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Music Diaries: Concert illustrations from three Philly artists

Trish Houck sketches Michael Ford Jr. of The Apache Relay | Photo by John Vettese
Trish Houck sketches Michael Ford Jr. of The Apache Relay | Photo by John Vettese

It’s normal to find yourself spacing out at concerts—everyone’s guilty of it. Get lost vibing, fade a little, check Twitter, people-watch, scroll Instagram to see who’s also at the show you’re attending, etc. Despite praising performances with expressions like “hypnotizing!” and “captivating,” there are plenty of times concert attendees occupy themselves beyond the duties of “active listening” (or dancing a la Elaine Benes). However, some people choose to be more engaged, and if you’ve been people paying close attention in the Philadelphia music scene, you might have spotted a handful of artists illustrating the concert as they watched.   Continue reading →

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PREVIEW: Follow the Philly punk scene to FEST with JUMP and The Key

Everyone Everywhere | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Everyone Everywhere | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

A month ago, a massive swatch of the Philly punk scene traveled to Gainesville, Florida to play at The FEST – an annual gathering of DIY music makers and lovers. Staff from JUMP Philly and The Key trailed alongside, talking to some of our favorite locals about their FEST experience. What follows is an excerpt of a long-form piece that will appear in the pages of JUMP’s Winter 2015 issue, which will be on newsstands this month.

SteveO of The Holy Mess was in Gainesville, Florida last month when a friend texted him looking for weed. There was none to be found.

The Holy Mess | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Ma Jolie | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

“I was like, ‘Yo dude, I’m in Florida,’” recalls the frontman, born Stefan Wieslaw Niemoczynski. “He was like, ‘Oh shit, I guess all the weed went to Florida, too.’”

A large contingency of Philly punk bands, their fans and whatever party aids they decide to bring with them travel annually to Gainesville for The FEST – the largest, most important music festival for modern punk and hardcore music, which takes place every Halloween weekend in the college town.

“It’s a phenomenon,” says SteveO. Continue reading →

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Ambition Versus Expectation: What do performers owe their crowds?

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Bob Dylan onstage in Maui | photo by George F. Lee via honolulupulse.com || Lauryn Hill onstage at the Bowery Ballroom | photo by Wei Shi via consequenceofsound.net

Confession time. The one time I saw Bob Dylan, I walked out.

His performance was disappointing, more than a little bit sad, and first got me thinking about unspoken agreement between artist and audience. When a concert is so drastically different from the expectations behind it, did the crowd get shortchanged?

It was the XPoNential Music Festival two summers ago, the year of the colossal rain storm. I was soaked to the bone, sticking it out for my chance to see the American songwriting legend who was responsible for Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks and so so many more classics. I knew he wasn’t going to play the songs the way they sounded on the album; I knew his voice wasn’t what it once was. And I was okay with that, because I’m generally comfortable with artists taking artistic liberties – and let’s face it, Dylan was never a great singer.

But I wasn’t prepared for how bad it was going to be. A half hour or so into the set, the band – who seemed to all be skilled players, for sure – was in the middle of a wandering, free-form expanse while Dylan’s barely audible voice croaked indiscernibly along. At one point, he uttered something that sounded vaguely like “Pourin’ off of every page / Like it was written in my soul from me to you” and I realized, OH GOD, this is supposed to be “Tangled Up in Blue.” I gave up. I went home.

I’ve been thinking about that Dylan concert this week for a couple reasons; one, because he just played three nights at the Academy of Music and was reportedly quite good. And two, because I recently reviewed Lauryn Hill’s show at the Electric Factory and roughly criticized the crowd for doing exactly what I did during Dylan’s set. Continue reading →

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Running in the Philadelphia Marathon and running to holiday shows and sales

A scene from Instantly Bound... courtesy of http://www.criticaldance.org/
A scene from Instantly Bound.  Courtesy of http://www.criticaldance.org/

BalletX opens its Fall Series at the Wilma Theater with two premieres.  One is the world premier of Jorma Elo’s interpretation of the film noir classic Touch of Evil as a hip-hop ballet.  The other is the East Coast premier of Increasing set to Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, and BAlletX also reprises its 2013 piece Instantly Bound about gun violence. Continue reading →

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WXPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Isabella Rossellini onstage, Fairmount Park houses in gingerbread, tap dance in Philadelphia…and so much more!

