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What’s happening at The Living Room at 35 East? We discussed the burgeoning venue with owner Laura Mann

The Living Room | photo courtesy of Laura Mann

In early 2018, The Living Room at 35 East opened on Ardmore’s Lancaster Avenue. Since that time, the intimate forty-seat venue has grown widely popular for its eclectic mix of events: rock shows, acoustic shows, classical and jazz performances, poetry readings, film screenings and more. Earlier this summer, Philadelphia Magazine named The Living Room the area’s Best Small Music Venue in its Best of 2019 issue. The venue has also recently announced a Grand Re-Opening on September 8th, new weekly hours and the opening of a new café.

To hear about the evolution that has been taking place at The Living Room in the past year, we spoke to the venue’s owner Laura Mann — who is also a singer-songwriter with an album release show at World Café Live coming up this October — and publicity director Fern Brodkin. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Continue reading →

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So…what’s with The Troc?

The Troc | photo by Matt Shaver

For anyone mourning the loss of The Trocadero, the home to indie-everything in Chinatown that has been lionized, eulogized and obituary-ized, know this: the true end to Joanna Pang’s Troc is today, July 30, as last night marked the very last Movie Monday in The Balcony with a screening of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

With that finale, the question that has been begged repeatedly and mulled over, over-and-over, really does have weight this morning: What now? What happens with 1003 Arch Street?

Continue reading →

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Behind the Scenes at #XPNFest 2019!

Behind the Scenes at XPNFest 2019 | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

The 2019 XPoNential Music Festival is under way, and in addition to great sets from Hozier, Japanese Breakfast, Dawes, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Nilüfer Yanya and more, we’ll be bringing you behind the scenes coverage. Keep checking back here for an ongoing photo gallery of the fans at XPoNential and the people who make the festival happen. Continue reading →

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Gary Dann’s journey from the bedroom to the Boom Room

Gary Dann aka Boom Room Dude | photo by Fawziyya Heart | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia-born musician, engineer and studio owner Gary Dann is a man who wears many hats.

As a drummer, he is a member of the Worldtown Soundsystem, a multi-headed musical juggernaut whose sound ranges from Afrobeat, house, Latin music and beyond. He is also the founder and owner of Boom Room, a beautiful two-level recording studio and rehearsal space located in the city’s Fishtown section. It was in his early teen years that his love of music and penchant for getting things done first began to take root. Continue reading →

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Chris Schwartz of Ruffhouse Records on the Philly of the 80s, the label’s heyday in the 90s, and his new memoir

The Fugees, circa mid-90s | courtesy of Chris Schwartz / Ruffhouse Records

In the summer of 1987, Philly manager/record promoter/jack-of-all-trades Chris Schwartz and his partner engineer and producer Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo founded Ruffhouse Records.

Gaining skill and music-biz experience doing everything from playing guitar in a Kraftwerk-inspired post-punk ensemble to managing Philly hip-hop legend Schoolly D, Schwartz had spent his 20s navigating the wildly eclectic and chaotic wonderland of the city’s music scene in the 1980s. In the 90s, Ruffhouse’s roster swelled, reading like a who’s-who of the decade’s brightest hip-hop stars. With massive multi-million selling acts like Cypress Hill, Kriss Kross, The Fugees, Lauryn Hill and more, Ruffhouse established itself as one of the premier hip-hop labels of all-time.

Over 30 years after Ruffhouse hit the scene, Schartz returns with Ruffhouse: From The Streets of Philly To The Top of The 90s Hip Hop Charts, an exhilarating and detailed autobiographical look into his life and career in music. We recently spoke with him and got a wealth of stories about Philly music history and insights into the events that shaped his book. Continue reading →

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Nine video documents from the final night of music at The Trocadero

Pissed Jeans, Stinking Lizaveta, and Workhorse III | stills from videos

In March, the beloved Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia’s Chinatown announced it would close after several decades as a staple in the local rock, indie and hip-hop scenes. The building, located at 10th and Arch Streets in downtown Philadelphia, opened in the 1870s as the Arch Street Opera House and in the early 1900s became the Trocadero Theatre, serving as a burlesque venue until the 1970s. In 1973, the theater even joined the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. After a short period as an art house movie theater, the building was renovated in 1986 and took on its final form as a concert hall with a capacity of 1,200.

By the early 1990s, the Troc was hosting shows by prominent rock artists from around the country and from overseas, from Slayer to Sleater-Kinneyas The Key remembered earlier this spring — along with essential pop and hip-hop acts later on. Continue reading →

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From Punk Shows to a Pressing Factory: Federico Casanova’s journey to Soft Wax, Philly’s new vinyl plant

Soft Wax Record Pressing | photo by Lissa Alicia for WXPN

Federico Casanova is a first-generation American. Like many kids, he grew up surrounded by music. Before his parents came to the U.S, Casonova’s father hosted a weekly specialty radio show in the Dominican Republic called The Lonely Hearts Club where he would obsess over the music and mythology of Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starr songbook.

“My father was a radio DJ back in the Dominican Republic,” Casanova recalls. “He had a show that aired every Sunday for two hours … and he would talk about everything that had to do with The Beatles and the music scene in the DR. My dad had a pretty tight record collection, I always messed with them when I was a git. He didn’t really play any instruments, but he was a huge appreciator of music and so it sort of just rubbed off onto my brothers and I.”.

After his family came to the U.S., Casanova and his brothers came of age in Miami’s vibrant DIY punk scene. Eventually, Casanova would branch out and join his brothers in a move to Philadelphia. Living in a collective house, Casanova and his brothers built up a lifetime of experience playing in bands, booking house shows tours and building community. The punk scene had lit the creative fire in him, but it would be his acknowledgment of a need in that music scene that would lead him down a new path. Continue reading →

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Scenes from the first Khyber show in almost a decade

Radiator Hospital | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

On a low-key Sunday night, Sam Cook-Parrott of Philly indie faves Radiator Hospital stepped the stage on the second floor of Old City’s Khyber Pass Pub, marking the first public concert that’s happened in the storied space in almost a decade.

From the late 80s to the late aughties, The Khyber had a fruitful run as the indie rock hangout in Philadelphia — check out a calendar from the archives here. But as Philly’s showgoing habits shifted towards Fishtown and South Philly, the venue had a hard time keeping up, and its main room closed in 2009. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: From the first show back at The Khyber to one of the last shows at 1026, we’ve got you coming and going for the rest of this packed July

Soul Glo | photo by Yoni Kroll

Hello Philadelphia! By the time you read this I will most likely be back home but right now I’m in the back of a van hurtling between DIY venues across the Midwest. My band embarked on our first ever tour in the last week of June and I’ve never eaten more fast-food in my life.

Tour is funny because while you might play to literally only the other bands one night — including one group of guys who when they were also only performing in front of other musicians still made it a point to tell everyone there to “stick around for the other bands” — the next night you can play to a crowded room of moshing Midwestern teenagers. Oh, and I was interviewed by someone, which as a journalist is a completely bizarre experience. All in all, no complaints.

But you’re not here for the tour tips. You don’t care where to get a bite to eat before playing the Trumbullplex in Detroit, though if you did I’d recommend Pie Sci right down the street for those massive Detroit square pies that are almost as good as what you’d get at Pizza Gutt up in Fishtown. No, what you want is the Philadelphia calendar listings and some good DIY news and gossip. I got you. Let’s go! Continue reading →