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Ortlieb’s stopped its Tuesday Night Jazz Jam Sessions. So what’s that mean for the rest of 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 →

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TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb announce new EP Kong, throwing tour kick-off show at Kung Fu Necktie on 3/6

TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb | photo via www.facebook.com/tjkongandtheatomicbomb
TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb | photo via www.facebook.com/tjkongandtheatomicbomb

Local rock & rollers TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb will drop a new EP called Kong on Monday, following up 2012′s Manufacturing Joy full-length.

Taking a cue from the collaborative cover of “Wild Night” by Van Morrison Kong’s Dan Bruskewicz did recently, the frontman says this effort will sound “a little different, more sexy, more Van Morrison, more Tom Waits.”  The boys will be taking the EP down to SXSW next week, but not before throwing a farewell show at Kung Fu Necktie this Thursday, March 6th with Ron Gallo and Purples.

Tickets and information for the 21+ tour kickoff can be found here.  Watch Bruskewicz cover “Wild Night” below with members of Commonwealth Choir and The Lawsuits, and stay tuned for more from Kong.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: XPN Welcomes The Lawsuits at MilkBoy, Screaming Females at Johnny Brenda’s, Philly Bloco at World Cafe Live and more

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Commonwealth Choir and T.J. Kong will join The Lawsuits tonight at MilkBoy as they did in this Van Morrison cover

XPN welcomes The Lawsuits to MilkBoy for New Years Eve.  The jam-packed line-up, featuring the local indie roots-rock outfit with TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb and Commonwealth Choir, will ring in 2014 by performing songs off of their recent Cool Cool Cool release.  Members of the bands got together recently to cover Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” so a reprise of that performance may also be in the plans.  Tickets and information for the 21+ celebration can be found here.  Check out the cover video below.

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Members of The Lawsuits, TJ Kong and Commonwealth Choir take on “Wild Night” by Van Morrison (playing MilkBoy on NYE)

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.53.55 AM

To get everyone ready for their New Years Eve show at MilkBoy in a couple of weeks, members of The Lawsuits, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb and Commonwealth Choir collaborated on a rocking cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night” that includes a knock-out harmonica solo by Kong’s Dan Bruskewicz.  Check out the video below and pick up tickets to the XPN Welcomes show here.

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TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb debut new songs for Daytrotter (playing MilkBoy on 12/31)

TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb | photo via www.facebook.com/tjkongandtheatomicbomb
TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb | photo via www.facebook.com/tjkongandtheatomicbomb

During a stop in Rock Island, IL, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb spent some time at the Daytrotter studio to record a live session.  The local folk rockers set down some new songs alongside a few tracks from their 2012 full-length Manufacturing Joy, previewing some new material that will be performed live at the band’s NYE show.  Daytrotter members can stream and download the session here.  Tickets and information for the Atomic Bomb’s New Years Eve party at MilkBoy can be found here.

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Just Announced: Milkboy closing out 2013 with The Lawsuits, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb and Commonwealth Choir

MilkboyNYE

New Years Eve at Milkboy is going to be a loud and rocking party.  The Chestnut Street venue has lined up The Lawsuits, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb and Commonwealth Choir to provide the entertainment, and the $15 entry gets you a whiskey ginger toast to ring in the new year.  The Lawsuits are still riding high from the release of their eclectic indie rock / Americana LP Cool Cool Cool, a record that redefined the Bucks County outfit’s sound and mission.  New kids on the block Commonwealth Choir also released new material recently – their debut Shirtless EP dropped in September and carried with it songs that strike a balance between Real Estate and Elvis Costello.  Never ones for subtlety, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb were made to play a night as boisterous as New Years Eve.  Their Facebook page describes the band as a “rare blend of jump blues, whiskey soaked balladry, bootstomp country, punk, soul, folk and Gypsy rock” so don’t forget your dancing shoes.  Tickets go on sale today at Noon and will be available here.  Listen to tracks from the bands below.

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