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Art, music and film on display at last ever Walla Fest

Straw Hats | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Straw Hats | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

For years, Walla Fest has brought local music fans consistent joy with their knack for putting together eclectic shows which are able to capture the sheer awesomeness of the Philly local music and art scene. During their time, they have given bands and artists like Alex G., Pine Barons, Mannequin Pussy, Vita and the Woolf and countless others the chance to shine and this December the folks at Walla Fest will be putting on their final event, this time at The Pharmacy, making it one you won’t want to miss out on.

As always, it is an event for art to thrive and will feature some truly rad performances. Headlining are punk-rockers Straw Hats, a side project for a couple of the guys from The Districts - who also headline the Tinseled Shut show last night. Joining them are singer-songwriter Abi Reimold, indie-pop up-and-comers Roof Doctor and many more. Continue reading →

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We don’t know much about Philly band Friendship, but their YouTube EP is a rager

event photo | via https://www.facebook.com/events/1604723909806244/
event photo | via https://www.facebook.com/events/1604723909806244/

We recently came across the quirky debut EP from Philly band Friendship, who were mysteriously added to a show tonight at 3rd & Girard (see the flyer with the giant rubber duck above). The EP is called THE FURTHER YOU KICK IT THE BIGGER IT GETS and on it, the band explores an interesting collection of sounds, ranging from lo-fi home recordings, to freak folk, to ramblings that could rival mewithoutYou or Listener.

You can listen to the EP via the Youtube video below. The track names aren’t listed, and frankly, not much else about the band is listed anywhere, but trust us – you’ll want to listen all the way through. Continue reading →

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Ramshackle-y and charming: Meet Roof Doctor

Roof Doctor | Photo by Rachel Barrish
Roof Doctor | Photo by Rachel Barrish

West Philly’s Roof Doctor were lauded by Stereogum this past April as a Band To Watch. For good reason; Roof Doctor’s album, Mobile Freedom Home, is a ramshackle-y, charming, invigorating, and irresistible collection of indie-pop songs.

Led by singer and guitarist Mark Harper, Roof Doctor began as a Harper solo project, that grew into a five piece band including Chet Williams (sax, keyboard, percussion, bass and vocals), drummer Kevin Paschall, guitarist Alex Stackhouse, bassist Sean Reilly, and Harper pulling all the seemingly disparate parts together. Continue reading →

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: King Britt & Dozia’s Back2Basics at Hard Rock Cafe, Mercury Radio Theater at Ortlieb’s, Roof Doctor at Kung Fu Necktie

Photo via facebook.com/KingBrittFanPage
Photo via facebook.com/KingBrittFanPage

King Britt & Dozia’s Back2Basic’s Reunion takes place tonight at Hard Rock Cafe. A revival of the legendary Philly nightclub night, the event hosts both live musicians as well as DJs, allowing for a genre-bending night of frenzy. Started in 1990, the event hosted names like ?uestlove, James Poyser and more. The man behind the project is Britt, who was also a part of the venerable Digable Planets and other projects. In his interview with the Key’s Sameer Rao, Britt explained the motivation behind the reunion as “We thought it would be good to do this as a reunion, but also as a reminder that this [mixing different genres] is possible”. He then went on to emphasize that the event is “not just partying…it’s existential.”  Check out this video of King Britt and The Back 2 Basics Band perform live at Silk City below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Roof Doctor

If you just went by Roof Doctor‘s irreverent personalities, their tongue-deep-in-cheek social media presence (Twitter handle: @roof_deezy), the fact that they once tried to start a beef with Conor Oberst, you’d have no reason to take them seriously. But consider their chops and multi-instrumental prowess. Chet Williams has a knack for juggling sax, keyboard, percussion, bass and vocals; Kevin Paschall delivers intricate rhythmic accompaniment from behind the drumkit (I’m still wrapping my brain around the beat at the beginning of “Bulldog,” which they played in their Key Studio Session); Mark Harper reigns in everything that’s going on and arranges it into ultra catchy tunes. These dudes are so serious. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Get a sneak preview of this month’s Philly Tapes Philly mash-up with Roof Doctor and Mo Lowda & The Humble

Philly Tapes Philly vol. 3 | photo by Melissa Roderman
Philly Tapes Philly vol. 3 | photo by Melissa Roderman

Philly Tapes Philly‘s third release show is just around the corner, and they’ve shared some behind-the-scenes footage of last weekend’s recording session with Roof Doctor and Mo Lowda & The Humble.  The local bands recorded and collaborated on two songs, a new one from Roof Doctor called “Two Brothers” and a re-worked version of “Throw Me a Bone” by The Humble.  The songs will be released on limited edition cassettes, given away for free to the first 50 people through the door at next week’s show at Ortlieb’s (also free).  More information can be found on the event page here.  Check out the preview video below, filmed by Bob Sweeney and featuring “Two Brothers,” followed by photos of the session taken by Melissa Roderman.

