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Six artists to watch at the 7th Annual Roots Picnic

Photo of Rudimental at Made In America by Dana Distortion via http://www.spin.com/gallery/made-in-america-fest-2013-spins-best-live-photos/
Photo of Rudimental at Made In America by Dana Distortion via http://www.spin.com/gallery/made-in-america-fest-2013-spins-best-live-photos/

Stories of old gigs from The Roots are the stuff of legend around Philadelphia. Throw a stone and you’re bound to hit a Gen-X music lover with memories (perhaps false ones) of surprise shows at now-defunct Old City venues and happenstance Questlove sightings at Northern Liberties brunch spots. These stories might be all that is left of a bygone era in which The Roots helped shape the sonic and ideological imprint of left-of-center hip-hop culture, all the while centering it in a series of extinct local hot spots.

Well, not all that’s left. They may have abandoned a rigorous touring regimen for late night glory, but Quest and co. remain committed to creating awesome moments of cross-genre delight and enlightenment for Philadelphians of all stripes. The clearest definition of this mission statement – one which has followed them into numerous genre-bending albums and collaborations – is the annual Roots Picnic, the 7th installment of which goes down at Festival Pier this Saturday. Few festivals pack such an eclectic and kinetic punch in a small, relatively inexpensive experience. While this year’s lineup is one of its strongest yet, we here at The Key have our eye on a few artists (including some lesser-known ones) who have had especially fascinating years and promise tremendous sets on Saturday.

The Roots

At the risk of sounding obvious, we’ll say that any set from The Roots is bound to set the mood for a day of gleeful head-nodding. Their reputation as a live act, honed through nearly two decades of constant touring and five years of sequence-scoring for Jimmy Fallon, is well-established. With the recent release of the excellent …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, the band also promises to deliver some searing live renditions of their epic new material.

Janelle Monáe

The first Made in America festival got a lot of mixed reviews from local concertgoers who were mired in large-scale and largely acceptable skepticism about how a festival of that scale would play out on the Parkway. Unanimous praise was saved, however, for Janelle Monáe’s classic soul-rooted, futuristically-oriented brand of music. After near-unanimous praise for her latest album, 2013’s The Electric Lady, the aptly named Electric Lady promises a solid set of fanciful festivity.

The War on Drugs

At least one prominent Roots Picnic slot is reserved for a buzzworthy indie act who, like The Roots, looks to bridge aesthetic boundaries instead of reinforcing them. Philly’s own The War on Drugs, riding on the success of this year’s acclaimed and dreamscape-y Lost in the Dream, fill big shoes left by genre benders like Vampire Weekend and TV on the Radio. But if their unique take on shoegaze-meets-Americana has a perfect home anywhere, it’s at an open air concert along their hometown’s emblematic waterfront.

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Philly’s Chill Moody emerges from the depths of despair on new single “Concrete Jungle”

Chill Moody | Photo by John Vettese
Chill Moody | Photo by John Vettese

With his appearance at this year’s Roots Picnic just a few weeks away, it’s only right for Chill Moody to drop some fresh new fire. His new single “Concrete Jungle” features R&B singer/actor Mack Wilds on the chorus and it’s the perfect centerpiece that compliments Chill’s hard-hitting rhymes over the pulsating beat. You have to believe him when he raps: “I’m from the concrete you’ll find me right where talent and grind meet, ahead of the class with no assigned seats.” His work ethic, flow, and lyrical dexterity set him apart from the crowd on one of his best showings to date. Check it out below (see if you can catch the Freeway reference) and get tickets to Roots Picnic here.

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“A mix of sleaziness and professionalism”: Philly artists weigh in on their SXSW experience

The Districts | Photo by John Vettese
The Districts at Buffalo Billiards | Photo by John Vettese

The rickety van piloted by Philly psych-thrash outfit Ruby the Hatchet rolled into Austin just a few hours before its first South By Southwest gig last week. Cutting it close, for sure, but the band was just happy to arrive.

“We broke down,” guitarist John Scarperia explained as he set up for the End Records showcase at LIT Lounge. “We were stuck in Tennessee for two days.”

Ruby the Hatchet | Photo by John Vettese
Ruby the Hatchet at LIT Lounge | Photo by John Vettese

Talk about a setback. I ask if they missed any tour shows on the trip down. Scarperia laughs, then says “We didn’t play any. But it was fun, all part of the adventure, right?

The band dished a raucous set of its heady, heavy rock to a modest but appreciative crowd – which included singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, a longtime friend of Hatchet frontwoman Jillian Taylor. The next day, it rocked Thrasher Mag’s unofficial Deathmatch showcase, and spent the rest of the weekend mingling with the music-devouring masses. Overall, it was a positive experience, and even culminated in Taylor getting a new tattoo (a hatchet, of course).

