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Shelf Life, free cake for every creature, Chef Kiss, and more on comp benefitting American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Shelf Life at Key Fest | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Shelf Life at Key Fest | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

What’s better than amazing indie artists coming together to contribute songs about self care and then donating the proceeds to charity? I’ll tell you: nothing. Nothing is better. And Sleeper Records, a new West Philly-based record label, just made that happen. The compilation is called Six Weeks of Winter and its basically a lo-fi indie lover’s dream wrapped up in one pretty package. Continue reading →

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Farewell to a Listening Room: Reflections on the closing of Old City’s Tin Angel

Kristen Hersh at the Tin Angel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Kristen Hersh at the Tin Angel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Back in early December, I saw something at Old City’s famed Tin Angel that I hadn’t seen in forever: a line. A queue of people running down the staircase, out the door, stretching up 2nd Street, waiting in earnest for a performance by alternative-era singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh.

Certainly the 150-capacity room drew packed crowds countless times over the years, but something felt different this night. It was a sold-out show heading into a long string of sold-out show as the venue calendar wound down, this weekend presenting its final concert after more than two decades in business. Tonight, The Hillbenders take the stage in a show curated by the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and it’s the last gig you’ll be able to buy tickets for at the door; tomorrow’s show with Steve Forbert and Saturday’s double-header with Ben Vaughn have long been sold out. And after that, the Tin Angel belongs to the ages. Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: Dominic Angelella

Dominic | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
Dominic | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

There’s a bit of a music scene in-joke that circulates about Philadelphia psych-rock cult faves Lilys; so many people have contributed to that band in its 25-year existence that founder and songwriter Kurt Heasley probably couldn’t tell you all of them. Dominic Angelella has experienced sort of the opposite situation in his career; he’s founded, jammed with, recorded and parted ways with so many bands since coming to Philadelphia from Baltimore in 2005, there will probably never be a true and complete chronology of them all.

We’re pretty sure Angelella has never been in Lilys, for what it’s worth. But looking just his higher-profile projects: there was the long running DRGN King, which disbanded last year after two great records on Bar-None; there’s Lithuania, his longer-running punk duo with Eric Slick of Dr. Dog; there’s mewithoutYou, with whom he is currently a touring bassist; there’s Hop Along, where he was an early touring guitarist. And, of course, there’s Dominic.

That’s his first name, true, and it’s also the name of his first truly solo project, which releases its debut LP Goodnight, Doggies. this Friday on Lame-O Records. Back in the fall, The Key brought you the news of his new album alongside a wide-ranging conversation with his onetime bandmate / current roommate, Hop Along frontwoman Frances Quinlan, where the two unpacked Dom’s musical journey. This week, we specifically talk Philly for his High Key Portrait Series spotlight. This interview took place in early 2016, and he shares favorite faces and favorite places in the city — and is our first interviewee to give a diplomatic answer about Philly beer! This Friday, February 3rd, Angelella headlines Johnny Brenda’s (his fav venue) to celebrate the release of Goonight, Doggies. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Brendan Lukens to sit out of Modern Baseball’s European tour to focus on mental health

Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN
Modern Baseball | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

Modern Baseball is heading across the pond with Thin Lips and The Superweaks — but they’re making the run a member short, as guitarist / vocalist Brendan Lukens announced today he was not joining the band on the European tour to focus on his mental health.

Here’s his full statement, posted via the band’s Instagram. Continue reading →

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On-The-Job Training: Eric Osman of Lame-O on learning how to run a record label by running a record label

Eric Osman of Lame-O Records | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Eric Osman of Lame-O Records | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

When Philly record label Lame-O launched in 2012, the goal was simple: put out a record. Put out a very specific record, one that did not have a home elsewhere. As it happened, Modern Baseball‘s debut Sports was wildly successful, and it left many wondering what was next for the fledgling imprint — including its co-founders Eric Osman and Emily Hakes. Continue reading →

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It’s Official: Mayor Jim Kenney has declared it Philly Loves David Bowie Week

image002-1This fall and winter, I’ve been busy organizing and coordinating a week-long celebration around David Bowie, both the man and the music … As it stands we have over a dozen events beginning tomorrow and ending next Saturday, January 14. You can learn more about #PhillyBowieWeek at our website, PhillyLovesBowie.com. This morning, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney just issued a proclamation officially declaring January 6-14 PHILLY LOVES DAVID BOWIE WEEK! You can see the proclamation above, and read the text below. Continue reading →

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Wall of Heroes: How a GAMP music teacher inspires students by honoring the departed

GAMP Mural | photo by Nicholas Mehalick | courtesy of the artist
GAMP Mural | photo by Nicholas Mehalick | courtesy of the artist

Among any number of other anxiety-inducing occurrences, 2016 will be remembered as The Year That A Whole Lot of Famous People Died. But beyond our surface-level mourning, our requisite posting of YouTube clips and vintage photos, there was a more thorough consideration of these lost artists and their significance. Who were they as people? What did they stand for artistically and socially, and what lessons can we carry forward from them into the next generation?

Philadelphia school district teacher Nicholas Mehalick takes the deeper approach. Last year, the AP teacher at Girard Academic Music Program worked with his students to create a classroom mural memorializing David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman, all of whom passed away last year. As Mehalick explains it, it’s a celebration of sexuality and race, of human complexity and ultimately of unity. His class finished it before summer break, and it became an integral part of his instruction during the fall semester.

Mehalick reached out to us over the holiday about the mural, and we swapped emails to get more information on the project — his responses are thorough and illuminating, and you can read them in full below. Continue reading →

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A Decade of Johnny Brenda’s: Reflections and portraits

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKUjEV6ADcn/

Ten years ago this fall, Johnny Brenda’s opened the door to their new upstairs show space, and it celebrated the anniversary back in September with a couple nights of all-local shows. During that run, several of the staff and performers were kind enough to sit down for portraits and offer their thoughts on what Johnny Brenda’s means to them and the community. Continue reading →