Our first ever Christmas Key Studio Session was released this week, featuring the Arbor Christmas All-Stars – members of numerous South Jersey bands who each year record a compilation of original holiday songs and throw a benefit Christmas pageant. The session aired on WXPN on Christmas Eve, featuring an interview with Dave Downham of Gradwell House Recording (where the performances were taped) and longtime Arbor contributors Brian Mietz, John Masino and Tom Ryan. You can listen to the entire session as it aired in the player below; download the songs plus outtakes, see a short video and check out a photo gallery at the Key Sessions post here.
WXPN midday host Helen Leicht held her fifth annual Philly Local Home for the Holidays special this year, gathering together performers Ginger Coyle, John Beacher, Lily Mae, Mutlu, Our Griffins, Birdie Busch, John Conahan and Lizanne Knott at Morning Star Studios in East Norriton with producer Glenn Barratt. The special aired on WXPN December 17th, then rebroadcast during Robert Drake’s annual The Night Before and again on Christmas Day. In case you missed it, you can now hear an archive of the entire show below. Check out a gallery of photos from the Home for the Holidays recording session here.
East coast / west coast musician Kevin Morby (Woods, The Babies) released his debut solo record Harlem River in November. In January, he’ll be stopping by Boot & Saddle to open for Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon, and the two teamed up recently to record “Slow Train” for Morby’s LP. The track is a slow burner, with smooth-pop arrangements and Morby’s easygoing vocals. For her part, Le Bon’s smoky harmonizing gives “Slow Train” subtle dimension and depth. Stream the song below and pick up tickets to their 21+ show on January 17th here.
Local rockers Restorations made a stop at SideOneDummy Records during a trip to L.A. this year to participate in the label’s inaugural episode of Live From SideOneDummy. The video shows the Philadelphians performing “New Old” while cooking up a lunch of tacos. Restorations have also announced a show at Boot & Saddle on February 8th where they’ll debut “a ton of new songs” following the release of this year’s LP2. Watch the new episode below and get tickets for their 21+ show here.
Think of last year’s first Kat Kat Phest as an accident that went almost as smoothly as the organizers could have asked for.
“There were seven or eight different bands that hit one of us up saying, ‘Hey, I need a show,’ in a four-day period, “ says the Philly-based indie label founder Daniel Anderson about what happened around this time last year. “By the end of it, all four days had a show, and we were just like, ‘Whatever, let’s just make it a four-day thing with some after shows.’”
Anderson started Kat Kat Records in order to help out friends’ bands and put out their records, so requests for help booking shows in the area were not uncommon. That’s why his friend Ruben Polo (also his band-mate in the local four-piece Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe) started helping out with promoting events, which he also does for a living.
For a last-minute festival with mostly touring bands on the bill, the two organizers couldn’t have imagined it would go so well, even selling out the show on the final day.
“[Our band] left for an eight-week tour after that, and off and on, we were just talking about, ‘Who should we get next year? We should do this for real,’” Anderson says. “Last year’s was kind of an accident. This year is a test to see if we can make it go as well when we’ve actually meant to do it.”
So this weekend, DIY musicians and local music supporters will once again gather for Phest 2, which will span five days, feature eight all-ages shows and boast about 50 bands. The all-festival passes, a bargain at $22, were sold out by December 20. Saturday night’s show with local heroes Smoother and Marietta, as well as New York-based Lemuria headlining, was moved to the North Star Bar after selling out at The Fire. But tickets are still available for all eight shows, a la carte style, at the show’s Facebook event page, and they range from $3 to $10…so it’s still a lot of bang for your buck.
Several bands associated with Kat Kat Records will also play this year’s Phest, including By Surprise,Hightide Hotel and Tyler Daniel Bean. But Anderson and Polo don’t make it a priority to put their own bands on the bill.
“If bands deserve to play cool shows and work really hard and are good people, then they play what they should play,” Anderson says. Continue reading →