Five Years of Philly DIY: A musician’s perspective

Party Photographers at The Ox in 2010 | Photo by John Vettese
Party Photographers at The Ox in 2010 | Photo by John Vettese

In the wake of West Philly’s celebrated Golden Tea House closing its doors this winter, I’m torn between nostalgia and the hope that it’s not some trend of unconventional, all-ages venues throwing in the towel. In my heart of hearts I know that every time a DIY venue shuts down a demon gets it’s bat-wings or something, and there will be five more to take its place in a year or so. I hope so, anyway.

An intense show at the dearly departed Terrordome | photo via

This article will reminisce about the show houses that, in my opinion as a lowly musician, have dominated the Philly DIY “scene” the past four or five years. May this also be a rallying call to any person out there thinking about doing something similar: do it!

Get a PA, book a few bands to play in your kitchen or basement, make a rad flyer, invite everyone you know. You’ll be so happy you did, and if you just keep at it, this city will support you and you can eventually become as awesome (or more so) than the places in this article. GO! Continue reading →


The Fire Museum presents: “The Last Hurrah at the Highwire Gallery” with Marshall Allen and Sonic Sphere (happening on 12/14)

Marshall Allen | Photo by Alan Nahigian


We knew this day was coming, but it still pulls at our heart strings. Following last month’s announcement that Fishtown’s Highwire Gallery would be closing and halting The Fire Museum Presents residency indefinitely, The Fire Museum has announced the Gallery’s final event, appropriately named “The Last Hurrah” happening on December 14th.

Sun Ra Arkestra director and famed alto saxophonist / multi-instrumentalist Marshall Allen will be gracing Highwire Gallery with jazz, world-fusion, and afro-futuristic compositions with the support of Sonic Sphere, a group consisting of members from Sonic Liberation Front. The highly talented and multi-faceted Keir Neuringer will also be performing at the event, providing solo saxophone improvisation with acoustic and electronic inclinations that aim to bring socio-political concerns to the forefront in an artistic and meaningful way.

The event takes place at Highwire Gallery on December 14th at 8:00p.m.; tickets and information can be found here.  Watch Marshall Allen (center) perform with Milford Graves and Henry Grimes below.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Res at World Cafe Live, Fursaxa at Highwire Gallery, Great American Canyon Band at Ortliebs and more

Res |  Photo via
Res | Photo via

Singer and songwriter Res is celebrating the release of her new EP, Refried Mac, (a collection of Fleetwood Mac covers) tonight at World Cafe Live. The Philadelphia native first achieved mainstream success with her 2001 LP How I Do on which she captured listeners with her mix of indie pop, soul, and rock. Get tickets to the show here.

Continue reading →


Fishtown art space Highwire Gallery announces plans to close; Fire Museum Presents series halted indefinitely

Arborea performs at Highwire Gallery in 2010 | Photo by Derek Moench via

Philly exhibition hub Highwire Gallery, home to the experimental and wonderfully strange Fire Museum Presents concert series, has just announced that it will ease operations at its 2040 Frankford Ave location, citing a substantial rent increase. It has no immediate plans to relocate.

Highwire Gallery is the home of Highwire Artists, Inc., a non-profit initiative centered around hosting artists who are fully responsible for the vision and operation of their work, from curating to collaboration and exhibition. Operating in Philadelphia for more than 25 years, largely without a permanent gallery space, the Highwire cooperative has consistently sought new and unconventional spaces in order to connect art with community. Highwire Gallery has  resided on Frankford Ave. since 2005.

The Fire Museum Presents series has been presenting eclectic sounds and events at Highwire Gallery since 2009. The series has staged more than 170 events focusing on experimental, psychedelic, “avant / world noise” music, and has featured incredibly dynamic musicians in jazz, funk, world music and more. Steven Tobin, curator of Fire Museum Presents, wrote in a newsletter email that the series is on hold beyond its current lineup.

“My gratitude goes out to the members of the gallery for allowing us to use their space – and at a price that allowed us to give 100% of the money made at the door to those performing,” Tobin writes. “Currently we are mulling over various possibilities as to our next move. I used to always admire the folks that ran regular event series, while thinking they were somewhat crazy for doing so. Now I know I was right.”

The series will continue through November 17th, with multiple performances at Highwire Gallery before it is set to close. Next up is Little Howlin’ Wolf, Mitch Esparza and N Colyar P on Wednesday, November 6 at 7:30pm. The performances will fuse blues, folk, calypso, electronic and more, and promises to be quite literally indefinable. Tickets are $6-$8. For more information click here.

See a full list of Fire Museum upcoming events here.


Holy Cross, The Mahogany Stompers next up at Eric Cabonara’s Highwire Gallery series on 5/24

This month, Nada Sound Studios’ Eric Carbonara is guest curating a series of shows at Fishtown’s Highwire Gallery. Next in the series is Holy Cross – a New Orleans-based duo that takes an experimental approach to folk music, as well as classical, free jazz, and “mondo bizarro”. They are joined by Philadelphia’s own Mahogany Stompers, bringing modern takes on Dixieland, Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley and Yiddish songs. The show is at 8pm, and donations of $6-8 will be accepted at the door. Below, listen to music from Holy Cross’ Frank “Franzking” Rourke, as well as The Mahogany Stompers.