Ruby the Hatchet was one of dozens of locals that made the trek to Austin this year. Musicians of all styles and degrees of renown represented Philly at SXSW. There were known names like rapper Spank Rock, who played an energized set to a buck wild crowd at the Boyz Noize showcase at The Majestic on Thursday, and alt-bluesman G. Love who played the 18th Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn the same night. There were emerging artists, like folk singer Vikesh Kapoor and punk power trio Amanda X, or SXSW vets like rapper Lushlife, heavy psych heads Creepoid, and dream punks Nothing, who played a 2 a.m. set on a pedestrian footbridge.

Chill Moody | Photo by John Vettese
Chill Moody onstage at Amped Austin | Photo by John Vettese

“I feel like SXSW serves as a hub for discovery,” says Philly rapper Chill Moody, who I caught during his showcase at the Amped Austin lounge on Saturday afternoon. “I met a bunch of musicians and professionals in the music industry in just one week. Built some strong connections that will hopefully help me with the next steps in my career.”

For Moody, who is used to feeding off the love of the hometown fan base he’s cultivated over the past few years – he headlines venues like The TLA and Union Transfer locally – it was an opportunity to perform to complete strangers in smaller rooms, and win them over. The Amped show featured his right hand man Beano, a charismatic and occasionally comedic R&B singer, hopping offstage and dancing in the midst of the crowd, to the delight of many Instagram-snappers.

“It was a good chance to show a different audience exactly what you can do,” said Moody.

Downstairs at the same venue, electronic rock duo City Rain debuted songs from their new Songs From a High School Dance LP, due out in late April. Again, the crowd was (with the exception of myself) strangers, but people fed off singer / songwriter Ben Runyuan’s relentless energy, particularly on the driving anthem “Waiting on a Dream.”

“This is our last showcase,” Runyan said. “So I’m just throwing everything I got into this.” Continue reading →

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Visit Philly’s Homesick Philly showcase at SXSW cancelled following Austin crash

Chill Moody. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Chill Moody. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Following Wednesday night’s car accident at the South By Southwest music festival that killed two people in a crowd and injured 23, many events are being moved and cancelled – including Visit Philly’s scheduled Homesick Philly event this afternoon.

The showcase, featuring Chill Moody, Bleeding Rainbow and Pattern Is Movement, was intended to be a central gathering place for Philly locals attending the festival as well as a spotlight on the city’s music scene; while there have been Philly-centric showcases on the past several SXSW’s, they have been in far-flung ares that most festival goers don’t typically venture. Homesick Philly was to be the first in the thick of the festival, but was located at Cheer Up Charlie’s, the venue next door to The Mowhawk, where the crash occurred.

(Read More – Chill Moody, Bleeding Rainbow, Pattern is Movement will head up Homesick Philly showcase at SXSW)

According to news reports, the accident occurred after Austin police attempted to engage a drunk driver in his vehicle who sped down 9th Street in downtown Austin, then proceeded to drive through SXSW street barricades and into a crowd. The person was apprehended by the police. At the time, Philly’s Kurt Vile was playing a set from the outdoor stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s. All the shows at the two venues were immediately cancelled, including a later performance by Tyler The Creator.

This afternoon Visit Philly tweeted:

In an Instagram post, Chill Moody added:

My prayers go out to everyone affected by that terrible car accident last night. The entire block where my 1pm #HomesickPhilly event has been canceled. We are looking into other activation possibilities and I will keep you all posted. My next show today is at 2:30pm at the nicekicks store rooftop. Hope to see you there. #SXSW #ChillXSW

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Chill Moody, Pattern Is Movement, Bleeding Rainbow will head up Visit Philly’s Homesick Philly SXSW party

Chill Moody. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Chill Moody | Photo courtesy of the artist.

While you may not be heading to Austin, Texas next week for the SXSW Music Conference, Visit Philly is, and offering some musical refuge to Philadelphians who will be down there.

The Homesick Philly party will happen on Thursday, March 13 at Cheer Up Charlie’s, and it’s a terrific lineup of some of our Philly musical favorites: Chill Moody, Beano, DJ Ricochet, and Bleeding Rainbow, and Pattern Is Movement. There will be a beer garden serving Victory Brewing Company beer and a chance for festival-goers to win a trip to The Roots Picnic in Philadelphia.

