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Frances Quinlan of Hop Along, Cat Park of Amanda X will show artwork at Rocket Cat tomorrow

This spring, two notable things occurred in the Philly music circles of Instagram. First, Cat Park – the singer-guitarist of power trio Amanda X – began more actively posting her visual art in the mix along with her slice-of-band-life photos. A couple weeks after that, Frances Quinlan of Hop Along started an Instagram for her sketches from the tour van.

Given that both women have a background in visual art before turning to music, it was exciting to get a look at this lesser-seen side of their creative work — a return to their roots as it were. It also provided an interesting contrast of their styles, Quinlan’s sketches leaning more classic and naturalistic with a touch of impressionism, Park’s work carrying a strong modern flare. Tomorrow night, we’ll get to see their work side by side during an art opening at Fishtown’s Rocket Cat Cafe. Continue reading →

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Ubiquitous Philadelphia videographer Bob Sweeney guests on the latest episode of 25 O’Clock

@sweeneybob recording #CoverClub

A photo posted by RDITS (@rootdownintheshadow) on

I can’t even begin to guess the number of times Bob Sweeney’s videos have appeared in the pages of The Key. Dude has worked with a remarkable range of Philadelphia artists, from Moor Mother to Nik GreeleyThe Bul Bey to The LawsuitsZilla Rocca to Queen of Jeans and more.

Bob is the guest on the latest episode of the 25 O’ Clock Podcast, and he gets in a long and wide-ranging conversation with host Dan Drago about the hustle for video work, coming of age to 90s independent cinema, the trappings of nostalgia (“it’s okay as long as you don’t live in it”) and embracing one’s roots in small town America (in Bob’s case, Scranton; in Dan’s case, Rochester). Continue reading →

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DJ By Night, Educator By Day: Getting to know James Sauppe’s MontCo Music

James Sauppe at a MontCo Music workshop | courtesy of the artist
James Sauppe at a MontCo Music workshop | courtesy of the artist

James Sauppe is known by many in the city’s underground electronic dance music scene as the genre-challenging DJ / producer RVLVR. During the day, Sauppe applies his knowledge of electronic music as a teacher. As a professor of Music Technology at Community College of Philadelphia, Sauppe uses state-of-the-art music software to guide students through the intricacies of modern music making. He also takes on private students, teaching drumming and music production. Throughout it all, education remains at the center of Sauppe’s creative life.

In February of this year, after coming down with severe flu-like symptoms, Sauppe was diagnosed with diverticulitis, a digestive disease which causes inflammation in the digestive tract. After extended hospitalization, several intensive abdominal surgeries, Sauppe found himself in a tough financial spot. In response to this unfortunate turn of events, Sauppe’s students, friends and family rallied to his aid. “My students started a GoFundMe page for me and raised quite a bit of money to help with medical expenses and lost income. Some of them even continued to pay for monthly lessons, even though they knew they wouldn’t receive them. It was amazing how they came together for me and I’m eternally grateful.” Sauppe says.

It was this act of deep compassion from the community around him that not only provided him with the material support required to get back on his feet, it also inspired his next endeavor, one that would help him continue his mission of spreading music through education. Stated simply: “Their generosity and concern inspired the idea for MontCo Music.” Continue reading →

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Current Mood: Minor Threat live at Camden, NJ’s Buff Hall, 11/20/82

Minor Threat in Camden | still from video
Minor Threat in Camden | still from video

I’ve been listening to a lot of punk lately. I mean, I listen to a fair amount of punk in general, but it’s felt especially apt in light of the general malaise that’s circulated in my circle of acquaintances, friends and family since November 9th or so. As with music in general, punk can fill any number of roles in our lives — at its most basic level, it can be a means of channeling aggression and discontent into sonic catharsis. But the best punk serves as a vehicle for education and inspiration. Few bands embodied this more than short-lived, wildly influential D.C. heroes Minor Threat, and 34 years ago today, they played a local show at Buff Hall in Camden, NJ. Continue reading →

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Tour Fishtown with Creepoid in new Sounds Local video

Creepoid
Creepoid | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Creepoid represented Philadelphia in a new visual series from MapQuest called Sounds Local, which followed six bands around their hometowns for a tour of their favorite spots. The psych-y grunge rockers hit many of the big Fishtown spots in the clip, sharing their favorite places to relax, eat, and catch some local music.

Continue reading →

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Inside opening weekend at Philly’s Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship

At the IHHE's inaugural session | photo by John Morrison for WXPN
At the IHHE’s inaugural session | photo by John Morrison for WXPN

Early Sunday morning, two dozen young creatives and aspiring entrepreneurs are gathered at Center City’s Pipeline coworking space, with a 15th floor view from the Graham Building overlooking a clear and crisp view of the Philly skyline.

At a glance, the room is like any other working space: boxes of coffee and bagels, half empty plastic bottles of water placed throughout the room, folks typing away at their Macbooks. But the energy is different today.

The facilitators of today’s session —  poet Erica Hawthorne-Manon and Dr. Bruce Campbell Jr. (aka DJ Junior) — are speaking to the group, which ranges in age from 19 to about 35, about the fundamentals of listening and conversing with others in a business / networking environment. The conversation is loose but intentional, the questions and observations coming from the group are probing and insightful.

This session marks the end of the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship’s inaugural weekend. A recipient of The Knight Foundation’s Cities Change grant, IHHE is a unique business school for creative entrepreneurs of the hip-hop generation. Over the course of a nine month period, the program will include a series of lectures, projects as well as Q&As with artists as well as music and business luminaries across disciplines. Continue reading →

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Strength in Unity: Philly’s Kathia Woods on her first Women In Hip-Hop conference

Kathia Woods and DJ Damage
Kathia Woods and DJ Damage | courtesy of the artist

Kathia Woods is problem solver.

With her current work organizing events and managing area hip-hop artists as founder and head of Dimas Events and Consulting, Woods is a passionate advocate for up-and-coming artists in particular and Philly’s hip-hop in general. When asked her opinion on the state of Philadelphia’s hip-hop scene, she offers a no-holds-barred critique that cuts across genre lines into the the heart of a problem that holds so much Philly-based musical talent from achieving nationwide success.

“First, we have amazing talent. Always have,” she says. “The thing that hurts us is a lack of infrastructure and lack of unity. We have old dudes that have been in the chair too long and young folks that have a sense of entitlement, which is recipe for disaster. No middle ground. But the talent is stellar.”

A decades-long veteran of Philly’s music biz, Woods got her start on the Campus of Temple University “throwing parties and through the student union and helping with other events by handing out flyers and such.”

After spending her formative years working in multiple aspects of the music business, Woods’ present focus is on creating platforms for the education and empowerment of the city’s young creatives, especially its young women. Recognizing this need to position Philly’s women musicians, DJs and future executives for success, Woods has launched Women in Hip Hop, a day-long conference of sorts whose expressed mission is to build connections between women in the music business. Continue reading →