in 2007 outside a crab shack in North Philly, Mack flew him out L.A. and introduced him to rapper T.I., whom Mack had worked with when he co-produced the film “ATL.” T.I. wanted to sign Mill and agreed to appear on Mill's track “Rose Red (Remix).” To this day, Mack says he gets requests from parents wanting him to listen to their talented children. The same happened when West Philly’s Bryshere Gray’s mother reached out. Gray, better known as “Yazz the Greatest,” always knew he wanted Mack to manage him. “Because he so well-respected in the game,” says Yazz.
It finally unfolded when Mack went to a concert at the TLA in 2013 to see another young Philly artist. But was captivated by Gray, who was opening. “He had this magnetic draw and appeal,” says Mack of Yazz, who was 18 years old at the time. Mack notes the difference of an artist like Meek versus an artist like Yazz. “Yazz was from the inner-city but he wasn’t street,” Mack explains. He spent time analyzing Yazz and figuring out the artist’s target market. He was a pretty boy, and he had bars. So when director Lee Daniels’ camp called Mack saying they were looking for a young actor who could rap, he put Yazz’s name into the running. Yazz nailed the audition and now stars as Hakeem on FOX’s hit show “Empire,” alongside Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. “He’s been more than a manager,” says Yazz, who is now 23. “Personally, he has been a father figure and mentor. He’s taught me to stay focused, stay determined and to always stay prayed up.”
egardless of the many hats he juggles, if you ask Mack, he’ll say he’s a servant. Every time. Nothing more and nothing less. He said it’s what God called on him to do. “It’s never about you,” he says. “It’s about the service you provide. When you think it’s about you, that’s when you get caught up.” He’s currently working on a book about his life called “Hood to Hollywood.” “Your circumstances are just that,” says Mack of the biggest lesson he wants readers to get from the book. ”They don’t define who you are.” Mack drives back to Center City. He parks his Mercedes-Benz near the park where he used to daydream, where he imagined what kind of lives the people who lived in Rittenhouse lived. He is about to meet with an artist who was recommended to him. How will he know if they have “it?” How will he know if they have that light? There’s no formula, but before he hops out the car he says, “I will know it within seconds.”
MESSENGER CONTINUES Story by Tyler Horst. Photo by Charles Wrzesniewski.
H.R., the frontman for the legendary punk band Bad Brains, battled severe health issues and then moved to Philadelphia. He's still performing and spreading the good word. Except his genre is now reggae.
hen asked about his age, a playful smile blooms on Paul Hudson’s face. “I’m over 21,” he says with a gentle chuckle. Actually Hudson, best known by his stage name H.R., is 61-years old, but in spirit he remains as young as he was when he first began creating music history as the frontman of the legendary D.C. punk band Bad Brains. After quietly moving to Philadelphia about three years ago and conquering severe health problems, H.R. now looks to cement a legacy in the world of reggae.
e sits on the couch in a North Philly photography studio, hands folded on his lap and a rastacap resting on his head. H.R. speaks softly - so softly that you have to lean in to hear him. He's no longer the young man he was in vintage Bad Brains videos, screeching and whirling ecstatically on stage. H.R. now has a calm gravity and quiet focus about him. His creative drive, however, has not diminished. In addition to playing reggae with a revolving door of Philadelphia musicians under the umbrella of the H.R. Band, H.R. has also resumed playing gigs with Bad Brains. “It feels good to be able to do both,” he says. “It keeps me on the move. Before, I was reserved and withdrawn.” Though H.R.’s health complications did not come to public attention until 2016, when his wife Lori Carns H.R. announced that he suffered from intense headaches caused by a neurological condition called SUNCT, H.R. says he had been dealing with the condition for some time. In 2007, after Bad Brains attempted a fraught reunion tour detailed in the documentary “A Band in D.C.,” H.R. says his doctor urged him to lay off heavy music for awhile.
