For anyone attending Art Star’s tenth annual craft extravaganza this weekend, it’s a good idea to have some sort of plan of attack mapped out before entering the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. With 100+ vendors competing for your time and attention, knowing which ones you definitely want to target might make the afternoon a little less overwhelming. So here’s five to consider adding to your must-see list.
Note: I’ve purposely chosen to exclude the local artisans who I’ve now written about numerous times on this here blog. For instance, Joey Five Cents, Penelope Rakov, exit343 designs, Yardsale Press, Phea Jean, BirdQueen Designs, Concrete Polish Jewels, Made with Awesome, Jay McCarroll, etc.
USB Typewriter (#51)
OK, so this is one of the most awesome inventions I’ve seen in a long time. Rather than simply collecting dust as useless piece of décor, now you can finally transform a broken, vintage typewriter into a functional keyboard for your Mac or PC using their easy conversion kit (which only cost about $79!). The USB Typewriter also makes for a perfect keyboard dock for your iPad or tablet.
Whether it’s an accent table, cabinet or candleholder, any one of this Kensington-based company’s handmade rustic, modern furnishings would make for a beautiful addition to your home. They are also all made using reclaimed wood and metals.
Meera Lee Patel (#65)
One of only a few newcomers chosen to take part in this year’s bazaar, the New Jersey artist will be showcasing and selling a wide array of items, from original paintings and illustrated paper goods to hand-sewn tea towels and pillows.
Overall Baby (#37)
What could be more adorable than infants and toddlers in overalls? Infants and toddlers in custom-made overalls with fun textiles and prints. The picture pretty much speaks for itself.
Comfort is paramount when it comes to this New York-based designer’s eccentric line of hand-sewn apparel and accessories. Hopefully, she’ll be bringing along a few of her super cute winter accessories, despite them now being out of season.
On Saturday, April 27th, Broad Street was flooded with artists, electronic dinosaurs, acrobats, circus acts and dancers for the PIFA Street Fair.
Below is a gallery of photos from the day’s festivities. Click on any photo to make it larger and learn more.
The Inquirer’s Kevin Riordan spotlighted Philadelphia’s fluorishing local poetry culture via the excellent Apiary Magazine last week. From the piece itself: “Apiary’s first issue appeared in 2010. The magazine is Philly-centric but hardly parochial; 730 men, women, and children from all over the country submitted poetry and short fiction for the forthcoming Apiary 6.” And “Apiary, a print and online literary magazine as energetic and eclectic as the Philly poetry scene it nurtures.”
By the way, an apiary is, by Webster’s definition: “a place where bees are kept; especially a collection of hives or colonies of bees kept for their honey.” Just an FYI.
In a way, poetry’s never really been as sexy as it should be. It’s the art of words, an art form that dwells in ideas and nuance. And an intuitive and sensitive mind, one that cherishes the technicality of expression, doesn’t always lead to a well-attended and buzzworthy event. Poets have often been outsiders, too, writers who’ve known the burden of constant thought interpretation. The poetry reading and writers workshop has always been a haven of judgement-free safety. In the best way possible, the love of letters and expression of free literary thought has been a historic playground for freaks, outcasts, weirdos and philosophers.
With these two big events next week, there’s an opportunity to see just how diverse and lively Philly is as a poetry breeding ground. Apiary’s big on promoting poetry events in Philadelphia, and they’re pushing these two: the Philadelphia Poetry Grand Slam FINALS and the Philly Youth Poetry Movement Grand Slam FINALS. The more-adult Grand Slam Finals are on Friday night, May 3rd, at PhilaMOCA, but it’s still all ages; it’s at 8:30pm, and tickets are $8 in advance (and a little more at the door) and $15 for VIP. The young kids’ll be selling out the Art Museum (the Van Pelt Auditorium) with a quick 5:30pm door and 6pm sharp show time; tickets are $7 for students and the youth and $15 for adults. A special appearance is planned by the Swarthmore College Poetry Team, and last year over 400 people showed up for some slammin’.
