Archive: May, 2011
Women's Medical Fund is already an organization worthy of your attention. They've been helping women in Southeastern Pennsylvania access abortions since 1985, according to their web site. But now the issue is hitting indie collector nerds a lot closer to home, since John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats has donated a ton of rare and wonderful gems from his secret stash to a WMF raffle. A DVD, a CD (if you haven't heard Nothing for Juice, you are missing out), a bunch of colorful 7-inches and a fricking notebook JD used for songwriting and idea-hashing during All Eternals Deck and The Life of the World to Come.
The drawing is May 19 at the WMF's annual reception at Moore.
WHO: Dirty South Joe, Low Beezy
WHAT: I vividly remember the classic days of going to the 700 Club every Thursday with Low Bee turnin’ it out to a packed and sweaty crowd. A diverse mix of partygoers would get down and let loose to whatever was coming from the speakers. You could smell the sex in the air, you could slip on the beer-soaked floor and, most of all, and you’d be guaranteed a blast all night long. But while those days have faded to the past, Toxic, a new party kicking off this week with tunes from Dirty South Joe, Low Beezy, promises to rekindle some of those glory-day memories.
WHEN & WHERE: Thu., May 12, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., free, Barbary, 951 Frankford Ave., 215- 634-7400, thebarbary.org.
WHY: Things that leave a sour taste in your mouth are often the most fun.
Every Wednesday, Ryan Carey tackles a different topic relating to the contemporary pop culture scene. This week, he takes a look at our generation's "celebrities" and the the stupid things they do to stay in the spotlight.
The old model of celebrity was one of veneration. Hollywood stars from the '40s were larger-than-life heroes that we looked up to — the role models epitomizing coolness or strength or glamour. Musicians of the '70s wrote the soundtracks of peoples' lives. Television stars of the '90s were emulated for their wit or courage. We were inspired by all these folks and held debts of gratitude for their positive impact in our lives. Now, celebrities are people we haven't met but who we know just enough about that it's extra funny when they fall on their face.
Dancing With the Stars is the inverse of a show like American Idol. Idol's entertainment springs from watching the extremes. Both the most pathetic and most amazing unknown singers vie to skip the long career arch, going straight to famous. The middle, the people who are just okay, are left out. Idol may be a celebration of creative complacency — a glorified karaoke bar — but at least it provides a real product.
Dancing With the Stars is purely a leverage-gala for TMZ and other celebrity gossip magnets. The competition format of DWTS couldn't exist if the contestants were regular folks, the same way nobody but you would watch TMZ if they were stalking your dentist. Dancing With The Tax Preparers would flunk faster than the XFL because there'd be no pre-existing relationship between the viewers and the contestants. Notice how everyone from So You Think You Can Dance is so amazing? It's like they're from another planet. Notice how the only thing amazing about Marie Osmond is that you've heard of her?
Girl needs jeans. Girl walks into department store. Girl thinks she’s a size 8. Girl grabs a size 8 pair of Lee’s, Levi’s, and Lucky Brand jeans. Girl embarks on a dressing room battle of epic proportions — the Lee’s are too baggy in the hips and thighs, but they won’t button; the Levi’s are enormous, and she rejoices that maybe she’s actually a size 6; but, alas, the Lucky pair isn’t so lucky — the pants won’t even make it past her knees. Girl leaves the store with nothing. Girl comes dangerously close to punching a stranger on the street.
It’s a situation women have lamented over for eons — a size that fits in one brand won’t in another because there's no sizing standard for women’s clothing. We end up with four different sizes in our closet, even if our bodies’ measurements stay the same. Being a “perfect size 6” really means nothing anymore if you’re only that size sometimes.
The press has been all over this technology, which calculates a user’s exact body measurements to determine what clothing styles and sizes are most appropriate. So far, there’s only one MyBestFit location in the country — in the King of Prussia Mall (160 N. Gulph Rd.) on The Plaza’s upper floor, next to Sephora. And the response is overwhelmingly positive.
Lorene Cary, a 1995 Pew Fellowship of the Arts winner, has a new book, If Sons, Then Heirs, about an African-American Philly contractor whose great-grandmother learns that she doesn't own her land in South Carolina, where she's lived for over fifty years. In addition to title complications, the family works on various relationship problems, including righting the wrongs of their patriarch's violent death fifty years ago.