uring that long period, H.R. worked on reggae music and appeared in another documentary about his life called “Finding Joseph I.” Around three years ago, his wife took a new job in Philadelphia and the two moved from Baltimore to establish a home here. H.R. was immediately welcomed by his friend Chuck Treece, a professional skateboarder and prolific musician who plays in his own band McRad and briefly with Bad Brains. Treece quickly connected H.R. to reggae musicians in the city. “I wanted to hook him up with some good people,” Treece says. “He’s got tunes, and if I could get the right people around him he’ll keep making music even through his hardest times of going through health and mental issues, which we all go through. He is my elder and he is my mentor, and that’s what I would want - to be around creative people.” Treece introduced H.R. to Derek and Kathy Myers of the Philadelphia reggae band I Yahn I Arkestra, as well as the group Kingsound Vibration, which features Josh Freshy, Adam Williams and Ezekiel Zagar (son of Magic Gardens artist Isaiah Zagar). All these musicians and more at different times form part of the H.R. Band, filling in based on availability and the type of sound H.R. may want for a particular show. “We’re doing it with no intention other than to do it,” says Williams, also of the band Red Martina, who along with others has been writing music with H.R. in addition to performing. There are no deadlines, he says, just a desire to make music.
eggae isn’t a new fascination for H.R.. Ever since he was a child, music—and especially reggae music—were an important part of the life of H.R. and his brother Earl (who plays drums for Bad Brains). Their father used to play reggae records for the family and even bought H.R. his first ukulele at the age of 2 so he could play along. But it wasn’t until H.R. was 24 that reggae music and the Rastafarian message that often accompanies it really cut through to him. In 1976, H.R. attended a Bob Marley concert in Maryland with other members of Bad Brains. He left theshow a changed person. “I said, ‘Man, this rasta stuff is potent!’” he remembers. “It was important, and I wanted to be part of that important position.” Rastafari became a significant part of H.R.’s and the band’s identity, but reggae music was something that he usually had to explore on his own, outside of Bad Brains. He’s released several solo albums with reggae songs, beginning in the ’80s, but now he plans to devote more time to it. “I love the beat, the rhythm,” he says. “It’s comforting. There’s room for the instruments to be heard, too. And of course, the message.” “Dude’s a poet,” says Williams. “He just comes with a book of lyrics. He writes regardless of whether there’s music around it. He thinks lyrically, he thinks about the message.” H.R. says he resonates with the philosophy of Rastafari’s messiah, the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, especially his messages of racial harmony and justice for people of the African diaspora. Reflecting on his inspiration to share the same beliefs through his music, H.R. repeats a common personal refrain: “If he could do it,” he says, “I can do it too.”
n February, the pain from his headaches became too intense and H.R. had to undergo brain surgery. Ever the optimist, he says he felt no worries going into the operation and trusted his doctor’s assurances that everything would go smoothly. Sure enough, H.R. recovered quickly. By June, he was playing a show with Bad Brains in New York City, then headlined the Phinefest reggae festival at Ardmore Music Hall in July as the H.R. Band. “He has enough energy to keep himself through the whole movement of the late ’70s all the way up to 2017, and he’s still here doing shows,” remarks Treece. “He’s always been creative, and he stays in that mode regardless of what people say or what’s going on.”
.R. has set some goals for himself. First, he wants the H.R. Band to play four to five gigs a month. The ultimate goal? “I want to win a Grammy,” he says. After all, Ziggy Marley has won quite a few recently. “If he can do it, I can do it too.” But there is no rush to get to any of these milestone’s in H.R.’s mind. He is more than content to just keep playing music and share a message of love with whoever will hear it. He’s still driven by that Positive Mental Attitude he famously wrote about back in 1982. “It’s the continuing message of what he’s always been saying, which is basically acknowledging universal consciousness and being aware of one another as people in a positive fashion,” says Williams. “That’s the ongoing H.R. narrative.” Thinking about the feelings that continue to draw him back to the stage, probably forever, H.R. pauses for a moment. He looks inward, considering his words carefully, then says quietly: “It gives me a chance to play music that I love, but also play music that is important to others.”
