Free at Noon Flashback: Secret American brings Warmth and Shelter to World Cafe Live

Secret American | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

There’s nothing like a noontime dance party to really wake you up. Philly native Derek Krzywicki is the eccentric frontman behind Secret American, a band with a self-described “East Coast heart” and “West Coast vibe,” and for today’s Free at Noon he came prepared with a six-piece backing band, quirky choreography, and plenty of upbeat energy to accompany his sunny pop songs.

Though he now lives in California, Krzywicki seemed more than eager to return to his Philadelphia roots this afternoon, and he’ll do so again tonight when Secret American plays Philly Music Fest, a hometown celebration of the city’s music scene. Today’s prelude to tonight’s main event gave the crowd a brief but spirited look into what the band has been up to since releasing their debut album, Warmth & Shelter, this spring. Continue reading →


Secret American grooves to thoughts of devotion and trust on “I Wanna Know”

Secret American | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Philly son Derek Krzywicki has reinvented himself as a Harry Nilsson-inspired impresario since relocating to the West Coast, but curiously, most of his collaborators remain his Philly BFFs. Namely his six bandmates in Secret American, the swinging retro pop/rock project that releases its debut LP, Warmth And Shelter, this Friday, May 18th.

Following up the handful of singles the band already released (the suave “Why Believe” and the swinging “Chelsea The Cat,” both of which we saw the band play upstairs at Fergie’s, plus the warped “Bang Bang” and the jaunty title track), the band is back today with one more taste of the album before it’s out in the world in full. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Kamasi Washington at Union Transfer, Soraia at MilkBoy, Secret American At Johnny Brenda’s, and more

Kamasi Washington
Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Following the release of his latest EP Harmony of Difference in September, Los Angeles-based jazz master Kamasi Washington brings his saxophone-driven tunes to Union Transfer tonight. Philly’s own Sun Ra Arkestra opens the show. Read The Key’s interview with Washington here, listen to “Truth” off the new EP below and find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar.  Continue reading →


The Key Presents: Secret American

Secret American | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

Secret American is a project of two coasts. A couple years back, frontman Derek Krzywicki found himself living in Southern California, where he moved with his old band Cheers Elephant. After parting ways with those guys, he began melding a retro-rock songwriting style with his unstoppable charisma onstage and at the microphone. But Krzywicki is a Philadelphia-area native, and some of his favorite folks to record with were located back in Philly. So he grabbed cheap airfares when they popped up and bounced back and forth across the U.S. to record his debut album, due out early next year. The result is pretty nicely aligned with the band’s jovial tagline: “California country landscapes from the seat of an overhead SEPTA train.”

Secret American found itself convened back in Philadelphia on a sunny day in early September of 2017. And so Krzywicki and his bandmates — Kevin Killen on drums; Todd Mecaughey on bass; Rory Geoghegan and Alex Baranowski on guitars, Katie Frank on keys and Tony Unander on percussion — met up at Fergie’s Pub in Center City. It’s an incredibly musician-friendly establishment, between weekly open mics, residencies from Philadelphia vets like John Train, a regular traditional Irish music session, the musicians slinging drinks from behind the bar, and more. So the seven bandmates gathered together on the tiny second floor stage of the pub for an afternoon jam out.

This is The Key Presents: Secret American. Continue reading →


Secret American, New Sound Brass and more come together tonight for hurricane benefit show

Secret American | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Local promoters Bernie’s Lounge Presents will throwing a show tonight to benefit those affected by the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, and they’ve put together a stacked lineup of performers to gather the most aid possible for the cause. The event, taking place at Ulana’s in Queen Village, will feature performances by Secret American and New Sound Brass, plus more local acts including You Do You and KORINE. Starting at 7 p.m. the venue’s gallery will be open for some visual art displays, and the benefit continues after the live music with a few DJ sets. All proceeds from the 21+ show will be donated to Unidos por Puerto Rico — visit the organization’s website for more information or to donate online. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Secret American bring us California sunshine in “Warmth & Shelter” video

Secret American | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Secret American, the new solo project of Cheers Elephant‘s Derek Krzywicki, is back with a delightful video for their second single “Warmth & Shelter,” and we’re excited to premiere it right here on The Key. The title track from the yet-to-be-announced debut album coming our way later this fall, “Warmth & Shelter” exudes the sunshine-filled California spirit with an unmistakable gritty Philadelphia edge that makes Secret American’s sound so unique.

