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Celebrate the life and music of Philly rapper Rich Quick at a memorial show and benefit next month

Rich Quick
Rich Quick | still from video

Following the passing of Rich Quick earlier this month, friends of the local rapper have scheduled a memorial show in his honor; it will take place October 12 at Voltage Lounge. The event was organized in part by Philly rapper Voss and will be hosted by local hip-hop artist Chris Vance. Performers will include Reef the Lost Cause, Corfu, Skrewtape, Marrissa Joy and more. All proceeds from the show will benefit the Rich Quick scholarship fund. Continue reading →

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R.I.P. Rich Quick, a unifying voice on the Philly hip-hop scene

Rich Quick
Rich Quick | still from video

At around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon, rest in peace shoutouts began pouring into Richard Strey’s social media accounts. As it appeared, the Woodbury, NJ underground rapper, better known as Rich Quick, had passed away.

His passing came as a shock to many. On his Facebook page, numerous heartfelt eulogies, memories, and mentions of disbelief flooded the page of the late MC who had strong ties to the Philadelphia hip-hop scene. Continue reading →

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Listen to two new Gorillaz songs, “Humility” and “Lake Zurich,” see them at Wells Fargo Center in October

Gorillaz | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Good news in the Gorillaz-verse! Earlier this week, Gorillaz announced new album The Now Now, the quick follow up to 2017’s Humanz. Today, the virtual band released two new tracks off their 6th studio LP, groovy bop “Lake Zurich” and album opener “Humility,” which features George Benson on guitar and vocals. Along with the two new tracks, the band provided more details on their upcoming album, which is set to release on June 29th. View the full tracklist and album artwork below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia with Andrew Lipke at World Cafe Live, CRUISR at The Fillmore and Jonathan Richman at The Chameleon Club

Andrew Lipke
Andrew Lipke performs 11/2 at The Fire

South African multi-instrumentalist Andrew Lipke will be performing with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia tonight at World Café Live. This exciting collaboration is part of the Intersect event which aims to celebrate the combination of genres by bringing together the chamber orchestra with some of the most gifted musical talents in the Philadelphia area. Tonight they will be with Andrew Lipke, who has made a name for himself as a critically-acclaimed arranger, producer, composer and performer. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Week of Folk: Richard Thompson, Ursula Rucker, The Lawsuits are Friday’s highlights

Richard Thompson | Photo by John Vettese
Richard Thompson | Photo by John Vettese

The Friday lineup at the 52nd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival was eclectic and exciting, beginning with a cluster of Philadelphia music scene staples and wrapping up with electrifying and impressive performance from folk scene mainstay Richard Thompson.

The Lawsuits kicked off the day on the main stage with an assortment of songs from their forthcoming LP Cool Cool Cool; they were poppy, they were country, they were classic rock, with songwriter Brian Dale Allen Strouse stepping behind the Steinway for a snappy take on “Onion” and singer Vanessa Winters owning “Long Drive Home” with a twangy vocal.

Lancaster trio The Stray Birds performed an assortment of songs from the as-yet-untitled album they just finished recording last week, Marc Silver rocked out some songs from his new story-centered album A Miner’s Tale, andToy Soldiers tore across a lively set of bluesy rockabilly from their forthcoming sophomore LP The Maybe Boys, due out September 10th.

Poet Ursula Rucker’s collaborative set with Philly guitar wizard Tim Motzer was easily the day’s highlight. While she read (and occasionally sang) pieces addressing social justice, racial prejudice,. gender and identity (among other topics), Motzer played a hypnotic guitar backing. Her performance of “Philadelphia Child” was particularly moving, as was the concluding call-and-response of “Super Sista.”

