Tomorrow: Two Piece Fest IX


The annual day of duos returns with a long, long line-up. To whet your whistle, here’s a Bandcamp compilation of everybody on the bill. We recommend streaming, since they’re charging $222.22 for the download. That’s taking the two thing too far.

Two Piece Fest IX, Saturday, February 6, 2-11 p.m., $12, all ages, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut Street,

17 Things to Do in Philly This Weekend

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year at Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Market will resonate with cheers of “Gong hay fat choy!” Join the public market as they celebrate the Chinese New Year with festive decorations, activities and traditional holiday fare. Participating vendors include Joseph Poon, Sang Kee, Tea Lead, Lion Dance by the Philadelphia Suns and more. Saturday, February 6, 10 a.m., free, Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th Street.

Midnight Lion Dance Performance

It’s the Year Of The Monkey! A midnight parade, led by the Philadelphia Sun’s Lion, will march a crowd through the streets of Chinatown. The Lion dancers will make their way to City Hall, where they will continue to perform into the night. Sunday, February 7, 10:30 p.m., free, starts 10th and Race streets, ends at 1404 JFK Boulevard.

Lunar New Year at the Independence Seaport Museum

Ring in the New Year port-side. The whole family can celebrate the Lunar New Year with the Independence Seaport Museum. Activities inspired by Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese traditions are slated to take place throughout the day. Saturday, February 6, 11 a.m., $15 adult, $10 children, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard.

First Friday

“The Avenues” Closing Reception at Painted Bride Art Center

Art will takes on multiple forms at the closing of Shawn Theodore’s exhibition “The Avenues.” Acclaimed poet Ursula Rucker will recite works inspired by the visual art in the gallery, including a portrait of African American Philadelphia. The visual art will be accompanied by a soulful musical score that will play throughout the night. View full First Friday listings hereFriday, February 5, 5 p.m., free entry, 230 Vine Street. Read more »

Six Songs You Need to Hear Right Now

Emily Wells plays Boot & Saddle Friday, February 5.

Emily Wells plays Boot & Saddle Friday, February 5.

1. Abi Reimold, “Arranged”

Facebook tells me Abi Reimold’s Wriggling won’t get record release treatment until April 28 at Johnny Brenda’s, but you can buy it and listen to it now on Bandcamp, and I’m feeling impatient. Because this record is excellent. We’re starting with track one — a quiet-to-loud, small-to-big, guitar-forward rock song. Dig the strong, moody vocals and clever lyrics. Now add the show to your calendar.

2. Dr. Dog, “Dead Record Player”

Philly’s tough-to-pin-down psych-jam-weirdo rock band Dr. Dog returns with long-in-the-works concept album Psychedelic Swamp. I’m not sure what the concept is, but I like the jubilant handclaps and gospelish backing vocals on this one (debuted on NPR). It’s easy, breezy, feel good pop. Winter’s gonna end.3. BC Camplight, “Just Because I Love You”

Piano pop genius Brian Christinzio/BC Camplight will get one more Philly show in before returns to England from exile. This one should be a blast: just a man and a piano. “I’ll be doing it old-school style,” he says. “Audience yells requests and challenges and I play ’em.” The event, which benefits Saved Me animal rescue, will surely be his last Philly performance for a long while. February 12 at Ortlieb’s.

Read more »

Review: Low @ Johnny Brenda’s

Low @ Johnny Brenda's [photo by Chris Sikich]

Low @ Johnny Brenda’s [photo by Chris Sikich]

Time bent a little at Johnny Brenda’s on Monday as a show originally scheduled for September (but postponed due to the Pope’s visit) took court before a sold out crowd: the one-of-a-kind indie rock trio Low. Playing behind the devastating beauty of 2015’s Ones and Sixes, the Minnesota outfit tore up the emotional spectrum and patched it back together over a 17-song set.

Alan Sparhawk ruminated with his guitar and voice that is perfectly syncopated with wife Mimi Parker. Parker’s drums were the show’s heartbeat, writhing in agony and rising to emotional climaxes. Sparhawk’s intricate guitar structures exhausted him to the point that he openly questioned the set list’s demands on his energies. He even restrung his guitar during the show, leaving the strings’ extremities exposed and semi-dangerous. Bassist and keyboardist Steve Garrington rounded out the sound.

Songs including “Plastic Cup” and “What Part of Me” were slow time-bombs of rich complexities, reverberating through the packed and silent two tiers of Johnny Brenda’s. And the encore of the surprising Al Green cover “Let’s Stay Together,” featuring Parker on lead vocals and an electronic backing beat, followed by the explosive “Canada” were a fitting end to a spectacular show.

In the opening slot, local harp maestro Mary Lattimore entranced the crowd with her loops and unique playing. Taking the ears to the unexpected with one of the most magisterial instruments, Lattimore is a Philly treasure that must be seen and heard live to be fully appreciated.

More photos below: Read more »

NEW MUSIC: Emily Zeitlyn, “Rope”


I started Googling lyrics almost immediately after hitting play, assuming this was some classic ’60s folk song I didn’t know. Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell, maybe. But no, it’s just a new original by Emily Zeitlyn, singer and guitarist currently of the Arc Divers and formerly of The Weeds. Holding Bodies, the debut record by the Arc Divers (formerly just Divers), was one of my favorite records of last year — a soulful, pretty, forceful rock record with strong guitars and vocals.

