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The Week Ahead: Sidney Gish, Patti LaBelle, Rosali, Espers, and more

Rosali
Rosali | photo by Constance Mensh | courtesy of the artist

The week starts with blues rock ripper Selwyn Birchwood out in the burbs and wraps up in South Philly with the contemplative singer-songwriting of The Afterglows. In between: classic soul, immersive psych, punk rock and more. Here are 17 concerts to see in and around Philadelphia this week.
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Summer at The Dell brings Erykah Badu, Patti LaBelle, Keith Sweat, Ne-Yo and more to Fairmount Park

roots picnic
Erykah Badu | Photo by John Vettese

The Dell Music Center was made for summer concerts, and this year the open-air venue in Fairmount Park East will host a star-studded lineup of musicians almost every week throughout July and August. Many artists scheduled to perform are Dell veterans, like hometown soul/gospel icon Patti LaBelle and neo-soul queen Erykah Badu. Other familiar acts are also lined up, like 80’s R&B star Keith Sweat, gospel singer Tamela Mann and long-running R&B group Kool & the Gang. Continue reading →

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Patti LaBelle, Toni Braxton, Erykah Badu and more will play The Dell this summer

Patti LaBelle | Photo via facebook.com/PattiLaBelle
Patti LaBelle | Photo via facebook.com/PattiLaBelle

One of the great secrets of Philly live music, The Dell kicks off its summer season this week with a headlining performance by Philadelphia R&B / soul / gospel icon Patti LaBelle. The summer continues with a performance by renowned local dance troupe PhilaDanco on July 17th, a July 23rd show starring R&B / pop star Toni Braxton and 90s hitmaking machine Babyface (who played a tremendous set at The Dell last summer), the return of neo-soul innovator Erykah Badu on August 13th, and much more.

An open-air amphitheater nestled in the Strawberry Mansion hills, the city-run Dell has been around since 1935, but in recent years has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance in programming and prominence, with a focus on R&B, soul, funk and jazz. It’s something of a cousin to West Philly’s Mann Center – the venues were both, at one point in the 70s, both named Robin Hood Dell, and both hold over 5,000 seats in their shed – but where the Mann feels secluded in the serene forests of Fairmount Park, The Dell and its adjacent neighborhood are interconnected.

When I caught Babyface and Robert Glasper in a sold-out show at the venue last summer, you could spot members of the local community who couldn’t snag tickets setting up lawn chairs along Ridge Avenue, or bringing a cooler of dogs and burgers over to the park to grill while listening to the show waft up from down the way. Whether by design or by circumstance, concerts at The Dell aren’t just for ticketholders, they’re for everybody, and that’s a wonderful thing. Check out the summer schedule below. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Letters to Cleo, Caroline Rose, Keyon Harrold, (Sandy) Alex G and more

Keyon Harrold
Keyon Harrold | photo by Deneka Peniston | courtesy of the artist

It’s starting to get cold out, friends. And before you find yourself faced with the prospect of bundling up in heavy winter attire to get groceries, much less to get to the gig, we recommend you fit in many shows this week as possible this moth. Here are 25 concerts to see in the next seven days all around Philadelphia: free shows, jazz gigs, folk and funk, and one of the most jam-packed Fridays we’ve seen in a while.    Continue reading →

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Black Thought’s appearance on What’s Good With Stretch and Bobbito is full of quoteables

Black Thought’s Live Mixtape | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

You know that Black Thought is going to be in rare form when you hear him laughing off an archival performance from 1994: “and in today’s episode of Cringeworthy…”

It was actually from an old episode of NYC hip-hop radio pioneers Stretch and Bobbito’s old call-in show, The Roots’ first radio appearance with the duo back in the day, and for 47 minutes on their current NPR podcast What’s Good, The Roots frontman talks about how hip-hop saved him, how Philly shaped him, and how he continues to challenge himself 30+ years into his career. Continue reading →

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Queen Latifah will receive Philadelphia’s Marian Anderson Award this fall

Queen Latifah | via The Boombox

When rapper / actress / activist Queen Latifah burst onto the scene with her debut single “Ladies First,” the impact of the song created a ripple effect that continues to reverberate through the genre today. Backed up by U.K.-born expat Monie Love, “Ladies First” was an opening shot of a hungry young MC and a declaration of sorts.  From her very first introduction to the scene, Latifah set off on a mission to inspire women to assertively step to the forefront in a largely male-dominated culture. Although hip-hop has had a wealth of gifted women MCs that came before her (MC Sha-Rock of the Funky Four +1, Sequence, Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte etc.), Latifah’s sharp technique, regal air and message that focused on black women’s empowerment set her apart from her peers. Songs like “U.N.I.T.Y.”, “Just Another Day” and “Latifah’s Had It Up 2 Here” saw Latifah carving out a distinctive space centered around her blackness, femininity and deep sense of community consciousness. Continue reading →

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“It Was Pretty Much Destined”: Philly powerhouse Lady Alma on her path through music

Lady Alma at Kindred Presents | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Lady Alma was and still is a voice to be reckoned with. The prominent Philadelphia vocalist might have taken a hiatus ten years ago, but is officially back and better than ever.

Last week, Alma sat down at World Cafe Live to discuss why her upcoming concert at The Ardmore Music Hall on August 18 means so much to her.

“It’s really going to be a party,” she said. “I hope that when folks do come, they aren’t coming to just be entertained, but coming to party.”

Alma will be performing along with Brooklyn instrumental group Tortured Soul, and the internationally renowned, Philly-based DJ that helped launch Alma’s professional musical career, King Britt.

“The eighteenth is going to be a magical night because I’m being reunited with my brother King Britt and my brothers Tortured Soul,” Alma said.

King Britt remembers when he first heard Alma sing when he was DJing and Alma and Tanja Dixon were singing over his set without a microphone.

“I could not believe the power of these women.” King Britt recounted. “[I] instantly wanted to record with them, it was such an honor.” Continue reading →