Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Filthy Friends

Filthy Friends | Photo by Makena Duffy for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a band whose members represent a multiple generations’ worth of music history. Led by Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Filthy Friends essentially formed around just that: a collection of longtime friends who love making music together. Joining Tucker and Buck are bassist Scott McCaughey, guitarist Kurt Bloch and drummer Linda Pitmon; each of whom have also played in various iterations of The Minus 5. While on tour in support of their second album, Emerald Valley, Filthy Friends (and tourmates Dressy Bessy) stopped by our studio to effortlessly charge through a set of new songs.

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Step up to the plate with The Baseball Project this summer at World Cafe Live

Steve Wynn & Scott McCaughey of The Baseball Project at WXPN | Photo by Eric Schuman

When The Baseball Project‘s Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey paid a visit to the XPN studios last month, they promised they’d be back for a full band show sometime in the not too distant future. Sure enough, a full-band show has just been announced for World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Monday, July 28th. Arriving just a few week’s after the MLB’s own mid-summer classic, The Baseball Project’s starting lineup will include Wynn and McCaughey (also known as founders of The Dream Syndicate and Minus 5, respectively), utility drummer Linda Pitmon (The Miracle 3) and bassist Mike Mills (now a free agent following the 2011 breakup of R.E.M.). The crew just released a stellar new album, 3rd (Yep Roc), whose songs range from the historical (“Pascual On The Perimeter” and “The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads”) to the personal (“Box Scores” and “The Baseball Card Song”). If past Baseball Project shows are any indication, classics from each member’s other bands and some choice covers are sure to be in the mix as well. Tickets will be available here (they go on sale Friday 5/9 at 10a.m.). Stream 3rd below:


Saying Farewell to a Legendary East Coast Venue: After 35 years, Maxwell’s closes its doors

The Bongos’ grand finale at Maxwell’s | Photo by Chris Sikich |

All photos by Chris Sikich |

A rousing cover of Big Star’s “Thank You Friends” was a sincere and apt final song for the occasion last Wednesday in Hoboken, N.J.

On July 31, Maxwell’s closed its doors for good after 35 years of intimate gigs with established and unknown bands of local and international pedigrees. A full house of 200 attendees packed the back room of the restaurant, bar, venue and nexus of alternative musicology for a double-bill curated with an air of history. The first band to ever play the venue, “a,” which had not played its songs since 1978, and The Bongos, a Hoboken band of the past (and the future). As there was a dream for a Hoboken of a time gone by, there is a wealth of evidence for the spirit of Maxwell’s to continue on in bands, other venues and the desires of the public for great music.

“In a lot of ways, Maxwell’s was to Hoboken what J.C. Dobbs on South Street in Philly used to be in the ‘80s and ‘90s and what Johnny Brenda’s is to Philly now — a center of a great local music scene that brought in emerging national bands,” WXPN program director Bruce Warren said. ”I saw one of the earlier Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows, Freedy Johnston, the Bongos, fIREHOSE; I saw an insane Sonic Youth show there. I was also a fan of Bar/None Records, from Hoboken, which is still thriving, and if one of the bands on the label were playing, I’d go up.”

Scott McCaughey performing with Dennis Diken with Bell Sound in August of 2010 | Photo by Chris Sikich |

Musicians also eagerly reminisced about their Maxwell’s experiences.

“The closing of Maxwell’s is sad, primarily because of all the essential rock ‘n’ roll memories it brings to me,” said Scott McCaughey, who played there with Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5 and The Baseball Project.

McCaughey cited performing “The Gorilla” on the bar, singing with Dennis Diken and Bell Sound, “any number of rabble-rousing Fleshtones shows and especially the many ridiculous Young Fresh Fellows nights, going back to our earliest days.”

Linda Pitmon, who plays drums behind McCaughey in The Baseball Project, said Maxwell’s shows were particularly memorable.

“As a performer I’m going to miss that little thrill I’ve always felt walking in to that small, square, unassuming but perfect rock room,” Pitmon said. “Maxwell’s gigs never cease to stand out in my mind. They don’t become subsumed into the blob of generic shows.”

Glenn Morrow, one of the founders of Bar/None Records and member of two bands that played on the last night of Maxwell’s – “a” and The Individuals – will miss Maxwell’s more as a member of the public than as a performer.

“I’m probably sadder as an audience member,” Morrow said. “I live four blocks away! Even more than being on stage, it was such a great place to see music. I saw so many great shows there: The Feelies, the Replacements, the Gun Club, Mission of Burma, Pylon, Husker Du, the dB’s, They Might Be Giants, Sonic Youth, Big Black, The Fleshtones, Ted Leo. The list is endless.” Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Sikich’s top five concert photos of 2012

For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, contributing photographer Chris Sikich recounts his five favorite concert images from the year.

The following represent my five favorite concert photos I took this year.

1.Wild Flag, Tuesday, April 3, 2012, Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia, PA

Very little in contemporary rock is closer to perfection than bringing together Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, Janet Weiss, and Rebecca Cole in one space. The aural ecstasy that is a Wild Flag concert oozes forth from this shot: Brownstein’s leg-kick, Timony’s guitar crouch, Cole as keyboard-extraordinaire, and Weiss at one with drumming.