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Mo Lowda & The Humble, Roof Doctor tapped for this month’s Philly Tapes Philly collaboration

 

Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold | www.abireimoldphoto.com
Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold | www.abireimoldphoto.com

Local collaboration-curators Philly Tapes Philly have announced the next pairing for their experiment in straight-to-tape recording, this month featuring Mo Lowda & The Humble and Roof Doctor.

The project began in March when members of Commonwealth Choir and Big Tusk recognized an opportunity to cross local genre and scene divides by inviting bands into their home studio, The Gun Shop, for one-off recording sessions.  The resulting tracks, one from each band, are recorded through an entirely analog process onto 50 limited edition cassette tapes that are given away for free at the subsequent release show at Ortlieb’s, which is also free.

This month will see the Bucks County-bred alternative rock of Mo Lowda & The Humble split with the surf / punk-leaning rock of Roof Doctor, two bands that already eschew tight genre definitions in favor of intricate arrangements and jazzy instrumentation.

Nick Cislak of PTP / Commonwealth Choir was excited to get two bands together that move in different circles but share a passion for supporting and expanding the local music community.

“I already knew Mo Lowda, but hadn’t heard Roof Doctor. When Roof Doctor reached out I checked out [their new album Mobile Freedom Home] and loved it. Getting this many great musicians who were this passionate about the project in the same room together was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

Listen to “Where the Whitetails Go” off of Mo Lowda & The Humble’s recent debut LP Curse the Weather below, followed by “Bulldog” off of Roof Doctor’s new Mobile Freedom Home full-length.  The free release show will take place at Ortlieb’s on May 29th; more information can be found on the Facebook event page here.  Check out the show flyer after the jump.

Continue reading →

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What the end of jazz nights at Ortlieb’s means for Philly’s jazz community

Local university and college students play with Fresh Cut Trio at The Painted Bride in February | Courtesy of Emily Rolen
Local university and college students play with Fresh Cut Trio at the Painted Bride in February | Courtesy of Emily Rolen

Pete Souders owned Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus for 20 years, but learned in January that the establishment he built a reputation for would no longer be needing his services. His Tuesday Night Jazz Jam Session was canceled.

But, he can’t say he didn’t expect it.

After growing exhausted of the hectic lifestyle of running a night spot and music venue, Souders sold Ortlieb’s in 2007, and after a bouncing around of owners, it was purchased by Four Corners Productions.

“I decided to sell it because I thought I was really getting tired,” Souders said.

Under its newest ownership, Ortlieb’s has shifted gears from its once-smooth atmosphere to a place of socialization, drinks and indie rock. It’s also dropped the “Jazzhaus” portion of its name.

The newest owners asked Souders to come in to host his Jazz Night upon opening, but Souders said he saw major flaws from the get-go.

When he owned Ortlieb’s, Souders said a large, acoustic piano sat center-stage which amplified the room, but once the newest owners came in, they hired a engineer who wired various mics for the jazz performances taking over the piano, which Souders said he thought was “unnecessary.”

Real jazz, Souders said, is able to fill an entire room without the need of any additional equipment.

But then again, Ortlieb’s is now hosting more than jazz performances, necessitating a more involved setup.

But Souders said he saw more concerns than just the equipment. Right before Christmas, the owners told him they  “weren’t making any money during the first hour-and-a-half.” They also asked his to cut the session back from its 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. slot so it wrapped up by 11:30 p.m. The owners told him they “weren’t making any money during the first hour-and-a-half,” Souders said.

He said that the new owners at Ortlieb’s told him they wanted to attract a better bar crowd at midnight, and Souders’ smooth tunes weren’t cutting it. It boiled down to a business issue.

“I had mixed emotions,” Souders said. “…[the situation] was anticlimactic.”

The current owners declined multiple requests for interviews.

So is the the current state of Ortlieb’s and what happened to its long-standing tradition a reflection for what might happen across the city’s jazz community? Continue reading →