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Watch STS and RJD2 perform alongside the West Philadelphia Orchestra in new music video

STS and RJD2 | Photo via facebook.com/RJD2
STS and RJD2 | Photo via facebook.com/RJD2

We rejoiced earlier this month when two of Philly’s finest, rapper Sugar Tongue Slim and electronic artist RJD2, released their collaboration album. All 12 tracks on STS x RJD2 hold brilliant musical detours, with the duo marking their territory with hints of hip hop, jazz, soul, pop, etc.

Holding these local musicians near and dear, we’re ecstatic to see the Philly-centric vibe going on in their latest released video for the album’s opening track, “Doin’ It Right.” Continue reading →

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Scenes from the Center City Jazz Festival

Ernest Stuart at Center City Jazz Fest | Photo by John Vettese
Center City Jazz Fest founder Ernest Stuart performs at Time | Photo by John Vettese

The best Philadelphia music festival you haven’t checked out yet, Center City Jazz Festival took over the Sansom Street corridor on Saturday afternoon with 20 performers stationed at five different venues. In terms of bang for your buck, it’s an incredible deal: a $15 ticket lets you bounce from space to space, maximizing the music you take in.

If you know nothing about jazz, it’s a robust introduction to the scene – ultra-modern originals mixed with traditional standards and crossover covers of Sigur Ros, Aphex Twin and Nirvana. If you’re more versed in the jazz world, CCJF shines a light on the variety our community has to offer.
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Philly Music 101: The basics everyone needs to know about the Philadelphia scene right now

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

Philadelphia is a city of many wonders: a buzzing food scene, an established craft beer culture, and a parade of historical landmarks. But one aspect of our city that we are particularly passionate about is our magnificent local music community and all that is has to offer. Here at The Key, we often focus on the particulars of our scene – where artists will be playing each night, brand new local releases, etc. - so much so that we can forget how overwhelming it can be for newcomers to get their bearings.

So for those of you having trouble finding where to start, we are introducing this new Philly Music 101 series as your guide through the wonderful world of the Philadelphia music scene: all of its passionate, loving members, from artists to venues to studios and more. It’s meant to help new fans navigate the scene as much as emerging musicians looking to break in and behind-the-scenes folks trying to get their start. We hope it will illuminate just what makes it so damn exciting for music lovers to live here. To kick it off, here is a by-no-means-complete overview of the different pieces of the Philadelphia music scene that have come together to make up its sturdy foundation. Continue reading →

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Philadelphia is blowing up NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest and it’s amazing

Levee Drivers' Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney
Levee Drivers’ Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney

For those of you who don’t know about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, you may want to head over to their site and root through their enormous and equally impressive archive. Their 15-minute videos feature live performances from artists of all genres held in the quaint offices of NPR at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk.

Ranging from big names like Adele and Alt-J to up-and-coming artists such as Angel Olsen and Rubblebucket, viewers are able to watch the artists perform in the intimate setting, giving the performances a stripped-down, no B.S. vibe. While these videos are ultra fun to watch (perhaps continuously, one after another…), NPR kept things interesting this winter by kicking off a contest to feature a new artist in their series.

Based entirely off of video submissions from all over the United States, an artist will be chosen to perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. as well as snag a slot in the big Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ showcase in Austin, Texas. Philadelphia, brimming with the amazing musical talent that it is, seems to have jumped at this opportunity. Continue reading →

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Hear a Balkan ballad from West Philadelphia Orchestra’s Petia Z via Random Tea Sessions

Petia Z of West Philadelphia Orchestra
Petia Z of West Philadelphia Orchestra

Philadelphia’s The Random Tea Sessions released their twenty-first video, which is an acoustic piece “Varvyat Li Dvama” by West Philadelphia Orchestra‘s Petia Z. WPO consists of a diverse lineup that plays a multitude of Easter European music styles, and this is Random Tea’s first recording in a language other than English. WPO played a New Year’s Eve bash featuring a Balkan feast at Underground Arts with musicians Johnny Showcase and Mercury Radio Theater; they will also be playing this year’s Zlatne Uste Golden Festival on January 17, which is two nights of Balkan music and dance at the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Check out the session below. Continue reading →

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Grandchildren, West Philadelphia Orchestra and Gliss to perform at End-of-Beer-Week free music fest

