Required Reading: Half Waif’s Nandi Rose Plunkett on being “the girl in the band”

Nandi Plunkett | photo by Tonje Thilesen via

If you haven’t noticed by now, we at The Key are big fans of Pinegrove and Half Waif, two New Jersey bands that share a common denominator in Nandi Rose Plunkett. Both groups find Plunkett as the sole woman, one in a keyboards-backing vocals situation and the other as the founding, writing, and recording frontwoman. In other words, she is a musical force to be reckoned with.

Why, then, in 2017 – especially in an industry that theoretically draws the creatives, the open minds, the dreamers – do we find Plunkett responding to slews of misogynist aggressions against her being simply because that being is female? After originally posting last month on Twitter in response to comments on her part in Pinegrove, Nandi Plunkett has penned an extraordinarily eloquent, insightful, and sharp long-form piece published by Esquire on what it means to be “the girl in the band,” what it feels like to be a woman constantly silenced and disregarded and dismissed as a girl, as a girlfriend, as a pretty face but nothing more. Continue reading →


A first look inside The Queen Theater, now operated by Live Nation

queen theater
Chris Buccini of Buccini/Pollin Group | photo by Joe Del Tufo |

The Queen Theater will begin its new life as a Live Nation venue next month when the doors reopen after a few months of downtime.

Formerly the home of World Cafe Live at the Queen, the historic Wilmington, DE space changed hands with a symbolic “changing of the guard” event earlier this week attended by local government officials and Philly Mardi Gras band The Wild Bohemians, giving members of the press a sneak peek at the newly decorated walls.

Continue reading →


Side Players to Solo, Studio to Stage: Listen to Killiam Shakespeare’s journey on XPN Local

Killiam Shakespeare | photo via

Philly friends Corey Bernhard, Steve McKie and Chris Turner have an impressive resume as producers and session musicians alone — they’ve worked with Bilal, Jill Scott, Estelle, Ed Sheeran, Snarky Puppy and a lot more over the past decade and change.

But like most creative folks, they had their own fires burning in the mix of the gigs that were paying their bills. Enter Killiam Shakespeare, the band that came as a result of these longtime side players collabing in the studio — the project, with debuted in 2015 with a self-titled release on Ropeadope Records, spans the worlds of hip-hop, jazz, R&B / pop grooves and rock.

“We said ‘There’s no point in letting it sit around on our hard drive,'” recalls Bernhard of the music they were making. “We had all these songs, some of them instrumentals, some with our friends we still make music with.”

“Having our own studio in West Philly really gave us that platform to create our own music,” adds McKie. “You have times when you play in a band, it’s set up for you to play the show, you leave, you rehearse. For us, we felt we were more artistic, we had more to offer not just as musicians but producers and composers.” Continue reading →


Listen to The Blair Brothers talk film scoring and Philly collaboration on XPN Local

The Blair Brothers | photo courtesy of the artist
The Blair Brothers | photo courtesy of the artist

Before they co-founded the aughties Philly rock outfit East Hundred, brothers Will Blair and Brooke Blair had a background in film and music video. After the band parted ways in 2011, they turned their sights back to that world, and it’s since become their full-time gig.

Out of a small studio on Frankford Avenue in Fishtown, The Blair Brothers have crafted the tense sonic textures and evocative musical backdrops to a number of indie films of the suspense-driven variety; their big break came with Jeremy Saulnier’s acclaimed 2014 film Blue Ruin, and they’ve since teamed up with the director again on last year’s Green Room, and worked with their brother Macon on I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore.