Krzywicki once called Philly home, but now dwells among the cacti out on the West Coast. The video shows the native East Coaster wandering through the desert and the mountains — landscapes that are unmistakably Californian but still feel so foreign to us. According to Krzywicki, Secret American observes “California country landscapes from the seat of an overhead SEPTA train.” The singer, in his 70s garb complete with sunglasses and a fake mustache, may be a bit inherently out of place out there in the sunny countryside, trying to adopt those laid-back vibes, but it makes us want to hop right on a plane and join him in the comfort of the bright UV rays. Watch the video below. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Secret American’s “Why Believe?” brings Derek Krzywicki back to the spotlight

Secret American | photo courtesy of the artist

More often than not, when artists go into seclusion to create an album, the results are glorious. I mean, if Justin Vernon had never decided to hole up in a lonely, snowy cabin in the woods, we might’ve never been blessed with somber, wintry sounds of For Emma, Forever Ago. So what happens then when an artist forgoes the icy forest, and instead chooses a small and sunny Californian beach town as his hideout? Derek Krzywicki’s new solo project, Secret American, has the answers. Hint: it’s easy, it’s breezy, it’s beautiful and has no relation to Covergirl. Continue reading →


UNLOCKED: The inner workings of Thin Lips, or how its better not to keep secrets

Thin Lips practice at Big Mama's | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Thin Lips practice at Big Mama’s | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s a soggy Monday night in Philadelphia and we’re crammed into a small room in Fishtown’s Big Mama’s House arts space. The room, which maybe measures 15-by-15 feet, is the practice space of Philly punk four piece Thin Lips, but it also doubles as drummer Mikey Tashjian’s living quarters. He moved in not long ago, and started lightly decorating the room with random artifacts – record sleeves, iridescent fabric, a blue-ish abstract print made by his aunt.

The band is workshopping many things at once on this particular evening – it’s about to head out on tour in support of Riff Hard, their debut LP out today on Lame-O Records (that we’ve been featuring all week long on Unlocked), and it’s been a while since they played these songs together live. Kinks are worked out, particularly on raging album opener “DEB.”

“It’s about how being a girl is hard,” says singer-guitarist Chrissy Tashjian, Mikey’s sister. “And how being a girl who dates girls is hard.”

After a few passes through the two-minutes-and-change blast of energy, the band stops for a breather and we casually chat about the items Mikey has scattered the room. Above his bed, a polo work shirt on a hanger dangles from a hook on the wall. It belongs to the Tashjians’ late brother Billy, who passed away at age 22 in January of 2014, right before what was supposed to be Thin Lips’ live debut opening for Radiator Hospital and Potty Mouth at Boot and Saddle.

Mikey says the shirt is a reminder. “You can work hard,” he says. “You can be a good person. And you’re still going to die.” Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: American Babies at Ardmore Music Hall, The Spring Standards at Arden Gild Hall, Boog at Steel City Coffeehouse

 Photo by Skylar Carfi courtesy of the artist
Photo by Skylar Carfi | courtesy of the artist

Philly guitarist and songwriter Tom Hamilton has worked with forward-thinking jammers Brothers Past, Disco Biscuits and Kurt Vile, and tonight he brings his long-running American Babies project to Ardmore Music Hall. It’s always been an eclectic group, drawing on the fringes of CSNY-esque folk to Built to Spill style indie rock. Its latest, An Epic Battle Between Light and Dark, comes out March 18th via Royal Potato Family, and tonight American Babies light up Ardmore Music Hall. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Listen to the new song “synth driver” below. Continue reading →