Tonight’s Concert Picks: Frankie Rose at Johnny Brenda’s, URSULA at PhilaMOCA, Huffamoose at MilkBoy and more…

Frankie Rose | photo courtesy of the artist
Frankie Rose | photo courtesy of the artist

New York synth-rocker Frankie Rose released her latest album Cage Tropical today and celebrates with a headlining gig at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. It’s a record rooted in sci-fi and ‘80s pop influences — read more on that in The Key’s own Rob Huff’s Q&A with Rose earlier this week. Joining her on the bill are Tempers and Sad Heaven. Doors for the 21+ show open at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, head to the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Huffamoose to reunite for a benefit at Ardmore Music Hall

Huffamoose | Photo courtesy of the band
Huffamoose | Photo courtesy of the band

On Sunday, November 23rd at the Ardmore Music Hall, Huffamoose will reunite, with special guests Jim Boggia, Ben Arnold and The Fractals. 100% of all the ticket sales will benefit Dan’s Voice, a memorial fund for the treatment and research of head and neck cancer. A Chapter of the Board of Associates of Fox Chase Cancer Center, Dan’s Voice was founded in memory of Dan Rich, who lost his voice and his life to laryngeal/esophageal cancer.

Huffamoose – lead singer and guitarist Craig Elkins, guitarist and singer Kevin Hanson, bassist Jim Stager and drummer Erik Johnson – formed in 1992, and were signed to Interscope Records in 1994. The band debuted in 1993 with their self-titled independent release, and had several songs, including “James” and “I Want To Buy You A Ring,” that got a lot of airplay on WXPN. After signing with Interscope, they released their major label debut, We’ve Been Had Again, in June 1997. The band, known for their mix of rock with jazz influences, had rocky times on the label. After relocating to Los Angeles to work with producer Joe Chiccarelli, unhappy with the results, they convinced their A&R representative to let them re-record the album in Ardmore at the now defunct Chill Factor studios. While the making of the record more aptly fit the band’s musical vision, it strained relations with the label even further.

In a June 1997 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Craig Elkins told writer Tom Moon:

“We definitely came to appreciate the uphill battle for an unknown band,” Elkins says. “At any point along the way we could have gone along with some advice we didn’t feel comfortable with. We listened to all the options, but most of the time we ended up sticking to our guns, for better or worse. Having to fight for what you believe in, that helps you grow.”

Members of the band are still active in music. After moving to California, Elkins has enjoyed a solo career. Kevin Hanson formed The Fractals in 2010, teaches guitar at the University of the Arts, and, as an in demand session player, has played on records by The Roots, Jill Scott, Usher, Trey Songz and Jay Z. Johnson and Stager also perform with Hanson in The Fractals.

Below, watch a video of the band perform “Wait,” from an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.


The Wayne Music Festival brings a whole lot of local acts and more to the burbs

Ben Arnold | Photo by: Ellen Miller |
Ben Arnold | Photo by: Ellen Miller |

After having a couple years off from hosting its annual jazz festival, the town of Wayne brought it back as the Wayne Music Festival,  incorporating more rock and acoustic artists with the jazz music. Now in its third year, the Wayne Music Festival got yet another big upgrade with a third stage and even more (local) musicians to entertain the suburbs. It may not qualify as a jazz festival anymore, but this year’s Wayne Music Festival managed to bring out more than enough music fans to pack the center of Wayne by the time Rusted Root started their headlining set on Saturday night. Continue reading →


Listen to “Low Road,” a new single from Philly-bred songwriter Jason Karaban

Jason Caraban | photo courtesy of the artist
Jason Caraban | photo courtesy of the artist

Jason Karaban is originally from Philadelphia.  For the past ten years he has been living and working as a songwriter in California. His parents and brother still live in Philly. I just received a new song, “Low Road,” from Jason and we traded emails about it.

Helen Leicht: Tell me about the new song.

