Your guide to Philly's diverse creative scene, nightlife, music, food & more
Just this week, I caught up with Philly 360° Creative Ambassador Jeri Lynne Johnson to chat about the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and tomorrow's opening night concert at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.
During this exclusive interview, Jeri Lynne gave us the scoop on Black Pearl's plans for the upcoming year, which include a Black Mozart Concert in the spring and their signature iConduct Festival. Also, along with this weekend's opening night concert, Black Pearl will host their inaugural Denim & Pearls Gala at Philly restaurateur, Dan Stern's Midatlantic Restaurant.
So, checkout the details for this weekend's concert and make sure you grab your ticket soon! You can watch our interview with the fabulously-talented Maestra Jeri Lynne Johnson below.
Saturday, November 5
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
38th and Chestnut Streets
Insider Tip: You can visit Phillyfunguide and sign up for Funsavers to get 1/2 priced tickets for this show!
This year, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts celebrates its 10th Anniversary season by shining the world's brightest stars on Philly's legendary Avenue of the Arts! For over a decade, The Kimmel has been an international arts destination, bringing internationally-acclaimed entertainment experience to town, and also highlighting the work of Philly's own creative community through its resident companies, like Philadanco, The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Pennsylvania Ballet.
For the 10th Anniversary, the Kimmel announced a season-long series of performances, education events and initiatives, under the theme; Lights Up on Home. The 10th anniversary season has kicked off strong! Already, thousands of audience members have filled the Verizon Hall, Pearlman Theater, The Merriam Theater and The Academy of Music and been delighted by stellar performances by Esperanza Spalding, k.d.lang, Herbie Hancock, The Heath Brother and many more! And, that was only the beginning!
So make sure you visit the Kimmel Center website and checkout the full season of performances, programming and special events. To get you started, I've included some top picks below of a few performances in the very near future, that you won't want to miss out on!
Tuesday, October 25 & Wednesday October, 26
250 South Broad Street
Drumline Live stops through Philly during its third U.S. tour! The show's vibrant cast has captured the energy of collegiate marching band programs across the south and now brings it to the stage for an explosion of dance and music. So, be sure to checkout Drumline Live, as it shares the American Marching Band experience with Philly and the world!
Friday, November 4 through Sunday, November 6
7:30 p.m. (Friday & Saturday)
2:30 p.m. (Saturday & Sunday)
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts - Pearlman Theater
260 South Broad Street
The quintessential Philadelphia modern dance troupe, PHILADANCO returns for another season to light up Pearlman Theatre with their signature techniques, infusing all of their movement with color, music, passion and precision. This concert will feature both new work, company standards and Lincoln Center Orchestra drummer Ali Jackson Jr. and other guest musicians will play live as the group premieres Hope Boykin's Watching Go By, the day on Friday and Saturday night ONLY!
Wednesday, November 30
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts - Verizon Hall
260 South Broad Street
Tuesday, December 13
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts - Verizon Hall
260 South Broad Street
International composer, musician and performer, Hannibal Lokumbe joins forces with The Kimmel Center and Philly's own Art Sanctuary to present Can You Hear God Crying? - a musical exploration of Hannibal's heritage and the human experience. This exciting and innovative jazz-infused experience will feature The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Enon Tabernacle Mass Choir, The Music Liberation Orchestra and is sure to be a soul-stirring experience. Don't miss this one-night-only spectacular!
How do you imagine Africa? Do you think of the beauty of African people, the color and vibrancy of their dress or even the intricacy of African artwork and masks? Or, maybe you see yourself and your own heritage? These are a few of the questions posed by the Penn Museum in its newest exhibition and 12-month community engagement project, Imagine Africa.
The Penn Museum has selected works from their extraordinary African collection, and curated an exhibition of 50 items around 8 universal themes, including Fashion, Strength, Healing, The Divine, Power, Creating, Changing and Beauty. The museum's African artifacts, in combination with a variety of interactive activities and multimedia, allow for a more personal and in-depth exploration of the themes' relevance to Africa, the museum's collection and also to the viewer. Throughout the exhibit, the museum has placed whiteboards for visitors to express their ideas on each theme and what could make the collection a more engaging and enlightening experience.
