For our 10,000th post, here are the 10 most popular Key posts of all time

ballinoatesToday, we hit a pretty staggering milestone here on The Key: our 10,000th post, which you’re looking at right now. It’s pretty crazy to think when we launched this Philly music scene blog back in September of 2010 that it would hit this volume of events covered, bands recorded, stories told, music shared, and general thoughts and words surrounding our thriving music community – both the artists that call Philly home and the artists that stop through our city on tour. To everybody who’s been with us the whole time: thank you for reading, for sharing, for commenting and generally supporting what we do around here. For those who are new to The Key: welcome! And we hope to have you around for the next 10,000.

In the spirit of looking back and taking stock, we’ve rounded up our ten most popular posts of all time, per Google Analytics, and it’s a really interesting cross section of what we’re all about here at The Key. Mainstream and underground. Legacy artists and newcomers. A spectrum of genres. And moments that whether funny, frustrating or nostalgic, capture the imaginative musical spirit that’s alive and well in the Philadelphia region. Read the list below, and again, thank you for being here. Continue reading →


Chubby Checker: “I want to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!”

He introduced us to dances like “The Hucklebuck,” “The Fly,” the “Dance the Mess Around,” “Pony Time,” and “Limbo Rock,” but none were as popular or as culturally transformative as “The Twist.” And now, Chubby Checker, the singer who invented the worldwide dance sensation “The Twist” in the Sixties wants to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Carucci of the Associated Press reports:

“I don’t want to get in there when I’m 85-years old. I’ll tell them to drop dead, so you better do it quick while I’m still smiling,” Checker said on Thursday. The 72-year old recording artist equates a place in the Cleveland, Ohio-based hall to the ability to sustain his career. “If you put me in when I’m too old to make a living, then it’s no good for me to be in there.”

He added: “The Rolling Stones, they’re in there. The Beastie Boys are in there, they’re young. Hall and Oates were just in there and they’re still making money.”

He made the comments on the red carpet for the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in New York where Checker performed “Let’s Twist Again” for the ASCAP Centennial celebration.

According to the AP, “at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April, Daryl Hall mentioned that Hall and Oates was the first Philadelphia-based band to be inducted. And after mentioning Chubby Checker, he responded: “Why isn’t he in?” And he’s not alone. Before going into the ceremony, legendary songwriter Kenny Gamble — of the songwriting team Gamble and Huff — said he feels Checker is long overdue. “I think Chubby Checker should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s the only person I know to have the same song go to No. 1 twice.”

While Checker did popularize the dance associated with the song, it was written by R&B singer Hank Ballard and was originally released in 1959 as a B-side to Hank Ballard & The Midnighters’ “Teardrops On Your Letter” single. Checker released his version of it in June, 1960 and it became a Number One Billboard hit song. He followed it with “Let’s Twist Again,” a year later. While it only reached Number Eight on the Billboard Charts, Checker did receive a Grammy Award for “Best Rock & Roll Recording” for it in 1962. And hey – let us not forget The Fat Boys’ attempt at cashing in on the dance craze – rap style – with an appearance from Checker in their cover of it.

Let’s get Chubby into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.



Listen to Philly hip-hop duo Wiggz and Wooten’s “Until Nightfall”, see them at World Cafe Live on 7/6

Photo via Broad Street Music Group

On July 6th, Philadelphia-based rappers Wiggz and Wooten will headline a show titled “Local Love” at World Cafe Live.  The show will double as a release party for their new single “Until Nightfall”, as well as a debut for their new Local Love music campaign.  Wiggz and Wooten are part of a production company called HomeGrownPhilly, whose goal is to expose local artists to the Philly community.  “Local Love” will feature other performances by Scott C, Pike Blvd, Aries, DayDreamGang, Cain Kerner, Pauly Dinero, Jay Levita and Trel Mack.  The show will be a great opportunity to support the Philly hip-hop scene and discover upcoming artists.  Tickets are $10. Watch “Until Nightfall” below”

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Celebrating African-American and LGBT pride, art in the open air, children’s film and so much more!

4718994_orig[1]Sunday the Odunde Festival celebrates its 39th anniversary as one of the largest African American street festivals in the country, filling 12 blocks of South Street with music, dance, authentic African, Brazilian and Caribbean wares and food. There’s a unique procession to the Schulykill River to offer fruit and flowers to the Yoruba river goddess Oshun on what promises to be a stellar day, sunny with a high of 80.  All are welcome!

Image courtesy of the Philadelphia International Children’s Film Festival
The second annual Philadelphia International Children’s Film Festival is all weekend at the PFS Theater at the Roxy in Center City.  The Philadelphia Film Society has partnered with the New York International Film Festival, one of the longest running and most acclaimed children’s film festivals, to present animated, live action and experimental features and shorts from around the world, and some Q&A’s with filmmakers, to open children’s minds to the breadth and variety of films created for them.

