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 →


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 →


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 →


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 →


Ahead Of Their Time: The 40-year journey of inspiring Detroit rockers Death

Death | photo by Samdarko Eltosam | via

As an Afropunk, interviewing an all-Black punk band called Death might be the most existential thing I could possibly do on a Tuesday afternoon in 2019, but five minutes into the discussion, this writer also realized another thing was true: it was one of the most revealing.

Death’s start began in 1971, when three Detroit brothers — guitarist David, bassist Bobby, and drummer Dannis Hackney — turned on their instruments in a room in their parents’ modest home and got to channeling the raucous sounds of The MC5, the grandiose rock of local upstart Bob Seger, and The Who, much to the chagrin of their slightly more buttoned up neighbors. Despite their reverence to the most obvious, looming musical influence of the city at the time, Motown, and in a move especially treacherous for Black musicians, the brothers instead decided to play music that wasn’t going to get them booked at any R&B studio sessions: rock n roll. Continue reading →


Listen to a classic Grateful Dead performance at the Spectrum, September 21st 1972

Throw a dart at a calendar and you’ve got a decent shot at hitting the anniversary of a Grateful Dead show at the Spectrum. The band had a storied history with the classic Philly venue. It was the only site they played in every decade from the 60’s to the 90s’s. This very special soundboard recording comes from just the second of the Dead’s fifty-three Spectrum appearances. Continue reading →


The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hermetically Sealed: Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Dawes at the Wells Fargo Center

Jeff Lynne’s ELO | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN |

In a perfect world…. well, that’s it, isn’t it? A perfect world when it comes to tightly-strung, genius Anglo pop maestro Jeff Lynne and his airless-yet-wildly accessible ELO – itself, a differentiation in name and roll call from what 70s fans knows as Electric Light Orchestra, and the intentions of co-founders Roy Wood (who left after the first album in 1972) and Bev Bevan (who left, rejoined, left, then formed Electric Light Orchestra Part II).

When you entered Wells Fargo Center on Friday for Lynne’s ELO with opening act Dawes, you stepped into a world (literally, as dark universes, epic myth, spinning planets, and spiraling-out-of-control earth drama made metaphorically intimate are crucial to their live landscape) apart from the tonic usual, especially any sound relatable to the present. For Lynne’s songs – despite their lonely boy lost sci-fi-lite touch and future-forward sleekness – is singularly, melodically, rooted in the past: Lennon and McCartney, Mercury and May, Shostakovich and Beethoven, Chuck Berry and George Harrison and Barry Gibb. ELO may have released albums such as ZOOM and Alone in the Universe in the 21st Century, but the glory and grandeur of Friday night’s long-sold-out show was a love affair with the 70s and 80s, his and his audience’s. Continue reading →


Taylor Mac’s 20th century: Twelve hours of song and struggle, solidarity and sex

Taylor Mac | photo courtesy of the artist

As I entered the Merriam Theater on Saturday, June 9th, as the PIFA street festival was slowly whirring into life outside on South Broad street, I braced myself. What I was about to experience, whatever it turned out to be, was definitely going to be way too much. How could it possibly not be? We’re talking about a non-stop, twelve hour long performance; an epic history-inspired drag cabaret-as-endurance feat, featuring upwards of one hundred songs – roughly ten per hour, or per decade since the starting point of 1896. Actually, this was only the second half of what is, in full, a twenty-four hour work, the first twelve hours of which – covering the decades between 1776-1896 – were staged a week prior. (It’s been presented as an uninterrupted 24-hour marathon only once – in Brooklyn two years ago – but the Philadelphia iteration notches a solid runner-up in the insanity stakes.) Still, much too much seemed like a foregone conclusion.

Here’s the funny thing though: it really wasn’t. Not everything in the twelve hours worked, of course, but an astonishing amount of it did. I was engaged more or less instantly – for one thing, I was called onstage twice within the first two hours (first as part of a wave of immigration from “Eastern Europe” – a.k.a. the back of the house – to an increasingly crowded turn-of-the-century “Jewish tenement” represented by the stage; second, along with every other male in the audience between 14 and 40, as a WWI conscriptee.) And I was never bored. I was never turned off, or overwhelmed in an unfavorable way. I only left the auditorium twice, for no more than two minutes (it was all I could bear.) And when I left for good, shortly after midnight, I was fully satisfied and yet still ready for more.

The show, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, is not just a cabaret performance; not merely a concert, but (also) a costume spectacular, a psycho-political identity-poetics deep-dive, an audience-participatory historical re-enactment and re-calibration, a rip-roaring communal performance art party. Or, as described by its mastermind, master of ceremonies, constantly captivating central figure and the singer of all but a handful of those seemingly-innumerable songs – one Taylor Mac – it is a “radical faerie realness ritual…sacrifice.” Continue reading →