That’s So Philly, a local organization and website that showcases musical talent of local teens, has been getting some help recently from established local musicians to collaborate with teens. The first “Sing With A Philly Teen” initiative featured singer-songwriter Ben Arnold who collaborated with Arin Edelstein on an original song that you can listen to here. Recently Dean Sabatino, drummer for the Dead Milkmen collaborated on an improvised drum duet with 18-year-old Brandon Coklay.
Coklay grew up playing the drums at home and in church. He goes to Upper Darby High School where he is a member the marching band and indoor drumline, playing snare. Listen to the duet, recorded at Kawari Sound, below.
You almost can’t go wrong with a Saturday show at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club. And this past Saturday was a grand performance by rising Baltimore duo Wye Oak as they celebrate their April release of Shriek.
Keeping the night experimental from start to finish, Montreal shoegaze-inspired art rockers Braids took to the Lizard Lounge stage first. The lights stayed low as the three members took the crowd on a psychedelic ride through tracks off of Flourish // Perish (2013) and Native Speaker (2011). Don’t be fooled by the soft spoken demeanor of lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston. Although this frontwoman seems like the sweet girl next door, her high pitched vocals gives an extra power kick to the edgy downbeats and Sombear vibes.
The intimate crowd pushed forward as Wye Oak came to the stage. Although just a duo, their synthesized heavy sound packs the punch of a full band complete with keys, drums, and bass. The sound of Shriek is a bit of a departure for the duo, whose earlier work leaned more indie-folk. Although their fist time to play in Lancaster, lead singer Jen Wasner told the crowd that it was just like playing at home for a room filled with family and friends. Running through a well-received set from their latest Shriek, the band came back to the stage for a four song encore to finish off the night. Wye Oak is a duo you do not want to miss as they roll through town. With each guitar riff and downbeat head-banging worthy, it is hard not to fall into a trance under the eclectic melodies and compelling vocals.
If you didn’t catch the show in Lancaster, make sure to get tickets for their Union Transfer show tonight. Check out the photo gallery below to see what you’re in for.
The lawn of the beautiful Rigby Mansion in Germantown is the setting yet again for a stacked outdoor concert happening May 31, featuring Ember Schrag Band, Ohioan, Debby Schwartz and special guest Susan Alcorn sitting in. The folk-fueled outdoor event is a perfect spring time escape, bringing together an array of artists ranging from the grass-roots folk and ethereal vocal stylings of Schrag, (who just wrapped up a third album), to the gritty country-meets-folk sounds of Ohioan, to Schwartz’s heavier, rock-influenced folk (with a voice as sharp as Stevie Nicks). If that’s not enough, pioneer of pedal-steel guitar musician/composer Alcorn will be joining the fun as well.
In addition to great live music in an enchanting setting, the concert will include food and drink prepared by Schrag herself. Attendees are welcome to provide their own culinary specialties for a pot-luck if they choose. The May 31 spring concert at Rigby Mansion – located at 523 E. Church Lane in Germantown – begins at 8pm, and admission is $8. Check out videos of some of the talent playing the concert below.
Sharon Van Etten recently covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Drive All Night” for The A.V. Club‘s localized cover series (this time New Jersey is the place of interest, which is near and dear to both artists). Van Etten’s rendition sounds like something stripped straight from a heartbreaking scene in a movie; her higher pitch delivery dances upon each piano note with emotional vocal cracks in the same way Springsteen’s signature rasp does in the original. That said, her rendition is inspired and all her own at the same time. Get tickets to Sharon Van Etten’s show at Union Transfer on June 18th here. Watch it below (and try not to sob too hard).
Gloucester City rockers The Warhawks are self-releasing their latest EP, Exodus, and celebrating this Friday May 9th at Kung Fu Necktie. The set finds the band traveling loud and dark paths with their sound, which was pretty heavy stuff to begin with. Whereas before our point of reference was heavy arena rockers Kings of Leon, the new stuff sounds notably rawer and more punk. The video for “Just Let Me,” released a couple months back, has a definite Buzzcocks by-way-of Queens of the Stone Age vibe to it. The clip shows the band going HAM in a garage with an American flag draped from a wall behind their drumkit – the feverish intensity is pretty much in line with the band we’ve seen rock out at venues from Johnny Brenda’s to the backyard party they crashed at SXSW a few years back. Check out the video below and get tickets and information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Their Dead Oceans Records debut Heal is out on June 24th via Dead Oceans Records, but Philly’s Strand of Oaks has plans way beyond it – headlining Boot and Saddle in South Philly on September 19th, in a show just announced today. Tickets go on sale Friday May 9th at noon. For those who want to get some live Oaks in their life before that, they’ll be at WXPN’s NonCOMM convention next week – tickets are sold out, but their Friday set will be broadcast on WXPN – and we hear the band may return for a Free at Noon performance some time this summer. Below, check out the video for “Goshen ’97″ from Oaks’ awesome new Heal.
