Why Earth, Wind & Fire Was Huge in Philadelphia

By Chris Hakkens - http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris_hakkens/4638230187/in/faves-24788065@N02/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16299016

Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White (left) and Philip Bailey performing in 1982 at the Ahoy Rotterdam, The Netherlands. White died on February 4th. Photo | Chris Hakkens, CC BY-SA 2.0.

When I reflect on the pivotal moments of my life, my timeline goes back to my ’70s love affair with FM radio. Earth, Wind & Fire were among my favorites bands, with the college stations on the left side of the dial playing esoteric cuts from Last Days and Time and Head To The Sky, while commercial stations on the right side aired selections from That’s the Way of the World, All n’ All and I Am. However, the word on the street was the only real way to experience EWF was live in concert. As much as I longed to see them play, I knew it would be a damn-near impossible sell to my parents. But, luck intervened in the form of my grandmother’s friend’s granddaughter. She was a little older, but not old enough to go alone to a concert, so she suggested taking me. I knew she didn’t like me much, but our mutual desire to see a stellar show made us perfect frenemies. After a long discussion of what clothes I should wear (she wasn’t fond of my bohemian wardrobe), we worked out a plan to get me fresh gear, and, if lucky, some extra spending money for a t-shirt or two.

At school, I casually mentioned to my classmates I was heading to the EWF concert, and I suddenly became an ultra cool kid. By the time I joined the capacity crowd at the venerable Spectrum, I knew I was in for a concert experience the would go down in the annals of great concerts. The show kicked off when the booming voice of the emcee took to the public address to announce — “Presenting the elements of the universe: Earth! Wind! And Fire!” The incendiary band hit the stage and by incorporating the skills of illusionist Doug Henning and fantastical outfits, EWF dazzled their faithful attendees with a sophisticated mix of funk, jazz, Africana and soul.

“The first time I went to an Earth, Wind & fire concert was when they came to the Spectrum in 1977 with The Emotions,” recalls Philadelphia-based professional musician Rhonda Lancaster. “I was hoarse for three days. I screamed the whole concert.” Read more »

New Philly Reality Show Saturday Morning Fever Debuts Tonight

Dancin’ on Air - Saturday Morning Fever - reality TV - Philadelphia

The Stars of Saturday Morning Fever, a new reality TV show based on Dancin’ on Air. It premieres tonight on Fuse at 11.

Dance shows have been a staple of Philadelphia television pretty much since television started. American Banstand got its start in West Philly. In the 1980s, Dancin’ On Air was big on Channel 17. Much like Bandstand, a national show was launched on its back: Dance Party USA. (Fun fact: The first host of Dancin’ on Air was Dave Raymond — the original Phillie Phanatic.)

After a few episodes of the old Dancin’ on Air were aired on WPHL in 2011, the station relaunched the show the following year. The show moved to PhillyCAM on Saturdays at 10 in 2013. Much like its predecessors, the show has inspired a national show. Only instead of another dance show, this time it’s a reality show: Saturday Morning Fever debuts tonight at 11 on Fuse. Read more »

38 Can’t Miss Concerts in Early 2016

Pink Martini plays Scottish Rite Auditorium on March 10.

Pink Martini plays Scottish Rite Auditorium on March 10.

Memories of champagne-soaked New Year’s celebrations are already fading fast: It’s time to start planning your next moves. You can start here, with our list of the 38 concerts that promise to be so good you’ll be happy to brave the cold, dark night for some great music.

January | February | March | April | May

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RJD2’s New Record Oozes “Sound of Philly” Soul

Photography by Nick Fancher

Photography by Nick Fancher

RJD2, the musician perhaps best-known for composing the Mad Men theme music, has a new album coming out, and it’s filled with Philly sounds.

Check out his new single, “Peace of What,” featuring Jordan Brown and see if you don’t get a Gamble and Huff vibe off it.