ANIKA PYLE AND THE
NEVER-ENDING JOURNEY Anika Pyle, who used to front pop-punk faves Chumped, started a new band, called Katie Ellen. They've released their debut album, which Pyle says brings her closer to her personal truth. Story by Andy Polhamus. Photos by Sydney Schaefer.
nika Pyle is on a journey. There’s the trip she made from her hometown in Colorado to New York for college, when she was 17 and majoring in metropolitan studies. There was the journey she took with her old band, Chumped, which made her a household name in the pop-punk community and prompted the Village Voice to announce that she was “in on the insurgency” of women taking over the genre. Then there was the transition that came when Chumped played its final show, and a long romantic relationship ended for Pyle. Don’t forget the move she made from New York to Philly in August of 2016, and the hype surrounding her new band, Katie Ellen, or the recent art show where she displayed her collage work. But as she sits in a darkened South Philly bar on a brutally hot afternoon, all of this, from touring with Chumped to the release of Katie Ellen’s debut record, Cowgirl Blues, seems ancillary to something bigger and less tangible than the list of accomplishments that most other 27-year-olds would envy.
yle is fresh back from a two-week tour through California and Hawaii, where she played her first solo shows under the new band name. It was a tough two weeks, she admits, but an opportunity to take control of the anxiety that has followed her for years. “This was a solo tour, and I haven’t played many shows under the name Katie Ellen alone,” Pyle says. “But I’m learning how to do things alone right now. It’s scary and more vulnerable, and I can’t rely on the band to mask my mistakes. It forces me to be a better performer.” She mentions that the new album—set to be released about 48 hours after this conversation – was recorded more than a year ago, in the spring of 2016. When asked what took her so long, she smiles. “Existential crisis,” she says. Many of the songs that would later become Cowgirl Blues first took form in the summer of 2015, when Pyle made a pact with pop-punk statesman Mikey Erg. The two would spend 20 weeks sending each other songs, seeing what worked and what didn’t.
“At that time, Chumped had just finished a long stint of touring,” Pyle says. “I suggested that we start a pact because I’d done that with a good friend in the past and it was productive to have someone who you were accountable to and to create a safe space for sharing stuff. These songs came at the end of a significant relationship - [a relationship] with a creative project, with a person, with a focus, with everything that I’d invested in.” The perpetual search for a sense of autonomy and identity shines through on every song. Plenty of songwriters in their late-20s write about early adulthood but few do it with the intimacy Pyle brings to Cowgirl Blues. The new record is simultaneously rougher and more sophisticated than anything released by Chumped, with a bleeding edge that seeps through your speakers. Still, there’s a punk core, with an unmistakable ’90s twang standing in for Chumped’s beloved double-time. One critic wrote that rather than pop-punk, Cowgirl Blues was a punk-pop record. And then there’s the feminist lens through which Pyle examines her relationships. “Sad girls don’t make good wives,” Pyle observes wryly at the album’s mid-point, “Sad Girls Club.” She takes an anecdotal approach to discussing gender issues, from the song “Lucy Stone,” in which Pyle asks, “I don’t want to have your children, does that make me less of a woman?” to the name Katie Ellen, which she borrowed from her great-grandmother. The original Katie Ellen was a radio personality who took her stage name from a radio station called KTLN. “She did a lot of spoken word, and interviewed musicians and actors,” Pyle says. “But they made her have a cooking show, of course.” When the host went to court with radio executives over who owned the rights to the name, a judge ruled in favor of the station. “It ended her career, pretty much,” Pyle says. “It was a story I never knew. I found an old article about it when I was up one night Googling members of my family, as you do sometimes when you’re curious. I called my grandmother.”
