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Disc Makers: Back in the vinyl business after 15 years

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According to this blog post, Disc Makers, whose main offices are in Pennsauken, New Jersey, are back in the vinyl business after 15 years. This past Thursday, Disc Makers’ CEO Tony van Veen wrote in a blog post on their site:

As of this week, Disc Makers is back selling vinyl record pressing services to independent artists. The rise of vinyl is one of the most improbable stories of the past several years, but it’s real. For each of the past five years, we’ve contemplated whether to get back into the vinyl biz. Every year we thought it was a passing fad. But now, after five years of 35% annual vinyl record sales growth (every year), we’re back to being believers!

Whether it’s nostalgia, or hipsters, or that warm analog sound, vinyl is back with a vengeance! And I think it’s here to stay for a while. So now those old Hamilton presses are cranking again. I can smell that unmistakable smell again, and I experience the tactile, pleasurable feel of sliding that beautiful 12” disc out of its protective paper sleeve.

Returning to the manufacturing equipment the company sold off two decades ago, Disc Makers is now offering high-quality 7 and 12 inch vinyl records in various colors, two different weights, and a variety of record jacket packaging. “It’s not back to the future from our perspective; it’s forward to the past,” says van Veen.

For more of the story, check out the video below.

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Read Dean Ween’s hilarious story about stealing Carlos Santana’s gear for a night

photo via facebook.com/deanweengroup

Okay, so this is something you simply couldn’t make up if you tried. You know the guitar solo from the Ween song “Transdermal Celebration”? That one single from the quebec album? That was recorded with Carlos Santana’s gear without him knowing.  

According to a in a (grammatically questionable) post on Facebook this week, Dean Ween told his “favorite Ween story of all time”: how his roadie at the time also just happened to work for a backline company (those are essentially companies that will supply or help transport a band’s gear to their concerts for them) and tipped him off that Ween’s shipping company would have Carlos Santana’s gear in transit at his backline company’s storage facility.  As a result, Ween decided to break in to the facility at 2 in the morning and record the solo to “Transdermal Celebration.” — the very take that appears on the album — through Carlos Santana’s PRS and Mesa Boogie amp.

“What needed to be done was immediately clear to me, I had an opportunity to play the solo on “Transdermal Celebration” through Carlos Santana’s amplifier and guitar. I had one shot at it, it meant taking a hard disk recorder to a storage space where all of Carlos’ stuff was sitting in transit. I arrived at 2am. We (very carefully) unpacked his equipment and set up his stage gear and in one take I recorded the guitar solo for “Transdermal Celebration” (the one that appears on the album, playing thru Carlos Santana’s guitar, pedalboard, and amplifier. The whole think took 10 minutes and we were terrified we were going to get caught. A lot of people would have lost their jobs. We got the fuck outta there relly fast after that. So the solo on “Transdermal Celebration” was played thru all of Sanatana’s shit in what resembled an early morning bank heist or something”

Check out the whole story, which is backed up with photographic evidence on Dean Ween Group’s Facebook page here.

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Two of Philly’s best AM radio station airchecks in one

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From the late Fifties through the late Seventies in Philly, two AM radio stations that were a large part of our radio listening were WFIL (Famous 56) and WIBG (Wibbage). Over the years, both stations had legendary DJ’s; WFIL had George Michael, Long John Wade, Diamond Jim Nettleton, Jay Cook, Dave Parks, Dr. Don Rose, Jim O’Brien, Banana Joe, Brother Lee Love, and other greats. WIBG (99AM) had Hyski (Hy Lit), Joe Niagara (The Rockin’ Bird), Jerry Stevens, Frank X. Feller, Don Cannon, and John “Records” Landecker. We were enamored by these “Boss Jocks” who captured our imaginations with the “Pop Music Explosion.” We loved their station jingles, their overly reverbed microphone processing, the “Million Dollar Weekend” giveaways, their “Beat The Bomb” contests, their “hitline requests.” There are many air checks on the internet of these stations, but one of the best we recently stumbled upon is a combined WFIL and WIBG that also includes a segment of when WIBG went off the air and “died.” It’s a classic piece of radio history.

