Ed Kowalczyk of Live and Pete Donnelly are playing epilepsy awareness benefit concert in NJ tonight

Ed Kowalczyk | courtesy of the artist

Tonight (March 27th) Ed Kowalczyk of the band Live and Pete Donnelly are performing an intimate epilepsy awareness concert at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1986 Pennington Road in Ewing New Jersey.

I asked organizer Eric Miller about the series that he began as a house concert program. Here’s what he said.

I started as a house concert series that I would webcast online.

I started these epilepsy awareness efforts following the passing of my wife, Carolina, as a result of a seizure. She was just 25 and at the time of her passing, neither of us knew the risks of epilepsy being fatal. I’ve since learned that about 50,000 people a year die from seizure related causes. So I’ve been doing this in the hopes that people will become more enlightened about epilepsy, stigmas may be broken and that someday, someone else will not experience such a loss.

I now do the series at Trinity UMC, a 300 seat church in Ewing NJ. Their pastor, Brian, saw one of the articles in the newspaper and reached out to offer his space for the series and we’ve been great allies ever since.

I should also share that in March 2013, I did 50 Concerts in 50 States for Epilepsy Awareness (ended up with 114 events across all 50 states). Some shows I booked, some were arranged by local advocates and some were existing shows we were blessed to have volunteers to hand out info about epilepsy at. Artists that participated in that include – Eric Clapton, Garbage, Imagine Dragons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tegan & Sara and literally 100+ more.

On Friday, April 4th the band Living Colour will be performing at Trinty UMC. For ticket information, go to Below, watch a video from an October performance by Collective Soul’s Ed Roland and his Sweet Tea Project for the concert series.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: My Bloody Valentine at Electric Factory, Dresses at MilkBoy, Taj Mahal Trio at Grand Opera House, and more

My Bloody Valentine

Ethereal alt-rock icons My Bloody Valentine are bringing their elusive melodies and spidery vocals to Electric Factory tonight before they finish up their North American tour in New York. Dropping their anxiously anticipated third full length album mbv in February, Mark Richardson of Pitchfork gave it a 9.1 in his review saying, “mbv is an album of density with very little air or light. But it doesn’t forgo the human touches that have made this band so special.” Find tickets and details for tonight’s show here. Get ready for the show by watching their London performance of “Soon” below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Commonwealth Choir at North Star Bar, Ben Folds Five at Mann Center, Pete Donnelly at Ortlieb’s, Philadelphia Maneto release party at Race Street Pier

commonwealth choirTonight at North Star Bar, you can catch Doylestown rock band Commonwealth Choir.  Though the group only has one official song to it’s name, Commonwealth Choir is not a band to mess with.  The single “Rest” is incredibly catchy, featuring a sleek chorus that’ll have you listening to the song over and over again.  The group has already played several shows in Philly this summer, but this is the last for a while.  Check out their single below and click here for concert information.

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The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Laura Jane Grace, Vacationer, 2nd Street Festival)

Photo By Abi Reimold |
Photo By Abi Reimold |

Vacationer drop in for a soothing Key Studio Session that includes free downloads and a video by BITBY [link]

Unlocked takes a look at Lantern‘s new Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach LP [link]

The Low Anthem, Banned Books, Denison Witmer and more tapped for this year’s 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties [link]

Stream and pre-order Psychic Teens‘ COME ahead of the goth-punks’ record release show at Long in the Tooth on August 9th [link]

Watch Pete Donnelly‘s new video for “Face the Bird” from his upcoming full-length of the same name [link]

Emmet Drueding and Grave Goods collaborate on “Area 51″ and release the track as a free download [link]

Local bassist Phil D’Agostino has release a new solo track called “Footballs” off of his forthcoming Inlets LP [link]

Download The Downtown Club‘s “Dance” from a new compilation of local bands [link]

Enter to win tickets to see Against Me!‘s Laura Jane Grace at MilkBoy on August 10th [link]

Sean Hoots will create original music for Shakespeare in Clark Park’s production of The Tempest this month [link]

Members of Dashboard Confessional and The Narrative bring their new Twin Forks project to Folkadelphia [link]