The one and only Village People headline the music at the 26th annual Philadelphia Pride Festival Pride Day Sunday, capping off a weekend of LGBT activities.  There’s a parade, of course, starting at noon from 13th and Locust to Penns Landing, and for the first time ever, under Pennsylvania’s new law, same sex couples will marry at Independence Mall during the parade.  Philadelphia’s emcee extraordinaire Henri David hosts the entertainment at Penns Landing which also features the terrific trio BETTY and a boy band of classically trained musicians called Well Strung (!) who play and sing music from Mozart to Lady Gaga.

Philadelphia’s remarkable repository of public art grows bigger on Friday when the Association for Public Art celebrates the installation of a massive new work called Symbiosis on the Ben Franklin Parkway.  The sculpture by New York based artist Roxy Paine is on loan for a year.  It depicts one of the most powerful images from nature, a tree, composed of industrial materials — stainless steel pipe, plate and rods — which have been fashioned into an organic looking form.  The artist has been working all week to put the sculpture in place for its first public display ever and will speak at a free public reception from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the installation site.

And there’s much more… Continue reading →

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20 Philadelphia concerts you should go to if you ever invent a time machine

Led Zeppelin onstage at The Spectrum in 1970 | Photo via
Led Zeppelin onstage at The Spectrum in 1970 | Photo via

Every music fan has their own personal list of all-time favorite concerts. But imagine if you were old enough to experience a legendary rock and roll act like Chuck Berry in his prime, while in the same breath catching emerging bands like The Black Keys and Nirvana before they got huge. It’s pretty likely you never got to do either of these things. But there is one hypothetically feasible way to make it happen: invent a time machine. So let’s pretend for a minute this doable – here’s what I’d go back in time to see.

1. Led Zeppelin – March 31, 1970 at The Spectrum

The earlier you saw Led Zeppelin the better. Towards the middle of the 70s, Jimmy Page’s heroin addiction affected his onstage presence, and Robert Plant’s voice became noticeably strained. There’s a phenomenal video, which you can find on YouTube, of Led Zeppelin playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London from the same year, which features my personal favorite versions of “Communication Breakdown,” “Bring It On Home,” “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” and “How Many More Times.” The grainy video (which also features Page doing the seemingly impossible: making a sweater vest look cool) isn’t all that clear, but the sound is great and that’s really all that matters. It’s likely you would’ve gotten the same mind blowing performance in Philly (check out this vintage review by longtime Philly journo Clark De Leon).

2. The Strokes – October 9, 2003 at Tower Theater

Julian Casablancas’ voice in the early 00s was a thing of beauty. He had the perfect Jim Morrison-esque rock and roll growl, and is probably one of the most overlooked singers in rock history during his prime. Although, I’m a huge fan of The Strokes’s later stuff as well, there’s no denying their first two albums were two of the best rock albums in the early aughties – a time that was otherwise riddled with awful rock bands like Nickelback and Breaking Benjamin.

3. Oasis – October 23, 1994 at J.C. Dobbs

This was the first time Oasis ever played in Philly and also their first ever American tour. Around this time, tensions between Noel and Liam Gallagher had yet to reach the point of totally hating each other’s guts. Also, due to a randomly placed wall on J.C. Dobbs’ stage, this show was rumored to be the only time Noel played on the left side of the stage.

4. The Who – October 19, 1969 at The Electric Factory
The Who actually played two shows at the Electric Factory on this day (bands did that back then, apparently). Anybody who’s ever seen Who videos from the late 60s knows that the band was a powerhouse back in this time period — especially with the late Keith Moon on drums. Also, this probably isn’t the Electric Factory you’re familiar with. The original one was at 22nd and Arch and closed down in 1973. The current one at 7th and Willow opened in 1994. Listen to audio from the show here.

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The Clash at The Tower in September, 1980 | Photo by Todd Heft |

5. The Clash – March 6, 1980 at Tower Theater

The year 1980 was a good one to see The Clash live. You would have heard songs from all their best albums including Give ‘Em Enough Rope, London Calling and their self-titled debut. Also, you’d get to see their iconic lineup. By 1983, drummer Topper Headon and guitarist Mick Jones would eventually be kicked out of the band.


