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The High Key Portrait Series: Brian LaPann

Brian LaPann | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | <a href=http://www.hellerhound.com/ target="_blank">hellerhound.com</a>
Brian LaPann | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com

Although New Jersey native Brian LaPann had enjoyed a modest following fronting Jersey-based blues-rock band 61 North, he says the draw of Philly’s music community compelled him to make the leap a few years back to set up shop near one of South Philly’s hottest neighborhoods, and to begin work with some of the local musicians whom he admired most. Here LaPann honed his skills as a lead guitarist, and considered a broader diversity of influence and instrumentation as he wrote, recorded and produced his latest EP.

This month saw the releases of a music video and the two singles above from LaPann, a long time coming for a singer who’s working earnestly toward the achievement and who seems to have long felt the draw of composing solo work. With a handful of local show dates on the horizon this Summer, LaPann looks forward to showing off “Can’t Stand Losing You,” and “Constantly Falling” to a hometown crowd. Continue reading →

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Why the heck was the Jim’s Steaks line singing Boyz II Men at 3 a.m.?

Jims Steaks crowd singing Boyz II Men | photo courtesy of Ernest Stuart
Jim’s Steaks crowd singing Boyz II Men | photo courtesy of Ernest Stuart | instagram.com/onlyernest

Well, there’s certainly an easy answer to the question I just posed: because it’s a freaking awesome song. Because it’s a timeless Philly classic. Because everybody of a certain age (read: 30+) knows it word-for-word, and many people in the much-younger and much-older demographics are nonetheless familiar, and can still follow along.

But more specifically, there’s the video as captured by Philly lounge/rock/theatrical impresario Johnny Showcase, which went viral on Facebook yesterday. Without a lot of context or commentary, it just shows the scene – a hungry crowd at 3 a.m. spontaneously breaking into song and belting out “End of the Road,” the multi-award-winning 1991 hit by Philly R&B heores Boyz II Men. Showcase concludes “this is why I love this city.” Continue reading →

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Listen to SoFAR Philly’s Carolyn Lederach on the 25 O’Clock Podcast

Carolyn Lederach
Carolyn Lederach | photo by C.J. Harvey | cjharveyart.com | courtesy of the artist

On the latest episode of the 25 O’Clock podcast, host Dan Drago shifts his sights from the scene to behind the scenes as he welcomes Carolyn Lederach to the show. Best known as curator of the mothly SoFAR Philly living room concert series, Lederach has also made a name for herself locally as a photographer, blogger and – more recently – an artist manager working with The Sun Flights and Josh Miller.

On the show, Lederach and Drago have a wide-ranging conversation. They discuss the nature of her shows and how it can be a more fulfilling experience to see an artist in a living room with 50 attentive people than in a club with 200 chatty, drunken people. Continue reading →

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Time Capsule: Miriam Devora of Queen of Jeans discusses the evolution of “Moody”

Queen of Jeans | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com
Queen of Jeans | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

In Time Capsule, we ask artists to revisit songs they may have forgotten: pieces they wrote, released, and packed away—until now. Each month, we’ll pick one band who will pick one song and tell us the story behind where they were and what they were thinking when they wrote it.

Last January, Queen of Jeans was born. I remember because around that time the long-standing Passyunk Avenue King of Jeans sign was rumored to be in danger of coming down. At first, I saw Queen of Jeans to be social media’s answer to the handful of people distraught about losing this icon—which featured a shirtless man in Springsteen-tight jeans, kissing a lady who’s passionately crouched down in front of him. But that was something different—a collaboration between street artist Kid Hazo and general Philly-loving t-shirt designers of South Fellini.

And at the same time that these jokers putting up signs insinuating that maybe it was time for ladies to rule the hood, a group of them were already working on it.