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For our 10,000th post, here are the 10 most popular Key posts of all time

ballinoatesToday, we hit a pretty staggering milestone here on The Key: our 10,000th post, which you’re looking at right now. It’s pretty crazy to think when we launched this Philly music scene blog back in September of 2010 that it would hit this volume of events covered, bands recorded, stories told, music shared, and general thoughts and words surrounding our thriving music community – both the artists that call Philly home and the artists that stop through our city on tour. To everybody who’s been with us the whole time: thank you for reading, for sharing, for commenting and generally supporting what we do around here. For those who are new to The Key: welcome! And we hope to have you around for the next 10,000.

In the spirit of looking back and taking stock, we’ve rounded up our ten most popular posts of all time, per Google Analytics, and it’s a really interesting cross section of what we’re all about here at The Key. Mainstream and underground. Legacy artists and newcomers. A spectrum of genres. And moments that whether funny, frustrating or nostalgic, capture the imaginative musical spirit that’s alive and well in the Philadelphia region. Read the list below, and again, thank you for being here. Continue reading →


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Chubby Checker: “I want to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!”

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He introduced us to dances like “The Hucklebuck,” “The Fly,” the “Dance the Mess Around,” “Pony Time,” and “Limbo Rock,” but none were as popular or as culturally transformative as “The Twist.” And now, Chubby Checker, the singer who invented the worldwide dance sensation “The Twist” in the Sixties wants to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Carucci of the Associated Press reports:

“I don’t want to get in there when I’m 85-years old. I’ll tell them to drop dead, so you better do it quick while I’m still smiling,” Checker said on Thursday. The 72-year old recording artist equates a place in the Cleveland, Ohio-based hall to the ability to sustain his career. “If you put me in when I’m too old to make a living, then it’s no good for me to be in there.”

He added: “The Rolling Stones, they’re in there. The Beastie Boys are in there, they’re young. Hall and Oates were just in there and they’re still making money.”

He made the comments on the red carpet for the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in New York where Checker performed “Let’s Twist Again” for the ASCAP Centennial celebration.

According to the AP, “at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April, Daryl Hall mentioned that Hall and Oates was the first Philadelphia-based band to be inducted. And after mentioning Chubby Checker, he responded: “Why isn’t he in?” And he’s not alone. Before going into the ceremony, legendary songwriter Kenny Gamble — of the songwriting team Gamble and Huff — said he feels Checker is long overdue. “I think Chubby Checker should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s the only person I know to have the same song go to No. 1 twice.”

While Checker did popularize the dance associated with the song, it was written by R&B singer Hank Ballard and was originally released in 1959 as a B-side to Hank Ballard & The Midnighters’ “Teardrops On Your Letter” single. Checker released his version of it in June, 1960 and it became a Number One Billboard hit song. He followed it with “Let’s Twist Again,” a year later. While it only reached Number Eight on the Billboard Charts, Checker did receive a Grammy Award for “Best Rock & Roll Recording” for it in 1962. And hey – let us not forget The Fat Boys’ attempt at cashing in on the dance craze – rap style – with an appearance from Checker in their cover of it.

Let’s get Chubby into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Listen to Philly hip-hop duo Wiggz and Wooten’s “Until Nightfall”, see them at World Cafe Live on 7/6

Photo via Broad Street Music Group

On July 6th, Philadelphia-based rappers Wiggz and Wooten will headline a show titled “Local Love” at World Cafe Live.  The show will double as a release party for their new single “Until Nightfall”, as well as a debut for their new Local Love music campaign.  Wiggz and Wooten are part of a production company called HomeGrownPhilly, whose goal is to expose local artists to the Philly community.  “Local Love” will feature other performances by Scott C, Pike Blvd, Aries, DayDreamGang, Cain Kerner, Pauly Dinero, Jay Levita and Trel Mack.  The show will be a great opportunity to support the Philly hip-hop scene and discover upcoming artists.  Tickets are $10. Watch “Until Nightfall” below”

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Celebrating African-American and LGBT pride, art in the open air, children’s film and so much more!

4718994_orig[1]Sunday the Odunde Festival celebrates its 39th anniversary as one of the largest African American street festivals in the country, filling 12 blocks of South Street with music, dance, authentic African, Brazilian and Caribbean wares and food. There’s a unique procession to the Schulykill River to offer fruit and flowers to the Yoruba river goddess Oshun on what promises to be a stellar day, sunny with a high of 80.  All are welcome!

