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The Skeleton Key: Moor Mother exhibition, Bowerbird series, Two Piece Fest XI, and more new music than you can shake a greased pole at.

Slutever plays Two Piece Fest in 2013 | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

While the post-Superbowl riot might be the DIY event of the season, there’s a lot more going on this month than just a bunch of greased poles on Broad Street

Hi! Welcome to the second edition of The Skeleton Key, your friendly neighborhood gossip column just fighting the good fight against mediocrity and boredom. While we might (still) be in the middle of winter, warm weather –  and with it, touring season –  is on the horizon. I promise!

There was no better reminder of that than the recent announcement by R5 that Lighting Bolt and Moor Mother would be playing the First Unitarian Church at the end of March. While Lighting Bolt could sell out the Church all on their own, the fact that the good people at R5 are having Moor Mother open makes for a truly amazing and electric night. Which is to say: I really hope you got tickets because it sold out almost immediately. Continue reading →

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Throwback Thursday: Remembering the time that the Philadelphia Eagles recorded a rap song

Randall Cunningham, Mike Quick, and Reggie White (L-R) in the studio | photo by George Widman for the Associated Press | via Philly Voice

As the Philadelphia Eagles head to the Super Bowl this Sunday night, it seems as appropriate a time as ever to flash back to a rare intersection of local football and local music. And no, it doesn’t involve former Eagle Connor Barwin.

“Buddy’s Watchin’ You” was a single produced by the late Philly legend Bunny Sigler and co-written with Eugene “LambChop” Curry, featuring the lineup of the Eagles trading rhymes, cypher-style, in a very late-80s take on pop-crossover hip-hop. This isn’t the blown-out boomboxes of Run D.M.C. or the slick cuts of Erik B and Rakim, it’s more akin to a midtempo jam infused with a touch of Philly soul on the chorus thanks to vocalists Songi Newman and Kia Hughes — and Bunny, no doubt. Imagine the hits from Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel (or Warren G.’s “Regulate,” done several years early) but not as polished, and with lyrics centered solely on the specific things football players do on the field, delivered in varying degrees of quality.

Which, that’s not to totally knock this gem. I kind of love listening to it, it takes me back to school bus rides in the fall and winter of 1988 with Q102 or Eagle 106 on the radio; the hook, with its reference to coach Buddy Ryan, goes on for days. The song was recorded on November 15, 1988, at Kajem Victory Studios; it reportedly was a charity single, but the details on what charity it benefited seem to be lost to the annals of time.  Continue reading →

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From the Uptown to The Spectrum, take a musical tour of Broad Street

Spectrum
The Spectrum in South Philadelphia, circa 1969 | photo by Michael J. Maicher | courtesy of the Temple University Urban Archives | digital.library.temple.edu

There’s a joke from comedian W.C. Fields that goes like this: “First prize was a week in Philadelphia. Second prize was two weeks.” Fields, who was born in the suburbs of our beloved city in the 1880s, knew its reputation for entertainment was, at the time, laughable. If you were a person in his audience, a person who paid money to be entertained, Philadelphia just wasn’t your bag. Even today, it’s likely you’ve had a conversation with an out-of-town friend that started or ended with them asking, “What’s there to do in Philly, anyway?”

We know there’s a lot. Specifically in music, with the come up of large venues like Union Transfer and The Fillmore, we’re getting less slack for being a flatline between New York and D.C. or Baltimore. Still, despite our scene — rich to us right now  — we’re kind of destined to forget the scene that came before us, or the one before that. It’s not our fault, it’s that these historic, exciting, tragic, romantic, piss-stained buildings, banquet halls and flophouses eventually close down. They disappear, and when they do, there’s no one really touting their memory.

