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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Josh Lawrence at Pastorious Park, Lady Parts at Ortliebs & more

josh lawrence
Josh Lawrence | photo courtesy of the artist

Find a winning combination of outdoor venues, live jazz, and summer nights tonight over at Pastorious Park in Chestnut Hill. The Pastorious Park Summer Concert Series is the oldest running outdoor concert series in Philadelphia, and every show is free to the public. Tonight’s performance features Philly jazz musician Josh Lawrence, who has recently released his third solo album Color Theory. More information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Josh Lawrence says farewell to Philadelphia with Color Theory shows at South

josh lawrence
Josh Lawrence | photo courtesy of the artist

In some ways, Josh Lawrence’s new album Color Theory serves as a farewell to Philadelphia. At the same time that the trumpet player was in the studio last summer, he was making arrangements to move to New York City, that essential proving ground for rising stars in the jazz world.

At the same time, the album, which Lawrence will celebrate this weekend at South, shows off the simmering chemistry of a largely Philly-based band and a sound steeped in the raucous, burning hard-bop style so rooted in this city – suggesting that Lawrence may not be so eager to leave his adopted hometown behind.

“I feel rooted here,” Lawrence said over coffee last month at La Colombe, with City Hall looming in the background. “I’ve lived in Philly longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life, and people here consider me as being from Philly. This is where I’m rooted musically, too – the record sounds like a Philly record to me.”

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Talking Miles Ahead with Philly jazzman Josh Lawrence

Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead | photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead | photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The idea of Don Cheadle playing Miles Davis has been floating around for at least a decade, ever since the legendary trumpeter’s son, Erin Davis, and nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr., proposed the idea while inducting Davis into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. The notion finally came to big-screen fruition this year as Miles Ahead, in a form different than anyone might have expected (it opens at the Ritz Five on tonight).

Doubling as director, Cheadle deviated from the standard biopic format to create a heist-movie fantasia with Miles at its center,aiming for the spirit rather than the factual reality of its subject. I wondered how the film might look to someone directly influenced by Miles’ music, so I invited trumpeter Josh Lawrence, co-founder of the Fresh Cut Orchestra and host of the Thursday night jazz series at Jose Garces’ Volver Restaurant, to attend a screening with me and discuss the film afterward.  Continue reading →

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This Weekend’s Concert Picks: The Josh Olmstead Band, North Lawrence Midnight Singers, Johnny Miles And The Waywards

The Josh Olmstead Band
The Josh Olmstead Band performs 11/19 at Johnny Brenda's

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19
To say that this is a big weekend for local roots/blues/folk/country rock bands would be an understatement. Tonight’s show at Johnny Brenda’s features not one, not two, but three rock acts that are celebrating the release of a new record: The Josh Olmstead Band (Purple Mountain Majesty In the Antlers Hotel), North Lawrence Midnight Singers (Last Great Saturday Night), and Joseph Arnold (Discomedusae). (Steve and Krista Yutzy-Burkey of The Swimmers will open the show—but, you know, The Swimmers haven’t released an album since last year’s People Are Soft.) We’ve had a chance to listen to a few choice tracks from all three albums; earlier this month, we highlighted both The Josh Olmstead Band’s “Devil May Care” and North Lawrence Midnight Singers’ “Another Night.” (Look for reviews of both records next week—after we’ve had the chance to spend a little more quality time with each). The Josh Olmstead Band, North Lawrence Midnight Singers, Joseph Arnold, and Steve And Krista Yutzy-Burkey perform at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10.

Also playing: Hoots And Hellmouth + Birdie Busch at World Cafe Live (8 p.m., SOLD OUT)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Because an eight-band bill is too much of a good thing, another four Philly rock acts will be sharing the stage at Johnny Brenda’s the following night. (Ed. note: That makes JB’s 6/6 so far this week in terms of our daily concert picks. We swear it’s not favoritism. Blame the booking people at Johnny Brenda’s!) Headlining the show is Johnny Miles And The Waywards, who will celebrate the release of their third album, When The Saints Sleep, at the show. (You can listen to the album’s title track—which we highlighted earlier this month—here.) Locals Joshua Park (currently working on a full length), Liz Fullerton (who, after teaming up with Jedi Mind Tricks’ Stoupe to form Dutch, released an album over the summer), and “Philly Folkmonster” Psalmships (who also released an album earlier this year) will open the show. Johnny Miles And The Waywards, Joshua Park, Liz Fullerton, and Psalmships perform at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10.

