And the next big Philly band is…….

Illustration of Timothy Showalter of Strand Of Oaks by Johnnie Cluney for

At the turn of the New Year, the folks at NPR Music contacted WXPN and asked us to pick the “next big band to break out of Philly.” Other stations, like The Current in Minneapolis, KUT in Austin, Seattle’s KEXP, OPB (Oregon Public Radio), two New York stations (including WFUV at Fordham University and WNYC), and KCRW in Los Angeles were also approached. We were each challenged with the same job: pick one band, one song, and write three or four sentences about why we think the band would “blow up.”

Not an easy thing to do.

How did we choose Timothy Showalter of Strand Of Oaks as our number one choice, you ask? I reached out to the XPN staff to help pull a list together. I was looking for consensus, if there was any, around “the one.” The following folks contributed to this: John Vettese, producer of The Key Studio Sessions, XPN2 local music host, and music critic for the City Paper; Helen Leicht, WXPN mid-day host and host of the Philly Local hour on XPN; Fred Knittel, host of Folkadelphia on XPN2; Kate Bracaglia, XPN2 DJ, blogger at Underwater Explosions, and freelance music writer; Gene Shay, the legendary of host of The Folk Show on XPN, and myself.

First, let me say that some of our contributors did not follow the rules. Some sent me two “bands that will break” this year; which is okay. Picking one band from amongst the dozens of the incredible bands that in the Philly music scene is really, really hard. Go to NPR Music here to see what bands were chosen by the other stations. That said, while Strand Of Oaks was our final decision, we wanted to also recognize the other bands who were chosen by our committee of local music mavens. These bands are:


Hoots & Hellmouth

Work Drugs

Break It Up


Bleeding Rainbow

Sandra Bae