Jason Karaban: I performed this on your show, Helen. It was pretty fresh back then. I recently recorded this version with Sara Watkins, Garrison Starr, Benmont Tench and Pete Thomas. .

HL: How did you get connected with those musicians?

JK: I’ve been doing a lot of writing with various artists such as Lucy Schwartz, Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket and others. Craig Elkins from Huffamoose actually helped with some of the lyrics on “Low Road,” along with Garrison Starr. I connected with sara watkins through Glen Phillips. I also work with Sara’s brother, Sean. I’ve been recording and playing with Pete Thomas for about eight years or so. I hooked up with him through David Immergluck and Charlie Gillingham from Counting Crows who I’ve also worked with on off for the same amount of time. He’s played on most of my solo records. I met benmont tench at a place out here in Los Angeles called Largo where I’ve played with Sara and Sean as part of a residency they’ve been doing for about 10 years called the Watkins Family Hour.

HL: When will the song be available and do you want to share this new music?

JK: “Low Road” will probably be available on an EP at some point in the future but I’d love to offer the song as a free download to WXPN listeners.


Check out the awesome animation in Craig Elkins’ music video for “Most of the People”

Quirky Philly alt-rock foursome Huffamoose released a handful of albums on Interscope Records in the 90s, and then went their separate ways at the turn of the century. Some stayed local – Kevin Hanson, Jim Stager and Erik Johnson formed The Fractals, who Helen Leicht spotlighted on the Leicht Lunch this week – while songwriter Craig Elkins moved to Southern California to launch a solo career. His latest record, I Love You, was released last month, and this week Elkins premiered a music video for the album’s lead single, “Most of the People.” It’s sunny power-pop with quirky, playful animation by Erik Horvitz. Check it out below.


Listen to The Fractals recorded live on the Leicht Lunch

The members of The Fractals are veterans in the Philly rock scene, from the 90s alt-rock act Huffamoose up to their collective role as session players and music teachers today. With a show coming up at new Philly venue Underground Arts this Thursday Aug. 16, The Fractals paid a visit to the Leicht Lunch today to perform and chat with XPN’s Helen Leicht. Below, you can download their acoustic performance of the new song “Twila Darlin'”, get an mp3 of their studio recording “Miss Kensington,” and hear an archive of their entire appearance.


Songs In The Key of Philly Playlist

SongsInTheKeyOfPhilly2What you are listening to here is Songs In The Key Of Philly, a looping channel or “stream” of music. When the stream of music popped up you may have noticed it was in the middle of the song. The reason for this is that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act which regulates internet webcasting specifies various compliance statutes related to streaming music on the internet. One of these is that this stream of music is only available as a looped archive. You will not be able to fast forward or find specific songs; you will however be able to kick back, turn up the volume and enjoy the music as it plays! The list of songs on Songs In The Key Or Philly includes:

“McShred” – McRad
“Hang On” – Illinois
“PSK What Does It Mean? – Schoolly-D
“You” – Ben Arnold
“Hero In Me” – Jeffrey Gaines
“I Ain’t Searchin'” – The American Dream
“Hanging On A Heartbeat” – The Hooters
“Arms Of A Woman” – Amos Lee
“97 Miles” – Go To Blazes
“Taking It Over” – The Interpreters
“Be My Love” – Mario Lanza
“Love Train” – The O’Jays
“Your Love Is Good” – Bunny Sigler
“The Twist” – Chubby Checker
“Sharon” by David Bromberg
“Mashed Potato Time” – Dee Dee Sharp
“Venus” – Frankie Avalon
“At the Top of the Stairs” – The Formations
“Cowboys To Girls” – The Intruders
“Betcha By Golly, Wow” – The Stylistics
“Ship Of The Future” – Edison Electric Band
“Boogaloo Down Broadway” – The Fantastic Johnny C
“Wildwood Days” – Bobby Rydell
“Bristol Stomp” – The Dovells
“South Street” – The Orlons
Continue reading →