This Saturday, the Arc Divers are playing Bourbon & Branch. Also on the bill is All the Quick Hooks of Light, a side project of one-time Weeds bassist and Philly music fixture Devin Greenwood.

Watch the video/hear the song below: Read more »

INTERVIEW: Grammy Nominee Lianne La Havas


Lianne La Havas has arrived in the United States from London for a eight-concert solo tour that wraps up a few days before the February 15 Grammy Awards. Last year’s Blood is nominated in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. It’s the 26-year-old artist’s first Grammy nomination.

We’d planned to talk by phone from her hotel in Manhattan a few hours before the first show the tour, but the connection is awful. I briefly hear her rich, friendly voice, “Sarah?” — before we must disconnect and try again. But, the minutes are ticking by and the phone isn’t ringing again. I’m worrying now that I won’t have time to ask her about when Prince, yes, The Purple One, came to her apartment in London for a cup of tea (with honey), or when she went to Prince’s personal recording studio, Paisley Park, to lay down vocals for his 2014 album, Art Official Age.

Minutes are passing. Now I’m guessing I won’t have time to ask her what it feels like to be 26 and be able to count Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant and John Legend as fans. La Havas caught the music world’s attention with Lost & Found, her 2011 EP, and then with Is Your Love Big Enough, her 2012 debut studio album. Her versatile soprano voice suits her heartfelt and elegant songwriting.

The phone is finally ringing. I pick up and hear La Havas gently laughing, “Wow, that was a terrible connection. You had some crazy robot voice.” Thanks phone company. I hate it when Grammy-nominees and friends of Prince think my voice sounds like a crazy robot.

Today in New York, she’s gone for a run, a bit of shopping, lunch and is ready to chat. Later, she’ll head downtown to perform in a cozy club in Chelsea, just La Havas alone with her guitar. She toured with her band earlier this year to support the album, but in these intimately scaled venues, like our Ortlieb’s Cafe, she gets to set her vocals free and take a deep dive into her jazz and neo-soul sound. Those lucky enough to get a ticket for the show at Ortlieb’s will get an evening of R&B grooves and powerful, textured vocals that can easily go from to-the-bone intensity to playful purr.

On to the interview… Read more »

Roots Picnic 2016 Lineup Announced by Abbi and Ilana of Broad City


Once again, Questlove and co. have put together a killer lineup of awesome-but-not-obvious talent for their annual show by the river. This year it’ll be Saturday, June 4, at Festival Pier. Tickets go on sale Friday at noon.

Atlanta headliner Future gets top(-left billing), but he’s already playing here between now and then (Feb. 28 at the Fillmore), so I’m thinking the Usher/Roots set will be the highlight of the evening. At past Roots Picnics, legacy acts like Run DMC and Public Enemy have played with the house band; unless I’m forgetting somebody, Usher is the most current artist to land that spot. I’m probably most excited to see gospel/soul guitarist/singer Leon Bridges (born Todd Bridges, poor guy) play the mainstage. And it’ll be nice to see DMX bark live and in person; we usually have to wait for “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” to turn up in another action movie commercial. Where silky smooth R&B/hip-hoppish singer Jidenna may wilt in his blazer under the summer sun, R&B/electropoppy group Lolawolf (featuring Fury Road badass Zoë Kravitz) could shine. Willow Smith probably won’t be allowed to check out the Lil Dicky set without parental supervision, so maybe we’ll spot her famous mom or dad in the area. And once that happens, would a Will Smith walk-on be too much to ask?

Full lineup below: Read more »

Concert Review: Muse invades the Wells Fargo Center

Muse at the Wells Fargo Center. (Photo by Tom Beck)

Muse at the Wells Fargo Center. (Photo by Tom Beck)

Muse doesn’t do “subtle.” The British band’s most recent album, Drones, is all about the terrors of modern technological warfare — specifically drones. So, yes, they flew a giant inflatable drone around the Wells Fargo Center during the song “Uprising.”

It was all part of a shock and awe campaign that included balloons, confetti, a pulsing light display and a 360 degree stage in the dead center of the arena.

Despite attempts to engage the audience with the new material, it was the old songs like “Starlight,” “Resistance” and “Time Is Running Out” that drew the best reaction. Throughout the evening, however, frontman Matt Bellamy proved himself to be one of the most talented in his craft, displaying a vocal range the rest of us couldn’t even attempt without a helium tank. His guitar playing shined on a new track called “Reapers” and during a brief cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” early on in the set. And he never stopped moving. Read more »

INTERVIEW: Curtis Alumni Gabriel Cabezas

Gabriel Cabezas

Gabriel Cabezas

Chicago-born Gabriel Cabezas isn’t afraid to call Philly a second home.

“I graduated from Curtis in 2013, so I haven’t worn out my welcome just yet,” he said. In fact, the highly in-demand cellist, who has been praised for his versatile style and sound, has a plethora of Philly engagements this season, including his upcoming concert with Sandbox Percussion for LiveConnections at World Cafe Live. He later returns for performances with yMusic at the Kimmel Center, the Dolce Suono Ensemble, and with Ben Folds at The Fillmore. We chatted with the talented musician about how Philly helped shape his craft, and what listeners can expect from his upcoming projects.

I always like to ask Curtis grads how that institution shaped them as artists.
It’s really insular. It’s a closed experience in a very positive way, which was a good because I could focus and learn music. It was a great place for me because, like most people, in college you discover new things that you didn’t know you liked. I started listening to different kinds of music and playing music that I wouldn’t have normally have looked at. Read more »

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