Saturday: A Cappella Showdown @ Temple

Off The Record of Lehigh University

Off The Record of Lehigh University

This Saturday, college a cappella troupes will sing for their survival and, more realistically, bragging rights at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Quarterfinal, held at Temple’s Performing Arts Center (get tickets here). Ten Philly or Philly-adjacent teams will compete, but only two will move on to the semifinals round. The rest will return to their dorm rooms in defeat. Each group has sung, shimmied, vogued and jazz-handed as much as possible leading up to the big night. The competition features a mix of established a cappella regulars, groups that have been around the block and a few newcomers gunning for their first taste of victory. Meet the groups below and listen to what they have to offer come Saturday night. Read more »

16 Things to Do this Valentine’s Weekend

The Convention Center

Photo courtesy of Denise Sabia.

Photo courtesy of Denise Sabia.

Philadelphia Home Show

This should make you feel right at home. For the 35th year in a row, The Home Show is coming to Philly, featuring trends that are hotter than the Property Brothers. Show highlights include the Chic Shed, a Habitat for Humanity Upcycle Challenge, the newest IKEA kitchen sets, DIY challenges, and so much more. Friday, February 12 through Sunday, February 14, 10 a.m., $10, 1101 Arch Street.

Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention

Whether you’re looking for some new ink or just want to gawk, your tattoo needs will be met at the Convention Center this weekend. Expect vendors, music and seminars being all weekend, but be careful not to make a wrong turn into dangerous Home Show territory. Friday, February 12 through Sunday, February 14, Friday: 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 11 p.m., $22 day, $45 three days, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 131 N Broad Street.

Outdoor Romance


Photo courtesy DRWC

Winterfest Sweetheart Skate at the RiverRink

You and your sweetheart can enjoy gourmet fare and specialty cocktails from Garces Group and Franklin Fountain before or after hitting the ice at the RiverRink. Special Valentine’s Day tickets include chocolates, flowers, a photo booth and a DJ who will be on hand to take any song requests. Sunday, February 14, 5 and 7 p.m., $25, Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard.

Sweetheart Skate at Rothman Ice Rink

A loving embrace is the best way to stay warm during a record cold weekend. If hugs are not enough to thaw you, there’s always ice-skating. The Rothman Ice Rink will provide the romantic tunes, complimentary hot chocolate, flowers, photo souvenirs, and more to any couples celebrating their love for one another on ice. Sunday, February 14, 7 p.m., $20, Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street.
Read more »

5 Questions with Gabrielle McClinton

Gabrielle McClinton in "Pippin."

Gabrielle McClinton in Pippin.

The award-winning revival of Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin is heading to Philly’s Academy of Music later in February, featuring high-flying acrobatics created by Les 7 Doigts de la main throughout the production. The show also includes the memorable score and signature choreography in the style of the great Bob Fosse. But it may be the decision to cast a woman in the traditionally male Leading Player role that best sets the revival apart from the original. One of the actresses who has tackled the challenging part, Gabrielle McClinton, played the role both in New York and on tour. We caught up with McClinton to discuss her experience with Pippin, and how touring life is different than a steady one on Broadway.

Up until this revival, the Leading Player was always associated with Ben Vereen. How does the gender switch impact the role, if at all?
I don’t feel like it impacts it that much. I watched Ben Vereen on YouTube and was amazed by him, but when I went in for the role, if anything, it feels more awesome that a woman, especially an African-American woman, is doing it. She’s so strong and it is saying something that there is no difference between her and others.

I know that you went to Carnegie Mellon to study theater, so are you a Pennsylvania native? Is this your first time performing in Philly?
I’m from Los Angeles originally, but training at Carnegie Mellon was a really great experience. I performed in Philly at a press event at one of the local theaters, but this is the first time that I’m doing a full show. Read more »

Five Things You Need to Hear Right Now

Bruise Bath

Bruise Bath

1. Reef Radio Episode 14
In case you didn’t know it, Veteran Philly MC Reef the Lost Cauze has a podcast and it’s pretty damn entertaining. It’s a conversational, stream of consciousness kind of thing. This time, he and co-host Caliph, welcome Mr. Sonny James for a mostly funny but sometimes serious conversation about music, family and whether this really counts as a podcast if it’s not on iTunes.

2. Sheer Mag, “Can’t Stop Fighting”
Maybe I’m late to the party, but I’m loving this new track from Philly punks Sheer Mag. I’m getting a real Roberto Bolaño vibe here: “Paloma walks home at night from the maquiladora/ Eight days later, no one has saw her.”

3. Bruise Bath, “I”
Oh man this is heavy. It starts off all dark, like an anvil sailing on a sea of oil. Then we’re hit by waves of rock noise. I know nothing about these people except they’re from Philly. Their two-song demo is pay-what-you-wish on Bandcamp. Read more »

“Songbird” Kicks Off Season 5

Season 5 Contestants.   
Season 5 contestants

Last Tuesday at Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, the popular Songbird series kicked off its fifth season by showcasing 20 local performers seeking to solve the competition’s tagline — “The Search for Philly’s Best Singer.”