atie Ellen represented something special—not just the life of a woman Pyle had grown up admiring, but the story of a woman who had her identity stripped away. The name was both a shield and a sword. “I felt empowered writing under that name,” she admits. “I didn’t feel comfortable writing under Anika Pyle at the time. I wanted to take back this identity as a direct affront to the capitalist patriarchy.” Still, the name represented yet another adjustment. “I struggled performing with it because people just assumed my name was Katie,” she says. “But, at this point, I have to accept it.” For months, Pyle struggled with whether she should use the name at all. The same anxiety threatened the future of the album. Was it good enough to release? Did these songs capture her vision? But one night during the band’s first tour, she had a breakthrough. “Right before we got on stage I was like, ‘Katie Ellen is the person I want to be,’” Pyle says. “It took on this space: what’s the best version of yourself? When you think about qualities in other people you admire, put them all together in this person and try as best you can to adopt them. And if it makes it easier to adopt them by taking on the space of someone else, well, practice makes perfect. When I get confused, I refer back to that moment.”
uitarist Anthony Tinnirella, who met Pyle while his previous band, Adult Dude, toured with Chumped, describes the new record as a turning point in Pyle’s songwriting career. “With Katie Ellen, there’s been quite a bit of collaboration,” Tinnirella says, “but most of the record was brought to us already written. We added our tastes to it. But Katie Ellen is Anika’s baby, whereas I think Chumped was more of a group effort.” Tinnirella initially joined the band more or less as a backup musician, cautioning Pyle and drummer Dan Frelly that he wasn’t sure how much time he could commit. But after going on the road with Pyle and Frelly, another Chumped alum, he had a change of heart. Eric Sheppard, who recorded bass for the album, does not currently perform live, so the band relies on a revolving door of fill-in bassists. Otherwise, the lineup is stable, with Pyle at the center. “We’ve toured,” Tinnirella says. “We’ve recorded a bunch of shit together. We’re at the point now where Dan and Anika and I, we’re a unit. I think that’s why we haven’t found a bass player yet—we want the fourth member to be in that unit. We’re a band, rather than just a bunch of hired guns.” Like everyone else who heard about the original Katie Ellen, Tinnirella feels
a personal responsibility to preserve the woman’s memory. “ [I like] the image of her grandmother being so strong and independent, and taking the reins of her own life and get her shit going in spite of everything,” he says. “To be able to pay homage to her is cool.”
aron Kovacs, who released the album on the Californiabased Lauren Records, served as a sounding board for Pyle as she worked through ideas and doubts. He first messaged her when she set up Katie Ellen’s social media pages. “I felt like she didn’t really know exactly what she wanted to do with it for a long time,” Kovacs says. “We went back and forth a lot, especially with the name and whether she wanted to release the album. But I tried not to persuade her. I’m hoping I didn’t. I was more just trying to be supportive and say, ‘Whatever you want to do is cool.’” But even when she wasn’t sure about her next move, Pyle showed an attention to detail that moved Kovacs. “At first glance it sounds like a breakup record,” he says. “But it’s actually very empowering.” It was an emotional experience—much more so than his usual method of releasing albums that were already finished and ready to go. Pyle, for her part, was grateful to have a sounding board. “The process of writing, recording and releasing this record is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced because I had to make a lot of mistakes and get to the other side of them, and still want to share what I made,” she says. “I made a lot of decisions hastily that I’m now proud of.”
hose decisions were on full display two nights later on North 12th Street at PhilaMOCA, where Katie Ellen played the first of two release shows for Cowgirl Blues. To the people in the crowd, most of whom were hearing the album for the first time, it was a beginning. But for Pyle, it was the end of nearly two solid years of growing pains. She’s not sure yet if the album brought her to the place she wants to be. “But I got closer to my personal truth,” she says. As Katie Ellen took the stage that night, Pyle took a moment to thank the people in the crowd. Then, she reminisced on a conversation she’d had with another woman from her family, a grandmother who had died earlier that week. The key to happiness, Pyle said as she paraphrased her grandmother, was knowing the difference between long-term happiness and joy. Happiness is a project, a web woven over the course of a lifetime. But in the meantime, there are little moments of joy.
