I am not a New Kids On The Block fan.I am also not a New Kids On The Block hater.I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, and adopted the persona wholeheartedly.I watched Saved By The Bell, had a slap bracelet, and saw Cool As Ice in theaters (if you’ve never heard of that, Google it and come back to berate me in the comments).NKOTB was something that permeated the era, so I knew their songs, I saw their videos, and yes, I memorized some lyrics.I watched the videos on MTV, and along with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men among many others, would record the video shows on VHS to watch over and over. Continue reading →
On Saturday afternoon, June 24th, 2017, the city of Philadelphia officially renamed the stretch of Broad Street between Christian and Carpenter as Boyz II Men BLVD. The R&B crooners have had a long and storied career that began in the city almost 3 decades ago. The fitting tribute took place on the steps of the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts. Continue reading →
Motownphilly’s back again — and celebrating the 25th anniversary of hometown icons Boyz II Men‘s classic 1991 debut album Cooleyhighharmony, as well as the stellar 1994 follow-up, II. For the first time ever, UMe will reissue both albums on vinyl, out August 19th.
Both LPs are packed with hits, including the bands cover of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” the Billboard Hot 100 chart climber “Motownphilly.” The Cooleyhighharmony reissue will feature the original album artwork and tracklisting, something previous reissues did not include. Continue reading →
Well, there’s certainly an easy answer to the question I just posed: because it’s a freaking awesome song. Because it’s a timeless Philly classic. Because everybody of a certain age (read: 30+) knows it word-for-word, and many people in the much-younger and much-older demographics are nonetheless familiar, and can still follow along.
But more specifically, there’s the video as captured by Philly lounge/rock/theatrical impresario Johnny Showcase, which went viral on Facebook yesterday. Without a lot of context or commentary, it just shows the scene – a hungry crowd at 3 a.m. spontaneously breaking into song and belting out “End of the Road,” the multi-award-winning 1991 hit by Philly R&B heores Boyz II Men. Showcase concludes “this is why I love this city.” Continue reading →
The thought, 20 years ago, of Boyz II Men and Nirvana having anything to do with one another might have paralyzed the pop world with fear and anger. But in front of a small audience at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (where the RnB legends famously formed while students), members Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris felt no hesitation or weight of historical genre divides when they ripped into an impromptu, largely comical version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Continue reading →
In more Saturday night concert awesomeness, piano man Billy Joel brought his summer stadium tour to Citizens Bank Park, and brought out harmonizing hometown guys Boyz II Men to sing backup on his doo-wop inspired hit “The Longest Time” from 1983’s An Innocent Man. Continue reading →
When people outside of Philadelphia think of our fair city, the following comes to mind: cheesesteaks, sports teams with middling records, and Boyz II Men.
While the first two items evoke eye-rolls I think we can all agree that we’re proud of being the town that bore one of the most successful groups of the 1990’s. When Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman took the stage of The Tower Theater on Saturday night, the reaction was rapturous. “On Bended Knee” showed up as only their third song in their set, and to say the crowd went wild would be an understatement. Wanya literally got down on his one knee and held various members of the crowd’s hands, evoking hysteria. I must say when Nathan started his verse, I got a little giddy myself.
Shawn took time out to thank the crowd for the continued support and say how they never forgot where they came from. This led to a trip back to 1991 with a performance of “Please Don’t Go” (complete with boy group dance moves) and was followed quickly by “Uhh Ahh,” which the younger crowd may recognize as the song recently sampled by Beyonce on her single “Countdown.”
The guys then moved on to their covers set: Motown favorites which got the crowd moving and then old-school power ballads. Nathan explained that they were offered the Lonestar track “Amazed” before the country one-hit wonders took it for their own. As he explained, now we hear the song in malls, bathrooms, and elevators all the world over. Needless to say, they felt kind of foolish having rejected the song but determined to record it themselves at some point. Boyz made it their own and as someone who does not care for the Lonestar version, I was floored.
One more surprise awaited us when Shawn and Nathan grabbed a guitar and bass and explained that their new album (Collide, which is being released in September) is going in a slightly different direction. The two songs the trio performed sounded more pop/rock than their previous work, evoking thoughts of “Unpretty,” by TLC or “Stay,” by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko. Most times when a band says “This is a new one,” that’s the cue for the audience to get up and grab a drink or hit the restroom but Boyz fans are loyal and seemed to really enjoy these teasers as much as the more familiar tunes.
This all led up to the big finale: armed with roses, the guys serenaded those who rushed the stage with their mega-hit “I’ll Make Love To You” while handing the flowers out to the excited women. They followed up with a few more of the love ballads that we all know and adore. Of course they couldn’t leave a hometown crowd without performing “Motownphilly,” complete with the group showing off their 90’s hip hop moves. Even after the song was over and they took their bows, Wanya, Nathan, and Shawn stayed to shake hands and say hello to their fans.
Many groups who have been together for 22 years go through the motions, take their pay, and call it a night but Boyz II Men seem to really still enjoy each other and those who support them. Many stuck around after the show, and when I got to the front lobby to leave, there was a huge crowd doing the Cha Cha Slide, waiting for their hometown heroes.
Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne will bring his folk blues to Susquehanna Bank Center tonight. His lastest album, Supernova, that was released this past April, has the signature grainy, husky vocals and folk roots, but with a psychedelic touch to it. Watch the music video for the single, “Supernova,” below and check out the XPN Concert Calendar for more information.
Following up last week’s session with Ron Gallo, Root Down in the Shadow has shared their newest Cover Club session with Sean Hoots. The local singer-songwriter doesn’t usually come to mind when thinking about Philadelphia R&B, but his soulful, acoustic version of Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” taps in to what makes his own music so enjoyable. Watch the video below and check out previous Cover Club sessions here.
“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.
Philly’s newest live-hip-hop collective is working this Spring on perhaps their most ambitious project to date. Historically, where Hardwork Movement’s live shows boast a full band with woodwinds and brass, their albums feature produced beats. But as MC Sterling Duns explains, for the first time, the crew has recently brought their whole band into the studio, determined to document the energy and sound of their shows with their first live recording. As Duns puts it, they wanted to “capture that, bottle that up, so people can take that home with them.”
Packaging the magic of being there into any medium can be challenging, especially when it comes to a crew like this one. The biggest thing about Duns, Jeremy Keys, RB Ricks and Rick Banks — the thing that comes across so immediately and infectiously in person (and, it’s pertinent to note here, what any written interview might also stand to lose, in translation) is their chemistry, the personality of each of the four of them as individuals that informs the rapport and the charm of the group as a whole as well. These longtime friends share history, and the love for music and for their hometown that serves organically to shape their shows, their compositions, their productions and performances, all styled with a wide and eclectic range of artistic influences.
They’ll play World Cafe Live Tuesday night for NPR Music’s sold-out Tiny Desk Philly concert. Later in the month, they’ll return to one of their favorite venues, Johnny Brenda’s, and for the first time will be featured at Firefly Festival in Dover this Summer, among other appearances this year. And in the meantime, they’re working toward a new album, and toward their commitments to supporting and mentoring the students of Play On Philly’s youth orchestra program too. Continue reading →