One of my favorite pieces included in the exhibit is the Zulu Love Letter. Instead of writing notes, Zulu women wore pins that contained a combination of shapes and colors to send their messages of love or even displeasure. Other highlights include the 30-foot Interactive Digital Wall where visitors can create their own interpretation of Africa and the African Music Jukebox, where you can explore the eclectic and lively sounds of African music.
Of course, everyone knows you can't fully understand a culture until you have tasted it's cuisine! So, every Saturday through April, the museum's cafe will offer a "Taste of Africa" featuring delectable African dishes, like Roasted Chicken & Fufu, Black Eyed Pea Fritters, Groundnut Stew and more.
Presenting much more than just an exhibit of artifacts through Imagine Africa, the Penn Museum has opened its doors in an unique way and invited the Philadelphia community to be a partner in this project. In addition to the exhibit, the museum will offer exciting programs including ceramic art and African dance workshops, a lecture series, community nights and even a showcase featuring the Philly Youth Poetry Movement.
The Penn Museum plans on using the community feedback gathered through the exhibit to guide and plan for the redesign of their main African Collection. Imagine Africa is a phenomenal project that invites the public to the table in a sincere and groundbreaking way. So, definitely make time to visit and share your thoughts on what Africa means to you.
Now through December 31
701 Arch Street
Last week, I got a sneak preview of The African American Museum of Philadelphia's new exhibition, Mixing Metaphors: The Aesthetic, the Social and the Political in African American Art. This powerful collection of work explores art's role in interpreting the fullness of the African American experience and includes more than 90 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculptures by 36 artists.
Mixing Metaphors is organized into three thematic sections that provide a lens through which to view the art; Reflections and Likeness, Constructing Place and Rituals of Existence. Each of these sections include a fantastic selection of images by noted photographers, all of which provide a very tangible sense of the collection's historical context and significance. The exhibit includes proud images of inner-city youth and southern families, Martin Luther King marching on Washington and on the first non-segregated bus, and intimate images of period icons like John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan and Muhammad Ali.
"This show will bring people into a context of where their life is and what it has been, reflected through other people's memories and experiences." said AAMP curator, Richard Watson during our walk through the exhibition. "You will see young people who will see themselves in these pieces. You will see older people who will see themselves in the memories reflected in these pieces."
Mixing Metaphors presents the work of luminary African-American artists like, photographer, Gordon Parks, storyteller and quilt-artist, Faith Ringgold, and also contains work by significant emerging artists from around the country. Some the show's artists use their work to tell the stories of day-today living, or to reflect on ideas about identity, politics, music or love, while others use more abstract constructs like lines, colors and shapes to explore their subjects. In its entirety, Mixing Metaphors challenges the viewer to examines art's role in our community and how one's own experiences can affect the interpretation of the art.
The exhibit will also include film screening of Separate, But Equal with a discussion with filmmaker Shawn Wilson, art-making workshops with local artists, artists’ talk with local artist Allen Edmunds, whose work is featured in the exhibit, and a musical poetry slam.
Together, the artists found within Mixing Metaphors truly represent the richness found within the African American story and true breadth and diversity found within our artistic community. You can checkout AAMP's website for the full programming schedule and exhibition details.
This weekend, I caught up with master jazz harmonicist, Frederic Yonnet for an exclusive Philly 360 Insider interview to discuss his music and upcoming performance at the Painted Bride. You can read the interview below, but first be sure to watch this awe-inspiring performance by Frederic Yonnet at Philly's own Warmdaddy's during the Hump Wednesday Jam Session.
Saturday, September 24
Performances: 7pm & 9pm
After Party with DJ Joey Blanco: 10:30pm
230 Vine Street
Insider Tip: Use the promo code Philly360 for a 20% off discount on your tickets!
James: I was doing my homework on you and saw a whole bunch of Philly representing on your website! You have your upcoming show at The Painted Bride, and I see you just did music with Philly’s own, Kindred the Family Soul. So have you been to Philly before?
Fred: So as an immigrant from Paris, I had to stop by Philly to get a dose of education and learn the history of the country. I’ve actually performed in Philly before with John Legend at the KImmel Center. We did a fundraiser there. I also performed recently with Kindred the Family Soul at Warmdaddy’s.