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Image courtesy of the Philadelphia International Children’s Film Festival
The second annual Philadelphia International Children’s Film Festival is all weekend at the PFS Theater at the Roxy in Center City.  The Philadelphia Film Society has partnered with the New York International Film Festival, one of the longest running and most acclaimed children’s film festivals, to present animated, live action and experimental features and shorts from around the world, and some Q&A’s with filmmakers, to open children’s minds to the breadth and variety of films created for them.

The one and only Village People headline the music at the 26th annual Philadelphia Pride Festival Pride Day Sunday, capping off a weekend of LGBT activities.  There’s a parade, of course, starting at noon from 13th and Locust to Penns Landing, and for the first time ever, under Pennsylvania’s new law, same sex couples will marry at Independence Mall during the parade.  Philadelphia’s emcee extraordinaire Henri David hosts the entertainment at Penns Landing which also features the terrific trio BETTY and a boy band of classically trained musicians called Well Strung (!) who play and sing music from Mozart to Lady Gaga.

Philadelphia’s remarkable repository of public art grows bigger on Friday when the Association for Public Art celebrates the installation of a massive new work called Symbiosis on the Ben Franklin Parkway.  The sculpture by New York based artist Roxy Paine is on loan for a year.  It depicts one of the most powerful images from nature, a tree, composed of industrial materials — stainless steel pipe, plate and rods — which have been fashioned into an organic looking form.  The artist has been working all week to put the sculpture in place for its first public display ever and will speak at a free public reception from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the installation site.

And there’s much more… Continue reading →

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20 Philadelphia concerts you should go to if you ever invent a time machine

Led Zeppelin onstage at The Spectrum in 1970 | Photo via ledzeppelin.com
Led Zeppelin onstage at The Spectrum in 1970 | Photo via ledzeppelin.com

Every music fan has their own personal list of all-time favorite concerts. But imagine if you were old enough to experience a legendary rock and roll act like Chuck Berry in his prime, while in the same breath catching emerging bands like The Black Keys and Nirvana before they got huge. It’s pretty likely you never got to do either of these things. But there is one hypothetically feasible way to make it happen: invent a time machine. So let’s pretend for a minute this doable – here’s what I’d go back in time to see.

1. Led Zeppelin – March 31, 1970 at The Spectrum

The earlier you saw Led Zeppelin the better. Towards the middle of the 70s, Jimmy Page’s heroin addiction affected his onstage presence, and Robert Plant’s voice became noticeably strained. There’s a phenomenal video, which you can find on YouTube, of Led Zeppelin playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London from the same year, which features my personal favorite versions of “Communication Breakdown,” “Bring It On Home,” “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” and “How Many More Times.” The grainy video (which also features Page doing the seemingly impossible: making a sweater vest look cool) isn’t all that clear, but the sound is great and that’s really all that matters. It’s likely you would’ve gotten the same mind blowing performance in Philly (check out this vintage review by longtime Philly journo Clark De Leon).

2. The Strokes – October 9, 2003 at Tower Theater

Julian Casablancas’ voice in the early 00s was a thing of beauty. He had the perfect Jim Morrison-esque rock and roll growl, and is probably one of the most overlooked singers in rock history during his prime. Although, I’m a huge fan of The Strokes’s later stuff as well, there’s no denying their first two albums were two of the best rock albums in the early aughties – a time that was otherwise riddled with awful rock bands like Nickelback and Breaking Benjamin.

3. Oasis – October 23, 1994 at J.C. Dobbs

This was the first time Oasis ever played in Philly and also their first ever American tour. Around this time, tensions between Noel and Liam Gallagher had yet to reach the point of totally hating each other’s guts. Also, due to a randomly placed wall on J.C. Dobbs’ stage, this show was rumored to be the only time Noel played on the left side of the stage.

4. The Who – October 19, 1969 at The Electric Factory
The Who actually played two shows at the Electric Factory on this day (bands did that back then, apparently). Anybody who’s ever seen Who videos from the late 60s knows that the band was a powerhouse back in this time period — especially with the late Keith Moon on drums. Also, this probably isn’t the Electric Factory you’re familiar with. The original one was at 22nd and Arch and closed down in 1973. The current one at 7th and Willow opened in 1994. Listen to audio from the show here.