Oh, and by the way, Apiary’s been highlighting local writers’ favorite poems all month, so I thought it’d be nice to share one of those here and now. This is Helen W. Mallon’s pick, a writer/writing coach/book reviewer, a(n excerpt from a) poem by Louise Erdrich called “Advice to Myself”:
“Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw out the cracked bowl and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and the the dead
foaming up in grey rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses the toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic–decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks….“
Once again, the 2013 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts will celebrate the end of its month-long, citywide performances and events with an all-day extravaganza, consuming six blocks along the Avenue of the Arts and capturing all the mystery and magic of the festival’s “If You Had a Time Machine” theme. Should you be thinking the street fair sounds like one big lame-fest, here’s five reasons why you should consider checking it out:
1. It’s free, dammit! For absolutely no cost, you’ll enjoy an eclectic mix of live tunes, including the Brazilian beats of Philly Bloco and piping-hot jazz of the Blackbird Society Orchestra, as well as a variety of unique street performers—from jugglers and acrobats to post-apocalyptic stilt-walkers and a nine-foot tall robot.
2. It’ll be your last chance to walk through the Kimmel Center’s Time Machine, then spend several minutes trying to figure out what the hell it actually does. Seriously, does anyone get that thing?
3. You’ll get to discover new local eats and treats. Aside from carnival staples like cotton candy, hot dogs and ice cream, the diverse line-up of food vendors will be serving up practically every type of cuisine you can imagine.
4. There’s fun for the whole family. If you’ve got youngsters, this is one event where you’re definitely going to want to bring them along. After a ride on the Ferris wheel, kiddies can make their way through three elevated obstacle courses, then mingle with animatronic and puppet dinosaurs in the Dinosaur Petting Zoo.
5. Because everyone else you know probably is. The inaugural fair in 2011 attracted nearly 200,000 people. So do you really want to be that one schlub who doesn’t go, then have to spend an entire year hearing about it until PIFA returns in 2015?
Sat., April 27. 11am-7pm. Free. South Broad St., between Chestnut & South Sts. pifa.org/streetfair
For some music geeks, it’s practically a holy day. Loads and loads of labels and bands release, re-release and reissue all kinds of obscure stuff. Let’s be real: Most of it’s on vinyl. And for music nerds out of the vinyl loop, you’ll probably be sorely disappointed. Sure, there’s a bunch of discs and box sets for your purchasing pleasure, but this is a day for the unconventional lo-fi music nerd who’s convinced that digital music and CDs are the last medium for sonic consumption.
First, let’s just quickly plug some of our local bastions of non-iTunes brick-and-mortar havens of shopping for hard copy tuneage for this Saturday’s Record Store Day.
Long In The Tooth (2027 Sansom Street) has been posting little blips of Record Store Day arrivals via their Facebook page, like this one: “more just showed up… Light quantities of Double Dagger lp, Burger Records Cassette, Kill Rock Stars Cassette, De la soul 3 ft high 3xlp, Komeda Lp, Captain Beefheart Lp very limited!!, Beak 10″, Eminem Infinite lp, Frank Ocean Nostalgia lp, Half Japanese Lp Boxset very limited!, Jay z/Kanye watch the throne 2xlp, probably more to follow.”
AKA Music (27 N 2nd Street) has a slew of RSD releases along with this great little in-store performance lineup, also via their Facebook page: “AKA MUSIC & PHILEBRITY PRESENT ***RECORD STORE DAY 2013!*** WITH PERFORMANCES FROM: RESTORATIONS (SET TIME: 4PM) (http://restorations.bandcamp.com/) BRIDGE UNDERWATER (SET TIME: 3PM) (http://bridgeunderwater.com/) HEYWARD HOWKINS (SET TIME: 2PM) (http://heywardhowkins.bandcamp.com/) MIKELE EDWARDS (SET TIME: 1PM) (https://soundcloud.com/medwards) AND THANKS TO NARRAGANSETT FOR THE POUNDERS, BRAH!”
Repo Records (538 South Street) actually has a great lil’ website/blog, plus they’re giving away sweet screen-printed posters, and there’ll be cheap beers: “For Record Store Day this Saturday (April the 20th) to our first 100 customers we’re gonna be giving away a 14×17 limited edition, 3 color silk screened poster! Inspired by a movie poster and made by hand these babies are all yours if you’re lucky enough to get here in time. So come on down and get some awesome records (the Big Star record…) and some free stuff!”
Those are just a few of our favorites. Here’s a more complete list with some links to their respective websites of area record stores participating. In the meantime, here are some picks for exciting RSD-specific moments of release:
A dozen finds, if you can find em’, via Pitchfork’s The Top 45 Releases of Record Store Day 2013:
The Black Keys/the Stooges: “No Fun” split 7″
The Stooges’ classic backed by the Black Keys’ cover on tye-died orange vinyl.
