Nik Greeley presents Funk 101 pt. 2: The Funky Drummer

James Brown | photo by David Corio | via

Philadelphia funk rock enthusiast Nik Greeley and his band The Operators have been exploring and refining a modern take on roots-tinged funk revivalism since his old band Black Stars ended their run a couple years back. Greeley also holds down a day job as Social Media Manager for the Ardmore Music Hall, meaning he gets to rub elbows with — and sometimes open for — some of funk’s greats. This Friday, December 30th, Greeley and the Operators will rock out at The James Brown Dance Party, headlined by Brown’s longtime drummer Clyde Stubblefield. With the gig on the near horizon, Greeley revived his Funk 101 column to reflect on the concept of The Funky Drummer, tracing the influence of beats through funk, into hip-hop and beyond. Tickets and more information on the JB Dance Party can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

Welcome back for another edition of Funk 101, everyone! Hope you’re all having a very funky holiday season. Last time we spoke, The Operators & I were gearing up to perform with George Clinton & P-Funk at The Ardmore Music Hall, and we went over the essential Funk tracks for your listening pleasure. We also discussed The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown & his killer band, The JB’s, and how they gave birth to Funk music with their hit “Cold Sweat”. Which brings us to our next segment of Funk 101, and how James Brown would also help give birth to another powerful musical genre we all know and love, with the help of a drum groove that would make the world dance & nod their heads for years to come. Continue reading →


So I opened for Killa Cam in Ardmore

Cam'ron | photo by Reji B. | courtesy of the artist | <a target="_blank"></a>
Cam’ron | photo by Reji B. | courtesy of the artist |

EDITOR’S NOTE: Philly rapper Voss has grabbed our attention here at The Key for his onstage charisma and lyrical wit, so when he hit us up pitching some musician’s-eye stories for the site, we were all ears. His first piece, a behind-the-scenes account of his gig opening for Cam’ron in Ardmore, is below.

Cam’ron is unquestionably one of the most beloved figures in hip-hop. He’s worshipped by 30 and 40 somethings who came up in the Dipset era, still wearing leather Pelle Pelle jackets and oversized fitteds with pride; but he’s also fully embraced by the younger hipsters who love his music for its tongue-in-cheek wit. The man has hits upon hits, and even at age 40, still has some of the best crowd control in the game. While I won’t say Killa Cam has been a direct influence on my personal musical style, he’s certainly one of my favorite rappers to listen to. Therefore, it was a no brainer for me to accept when I was offered an opening slot on the PA stop of his “Killa Season 2” tour. Continue reading →


New Year’s Eve is a month away. What concert are you going to?

Kurt Vile at #XPNFest | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN

We’re drawing to the close of 2016, and as always, we here at The Key recommend you give 2016 the boot with live music. Spending that special moment that brings us into our annual chance for a new start at a concert with hundreds or even thousands of people who are all on the same page as you — for those few hours, the feeling is exhilarating and even a little magical. Compare this to the cycle of looking at your phone, standing in circles trying to connect with people that you know primarily through Facebook and most times drinking way too much in your quest to achieve that perfect New Year’s Eve moment that movies like When Harry Met Sally have elevated just out of reality’s reach.

Given, I’ve been going the latter route for the majority of my adult life and some of my fondest memories are searching for lost phones or helping my friend figure out the name of the cute guy with the green hat the morning after. BUT I knew that after happening upon a house show on New Year’s Eve a few years back, no party could ever fill me with the same ecstasy as the music and all the people in that basement did in 2013. So, if you’re looking to try something new, check out your Philly-area options for musical New Year’s celebrations. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sad13 at PhilaMOCA, Mexrrissey at The Kimmel Center, T.J. Kong and The Atomic Bomb at Underground Arts and more

Sad13 | photo by shervin lainez | photo courtesy of the artist
Sad13 | photo by shervin lainez | photo courtesy of the artist