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The Clash at The Tower in September, 1980 | Photo by Todd Heft |

5. The Clash – March 6, 1980 at Tower Theater

The year 1980 was a good one to see The Clash live. You would have heard songs from all their best albums including Give ‘Em Enough Rope, London Calling and their self-titled debut. Also, you’d get to see their iconic lineup. By 1983, drummer Topper Headon and guitarist Mick Jones would eventually be kicked out of the band.

 

6. The Black Keys – February 5, 2009 at Electric Factory

There were at least two or three times I almost saw the Black Keys before they got huge. For whatever reason, I couldn’t go to the concerts, but I always knew they’d be back in Philly again so I never let it bother me much. That is, until they released Brothers and the band made it big time. Continue reading →

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…The long Memorial Day Weekend

laurel_hill_cemetery-photo[1]Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day after the Civil War when the graves of soldiers were strewn with flowers. Memorial Day now honors those who have given their lives for this country in all military theaters. Laurel Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for many Civil War and other veterans and is the new home for The Silent Sentry. This historic bronze statue of a Civil War soldier at parade rest was first dedicated in 1863 at Mount Moriah in SW Philadelphia and will be rededicated in its new home on Sunday with a public ceremony and parade…

…The National Constitution Center has special events all weekend to mark Memorial Day including flag ceremonies and workshops on national memorials…

…Historic Philadelphia’s Franklin Square has special family activities for Memorial Day weekend.

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The Real Thing
 

The Philadelphia Weekly said “Nobody in Philadelphia does Tom Stoppard better than The Wilma Theater!”and they’re at it again with a new production of Stoppard’s Tony award winner all about love The Real Thing through June 22nd.

The Devon Horse Show is underway, the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed competition.  In addition to horse events there’s a Country Fair with proceeds benefitting Bryn Mawr Hospital. Through June 1st.

 New City Stage Company celebrates the Presidency with its West Wing Festival, currently presenting the Philadelphia premiere of An Evening With Richard Nixon by Gore Vidal which hasn’t had a full production since its run on Broadway in the 1970s until now at the Adrienne Theater…and in the Adrienne Theater Skybox, a free presentation from their Presidential Satire Reading Series!

Philly PHAIR is running two open air festivals, one at Eakins Oval, the other at Headhouse Square, featuring artisans, food trucks, live music and more.

Almanac Dance Circus Theater presents Communitas, an epic dance-driven production about the establishment of a civilization told through acrobatics and music improvisation, at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Old City Saturday and Sunday.

 

 

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Furry friends, free art, Italian festival, and more!

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With Love: Super Adoption Day is Sunday at the Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties. At Philadelphia’s largest adoption event, not only can you meet adoptable dogs, cats and even pigs, but there’s also live music, refreshments, special guests, and free parking.  Sponsored by Citizens for a No-Kill Philadlephia.

Public art in the broadest sense of the word is at the fourth annual Art in the Open all weekend along Schuylkill Banks. This year 25 artists have created site specific works in various media stationed along the river from the Fairmount Water Works south to Locust Street Green.

1dxGGx.St.56[1]Sunday is also Art Museum Day, a part of International Museum Day, and here in Philadelphia that means free admission to some of our greatest cultural institutions…the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Penn Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, and Brandywine River Museum of Art are all participating!

The annual Italian Market Festival is Saturday and Sunday when South 9th Street offers a procession of saints and others reveling in the delights of the nation’s oldest outdoor market (rain or shine).

2150198_orig[1]Architecture and gardens are featured Sunday in Society Hill’s 36th Annual Open House & Garden Tour , a self-guided tour of ten private homes and gardens in styles from 18th and 19th century to contemporary.

The annual Pride Parade in the streets of New Hope and Lambertville  noon – 1:00 p.m. Saturday is part of New Hope Celebrates Pride Week.  Also Saturday the Rock The Block Party at the Bucks County Playhouse has live music and vendors.  this is the 11th year the area has celebrated its LGBT residents and visitors.

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