MilkBoy Coffee’s Center City location opened this week, live shows start next month (including plenty of local acts)

MilkBoy Coffee’s third location opened earlier this week at 1100 Chestnut Street. The coffee shop, bar, and music venue joins the franchise’s two Main Line locations in Ardmore and Bryn Mawr. Like its sister sites, MilkBoy Philly will serve coffee as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare, with many vegetarian options available. The Center City spot is the first to hold a liquor license, and will feature a full bar on each of its two floors. The top floor will feature a 200-person standing room 21+ music venue, for which eight shows have already been announced. One highlight is sure to include a September 29th show with local Eastern European brass band-inspired collective West Philadelphia Orchestra and recent 2nd Street Festival performers, Philly band The Great Unknown. Other local acts with scheduled shows include Gang, Black Landlord, Meeting in the Aisle, and Man Like Machine.

Ticket prices for the concerts are cheap, ranging from $8 – $13.50, so be sure to check out the new venue and support some local music while you’re at it.

Preliminary MilkBoy Philly show calendar:

9/17: Gang w/ Hank & Cupcakes and Pink Skull
9/21: Jim Ward
9/24: Black Landlord
9/28: We Are Augustines
9/29: West Philadelphia Orchestra w/ The Great Unknown
9/30: Meeting in the Aisle (Radiohead Tribute Band) w/ Man Like Machine
10/6: Toubab Krewe w/ Gongo Junction
10/20: Lisa Hannigan

MilkBoy Philly is located at 1100 Chestnut Street. Its hours of operation are from 6am – 11pm. Tickets to all upcoming shows can be found here.


The Great Unknown releases youth collaboration/benefit album

In fall 2010, Philly-based band The Great Unknown headlined a five-city tour for the ASCAP Songwriter Residency @ America SCORES, a program that allows musicians to collaborate with youth in under-resourced neighborhoods. Each stop on the tour included three days of collaborative songwriting and recording between students and the band. The band worked with students from elementary and middle schools in Washington DC, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York City and Boston. Five of the resulting original songs appear on The Great Unknown’s new album Other Voices, Other Rooms, which features lyrics written entirely by America SCORES students. The EP will be made available tomorrow, July 19th, for a price of your choosing. The Great Unknown will be donating all proceeds to the ASCAP Songwriter Residency @ America SCORES. Click here to pre-order the full album. Below, listen to a couple songs from the record.


Recap: Philly Folk Parade at World Cafe Live (+ full audio of the performances)

The Spinning Leaves

The Philly Folk Parade took over the World Cafe Live stage earlier this afternoon for a special edition of XPN’s Free At Noon concert series. The lineup featured four groups from the local folk music collective, including The Great Unknown, Chris Kasper, Hezekiah Jones, and The Spinning Leaves. Though the artists were technically slated to perform just two songs apiece, members from each group joined one another throughout the entire show, keeping the stage alive and packed with up to 15 performers at once.

Alt-folk quartet The Great Unknown opened the show, backed by at least eight other members of the Philly Folk Parade. A prevailing first impression was simply how young and happy the assemblage was, and their energy was instantly felt throughout the room. They featured resonant electric violin and guitar on their second song, “We’ve Got Secrets,” which also included harmonies from all 12 musicians on stage.

Next up was Chris Kasper and his band. After an endearing opening song in which Kasper and fiddler Kiley Ryan harmonized “ooohs” and “aaahs,” the group fell into a serious folk groove for “Baltimore Street.” Members of the band remained on stage as they were joined by the next act, recent Shaking Through artist Hezekiah Jones. The stage was again filled, with even more members now playing harmonica, upright bass, and electric lap steel guitar. Their song “Cannonball” was a slower tune, held together tightly by incredible harmonica and electric guitar and fiddle solos.

Philly Folk Parade co-founders The Spinning Leaves were the last to perform, and by this time the stage was completely full of people singing and dancing. They began their set by leading the eager crowd in claps and stomps, and their positive energy was again infectious. The combination of their modern folk harmonies with traditional harmonica and electric guitar was unexpected and rich. All four groups from The Philly Folk Parade were a joy to watch. As long as these artists are around, there should be no doubt that folk music is alive and well in Philadelphia. —Claire Fishkow

You can listen to the full performance here (via NPR Music).

