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Strength in Unity: Philly’s Kathia Woods on her first Women In Hip-Hop conference

Kathia Woods and DJ Damage
Kathia Woods and DJ Damage | courtesy of the artist

Kathia Woods is problem solver.

With her current work organizing events and managing area hip-hop artists as founder and head of Dimas Events and Consulting, Woods is a passionate advocate for up-and-coming artists in particular and Philly’s hip-hop in general. When asked her opinion on the state of Philadelphia’s hip-hop scene, she offers a no-holds-barred critique that cuts across genre lines into the the heart of a problem that holds so much Philly-based musical talent from achieving nationwide success.

“First, we have amazing talent. Always have,” she says. “The thing that hurts us is a lack of infrastructure and lack of unity. We have old dudes that have been in the chair too long and young folks that have a sense of entitlement, which is recipe for disaster. No middle ground. But the talent is stellar.”

A decades-long veteran of Philly’s music biz, Woods got her start on the Campus of Temple University “throwing parties and through the student union and helping with other events by handing out flyers and such.”

After spending her formative years working in multiple aspects of the music business, Woods’ present focus is on creating platforms for the education and empowerment of the city’s young creatives, especially its young women. Recognizing this need to position Philly’s women musicians, DJs and future executives for success, Woods has launched Women in Hip Hop, a day-long conference of sorts whose expressed mission is to build connections between women in the music business. Continue reading →

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Bob Marley rocked Penn Hall today in 1979

via midnightraverblog.com

As the free newspaper Caribbe′ wrote at the time, “When a concert audience gets to its feet before the performers have played even one note, you know something special is happening.”

It was November 7th, 1979. Bob Marley took to the stage with The Wailers at Penn Hall in Philadelphia. The show was put on by Penn’s Black Music Association, and a review in Caribbe’ talked of audience members standing on their seats, screaming to guitar solos from Jr. Marvin, vocal harmonies by the I-Threes and of course the charismatic Marley himself. “Even as Philadelphia’s Mayor-elect [William J. Green III] promised to bring people together, the Wailers brought together young and old, black and white in dancing, cheering unity.” Continue reading →

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Tiny Room for Elephants has big plans in North Philly

via facebook.com/tinyroomforelephants

For the past two years, a small art collective named Tiny Room For Elephants has been taking shape in Philadelphia. On paper, it is a 30-day, multi-genre, collaborative art and music project. In practice, the collective is so much more.

The collective consists of Chris White, Donte Neal, Damion Ward, Yaya Horne, Chris Malo and Amy Gaio.

During the month of October, TRFE has been working in a secluded Fishtown warehouse where, on any given day, there are a handful of visual artists creating portable murals while rappers, producers, and DJs create and develop new music. The environment is one that is meant to foster creativity and inspiration.

The initial description may cause TRFE to sound like some sort of secret society, but in reality it is about bringing together artists of all types. Continue reading →

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Interview: Philadelphia Drum & Percussion brings gear and beats to Fishtown

The Cymbal Room of Philadelphia Drum and Percussion | via facebook.com/philadelphiadrum

The days of driving out to Sam Ash or waiting for Amazon deliveries are almost over for drummers in Philadelphia.

Friday, November 4th marks the grand opening of Philadelphia Drum & Percussion, the city’s first dedicated gear shop of its kind. Owner Brandon Pfundt has spent the last couple of months stocking the Fishtown storefront with everyday necessities (Remo drumheads and D’Addario sticks) and special boutique items (Low Boy beaters and A&F shells), so it’s ready for its big debut later this week.

We caught up with Pfundt ahead of the opening to get his thoughts on the benefits of independent shops, his favorite item in the store, and his own drumming background. In addition to the opening day highlights mentioned below, the store has partnered with Philly Drum Project to host a Beats, Brews, and Banter event featuring The War on Drugs’ Charlie Hall.
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Celebrate five years of SoFAR Philly with the curators’ top five favorite moments

sofar philly
Maitland performing at Sofar Philly, March 2014 | photo by Lindsey Borgman

SoFAR Sounds have been curating intimate living room shows in Philadelphia for five years now, bringing touring and local bands together in a kind of under-wraps-until-the-last-minute way that has resulted in some pretty spectacular performances. To celebrate this milestone, SoFAR Philly coordinators Carolyn Lederach and Ken Winneg have shared their top Sofar memories with us, from rooftop shows in Center City to holiday shows on a South Street balcony. Read what they have to say below, and be a part of the 5th anniversary event on Saturday, November 12th in South Philly by signing up here (hurry though, the early show is already sold out!).