Brian Eno/Grizzly Bear: Nicolas Jaar remix 12″
Eno’s “LUX 2″ and Grizzly Bear’s “Sleeping Ute”, both remixed by Jaar.
GZA: Liquid Swords Chess Box
[Get on Down]
Two LPs of the original album, two LPs of the instrumentals packaged in a 12×12 box that doubles as a chess set (!!!!!!!!! – our emphasis). It also comes with a sticker pack.
Stephen Malkus and Friends: Can’s Ege Bamyasi 12″
Recorded at last year’s Week-End Fest in Cologne, this features Malkmus, backed by Cologne band Von Spar, covering Can’s 1977 album in its entirety. Pressed on green vinyl, comes with a Japanese resealable mylar bag.
MGMT: “Alien Days” cassette
Cassette single of a new track from the band’s upcoming album. Comes with digital download of the song.
Public Enemy: Planet Earth 12″ picture disc
A greatest hits compilation re-recorded and mastered for vinyl to celebrate their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
Rhye: “Open” 12″
The original, the instrumental, and a live version available on vinyl for the first time.
Shearwater and Sharon Van Etten: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” 7″
A cover of the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty track along with a new song called “A Wake for the Minotaur.” For more Sharon Van Etten, Jagjaguwar is releasing the “We Are Fine” 7″.
Titus Andronicus: Record Store Day 12″
Local Business track “Still Life with Hot Deuce and Silver Platter” and two new songs: “(I’ve Got A) Date Tonight” and “The Dog”.
Various Artists: Astralwerks: 20/20 box
Exclusive and rare tracks from 20 artists to celebrate the label’s 20-year history, all pressed onto flexi discs. Features Kraftwerk, Hot Chip, Air, the Chemical Brothers, Royksopp, Empire of the Sun, Fatboy Slim and more.
Various Artists: Kill Rock Stars: The Compilations cassette box set
[Kill Rock Stars]
Three out-of-print cassette samplers reissued. Features music by Nirvana, Bikini Kill, Smog, Melvins and many more.
The White Stripes: Elephant
10th anniversary reissue. One LP pressed on red and black vinyl, the other pressed on white.
10 Things We Saw, Heard, And Learned At Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival At Madison Square Garden Last Night
This is a fairly atypical ‘10 Things’ for a number of reasons: this show wasn’t in Philadelphia (it was a 4.5-hour seated Madison Square Garden show), I’m writing it on a Bolt Bus (though, not the first time one was written in transit to/from New York City), I’m writing with limited internet access and therefore writing without the power to provide tons of researched insight, and the faint odor of bus toilet is drifting in and out of my nostrils. But anyway, my dad and his best high school buddies planned to get together for this fourth installment of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival and I got to tag along. Here are 10 things I saw, heard and learned:
1. The Crossroads Rehabilition Centre in Antigua is an important effort to Clapton, who’s no doubt experienced and overcome addiction in his lengthy career. The Centre, founded by Clapton and Richard Conte (CEO of the Priory Hospitals Group of London), and focuses on drug and addiction rehabilitation in a holistic manner in the idyllic environs of the Carribean. It’s amazing how he put together this humongous roster of guitarists to join him on stage and to support a pretty big-ticket sold out weekend at MSG. The whole effort from Clapton also completely informs my review of his most recent record, Old Sock (”Sounds Like: Well, he’s 67 and still playing, I guess; these Raggae and surfy versions of Otis Redding and Peter Tosh are sunny and stonery, dude’s chilling hard. Free Association: Slowhand Lebowski loves Hawaiian shirts and bucket hats.”) No disrespect!
2. Clapton opened the show promptly at 7:30pm (ticketing information advised concert-goers be in their seats by 7:20pm) with “Driftin’” (or “Driftin’ Blues”), a delicately acoustic, soft opening. After one song, he did “Tears in Heaven” and all I could think about was how devastating this song once was a result of his stirring “Unplugged” version of it that’s over 20 years old already. Then he did “Wonderful Tonight,” a beautiful and classic old romantically slow elegy to the beauty of his date at a party. The crowd, nearly 50% sat, sang along enthusiastically. A lovely mom/grandma-type tried to clap along and did so on the off beats; not unpleasantly, just sayin’. More on this later. Vince Gill came out and did “Lay Down Sally” with him and it was totally lovely.
