Sonja Sofya talks pop studiousness, Steely Dan and feminism on the 25 O’Clock podcast

Sonja Sofya | photo by Lisa Schaffer | | via

The new installment of the 25 O’Clock Podcast features Philly keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter and collaborator Sonja Sofya, who has a lively and wide-ranging 90-minute conversation with host Dan Drago.

Of course her great Patterns We Know LP, released in the fall, is discussed, as well as the work with fellow Philly artists like Ross Bellenoit that went into completing it. Sonja shares her background in studying music at a rigorous academic level during high school and college  — she admits she did not have stage parents but kinda wishes she had. She and Drago contrast classical and pop approaches to writing, and how the ideal lies somewhere in between, balancing studiousness and accessibility. Steely Dan is brought up as an example of this middle ground, and they share a laugh over the divide: people are either Steely Dan lovers or haters (they’re both lovers, I’m not). The same can also be said, they note, for Lady Gaga (which, vice versa).

But the conversation gets super interesting when Drago makes an offhand comment about the “amount of quality female-fronted music coming out of the city the past few years.” Sonja returns to that phrase, “female-fronted,” a little bit later in the show. “You feel like that’s a recent phenomenon?” she asks, turning the tables on her host, and there’s a very uncertain pause that follows. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Shifting Sands at Johnny Brenda’s, Sonja Sofya at Boot & Saddle, Jack Garratt at Union Transfer, and more…

Shifting Sands | via the band's Facebook page
Shifting Sands | via the band’s Facebook page

New Zealand psych rockers The Shifting Sands will bring their down-tempo space excursions to Johnny Brenda’s tonight. They’ll be playing songs from Cosmic Radio Station, which they released last year on Australian label Spooky Records. Along with Writhing Squares, the band will support Philadelphia mainstays Weekender. A quick skim of Shifting Sands’ Bandcamp gives me the sense that this is a match made in heaven, so get your tickets for 21+ event now. Continue reading →


Stream Sonja Sofya’s new record Patterns We Know

sonja sofya
Sonja Sofya | artwork by Sarah Thielke | photo via Facebook

When we’ve met Sonja Sofya in the past, she was often accompanying one of several different local projects – Ryan Tennis’ Clubhouse Band or Ross Bellenoit, for example – on piano and backing vocals. But on the few occasions where she was front and center (like this Kettle Pot Tracks session), she stole the show. Now the Philadelphia musician is stealing the show again with her new Patterns We Know record, released today.

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Chelsea Mitchell and Sonja Sofya are the latest features from two Philly-centric cover song projects

Chelsea Mitchell | Photo via Root Down in the Shadow
Chelsea Mitchell | Photo via Root Down in the Shadow

It says a lot about the level of musicianship in Philadelphia that two multimedia projects with local songwriters covering the songs of their peers can operate side-by-side without much overlap.

The third installment of the Cover Club series from the Root Down in the Shadow gang features singer-songwriter Chelsea Mitchell tackling “Fine Quality (Coffee Flour Sugar Tea),” a delicate love song from The Lawsuits’ Numbers EP. Root Down curator Dan McGurk worries the song will get lost in the wake of the success of the band’s Cool Cool Cool LP, and says Mitchell gives it new life.

“She quickly leaves the sad softness of the song behind,” McGurk writes, “and lets her powerful vocals take over.  Chelsea adds boldness where [The Lawsuits’] Brian Strouse went to a whisper.” Watch the video of Mitchell’s cover below.

A somewhat longer-running operation is Philly Sings Philly, a project dating back to 2009 with dual home bases of Northern Liberties concert venue The Fire and South Philly recording outfit Turtle Studios. Local artists go to Turtle to lay down renditions of their favorite tracks by other Philadelphians (listen to Sean Hoots’ rendition of mewithoutYou’s “Aubergine” here), and then perform at a weekly showcase each November at The Fire.

Tonight is the last showcase for the Philly Sings Philly 2013 season, featuring Andrew Lipke, Up the Chain, Mason Porter and more. Details on the show can be found here. To coincide with it, the final Philly Sings Philly cover track of 2013 was released this week. Listen to Sonja Sofya singing David Cope’s “To A Dreamer” below.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Song Dogs at MilkBoy, Sonja Sofya at World Cafe Live, The Monochrome Set at PhilaMOCA

song dogs

Local Americana / rock outfit Song Dogs play MilkBoy Philly tonight.  The six-piece released their debut full-length Wild Country in January after working with Bill Moriarty at Waking Studios in East Falls.  Part Neil Young, part Jackson Browne, Wild Country is a collection of songs blending rock, folk and blues with a focus on storytelling.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show with Joshua Popejoy and Music Box Dynamo can be found here.  Listen to the title track of Wild Country below.

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Watch Sonja Sofya’s Kettle Pot Tracks Session

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 4.27.22 PMIn their writeup, the folks at Kettle Pot Tracks’ On the Hill series mention how they met this week’s featured artist Sonja Sofya when she accompanied their Ross Bellenoit session. Funny, that; I also met Sofya this year as an accompanist, or rather as a member of Ryan Tennis’ Clubhouse Band who handed me her own CD after his Key Studio Session wrapped up. She’s got a unique voice – robust and soulful, yet light and playful, and she’s an ace pianist to boot. In this week’s On the Hill session, she performs two songs, this time with Bellenoit as the accompaniest. Watch a video for “Que Sera” below, read an interview with Sofya here and download her performance via Kettle Pot Tracks’ Bandcamp.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Bigness at Kung Fu Necktie, Jesse Hale Moore at Bourbon and Branch, A Tribe Called Red at The Fillmore and more…

the bigness
The Bigness | photo by Bryan Karl Lathrop Photography |

Philadelphia pop-rock four-piece The Bigness hit the stage at Kung Fu Necktie tonight; their debut LP Time Traveler, released last year, combined loud riffage with infectious hooks in a big (hah) way. Tickets and more information on tonight’s 21+ show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Three Man Cannon at Boot and Saddle, Kississippi at Chameleon Club, Cuddle Magic at World Cafe Live and more

Three Man Cannon
Three Man Cannon | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

Lame-O Record’s annual residency at Boot and Saddle ends with a bang, leaving with a headlining set by Three Man Cannon. Their relaxed indie rock is quintessential to Lame-O’s roster, and Katie Ellen and The Afterglows as support makes this a stacked local bill not to be missed. The gig is 21+, and all proceeds will be donated to the Philly ACLU; more information and tickets can be found here. Continue reading →


The Week So Far: 10 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Amos Lee, Levee Drivers, Luscious Jackson)

Daylight | Photo by Megan Kelly |
Daylight | Photo by Megan Kelly |

This week’s Key Studio Session brings us four tracks from Doylestown heavy rockers Daylight [link]

Check out The Key’s spotlight on local non-profits for #GivingTuesday [link]

Amos Lee was honored by Mayor Michael Nutter for his musical endeavors and work with charities like Musicians on Call [link]

We’ve got photos and reviews from Luscious Jackson, Hoots and Hellmouth, Cheers Elephant and more [link]

Folkadelphia brings us a studio session with Jonah Matranga [link]

Show announcements Mutual Benefit, December’s Communion Showcase, Justin Timberlake and more

Listen to XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week featuring “Lost it to Trying” by Son Lux [link]

Say farewell to Ape School at Boot & Saddle on 11/30 [link]

Levee Drivers have a new EP called Live a East Coast Recording and a show at Kung Fu Necktie [link]

Chelsea Mitchell and Sonja Sofya contribute recordings to two Philly-centric cover song projects [link]