6. The Black Keys – February 5, 2009 at Electric Factory

There were at least two or three times I almost saw the Black Keys before they got huge. For whatever reason, I couldn’t go to the concerts, but I always knew they’d be back in Philly again so I never let it bother me much. That is, until they released Brothers and the band made it big time. Continue reading →

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…The long Memorial Day Weekend

laurel_hill_cemetery-photo[1]Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day after the Civil War when the graves of soldiers were strewn with flowers. Memorial Day now honors those who have given their lives for this country in all military theaters. Laurel Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for many Civil War and other veterans and is the new home for The Silent Sentry. This historic bronze statue of a Civil War soldier at parade rest was first dedicated in 1863 at Mount Moriah in SW Philadelphia and will be rededicated in its new home on Sunday with a public ceremony and parade…

…The National Constitution Center has special events all weekend to mark Memorial Day including flag ceremonies and workshops on national memorials…

…Historic Philadelphia’s Franklin Square has special family activities for Memorial Day weekend.

The Real Thing

The Philadelphia Weekly said “Nobody in Philadelphia does Tom Stoppard better than The Wilma Theater!”and they’re at it again with a new production of Stoppard’s Tony award winner all about love The Real Thing through June 22nd.

The Devon Horse Show is underway, the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed competition.  In addition to horse events there’s a Country Fair with proceeds benefitting Bryn Mawr Hospital. Through June 1st.

 New City Stage Company celebrates the Presidency with its West Wing Festival, currently presenting the Philadelphia premiere of An Evening With Richard Nixon by Gore Vidal which hasn’t had a full production since its run on Broadway in the 1970s until now at the Adrienne Theater…and in the Adrienne Theater Skybox, a free presentation from their Presidential Satire Reading Series!

Philly PHAIR is running two open air festivals, one at Eakins Oval, the other at Headhouse Square, featuring artisans, food trucks, live music and more.

Almanac Dance Circus Theater presents Communitas, an epic dance-driven production about the establishment of a civilization told through acrobatics and music improvisation, at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Old City Saturday and Sunday.



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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Furry friends, free art, Italian festival, and more!


With Love: Super Adoption Day is Sunday at the Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties. At Philadelphia’s largest adoption event, not only can you meet adoptable dogs, cats and even pigs, but there’s also live music, refreshments, special guests, and free parking.  Sponsored by Citizens for a No-Kill Philadlephia.

Public art in the broadest sense of the word is at the fourth annual Art in the Open all weekend along Schuylkill Banks. This year 25 artists have created site specific works in various media stationed along the river from the Fairmount Water Works south to Locust Street Green.

1dxGGx.St.56[1]Sunday is also Art Museum Day, a part of International Museum Day, and here in Philadelphia that means free admission to some of our greatest cultural institutions…the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Penn Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, and Brandywine River Museum of Art are all participating!

The annual Italian Market Festival is Saturday and Sunday when South 9th Street offers a procession of saints and others reveling in the delights of the nation’s oldest outdoor market (rain or shine).

2150198_orig[1]Architecture and gardens are featured Sunday in Society Hill’s 36th Annual Open House & Garden Tour , a self-guided tour of ten private homes and gardens in styles from 18th and 19th century to contemporary.

The annual Pride Parade in the streets of New Hope and Lambertville  noon – 1:00 p.m. Saturday is part of New Hope Celebrates Pride Week.  Also Saturday the Rock The Block Party at the Bucks County Playhouse has live music and vendors.  this is the 11th year the area has celebrated its LGBT residents and visitors.


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Mo Lowda & The Humble, Roof Doctor tapped for this month’s Philly Tapes Philly collaboration


Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold |
Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold |

Local collaboration-curators Philly Tapes Philly have announced the next pairing for their experiment in straight-to-tape recording, this month featuring Mo Lowda & The Humble and Roof Doctor.

The project began in March when members of Commonwealth Choir and Big Tusk recognized an opportunity to cross local genre and scene divides by inviting bands into their home studio, The Gun Shop, for one-off recording sessions.  The resulting tracks, one from each band, are recorded through an entirely analog process onto 50 limited edition cassette tapes that are given away for free at the subsequent release show at Ortlieb’s, which is also free.

This month will see the Bucks County-bred alternative rock of Mo Lowda & The Humble split with the surf / punk-leaning rock of Roof Doctor, two bands that already eschew tight genre definitions in favor of intricate arrangements and jazzy instrumentation.

Nick Cislak of PTP / Commonwealth Choir was excited to get two bands together that move in different circles but share a passion for supporting and expanding the local music community.

“I already knew Mo Lowda, but hadn’t heard Roof Doctor. When Roof Doctor reached out I checked out [their new album Mobile Freedom Home] and loved it. Getting this many great musicians who were this passionate about the project in the same room together was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

Listen to “Where the Whitetails Go” off of Mo Lowda & The Humble’s recent debut LP Curse the Weather below, followed by “Bulldog” off of Roof Doctor’s new Mobile Freedom Home full-length.  The free release show will take place at Ortlieb’s on May 29th; more information can be found on the Facebook event page here.  Check out the show flyer after the jump.