ART DEVASTATION The Dove & The Wolf crafted their EP and forthcoming full-length album in the wake of terror attacks, bizarre world events and personal difficulties. The results are stunning, with harmonies that soothe and music that haunts the soul. Story by Emily Scott. Photos by Natalie Piserchio.
aloma Gil and Lou Hayat technically first met through instant messenger 13 years ago. At the time, Hayat was living in Martinique, a Caribbean island, and Gil was in Paris. “I met her mom and she told me I was very similar to her daughter,” Hayat says. “She gave me her email address and we just started chatting.” Two months later, they met in person in Paris when Hayat was visiting her father there. Hayat moved to France when she was 16, and their infrequent hangouts became closer moments of playing and listening to music together. The two would cover Muse — their favorite band growing up — and System of a Down. Gil and Hayat are the vocal and guitar duo that makeup The Dove & The Wolf, French transplants focused on harmonies and making indie dream pop.
lthough they’ve played music together since 2004, the two didn’t get serious about creating a band until February 2012. “We just wrote a song together and we wanted to write another one,” Gil says. “I had my own projects and she had her own but never together. It just made sense.” Gil was moving to New York for school in August of that year, so they only had roughly five months to write and record an EP, release it and play some shows. After a year hiatus for the band, Gil moved back to Paris. Then, in spring 2014, they were recording music with Rachael Yamagata in New York. Yamagata asked Gil and Hayat to go on her fall tour with her as an opener. “And so we applied for visas and kind of left everything behind,” Hayat says. After the tour, they decided to move to Philadelphia since it was more affordable than New York and they had several friends living here. One thing Hayet loves most about living in Philly is the music and art community. “I feel like it’s a city that enables people to be creative more than a place like New York because you can actually have time because the cost of living is not as much,” Hayet says. Hayat adds that moving across the Atlantic Ocean made the idea of being a musician even more serious. The move spurred an interest in writing songs about being in motion and living far away from the people you grew up with. “We left everything in Paris,” Gil says. “We only had each other.”
n September 2015, Gil and Hayat went back to Paris to renew their visas. They thought the process would only take a few weeks to a month, enough time to visit family and old friends. It ended up taking five months, and during that time the two lived through the attacks in Paris, in November 2015, which targeted a concert along with other locations in the city. When they received their visas and knew they were going to move back to the Philly, they went to a house in the French countryside and wrote about their experiences of the previous five months. They wanted to write while still in France and in the environment they were drawing themes from. In February 2016, Gil and Hayat came back to Philadelphia with their renewed visas and songs they had written during the months prior. “We came back here with these songs we had written after [the attacks],
and we just needed to record them and put them out, so it happened really quickly,” Hayat says. The result, I Don’t Know What to Feel, was self-released in June 2016, around the time of the Pulse shooting in Orlando. They re-released it this past March with Fat Possum Records, who signed them shortly after their self-release, and hope to release their first full-length album in the coming months. “It’s all about being in one place for a limited amount of time and knowing you have to leave,” Gil says. “Because of the attacks, we met new people during that time or reconnected with people, and it just made our relationships much more intense than they would be in a normal time.” “The whole city was mourning,” Gil adds. All of the songs on the EP are centered around that idea, but one song in particular, “Seven Days,” was written about how the city felt in the days after and how people living in France were connecting around the tragedy. “We didn’t have to talk,” Gil says. “We just knew we were all going through the same shit and feeling the same feelings.”
