Philly’s July 4th celebration will feature an homage to the “Philadelphia Sound” of legendary producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Mayor Jim Kenney said in a radio interview today. But he ducked questions about whether the Roots — who have headlined and curated the celebration recent years — will have any involvement.
“Sometimes groups do things, entertainers do things every year and sometimes they want a break” Kenney said, speaking on Angelo Cataldi’s morning show on 94 WIP. “We have to talk to them and see what they want to do. They have families, they have a holiday too, maybe they want to celebrate the holiday with their family. So we’re working it through.”
The Roots haven’t publicly stated their preference for involvement in this year’s festival, which takes place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. When it became public they might not have a role this year, drummer Ahmir “Questlove” ThompsontweetedBilly Penn’s story on the matter, along with a cryptic comment: “#goodluckwiththat.” Read more »
Lee Andrews (left); his children Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Donn T (right). Photos | Bobbi Booker
A collective gasp erupted in the Philadelphia music community when news of doo-wop superstar Lee Andrews had died March 16th at the age of 79. It was over five decades ago that Andrews — then a Bartram High schooler — formed and become the lead singer of the 1950s doo-wop group Lee Andrews & The Hearts. Andrews’ strong-but-tender tenor voice and the groups’ harmonizing four-part vocal base was the foundation of The Hearts’ hard-to-beat sound that influenced similar vocal acts like The Moonglows, The Orioles, The Drifters, The 5 Royales, The Five Keys, The Midnights and The Ravens.
On Saturday, a memorial tribute to celebrate Andrews was held, as per his request, at the Clef Club of Philadelphia. Born Arthur Lee “Andrew” Thompson in the summer of 1936 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Lee relocated with his parents to Philly as a toddler. He dropped his first name and added an “s” to Andrew, and began performing as Lee Andrews as a teen. His father, Beachy Thompson, sang with the pioneering gospel group The Dixie Hummingbirds, so one could say Lee was born into — and contributed to — a storied musical lineage. In addition to being the father of The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Thompson and his wife, Jacqui, parented a daughter, the enigmatic vocalist Donn Thompson — known by audiences as Donn T.
According to his children, it was just two weeks ago that they discovered 50 pages of Lee’s handwritten life story and that list morphed into a final wish list that only a sage performer such as Lee could craft from the wealth of his experiences. In the months prior to his death, Lee had taken pen to paper and charted his life performing for sold-out audiences at Madison Square Garden, The Beekan Theater, The Bottom Line and Radio City Music Hall in NYC. He told of taking the stage of The Spectrum in Philadelphia and held-over performances at the Valley Forge Music Fair and the Claridge in Atlantic City, N.J., along with the countless nightclub and television appearances throughout the United States and Europe. Read more »
The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson performs during an Independence Day celebration Saturday, July 4, 2015, in Philadelphia.
Say it ain’t so, Questo.
The Roots won’t be headlining the Wawa Welcome America! Festival on July 4th, according to this report from Billy Penn.
The Philly natives have played the annual concert since 2009. But new Mayor Jim Kenney is apparently doing some behind-the-scenes tinkering.
“There are exciting changes going on at WaWa Welcome America and we look forward to announcing them at a press conference in the coming weeks,” Lauren Hitt, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.
Leonard “Hub” Hubbard — second from left — and other members of the Roots in happier times. (AP Photo)
Leonard “Hub” Hubbard joined The Roots in 1992, back when the Roots were just a really good local band and long before Questlove and friends showed up on America’s television screens five nights a week with Jimmy Fallon. But Hubbard left the group in 2007 after a cancer diagnosis, and now he is taking Questlove and others to court. Read more »
Last night, British songbird Adele stopped by to sing her current hit that has changed the way we’ll greet people for years to come: “Hello.” As you can probably imagine, she tears it up. Check it out below. You’ll love it — even if you’re sick to death of hearing the song.
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Vivid Seats, a website for buying and selling music, sports and theater tickets, recently compiled a list of the 20 best North American cities for live music. It should come as no big surprise that Philly was at the top of that list. They analyzed factors like number of concerts and average ticket price for upcoming shows to rank the cities, all of them being from the U.S. except for Toronto. They noted that Philly was particularly great for genres like alternative, blues, jazz, country and folk.
Last night on The Tonight Show, host Jimmy Fallon could barely contain himself when he announced to the audience that a new The Tonight Show-themed thrill ride will open at NBCU’s Universal Orlando Resort in 2017. It’s called “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
Jimmy Fallon and The Roots on stage at the Fillmore. | Photo by HughE Dillon
JimmyFallon made an appearance last night at the Fillmore in Fishtown for the Philadelphia Music Alliance’s sold-out gala to induct The Roots and a handful of other local musical talents into the 2015 Walk of Fame.
The local-celeb-studded night was hosted by Saturday Night Live alum JoePiscopo and honored seven musical inductees, including disc jockey HarveyHoliday, glam rock band Cinderella and Asleep at the Wheel frontman RayBenson.
When it was time for Fallon to take the stage, he presented The Roots – his house band on The Tonight Show — with a plaque of their platinum albums and delivered a heartfelt speech about his journey with the band since their first meeting in 2008. He even tried out some Philly slang: “I don’t just see a band, I see my family,” Fallon said. “We’ve had some great times together. They can do anything. The Roots are my jawn.”