Local Musician Invents Game to Teach Music Improv Skills

tonic music improv game

Local musician Scott Hughes created Tonic to help musicians of all genres with a very important yet often times difficult part of their craft: improvisation.

Hughes, a Pittsburgh native, moved to Philly nine years ago to study jazz music at the University of the Arts. Although he ended up transferring to Temple University to pursue a degree in physics, Hughes remains passionate about jazz music, continuing to take lessons and stay practiced.

“I’ve been a musician for as long as I could touch the keys on the piano,” says Hughes, who first fell in love with jazz band in high school. He decided to launch Tonic out of his own frustration with improvisation skills while studying music at UArts.

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There’s a Treat Y’rself Festival in Town This Weekend

treat-yrself-webFew things are more satisfying than waking up one morning, deciding you’re going to call out of work and declaring the rest of the day “Treat Y’rself Day.” With that in mind PhilaMOCA is hosting a whole daylong festival dedicated to treating y’rself and, in turn, treating s’meone else.

This weekend’s Treat Y’rself Fest is a benefit supporting October’s March to End Rape Culture, organized by Square of Opposition Records, Permanent Wave, Philly activist group Pussy Division and Pittsburgh music blog Grey Estates. For the day, curators have lined up a dozen bands, and a host of record, craft, clothing and food vendors so you can treat y’rself in a variety of ways.

For your ears: local bands The Pretty Greens, Littler and Mercury Girls will headline alongside Ohio’s Leggy. Other acts, like Ghost Gum and Kississippi will perform throughout the night. Vinyl retailers Sit & Spin Records and Rainbow Records will be on hand to sell you tunes that you can crank up at home.

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16 Reasons Philadelphia Is the Best Music City in the Country

philadelphia indie bands

Top row, from left: Strand of Oaks (digboston, Flickr), Kurt Vile (Jauhien Sasnou), Waxahatchee (k.par.photo, Flickr), Hop Along (CRUSTINA!, Flickr), Cayetana (Chloe Muro, Flickr), The Menzingers (Chloe Muro, Flickr).

Before we even had time to take notice, Philadelphia has situated itself as the capital of indie rock. Just ask any in-the-know music aficionado. In April, Noisey wrote that “It feels like ALL the bands are from Philly at the moment.” When Rolling Stone put local band Hop Along’s latest album on their list of the 45 Best Albums of the Year So Far, it wasn’t without a “What’s up with Philly lately?” shoutout to the City of Brotherly Love. But perhaps the most impressive declaration of Philly’s indie rock dominance is Stereogum’s recent, nearly 8,000-word cover story on the our city’s budding indie-rock scene.

This might be a bit overwhelming to the casual music fan, who may still think of The Hooters when asked about “Philadelphia rock and roll.” If this is you, and you’re looking to better familiarize yourself with the key players, look no further. Here, we present 16 local bands you should blast in your earbuds right now.

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Why You Should See Failure This Week at Electric Factory

Failure Band

Is it possible that the year 1995 feels just as relevant in Philadelphia twenty years later? Rittenhouse Square has been overrun by loitering teens that look like the prodigal children of Kathleen Hannah and Kurt Cobain. Hometown retail hero Urban Outfitters is proudly profiting from fashions last seen in an episode of Dawson’s Creek. Most importantly, artists who haven’t hit the road or the recording studio since the end of the decade are reviving their formerly defunct music careers.

Sure, generations X and Y may have different relationships with the ’90s, but there is nothing like good rock music from the bygone era to bring the two together. A band particularly well-versed at facilitating these misfit, mosh-pit-friendly family reunions is Failure, and on the 14th, they’re hosting one at the Electric Factory.

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Phish Return to Philly for Two Sold-Out Nights at the Mann Center

Photo by Stephen Olker

Photo by Stephen Olker

This Tuesday and Wednesday the Phish from Vermont return to the Mann Center in Fairmount Park, for two sold-out nights of their uniquely unclassifiable rock ‘n’ roll freakout, complete with immersive light show and traveling circus of devotees.   

This run will be Phish’s eighth and ninth appearance at the Mann Center, two highly anticipated shows midway through a 25-date summer tour. Highly regarded for its gorgeous-sounding, 4,700-seat cedar wood pavilion, the Mann is an intimate venue that hosted two excellent shows by the band on July 8 and 9, 2014.

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7 Shows to See in Philly This Week

How Philadelphia Created Billy Joel

Photo by Don Huntstein for CBS

Billy Joel in 1973, one year after his pivotal Philadelphia performance. | Photo by Don Huntstein for CBS

Billy Joel has released just one studio album in the past 20 years — a 2001 recording of his classical compositions that you’ve likely never heard. Yet when he takes the stage in Philadelphia on August 13th, he’ll do so at Citizens Bank Park in front of some 40,000 fans and play through his repertoire of modern American classics. He’s a true star, and one with a fiercely loyal following. But it wasn’t always that way.

Back in 1971, Joel was a no-name 22-year-old from Long Island. In November of that year, he released his first album, Cold Spring Harbor, which got virtually no attention or airplay. Then one day in 1972, local music producer Dennis Wilen, who had launched a live WMMR concert series from Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, got wind of Joel during a visit to New York and invited him to do a show. Read more »

7 Shows to See in Philly This Week

School of Rock Youth Slayed in AllStar Concert at World Café Live

The School of Rock AllStar Concert this week at World Café Live brought me back to a time of pop quizzes and social ladder-climbing. Yet, I doubt any members of the School of Rock band have to worry about winning popularity contests. Their all-star talents automatically make them the coolest kids in town.

An army of teen rock prodigies took center stage on Tuesday night to deliver a psychedelic show that would have made Jack Black proud. Two Allstar teams and two local school house bands took turns working the stage in half-hour increments throughout the night. At any given time there were about a dozen teens rocking the platform at once, accompanied by an instrument of their choosing. Instrumentalists included electric guitarists, keyboard players, and those on bass and drums. And let’s not forget about the show-stopping vocalists whose pipes were so powerful, it was hard to believe they’re barely post-pubescent.

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