James: Well we’re excited to have you back in town!
Fred: And I’m excited to come back! (laughs)
James: Tell me about how you chose to play harmonica. When did you start playing?
Fred: Well I started playing as a young adult. Kind of late, considering that a lot of musicians play when they are like teenagers or even as a child. I started late, but I put a lot of hard work and time into it. One of the things I realized is that the harmonica was always used as a blues, bluegrass or country side-instrument. I realized that there was a big opportunity for the instrument to be exposed to a wider audience and wider styles and genres of music. I basically started digging it and realized there was a lot of need for a renovation of the harmonica.
James: I like that term, the renovation of the harmonica! Did you run into any difficulties by choosing the harmonica? It’s not as traditional as some of the other more standard instruments, like the bass, guitar or drums.
Fred: Well first there were technical difficulties with the particular type of harmonica I’m playing. I had to overcome that before I could consider myself communicating properly with the rest of the musical world. To keep it simple, the harmonica I am playing is called a Diatonic harmonica. It has 20 reeds and each reed gives you one specific note, but it only delivers 19 notes over three octaves. So it only give you some of the white note on the piano, not even all of them! That’s fine when you are playing basic and simple music but when you start to get into something more a little more elaborate, like Gospel, R&B, Funk and then Jazz and Fusion. Oh my gosh, you’re in trouble! (laughs) So I had to figure out the rest of the notes and then create a link between my inner voice and the tools I chose to express myself - the harmonica.
James: Tell me about your upcoming show at the Painted Bride and the music that you will present there. What can your audiences expect?
Fred: Oh wow. Describing in words what is being experienced by your eyes and ears, is always a challenge. I would describe the music as very energetic and very spontaneous as well! We have a starting point of where we are going to play from, but every performance is catered to the vibe we are getting from the audience. So every audience is getting a different show and I’m hoping it changes the way people think about the harmonica once they leave the venue. What they can expect is to forget about whatever happened earlier that week and just to take a musical journey for the few hours we have together and hopefully take that home with them for a long time after that.
James: The list of artists you have have worked with is tremendous and so diverse, everyone from Stevie Wonder to Justin Beiber, India Arie, Kindred the Family Soul, John Legend and even Prince. So what are some of the top highlights of your career thus far.
Fred: You know, it’s funny, it feels like you are living a dream before you get to dream it. I would have never in my wildest expectations or wildest dreams imagined sharing the stage with Stevie Wonder not once but several times in the last few years. So it’s kind of hard for me to pinpoint some top highlights. It’s been a roller-coaster ride and you have highs and lows. You go from fame to starvation but I’m really enjoying that ride. I really am!
James: Is there a particular genre you use to describe your own music?
Fred: It would have to fit in the jazz or jazz fusion genre, for the simple reason that it’s not pop. To people who have never heard it, I like to describe it as the music that fits between Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong with some John Coltrane sprinkled on top with a serious funk foundation.
James: That’s a serious line-up and world of influence!
Fred: Yeah, but those happen to be the people I really go back to when I feel like I am empty of ideas. They are just a few of the anchors that I really to place myself between. Stevie of course, is a humongous influence. Prince as well, not just for his musical and artistic perspectives, but for the way he promotes himself and manages his musical business. With all those artist, you have to be smart enough to hear what they say not only through their work, but also through their actions.
James: Can you tell me a little bit about your current project, Reed My Lips and also about your concept of a “Reality CD”.
Fred: Sure, and as a matter of fact I invite you to be a part of the process! The idea is to open the doors of the studio to the audience and share the creative process. I want to share some snapshots of the creative process of putting a CD together with the audience. People are very interested in the process of things right now and I feel like I could benefit from their creative perspectives as well, if I only open the door and give them an opportunity to express themselves. It’s always interesting to plant a seed in somebody else’s mind and see what come out of it. You might actually get some cool ideas and we have already ! So right now on the website, you have access to the rough cuts of the album and we’ve actually started to upload new updated version of those songs. It’s almost like a membership, where you can comeback and download the album at several stages of evolution. So are you going to join us?