“It’s become way more than just a singing competition… it’s become an institution,” said Josh Schonewolf, the event’s creator. “It’s a really fun way to see amazing musicians perform every week under the veil of a competition.”

Songbird received 320 audition videos this season; opening night only featured 18 singers from that talent pool. This year the competition also welcomes back four ‘all-star songbirds’ from season 4 who Schonewolf believes deserve a second chance. Two of the four were chosen on opening night.

Schonewolf says he has a simple method for narrowing down the field of applicants: “I think of it as: ‘Who the hell would I wanna get off of my couch on a Tuesday night and support?’” Read more »

See the Cover of Bruce Springteen’s Autobiography, Out in September


Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography will spring from cages out on Highway 9 and onto bookshelves this September. Springsteen announced the book, titled Born to Run, on his website today. He’d been working on it since 2009, after playing the Super Bowl halftime show.

The announcement quoted the book in its announcement: “Writing about yourself is a funny business. But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” Read more »

VALENTINE’S ALERT: 14 Movies For Every Stage of Romance


It’s a little late to make a reservation for Valentine’s Day, so why not stay in, maybe cook up a little dinner with your sweetheart and put on a movie? Here are 14 romantic flicks that show love in all of its many facets: young, charming, forbidden, fleeting, broken and happily-ever-after.

1. Amelie (2001) Audrey Tatou plays a quirky waitress working in a Montmartre cafe who intervenes in the lives of those around her to make them happy, but comes to realize that she, too, deserves love and summons the courage to pursue her soulmate. This whimsical charmer has a magical quality to it that goes down as easy as a macaron from Ladurée.

2. Amour (2012) This movie about life and love in the facing of certain death is only for the brave at heart. Beautifully acted by octogenarians Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, Michael Haneke’s riveting film won an Oscar and Golden Globe for best foreign film as well as Cannes’s prestigious Palme d’Or. The story follows an elderly Parisian couple as the wife becomes ill and her husband valiantly struggles to care for her. We watch as their formerly-vibrant union deteriorates inexorably.

3. Before Sunrise (1995) This is the first in a beguiling trilogy of films by Richard Linklater that follows a young couple who meet on a train headed to Vienna. The couple (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) is thwarted by circumstances that separate them — he lives in the U.S. and she in France — yet their connection is undeniably potent. They fall in love while spending eight hours strolling the city before sunrise talking about love, music, existence, etc. The next morning they say farewell and promise to meet again in six months.

Read more »

Q&A: HGTV Star John Gidding

John Gidding 1

Jon Gidding started his media career as a runway model and was featured in campaigns for Armani and Gucci. But don’t let that fool you: He’s more than just a handsome face. The star of HGTV’s Curb Appeal holds a B.A. from Yale in architecture and a Master’s Degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Gidding is also featured on the Logo Network’s Secret Guide to Fabulous along with coming up with some of his unique creations. The design know-it-all is headed to the City of Brotherly Love this February to make an appearance at the Philadelphia Home Show. We caught up with Gidding to chat design, and he gave us some practical tips that anyone can use to get more curb appeal.

How did you make the leap from the fashion runway to design work?
You know, I had gone in for a casting call for something that I thought was a print campaign, but it was actually for ABC Family, and they ended up picking me because I was going to architecture school and they were hammering into us the notion of talking the talk. On TV, you just open your mouth, and if what comes out sounds good, you have a career. And now, 15 years later, I still have the career! I also have the show on Logo, Secret Guide to Fabulous, and my co-hosts are great. Our boss is Kelli Ripa!

You’ll be here in Philly for the Home Show. Can you tell me a little bit more about what you’ll be presenting during your appearance?
I talk about curb appeal from the perspective of how to tackle your own projects. It resonates with people at a home show because they’re there looking to do their own renovations. I take them through my projects and that helps demystify their own work. I usually open the floor to the audience and take questions, so they end up shaping the session. Read more »

New Music Video: Carol Cleveland Sings, “Wishing Well”


Philly/Wilmington duo Carol Cleveland Sings — featuring Gretchen Lohse and Thomas Hughes (of Spinto Band) — calls its sound ‘Epcot pop’ and that pretty much nails it. Just look at this video for “Wishing Well.” It looks like something you’d see in the upper levels of Spaceship Earth, a strangely dated and groovy symbol of mankind’s unending march to progress. Flashy low tech that pretends it’s high tech. (According to Hughes, the video owes some of its aesthetic choices to ’80s French duo Elli et Jacno.) The look is a smart fit for this catchy, ABBA-esque song with cool vocals and endless synths. Above all else, “Wishing Well” is one hundred percent catchy. It’s also the band’s first single from Effervescent Lure, due soon on Humble Twin Records.

Watch it: Read more »

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