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journey2home Record Release Show @ Jr. Music Executive.

January 29, 2015

Spause - Journey2Home-13Text and images by Brianna Spause.

journey2home, a year-long public art project generated by the Mural Arts Program, drew to a close last Friday night with a CD release party hosted by Jr. Music Executive.

Spause - Journey2Home-1Cheerful conversation buzzed out of JME’s new permanent home at Cohesive Collections and spilled out onto Vine Street as approximately 30 artists, mentors and partners gathered in celebration. Hot off the press, a stack of journey2home compilation CDs were arranged proudly at the door as smiling faces and offers of congratulations steadily rolled in.

The goal of journey2home was to engage the community in a conversation about the startling issue of youth homelessness and housing insecurity in Philadelphia. Efforts that engaged more than 50 Philadelphia youths began in August 2013, and blossomed into a mural titled “Home Safe” that was erected on 42nd and Brown streets, a documentary film, monthly art installations, and eight powerful tracks off of the journey2home compilation CD.

For lead artist Mike O’Bryan, the key to social change is about creating a bi-directional music conversation.

“I think what was cool about the process for this project was that there are so many ways the youth can be involved,” O’Bryan said. “There are so many ways, consequently, through our networks that we can have adults – who love music and who know the industry – be involved with the young people.”

Through trauma-informed music workshops and discussions, O’Bryan, his partners and an empowered youth cohort were able to create the soundtrack to a larger multimedia project generated by the MAP.

“We all had different areas of expertise that we brought to the table,” O’Bryan said, fondly recalling the efforts of Jim Wells from Blackboard Labs, who specialized in teaching the youths production and creative writing, and Aisha Winfield of JME, who organized discussions about marketing and the life of music post-creative moment.

The quality of the CD that spun loudly in the background of the release party was top-notch and battled with the excitable conversation floating about the room. The contrast between an easy listening melody and a chilling message in “Warzone,” the lead track on the album, illuminated the true talent in the room.

Zhane McPhil, 16, was nervous when she joined the journey2home project. Zhane is the face of the powerful vocals in “Warzone” and a strong young woman that knows the harsh reality of struggling with housing insecurity.

“I don’t usually sing in front of people,” Zhane said. “I would sing to myself. It was new to sing to other people and I guess I never realized how much of a release it was. What better way to get through to people than music? Because everyone listens to music and everyone seems to understand music more than just listening to you talk about [your struggles].”

Rodney Burney, 15, identifies with Zhane on the ability of art to express himself.

“If people really feel what I’m saying in songs, people will want to get with me and make music together,” Rodney said of his rapping on tracks like “Warzone” and three others on the album. “It’s gonna feel good to hear the tracks because people can feel what I’m rapping about. That’s a good feeling, hearing feedback.”

As the CD spun to its end and impressively large stacks of pizza loomed in the background, the journey2home project met its final end.

“There are a lot of assumptions around the experience of homelessness,” O’Bryan said. “We have all of these opinions, and make judgments whether we like it or not. I think as artists, it’s our job to try to spread these [young people’s] narratives and to help give people the proper lenses to deal with human beings on the street. I think that’s what this whole project is about. I’m more passionate, more than ever in my life, to make sure their stories are honored and told safely.”

The Snails, Vic Ruggiero and Spelling Reform @ Boot & Saddle.

January 29, 2015

Snails 1-24 (1 of 10)Text by Jennifer Granato. Images by Ken Stager.

On Saturday night, Boot & Saddle hosted the reggae/soul band The Snails for their first show back in their home city in quite a while. Boot & Saddle’s cozy room, filled with rock ‘n’ roll, blues and soul all night, turned out to be an excellent place to hide from the winter chill.

The Snails took the stage around 10. The five piece band, all matching in neat, black button-up shirts, didn’t rely on gimmicks or distractions to entertain the audience. Instead, they placed their focus entirely on the quality of their music. Their set flowed from one song into the next, featuring tracks from their most recent album, Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox. The band’s energy sparked the crowd all night. When Vic Ruggiero, frontman of ska band The Slackers, joined The Snails on stage for a final number, the whole room was dancing.

Tim Hildebrand, the 23-year-old South Philly resident and guitarist for The Snails, spoke on what to expect from the band in the coming months.

“We’re currently working on a new full length,” Hildebrand said, as people pushed around him going back and forth to the bar. “We’re going down to Nashville to record it in the summer, in the same studio and with the same producer that did Alabama Shake’s record. We’re bringing a new soul and rock ‘n’ roll sound to our music.”

Todd Fausnacht, the lead singer and guitarist, cited early Stax Records catalogs and Chess Records artists as musical influences. Songs full of soulful melodies with layered vocal harmonies are the new normal for The Snails and it works. Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox has just been released on vinyl and The Snails will begin playing more regular shows in April when their members are all back in the city.

Spelling Reform, an indie rock/power pop band from Philadelphia opened the show with a set of upbeat and fun rock ‘n’ roll. Before The Snails, Vic Ruggiero performed to a crowd that suddenly packed themselves into the room. Ruggiero played his set as a one-man band, complete with a tambourine, drum, guitar and harmonica. He played an hour-long set of his original music and bluesy, acoustic spins on Slackers songs, occasionally taking requests from audience members.

