Text and images by Jumah Chaguan.
He ran on stage and slid on his knees. This was his encore. With the appeal of Elvis and the working-class vibe of Springsteen, Paolo Nutini was all of that and more.
“He’s a light point,” said Theresa Paisley, a long time fan. from West Chester. “I’ve lived though the ’60s and ’70s. He’s my favorite. He pulls them all together. They all speak through him.”
Paisley held a walking stick inspired by Nutini. Nutini has said that if music doesn’t work out for him, he would make walking sticks since so many of his fans tend to be older.
This 27-year-old singer from Scotland does have a gift. In his third and latest album Caustic Love, he mixes several genres – funk, country, rock ‘n’ roll, Motown and even a bit of the psychedelic in the song “Cherry Blossom.” The romantic becomes political in his song “Iron Sky.”
Perhaps the best way to think of this artist is to imagine what a love child conceived by all the greatest singers like Otis Reading, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan and even Janis Joplin would be like. Nutini is that good.
No, he hasn’t been “discovered” in America, however, this didn’t matter to those in attendance at The Troc. The disciples came to Nutini’s church.
“He was too young and this country is too big,” explained Angela Gomez Hodgson.
Gomez has seen Nutini in more than 40 concerts in the UK and Europe. Here, in Philadelphia, he performed before around 1,000 attendees, which was a blessing to Gomez, who met him backstage. She proudly showed the picture of them together.
Nutini’s devotees are more than in love with him. His fan club came from overseas. Some people waited in line since 3 o’clock. A man held his cigarette lighter in the air and danced with abandon. The show was a spiritual revelation, long in the making for some. Isabelle Requena, 9, was hoisted on stage. Years prior she had given Nutini a tambourine.
Text and images by G.W. Miller III.
It’s a mid-summer Wednesday afternoon in South Philly and the brass is pumping. The crew from the funk ensemble Swift Technique blast out song after song that gets people moving. And when they cover Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” well, the crowd in the backyard at the Headlong Performance Institute erupts.
People who had been drinking whiskey and studying their intricate glassware suddenly jump to their feet and start twisting, stomping and waving their hands in the air. The two girls sitting on the vendor table where tapestries are offered start moving side-to-side in unison. Even the guy manning the grill at the opposite end of the courtyard starts spinning around, a spatula in one hand and a PBR in the other.
As the song ends and the trumpet sound fades, you can hear the bandmates mumbling for a moment as they improvise their set list.
Singer Chelsea ViaCava speaks into the microphone and explains, “We’ve got to figure out what we all know.”
It’s a spontaneous and communal affair – the people performing are all part of Rising Pulse Productions team. Bass players, drummers, trombonists and a bongo player rotate in and out between songs.
“Nik?” ViaCava says into the microphone. “Do you know this one?”
And Nik Greeley, the frontman for the rock band formerly known as Black Stars, who had been standing by the food table, drinking beer and talking to everyone, runs toward the band and takes the mic.
ViaCava and Greeley (pictured above) whisper for a moment and then break into a super groovy, horn-backed version of Bill Withers’ “Use Me.” Greeley – the ultimate showman – growls, pumps his fist and slides to his knees, where he arches his back and pleadingly wails before the girls sitting on the tapestry table.
He frantically emotes for one more song, seemingly burning through all of his energy and passion, and then retreats to the back of the courtyard and his beer.
“Getting out of Jersey and being here all the time has done wonders,” admits Greeley, 24, who recently started working in Center City and has been performing around town much more since leaving his family home in Marlton. “It’s really refreshing.”
In a few weeks, he’s moving into an apartment in the city. He’s refocused his life – music is what he wants to do. And he knows that he has to be here to make it all happen.
“If you’re an artist from South Jersey, there’s a lot to write about because we’re all disgruntled,” Greeley says with a laugh. “But we have to come to Philly to be recognized.” Read more…
Cleveland native Helen Haynes arrived in Philadelphia more than 25 years ago to be the executive director of the Coalition for African American and Latino Cultural Organizations, which brought together 18 institutions that acted as a de facto inner city arts council. She then served as the director of cultural affairs at Montgomery County Community College. In June, she was named Philadelphia’s chief cultural officer in the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. She spoke with our G.W. Miller III about how the city’s art scene has evolved over the last 25 years.
What did you see when you first arrived in Philly?
I saw a very vibrant cultural community that had built and supported these wonderful institutions. That said, I knew about Philadanco long before I came to Philadelphia. Philadanco was considered one of the finest African American dance companies in the country. I used to read about them in the New York Times. It’s funny. I think we under-appreciate our institutions here.
How’s it been going in your new role?
I’ve been very encouraged by the support and the goodwill that has come from the cultural community as a whole. I’m renewing old friendships. I worked in the Philadelphia area for a while, for more than 25 years. But for the last 13, I was out in Montgomery County. I was always a Philadelphia resident. I live in Mt. Airy.
I’m just so impressed by the amount of activity, commitment, creativity and innovation that has taken place in the city, even since I have been in Montgomery County. The things that have transpired have been tremendous. Read more…
Joyce Manor headlined a high-energy show to a rowdy crowd at the Union Transfer Wednesday night.
Spirit of The Beehive kicked off the evening with an interesting brand of poppy garage rock that at times bordered on psychedelic. Justin Fox, newly added member of the band on guitar and keyboards and formerly of Kite Party, contributed some of the night’s most interesting sounds.
Dogs on Acid, the recent project featuring former members of Algernon Cadwallader, performed their blend of feel-good rock with uppity-emo. The band was friendly and got the crowd going, asking “What did you do today?” to a mixed response of silly answers throughout the room.
Seattle’s The Exquisites took the stage next, immediately thanking the previous bands for playing, noting Philadelphia’s awesome musical talents. The band added that one of its own members was from Philadelphia before launching into an energetic set that is well-described as “soulful punk music,” featuring fast-paced guitars and drumming to match vocalist Jason Clackley’s impressive voice.
The Woodmere Art Museum prides itself in offering the select sector of Philadelphians who know it exists a way to slow down from the pace of daily life.
In a 19th century, stone Victorian mansion nestled away from a traffic-heavy corner of Germantown Avenue and East Bells Mill Road in Chestnut Hill, the museum showcases the work of a wide range of Philadelphia artists with both rotating exhibits and its permanent collection.
Visiting the Woodmere, which is surrounded by a well-manicured lawn and offers free parking, can be quite a different experience than stopping by one of the downtown institutes like The Barnes Foundation or the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
But happen to stop by on a Friday night, and your experience might not be as tranquil as you would expect. Since 2011, the Woodmere has been putting on “Friday Night Jazz” programming which has not only revved up the museum experience but also the number of visitors and joining members.
A lack of gothic and rock ‘n’ roll-themed sex toys became a golden business opportunity for two Philadelphia women.
Lauren, of South Philadelphia, and Kali, of Center City, launched their webstore RocknRollSexToys.com in January (both women asked that their last names not be used because creepy people might try to track them down).
Combining their love of music with an unusual industry, Lauren says she and Kali wanted to offer products with a bit more character.
“There are a lot of generic products,” says Lauren, who also works as a manager at Creep Records in Northern Liberties. “There’s not a lot of rock ’n’ roll products or fun products. We just saw an opportunity for us to create something in the market.”