Pete Donnelly is back with Face The Bird (playing an Ortlieb’s residency in July)

pete donnelly

South Jersey’s Pete Donnelly of 90s group The Figgs (and a part-time member of NRBQ) is gearing up to release a solo album, Face The Bird.  The album was recorded in various places, from New Jersey shores to Bill Moriarty’s Waking Studio in Philly and has just as many diverse sounds as recording locations.  While the album isn’t out until August 20th, Donnelly has released a great / adorable video for the single, “Face The Bird” and is also playing a residency at Ortlieb’s this summer.  The song was written spontaneously for his kids, and Donnelly sings about passing the torch to the next generation; in the video for this upbeat power-pop ballad, Donnelly jams with his kids in front of a green screen and they look like they’re all having the time of their lives.  Check out the video below and catch him at Ortlieb’s July 11th, 18th and 25th.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Stornoway with Field Report at Kung Fu Necktie, A Benefit Concert for Lentil with Tommy Conwell and more at The Blockley, West Philadelphia Orchestra at Underground Arts


Oxfordian Oxonian folk / pop group Stornoway headline Kung Fu Necktie tonight.  Following up their 2010 debut Beachcomber’s Windowsill, the academically-minded quartet (led by an ornithologist) released Tales from Terra Firma earlier this month.  Field Report continue to tour in support of last year’s self-titled debut.  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show can be found here.  Watch Stornoway’s video for “Knock Me On the Head” below.

Several local musicians come together at The Blockley tonight for a concert benefiting Lentil Fest.  Tommy Conwell, Pete Donnelly, Ben Arnold and Travel Lanes will perform sets in support of Lentil the French bulldog, who was born with a cleft palate.  All proceeds will be donated to a variety of charities including the French Bulldog Rescue Network and the Children’s Craniofacial Association.  Tickets and information can be found here.  Below, watch Pete Donnelly’s video for “Can’t Talk At All.”

West Philadelphia Orchestra brings their monthly Balkan dance party back to Underground Arts tonight.  As a collective of Philadelphia musicians, WPO blends traditional Eastern European influences withe modern jazz and classical sensibilities.  Tickets and more information for tonight’s 21+ show with Johnny Showcase and the Lefty Lucy Cabaret can be found here or on the Facebook event page here.  Watch West Philadelphia Orchestra perform “Burkan Cocek” below.



The 12 Days of Local Christmas: Download “Merry Xmas This Year” by Pete Donnelly

WXPN’s Twelve Days of Local Christmas continues today with the song “Merry Xmas This Year” by singer-songwriter, producer, member of the Figgs and NRBQ Pete Donnelly. After several years in the making, Donnelly released his debut album, When You Come Home, last year to excellent reviews and support from WXPN. In February Donnelly heads to Japan to tour with Jim Boggia, but not before playing his own solo show at the Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square on January 25th. The 12 Days of Local Christmas compilation is curated by XPN mid-day host Helen Leicht and the songs will be played daily during My Morning Download on the Morning Show with Michaela Majoun and on Helen’s local pick of the day. You can download the entire Twelve Days of Local Christmas compilation here. Download “Merry Xmas This Year” from Pete below.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company

Three days of celebration at MilkBoy Philly begin tonight

In 1999, a partnership began between Jamie Lokoff and Tommy Joyner, and the result was the MilkBoy empire we know today. Starting out above Zapf’s Music off of Roosevelt Bouelvard, the two joined forces to take Joyner’s MilkBoy Recording Studio to the next level. After two years at the North Philadelphia location, Lokoff and Joyner chose to move the studio to a space in Ardmore, where it resided for just over ten years until moving to its current location – 7th and Callowhill, the same building as the Electric Factory. Before the studio was even moved, they chose to expand their brand, create something more out of MilkBoy, something that everyone could enjoy. I got to chat with Tommy and Jamie about how they went from just a recording to studio to a full out bar, venue, coffee shop combo and their upcoming MilkBoy Philly anniversary shows.

Photo by Tony Wood

The Key: How did you go about expanding the recording studio to become a venue and a coffee shop?

Tommy Joyner: We were approached by people in the town and became very involved in Ardmore. I was on the Board of the Ardmore Business Association, and Jamie on the Board of Ardmore Initiative. The coffee shop/music venue was opened in February 2006 followed by the Bryn Mawr location in 2007, which no longer exists. Then just over a year ago, the folks who owned the property in Center City contacted us. We were looking to get into Philly so it was really perfect timing.