Cary, who also received the 2002 Philadelphia Award, is speaking at the central branch of the Free Library (1901 Vine St.) this week. You may recall that one of her previous books, The Price of a Child, was chosen for the One Book One Philadelphia program in 2003. This is one worth checking out.
Thu., May 12, 7:30 p.m., free, Central Branch, Free Library, 215-567-4341, freelibrary.org.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation — y'know, those names you hear every morning on WHYY along with John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, et. al — made a majorly anticipated announcement last night, one that has the potential to change the landscape of Philadelphia arts well into the future.
The organization's Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia, a contest open to anyone willing to answer the question "What's your best idea for the arts in Philadelphia?" with a project proposal, has dedicated $9 million over three years to any number of cultural organizations with a passion and a plan. Last night, 36 entrants — of more than 1,700 — were announced as first-year winners, and are collectively raking in $2.7 million to fund their projects. (Which, if you're doing your math, means Philly's set to receive more than $6 million more over the next two years.)
The winners are a diverse crowd — from big guns like the Barnes Foundation (introducing a new museum app) and the Mann Center (pairing up cultural icons with famous orchestras) to little guys like Mighty Writers (implementing a project on black Philadelphia radio) and the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby. Their winnings are similarly varied: For this first round of projects, entrants have taken in anywhere from $7,000 (The Art Blog, for a First Friday "art safari") to $250,000 (Fairmount Park Art Association, for a public art event that uses roving searchlights).
So what's the catch? of the challenge's three rules (the other two being: the idea has to be about art, and must "take place in or benefit Philadelphia") is that winners must match their grants within a year. Which means that all of a sudden, folks like Nichole Canuso and Kathleen Bonanno (who've won $50,000 each) have got to get on the fundraising stick, STAT. (Lucky, then, that Canuso's annual benefit cabaret's happening on Friday, huh?)
What this all means is that you should expect to see big things happening in Philadelphia (and you thought PIFA was huge). After the jump, check out the complete list of winners, courtesy the Knight Foundation.
Monday: I can’t say for sure how many times Creepoid have been featured on The Showdown since I took the reins, but they deserve every mention. After appearing alongside innumerable other groups at this year’s South By Southwest Conference, Creepoid are starting to get recognition on a national level. Bringing things back home is always a warming prospect, especially when the music is a thunderous and captivating as Creepoid’s creaky noise excursions. w/ The Love Dimension, Ancient Creature & Quilty, 8 p.m., $8, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Tuesday: Originally conceived as the theatrical counterpart to Greg Dulli’s Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers have since become the alt-rock ruffian’s main bag. After a year-long solo tour, Dulli regrouped The Twilight Singers for a new album, the noir-ish Dynamite Steps. With Dulli’s trademark intensity ramped up by sweeping, cinematic music, the latest incarnation of The Twilight Singers is perhaps the finest yet. If the recent warm patches in the weather have got you feeling all light and bubbly, the perennially gloomy Dulli is certain to knock you back down to his dusky reality. w/ Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, 8 p.m., $17-$19, Trocadero, 10th & Arch Sts., 215-922-6888.
Wednesday: Songwriter Steve Poltz first gained attention during the early ‘90s, when his then-girlfriend, Jewel, had a few hits with his quirky, romantic songs. In the years since the couple’s split, Poltz has carried on with album after album of delightfully sentimental and slyly humorous melodies. Last year’s Dreamhouse found Poltz exploring electronics and lo-fi techniques in tasteful ways. Poltz’s live shows are the stuff of San Diego (and Tin Angel) legend, often stretching into the multi-hour mark and featuring plenty of unreleased songs and stories. w/ Justin Trawick, 8:30 p.m., $15, Tin Angel, 20 S. 2nd St., 215-928-0770.
Thursday: Back in January of last year, up-and-coming Florida rockers Surfer Blood released their debut album, Astro Coast. The record, jam-packed with big guitars and bigger choruses, is tailor-made to serve as the soundtrack to a sticky hot day. Reverb soaks each power chord and joyously passionate group vocals will guide the audience through each anthem. Summer couldn’t come soon enough, and Surfer Blood are doing their part to make sure that this one’s perfectly sweltering. w/ …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, True Widow & Weekends, 8 p.m., $13-$14, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., 215-563-3980.
