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The Key Presents: Backstage with Brandi Carlile

Brandi
Brandi Carlile | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It was the 11th hour at the 2016 XPoNential Music Festival, and as Old Crow Medicine Show kicked into “Wagon Wheel,” we headed backstage at the BB&T to meet up with the star of the night — Brandi Carlile. Just before she hit the big stage, she and the Twins (that’s Phil and Tim Hanseroth) sat down for an intimate and jaw-dropping performance of “The Eye.”

It’s a song that Carlile says was a long time coming for her and the Hanseroths, who got together in Seattle “in a time when grunge was at its peak, and it was very uncool to say that you were into three part harmonies.” As Carlile later told her fans at XPNFest, “this song is about how there is no lead singer, there’s only somebody who insists that she is.” Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Esme Patterson

Esmé Patterson | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Esmé Patterson | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

On a sunny Friday afternoon in May, we found Esme Patterson and her band reclined under the towering railroad trestle that cuts across the 31st Street side of WXPN. They’d driven up from a gig the previous night in D.C., were scheduled to play NonCOMM in a few short hours, and decided to take advantage of the agreeable weather to get some R&R on a blanket of green grass under the expanse of rust-orange steel, a curious intersection of post-industrial urbanism and the more verdant natural world.

Patterson’s music functions in a similar way. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: The Districts

The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

“It’s a long way down from the top to the bottom,” laments Rob Grote in 2014’s “Young Blood.” Perhaps he’s warding against some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Weaving humility into the very fibres of his songwriting, he finds a great strength in weakness. But it’s not as simple as just putting pen to page. Being kind is something that comes second nature to The Districts. Even after releasing a record that garnered praise everywhere from tiny blogs to Rolling Stone, and sharing stages with legends like The (actual) Rolling Stones, they still remain the same sweaty, smiling boys I saw absolutely crushing basement shows, a couple of years back. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Saintseneca

Saintseneca's Zac Little | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Saintseneca’s Zac Little | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

“I write all the songs that I want to write,” says Saintseneca‘s Zac Little as we’re walking around on the Reading Viaduct, “so why would I need another band?” While many of his bandmates moonlight in other projects — All Dogs, Yowler, The Sidekicks, to name a few, these are not unknown bands in the slightest — Zac feels fulfilled in one sphere. One whole cloth.

It’s a philosophy that Zac takes into his songwriting, as well. Anything can be profound, everything is valuable in the right light. A question like “How Many Blankets Are In The World?” might seem inane, but in Little’s hands it finds meaning beyond measure. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Lithuania

Lithuania | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo racheldelsordophotography.com
Lithuania | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo racheldelsordophotography.com

Rock and roll just feels damn good. Like an ice cold beer on a scorching summer day, it quenches a deep-seated human thirst. Longtime veterans on the Philly rock scene front, both Eric Slick and Dom Angelella know this fact instinctively.

Ten years in the making, their collaborative project Lithuania hits the spot — hard. It’s no-nonsense, no-frills rock and roll for the everyman. Their debut record Hardcore Friends (out last year on Lame-O Records) took a scorched earth policy towards songwriting: Go hard and leave it all on the table. Live, it’s even stronger. After seeing them open up for a Districts/mewithoutYou secret show in late 2014, I knew Lithuania was gonna be the Philly band to beat in the near future. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Foxing

Foxing | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Foxing | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Foxing are a force of nature. Anyone who’s seen the St. Louis post-emo six-piece in the past year-and-a-half of relentless touring can attest to that fact. Frontman Conor Murphy brings a fearsome energy to the stage, roaring his unbelievably personal lyrics over an oceanic soundscape spooled out drop by drop, each twinkling guitar note and choir sample weaving together as fluidly and surely as tidal erosion.

The combination of blistering passion and ace talent hasn’t gone unnoticed, with the band being hand-selected to support emo titans Brand New, and later joining Philly friends Modern Baseball and mewithoutYou for tours as well, stealing shows and hearts all the while.

But Foxing is at its best with emotions running high, and this isn’t limited to a room full of screaming, sobbing fans—like the one they tore apart at Union Transfer early in December. Some of Foxing’s most visceral moments come not in the raging choruses of songs like “Rory” and “the Medic,” but in the layered introspection and lightly wafting lyrics from Murphy. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Oberhofer

Brad Oberhofer | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Brad Oberhofer | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

On stage, Brad Oberhofer is a man of many talents. He’s not just the guitarist and lead vocalist for his aptly named band Oberhofer, but an actively at-work orchestrator of everything and nothing. Seeing Oberhofer live is a free-form exercise in creativity. Will he ask the audience for articles of clothing to decorate his mic stand, or leave the stage in the middle of the song to run out and grab a bar stool to stand on and play from in the middle of the crowd? Yes. Both. Or maybe neither. Or potentially something entirely else. Continue reading →

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The Key presents Fireside Sessions at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest with Milton, Dirty Dollhouse and more

winterfest
Milton | Photo by Rich McKie

A new pop-up village will take over Penn’s Landing later this week as the waterfront’s Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest kicks off on November 28th.  A seasonal counterpart to the summer’s hit Spruce Street Harbor Park, Winterfest will feature ice skating, festive light shows and an indoor lodge with food and drinks catered by Garces Events.

And, of course, live music. We here at The Key are very excited about that part, as the folks at the Delaware River Waterfront asked us to help curate the programming – and the lineup mixes a range of artists and sounds in what we’re festively dubbing the Fireside Sessions.

Continue reading →

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Lady Alma and Loose Ends’ Jane Eugene bring the conversation and burn the house down at Kindred Presents

Kindred Presents | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

On a cool and crisp Monday night, a hundred or so people are packed into Warmdaddy’s, for Kindred Presents, a weekly series that is part talk show, part concert / jam session / revival. Most of the attendees were seated in the dining area, some standing by the bar, pretty much all were smiling, taking in the easy, familial vibe that permeated the room. Upon entering the room, I was seated at a large round table in the back with a group of folks I didn’t know. After a round of introductions, we shared a couple plates of Southern-style sweet and buttery cornbread, joked and made small talk, while waiting for the start of the show.

Aja Graydon Dantzler and Fatin Dantzler, better known as Kindred The Family Soul, took to the stage backed by their tight house band, laying down a mellow, soulful groove. For the past 26 weeks or so, Kindred The Family Soul have hosted Kindred Presents  a variety show-style live series in which the duo invites a veritable who’s who of contemporary Black music for an evening of soul food, fun, intimate conversation and music.

The show’s format is simple, Aja and Fatin conduct a short, casual chat with the guest, after which the guest proceeds to join the band and burn the house down! The first guest of the night was Philly’s own Lady Alma Horton. Continue reading →

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The Kindred Presents variety show might just be the best live music event in the city

Kindred the Family Soul | photo by Maya Darasaw for amadworks photography | courtesy of the artist
Kindred the Family Soul | photo by Maya Darasaw for amadworks photography | courtesy of the artist

On Monday, November 20th, beloved Philly Soul duo Kindred The Family Soul, will host the latest installment of their Kindred Presents weekly series at South Philly’s famed venue and Soul Food restaurant, Warmdaddy’s. Putting a creative spin on the traditional live music format, Kindred Presents is staged variety show style, with the hosts Aja Graydon Dantzler & Fatin Dantzler conducting live interviews with guests, as well as energizing performances from a veritable who’s who of Jazz and R&B acts as well as a variety of poets and activists. Continue reading →