The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “When Somebody Loves You Back” by Teddy Pendergrass

Teddy Pendergrass’ 1978 album Life Is A Song Worth Singing

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “When Somebody Loves You Back” from Teddy Pendergrass’ 1978 album .

There’s an amazing scene (one of many) in the extraordinary new Showtime documentary, Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me, a look at the Philly R&B superstar who sang lead on so many classic Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes songs, and who then went to an incredible solo career. In the clip, Pendergrass appears on television talk show host Tom Snyder, who introduces him by saying “May I just list four songs? ‘Come Go With Me,’ ‘Close The Door,’ ‘Turn Off The Lights,’ ‘Do Me.’” After a quick pause, both laugh, and as Pendergrass extends his arm for a handshake, Snyder aks “Have I got it?” Pendergrass, lighting up with a big smile says, “You got it.” Continue reading →


Watch a trailer for Showtime’s Teddy Pendergrass documentary If You Don’t Know Me

Teddy Pendergrass | via Rolling Stone

On the one hand, Philadelphia icon Teddy Pendergrass was, as XPN’s Bruce Warren described him earlier today, “Philly International’s ultimate love man.” His sensual singing style was unparalleled, and his songs touched on themes of love from every imaginable angle. On a bigger level, he was a hard-working, ambitious, and energetic recording artist and performer who literally sweated charisma…and he’s also somebody with one of the most amazing life stories of resilience and overcoming physical trauma to continue creating music. Continue reading →


The Skeleton Key: From a J Dilla tribute to rock n’ rollers galore to so much jazz, we’re looking for love in all the right places this month

Writhing Squares | photo via

January might be the traditional time to make resolutions and talk about how we can go about bettering ourselves or whatever it is you’re trying to do with your life but let’s be honest: February is when stuff starts to get real. I can’t help you stop smoking or go to the gym more often, but if you’re resolved to go to more shows I’ve definitely got you covered.

This month is incredibly jam-packed with all manner of events, from avant garde jazz to wild metal to a stacked J Dilla tribute. And that’s all just in the next week! Have you ever just contemplated how lucky we are to be living in one of the best cities in the world? I have. That’s why I do this column. So let’s get started! Continue reading →


Ramping up Philly DIY with Ramp Local label

Very few labels start on purpose. Normally it’s just something that happens, a confluence of circumstances, an accident – but hopefully a happy one. You or your friends are in a band that’s recorded something and you want to put it out but you don’t think any existing label would be interested and so you say, “It’s DIY music so I can just do it myself! And really, why stop with just this release when I can be a resource for others? I mean, how hard can it be?”

The answer, as anyone who’s ever stumbled into running a label, is simple: it’s close to impossible. There are so many pitfalls, so many ways things can go wrong, so many ways to lose lots of money and have little to show for it but a few hundred records tucked away in storage forever. The rewards are equally plentiful, which is why so many people go down that route.

Jake Saunders has been walking that tightrope since being handed the keys to Ramp Local, the label he’s been running for the last couple years. It was started by Trip Warner of Wharf Cat Records in Brooklyn – home to Urochromes, WALL, Flasher, Bush Tetras, and a ton more amazing bands – as “a way for him to release more experimental, obscure stuff” on cassette, according to Saunders. Since taking it over, he’s expanded things to also include vinyl releases, most recently a record for Harrisonburg, VA “industrial blues” two piece Buck Gooter. More on them later.

Saunders explained that he initially met Warner while booking shows in Brooklyn. He was putting together a compilation that included a track from Sediment Club, who Wharf Cat has worked with in the past, and Warner suggested that Ramp Local could release the cassette. They started working together shortly after that tape, called Eclectic Sessions, was put out in October of 2015. According to Saunders, “After a while, I was kind of just getting into it and he said, ‘You can run this shit, man’ and he handed it over to me no questions asked. I think he just had too much going on.” Continue reading →


The creative community finds a new hub at CCP’s Spring Garden Records

Aviance performs at the Spring Garden Records launch party | photo courtesy of the label

Spring Garden Records is an ambitious new project by Community College of Philadelphia launched at the tail end of 2018. A collaboration between the school’s Music department and department of Strategic Initiatives, Spring Garden Records is a record label where students, staff and community members produce, record and release their music in-house.

Music department head Paul “Starkey” Geissinger is a renowned composer and electronic musician who serves as director of Spring Garden Records. Geissinger has been spearheading the program’s launch for the past few months and envisions the project as an incubator for the city’s musical talent.

“I wanted to create a musical hub for creativity in the city, something I think we are missing,” he says. “CCP is a great place to do it, since we have a sound recording and music technology program, and most of our students are Philly residents who plan to stay and work in Philly upon graduation.” Continue reading →


The Skeleton Key: Ring in 2019 with Tuareg desert jams, the return of chiptune legends Chromelodeon, Kenyan benga rock n’ roll, and so much more

Hank Wood | photo by Yoni Kroll

I forget, are we supposed to take flying cars to the gig or just view it on our VR goggles? The future is so complicated.

Welcome to 2019! I hope you’re all totally recovered from whatever you did to yourself on Tuesday and Wednesday and ready to tackle the new year. There’s a lot to look forward to over the next twelve months. Hell, there’s a lot to look forward to just between now and February. So let’s get started with the year’s first Skeleton Key, your monthly news and gossip column covering all things Philadelphia DIY. Continue reading →


Round Guys Brewing Company is celebrating Philly Loves Bowie Week with five themed beers

Round Guys’ Brewery’s Bowie-themed Buddha of Suburbia can art | illustration by Keith Warren Greiman

Philly Loves Bowie Week is upon us once again. For the past three years, local fans of David Bowie have dedicated the second week in January to a celebration of the iconic artist’s life and work. Two years ago, Philly mayor Jim Kenney even made it official with a special proclamation. The third annual Bowie Week returns this Friday, January 4, and runs through the 13th. There’s a packed schedule of events that includes everything from an art show, to a masquerade ball, to karaoke, all at various locations across the city.

But the suburbs love Bowie too, and this year some folks outside of the city are joining in on the action. Particularly in Lansdale, where local brewery Round Guys Brewing Company has been brewing Bowie-themed beers since the first Bowie Week in 2016. Continue reading →


Listen to XPN’s 25 most-played songs of 2018

Death Cab for Cutie | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Leon Bridges | photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN // Natalie Prass | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN

Beginning at noon today, WXPN will count down its listener-voted top 50 best songs of the year…but before we get to that, let’s take a look at the station’s most played songs of the year.

The programming staff crunched the numbers and came up with 25 artists that were in the mix the most this year; XPNFest vets (David Byrne, Natalie Prass, Courtney Marie Andrews), Philly favorites (The War on Drugs, Dr. Dog), and generally awesome artists (Courtney Barnett, Leon Bridges, Neko Case, Caroline Rose). Take a listen below, and tune in for the top 50 beginning at noon. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Directors’ Cut — The XPN video team picks its favorite performances of the year

Jupiter and Okwess | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. Today, World Cafe videographers John Groome and Galea McGregor share their top performances of the year.

Two of the hardest working people at WXPN are easily Galea McGregor and John Groome, our two in-house videographers who document practically everything that happens at the station. Free at Noon concerts, World Cafe sessions, NonCOMM, the XPoNential Music Festival — they see and hear just about ever performance that happens in our little world, and they are arguably the most qualified to say what the best performances of the year are. Here are their picks. Continue reading →