Friday: Thanks to the Reverend Horton Heat (both the singer/guitarist and his band), the world has a surplus of rockin’ country-punk ditties. The group’s most recent LP, 2009’s Laughin’ & Cryin’, was a step more toward the ‘-billy’ end of ‘rockabilly,’ but their notoriously energetic live shows haven’t simmered a step. With nearly 20 years of recorded music under their rhinestone-studded belts, RHH are most concerned with putting on a great performance. Whether that’ll include instrument acrobatics or double-time fretwork is up to the good Reverend himself. w/ The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band & The Young Werewolves, 9 p.m., $18-$27, TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of an everyday, pop-culture-loving Philly dude.
Friday: I spent Friday night reviewing my current favorite sitcom, Parks and Recreation. I'm somewhat pleased that I missed the first two seasons of the show, which are reviewed at a consistently lower caliber than the current season — which is more or less the funniest thing on TV. It's painful to think that this show existed without Rob Lowe (who, on Parks and Rec., is officially funnier than Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock), Adam Scott (who you know as the showoff brother from Stepbrothers) and Chris Pratt (an actor who I expected at first to suffer from comparisons to comedic look-alike Seth Rogan but turned out to be as funny or funnier on Parks and Rec. than Rogan ever was on Freaks and Geeks or Undeclared).
Saturday: You might be unsure as to why the Back To The Future trilogy is such a seminal guy institution. It's a family-friendly adventure that has romance and very little violence. But what it lacks in sports or brain-splattering nihilism, it makes up for in spades with technical detail down to the slightest variables. And the fragility that BTTF paints of life over a timeline makes it a compelling watch each and every viewing. If you ask the average fan what their least favorite of the three is, they'll often say Part III, likely because it has the most romance, the fewest plot complications and the most basic essential conflict (guy wants to shoot doc). My personal favorite is Part II, for the exact inverse of those reasons. And Part I, the most classic, is usually agreed on to be the most well -rounded of the three. I'm only a little embarrassed to say that this is not the first Saturday I've viewed the Back To The Future trilogy in its entirety.
Sunday: Man Cave Closed for Mother's Day. Will return next weekend.
This week’s open-miker adventure took place at the El Bar in Fishtown. It’s a good local hangout with a community of regulars. The place puts a focus on local breweries, offering a nice Kenzinger draft for $3.
El Bar is divided into two halves, with the bar itself in the center. One side has tables and a TV — where the Flyers game was playing to a deeply-invested crowd. This side also had a pair of cats, though I assume they make appearances on both sides. This Wednesday, they were snuggled together in a quiet corner.
The other side of the building featured a pool table that was clearly popular, as well as a small stage, on which the open mic took place. It was hosted by Dave Robins, who’s been doing it since well before the Northern Liberties/Fishtown area became Philly’s local music mecca. Perhaps he helped lead the way: he was playing guitar there when the neighborhood was known far better for crime than for rock 'n' roll. For the past few years, he’s been joined by Herb Fineburg, and on this night the two played hours of acoustic tunes, with Robins singing beautiful and tragic versions of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and Jackson Browne’s “These Days” in a rough-edged croon. He strummed a bold rhythm guitar and played harmonica as Fineburg played lead guitar.
Though the bar was well-attended, there wasn’t much of a turnout performer-wise; it varies greatly from week to week, the friendly hosts told me. It means this column will be short—but it was a good night for a quiet beer and a long listen.
The nitty-gritty for performers: Wednesday nights, 9 p.m., the El Bar, 1356 N. Front Street.
For half of a century, the Philadelphia Folk Festival has been an iconic gathering of roots music lovers and imaginary post-apocalyptic society enthusiasts. The Festival’s organizers wield limited control over the goings on in the campground area, but they work quite hard year to year to assemble musical performances that will enrich as well as entertain. The preliminary lineup for the 50th Folk Festival (Aug. 19-21) was announced yesterday. Here are some of the highlights:
David Bromberg Big Band
The Wood Brothers
Give & Take Jugglers
Justin Townes Earle
Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
Wilderness of Manitoba
Kim & Reggie Harris
Burning Bridget Cleary
The goal is to get some of these (and other) performers to spontaneously collaborate during each other’s sets and create enduring memories like Folk Fests of yore. Another major announcement is slated for June 9, and tickets for the Festival are available now.
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus