This week in loss is a big hard one. Tattooed love boy/burly chef Matt Levin left Walnut Street’s Square Peg but not the Cohen/Gutin fiefdom as he will still make elegant fare for their Brulee catering concept.
Legendary free rock radio jock/folk singer Michael Tearson was sadly let go from his decade-plus WMGK-FM gig with no goodbye-shift yet thankfully can still be heard on Sirius XM.
Dan Gross. Ah Dan Gross. He jumped from his gossip spot at the Daily News and Philly.com (full disclosure: I work there, too) as well as his head position at the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia to do God-knows-what. I’ll miss Dan there, it was nice knowing that I had someone solid reporting on the same beat as I.
Apparently City Paper is not the only crowd of folks who know April Mae and the June Bugs are a lot of fun. This Saturday night, one of their regular venues is giving them six hours to bring in fellow artists to throw a variation on the ol’ rent party theme, officially titled a Get Outta Town Party. The rent here is for that houseboat on wheels, the Boogie Bus. April Mae and Catfish are rolling that converted coach south to Mississippi and Alabama for two big recording sessions and a spot at the International Blues Challenge. Their friends — bands like the Missing Keys, Midnight Shift and Blue Cat Blues — are playing for free. The catch is, all would like you to show up and invest in your musical future by taking part in the silent auction. Pennsylvania Blues Festival has kicked in a pair of tix, Bucks County Blues seems to have shipped down everything they’ve got: blues CDs and books, plenty of merch as they say.
Why a funder now, given that the bus has been converted to bio-diesel and there is no shortage of fried food in the direction they are heading? The band has some big recording sessions coming up on the trip. April Mae is cutting with the International Blues Women Project in the heart of blues country, Clarksdale, Mississippi. Up river a bit both compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. After that they have a session booked at the original Sun Studio.
Sat., Jan. 19, 6 p.m.-midnight, Red Hot and Blues, 2175 New Jersey Route 70, Cherry Hill, NJ. More info here.
Ever since I came across this Tip Of My Tongue post on Reddit, I can't get this song out of my head. Anybody know who the artist is? Sounds a little like Frazey Ford, but I'm not sure. The clues are few (it came from an old SXSW sampler, maybe?) and Shazam and Google have turned up nothing.
UPDATE: I asked Jolie Holland about it via Facebook. She doesn't recognize the voice.
UPDATE 2: The mystery arist is San Francisco singer and songwriter Indianna Hale. Big thanks to Stuart Woods for solving this and letting me get on with my life.
I’ve been to a lot of these “live version of a TV show” shows in recent years. They’re a mixed bag. Always Sunny was impressive at the Tower, with the stage version of the “Nightman” episode feeding off the energy of the crowd. Portlandia Live, meanwhile, was… depressing, relying on awkward, time-sucking crowdwork. I remember liking the Aqua Teen Hunger Force show at the Troc, but I also think the main action got outshone by a wonderfully bizarre intermission vocalist called Puddles the Clown.
So I know how these things tend to go:
1) It’s more of a talent show of unrelated bits than a cohesive production.
2) Ample video clips — “you guys are getting to see this a whole week before it airs!” — and audience participation segments are used as padding.
3) The relative fame and charm of the performers is expected to make up for any line-flubbing and inelegant transitioning.
4) It will cross your mind, at least once, for at least a minute, that you have been suckered. (Even if you got on press list.)
Nobody who left Archer Live on Friday night seemed to feel suckered.
Yes, the show was only about an hour long.
Yes, we’d been subjected to several (five? six?) t-shirt-gun breaks to the tune of “Danger Zone.”
And yes, crowdwork carried a fair amount of the burden.
Usually, that was a good thing, as Aisha Tyler and H. Jon Benjamin, seasoned stand-up comics, knew how to keep things moving while still acting like they didn’t give too much of a shit. They are generous, quick-witted performers. Chris Parnell, on the other hand, was largely silent throughout the evening (surprising, given his years on SNL). Lucky Yates and Amber Nash were very funny. Executive producer Matt Thompson was not funny at all, and he picked up on none of the clues from the boisterous crowd or his sighing stars that he was bombing.