Queen of Jeans is also the name that songwriter Miriam Devora gave her then-brand-new project which included guitarist Matheson Glass, bassist Nina Scotto and drummer Patrick Wall. And yes, the group is from South Philly, but they’ve got a sweet and sour ‘60s surf style that couldn’t sound further removed from that part of town with its wiz-covered potholes, hoagie shops and sexed-up Greaser signage.

In this month’s edition of Time Capsule we spoke with Miriam, lead singer, guitarist and original conspirator behind Queen of Jeans.

Continue reading →

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The Electric Factory is the 16th best venue in the U.S., according to Consequence of Sound

The Electric Factory
The Districts on stage at The Electric Factory | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

After culling opinions from readers and artists, music blog Consequence of Sound today published its list of the 100 greatest venues in the United States – and Philly made the cut in a few ways.

The First Unitarian Church came in at #63, and Union Transfer made it to #34 – both venues cited in CoS’s poll of musicians earlier in the week. But coming in all the way up at #16 in the list is Callowhill’s long standing, 3000-cap Electric Factory – which is notably celebrating its 20th anniversary season this year. Continue reading →

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The War On Drugs’ Charlie Hall talks cocktails with Philly food and drink expert Drew Lazor

Charlie Hall | Photo by Dylan and Jeni | via Punch

The War On Drugs took over the world two years ago with their insanely great Lost In The Dream record and a lengthy tour, but they’ve been relatively quiet recently (minus the also insanely great Grateful Dead cover that was released last month.) During his own personal downtime, TWOD drummer Charlie Hall sat down with Punch‘s Drew Lazor to talk about booze, touring, music, and more booze. Continue reading →

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Inspired by Prince: Philly artist Dewey Saunders’ striking new visual tribute

Illustration by Dewey Saunders |
Prince | illustration by Dewey Saunders | courtesy of the artist

You may have seen his work on music blogs and websites, posters for concerts, and yes, that’s his design work on the recent album cover for one of the best albums of 2016 so far, Anderson .Paak’s Malibu. Dewey Saunders is a Philadelphia based visual artist and designer, who also – under the name Dewey Decibel – is a rapper. Continue reading →

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Listen to Bob Marley perform live at The Tower Theater way back in April of 1976

April is an unpredictable time of year – one that can bring sunshine and pastoral days as readily as storms and flooding. And sometimes, per the late great Prince, snow. As I write this, I look outside the WXPN office window and the skyline is grey and filled with drizzling clouds, and I wish in the back of my mind that the climate wasn’t such a bummer today. Thank goodness for music; particularly summer-y music; particularly Bob MarleyContinue reading →

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Five Philly bands that made Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. want to make music

Into It. Over It.
Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. | photo by Cameron Witting | courtesy of the artist

Over the past several years, Chicago indie rocker Evan Weiss has made a solid name for himself with the emo-tinged outfit Into It. Over It. The band tours relentlessly – a current run of dates is under way in support of Standards, its excellent third LP – and it has amassed a devoted fan base across the country and internationally. But before he planted roots in the midwest, Weiss grew up locally, finding inspiration in the regional music community from his Cherry Hill, NJ vantage point and playing in The Progress.

This Sunday night, II.OI. returns to Weiss’ old stomping grounds to headline the famed TLA on South Street with The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, The Sidekicks and Pinegrove. Ahead of the show, I asked Weiss to reflect on the music from the Philly region that inspired him. Here’s what he had to say. Continue reading →

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Questlove on Prince: Remembering a Legend and his Influence

Questlove | Photo by John Vettese
Questlove | Photo by John Vettese

Over the years, Questlove has often been outspoken and vocal of his love for Prince. Thoughout Mo’ Meta Blues, his biography that was released in 2013, The Roots’ drummer told various stories about His Royal Badness, from hiding his copies of Controversy and 1999 under his bed from his father, to watching him roller skate around a party at his house on Valentine’s Day. That’s why, after the news of Prince’s unexpected death, these stories became all the more heartfelt. Continue reading →