James: I definitely will join you! I think it’s so excellent when musicians, artist and art spaces invite the audience in for a very personal experience that feels catered to them. It feels that is the way music and art is moving. We're no longer going into a bubble to create and then presenting something to audiences, but we're opening the door to give the public insight into the process and sometimes even a slight hand at guiding its direction. It really creates something meaningful for both sides!
Fred: I definitely agree with that. You know a lot of artists are very protective about their work while they are creating it and then all of a sudden when they are done with it - they feel like they are ready to release it to the world. But the moment of creativity is what I want to explore the most. I feel like it’s about curing the fear factor of creating and exposing to the audience. You know the anxiety you can have when it’s time to pull the sheet off the sculpture? or turn the light on the painting? You know what I mean? I remember when I was younger, watching some very interesting videos of Picasso painting over a piece of glass. You could see the whole painting taking life on the other side of the canvas. I never forgot that piece and I think it inspired the Reed My Lips project, as least from a musical perspective.
James: What’s next for your career and your musical ventures? What should we be on the lookout for? Any big goals on the horizon?
Fred: My big goal is to put a harmonica in everybody’s mouths! (laughs) Everybody needs a harmonica! I really love that instrument, it's really understated. Anybody who really starts looking at its limitations will find a world of possibilities. The big lesson I learned by playing the harmonic is that the limitations aren’t within the instrument but they are only in the mind. So if you start from that perspective, tomorrow is really open to you in ways you can’t expect.
Visit www.fredyonnet.com to find the latest information on Fred’s music and performances.
Friday, September 16 & Saturday, September 17
3680 Walnut Street
Philly get ready for the dynamic and high-energy dance production, The Radio Show! Part of the 2011 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival / Philly Fringe, The Radio Show explores the power of black radio, community and family and promises to be an electric performance exploding with phenomenal dancers and a fantastic score of hip hop, classic soul and other urban music. I caught up with choreographer Kyle Abraham, the mastermind behind this production, for a special Philly 360° Insider interview. Check it out below!
You can get more information and buy your tickets here. Also, watch the below video for a special inside look at The Radio Show and a chance to see the amazing dancers of Abraham.In.Motion in action!
We're really excited to have your piece "The Radio Show" come to Philly! What are some of your favorite things to do while in town?
I used to come to Philly to see my good friend, Megan Bridge perform in the Fringe but haven't been in years. I love being in Philly for First Fridays and seeing work by local artists in both the performing and visual arts communities.
So how long have you been dancing? How did you decide to pursue this as your career/profession?
I started dancing when I was going into my senior year of High School. I think I decided it would be or could be my career pathway when I realized that I couldn't live without it in my life.
When did you decide to start your dance company Abraham.In.Motion?
The company made it's official premiere season in Pittsburgh, PA in 2006.
What can Philly expect when coming out to see The Radio Show?
Above all things, good music. I've built a sound score based around music that I've grown up listening to with my family and friends. The Radio Show touches on many generations of urban music.
What was your inspiration for developing The Radio Show?
How did you approach the movement/choreography for this production?
A lot of the material was built by either phrase work I created on myself or movement created on the dancers throughout the process.
I was checking out the score and it looks like an amazing selection of music. How did you select the music for this show? How does the music support/interact with the movement and story of The Radio Show?
The music was selected by my connection to it. I grew up listening to music by artists like Mtume and Peaches and Herb at a time when everyone in my family had a jheri curl... Those are the type of memories I'll never forget.
How can the Philly 360 followers stay informed about your work and the Abraham.In.Motion dance company? Facebook? Twitter? Web?
Celebrate Philly's Latin flavor with Hispanic Heritage Month! Starting September 15, the city kickoffs a month-long celebration of Latin heritage with an abundance of art, music, festivals and of course some delicious Latin cuisine. There will be tons of events happening all across town, like Taller Puertorriqueño’s exhibit Este Lado del Paraíso, The Phillies’ Latino Family Celebration at Citizens Bank Park, and the 49th Annual Regional Puerto Rican Day Parade - just to name a few!
Even the city's With Love, Philadelphia XOXO®is joining the fun! Each week during Hispanic Heritage Month, Philadelphia's official Facebook and Twitter pages will feature Con Cariño, Philadelphia XOXO® love letters, highlighting Philly's rich Latino culture and neighborhoods!
