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Wave Radio, RFA take top honors at Beta Hi-Fi Philly

Wave Radio performing at Wave Radio, RFA take top prizes at Beta Hi-Fi Philly
Wave Radio | Photo by John Vettese

For the ninth year running, World Cafe Live in Philly hosted its annual Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival last week, with top honors going to cinematic indie trio Wave Radio and garage rock four-piece RFA in last night’s finals.

As I do every year, last night I sat on the judges’ panel of the final round, alongside Jennifer Logue of Rock On Philly and Christianna LaBuz of World Cafe Live at The Queen. It’s always a great way to take in a cross section of up-and-coming musicians from our region. Last night we got quite the range, from haunting Australia-born singer-songwriter Elspeth Tremblay, the funky and charismatic Nalani & Sarina, the country-infused Allie Carroll and the poppy Valerie Broussard. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: El Caribefunk at The Clubhouse, Major Van Winkle at North Star Bar and Beta Hi Fi Finals at World Cafe Live

El Caribefunk | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
El Caribefunk | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Tonight’s concert picks start off with the energetic funkers El Caribefunk, who headlines The Clubhouse in South Philly. The eclectic Colombian band – which blends funk, samba, reggae and more – has been in residence at The Clubhouse all summer, and played tremendous sets at Love Park, Musikfest and most recently Philadelphia Folk Festival. Ticket information for the show can be found here, but first check out this awesome music video from the band. Continue reading →

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Beta Hi-Fi: A judge’s panel view of the World Cafe Live local band competition

Last night was my third time sitting on the judging panel of World Cafe Live‘s annual Beta Hi Fi finals, and the competition was impressive as ever. A half-dozen acts from the Philadelphia area took to the stage over the course of the night, all of whom had won their slot from audience votes earlier in the week, and the room was abuzz with fans, friends and family members rooting for their faves.

Along with my fellow judges – Pat Rapa, music editor at City Paper, and Stephanie Seiple, founder of Tri-State Indie – I had the tricky task of helping make sense of the melee, and doing so without being overly influenced by the minor cadre of intense dudes in Riley Road t-shirts who stared us down at constant intervals over the course of the evening.

As it happened, the Phoenixville trio did run away with top honors – not because any of us were worried about mob justice – but because the young band flat-out rocked. Their raw electric blues thing was tightly modeled after the Jimi Hendirx Experience, not only in structure and sound, but also spirit. Riley Road tackled Jimi’s “Red House,” for instance, taking substantial liberties as far as phrasing, pace, instrumental solos and overall duration. This wasn’t a faithful-to-the-original rendition in the least, and some might call that blasphemy. But by embellishing things and putting their own spin on the classic, they were actually more faithful to Jimi than a note-for-note cover might have been. The rest of the set was original material from their self-titled EP – power blues rock that was full of rough, rumbling bravado and intense musicianship. Occasionally a guitar solo wandered too long, or a drum fill got too complex, but as my fellow judges and I agreed, if our biggest concern is that the band is just too talented, that’s not a bad problem for them to have.

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