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Listen to Questlove chat with Philly music icon James Mtume in his Questlove Supreme podcast

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For the last year, Roots drummer and musical history buff, Questlove, has been presenting his podcast Questlove Supreme on Pandora. The weekly show features musical legends telling their stories about the industry and creative process. For the past two weeks, QLS has featured South Philadelphia-born multi-instrumentalist and producer James Mtume.

Two episodes are not nearly enough to cover his eventful life and career but the Questlove Supreme team do their best to get it all in. Philly native Mtume was first known for being Miles Davis’ percussionist during his more experimental years in the mid-70s. He then began working with fellow Davis sideman Reggie Lucas on more conventional music and the two wrote “The Closer I Get To You,” for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. Despite doubts by Flack’s label, the song was not only included on her 1977 album Blue Lights in the Basement, but it became a huge hit single. Continue reading →

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Philly punk faves The Dead Milkmen have returned with an eclectic new charity record via The Giving Groove

The Dead Milkmen
The Dead Milkmen | Photo by Morgan Smith for WXPN | phobymo.com

Since the the mid 80s Philly’s Dead Milkmen have purveyors of punk rock and pop mixed with biting satire. Today, they have released a new EP called Welcome To The End of The World through the charity label The Giving Groove. The six-song EP contains a mix of styles; oddball arrangements and bass-heavy grooves, songs about Swedish ghosts and the pitfalls of falling in love too easily.

In collaboration with the Giving Groove, the Milkmen will give half of all the album proceeds from Welcome To The End of The World to Girls Rock Philly. The band also announced a remix contest where fans can go to town on the stems from “Brutalist Beat,” with the winner receiving a TASCAM Track Factory recording system, DP-006 digital recorder, TH-MX2 studio headphones, custom FM synth patches created by Rodney Anonymous, signed test pressings, t-shirts, and more. Continue reading →

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Listen to Connor Barwin talk about The War on Drugs and his Make The World Better Foundation on XPN Local

connor barwin
Connor Barwin at a MTWB concert | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman

On Thursday, September 21st, the fourth annual Make The World Better Benefit Concert comes to The Dell Music Center, headlined by Philly psych rock heroes The War on Drugs playing their first hometown show in two and a half years.

On this segment from the WXPN Local Show this week, former Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin — currently outside linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams — gave us a call to talk about the organization, its mission and vision, and how excited he is about The War on Drugs and their new album A Deeper Understanding. Listen to the segment below; tickets are still available for the concert, more information can be found  here. Continue reading →

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Today in Radio History: Listen to the legendary WIBG’s final broadcast sign off


If you grew up during the glorious days of AM radio in Philly in the 50s and 60s, there were four AM radio stations that you probably listened to for music. For R&B and soul music, you could listen to the incredible WDAS and WHAT. For rock and pop, one option was Famous 56, WFIL. The other was “Wibbage,” WIBG, located at 990 on the AM dial.

These two pop radio behemoths ruled the airwaves during the Sixties. Both stations were very personality-driven, with larger-than-life DJs who played the Top 40 smash hits of the moment, and depending on your favorite boss jock, you were either glued to 560 or 990 AM.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the final hour of WIBG, hosted by two of the greatest DJs ever – Hy Lit and Joe Niagara – who signed off for the last time on September 10, 1977. Continue reading →

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Yalla Habibi! Philadelphia’s first ever Middle Eastern punk festival, YallaPunk, starts tonight

Puzzlehead
Vancouver’s Puzzlehead plays The Barbary during YallaPunk | photo courtesy of the artist

“YallaPunk is a direct response to negative depictions of populations of Middle Eastern and North African descent in mainstream media. This event is meant to highlight creative accomplishments of MENA individuals and serve as a safe space forum for discourse about social issues. The idea is to celebrate music, art, film and other cultural artifacts created by this particular population in an intersectional and inclusive space free from sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, and bigotry.” – From YallaPunk.com

Even though this is the inaugural YallaPunk, the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) punk festival happening this weekend at various venues including Johnny Brenda’s and The Barbary, its roots stretch back more than 16 years to Blacksburg, Virginia. Festival organizer Rana Fayez grew up there, a young Arab-American immigrant trying to adjust to a new country. She had been in the United States for just a year when September 11th happened and everything changed.

After a particularly bad altercation with some older classmates who accused her of being complicit with the attacks, “… I thought ever since that people think I’m violent now, people think I’m not a good person. I felt very separated from my peers. I felt very isolated.” She soon found a home in her local punk scene. As she explained, “[Punk] gave me the guts to say: ‘I am who I want to be, not who you tell me to be.’”

Punk wasn’t just loud, angry music and a feeling of rebellion, though that was all very important. According to Fayez, “It was liberating. It was free. Punk rock shows were a sanctuary for me because I could exist [there] and a lot of my friends really accepted me.” Continue reading →

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Four Questions with Jarrett Zerrer of Nuono Vintage, Northwest Philly’s latest haven for vinyl and a lot more

Nuono Vintage warehouse | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

When we first met Philly’s Jarrett Zerrer, he was playing guitar in Philly-based electro-rock bands like Dokument and City Rain. These days, he’s put the axe down and picked up a knack for all things vintage — clothes, books, and especially classic vinyl. Working with family members, Zerrer co-operates Nuono Vintage, an online retailer based in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy neighborhood, in the cavernous back room of the Sedgwick Theater.

If this was 1921, that room would be filled with velvety seats and an audience watching a vaudeville production — it’s where the Sedgwick’s original stage sat, and a massive decorative skylight and ornate architectural trim still line the roof. Today, though, it’s six-foot-high stacks of boxes, lined in a maze-like array that looks befuddling to me as a visitor, but which makes perfect sense to Zerrer.

Nuono Vintage has been in this space for a little bit over a year, buying collections (and taking donations) as well as making sales via online avenues, promoting on social media — they’ve got a great Instagram — and occasionally venturing out into the real world, like they will this weekend for a sidewalk sale on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. We paid a visit to Nuono Vintage to see what treasures lied within and get Zerrer’s story on unearthing the past. Continue reading →

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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 →

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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 →