After an enjoyable performance from Philly-area celtic crew Runa, Richard Thompson took the stage to a thinning (but devoted) crowd. Thompson has played the fest several times as a solo artist; this time he was with his electric trio, which began on a jarringly funky note, but quickly settled into a groove that let Thompson’s guitar skills shine through. His nimble guitar shredding was impressive, “Shoot Out The Lights” backed by the band packed a punch that the song lacks when Thompson plays it solo. And his solo stab at “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” while not unexpected, didn’t disappoint either. Check out photos from the day in the gallery below.

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SXSW Dispatch: Reppin’ Philly with RECPhilly, What Scene, Freeway, Moosh and Twist, Ground Up, Chill Moody and more

Moosh and Twist  at the RECPhilly showcase | Photo by John Vettese
Moosh and Twist at the RECPhilly showcase | Photo by John Vettese

It was a rainy night in Austin on Friday, making it the perfect time to stay indoors, off of the 6th Street melee and hang with a stacked lineup of Philly hip-hop and R&B musicians. The party at Old School Bar – thrown by promoters What Scene? and record label / artist development upstart RECPhilly – mixed up-and-comers with established names, and kept the room packed with an enthusiastic crowd across the night. Continue reading →

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Listen to “Sacred Papercuts,” the first single from Dumhi’s Soft Pretzel Power Ballads

Dumhi | via facebook.com/dumhi
Dumhi onstage in 2011 | via facebook.com/dumhi

Philly hiphop collective Dumhi returns this month with the latest installment of its Loosies series, amusingly titled Soft Pretzel Power Ballads. It’s a funny title, but these dudes are for serious – producer Haj at the helm and his regular bevy of collaborators, including Reef the Lost Cauze (his January single “Early on my Born Day“), Random, Murs, Burke the Jurke and more. Continue reading →

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It Takes Two: Philly jazz punks Writhing Squares up their game on Out of the Ether, share their favorite duos

Writhing Squares | photo by Peter Kerlin | via facebook.com/thewrithingsquares

Two piece rock bands are kind of the redheaded stepchildren of the scene. They’re treated as an anomaly and a freakish one at that. It’s part of the reason why events like Two Piece Fest, which is coming up at the end of the month, have thrived. There’s a community there, a familiarity and solidarity even among bands that have seemingly nothing in common but their number of members.

Some two-piece bands are formed out of a sense of desperation – they can’t find a third member or somebody quits and they decide to just make a go at it – and others from a drive towards innovation. The word ‘experimental’ gets bandied about a lot when talking about duos, even when they’re playing utterly straightforward music. Still, there’s something to be said for the power of pushing the boundaries of what just two people can create.

If you want to see a prime example of that look no further than Philly two piece Writhing Squares and their sound that’s at the midpoint between prog, pysch, jazz, and punk. Their latest album Out of the Ether was just released on Trouble In Mind Records and they’re playing a record release show tonight at Kung Fu Necktie with Sparrow Steeple and Headroom.

The fact that neither Kevin Nickles or his bandmate Daniel Provenzano play drums wasn’t a deterrent when they decided to start Writhing Squares more than five years ago. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Ali Awan

“I kind of get stir crazy if I’m not out playing shows,” says Ali Awan. “I always have to be in a certain project, I love writing and working on stuff.”

In recent years, the Philadelphia psych rock singer-songwriter — WXPN’s Artist to Watch for the month of January — has played lead guitar in a handful of northeast bands, including Philly’s Needle Points and New York’s Jane Church. But his own solo material was always in back-of-mind, and the four songs populating his Bandcamp page, going back to his year-old debut solo release “Citadel Blues,” were all the result of downtime within other projects.

“I was pretty much writing a lot of this stuff as I was in those bands, but I never knew how I wanted to present it,” he says. “Should I get a band together? Is it just a recording project? Playing ‘Citadel’ live was the last thing on my mind, because as much as I love being a frontperson, I also love just playing guitar.”

It’s not a new obsession, either. Awan is 26 now, but he’s been playing music around Philly for more than a decade, going back to when he was a 14-year-old kid who would take the regional rail downtown from Abington to catch punk shows in basement venues with names like Disgraceland and Halfway House.
Continue reading →