Archive: May, 2011
Monday: Anna Calvi doesn’t score any power-ups for her guitar playing, but the English-Italian axelady’s skills are mighty impressive. Inspired by a multitude of sultry global influences, Calvi’s live shows are as spooky and enticing as the songs on her self-titled album. Anna Calvi was released earlier this year, and features a blend of Florence And The Machine bombast and Patti Smith intensity. Anna has caught the attention of some pretty high profile fans, including Ray Davies and Brian Eno. And you’re next. w/ She Keeps Bees, 9 p.m., $10, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Tuesday: Formerly of the indie garage group Elefant, Diego Garcia is nothing short of a music scientist. Garcia spins familiar parts from various iconic sources into his own mix of sunny pop. Recently, Garcia has been getting back to his cultural roots, using the music of Latin singer-songwriters like Antonio Carlos Jobim as a heavy influence. Garcia’s solo debut is one of those instantly familiar records, clearly made at by hand hands of someone who knows what he’s doing. w/ Ron Gallo, 8 p.m., $11-$13, World Café Live, 30th St. & Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Wednesday: If you’ve been waiting all these years for Glasvegas to put out a new album, then I’ve got good news for you. EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ (caps and slashes are all theirs) continues in the massively-produced fashion of their hit debut. James Allan’s accent is all the thicker, the songs are all the more mopey, and the arrangements are big enough to knock the wind out of you. Though they’re not a particularly ‘fun’ band, Glasvegas occupy a particular space in the world’s musical population. Go see them to get your mood turned around in any direction. w/ The Dig & Turning Violet Violet, 7 p.m., $20-$22, The Note, 142 E. Market St., West Chester, 484-947-5713.
Thursday: When you think of the rural expanses of central Canada, The Wilderness Of Manitoba’s music will inevitable serve as the soundtrack. Though actually from Toronto, the band captures the Canadian heartland with rich harmonies and intricate acoustic arrangements. The group will be making an appearance later this year at the 50th Philadelphia Folk Festival, but catch them now to stay way ahead of the curve. w/ Cloud Cult, 8 p.m., $17-$24, World Café Live, 30th St. & Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Friday: Impromptu festival? Okay, let’s do it! The Sundrops Arts and Music Fest is yet another gathering of nearly all of Philadelphia’s musical movers and shakers. The three-day event blossoms out beyond the stage of The Fire on Saturday, but the kickoff concert is fully musical. Featuring performances from local favorites like Hezekiah Jones, the North Lawrence Midnight Singers and Sisters 3, the Sundrops Fest is sure to become a yearly happening, if only to bring these beloved performers together. w/ Up The Chain, Joe Duffey & Swedeland, 8 p.m., $10, The Fire, 412 W Girard Ave., 267-671-9298.
I spent "Rapture Weekend" catching up on one of my favorite feuds, Jon Stewart vs. Fox News. I won't editorialize about which side I root for, but it's always enjoyable to sit back with a bowl of popcorn and watch dudes get shredded in a debate with a self-proclaimed clown.
On this latest one, O'Reilly was outraged that the Obamas invited rapper Common to the White House for a "poetry slam." Stewart goes on to pound O'Reilly for having "inconsistent outrage" on behalf of him and "the apparatus" (Fox News).
When O'Reilly solicited votes on his website as to who won the debate, his own viewers admitted 79 percent to 21 percent that Stewart won. Surprisingly, O'Reilly posted these results on his website. I didn't see them up there, but HuffPo reports that O'Reilly did, in fact, fess up by posting the numbers on his site.
Fittingly, the two-day Lebowski Fest kicks off on June 3 with a screening of The Big Lebowski at TLA, and we have two pairs of tickets for you and your bestest dude or dudette. Here's how to snag them:
Send your best Lebowski-themed haiku HERE by Tue., May 31, with "Lewbowski Haiku" in the subject line. At that point, we'll choose the two that make us laugh the hardest. Easy, breezy, achieve!
Party deets: Fri., June 3, 8 p.m., $15-$18, TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011, lebowskifest.com.
For just a few more days, University City is playing home to a 10,000-square-foot exhibition of artwork by the impressive faculty at Drexel’s Westphal College of Art and Design. It’s the first-ever faculty exhibit, and it’s full of surprising and diverse pieces — an altogether satisfying experience, with something weird and wonderful for everyone.
