Archive: May, 2013
The members of The Roots were on hand for the dedication of their Philadelphia Mural Arts Program mural on the north side of South Street just west of Broad on Friday afternoon.
"It hits close to home for me that this is in South Philly," said rapper Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, while drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson joked about how he "used to walk around the streets of Philadelphia wondering 'Where is my mural?'"
But seriously, Questlove said, "All we ever wanted was to make Philadelphia proud of us. It's an honor."
My 2013 Summer Music preview is in Friday's Inquirer Weekend section on Friday, but because life is cruel and space is limited, a bunch of worthy shows were excised from the final version. So here, through the wonder of the web, is the director's cut:
The Roots Picnic is this weekend, which means the summer music season in the Philadelphia region is about to get underway in earnest.
The selections highlighted here only begin to touch on the range of activity between now and Labor Day, outdoors and in, on a grand and intimate scale.
Ths year, I was granted the honor and privilege of being one of the judges of the Inquirer’s Fourth Annual Brewvitational, the results of which will be revealed in Thursday's food section.
Along with that great responsibility, I was charged with a task: To make a beer drinking music mix that would be a soundtrack for sipping, mulling and scoring the 49 local brews placed before the palates of Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan, his six esteemed expert panelists, and me, the IPA-quaffing regular schmoe.
We listened to this 36 song list while we drank and judged. The title of the case and a half worth of tunes, Drinkin' Thing, is taken from the 1974 hit by late country great Gary Stewart, a master of the genre who’s also represented with “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles),” a song which carries on a barroom conversation with Emmylou Harris’ “Feelin’ Single - Drinkin’ Doubles.”
The collaborative album between Elvis Costello and Philadelphia's The Roots now has a name, and a label. Wise Up Ghost will be released on September 17 on Don Was-directed Blue Note Records.
Roots drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, who produced along with Steven Mandel, said, "It's a moody, broody affair, cathartic rhythms and dissonant lullabies. I went stark and dark on the music, Elvis went HAM on some ole Ezra Pound s---."
The Roots mural will be unveiled on Friday at Broad & South, with the band in attendance. And the 6th annual Roots Picnic is Saturday at Festival Pier.
The scheduled set times for this Saturday's Roots Picnic at the Festival Pier have been announced.
Check it out to the left, from the bottom up.
Previously: The Inquirer Brewvitational Playlist: It's a 'Drinkin' Thing' Follow in the Mix on Twitter
Space was the place to be when the Sun Ra Arkestra played a sold out show at Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown on Saturday night on the occasion of alto sax player and bandleader Marshall Allen's 89th birthday.
He's the one in the psychedelic Shriner's wizard outfit in red on the left. For this gig, the Philadelphia band founded by Ra, who died (or 'ascended' in Ra speak) in 1993, and directed by Allen since 1995, contained over 20 musicians. You can see only 15 or so on stage, but that's only because that's all the tiny bandstand at JB's could hold. There were other drummers, keyboard players, percussionists and interpretive dancers at the foot of the stage during the show, which was presented by Ars Nova Workshop, and I'm pretty sure the woman who was keeping perfect time on cowbell at the bar right about the time I had a full beer spilled on me was with the band, too.
One of the things that's so tremendous about the Arkestra is the way they combine old school and new: The ensemble opened with "Smile," the Charlie Chaplin composition (that was Michael Jackson's favorite song, if you're keeping score at home), and all night long they split the difference between being a highly-disciplined, wondrously rhythmic, semi-traditoinal big band (albeit one dressed like black Mummers on acid) and a bold free jazz collective whose noise explorations are often outrageous but never pointlessly indulgent. As our man Steve Klinge put it, the Arkestra's music is 'cacophonous and composed."
Philadelphia alt-metal band Baroness distinguished themselves last year with the breakthrough Yellow & Green, the band's most broadly ambitous and best album to date. The U.S. tour meant to get underway last fall didn't, due to a near fatal bus accident last August outside Bath, England.
Read all about the band, and that nearly tragic day, in my interview with them from Thursday's Inquirer. That's here. Check out the quartet playing "The Line Between" in the video shot by David Swanson in the quartet's North Wales rehearsal space this week.
Tonight, Baroness kick off their long delayed Yellow & Green U.S. tour at Union Transfer. Show details here.
This year's Non-Comm radio convention wrapped up on Friday night, with standout performances from Laura Mvula, The Lone Bellow, Free Energy and The Relatives, the re-united gospel quintet from Dallas, Texas.
First up was Mvula, the seriously talented British singer-songwriter with an arresting stage presence and distinctly dignified vocal delivery. On stage and on her just-released debut album, Sing to the Moon, Mvula, who's from Birmingham, plays piano and proffers her own brand of chamber-soul. On Friday, her band featured a harp, cello and electric violin, with surprising arrangements putting handclaps and multi-part harmony to use, while puling from gospel and funk. She bears watching.