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Isabella Rossellini brings her one woman show Green Porno to World Café Live Friday. It’s based on her Sundance Channel series of incredibly imaginative vignettes about the sex lives of animals that she conceptualizes, writes, directs and portrays.  Isabella as praying mantis, sardine, hamster (shown above)! She’s my guest on the XPN Morning Show in the 9:00 a.m. hour Friday. Continue reading →

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Lost Soul Gems: A collection of Philly soul that lives up to its name

William DeVaughn | Photo by Eli Meir Kaplan | via Slate.com
William DeVaughn | Photo by Eli Meir Kaplan | via Slate.com

While Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff orchestrated The Sound of Philadelphia with bands like Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, Billy Paul, and MFSB on Philadelphia International Records, there was also some incredible soul music being made around the edges of the music scene here. The record label Sound Gems Records was one of those, and the label has just released an excellent compilation of Philly R&B and soul, Lost Soul Gems. Continue reading →

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WXPN Weekend Arts Crawl…First Friday, First Person Arts Festival, Jewish Film Festival…and a lot more!

 

It’s First Friday…

William Glackens' 1908 painting Cape Cod Pier is on display at the Barnes Foundation through February 2nd. Courtesy of barnesfoundation.org
William Glackens’ 1908 painting Cape Cod Pier is on display at the Barnes Foundation through February 2nd. Courtesy of barnesfoundation.org

The Barnes Foundation celebrates the opening of its new William Glackens exhibition with a Vaudeville-themed First Friday party. Glackens was an American realist painter and one of the founders of the Ash Can School of art along with others who depicted scenes of everyday life in cities like New York and Philadelphia.  He also did illustrations for newspapers and helped his friend Albert C. Barnes acquire some of the important European work on display at The Barnes. This is first major exhibition of Glackens’ American realist work in 50 years. There’s free admission on First Sundays…through February 2nd. Continue reading →

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…HALLOWEEEEEEN!

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“Don’t come as your are, come as you want to be” is the theme of Henri David’s Halloween Ball, now in its 46th year!  This biggest and brightest of costume events offers some of the City’s most outrageous dressing up, culminating in a midnight costume contest with prizes for Most Sensual Fantasy (new this year!), Most Horrifying, Best Period Costume, Most Hysterical and on and on.  One of the great treats is Henri himself, always dressed fabulously, and towering over you on stilts!  It starts at 9:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel.

Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Hey, Punks of Baltimore, this one’s for you; DRGN KING’s Dom Angelella shares his Baltimore Crush

Photo by Blake Gumprecht
Christine Cunnif, Lucy Stone, Ricardo Lagomasinos, Dominic Angelella | Photo by Blake Gumprecht

 

The sophomore album from DRGN KING, Baltimore Crush, feels personal. As an outsider, you’re immediately invited into this fuzzy psychedelic reality where suddenly there’s places and people who feel important. You know their behaviors, dreams, flaws and fears. That’s personal. This world comes from the strength of songwriting from frontman Dom Angelella, whose upbringing among the Baltimore DIY crowd comes out in this love letter of sorts to the scene. As a place where his self-discovery started to take shape, listeners gain a very real picture of what this scene means to those who were, are, and will be influencing/influenced by such a hotbed of creativity. This album thrashes in that convergence of ideas.  I hung out with Dom recently to ask him about the album, and he shared some insight into Moments Where Things Changed for him as well as fears and goals cultivated from the environment around him. Continue reading →