Soul Saving: How one man’s obsession with old 45s gave birth to Philly’s Brewerytown Beats

Brewerytown Beats | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

When Maxwell Ochester’s neighbor asked the then Mt. Airy teen’s parents if he could borrow him one weekend to work Brooklyn’s Roosevelt Record Swap, he probably didn’t know that he was changing a very small life. But he was. At the time, Max was hooked on records of the standard classic rock fare—Guns n’ Roses and Poison, for example. Hip hop, soul and funk were still a bit foreign to him. Foreigner was less so. But when Max got situated behind the booth at his first NYC swap, he found himself face-to-face with some of hip-hop’s biggest artists of that era.

“It just so happened that one of the first shows we did was this now super famous record show in New York where all the hip-hop artists from the early 90s were getting their samples from. So A Tribe Called Quest and Pete Rock & CL Smooth would all buy albums to sample for their records. So that’s how I got into it but I also got hooked right then. I was like, Oh my god, Q-tip is buying a record from me,” he remembers.

Today, that kid is 39 and he owns Brewerytown Beats, arguably the best record shop in the city of Philadelphia. And he wouldn’t have what he has, which includes approximately 20,0000 records and a coveted role as A&R and co-distributor for Jamie/Guyden Records, if it wasn’t for his experience at the swaps. “Watching Q-tip and Pete Rock and all these guys that I looked up to and the stuff that they would buy, I would really pay attention,” he says. “I used to watch what they would buy and then I’d listen to their music and try to dissect and find what kind of samples they were using for their music—and that’s how I got into it.” Continue reading →


Faces of Philadelphia (Musicians) portrait series opens at Brewerytown Beats tonight

anna mraz
Portrait of Raj Haldar by Anna Mraz | photo via Philebrity

Local artist Anna Mraz is celebrating the diverse spirit of the Philly music scene with her Faces of Philadelphia (Musicians) exhibit, opening tonight at Brewerytown Beats. We want to give several hat tips to Philebrity, who spotted the First Friday event and gave us a sneak peak into the watercolor-on-plexiglass portraits that will be lining the walls of the Brewerytown record store.

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The Key Presents: Big Thief


Big Thief | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |
Big Thief | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

It’s been quite the year for Big Thief. Between getting picked up by Saddle Creek in Feburary, putting out the stunning debut LP Masterpiece in May, and filling the rest of the year with tour dates both headlining and alongside folks such as M. Ward and Frankie Cosmos, they’ve been quite busy. The Brookyln-based band has also racked up accolades in everywhere from Pitchfork to NPR Music. (They’ll even appear on World Cafe next week.)

And with good reason. With sensible, classic Western-Americana-influenced songwriting, the band rips ballads while also making a hard left each time you think they’re about to play right into a classic alt-country troupe. Sitting on the southern borderline of “indie,” Big Thief avoids falling into those all-too-familiar patterns, as well. Adrianne Lenker’s fragile, yet tempered songwriting carries the band down a winding road, that allows her to exert great strength both in quietus and with actual sonic force. Continue reading →