Works range from painting to printmaking to fashion, and far beyond. There are architectural blueprints and computer-generated images for many local institutions, including centers at Penn, Widener, and the Germantown Friends School. There’s a “Reading Chair” by Jack Cliggett, which consists of what looks like a bike seat connected to a miniature bookshelf and a kid-size desk to lean on as you read. The desk is equipped with a stand to hold your book up for you. Cliggett has also built an attractive bicycle out of bamboo. Nearby, there’s a wall covered with a grid of nouns: “Fish, fowl, slop, bone, curd.” The title? “Many Things Are Moved By Shovels.” There are chairs on ladders, compelling photographs, and dresses made from “sustainable leather.” Perhaps most fascinating is Karen Stone’s “Family Tree” made from human hair. The trunk and branches, all made entirely of hair, are hung with frames; inside the frames are portraits of family members that were created, in part, with the actual hair of those pictured.
That’s just the beginning: check out more of the 120 artworks HERE, or better yet, take your ass to the exhibit.
Through May 27, Gallery at 3401, 3401 Filbert St., 215.895.2548, drexel.edu.
Intrepid CP entertainment reporter Peter Chawaga sets out on a weekly mission to find the best, quirkiest and — most importantly — still operational record stores our town has to offer. The dream of the '90s is alive in Philly!
For those of you who assume digital music has brought the inevitable downfall of vinyl, pay a visit to Philly record-store giant A.K.A. Music (27 N. Second St.) and reconsider. The shop's been selling awesome LPs at its current location for six years and just down the block for another 12 before that. With a collection of more than 500 albums on wax, as well as enough CDs to give Barnes & Noble a run for their money, A.K.A. is the place to go for album collectibles. (Also, they have tapes if you're feeling nostalgic.)
So, how can a store that requires you to actually walk in and buy music compete with the age of one-click listening? Record companies have been creating incentives for music fans to buy vinyl albums, including exclusive bonus tracks and free digital downloads that accompany them. And diehard fans realize that beyond the sheer collectible value of vinyl, some records just aren’t available on iTunes — think Bob Dylan's concert recording from ’63, which, incidentally, you can buy at A.K.A.
The shop has an awesome vibe and the staff is very knowledgeable and friendly, without the record-store-snob attitude one often comes across in these kinds of places. They’ve got a great collection of classic used vinyl, including more jazz and R&B records than I’ve ever seen in one place, and an even more impressive collection of new releases. I encourage you to walk in there and pick up your favorite album on wax, even if you don’t have a record player for it. It might be unfair to pick a box set as the coolest vinyl in the store, but I can’t help it when it includes every song Jimi Hendrix ever recorded for the low, low price of $113.
It doesn’t sound to me like iTunes is going to run A.K.A. out of business anytime soon — “on Record Store Day," one employee tells me, "we had a line through the store and around the block.” Rock on.
WHO: Christian Bloch, Dan Trevitt, Rudy Kardos
WHAT: Now that the weather’s getting all spiffy, it’s time to take advantage of some of the DJ-driven events that can be enjoyed outdoors. This weekend in Fairmount Park’s Rock Garden, Rizumu is throwing this pre-DEMF party starring Subtrak artist Christian Bloch, who’s coming from Brooklyn to throw down alongside Philly boys Dan Trevitt and Rudy Kardos. The party’s BYO, so bring your favorite beverage and some food to munch when you’re not busy moving ya body to the beats.
WHEN & WHERE: Sun., May 22, 1 p.m.-8 p.m., free, Rock Garden, Fairmount Park, Kelly and North Brewery drives, rizumu.us.
WHY: Because the lazy hazy days of four-on-the floor summer are upon us.
Ryan Carey chats with Bedtime Stories creator Gregg Gethard (pronounced Geth-erd) about his last show.
Critical Mass: Take me back to the beginning...