Guitarist and singer Jarekus Singleton is blazing a hot blues trail with incendiary playing showcased on his excellent new album, Refuse To Lose. Singleton is being hailed as one of the future greats of the blues world with his fresh sounding take on electric blues. He writes and produces his own material and has been getting universal acclaim for his live performances. Being a blues musician wasn’t always Singleton’s first choice for a career. In addition to being an outstanding musician, the 29-year-old from Clinton, Mississippi was a college basketball star with hopes to play in the NBA, but his career was cut when he had an ankle injury.
In 2002, the Clinton resident was the No. 1 basketball player in the state. He attended the University of Southern Mississippi on a basketball scholarship and played there two years before transferring to William Carey University, where he won just about every basketball award you can win, including the National Player of the Year award.
“Coming out of William Carey in 2007, I knew someone was going to give me an NBA tryout and invite me to training camp,” he said. “It never happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers had been calling my agent saying ‘Jarekus is an interesting talent, and we’ve got him under our radar.’ But they never called me to go to training camp, and that devastated me.”
He moved to the Middle East to play for a Lebanon basketball team the following season, but when someone set off a bomb targeting a U.S. Embassy car two blocks from his apartment, Singleton talked to his manager about coming home.
“I got an email from the U.S. Embassy saying: ‘Do not go outside. Be aware of your surroundings.’ It said eight people were killed and 16 were injured, and I was like, this is not the place for me. When I got home, the first thing I did was kiss my mama’s driveway. I changed clothes, went to church and played music. I was glad to be on American soil.”
He also began basketball training again because he was determined to get to the NBA, but after injuring his ankle, and having surgery to repair damaged cartilage, Singleton was on crutches for 18 weeks. During this time, he began playing music with a couple of bands to earn extra cash, and his mother encouraged him to start his own band.
The rest, as they say, is history. Below, listen to “I Refuse To Lose.”
It’s romantic and it’s dreamy. Psych folk band Upperfields recently played a Random Tea Room Session, and the final product couldn’t have come out any better. Videographer Koofreh Umoren plays with subtle zooms, jump cuts and transitional focuses that colorfully play with the lyrics of the soft, supple song “Find My Way Home”. Check it out below. On May 28, the band returns to the Random Tea Room with Doylestown folk / psych outfit Heat Thunder. The show starts at 8 p.m. and ticket prices are TBA. Check out the session below.
When Aimee Mann and Ted Leo took the stage Saturday night at Union Transfer as The Both, they started chatting away. Their banter throughout the night ranged from Quaker meetinghouses to Jeb Bush to Paul Stanley of Kiss. They actually had to stop themselves so they could start playing music. This familiarity, paired with their vast live experience, put them at ease with a crowd and made for a glorious night of music. Playing all 11 songs from their self-titled debut plus selections from their respective catalogs, Mann and Leo were a true delight.
Though coming from seemingly different musical spheres, Mann and Leo paired nicely. Switching off lead vocal duties, with Leo leading on songs like opener “Gambler” and Mann beginning “You Can’t Help Me Now,” they expertly interwove their voices. Their spacing on stage, with the great divide between them filled by drummer Matt Mayhall, allowed for frequent encounters in the middle, more in line with a guitar-and-bass handshake than punk jamming. But that makes sense, as Leo’s harder sensibilities are more muted with The Both.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Mann and Leo showered love on Philly itself. Before “Save Me,” Mann regaled the crowd with the odd tale of playing the song during the Liberty Medal ceremony for Hilary Clinton at the National Constitution Center last year. And they seemed very happy to remember opening Boot & Saddle and filming part of the video for the catchy “Milwaukee” there. And before they broke into the tune, they even riffed on a Philadelphia-centric rewrite.
Two other highlights were of differing calibers. There was the humor in someone calling for the Leo song “Bottled in Cork” and Mann and Leo deliberately misunderstanding the request. They first claimed to hear the call for actor Bud Cort, but that devolved to the more playful “Butt Court.” (And, for the record, when they did play “Bottled in Cork,” it rocked.) The encore kicked off with another grand gesture as The Both launched into “Voices Carry,” the 1985 ‘Til Tuesday tune that was Mann’s first major success. In introducing the song, she shared her excitement for Leo’s falsetto. It certainly worked as the penultimate song before their wonderful Thin Lizzy cover, “Honesty Is No Excuse.”
Nick Diamonds and Evan Gordon of Islands opened with a bizarre set of songs by Islands, The Beatles, Wilco and Sinead O’Connor. The Both will return to Philadelphia for a Free at Noon concert at World Café Live on Thursday, May 15.
Indie duo Wye Oak will celebrate their newly released album Shriek tonight with fans at Union Transfer. It’s the fifth record for the Maryland natives who just released a new video for one of its tracks, “Glory” where vocalist Jenn Wasner’s falsetto shimmers in contrast to the creepy visual. Check it out below and get tickets here.