Following the recent buzz around 858 N. Broad, a hulking figure in North Philly that was built in 1908 as The Metropolitan Opera House and recently purchased by Divine Lorraine developer Eric Blumenfeld for future renovation, we decided to play a game of Broad street memory lane. Read about some of the special places lodged in the history of the 14th Street music scene below. Continue reading →

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Introducing The Skeleton Key: Our new DIY scene gossip column covering Bowie donuts to a Dead Moon tribute this month

via dischord.com

Philadelphia is a really huge city. Like, absolutely massive. Next time you have the chance to fly into or out of PHL, take a good long look out the window: it really is the sixth largest city in the country, and that’s not even counting what’s referred to as the Greater Philadelphia Area AKA the ‘burbs and South Jersey. For most people, the city is limited geographically to where you live, where you work or go to school, and maybe some other landmarks around town. There are plenty of people who rarely find themselves in Center City and others who have never stepped foot in the suburbs.

As the place for Philadelphia music news, The Key strives to reach all citizens of our great city, no matter where they live. To that end, we present our newest column, The Skeleton Key. Our aim with this is not just to supply all of you with the latest news and rumors about everything going on in the city but also to better promote some of the bands that might be a bit more under the radar.

Before I move on to this month’s edition, a quick bit of housekeeping: I want to make sure that it’s quite clear that the idea for this is very much in homage to – that’s the nice way of saying ripping off, right? – the great work my fellow Key contributor A.D. Amorosi did for more than two decades at The City Paper, specifically the regular column he wrote called The Icepack. Also, a quick bit about me! I am a music journalist and photographer, a college radio DJ at WKDU 91.7FM, and someone who has been going to shows for way too long. I’ve also started booking bands over the past few years, which is both wonderfully rewarding and the biggest pain in the ass known to man.

Here are some of the topics this column will cover: upcoming shows, news about bands going into the studio or putting out albums, promotion of other bits of music journalism you might have missed, talk about old bands, rumors about new ones, and everything in between. If you want to send in some HOT TIPS or COOL RUMORS – I know you do! – you can reach me via e-mail or find me on Twitter at @talkofthetizzy. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes’ five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly

The author, pondering her coastal allegiance | illustration by Sarah Hughes

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes shares how Los Angeles began to remind her of Philly this year.

It’s official, folks — I am a Los Angeles veteran these days and there is no denying it. After a solid two and a half years over in La La Land, I can say that I have become accustomed to the California ways of life. Avocado toast here, rooftop cocktails there; it’s all become part of my everyday. I barely even notice palm trees these days!

So as I’ve continued living in this flashy city, I’ve stumbled upon a handful of locations this past year that I believe, deep down, are Philadelphia. Sure, perhaps they’re technically located in Los Angeles, but whether it be the down-to-earth vibes or the DIY mentality, there is certainly some Philly in this city. These are my top five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Koof Ibi Umoren’s favorite non-traditional venues of 2017

Under the Greys Ferry Bridge | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Koof Ibi Umoren (who plays trumpet with West Philadelphia Orchestra, Little Strike and a host of others) shares Philly’s best non-traditional venues to perform at in 2017.

Traditional music venues need musicians and beer in order to successful. This year has proven that musicians need beer, but not necessarily the traditional music venues. A musician can spend a lot of time performing in Philadelphia without setting foot on a traditional stage. If you’re smart and you chose an acoustic instrument in elementary school, and didn’t give it up for a cooler electronic instrument in college, then the world is literally your stage This year I’ve had the pleasure of playing and attending shows at some very interesting Philadelphia “venues,” and here’s a recap of some of my favorites. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Brendan Menapace’s favorite concert moments of 2017

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Brendan Menapace reflects on his concert highlights.

We are spoiled when it comes to the amount of good shows that happen in Philadelphia. Every night of the week there’s something going on. So, needless to say, I’ve been to a handful of shows this year. I won’t recount what my favorite shows of the year were per se, but I do have a few specific memories from the shows that stand out to me as the year comes to a close. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes’ best album artwork of 2017

St. Vincent’s Masseduction

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes reflects on the year’s most eye-catching album covers.

Album art seems to be slowly creeping into the background of the music industry, especially with the digital realm taking over; it’s easy to dismiss an artist’s album cover when it is merely displayed in a small profile icon on an internet page. However, artists still jump at the chance to carry home their musical thoughts with engaging visuals and 2017 definitely did not disappoint. Filled with lush colors, vibrant concepts and eye-popping aesthetics, this year produced some of the finest work yet. After combing through the best of 2017, I’ve selected 5 of my favorite album covers this year. Continue reading →