Continue reading →

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New podcast fills a void, showing off Philly creatives

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

It’s no surprise that two Philly creatives are doing something that’s, well, creative.

Long time friends Zack Stock, who doubles as a folk musician, and Levi Landis, executive director for the Philadelphia Folksong Society, have partnered together to start “We Need to Talk,” a new podcast that features interviews with local creatives as well as musings between the two.

Landis, an avid podcast listener, had to initially convince Stock to join in. But anyone tuning in would hardly get that impression. With only two released podcasts under their belts so far, it seems like the two have been doing this for years. Their dynamic is genius – the fact the two are so close allow for comical back-and-forths. It’s like overhearing a hilarious conversation in a coffee shop that you so desperately want to be a part of.

“We started about a year ago to keep around this idea that reflected our relationship together,” Landis said. “That vulnerable and comedic relation you have with a friend and bringing community in whether it be music and art.”

It extends beyond music and art, too. Landis and Stock are looking to talk to anyone who’s an inspiration in the Philly community showcased by their first guest – Brian Dwyer, founder and superstar behind pizza shop/museum Pizza Brain. (He’s also a longtime Philly drummer.)

Their second podcast, a shorter feature, has the two discussing small talk and elevator music. (This episode features the band Outside Eyes for a short cameo appearance where the hosts and artist literally play music in an elevator.)

Landis and Stock said they decided to hone in geographically on Philly creatives not because it was convenient with their connections to the music scene, but because there was a “void” in the scene. With so many podcasts focusing on national acts, Landis said there was an absence of storytelling as far as the Philly creatives go. Landis and Stock believe their stories and jokes need to be told, too. They’re informative. They’re entertaining.

“I think [finding guests] is something we’re still exploring, but something we go in with some trepidation. We follow our own curiosity about people and people we think are doing interesting things and form,” Stock said. “In my mind, some of it is the selfish act of following our own curiosity.”

But whatever they’re doing, it seems to be working. Though there aren’t any solidified release dates, expect to see guests like musicians Birdie Busch, John Francis and Todd Henkin from The Great Unknown in the near future.

“That’s my goal,” Stock said, “to get creative people really excited about this – we want to make the best possible interviews for creative people in Philly.”

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20 years of destroyed sweaters and Weezer’s Blue Album

weezer-blue-album-coverWhen their self-titled debut album arrived on May 10, 1994, Weezer did what a lot of post-Nirvana bands couldn’t: to mold a sound that was unmistakably their own. Whether you remember making the trip to Tower Records on South Street to buy a copy when it hit shelves 20 years ago or discovered it many years later as a teenager (like myself), you knew this record was special. Dubbed the “Blue Album” due to its artwork’s background, it found frontman Rivers Cuomo unabashedly nerdy and sincere in a way that only he could be through his lyrics and vocal delivery.

Insanely melodic? Yes. Era-defining? Yes. When you hear the opening chords of “My Name is Jonas”, it’s them knocking you out of your world and into theirs and your first thought is probably: “Who is Jonas?” and you come to love the guy simply because he inspired such a great song (it’s actually inspired partly by River’s brother and Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver, depending on the source). There’s a theme of abandonment and loneliness that sort of says it’s okay to be open and bluntly state your predicament without fear of judgment. It doesn’t get anymore blunt than “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” just by the title alone, but by the end when you’re chanting “Do you believe what I sing now?” at the top of your lungs you realize it’s gotta be more than that.

In the same vein, Weezer embraces solitude and feeling safe and content in your own world when we hear Cuomo listing all things that make him content despite being unheard and unnoticed by the outside world when he’s “In the Garage” which may seem like a contradiction on the surface but it’s a clear distinction between being lonely involuntarily and being alone by choice. Singles “Buddy Holly”, “Say It Ain’t So”, and “Undone (The Sweater Song)” all stand out for different reasons. The first is super melodic Weezer, the second is semi-aggressive Weezer, and the last being super-strange-but-so-catchy-you-can’t-resist Weezer. It’s the combination of all three modes that gives the entire record such vitality that was so fresh and memorable back then and even more so now when we jam to it 20 years later.

Check out live local performances of songs from the album below and (dare I say it) pick a favorite. Some of these come from a holiday show the band did with the now defunct commercial alternative radio station WDRE.

1. “My Name is Jonas” live at The Electric Factory, 1996

2. “Buddy Holly” live at The Electric Factory, 1996

3.. “Undone (The Sweater Song)”, live at The Electric Factory, 1996

4. “Say It Ain’t So”, live at The Electric Factory, 1996

5. “In The Garage”, live at the Tweeter Center (now known as Susquehanna Bank Center), 2002