TK: What is the difference between MilkBoy Coffee and MilkBoy Philly?

TJ: MilkBoy Philly is a bar and a rock club. It’s larger, and we’re able to do louder shows because the PA is robust, to say the least. The stage is bigger, and you’re more likely to see a national act perform at MilkBoy Philly. We have to be choosy about doing all-ages shows there, whereas MilkBoy Coffee is smaller, more for acoustic-oriented acts, and always all-ages and BYOB. They are both booked really well to showcase the best talent, but they feel really different from each other. Continue reading →


Get to know local artist Pete Donnelly (playing World Cafe Live tonight)

Between touring with three bands and raising a family, Pete Donnelly has a lot on his plate. But the Philly-based singer-songwriter is also working on his second solo record, a new NRBQ record, an anthology for The Figgs, and has been recording and producing for other artists. Donnelly took time out of his busy schedule before his show tonight at World Cafe Live with The Chandler Travis Three-o to answer a few questions for The Key.

Donnelly grew up in a musical family. When asked how he got into playing music, he explained that his mother bought herself a piano when he was six years old and then his older brothers started coming home with guitars and drums. “It was all I wanted to do; I can’t really say why. Being the youngest, I probably wanted to be a part of what was going on with the older kids, but as soon as that piano came I was making stuff up.” Finally, at 13, his parents got him a bass and he’s been playing music ever since. Continue reading →


Recap: Pete Donnelly’s Free At Noon performance at World Cafe Live

Photo by Melody Chiang

It’s hard to imagine what the Philadelphia pop scene would sound like without Pete Donnelly. Donnelly plays bass for NRBQ, writes and plays for The Figgs, and frequently produces local Philadelphia artists such as G. Love And Special Sauce. Now, after over 10 years of staying (for the most part) out of the spotlight, Donnelly has recorded a solo album, When You Come Home. Both the album and his live performance capture the ease and confidence that Donnelly brings to the genre. His lyrics are simple and classic, with lines like “your legs crossed, touching mine/ something simple never felt so fine.” His compositions are clean and feature just enough saxophone to jazz them up without diluting the pop.

Yet, When You Come Home can sound, at times, a bit formulaic. After the first 10 or so tracks, the love songs begin to shift from classic to cliché. Even some of the older material Donnelly played today—songs that were originally written for The Figgs and NRBQ—fit into his theme. His topics include, but are not limited to, the moment when you realize that you love someone (“Something Happened”), the frustration of wanting to be in the same place as your lover (“I Won’t Go to Miami”), the desire to fall in love (“I’m Satisfied”), and the joy of simply being in love (“When You Come Home”). When You Come Home is the kind of album that would make a good Valentine’s Day present (there’s a track for every kind of relationship), but doesn’t stand out as particularly ground-breaking or even heartfelt. To be fair, pop is rarely a purveyor raw, intense emotion, and Donnelly doesn’t pretend that his is.

But then, out of nowhere, there’s “Far Away Angel,” a song that Donnelly wrote for his 14-year-old daughter. It’s hardly surprising that Donnelly can do the hapless, hopeless romantic bit well, but “Far Away Angel,” was an unexpectedly tender and genuine moment in the set, as it is on the album. Tucked toward the end of the track list and saved for the end of his Free At Noon performance, “Far Away Angel” deals in an intense and unrelenting love that Donnelly understands—the love that a father has for his daughter. He sings about his darkest moments and the courage that his daughter gives him in those times. “Far Away Angel” is Donnelly, the writer, the musician and the producer, at his best. During an instrumental break in the song, Donnelly subtly built up the bridge, picking away at a persistent, repetitive guitar hook against graceful, drawn out notes from the saxophone. Even his voice took on a different quality of intensity. In that moment, Donnelly reminded us all that while he can craft a pop album, as we’ve come to expect him to, he can also create serious art.  –Naomi Shavin

Set List:

1. The Only One
2. Something Happened
3. I Won’t Go To Miami
4. I’m Satisfied
5. Can’t Talk At All
6. Break Through Silence
7. Far Away Angel
8. When You Come Home