il recalls the two recording the vocals in March 2016, the same day an attack occurred in Brussels. It felt like the tragedies never stopped. While on tour, she came to feel as if there’s something always happening no matter where they are playing. When they were on tour in Sweden this April, there was an attack in Stockholm. There was also a sense of connection surrounding their 2016 fall tour in the United States, which fell during the presidential elections. “When Trump got elected, you know … so many people are going through the same thing as you and feeling the same thing as you, and you connect with strangers through that,” Gil says. “For us, it’s about something specific, the attacks,” Hayat says. “But it’s how a city, country or people can come together after a tragedy, a tragedy that is confusing. You can’t really explain or talk about it. It is beyond understandable.” The EP wasn’t meant to be political, both Gil and Hayat agree, but more about the human emotion around experiencing a widespread community devastation. “The thing was there wasn’t much to say,” Gil says. “This happened, what do we feel?” Hayat adds. “More than ‘this happened, what do we do?’” “Because the answer to that is to just keep going,” Gil says.
he EP was recorded by Dave Hartley of the War on Drugs and Nightlands, as well as Nick Krill of the Spinto Band and Teen Men. Hartley and Krill produced and engineered everything on the
upcoming full-length album. Hartley originally met the two through musicians Kurt Vile and Jesse Trbovich, and is a big fan of the duo’s use of harmonies. He has also seen their growth as guitar players and singers. The vocals for the album were recorded fast and done mostly on the same mic together. “No one does that anymore because you really handcuff yourself if you can’t go back and fix things,” Hartley says. “But they were so good, so we knew we really wouldn’t have to. We just put a mic up and they blended themselves.” Krill describes the duo as “musical conjoined twins.” He says there was also an experience of growth while recording the full-length for him and Hartley as well as for Gil, Hayat and their full-band members, Andy Black and Craig Hendrix. “With the EP, we got to know each other on one musical level,” Krill says, noting how the relationships developed through t i m e . “And with the LP, there was a shared vocabulary, a deeper understanding of what everybody’s strength and weaknesses were. When we were recording, Dave and I would always say we are always listening to that magical musical orb when [Gil and Hayat] completely lock in with each other and it jumps out of the speakers at you.” Hayat says that sometimes living and making music in another country can be stressful, especially since there is an eventual expiration date on their time in the U.S. There’s also a bit of a waiting game, in between tours, writing and JUMPphilly.com
recording. Hayat and Gil don’t like to sit on music for too long. “We don’t like to wait around, because then you get too much in your head,” Hayat says. “That is what’s next for us. This fulllength, as soon as possible. It’s ready.”
he Dove & The Wolf finished recording the full length in February. In August they set out on their first self-booked tour with Nashvillebased Harpooner as an opener, something more challenging because they have to bring the crowd, rather than depending on a headliner. While she feels the new material is like a continuation of the June 2016 EP, Gil says it’s fuller since they now have a full band. However, even with a full band, they still write together like a therapy session. “When you write on your own, it’s not a conversation,” Hayat says. “When we write, it’s a conversation. It always ends up being songs that are the voice of one person but they are the results of conversations exchanged.” Gil says overall that their collaborative writing process challenges and pushes them to write more. “We get truer to ourselves and to our feelings,” she says.
Photos by Teresa McCullough.
