West Philly’s new Common Beat Music is ready for business

Carlo Frese and Keri Girmindl of Common Beat Music | photo by Yoni Kroll for WXPN

Last August 19th, Carlo Frese’s up-and-coming electronics and instrument repair workshop burned down in a house fire. He lost all of his guitars and amps, everything he was working on, even his tools. Nobody was hurt, but so much was destroyed. Today, almost exactly a year later, Frese and his partner Keri Girmindl are celebrating the opening of Common Beat Music, their store and repair shop at 49th and Baltimore Avenue.

Very much a catch-all music store, Common Beat will sell records, stereo equipment, instruments, and musical gear, as well as t-shirts and other related ephemera. The repair side of things will be just as wide in scope, Frese told The Key: “I’ll work on whatever. If it plugs in the wall and makes a noise, I’ve worked on it.” That assertive, no BS attitude informs a lot of the philosophy Frese and Girmindl have when it comes to running the shop, which is housed in the former location of Marvelous Music. That business closed in mid-July after 14 years first on 40th St. and then on Baltimore. Continue reading →


Thousands of dollars of gear stolen from Tutlie’s rehearsal space

Blonde Premier with Les Paul body, stolen from Tutlie. Photo from facebook.

Usually, when Philadelphia’s Tutlie shows up on The Key, you can expect to read about the indie folk-pop group’s impressive harmonies, their ethereal sweeping soundscapes, new music and shows, the like. That’s enjoyable reading and writing, good news about good people in good bands. Yesterday, though, Tutlie posted on their Facebook page that they came back to their rehearsal space to find that thousands of dollars worth of gear had been stolen. A loss of this magnitude is a major setback for any band, and especially for a young independent band such as Tutlie. Continue reading →


Introducing the Inaugural Gene Shay Folk DJ Scholarship

Gene Shay, retired host of The Folk Show

Two years after his final show with WXPN ended, folk music legend Gene Shay’s long and storied career as one of Philadelphia’s legendary radio personalities and the “Dean of Folk DJs”, continues to support the next generation of radio and folk industry broadcasters through his legacy. After the outpouring of camaraderie around the on-air tribute to Gene Shay on his last broadcast show on WXPN on February 1, 2015, Rich Warren (WFMT Radio / Chicago) and John Platt (WFUV / NYC) suggested the spirit be kept alive. In 2016 they met with Biff Kennedy (Charterhouse Music Group / Philadelphia, PA) and came up with a way to do just that – and have now presented the inaugural Gene Shay Folk DJ Scholarship, which will provide financial support for one new folk DJ to attend the Folk Alliance International Conference and more, every year. Continue reading →


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 →