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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Big Boys” by Chuck Berry

CHUCK album cover | Courtesy of Dualtone Records

Last week, the world lost a rock and roll legend: Chuck Berry passed away at at his home in Missouri at age 90. In October, 2016, it was announced that Berry was going to release his first new album in 38 years. The announcement came on his 90th birthday. Continue reading →

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Listen to the Dans discuss Chuck Berry and more in the latest Dan and Dan Music Podcast

The 51st episode of the Dan and Dan Music Podcast is here. This time around, the Dans tackle the recent passing of rock & roll legend Chuck Berry. In between reflecting on his highest highs and lowest lows, the dynamic duo listens to material from Berry’s soon to be released new album Chuck and lists their favorite Chuck covers. Eventually, their conversation leading them to a discussion of the interplay between a star’s career and their personal life. Stream the show below. Continue reading →

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Watch Chuck Berry jam with John Lennon on the Mike Douglas show in 1972

Chuck Berry and John Lennon on the Mike Douglas show in 1972

Yesterday we were saddened to hear the news that rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry passed away. Today, we bring you a local memory of him, in video form.

In February, 1972, John Lennon and Yoko One were invited to guest host the Mike Douglas Show in Philadelphia for a week, and they brought on Berry as  a guest. Douglas was an afternoon television talk show host; at the time, he taped in Philly at the KYW studios at 1619 Walnut Street. Lennon, with Ono and their band, backed Berry for two songs, “Memphis, Tennessee,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and sat for an interview with Douglas together.

“If you had tried to try and give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry,” Lennon said in his intro to the legend.

Seated in the audience at this performance was XPN midday host Helen Leicht, who worked in the production department at KYW TV at the time — you can see her clapping along to “Johnny B. Goode” beginning at the 10:48 mark. Continue reading →

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Rock and Roll legend Chuck Berry, dead at 90

Chuck Berry

The legendary Chuck Berry has died. The 90 year old rock and roller, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, defined rock and roll with songs like “Johnny B Goode,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Music,” “Maybelline,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and dozens of more classics. Continue reading →

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Chuck Berry Goes Classical: Listen to Andrew Lipke tackle “Roll Over Beethoven” with violinist Miho Seagusa

Andrew Lipke and Miho Seagusa of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia | still from video
Andrew Lipke and Miho Seagusa of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia | still from video

For the past couple years, Philly’s Andrew Lipke has branched beyond the confines of rock and roll singer-songwriter to collaborate with more classically-rooted music organizations in Philly. In the past year, he’s worked with Choral Arts Philadelphia on a recording project and joined the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia on the INTERSECT concert series, shows intended to bridge the worlds of classical and pop.

The next season of INTERSECT kicks off on Wednesday, November 30th at World Cafe Live, and to mark the occasion, Lipke and violinist Miho Seagusa put a fancy spin on a rock and roll favorite, Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” — which was kind of already a specimen of the rock world teasing the classical world.  Continue reading →

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For our 20,000th post, here are the 20 most popular Key stories of all time

The Troc Calendar from October 1994

With this post, we cross another milestone — 20,000 stories posted since The Key began covering the Philadelphia music scene on August 18, 2010.

Benchmarks like these are always a wonderful occasion for taking pause and looking back — as we did in 2014, upon hitting 10k posts — and I am pleased to say that our top twenty biggest stories, per Google Analytics, remain a perfect cross-section of what The Key is all about. Stories that are important Philadelphia music community; major happenings from the WXPN airwaves; and an appreciation of local and national music history, with an eye to the music of tomorrow.

Thank you for everybody who continues along this journey with us, and please enjoy this survey of the stories you’ve been most excited, inspired, and moved by along the way.
Continue reading →

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Philly noisemakers Taiwan Housing Project talk balancing pop and chaos for Veblen Death Mask

Taiwan Housing Project | photo by Donald Bruno | courtesy of the artist
Taiwan Housing Project | photo by Donald Bruno | courtesy of the artist

Back in 2013, Kilynn Lunsford and Mark Feehan collaborated for the first time, sitting on his couch with instruments and a computer and piecing together abstract sonic ideas and vivid vocals into their first, self-released LP as Taiwan Housing Project. Both had previous band experience under their belts — Lunsford in the Portland garage rock outfit Little Claw, which was active across the aughties, and Feehan in the 90s noiserockers Harry Pussy, which released a couple records on local imprint Siltbreeze.

Based in Philly, the two experimented in fusing extremely fun, infectious rock and roll with nihilistic sonic textures on a run of digital singles and EPs, and today its label debut Veblen Death Mask is out on venerable Portland label Kill Rock Stars. It boasts a ferocity that echoes no wave adjacent artists like Sonic Youth and Lydia Lunch — particularly on the dissonant breakdown of “What’s It All About” and the sinister tone of “Eat or Be Eat” — but the album is also profoundly catchy, a trait noticeable in the Cramps v B-52s face-off of “Authentic Alien Perfume.”

Lunsford and Feehan have an impressive roster of collaborators in the Taiwan Housing Project family, drawing members from Tyvek and Writhing Squares on Veblen. They have an advocate in punk icon Ian Svenonius (his new project ESCAPE-ISM opens for their album release party at Johnny Brenda’s tomorrow). I caught up with them via phone last week (Lunsford in Drexel Hill, Feehan in South Philly) to discuss the project’s attraction to compelling sound, its ever-evolving creative process process and why Svenonius doesn’t ever want to take the stage after them. Continue reading →