Also playing: Aloe Blacc + The Grand Scheme, Maya Jupiter at World Cafe Live (10:30 p.m., 21+, $17); Brian McGee + No! Go! Tell!, Marriage at Kung Fu Necktie (7:30 p.m., $7)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Keeping Johnny Brenda’s from going an unprecedented 7/7 this week is the simple fact that they don’t have a show on Sunday night. (No, we’re not going to pick Captain Marbles’ Third Sunday DJ Brunch.) If you’re not already planning on staying in Sunday night to listen to the half-dozen or so new local albums you picked up the previous two nights, we recommend you catch Aussie psyche-rockers Tame Impala with Stardeath And White Dwarfs and Kuroma; honestly, after two consecutive nights of roots rock, a little ’60s psychedelia will probably be good for you. Tame Impala performs with Stardeath And White Dwarfs and Kuroma at 7:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church; tickets to the all-ages show are $12.

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Catch up with saxophonist Azar Lawrence before he headlines the Lancaster Ave Jazz Fest this weekend

AL

Saxophonist Azar Lawrence has never been shy about admitting John Coltrane’s influence on his playing. The Los Angeles-born tenor player famously stepped into the legendary saxophonist’s shoes, playing in the bands of both pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones not long after both left the classic Coltrane Quartet. After being hired by Tyner, he asked the pianist why he’d been deemed worthy.

“I asked McCoy, ‘How could you play with a guy like me after playing with the great John Coltrane?’” Lawrence recalls. “He said, ‘As long as I don’t have to slow down to hand you the baton in this relay race, we’ll be fine.’”

Lawrence has now run with that baton for more than three decades, carving out a lengthy career as a bandleader while also playing alongside greats like Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind and Fire. Coltrane is a towering influence in jazz, of course, and Lawrence is an ardent disciple not only of Trane’s tone and technique but of his spiritual leanings, as showcased on his latest CD, The Seeker (Sunnyside). He’ll perform music from that CD as well as some of Coltrane’s compositions as he headlines the 8th annual Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival on Saturday with a stellar band featuring pianist Benito Gonzalez, bassist Essiet Essiet, drummer Brandon Lewis, and the great trumpeter Eddie Henderson.

The free jazz festival is hosted by the People’s Emergency Center (PEC), which provides families in need in the West Philadelphia community with housing, job training, counseling, and other services. The festival, says Cassandra Green, manager of community outreach and partnerships at PEC, “is an opportunity for People’s Emergency Center and its partners and sponsors to celebrate the arts and culture from a community perspective. It provides an opportunity for the whole community to come together and to highlight the West Philadelphia area.”

After doubling attendance for last year’s festival, which was headlined by saxophonist Tim Warfield Jr., the PEC received a $10,000 “Challenge America Fast-Track Grant” from the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to a full day of music, including performances by Josh Lawrence, Shakera Jones, Nasir Dickerson, and a youth ensemble from Play On, Philly, the event will include a family fitness challenge, a pop-up digital lab, vendors and food trucks.

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My Morning Download: “Baby Loses Her Mind” by Josh Berwanger

Photo by Rebecca Armstrong
Photo by Rebecca Armstrong

In the early 00s, Josh Berwanger was the singer and songwriter behind the excellent midwestern  five-piece The Anniversary. Over a half-dozen years, that band built a considerable buzz around indie rock and emo circles, touring relentlessly and releasing two LPs – most notably 2002’s intricate, elegant and classic rock informed outing Your Majesty – along with an assortment of singles and EPs. But by the middle of the decade, they had burnt out, and when Berwanger’s follow-up project (the alt-country five-piece The Only Children) didn’t take off in the same way, he returned home to Lawrence, Kansas to coach high school basketball. But music came calling again late last year, and a new solo album called Strange Stains was recorded with original Anniversary bandmate Michael Hutcherson. You’ll hear nods to the radio rock canon of the 70s and 80s across its eleven tracks – especially in today’s My Morning Download, “Baby Loses Her Mind,” which echoes the gritty chops of Hüsker Dü and the hooky pop of Paul Westerberg. It was recorded in collaboration with Jim Macpherson (The Breeders, Guided By Voices) on drums in the mountains of Sedalia, Colorado. Download the song below; Strange Stains came out on Good Land Records on October 1st, and is available here.