Maybe “boisterous” isn’t a strong enough word. The evening felt like a drunk comic con panel. People were loud. There was some loud, good-natured booing here and there. There were some desperate cries to be heard by famous people. Funny parts were shouted over on occasion. References were made from the stage. References were yelled back to the stage. Texted questions were answered. The planned stuff worked, for the most part: The live script-reading, the acted-out bits, the video snippets. And I had a good time. I did. But I might be done with these kinds of shows.
La Salle grad Sam Fran Scavuzzo, is a 26-year-old Roxborough resident and organizer of a monthly show called A Bunch Of Improv, at the Grape Room (105 Grape St.). After coming through La Salle’s illustrious Improv 101 troupe, Scavuzzo was ready to start his own improv team, Cock Hat (as in, a chicken with a hat on!) with Stephan Clanton, Frank Farrell and Kate Linsner. Scavuzzo found time in between his full time gig as publication manager for Yellowbook to sit down with LOL With It for a few one-word-suggestions.
LOL With It: Formation?
Sam Fran Scavuzzo: We launched about one year ago. This upcoming Jan. 15 show will be our 12th, so we’re ready to celebrate our first birthday in February. In August 2011, I formed the improv team Cock Hat (as in a chicken with a hat on!) with Stephan Clanton, Frank Farrell and Kate Linsner. We performed for La Salle University’s Improv 101 team but were new to Philly comedy scene. In addition to booking gigs, we were looking to establish a steady show. I covered the Grape Room (105 Grape St.) as a reporter in Manayunk, and through those connections successfully pitched the idea of a monthly improv show.
It’s cool because there’s not a lot of comedy going on in Manayunk, and I think we’re attracting different crowds than at shows in other sections of Philadelphia.
SFS: Because the Grape Room is usually a music venue, we’re blessed with a great stage, lighting and tech equipment, if we want it. The show started on the Grape Room’s second floor, but we moved downstairs a few months ago and now have full range of the venue. For the show itself, our idea was to blend a few mediums and give newer acts a chance to perform, as well as established groups. A comic hosts the night and gets to do a set, in addition to the four to five improv acts. Additionally, at recent shows we’ve featured video shorts from Web Cereal, an online monthly comedy website created by Dan Angelucci.
SFS: Philly Comedy Month listed us as a spotlight show in November, so we tried to go all out for that one. That’s the month we featured the most acts (Gross Butler, Bad James, Rookie Card, Kait and Andrew, Chaperone, and Dan Scully) and drew the biggest crowd. More selfishly, we hosted a show one month that had several La Salle-centered acts. Comedian Dave Terruso hosted and Ryan Barry, of Jersey-based Helicopter Dance Off, performed — so that was probably the most fun for me.
SFS: Our Jan. 15 show features PHIT house team Hot Dish, Apocalips, and Angry People Building Things, in addition to Cock Hat — now featuring Hannah Datz, Matt Lamson and Sunny Kanneganti. Lamson will also MC. Doors open at 8 p.m. $5 cover (21-plus, kids!).
Check out Cock Hat on Facebook for updates on the show, which happens third Tuesday of every month.
For everybody who didn't get into the Free At Noon show at WXPN today (like me).
ICEPACK ILLUSTRATED: Silver Linings Playbook is Oscar-bound, Mark Wahlberg all over the place, Fond about the great outdoors, and more.
Jackie Weaver, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, David O. Russell and Philly’s own Bradley Cooper, come on down: Your locally-lensed Silver Linings Playbook just got nominated for Oscars in every major category, save for song. Too many Jack White tunes. Whee, ya’ll.
Underground Arts bartender/manager Jesse Andreozzi, the possessor of one twirly mustache, is have a Prohibition party on Jan. 16. No big deal, you say? You’ve toted out your apple caps and jodhpurs a-whole-bunch-of-times this season, right? Well this happens to be the anniversary of Prohibition’s start, and Andreozzi’s planning a whole new cocktail menu for Underground Arts including one drink called “Another,” his shaken-stirred blend of Dad’s Hat rye, ginger orange peel syrup, club soda and Peychaud’s bitters. Along with comedian N.A. Poe, era-specific band leader Drew Nugent and Cherry Bomb Burlesque being on board for the event, Andreozzi himself will take the UA stage with his flare bartending death defying routine.
Hey Fond on 11th Street, we see that you’re looking to host outdoor seating. And 600 Washington? You want to put in a pool hall. These are just a few of the things that the South Philly licenses peeps had on their docket at the Jan. 8 public con-fab.