Mostly known for her role as frontwoman for grunge-pop band Speedy Ortiz, Sadie Dupuis is slated to release her first solo album Slugger on November 11th under the moniker Sad13. She kicked off her debut tour on Thursday, and is paying Philadelphia a visit tonight at PhilaMOCA. Sad13’s music is largely centered around the idea of empowering women, and we’re all for it. Joining this Massachusetts synth-popper will be Philly artists Ivy Sole and Empath with NYC-based rapper Sammus topping off this stacked lineup. Go to the WXPN Concert Calendar for tickets and more information on this all ages show. Get a taste of Sad13 with this song off her new album, “Devil in U.” Continue reading →


Free at Noon Flashback: Darlingside saves the day and woos the crowd with a stunning performance

Darlingside | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Darlingside | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

No matter how profusely Darlingside refuses to accept that their playing a show today was a huge favor to us, don’t believe a word they say. WXPN is thankful to the Cambridge-based band for playing our Free at Noon show on such short notice after Adia Victoria got sick and was forced to back out of the show.

The four man indie-folk outfit charmed over the summer at XPN Fest and did so again today at World Cafe Live. Their set gave the audience a taste of the autumn air that we’ve been missing (especially on 70 degree days like today) with their warm performance, their grassroots brand of folk music, and nostalgia-inducing lyrics like “Apple cider signs” from their song “White Horses” — which was inspired by an apple orchard that one of the band members used to go to as a child. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Chali 2NA at Ardmore Music Hall, Told Slant at PhilaMOCA, Margaret Glaspy at Johnny Brenda’s and more…

chali 2na
Chali 2na | photo via Facebook

Chali 2na performs at the Ardmore Music Hall tonight. The Chicago-born rapper has a collaboration list that includes legendary acts like Jurassic 5, Ozomatli, Run DMT, and Galactic, though his deep voice was most recently heard on Savoy’s “Love Is Killing Me.” Check out that track below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show with New Orleans jazz / funk outfit Professor Naughty here.

Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: TJ Tindall Tribute at Underground Arts, Live From The Lot at Ardmore Music Hall, You Won’t at Boot and Saddle, and more…

T.J. Tindall
T.J. Tindall | Photo by Steve Acito | courtesy of the artist

Legendary Philly funk and soul guitarist TJ Tindall, who played on classic hits such as the O’Jays’ “Backstabbers” and the Trammps’ “Disco Inferno,” passed away back in January, and tonight Underground Arts will be holding a tribute concert in memory of one of the creators of the “Philadelphia Sound.” Performing at the tribute show will be Duke Williams & The Extremes, Freebo, and many more. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: American Babies debut trippy new music video for “Fever Dreams”

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

With American Babies’ recently released fourth effort entitled An Epic Battle Between Light and Dark, it comes as no surprise that the Philly psych-rockers would experiment with imagery that comes from the dichotomy of good and evil.

Released today, the band’s latest music video for its single “Fever Dreams” is an animated whirlwind of vibrant colors and distorted characters fit for an actual feverish hallucination.

The video opens as cartoon frontman Tom Hamilton is losing his grip, literally and figuratively, on the side of a cliff and falls endlessly into a cavernous pit. The video is full of anxious nightmare narratives like this one, such as losing teeth and being naked in front of your peers. Seemingly innocent details like the clinking of ice cubes in Hamilton’s glass of whiskey transform into the quivering tail of a rattlesnake as we watch him disassociate with reality. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Savages at Union Transfer, The Felice Brothers at Ardmore Music Hall, Laura Stevenson at Boot & Saddle

Savages | Photo by Dustin Cohen, courtesy of the artist

Post-punk outfit Savages headline Union Transfer tonight. The London-based band released its second LP Adore Life in January, stopping by The Late Show with Steven Colbert earlier this week to perform album single “Adore.” Check out the video below and pick up tickets for the all-ages show here.

Continue reading →