Tomorrow, their latest soundtrack hits iTunes; it’s for Evan Katz’s Netflix thriller Small Crimes, and it draws on a variety of styles, from traditional salsa to mysterious jazz and haunting ambient textures. The Blair Brothers appeared on the WXPN Local Show this Tuesday evening to discuss their return to film, reflect on scores that inspired them and to share songs from the soundtrack. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jurassic 5 at TLA, Tedeschi Trucks Band at Merriam Theater, Matt Cappy at 2300 Arena

Jurassic 5 | photo via band’s Facebook page

Aughties hip-hop supergroup, Jurassic 5, are bringing their old-school vibes to the TLA tonight. Comprised of DJs Numark and Cut Chemist, and MC’s Chali 2na, Zaakir, Akil and Mark 7even, the group was formed at LA’s The Good Life cafe, and was incredibly influential in the West Coast underground scene. Tickets for the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Listen to their 2002 jam, “What’s Golden,” below. Continue reading →


R&D Vinyl looks to build community, left-of-center style, in new South Philly digs

R&D Vinyl | photo by David Milstein

Just over a year ago, Queen Village locals started peaking their heads in R&D Vinyl’s original Fourth Street location. At first the curious window shoppers were coming into the store out of earnest friendliness and interest. But quickly things changed, influencing R&D to take their experimental-focused and cassette tape-heavy inventory to a better-suited block of South Philly’s Dickinson Narrows neighborhood.

Now situated only a couple doors off Dickinson Street’s southwest corner at Sixth Street, R&D, which is short for Research and Development, is feeling at home. As a matter of fact, co-owner David Milstein calls that block of Sixth Street home, too. One day he passed the storefront, noticing a “For Rent,” sign on the door, automatically imagining having the store on the same block in which he lives being “kind of like a fantasy.” At the time, he and other co-owner John Mariano, had been considering moving the store for multiple reasons. One of which was the pushback they got from Queen Village residents throughout R&D’s inaugural year in business. Continue reading →


Soul Saving: How one man’s obsession with old 45s gave birth to Philly’s Brewerytown Beats

Brewerytown Beats | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

When Maxwell Ochester’s neighbor asked the then Mt. Airy teen’s parents if he could borrow him one weekend to work Brooklyn’s Roosevelt Record Swap, he probably didn’t know that he was changing a very small life. But he was. At the time, Max was hooked on records of the standard classic rock fare—Guns n’ Roses and Poison, for example. Hip hop, soul and funk were still a bit foreign to him. Foreigner was less so. But when Max got situated behind the booth at his first NYC swap, he found himself face-to-face with some of hip-hop’s biggest artists of that era.

“It just so happened that one of the first shows we did was this now super famous record show in New York where all the hip-hop artists from the early 90s were getting their samples from. So A Tribe Called Quest and Pete Rock & CL Smooth would all buy albums to sample for their records. So that’s how I got into it but I also got hooked right then. I was like, Oh my god, Q-tip is buying a record from me,” he remembers.

Today, that kid is 39 and he owns Brewerytown Beats, arguably the best record shop in the city of Philadelphia. And he wouldn’t have what he has, which includes approximately 20,0000 records and a coveted role as A&R and co-distributor for Jamie/Guyden Records, if it wasn’t for his experience at the swaps. “Watching Q-tip and Pete Rock and all these guys that I looked up to and the stuff that they would buy, I would really pay attention,” he says. “I used to watch what they would buy and then I’d listen to their music and try to dissect and find what kind of samples they were using for their music—and that’s how I got into it.” Continue reading →


Loose Tooth created a recipe book for Big Day because why the heck not

Loose Tooth | photo by Craig Scheihing | courtesy of the artist
Loose Tooth | photo by Craig Scheihing | courtesy of the artist

Philly rockers Loose Tooth released their latest album Big Day in April, but have recently created a very necessary addition to the record: a recipe book. Featured on Impose Magazine, Loose Tooth has concocted a specific meal and accompanying cooking details for each track on the album. Because every tasty track needs a tasty treat. It’s basic physics, really.

While some of the songs seemed destined for a food companion — i.e. “Garlic Soup,” possibly “Fish Boy” — others are a bit more of stretch, and thus thoroughly enjoyable to read and map connections from the song to its food counterpart. Continue reading →