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Philly Music 101: The basics everyone needs to know about the Philadelphia scene right now

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

Philadelphia is a city of many wonders: a buzzing food scene, an established craft beer culture, and a parade of historical landmarks. But one aspect of our city that we are particularly passionate about is our magnificent local music community and all that is has to offer. Here at The Key, we often focus on the particulars of our scene – where artists will be playing each night, brand new local releases, etc. - so much so that we can forget how overwhelming it can be for newcomers to get their bearings.

So for those of you having trouble finding where to start, we are introducing this new Philly Music 101 series as your guide through the wonderful world of the Philadelphia music scene: all of its passionate, loving members, from artists to venues to studios and more. It’s meant to help new fans navigate the scene as much as emerging musicians looking to break in and behind-the-scenes folks trying to get their start. We hope it will illuminate just what makes it so damn exciting for music lovers to live here. To kick it off, here is a by-no-means-complete overview of the different pieces of the Philadelphia music scene that have come together to make up its sturdy foundation. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ray LaMontagne at Susquehanna Bank Center, The Philly Opry with Birdie Busch at Johnny Brenda’s, Boyz II Men at Tower Theatre and more

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Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne will bring his folk blues to Susquehanna Bank Center tonight. His lastest album, Supernova, that was released this past April, has the signature grainy, husky vocals and folk roots, but with a psychedelic touch to it. Watch the music video for the single, “Supernova,” below and check out the XPN Concert Calendar for more information.

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Birdie Busch’s 4th annual Philly Opry at Johnny Brenda’s features Slowey and the Boats, The Sermon! and Victory beer

Photo by Lisa Schaffer | skylerbug.com
Photo by Lisa Schaffer | skylerbug.com

Birdie Busch has curated a mini music and arts festival called the Philly Opry for the past 3 years, and the 4th installment will be held on June 7th at Johnny Brenda’s. Today, the lineup was announced, and it has the host performing with her band Birdie Busch & the Greatest Night; joining her will be local act Slowey and the Boats, featuring steel guitar playing from Isaac Stanford (formerly of Townhall), and The Sermon!, a jazz / soul / funk revue from West Chester. The festival will cap off Philly Beer Week featuring special brews from Victory Brewing. Tickets for the event can be found here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Birdie Busch at Boot and Saddle, Tedeschi Trucks Band at Whitaker Center, and The Districts at Sellersville Theater

Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night | Photo by Rachel Barrish | raddrhapsodies.com
Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night | Photo by Rachel Barrish | raddrhapsodies.com

Local favorite Birdie Busch is set to rock Boot and Saddle tonight with her dreamy folk tunes and magnetic appeal. Busch released her album Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night last year and has played tons of shows in the area, establishing her presence in the Philly scene. Watch “Far From the Tree” below and get tickets here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Birdie Busch at Boot and Saddle, Tony Trischka at Sellersville Theater, and Dream Safari at Kung Fu Necktie

Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night | Photo by Rachel Barrish | raddrhapsodies.com
Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night | Photo by Rachel Barrish | raddrhapsodies.com

Philly folk goddess Birdie Busch will play at Boot and Saddle tonight. Busch released her latest album Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night earlier this year, further illustrating her unique songwriting and dreamy vocals. Watch her new video for “Far From the Tree” below and get tickets here.

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Watch The Rivals cover “Be the Arrow” by Birdie Busch (playing MilkBoy on 12/19)

 

The Rivals | photo www.rootdownintheshadow.com
The Rivals | photo www.rootdownintheshadow.com

Local blog Root Down in the Shadow invited Philadelphia transplants The Rivals to University City’s Nomad Recording for the latest episode of Cover Club.  The band chose to tackle Birdie Busch’s “Be the Arrow” off of her latest LP Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night, turning the swirling psych-folk song into a modern roots rock anthem.  Busch’s music occupies a special place for the Ocean City, NJ natives – as RDS writes, “[she]represents the best of what they have experienced since coming to Philadelphia four years ago.”  Watch the video below, followed by Busch’s original.  Tickets and information for The Rivals’ show at MilkBoy on December 19th can be found here.

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Photos: The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Spank Rock and more played Union Transfer to raise money for The Rail Park

The Walkmen | Photo by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com
The Walkmen | Photo by Matthew Shaver | www.mattshaverphoto.com

Lest it be overlooked amid all the (well-deserved) attention paid to their final show, The Walkmen were just one of about nine acts on the stage at Union Transfer last Wednesday, from Spank Rock to Sun Ra Arkestra, all of who performed to benefit the first phase of The Rail Park. In case you weren’t aware, the project is a planned 3-mile linear park and recreation path along the former Philadelphia and Reading rail line, spanning some 50 city blocks and running through a diverse cross-section of neighborhoods. Organizers at The Rail Park were elated in the wake of the event, posting to their Facebook page:

We are still on cloud nine after Wednesday’s Rail Park fundraiser at Union Transfer. What a way to wrap up an incredible year for this project! Our deepest thanks and appreciation to all who helped organize the event, who brought their talents to the evening, and who came out in support of the project.