Grandchildren_4331web (2)
Grandchildren | photo courtesy of the artist

Beer Week is coming to an end, but its not over yet. The week will close out with the Dock Street 6th Annual End-of-Beer-Week Free Music Fest and Scavenger Run. This year, the fest lineup includes Philly artists Grandchildren, West Philadelphia Orchestra and Gliss. The three performers bring an array of musical genres to the festival stage. Orchestral pop band Grandchildren will craft soundscapes with tons of synth, while West Philadelphia Orchestra is rooted in Eastern European folk and brings the traditions to life. Rapper Gliss rounds out the bill, bringing the heart and soul of hip-hop in his music. Catch the three performers this Sunday, June 8 outside Dock Street Brewery. The music fest is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Philly Beer Week website. Listen to all three of the artists’ music below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: OhBree at Kung Fu Necktie, The Stray Birds at World Café Live, Daley at Union Transfer and more

OhBree | Photo by Jake Beadenkopf
OhBree | Photo by Jake Beadenkopf

Yesterday, we premiered their new single “Sweater” and tonight Philly’s OhBree brings their brand of oddball pop to the Kung Fu Necktie stage. There’s much to celebrate as the band’s new LP Death by Broomstick comes out in just a few weeks on April 15th via Lillian Records. Tickets are available at the door before showtime at 8:00pm.

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Rag-tag ragtime crew A Fistful of Sugar leads a stacked roots-scene lineup at World Cafe Live on 1/10

Photo by Lisa Schaffer | skylerbug.com
Photo by Lisa Schaffer | skylerbug.com

The opening trumpet burst on A Fistful of Sugar’s “Brother Brother,” is a pretty good indicator of where this track is headed. It’s a loose, banjo-in-hand folk number that tells the story of getting befriended by and traveling with a crew of hippies. Even though it’s pretty typical in style, lead singer and guitarist Mike Sha makes their hemp-necklace-making and patchwork-pants-wearing lifestyle sound pretty righteous over top a ragtime brass band. “Brother Brother” is the first single off of the band’s first full-length, Perspicacity, which they’ll be celebrating the release of on January 10 at World Cafe Live; check out a video for it below, cut to clips from the Prelinger Archives.

The soulful Aaron and the Spell will be joining that celebration as well. Back in December they played Stevie Wonders’ Innervisions in its entirety at World Cafe Live as a fundraiser for Pathways to Housing PA, a non-profit organization that helps chronically homeless individuals that suffer from mental illness find and maintain housing. Black Horse Motel’s grassy Americana folk, filled-out with lush harmonies, mandolin and fiddle will complete the folk end of the lineup. While Balkan klezmer jazz powerhouse, West Philly Orchestra, will bring the grooves, sure to get everyone on their feet. This lineup is stacked far too tall to be taken lightly. In fact, there’s a little bit of something for everyone that keeps an eye on the local folk scene. Just don’t forget comfortable shoes or a partner to dance with, because chances are you’ll be on your feet at this one.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at Morgan’s Pier (Free!), West Philly Orchestra at Penn Museum, Black Kids/Kids at Johnny Brenda’s, Rickie Lee Jones at WCL Wilmington

JC Brooks and the Uptown SoundIndie soul-funk outfit JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound are playing a free show at Morgan’s Pier tonight. The band is touring in support of their new record, Howl, which was released this May on Bloodshot Records. JC Brooks has a strong, classic soul voice that his band backs with a part funk, part indie rock, part post-punk sound. Check out their recent single, “Rouse Yourself;” the silly music video features Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson. Find more information on the 21 plus show here.

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Photos: The 5th annual 2nd Street Fest takes over Northern Liberties (ft. The Low Anthem, Denison Witmer, On The Water and more)

West Philadelphia Orchestra's set continues offstage and in the middle of the Piazza crowd | Photo by John Vettese
West Philadelphia Orchestra wraps up their set in the middle of the Piazza crowd | Photo by John Vettese

The fifth annual 2nd Street Fest brought a bustling crowd and wide assortment of food vendors, community organizations and local musicians to Northern Liberties on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Among those performing at the Fairmount and Germantown stages at either end of the mega-block party were Chambersburg indie-punk outfit The Shackletons, Americana ghouls The Bailey Hounds, singer-songwriter Denison Witmer and aggro-folk crew On the Water.

In the Piazza at Schmidt’s, West Philadelphia Orchestra stole the show playing a long set of eastern-European infused brass band dance jams; when they were notified that their time onstage was over, they marched off, still playing, and wrapped up their performance in the midst of a frenzied crowd. Electro-poppers Vacationer turned in an impressive performance as well, and the big stage show wrapped up with The Low Anthem‘s first post-hiatus Philadelphia performance, though the festival continued out on the street till 10, and into the wee hours at the North Bowl afterparty. Check out photos in the gallery below.