This city-wide festival runs through October 15, so be sure to get out there and experience Philly's Latino flavor, culture and style! Here are a few of my top picks to get you started!
Saturday, September 17 & 18
3400 West Girard Avenue
On September 17 and 18, The Philadelphia Zoo's Creatures of Culture series highlights the beauty of Central and South America's endangered species and focuses on things we can do to help. Visitors also get a chance to taste the delectable cuisine of Latin-America and experience the talents of local performance groups.
Sunday, September 18
5th Street between Lehigh & Cambria Avenue
Join Taller Puertorriqueño as they present Feria Del Barrio, a community festival complete with Latin cuisine, artists, singers, dancers and much more! Families and friends can stroll along the the golden sidewalks of El Centro de Oro, the heart of Philly's Latino community and enjoy this fantastic day-long celebration full of the colors of Philly and Latin America.
Sunday, September 25
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Back for it's 49th year, The Puerto Rican Day Parade is a staple of the Philadelphia cultural landscape. The largest and oldest celebration in Philadelphia celebrating Latin heritage, this vibrant and music-filled parade begins at noon at 16th and JFK Boulevard and marches along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, ending with a party at Eakins Oval by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
September 12 - 16 & 18 - 23
Foodies can get in on the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration too! Taste mouthwatering and delectable dishes during Center City District Restaurant Week, when more than 100 restaurants offer three-course lunches for $20 and three-course dinners for $35. Experience Latin flavors with the Restaurant Week menus at plenty of local favorites, like Alma de Cuba, Amada, Chifa, Cuba
Libre Restaurant, El Vez, Lolita, Tinto and more!
Friday, September 2 through Saturday, September 17
Starting Friday, Philly will explode with 16 days of artistic madness as we kickoff the 15th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival / Philly Fringe! This world renown arts festival is a definitely true arts and culture revival, presenting over 200 shows all over town and bringing together thousands of artists and eager art appreciators.
This year the Live Arts portion of the festival will present 13 shows from around the world that have attracted international attention and acclaim for their innovation and artistic excellence. The Philly Fringe returns this year with over 200 shows, that continue to build on their reputation for bold, daring work presented by local artists and professional companies.
With so many performances packed into this 16-day festival, deciding what show to see can be a little daunting. But don't worry, I've pulled together a list of My Top Live Arts / Fringe Picks - you'll definitely want to check these shows out!
You can click here for the full festival schedule!
250 South Broad Street
This is a high-energy show, featuring explosive urban acrobats tumbling through hoops, leaping between giant poles and performing death-defying feats! Traces is an exciting melding pot of theater, contemporary dance, acrobatics and music - all combined with the unbridled energy of seven amazing performers.
3680 Walnut Street
Where would the black community be without Black Radio? Are we still listening? Is radio falling away? And will our voice fade away with it? These are all questions asked in choreographer Kyle Abraham's newest work The Radio Show. The Radio Show is an exploration through dance of Kyle's fond childhood memories listening to AM and FM black radio stations in Pittsburgh and the void felt when these stations went off-air. A cast of seven sensational African-American dancers, including Abraham create an amazing visual tapestry and storyline to complement the classic soul and hip-hop filled score.
Friday, September 16 - Saturday, September 17
The Maas Building
1325 North Randolph Street
Witness the world-renown Flamenco artist, Rosario Toledo as she performs her vibrant and exciting work commissioned by local arts organization, Pasion y Arte. This performance is a sneak peek at this project in its experimental stage, before the world premier at the March 2012 First Philadelphia Flamenco Festival.
Friday, September 9 - Sunday, September 11
3680 Walnut Street
James Baldwin was one of the most sought after speakers of his time, engaging and challenging the world on its views of race, sexuality and politics. Join 1828.1 Production Company as they bring Baldwin's life back to the stage for this stirring performance.
Monday, September 12 - Wednesday, September 14
507 South 8th Street
Society Hill Playhouse provides an intimate backdrop for this heartfelt production exploring the power of self acceptance and love. The play's main character, Christina decides to take her life. A she shares the life experiences that have led to her suicide attempt, she must find a way to face the one person who stands in her way - herself.