Set List:

The Great Unknown
1. Water Again
2. We’ve Got Secrets

Chris Kasper
1.  Miss Augustine
2. Baltimore Street

Hezekiah Jones
1. Iowa Alligator
2. Cannonball (I’ve Got A Little Room)

The Spinning Leaves
1. Two Eggs
2. Bridges For Free


Just Announced: Next week’s Free At Noon is the Philly Folk Parade

Coming up Friday, May 27th: The 2011 “Philly Folk Parade,” which features local singer-songwriters taking the stage for individual and collaborative performances. This year’s lineup will include members of The Spinning Leaves, Hezekiah Jones, Chris Kasper, and The Great Unknown. As soon as registration for the event opens up, we’ll let you know.


Feast your ears on The Key Studio Sessions Thanksgiving Playlist

Google "turkey vinyl" and this is what you get. (Whatever, it's festive enough)

As producer of The Key Studio Sessions, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this holiday: the wealth of musical talent in the Philadelphia region, and the number of those musicians who are stoked on performing for us. The incredible studio here at XPN where I can record, and this website where I can share those recordings with you. It’s been good vibes since The Key launched, for sure—but I promised Matt I wouldn’t go too Hallmark on everyone. So instead, I present you with The Key Studio Sessions Thanksgiving Playlist: a collection of 13 tracks from our archives, dating back to some of our earliest Philly Local sessions in 2008—when Jake Rabid and I used to record in Y-Rock’s broadcast studio (before moving over to the comparatively giant Live At The World Café performance space we use now). Ever wonder what a Marshall stack-wielding punk band sounds like when you squeeze them and all their gear in a tiny broadcast studio? Check out The Loved Ones’ rendition of “Louisiana” from April of ’08. (The answer: not bad, and no less impassioned.)

Most of these songs have a similar mood—warm, thoughtful, and/or sentimentalish, from Chris Archibald’s stirring solo performance of “Missing Piece” from Illinois’ March 2009 session, to Birdie Busch’s perennial favorite “Water” from earlier this year. Some are more melancholic (the haunting “Two Skeletons” by the late, great Brass), some romantic (Kurt Vile’s cover of Dim Stars’ “Monkey”). Seasonal themes are also hit on, such as travel (Writtenhouse’s bumpin’ “Mahogany Blue”) and harvest (or at least Hoots And Hellmouth always make me think of harvest anyway). And some songs have little to do with the holiday per se, but are simply incredible performances that I’m thankful I had the honor of recording (The Chimeras’ “Ridge Summit” still gives me chills). Pop this playlist on when you’re preparing dinner tomorrow, when you’re digesting and relaxing afterwards, or whenever you need a collection of reflective homegrown songs from right here in Philly. Happy Thanksgiving. (“Golden Turntable” photo by Neil Ian of Nimble Photography)

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The Great Unknown goes back to school

The Great Unknown isn’t just heading out on the road this fall; the band is also heading back to school. During the local quartet’s upcoming tour—which starts on October 22nd at the Appalachian Brewery Company, and includes stops throughout the Midwest—members of the band will participate in America SCORES, a national youth-development program that works with inner-city kids living in high-risk neighborhoods.

ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) have teamed up for a fifth year with America SCORES to bring musicians into under-funded urban schools that have little-to-no after-school programs. The band will work with third-to-fifth graders in Washington D.C., Cleveland, Milwaukee, and New York City. “I want to focus around the fact that kids can see themselves as important people, says guitarist and singer Todd Henkin. “I want to start it with each kid walking up to a video camera and saying, ‘This is my voice, and it’s important.'” The band plans to lead the students through a series of exercises—brainstorming, free-writing, guided conversations—gradually turning the ideas they suggest into songs. “We want to show them that anyone can do this. Writing a song and recording it—that’s something that everyone can do.”