It’s from his next album, Dame Fortune, available in March — and was recorded, in part, during the musician’s time living in Philly. Read more »

Q&A: Singer-Songwriter Eliza Hardy Jones

Photo by Ryan Collerd

Photo by Ryan Collerd

Eliza Hardy Jones is starting the year off right. In addition to releasing her first solo record, the longtime Philly music fixture is hitting the road for a monthlong tour where she’ll be pulling double duty: playing keyboards for sultry singer-songwriter Grace Potter and fronting her own band as the opening act. Jones, of course, is best known for making music with the Buried Beds for more than a decade. The Beds started out as an Appalachian duo, just Jones and Brandon Beaver, and ended up sculpting some remarkably ambitious power pop as a full band. Read more »

Best Things to Do in Philly in January

January 6

Sarah Gliko stars in Tom Stoppard's "The Hard Problem," opening January 6th at the Wilma Theater. | Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

Sarah Gliko stars in Tom Stoppard’s “The Hard Problem,” opening January 6th at the Wilma Theater. | Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

The Hard Problem at the Wilma Theater

For years, Philadelphia actress Sarah Gliko longed to perform at the renowned Wilma Theater under the directorship of its co-founder, the peerless Blanka Zizka. “But I was off of Blanka’s radar,” says the 36-year-old Point Breeze resident. “And then she saw me in Lantern’s production of The Liar, and things changed.” That was in 2013. Since then, Gliko has been cast in the Wilma’s critically acclaimed Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq in 2014 and last year as Ophelia in the theater’s intriguing adaptation of Hamlet. Then, for her third Wilma play in as many years, she landed the lead in Tom Stoppard’s first work in a decade, The Hard Problem, which opens January 6th. “This role is a real challenge,” she admits. “There’s so much material, and it’s loaded with some very heavy and heady ideas. I have to find the passion and movement underneath these big ideas and elevate the human story that is pulsing below. It’s not going to be easy.” Through February 6th. 

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7 Concerts to See in Philly This Week

concerts-philly-questlove

The New Year brings a refreshing lineup of artists to the city. Make a resolution to turn it up this year by visiting some local music venues. This week, the TLA will reverberate with the sonic beats of The Infected Mushroom, The Roots drummer Questlove returns to The Fillmore and the Boot and Saddle will host esteemed pianist Eliza Hardy Jones. See those genre-spanning picks and more in our roundup below, or just click through to the day that interests you most.

MONDAY | TUESDAY | WEDNESDAY | THURSDAY | FRIDAY | SATURDAY | SUNDAY

Read more »

Review: Kristin Chenoweth Sings With the Philadelphia Orchestra

Chenoweth

Toward the end of Kristin Chenoweth‘s set on Saturday evening with The Philadelphia Orchestra, she turned to the audience and said, “There’s only about 20 minutes left, and then you can go and pee. Oh, and if there are any straight men in the audience, my name is Kristin Chenoweth.”

That’s the typical kind of camp one would expect from the Broadway star who has both a Tony and an Emmy to her name. Let’s be clear: Ms. Chenoweth and The Philadelphia Orchestra are odd bedfellows at best, but how can you not adore the pint-sized soprano sipping soda from a giant cup between her big musical numbers? And how could you not love her commentary on Wawa (“You can buy a candle there. You can buy a Slurpee there. Heck, you can buy an entire five-course dinner there!”)? It worked as an evening of endearing entertainment. Read more »

18 Awesome Philly Concert Photos in 2015

Ticket concert photographer Chris Sikich began shooting live shows for us in early November, after he spent several years documenting concert stages around Philadelphia for City Paper. Here, he digs through his catalogue to pull out over a dozen of his best shots of the year — from The Weeknd at Made in America to Sleater-Kinney‘s turn at Union Transfer and Billy Idol at Tower Theater. Check them out in the slideshow below.



Follow Chris Sikich @countfeed and see more of his photos on his website here

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