(Hear More – The Key Studio Sessions: Bleeding Rainbow)

Homesick Philly is a concept created by Chill Moody to help spread the love for Philadelphians for when they’re away from the City of Brotherly Love, including local foods, beer and music. Moody plans to take this experience, the first of which is sponsored by Visit Philadelphia, on the road to other concerts and festivals throughout the year. Below, listen to Chill’s take on a classic from The Roots.

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Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, The War on Drugs and Chill Moody top The Roots 7th annual Roots Picnic lineup

Now in its 7th year, The Roots Picinic will bring an eclectic array of music to Festival Pier on May 31, and the band today revealed everything you need to know about this year’s installment.

The year the legendary hip-hop crew will share the stage with Snoop Dogg (backed by The Roots), as well as Janelle Monáe, Action Bronson, A$AP Ferg, araabMUZIK, The War On Drugs, Rudimental, Jhené Aiko, Biz Markie (DJ Set), Bad Rabbits, Electric Wire Hustle, Chill Moody, Emily Wells, Roman GianArthur & more.

Get tickets when they go onsale this Friday at 10 a.m. on Ticketmaster and watch a few of the latest clips from acts on this year’s incredible lineup below.

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Chill Moody pays tribute to The Roots’ 1999 classic Things Fall Apart LP in new track

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

It’s been 15 years since The Roots released what is widely considered their breakthrough record Things Fall Apart. The album earned them two Grammy nomination, a top 40 hit (“You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu and Eve), and platinum status.

To honor the local legends’ milestone, Philly emcee Chill Moody packs quite the lyrical punch on his new track “nicethings Fall Apart” delivering rhymes that detail his thirst for success over a selection of beats drawn from The Roots’ 1999 classic.

Ever the local favorite, fans recently named Moody the Indie Hip-Hop Artist of the Year at this year’s Tri-State Indie Music Awards where he also performed. Listen to “nicethings Fall Apart” below.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Basia Bulat, Sidewalk Atlas, Trophy Wife and more

 

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

Folkadelphia welcomed Basia Bulat into the studio for a live session last fall and premiered it this week on XPN.  The singer-songwriter performed poignant songs from both her recent Tall Tall Shadow release and her debut Oh, My Darling.  Stream and download the stripped-down performance below.

Trophy Wife stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session.  The local genre chameleons recorded raw takes of songs that will appear on their upcoming third LP, expected later this year.  Check out the “metaphysical pondering” of “Transition” below and get the full set here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Snowmine and Norwegian Arms at Johnny Brenda’s, Chill Moody at Hard Rock Cafe, Tom Brosseau at Ortlieb’s and more…

Norwegian Arms | Photo by John Vettese
Norwegian Arms | Photo by John Ve

Brooklyn indie pop quintet Snowmine and Philadelphia favorites Norwegian Arms team up for a show at Johnny Brenda’s tonight.  The former are celebrating the release of their new record Dialects, a cinematic and textural experience that the band pulls off exquisitely in a live setting.  Bright alt-folk trio Norwegian Arms released their impressive and immersive Wolf Like a Stray Dog LP in 2012, following it up last year with a 7″ single for “Jitterbug,” which you can listen to below.  Tickets and information for the 21+ show with Dream Safari can be found here.

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Who do Chill Moody, Hank McCoy and Beano love?

(L-R: Hank McCoy, Beano, Chill Moody) Photo by Caitlin Morris
L-R: Hank McCoy, Beano, Chill Moody | Photo by Caitlin Morris | Courtesy of Hank McCoy (originally published in Jump Philly)

If you yearn for the glory days of Eighties New Jack Swing, then look no further than the new album from Philly soul patrol including rapper Chill Moody, producer and songwriter Hank McCoy and R&B singer Beano.

The three have collaborated together over the last several years on a series of Valentine’s Day related releases and they have just released their latest, Who Do You Love…More?. It’s confident, well produced, well sung and well rapped and points to huge potential for this combination.

(Read more – Get to know Philly beatmaker Hank McCoy)

Back to the New Jack Swing thing, this new collection of songs is definitely rooted in the crossover world of R&B, pop and hip-hop. Highlights on the album include “StillYoung,” which nods to Keith Sweat’s “Nothing Lasts Forever, “WhatsForBreakfast,” and the sultry “KelisThing.” McCoy works in some pretty smart samples including the Paul Mauriat version of the Tom Jones classic, “It’s Not Unusual.” If you want to bridge the gap between 80′s New Jackers like Keith Sweat, Guy, Teddy Riley and New Edition and the latest interpretation of R&B and hip-hop, then McCoy, Moody and Beano’s new release is right on time.

The Chill Moody x Beano x Hank McCoy Who Do You Love…More? record release show is this Friday evening, February 7th at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Below, listen to “LastNightInTown” from Who Do You Love…More?