For more information on The Rail Park, watch a short video after the jump; below, check out a gallery of photos from the benefit, which also included Light Heat, Sharon Van Etten collaborating with Adam Granduciel of War on Drugs and Birdie Busch.

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Explore ancestry in Birdie Busch’s “Far From The Tree” video (playing Union Transfer 12/4)

Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night | Photo by Rachel Barrish | raddrhapsodies.com
Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night | Photo by Rachel Barrish | raddrhapsodies.com

Singer-songwriter Birdie Busch sings of rebellion and defying expectations on the whimsical “Far From The Tree,” a song from her 2013 album Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night. These themes turn visual in a new video where we see people showcasing their ancestry through photographs and other memorabilia. It illustrates the fact that they know where they came from, but are paving their own path. Busch will perform at Phase One: A Fundraiser for The Rail Park (hosted by our Michaela Majoun) this Wednesday night at Union Transfer. More details below and tickets here.

Birdie Busch :: Far From The Tree from Jesse Moore on Vimeo.

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Bridging art and the community, The Art Commons launches tonight with Birdie Busch performing in a West Philly cemetery

In a world that never stops moving while demanding that we do the same, engaging with neighbors and the community can seem as daunting as work on a Saturday (when was the last time you went next door to borrow some sugar?) Thanks to the arts and some passionately driven members of the community, that’s all about to change.

Meet The Art Commons Philadelphia: an initiative committed to creating events where art and discourse are able to meet in perfect harmony, in order to provide healthy and beautiful environments where artists and all members of the community can meet and experience and share together.

If this seems like a sentimental mouthful, allow us to elaborate: this is no hippie drum circle in the woods.

The goal is to provide practical, financial, and creative support for artists by rallying the community to support their work. At the same time, it provides providing the community with spaces to explore art and celebrate and heal with their neighbors in a safe place. This can have a healing effect on communities, explains event organizer and local musician Catherine Prewitt. (Note: Prewitt works as volunteer coordinator at WXPN. –ed.)

“I feel really strongly that works of art ask us several things: they ask us to pause, reflect, and process the things in our lives that are worth grieving or are worth celebrating,” says Prewitt. “I hope that these events are a place where people can pause and have those kinds of moments.”

The launch event, happening on Friday, November 15 at the Hamilton Mansion in the Woodlands Cemetery in West Philly, features Philadelphia musicians Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night. For Prewitt, finding the right person to perform at the pivotal launch event was a no-brainer after experiencing the Liberty Bell Sessions back in June. The sessions, featuring local musicians Birdie Busch, Ross Belanoit, Sonja Sofya and Chris Casper, was a “round robin” style folk music night at Studio 34 in West Philadelphia.

“I connected with Ross after I saw that… I saw him at the coffee shop here and just went up to him and was like, ‘I saw you at the Liberty Bell Sessions, it was amazing!’”

Although the four were unable to come together for the November 15th launch event, Ross plays in Birdie’s band when she performs as Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night, and the rest is history.

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The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock and others playing Rail Park Benefit at Union Transfer on 12/4

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The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock, Light Heat, Jeff Ziegler and Mary Lattimore, Birdie Busch, and the Dufalo Brothers are playing Union Transfer on Wednesday, December 4th. The show is a benefit for Phase One of the Rail Park with all the proceeds going to the Friends of the Rail Park, a non-profit that has been advocating the planning, designing and envisioning of a continuous 3-mile linear park along the former Philadelphia & Reading Rail line corridor. Friends of the Rail Park outlined their vision and plans last Spring, outlined in this article about it in Hidden City Philadelphia. Nathaniel Popkin writes:

The proposed park meets the elevated Reading Viaduct just east of and directly below Broad Street at the section of the railway known as the SEPTA Spur. The 1/5 mile long, elevated Spur–which will undergo an $8 million transformation into a park beginning in 2014–together with the City Branch, which is also owned predominantly by SEPTA, would constitute a two mile long linear rails-to-trails park, connecting the Callowhill neighborhood to Fairmount Park. The rest of the railroad viaduct heading north from the SEPTA Spur is owned by the Reading Corporation. The firm, based in California, has demonstrated little interest in selling the Viaduct to the City of Philadelphia.

The new below-grade park would extend from two points at the east end: the connection to the SEPTA Spur, where the rail viaduct dips under Broad Street (which is a bridge over the railway) and at Broad and Buttonwood in front of the School District Administration building. A key to the plan is the planned reconstruction of the Broad Street bridge, owned by PennDOT. Planners hope to convince the agency to install see-through railings and to puncture the bridge with light towers that are to be installed in the center of North Broad (lighting the space above and below). The parking lot now in front of the School District building would be replaced with a multi-level public space leading to the park.

Take a tour of the proposed Rail Park in this video below.

Get tickets to the Friends of the Rail Park benefit with The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock, Light Heat, Jeff Ziegler, Mary Lattimore, Birdie Busch and the Dufalo Brothers here.