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Check out photos of Cream rocking The Spectrum, November 1, 1968

Cream at The Spectrum | photo by William Kates courtesy of the artist
Cream at The Spectrum | photo by William Kates courtesy of the artist

We’ve talked a lot about the sheer volume of rock and roll history contained in storied South Philly arena The Spectrum, from its opening day in 1967 to its final concert in 2009.

Today marks an anniversary on the earlier side of things: on November 1st, 1968, Cream — the o.g. blues rock power trio from London consisting of of singer-guitarist Eric Clapton, drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce — played its final Philadelphia concert at The Spectrum.

The concert was remembered in the book Strange Brew: Eric Clapton And The British Blues Boom 1965-1970: 

Although the tour has more downs than ups, Clapton will have strong memories of tonight’s gig when talking to Phil Sutcliffe nearly 40 years later. “I remember one show at the Philadelphia Spectrum…and I was playing the Gibson Firebird…and it was one of our greatest gigs ever. I was flying; no confusion, no indecision about when to stop, start, come in, go out; I wasn’t tired, I seemed to get more elevated through the evening, one of my greatest gigs ever.” The view is seconded by Jack Bruce, who later tells Tony Bacon: “The Spectrum is one of the very best gigs in America, if not the best. Philadelphia is a great rock music town. I’ve played that a few times, and it’s always been great. A rocking gig; great audience.”

Local photographer and rock enthusiast William Kates was there, and posted this incredible reminiscence of the show a few years back (in conjunction with WXPN’s Most Memorable Musical Moments countdown). Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: Dave Davis of Sun Ra Arkestra

Dave Davis | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
Dave Davis | 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.

This Monday, Johnny Brenda’s will host a show that’s become a standing Philly tradition: a spaced-out afrofuturistic psychedelic New-Orleans-style big band-tastic freaky Halloween celebration courtesy the Sun Ra Arkestra. The show is an outright spectacle as they try to find room not only for all the many Arkestra members, on the precious real estate of the Brenda’s stage, but for all the swinging horns as well.

For this installment of High Key we caught up with Dave Davis, who’s blown a trombone with the Arkestra for over twenty years, and who never misses a gig. Davis is decidedly soft-spoken and understated, and as he spins tale after tale about his history and career among Philly arts giants you lean in, and hang on his words. He’s engaging, charming, the personified illustration of the benefits of pursuing your dreams and following your heart, and he has this wide-eyed-kid-from-Kansas exuberance about having lived in and loved Philly that, for him, makes even the advantage of big city public transit something to be excited about without a trace of irony. With a slow, easy smile, Davis manages to share that infectious, refreshing exuberance so relatably, both in his words and in his music.

Philly’s beloved Arkestra suffered the passing of its founder in 1993, but the now 92-year-old maestro and director Marshall Allen hasn’t lost a step yet in keeping up the traditions, from international stages to regularly local engagements all over the city as well, from the Art Museum’s “Art After 5” Program to local jazz festivals to favorite Philly clubs like Brenda’s. Although this holiday’s event at is already sold out, as always, opportunities to catch them live in Philly abound, as the band continue to be as prolific and active on the touring circuit as ever.

To this day, the Arkestra still convenes for rehearsals at Sun Ra’s West Philly home, and when asked about the latest horizons, Davis notes at the wealth of the untapped archives that the band is still combing through and bringing to life. “He has a stack of music that’s never been played,” says Davis of the late composer and bandleader Sun Ra. “He wrote a tune everyday for The Creator. He has a lotta tunes that he recorded on tapes, so we’re constantly playing new Sun Ra music.” Continue reading →

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Maximize your musical spookiness with our ultimate guide to Halloweekend in Philly

razor boomerang | photo via facebook.com/RazorBoomerang
Razor Boomerang | photo via facebook.com/RazorBoomerang

With All Hallow’s Eve only a few short days away, Philadelphia gears up for its annual “Halloweekend” shows and festivities — where dancing inebriated to your favorite band dressed as a fried egg is completely acceptable, and even encouraged. These shows will make your adult Halloween the best, even if your simple mad-scientist costume will be met with every imaginable Rick and Morty reference.

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