3. Yup, it was an old crowd. I felt extremely young and that felt, fine, a little nice. There were lots of bad ponytails (on dudes), greyheads, and couples in their 50s and 60s. It was actually kind of nice. A relatively sophisticated change of pace from getting bumped and pushed around at, say, Union Transfer, the Troc or the TLA. Yet, the same frustrating tropes were still there: folks moving around the whole show, going to the bathroom, buying extra-expensive beers (Bud and Bud Light bottlers were $9), and trying to take tons of pictures on their smartphone. A fascinating thought I had that stays with me hours later is, what kind of band or artist would galvanize an MSG full of people my age in 30 years? I can’t even start answering that. This is a generation that loved music on vinyl, on eight-tracks and before the internet existed. They made out in backseats of cars to these songs and danced at proms to these guitar-heavy hits. Will YouTube hits determine a My Generation version of this roster?
4. Booker T. & The MG’s came on next with an introduction from Dan Akroyd, who played emcee for the night. They did “Green Onions” and everything; he was joined by Matt “Guitar” Murphy,” Keb’ Mo’ and a handful of others and delivered some gems. The STAX legend sounded pretty stellar, and for that matter, the sound for the whole night was crisp and strong. There was an amazing rotating stage with a screen of LED panels that lifted, and the circular stage spun to allow for tech to set up and soundcheck while another set was performed.
5. Akroyd introduced Robert Craig, and shortly thereafter, Craig introduced B.B. King. Holy shit. Dude’s 87. He hobbled onstage and into a seat and was quickly left, only to look around for help because his guitar wasn’t plugged in. Man, that dude can still man-handle a guitar AND sing like the dickens. It was amazing watching his side-positioned mic pick up his singing because he was barely aiming at the mic head. He sang “I don’t care if you’re young or old / You only live once / And when you’re dead you’re done.” Amen, dude. He did “Sweet Sixteen” with such a smile on his face, it was contagious. It was at that moment that I thought ‘Man, it’d be cool if B.B. was my grandaddy.’ Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever see B.B. King live. His blues is real, deep blues. When he sings “Nobody loves me / Nobody sees me here,” you’re like ‘Damn. That’s the blues.’
6. Doyle Bramhall II was the next feature and he was joined by Citizen Cope and Gary Clark Jr. After one song, he brought on a beautifully enchanting young lady to provide a guest vocal and I can’t figure out her name, even though I thought I heard Ellis Smith. She was in a beautiful white sheath dress and her hair was perfectly unkempt and bounced as she felt every note and emoted like a thoughtful chanteuse. It prompted the thought – ‘Jeese, this is a boy’s club, isn’t it?’ Not a single female walked on stage to shred. My dad even said ‘A young lady! I’d love to see her pick up a guitar but it looks like she’s gonna sing.’ It prompted a brainstorm: Who’d be invited if a female were to pick up a guitar on this hallowed stage? Bonnie’s been at a Crossroads before, so she’d be the #1 nominee. Maybe Sheryl Crow (but she and Clapton have a past – remember “My Favorite Mistake”?). Chrissie Hynde, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, or Emmylou Harris? In a way more and unlikely modern vein, I thought maybe Marnie Stern, St. Vincent, Carrie Brownstein or PJ Harvey. But the theme of the night was way bluesy with a focus on virtuoso skills. It just would’ve been nice to see some estrogen on stage.
7. John Mayer proved to be a shockingly fitting addition to the night, and, as it turns out, was one of the few four-Crossroads performers. At this point, we’d been in our seats for over three hours. He did a beautiful version of a favorite Mayer track of mine, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” and wowed with his guitar skills and head of hair. The man is handsome. His most currently popular special guest was Keith Urban, and together they did “Don’t Let Me Down,” an old Beatles staple. It really got the crowd going, again, an accomplishment in that it was one of the first songs to elicit a standing, rowdy round of applause. It was great energy.
8. Perhaps the most memorable set of the night came courtesy of Buddy Guy, who was joined by Robert Randolph and his protege, an astoundingly-talented 14-year-old guitar prodigy named Quinn Sullivan. The energy was just sick; the most thrilling of the night. Mouths were agape and looks were shared that expressed ‘Can you believe this kid?’ It wasn’t just the kid, though, Guy was on fire. His blues are deep and dark, too, and came from a similar place that B.B.’s came from; dudes have been through A LOT and everyone wasn’t necessarily shocked but definitely wowed by the prowess of these oldheads.
