XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Cherry blossoms and festivals usher in spring!

cherry blossoms

The annual Subaru Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival is a sure sign of spring!  The Morris Arboretum has traditional Daiko drumming Saturday,  origami workshops, and a tour through the Japanese garden.  Sakura Sunday at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park is a day-long celebration of all things Japanese: live music and dance, martial arts demonstrations, arts & crafts, karaoke, and more.  There are shuttle buses from Center City…and pets are welcome! Continue reading →


Philly Music 101: The basics everyone needs to know about the Philadelphia scene right now

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |
The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

Philadelphia is a city of many wonders: a buzzing food scene, an established craft beer culture, and a parade of historical landmarks. But one aspect of our city that we are particularly passionate about is our magnificent local music community and all that is has to offer. Here at The Key, we often focus on the particulars of our scene – where artists will be playing each night, brand new local releases, etc. - so much so that we can forget how overwhelming it can be for newcomers to get their bearings.

So for those of you having trouble finding where to start, we are introducing this new Philly Music 101 series as your guide through the wonderful world of the Philadelphia music scene: all of its passionate, loving members, from artists to venues to studios and more. It’s meant to help new fans navigate the scene as much as emerging musicians looking to break in and behind-the-scenes folks trying to get their start. We hope it will illuminate just what makes it so damn exciting for music lovers to live here. To kick it off, here is a by-no-means-complete overview of the different pieces of the Philadelphia music scene that have come together to make up its sturdy foundation. Continue reading →


Breaking Down the Boys’ Club: Why PhilaMOCA’s She Shreds showcase is so necessary

Marisa Dabice of Mannequin Pussy performs at Hazzard Hall | Photo by John Vettese
Marisa Dabice of Mannequin Pussy performs at Hazzard Hall | Photo by John Vettese

There’s a musical revolution going on in Philadelphia, hidden away in the corners of makeshift venues peppered throughout the city. It’s a revolution unbeknownst to many but a revolution that is, to borrow a phrase, hidden in plain sight. It’s a revolution against your parents’ rock music, a revolution against the historically prevailing notion of rock and roll as a boys club, a revolution against the idea that rock and roll should look and behave a certain way.

On April 4 at PhilaMOCA, this revolution will be on stage in full force, as Portland, Oregon’s She Shreds magazine hosts a celebration of musical women in Philadelphia. On the bill are rock stalwarts Swearin’ and Amanda X, punk heavies Mannequin Pussy, and power poppers Anomie (a solo project of Field Mouse’s Rachel Browne), along with DJ sounds by DJ SAD 13 (Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz).  [Girls Rock Philly band Jane Doe was scheduled but unfortunately had to drop out.]

It’s an event that will highlight a Philadelphia scene that excels in its acceptance, support, and diversity, one that can be held up as a model for the musical landscape at large. Continue reading →


Restorations’ Ben Pierce will guest DJ tonight on the XPN Philly Local Show

Pierce at Howling Woods Farm | Photo courtesy of the artist
Pierce (right) at Howling Woods Farm | Photo via

Ben Pierce of Philly punk rock five-piece Restorations will guest DJ tonight on XPN’s Philly Local show.

The guitarist and keyboardist has prepped a playlist of what Restorations had been jamming to in the van while on their latest tour, which they’ll close out by headlining a hometown hangout at Johnny Brenda’s this Friday, April 3. Pierce has named some intriguing playlist highlights, ranging from ambient (A Winged Victory for the Sullen) and neo-psychedelic (Spiritualized) to folk-rock (Steve Gunn) and more.

Pierce will also explain why the heck he was recently hanging with wolves at Howling Woods Farm in Jackson, NJ (pictured above). Continue reading →


Mile High House will host benefit show for Temple University’s Literary and Arts Magazine

Seoul Delhi
Seoul Delhi | photo via Facebook

Philly DIY space Mile High House is hosting a benefit show to raise money for Hyphen - Temple University’s Literary and Arts magazine. On April 10, DelCo indie punks Uncle/Father Oscar will be playing new jams off their recent split with Sister City. Other bands to check out on the bill are Temple / Drexel band Water Polo, jazzy alternative rockers Seoul Delhi, and Everything I Lack, who released their debut EP last month. The show starts at 8 and is $3; you can find more information about the benefit show on the Facebook event page. Continue reading →


XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Shut Up And Dance, Kids Corner Music Festival, Travel and Adventure Show, Wine Week–and spring!

unnamedMetropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) is in its 25th year of providing meals free of charge to folks with serious illnesses, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week.  How do they do it?  In part with a lot of volunteer help. And also with the great assistance of Pennsylvania Ballet dancers, who for the 23rd year are raising money for MANNA with a gala evening of short works of dance created in their spare time.  Shut Up & Dance Saturday at the Forrest Theater promises another dazzling performance with a pre-show cocktail reception and after show dance party, and it’s one of MANNA’s main sources of income.  XPN’s Michaela Majoun hosts.
Continue reading →


Predicting the fate of SXSW artists, one weird band name at a time

Yes, there's a band called How I Quit Crack, and they look like this, and they will probably get arrested at SXSW (so predicts XPN's Dan Reed) | photo via the artist's official Facebook page
Yes, there’s a band called How I Quit Crack, and they look like this, and they will probably get arrested at SXSW (so predicts XPN’s Dan Reed) | photo via the artist’s official Facebook page

No. I am not going to SXSW.

Just so you know what I’m talking about, SXSW is the South By Southwest Music Festival is a yearly event held in Austin, Texas. It’s the largest gathering of its’ kind, with over 2,000 artists performing in over 100 venues. It has grown exponentially over the years, and it now includes a film and interactive component as well. Over 20,000 registrants are expected this year.

But I’m not going.

This time of year, I get asked that question (“Hey, are you going to SXSW?”) about 50 times daily. It’s the “thing” to ask people if you are in the music promotion business, I guess.

But, no, I’m not going.

That being said, I almost wish I was going this year because THE DAMNED are playing, and I would like to see my punk heroes try to tear things up in their late 50′s.

I love to look at the names of the bands playing SXSW every year. A lot of them I know, but most of them are new bands, trying to get some kind of foothold and attention amongst the throng of thousands of would-be Bonos or Kanyes or GaGas navigating the dusty Austin streets.

Here is a list of my favorite band names playing SXSW shows this year, along with a brief description of what I think they should sound like (or how their SXSW experience will go), given their band name. If you are going to SXSW, please report back to me if you see any of the following groups. Thank you. Continue reading →