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The Key Presents: Esme Patterson

Esmé Patterson | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Esmé Patterson | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

On a sunny Friday afternoon in May, we found Esme Patterson and her band reclined under the towering railroad trestle that cuts across the 31st Street side of WXPN. They’d driven up from a gig the previous night in D.C., were scheduled to play NonCOMM in a few short hours, and decided to take advantage of the agreeable weather to get some R&R on a blanket of green grass under the expanse of rust-orange steel, a curious intersection of post-industrial urbanism and the more verdant natural world.

Patterson’s music functions in a similar way. Continue reading →

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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: Queen of Jeans

Queen of Jeans | courtesy of the artist | photo by Bob Sweeney
Queen of Jeans | courtesy of the artist | photo by Bob Sweeney

South Philly in the summer doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, we don’t have the natural shade, or farmers markets, or outdoor screenings of other neighborhoods—but we have something else. There’s a certain summer vibe that seems to seep into the air when you cross Washington Ave; a sense of solidarity that’s palpable, as you sit on your stoop, air-conditioning units humming above. A few houses down, someone’s selling clothes and cookwear on the sidewalk; a block away the ice cream truck—not Mister Softee, but the South Philly ice cream truck that plays “Fur Elise”—is meandering toward you, offering temporary relief from the pounding sun.

I’ve lived in South Philly for 3 years now; Philly rock band Queen of Jeans live here as well (in fact singer/guitarists Miriam Devora and Matheson Glass are practically my neighbors). Their name, Queen of Jeans, is both a re-appropriation of, and commentary on, the iconic (if misogynist) “King of Jeans” sign that hung on East Passyunk Ave. at 13th Street for 21 years, before being removed in 2015.  It’s a sweet name for a (mostly) girl band from South Philly, but it’s also more—as if adopting the name, the band acknowledge the sign’s legacy, while at the same time offering their own (non-misogynist) alternative. Also it’s pretty funny. Continue reading →

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Lucy Dacus talks Richmond, Tiny Desk concerts, and autobiographies ahead of her Johnny Brenda’s gig on Tuesday

Lucy Dacus | photo by Dusdin Condren | courtesy of the artist
Lucy Dacus | photo by Dusdin Condren | courtesy of the artist

She may just have turned 21, but Lucy Dacus sings with the honesty of someone way beyond her years. Her debut album, No Burden, was just reissued by legendary indie Matador Records and was met with critical acclaim by everybody from TIME Magazine to NPR’s Bob Boilen. No Burden is a collection of lovelorn rock songs ornamented with Lucy’s drifting alto and honest, passionate lyrics, whether it be driving (“Strange Torpedo”) or heartbreaking (“Trust”).

Her band, made up of Oberlin music alum Jacob Blizard on guitar, Miles Huffman on drums, and Bobby King on drums, bring Lucy and her unorthodox guitar playing from a singer with a song to sing to full-on emotional catharsis. Lucy plays Johnny Brenda’s this Tuesday, July 19th, with Philly indie-rockers RFA. I spoke with Lucy on the phone about two weeks ago, where we discussed everything from her hometown of Richmond to her inspirations behind No Burden to what she has coming up in the future.  Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Hiss Golden Messenger playing Union Transfer in November

Hiss Golden Messenger | photo by Andy Tennille | courtesy of the artist
Hiss Golden Messenger | photo by Andy Tennille | courtesy of the artist

Hiss Golden Messenger has announced a Fall into early Winter tour with a stop at at Union Transfer on Sunday November 13th. Last week the band announced that their new album, Heart Like A Levee, will be released on October 7th. It comes two years after their last release, the critically acclaimed Lateness of Dancers. Continue reading →

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This Day in Music History: The Grateful Dead release Anthem of the Sun, the first Lollapalooza is held

Grateful Dead Anthem of the Sun

1953 – Truck driver Elvis Presley makes his first ever recording when he pays $3.98 to lay down two songs at Memphis Recording Service (later renamed Sun Studios): “My Happiness'” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” The so-called vanity disc is a gift for his mother. It would surface 37 years later as part of an RCA compilation called Elvis – the Great Performances.

Continue reading →