9. The night finished off with a lively set from the Allman Brothers. Dan Akroyd introduced them as lords of vinyl, beacons of southern and blues rock for four decades. We’d also been in our seats for four hours when they took the stage. They nailed their set, though, doing “Ain’t My Cross to Bear,” “Statesboro Blues,” and an AWESOME version of “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” with Eric Clapton, an amazing Derek and the Dominos song. When “Whipping Post” began, the crowd started to shuffle out. It totally ripped.
10. I didn’t know what I was going into on my Bolt Bus ride to the city on Friday afternoon, and as my bus crept through early evening Friday traffic up Eighth Avenue, and I hemmed and hawed over the inching traffic, I wouldn’t have been so angry had I known I was about to see the lineup of a lifetime. B.B. King and Buddy Guy, y’all!
* Photos c/o the Fest’s Facebook page. Mine were terrible.
If their recent accolades are any indication, folks are finally starting to catching on to what I’ve known for the past two years: East Passyunk Avenue is awesome.
Tomorrow, the avenue’s 150 independently owned shops and 30-plus award-winning eateries won’t be celebrating April’s “Second Saturday” in the usual fashion. Rather, they’re collectively promising to deliver EPA’s largest Second Saturday to-date.
In addition to various sales, art openings, tastings and music performances, the line-up of happenings includes the grand openings of two new businesses: Occasionette Gift Shop (5-10pm, 1825 EPA) and the city’s second location of Oliver & Company Tea Room (1613 EPA).
On Wednesday, the East Passyunk Business Improvement District is hosting a party around the Singing Fountain (Passyunk & Tasker) to celebrate having just been dubbed one of the “10 Best Foodie Streets in America” in the May 2013 issue of Food & Wine Magazine. From 5-7 p.m., all are invited to come and make a group toast with a photo around the Fountain while enjoying the folk tunes of DisCanto. Meanwhile, several nearby restaurants including, Stateside and Fond will be offering happy hour specials.
This is all of course, leading up to Flavors of the Avenue on Sat., April 27, the neighborhood’s annual outdoor food and drink festival featuring a record-setting 25 restaurants.
Anyway, back to the events going down tomorrow, here’s a few that stood out to me:
Le Virtu – Enjoy omplimentary stuzzichini (snacks) and wine while admiring the photographs of Kateri Likoudis, all taken in south/central Italian region of Abruzzo in the late spring and fall of 2012. Abruzzese folk group DisCanto will also perform. (1-3pm, 1927 EPA)
Nice Things…Handmade – Check out new recent paintings of local artist Bridget Mccafferty, the printing hands behind Typsy Gypsy Tees. Meet the artist and enjoy refreshments. (6-10pm, 1731 EPA)
HOME | A Furnishings Boutique – For this new photo and art exhibition, Philly-based artists Felicia Perretti and Hawk Krall have teamed up to showcase the most well-known food spots along East Passyunk. (6pm, 1815 EPA)
Lucky 13 – The bar/restaurant will be showcasing the artwork of Paul Carpenter as well as a trunk show by Sweet Jane Vintage. In addition to the drink specials, Sweet Jane’s vintage finds will be 20-50 percent off. (1-5pm, 1820 S. 13th St.)
N.R.S. Boutique – Take 20 percent off all items in the store. (11:30am-8pm, 1822 EPA)
Ms Goody Cupcake – Foodspotting is celebrating its third anniversary with a special party with cake truffles buy 2 get 1 free, $2 dollar special flavor cupcakes and spring flavor sampling. You’ll also score a free coffee with any purchase in morning. (9am-4pm, 1838 EPA)
Frame Fatale – Opening reception for “Postcards from the Ledge: Philadelphia Windows,” featuring the black and white photography of RA Friedman. More specifically, the photographer will be presenting a selection of captured reflections and odd spaces of the Philly landscape in silvery postcard-sized prints. (6-9pm, 1813 EPA)
Metro Men’s Clothing – Enjoy 15 percent off and complimentary cocktails while you shop. (1615 EPA)
Noir Philadelphia – After making your way down the avenue, stop in for a late night happy hour. The deals include $1 off drafts, $4 wine, $4 well drinks and half-off select appetizers at the bar. (9-11pm, 1909 EPA)