Every few weeks, Critical Mass will feature one Philly Love Note in its collaboration with blogger Emma Fried-Cassorla of phillylovenotes.com.
LOVE NOTE RECIPIENT: Loop Yarn
I AM: Susanne Johnson, a native Philadelphian, a nurse in West Philadelphia, a blogger and a storyteller with a fierce love for all things homemade — be they knit, sewn or preserved.
MY LOVE NOTE:
Do you know how much I love you? I don’t think I’ve ever really said it out loud. I’ve quite possibly said it on Yelp or to friends or even to a passerby, but I think it’s time I let you know directly.
In the grand scale of life, my knitting habit is a drop in the bucket compared to those to whom it has been a lifelong hobby. This January, when I turn 28, will mark 10 whole years for me as a knitter. It was a hobby that I picked up on a whim after so many years of passing a particular yarn shop as a child. “Look at all of those pretty colors! That looks like fun,” I thought from the other side of the window. I was 18 and about to embark on a whole new life as a student at Barnard College in New York City. Knitting seemed like a good distraction from all of the “newness.”
I’ve knitted my way through boring classes, subway rides, three boyfriends, a semester abroad in South Africa, a horrendous roommate and the realization that I hated pre-med classes. I almost wrote my senior anthropology thesis on the cultural significance of knitting, but abandoned the idea when I decided the field research would be a bit tricky.
In almost 10 years of knitting, I’ve visited quite a few yarn shops both at home and abroad. I’ve learned that people can make just about anything seem pretentious, even yarn. I’ve learned that what passes for yarn for some people is my idea of wearing burlap sackcloth. More importantly, I’ve learned that every knitter needs a community — a hub, a resource, a home.
We first met, five years ago, during my senior year at Barnard College. I was home from New York City for a brief spell and was in need of a fiber fix. Driving down South Street with my mother, I spotted the shop’s sign. “Pull over, pull over! That’s the store I read about in the newspaper!” Loop had recently been profiled as one of the few yarn shops owned by men. Loop was — and is — pleasantly chic and modern without any trace of the “granny’s den” vibe that some other stores give off. Clean white lines, square cubbies filled with neatly stacked jewel-toned yarn, colorful skeins artfully hung on the walls and inspiring displays in the large picture windows — Loop is a feast for eyes weary of the grey and black and concrete of the city. The clientele is diverse — young professionals, college kids, young women with burgeoning families, artists, older women looking to outfit grandchildren, men who don’t give a damn who sees them knitting and on and on.
Loop, like knitting itself, is pure comfort. Just thinking about you brings forth a happy sigh from within as I think about how popping into the store can brighten even the dreariest of days. Sometimes, all it takes to feel hopeful again is a soft wool in my favorite color, and the anticipation of stretching my needles with a new pattern.
Whether you know it or not, you have seen me through a lot these last five years — the death of my father, nursing school, my first nursing job and now my master’s studies. Yes, there is a local yarn shop that is much closer to my home, but I really can’t imagine any other shop but Loop as my knitting community. I remember the first time Kathy — a longtime Loop employee — said hello and mentioned me by name when I walked into the shop! Suddenly, I didn’t just feel like a customer, but a member of something bigger than myself. It’s my version of Cheers — where everybody knows my name.
I’m not sure what Loop’s owner, Craig, had in mind when he first opened its doors but I think he’d be happy to know that Loop holds a very special place in the hearts of Philadelphia’s knitters.
On Wednesday, Philly natives the Disco Biscuits performed at the New Year's Run Kick-Off concert at the Best Buy Theater in NYC. The Biscuits' signature style, "Trancefusion" — a crossbreed of jam, prog and electronica — has elevated their status from sonic experimenters to pioneers to figureheads of the jam-band circuit. And, with the mainstream advent of EDM and dubstep finding the band's techno-savvy sound in high demand, it seems they're looking to make this New Year's Run one for the books.
The band returns to Time Square's Best Buy Theater again tonight and Sunday, taking a night off before hitting Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve with fellow jam giants, Phish.
If this is all jargon to you, the video above from Wednesday's show will give you a taste of the atmosphere. If the intoxicants don't get you, the light show will.
I’m still posting standout tracks/videos every night at midnight because why not. (Click here to see them all so far.) Patty Crash is local. She’s fierce. I cannot wait till she drops a whole album.
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