As he settled on stage, his thick Bronx accent an obvious giveaway that he wasn’t from around here.

“It’s nice to be back in Philadelphia,” he said.

The Gaslight Anthem, Cold War Kids, We Speak in Sounds, Cheerleader, CRUISR and More @ The Radio 104.5 Winter Jam.

January 28, 2015

Cold War Kids-8826Text by Beth Ann Downey and Mina Lee. Images by Mina Lee.

Radio 104.5’s annual Winter Jam took over new territory Saturday as it brought a full day of live music on two separate stages to South Philly’s XFinity Live!

The free, all-ages music event drew a robust crowd to see a lineup of national alternative rock, like Cold War Kids (above), and dance acts as well as three popular local groups.

Many were there early to catch Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, the new project from the former frontman of both Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. McMahon didn’t hide the hits of these past projects from loyal fans. The band played “Dark Blue,” “The Resolution” and “I Woke Up In A Car,” as well as tunes from In The Wilderness’ self-titled debut album released in October 2014.

“Thanks to you, the fans, for making phone calls and getting the song played,” McMahon said to the crowd during the band’s finale “La La Lie.” He also thanked

Radio 104.5 for “taking a chance” on him because he’s “been doing this for a long time.”

Though they’ve been in the public eye for a shorter amount of time, local indie pop band CRUISR opened the local stage to a similarly adoring crowd. They started off with “Don’t Go Alone,” followed by “All Over” and “Kidnap Me” off their recently released EP.

“If you move your feet you’ll warm up I swear to god,” said frontman Andy States to the crowd. Read more…

Discwoman @ Voyeur.

January 27, 2015

1.23.15_Discwoman_Voyeur_DarraghDandurand_59Text by Jennifer Granato. mages by Darragh Dandurand.

Does a party with a lineup of amazing female DJs, some free PBR, hours of dancing and a raffle for extremely expensive music-responsive vibrators sound like a good time to you?

Well, it was. You should be bummed if you missed out on this.

Last Friday night, Discwoman, an electronic dance music party that exclusively showcases local female and female-identified DJs sponsored by PBR and Lelo, came to Voyeur to show off our city’s talent and to benefit Girls Rock Philly, a Philadelphia nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls and young women through music education.

With the electronic dance music industry still being a big boys club and notable electronic music festivals blatantly lacking female talent in their line-ups, what Discwoman is doing is very important.

“There is no festival that features female DJs,” said one of Discwoman’s founders, Christine Tran. “We wanted to inspire young woman that this could be their profession. We want Discwoman to be a sustainable system and to show that men don’t have to teach it to you.” Read more…

WIN FREE TICKETS: Riff Raff @ The Trocadero on Wednesday!

January 27, 2015

Riff Raff performs at the Trocadero with Chanel West Coast, Swizzymack and Baked Life and we’re giving away tickets.

Like us on facebook and email us at to enter to win a pair of tickets (give us your name and put “Riff Raff” in the subject line).

If you want to play it safe and get your own tickets, find details for the show here.


Slaughter Beach, Petal, Broken Beak and Roya @ Mantua Yacht Club.

January 27, 2015

allatmyc1Text by Tim Mulhern. Images by Jessica Flynn.

Those looking to escape the cold and support a good cause packed the living room of the Mantua Yacht Club Friday night for an acoustic benefit show featuring Roya, Broken Beak, Petal and Slaughter Beach.

Proceeds raised from the show were donated to the Morton McMichael School in Mantua.

Roya kicked off the intimate, entirely unplugged show. Seated on a red couch, she shared a collection of somber, strummed tunes, sung barely above a whisper.

“I have happy songs, I just don’t remember them now,” the singer admitted to the small but attentive audience.

Beau Brynes, who performs under the name Broken Beak, took the couch after Roya. Brynes debuted new material throughout his set and kept the crowd entertained and the mood light with witty banter between songs. Roya, seated in the audience, sang alongside Brynes on the penultimate song. After requesting audience participation on the chorus of his last song, the room filled with even more warmth and music, as most of the crowd happily obliged to sing with him.

Debuting largely new material from Petal’s upcoming album, Kiley Lotz shared a set of charming originals, mixed with covers of Talking Heads and Prince tracks. Many of the songs Lotz performed were played in front of an audience for the first time Friday night.

The show wrapped with a triumphant set from Slaughter Beach. Jake Ewald, guitarist and vocalist for Modern Baseball, released his first EP, Dawg, under the Slaughter Beach name in August of 2014. On Friday, he played his first solo show to an audience of friends and Modern Baseball bandmates. Ewald mixed in a few covers but spent most of his time showcasing brand new Slaughter Beach tracks.

The crowd quickly dispersed, with many leaving to catch other shows happening later that evening.

Suburban Living: Yours to Interpret.

January 22, 2015

SuburbanLiving01onlineText by Brendan Menapace. Images by Chris Fascenelli.

In this life, Wesley Bunch is the creative force behind Suburban Living. Not that he thinks that is what he has always been.

“I think everybody has a past life and something embedded in them,” Bunch says. “I think that in a past life, I was a writer, like a storyteller or something.”

Read more…


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