Photo by Chris Sikich

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This Weekend’s Concert Pick: WHYY Connections Festival Concert (featuring Dr. Dog, Justin Townes Earle, + more)

An Acoustic Evening With The Weepies at TLA (8 p.m., $29); Pink Skull at Sigma Sound Studio (8 p.m., 21+, free); The Cute Lepers + Something Fierce, The Blessed Muthas, Mean Streets at Kung Fu Necktie (7:30 p.m., 21+, $8); Wise Blood + Supreme Cuts, Hott Tubb at Johnny Brenda’s (9:15 p.m., 21+, $10); Danielle Ate The Sandwich at Tin Angel (7:30 p.m., all ages, $10)

This weekend, WHYY will sponsor a free concert at the River Stage at the Great Plaza in Penn’s Landing as part of its 2011 Connections Festival. Saturday’s line-up includes a host of local favorites, including Toy Soldiers, The Baseball Project, and Kuf Knotz. Dr. Dog will headline the show, going on at 7:30; the group (originally from West Philly) is currently touring behind their latest album, 2010’s Shame, Shame. The festival, which starts on Friday at 9:30pm, will also feature film screenings and visual art displays. Check the festival’s website for more information and a full listing of the bands involved.

Also Playing: Polar Bear Club + Fireworks, Balance And Composure, Make Do And Mend at First Unitarian Church (6 p.m., all ages, $12-$14)

XPN Welcomes The Camden Backyard BBQ at Wiggins Waterfront Park And Marina (2-10 p.m., free)


Just Announced: Justin Townes Earle to perform at WHYY’s Connections Festival on Sept. 3rd

The folks over at WHYY have just announced that alt-country singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle will perform alongside Dr. Dog, The Baseball Project, Toy Soldiers, Kuf Knotz, and Birdie Busch at this year’s WHYY Connections Festival concert on Saturday, September 3rd, at The Great Plaza at Penns Landing. Justin Townes Earle—who performed at last weekend’s 50th Anniversary Philadelphia Folk Festival—is the son of songwriter Steve Earle (and partially named after his father’s mentor, Townes Van Zandt); his latest album, Harlem River Blues, was released last September by Bloodshot Records and nominated for both “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year” by the Americana Music Association. Below, you can watch the video for “Slippin’ And Sliding,” the first video off Harlem River Blues. For more information about the WHYY Connections Festival, go here.


Tonight’s Concert Pick: Tom Tom Club at Sellersville Theater

As Talking Heads co-founders, husband-and-wife rockers Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth certainly have had their influence on music since that band’s debut album (Talking Heads: 77) was released in 1977. When they decided to pursue a side project as the Tom Tom Club, their 1981 self-titled debut became a post-disco new wave phenomenon anchored by songs like “Wordy Rappinghood.” Ask many a music fan the question: “What you gonna do when you get out of jail?” and their likely response will be “I’m gonna have some fun,” a line from “Genius Of Love.” With its sprightly groove and lyrics that name-drop Kurtis Blow, James Brown, and Smokey Robinson, “Genius” remains a dance-floor favorite of DJs all around the world. Tom Tom Club performs with I&I at 8 p.m. at Sellersville Theatre; tickets to the show are $35.

Also playing: The Baseball Project and The Bigger Lovers at the North Star Bar. 8PM. Tickets to the 21+ show are $15.


The Baseball Project to perform at Citizens Bank Park (and North Star Bar w/The Bigger Lovers) on June 6th

The Baseball Project

On Monday, June 6, combine a night out at Citizens Bank Park with Philly’s other favorite pastime—music. The Baseball Project, a side project of R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, will be singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” before the opening pitch at the Phillies vs. Dodgers game. (For this tour, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills will be “pinch-hitting” for Peter Buck as he recovers from some injuries, according to the band’s website.)

Rather not swelter in the bleachers at Citizen’s Bank? Right after the first pitch, The Baseball Project will be heading over to Northern Liberties to play at North Star Bar at 8 p.m., in support of the band’s most recent album release, High And Inside. Local Philly rockers The Bigger Lovers—who broke up in 2005, but reunited earlier this year to perform a 10th anniversary show (and release a new EP)—will open. —Danielle Wayda


Steve Wynn of The Baseball Project weighs in on Roy Halladay’s no-hitter

Game Two might be less than a couple of hours away, but most of Philadelphia is still reeling from Phillies ace pitcher Roy Halladay’s historic no-hitter victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game One of the NLDS. We couldn’t help but be reminded of “30 Doc”, the recent song from supergroup The Baseball Project featuring Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon (drummer, Miracle 3), Peter Buck (R.E.M.), and Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M.). The song, released earlier this year through ESPN, is a loving tribute to Halladay’s extraordinary talent. (You can download the song here.) We had a chance to chat (via e-mail) with Steve, who recently finished work on a new Miracle 3 album called Northern Aggression due out at the end of November.

The Key: What did you think of Doc’s game the other night?

Steve: Incredible. The most amazing thing was just the calm inevitability that you just knew he was going to do it. From around the fifth inning there was almost no doubt he would get the no-hitter. He was in command from the start.

The Key: Who are you rooting for? Break it down for us. Who do you think will be in the Series?

Steve: Well, I might lose a few friends in your fine town but I’m a Yankees fan (please! please! you can stop throwing stuff at me now!). And I do predict a rerun of last year’s World Series. The Yankees are just getting over their September swum and the Phillies pitching is just hard to deny. But Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum might have something to say about that prediction. No matter what, it’s going to be interesting and very exciting.

The Key: If push comes to shoves who is your favorite all time player? Team?

Steve: Well, as I said, I’m a Yankee fan. We actually have a song on our next album called “Fair Weather Fans” that talks about how all four of us have moved many times in our lives and have had to deal with balancing the love for our childhood team (in my case, the Dodgers) with the team we adopted in our new town (Yankees). But my all-time favorite player? Most likely, Sandy Koufax.