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Archives of Oblivion and North Lawrence Midnight Singers announce summer residency at Ortlieb’s Lounge


Josh Olmstead’s new band, Archives of Oblivion, and the North Lawrence Midnight Singers have announced a joint summer residency at Ortlieb’s Lounge. The shows will take place Monday, June 18th; Saturday, July 14th; and Saturday, August 18th. The Northern Liberties club, bar and restaurant recently reopened after being closed for a period of two years. When we last heard from Archives of Oblivion, a reference to an album title by Roy Harper, the band performed a 40th anniversary tribute to Jerry Garcia’s debut solo album at Milkboy in January. The band plan on performing another album from the Seventies in its entirety soon and recording an album of all original material. Go here for more information about the shows and the newly reopened Ortlieb’s Lounge.

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Archives Of Oblivion (new Josh Olmstead project) to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s solo debut in January

Archives Of Oblivion is the new project from Josh Olmstead along with Natalie Butts (guitar, percussion, vocals), Tyler Case (keyboards), Claire Duncombe (percussion, vocals), Joseph Primavera (guitar), Matt Scarano (drums), and Matt Stein (bass). The band is playing three dates in January to celebrate the 40th anniversary release of Jerry Garcia’s 1972 debut solo album Garcia (released January 20th, 1972). AOO will play the album in its entirety along with a set of all new original songs. Fans of the Grateful Dead may recall that in addition to Garcia releasing his solo debut in 1972, Bob Weir released his solo debut Ace and Mickey Hart his solo debut Rolling Thunder that same year. Garcia’s debut featured the song “Deal,” “Sugaree,” and “The Wheel.” Bill Kreutzmann played drums on the album and Garcia played all other instruments.

Archives of Oblivion perform Thursday, January 19th, at John & Peters, New Hope, Friday, January 20th, at Milkboy in Philadelphia, and Sunday, January 22nd, at the Dawson Street Pub in Manayunk. The North Lawrence Midnight Singers and Andrew Gray (formerly of Hoots & Hellmouth) are on the bill at the Milkboy show. Below, check out a video of the Jerry Garcia Band performing “Deal” from the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut from September 5th, 1989.

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Philly Local Philes: North Lawrence Midnight Singers’ “Another Night”

North Lawrence Midnight SingersThe first song we heard from Fishtown bar rockers North Lawrence Midnight Singers was a tune called “Friend Of Elvis.” It bolted off the dancefloor in a sax-heavy style more reminiscent of The Boss than The King. But singer-guitarist Todd Zamostien’s Presley fixation is no joke. The band’s latest offering, Last Great Saturday Night, transplants the Singers’ setting from the Jersey shore to a Tupelo saloon, and they happen to be the swaggery house band with a charismatic lead singer. Tune in below to “Another Night” and pay close attention to vocal vibrato carrying the song. Totally Roy Orbison. Totally Buddy Holly. Totally Elvis Presley. North Lawrence Midnight Singers celebrate the EP’s release tomorrow, Nov. 19, at Johnny Brenda’s; Josh Olmstead and Joseph Arnold are also releasing new music at that show. (It’s a good night for Philly-based roots artists.)

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: Now is the time

MHYSA | via mhysa301.bandcamp.com

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

It’s not a pretty world out there right now, friends. I mean, take a step back — for many, it’s never been a pretty world, and as much as past leaders have given lip service to inclusivity and equality, the reality of the situation for those most affected by discrimination and targeted by hate shakes out differently.

But now, though? Inequality is not just institutional, but overtly so. Continue reading →