Gregg Gethard: I've always been pretty interested in comedy. I said in my appearance on Carmen Sandiego in 8th grade that I wanted to be a comedian. I've always been kind-of a class clown. I did some comedy in college at the open-mic night. I did some weird fake interpretive dance routines to amuse my friends. I wanted to pursue it after college, but I got caught up in the crazy world of journalism. And I had to concentrate on that because I really loved my career. Concurrently, my little brother Chris started doing some things at the UCB theater in NY and became a sort of star on the rise. He hosted a show up there called "Nights of our Lives," every month they come up with a theme, and all the stories had to tie in to that theme. He had a theme called "the most embarrassing night of my life", and he knew I'd be good for that because most of my nights are embarrassing in some fashion. So that was the first time I ever really did comedy. I told a story about an unfortunate incident of flatulence during, a, uh... physical act. It went over really well and I got bit by the comedy bug so I started trying to do things down here in Philly. I met Greg Maughan who was starting up the Philly Improv Theatre. I told him I want to start doing a show down here, and he was gracious enough to let me. We started doing not just storytelling, but ANYTHING about the theme. It just really clicked with a lot of performers who were all coming together around the same time. And it found an audience. Four and a half years later, it's coming to an end.
CM: When did the venue change occur?
GG: It stayed with PHIT at the Shubin for a year and a half, the impetus for moving is that the theater was no longer big enough to hold the audience. It holds around 45 and it got too packed. Connie's was re-opening, and you can fit like a hundred in there. So we took the show over there and it was one of those things where, I couldn't believe how many people were coming to this thing. A lot of it was my friends and performers' friends, but there became an actual audience for it too. And a lot of the people in the audience ended up forming their own groups and now they do the show. It had like a snowball affect, becoming one of the biggest draws in Philly. We've been averaging around 50 or 60 people. The Carmen Sandiego night (featuring the blond-dreads guy from Rockapella) got something like 90 people.
Sam Roberts' website doesn't list any Philly-area dates on their current tour, but if you look closely at WXPN.org, you'll see that they're doing a Saturday double header at World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, with The Jayhawks.
Their new album, Collider, was released on May 10 and features what Roberts calls "less frenetic rock, and more of a rhythm, groove-oriented album." The band, which has previously been about as straightforward rock as you can ask for, adds some woodwinds (by Antibalas' Stuart D. Bogie), a bit of female backup vox, and more syncopation dynamics than they've used previously.
It's hard to say their song writing has matured without dissing their outstanding previous body of work. But Roberts has his third child on the way, and has admitted to writing with more gravity as of late.
They're usually good for a stop at the North Star Bar (possibly in tribute to Roberts' former band with George Donoso of The Dears called North Star), but unfortunately SRB doesn't have Philly on their radar this time around. It looks like the best we're going to get is the short free-at-noon set in Wilmington, and then hope for a big indie act to bring them through as an opening band (in the past, they've played Philly opening for The Tragically Hip and Ben Kweller).
To RSVP for the show in Wilmington, visit WXPN
As we mention in this week's Kaleidoscope, Chelsea Handler's coming to Tower Theatre tonight for the Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me Tour (8 p.m., $75-$85). One of her opening acts, Brad Wollack, chatted with me recently about his newfound celebrity, an awkward moment with Jennifer Aniston and whether or not Chelsea is as much of a lush as she lets on.
City Paper: Are you excited to come to Philly?
Brad Wollack: I’ve always wanted to get the ultimate cheese steak. That’s really why I’m looking forward to it. This whole comedy thing is just kind of secondary. Just an excuse for me to get there.
CP: What kinds of things do you talk about in your act?
BW: I touch on a bunch of things. I touch upon marriage, sex, drinking and driving, and Jesus Christ. I run the gamut on that one.
CP: Will you talk about Philly?
BW: I try to always do something local. I won’t talk about Stallone running up those stairs.
CP: What were you doing before Chelsea Lately?
After working together for 31 years Philly Gumbo is like family. “And,” quips keyboardist Randall Grass,” the funny thing is our vocalist was born about the time the band was formed.” He add she was born to sing the blues, which are spread liberally over their new CD, Come and Get It (Gumbo Records), along with their deep NOLA groove and Grass’ requisite reggae. The production is old school, almost live (“we faced each other in a circle”), a perfect artifact for Gumbo’s devoted dancers.
Tonight, May 20, 7 p.m., ,World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400, worldcafelive.com.
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