Food That Rocks
For The Love of Fishtown A bunch of musicians with no experience in the food industry launched Hello Donuts in May and they're already looking for a storefront. Hello Donuts may not have a storefront to call home yet but for co-owners Zack Zarrillo and Joe Marro, their donut business is more than an idea. It’s a dream come true. Zarrillo, a Drexel University graduate and Brooklyn-based band manager with Synergy Artist Management, and Marro, of Fishtown, a manager at Synergy and member of New Jersey punk band The Early November, sit at a corner table in Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen. The bustling Fishtown locale is also the favorite destination for the Fishtown residents of the Hello Donuts team. The bar is situated around the corner from business partners ReAnimator Coffee Roasters, whose Fishtown location serves as the business’ unofficial homebase. Along with Zarrillo and Marro, Ben Walsh, of Scranton’s Tigers Jaw, and former Heartwell bandmates Andrew Valentine and Scott Luciano form the core team of managing partners for Hello Donuts. Last winter, over cups of ReAnimator coffee, Zarrillo, Marro and Walsh discussed random ideas and reminisced on their favorite donut shops they visited while on tour, like Los Angeles’ Donut Friend, owned by producer and Drive Like Jehu drummer Mark Trombino. Inspired by a mutual love of donuts, their Fishtown neighborhood and the Philadelphia music scene, Hello Donuts was born. “Very haphazard,” Zarrillo says, of the business’ humble beginnings. “Like bands, like the music industry, we have figured out and fucked up everything along the way.” Since launching in May, the team has taken their confectionary creations - traditional and vegan donuts and fritters of all flavors - to pop-up shops in and around the city, including appearances at the Punk Rock Flea Market and Union Transfer, where they celebrated the release of Tigers Jaw’s latest record, spin. Breaking into the city’s donut scene as seasoned music industry professionals meant navigating new challenges of the food industry. Recruiting the ReAnimator Coffee team as business partners was a crucial step in developing their business model.
The partnership grew out of a friendship between ReAnimator co-owner Mark Corpus, his employees and the Hello Donuts team. Corpus’ experience operating ReAnimator proved to be instrumental in laying the groundwork for the opening of Hello Donuts. “[ReAnimator has] opened up cafes,” Corpus says. “We know what it takes, the steps that are needed to be done in order to make a business happen, basically from nothing. We have that expertise.” As Hello Donuts eventually settles into a retail location, Corpus looks forward to providing a full, high-quality coffee program to complement the donut offerings. Marro acknowledges the similarities between starting a new band and starting a business like Hello Donuts, but he also recognizes the group’s experience only comes in forming and managing bands. “This is all we do,” Marro says. “This is all we know. But starting a food business when not a single member of the operation has experience in the food industry…” “Very smart,” Zarrillo adds. Zarrillo, who runs Bad Timing Records on the side, says behind-the-scenes work, like wholesaling products to retailers and accounting, are skills used in both the music and food industries. However, determining how long a donut cooks in the fryer and what varieties of flour to order have proven to be more challenging tasks. “I haven’t bought flour for any of my bands,” Marro says. “Now it’s a matter of rebuilding your network. It’s still the same process. It’s just a different community.” As Zarrillo and Marro settle into their roles in a new industry and search for a permanent
home, they are aware of what it will take to run a successful business and connect with the Fishtown community in a meaningful way. Marro emphasizes the importance of the community’s support in sustaining Philadelphia’s music scene and believes that Fishtown residents will respond in a similar way to a communityoriented business like Hello Donuts. “If you’ve been a resident of Fishtown for 30 years and you come into the donut shop, we want you to feel as welcome there as someone that loves the kind of music we work with,” Zarrillo says. “I think we’ll always be connected to the music we work in, but we want it to be welcoming for anyone.” For Cam Chung, a Drexel student and longtime Tigers Jaw fan, Hello Donuts provides an opportunity to support musicians he admires and form deeper connections in the city’s music scene. “I think the fact that these people are all associated with various music acts is interesting in itself, and the idea of starting a business together with friends is very cool,” Chung says. Hello Donuts is a reflection of the group’s desire to make their mark in a city and neighborhood they love. The transitory nature of touring in bands left Zarrillo and Marro wanting to build a brand and a product rooted in Philadelphia. The team hopes their latest venture will bring something fresh, unique, and welcoming to Philadelphia’s food and music scenes. “Clearly there are donut shops in Philadelphia, but not one that kind of fit our parameters,” Marro says. “If you don’t see it, make it.” - Tim Mulhern
TAKE A MAG
H.R. FROM BAD BRAINS: THE
MESSENGER CONTINUES THE NEW PHONE, WHO DIS? ISSUE: CHARLIE MACK, THE DOVE & THE WOLF, DJ LEAN WIT IT AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!