Five Years of Philly DIY: A musician’s perspective

Party Photographers at The Ox in 2010 | Photo by John Vettese
Party Photographers at The Ox in 2010 | Photo by John Vettese

In the wake of West Philly’s celebrated Golden Tea House closing its doors this winter, I’m torn between nostalgia and the hope that it’s not some trend of unconventional, all-ages venues throwing in the towel. In my heart of hearts I know that every time a DIY venue shuts down a demon gets it’s bat-wings or something, and there will be five more to take its place in a year or so. I hope so, anyway.

An intense show at the dearly departed Terrordome | photo via

This article will reminisce about the show houses that, in my opinion as a lowly musician, have dominated the Philly DIY “scene” the past four or five years. May this also be a rallying call to any person out there thinking about doing something similar: do it!

Get a PA, book a few bands to play in your kitchen or basement, make a rad flyer, invite everyone you know. You’ll be so happy you did, and if you just keep at it, this city will support you and you can eventually become as awesome (or more so) than the places in this article. GO! Continue reading →


When Worlds Collide: Comcast SportsNet reporters Reuben Frank and Sarah Baicker talk about new music and Free at Noon

Reuben Frank and Sarah Baicker in the CSN Studio | Photo courtesy of  Sarah Baicker
Reuben Frank and Sarah Baicker in the CSN Studio | Photo courtesy of Sarah Baicker

XPN’s Free at Noon series has become a hot commodity since its inception ten years ago, and in that time, the free weekly music series has developed many regulars – two of whom you might already be familiar with if your TV is regularly tuned to the Eagles and Flyers on Comcast SportsNet.

Philadelphia Eagles beat writer Reuben Frank and Philadelphia Flyers Beat Writer Sarah Baicker are frequently in the house at World Cafe Live, catching each week’s performance and sharing their reaction – positive and negative – on social media. They sat down to talk with The Key about the music they’ve been listening to lately, who has the best and worst music taste in the Comcast SportsNet Newsroom and their all-time favorite Free at Noons. Continue reading →


WXPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Some classics restaged, loads of visual art, and Daylight Savings Time!

swan-lake-in-philadelphiaSwan Lake is arguably the world’s most renowned ballet.  Pennsylvania Ballet has revived Christopher Wheeldon’s production from 2004 which was commissioned for the 40th anniversary of the Ballet and went on to sell out performances at the Edinburgh Festival.  This is a million dollar production with sets inspired by the paintings of Edgar Degas.  At the Academy Of Music through March 15th. Continue reading →


The best tweets (so far) from the High’s In The 70′s Number One #solidgoldxpn hits weekend


This weekend WXPN’s Dan Reed has been playing all the number one Billboard pop hits of the Seventies. Below, sample of the comments on twitter. You can follow the conversation on twitter @wxpfm #solidgoldxpn.

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…The Flower Show is here, can warmer weather be far behind?


The 187th annual Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is the world’s oldest and still its largest indoor flower show! This year the theme is Celebrate the Movies;  expect to see Disney movies interpreted florally. The black tie gala Friday evening is the first of many special events.  The show runs through March 8th and proceeds help support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest program, which feeds some 1,200 families a week during the growing season, and other community initiatives.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due? Drake Instagrams artwork by Philly’s Dewey Saunders without attribution

A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

In the social media universe, sharing and re-sharing is the name of the game. Someone’s creative effort can be blasted out to a whole new audience with a click of a mouse or a swipe of a finger that takes a fraction of a second.

Unfortunately, in this same universe, things like credit and attribution are handled in a bit more of a fast and loose manner – sometimes accidentally, sometimes out of laziness. Despite our best efforts, we’ve been guilty of it The Key on occasion in the past. We’ve seen it happen to the work of our contributors, too. Broadly speaking, when an artists’ work gets lifted without credit, it is often being presented to a limited audience – somebody’s personal Tumblr, for instance. Other times, it winds up before a whole universe of eyes.

The latter happened yesterday when Philly illustrator Dewey Saunders was re-grammed by rap mega-star Drake. Continue reading →


XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Cold weather offset by love on Valentine’s Weekend!


Cupid's Undie Run is back...courtesy of
Cupid’s Undie Run is back…courtesy of

Cupid’s Undie Run is a Valentine to paying it forward. Runners in their skivvies raise money Saturday for the Children’s Tumor Foundation to help fight a debilitating genetic disorder that attacks kids’ nervous systems.  Considering the forecast, it will be extra challenging this year.  Continue reading →


Does it matter that the Tiny Desk Contest winner was once signed by Interscope?

Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest
Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest

Without a doubt, the Tiny Desk Contest was one of the most inspiring musical happenings of the past year.

After developing a global fan base with their uniquely-curated videos of unfussy, informal concerts held at producer Bob Boilen’s desk, the NPR Music team this winter opened up the floor to the public, inviting them to shoot their own DIY Tiny Desk-esque videos and submit them via YouTube for a chance to win a slot on the series.

On the one level, it felt like the small-time local heroes from around the country were being given a chance at stardom in that special, Tiny Desk kind of way. Beneath the surface a bit, those of us who work in music know that many of the artists already featured in the series are in the midst of some sort of press cycle, a national promotional push for whatever album they happen to be selling at the time.

As I said, it’s a well-curated run of videos, but most of the artists who make their way to Boilen’s desk are doing so with some level of industry connectedness in hand. Continue reading →