FROM THE VAULT: A Man Called Francis, Part 2

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview first published on October 19th, 2006. BY JONATHAN VALANIA Welcome to part two of our bazillion-word interview with esteemed jazz critic Francis Davis, wherein our man Fran will be talking non-smack about Coltrane in Philly, Sun Ra on Uranus and the pre-historic beginnings of Fresh Air. If you are just finding us for the first time, you can find Part One here, along with his illustrious CV. When we last left our hero, he was beaten, bloodied and long haired, handcuffed in the back of Philadelphia Police Department paddy wagon charged with aggravated assault and battery […]

FROM THE VAULT: A Man Called Francis, Part 1

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published back in 2006. It’s still a fascinating read. Welcome to the second installment of our Grumpy Old Men series, wherein we learn from our elders and soak up their salty yarns like Bounty Quicker Picker-Upper. Yesterday we had Robert Christgau, today Francis Davis. Tomorrow? The Pope. What’s that you say? You never heard of Francis Davis. Oh buddy, it’s good thing you found us! Check out his CV: He has written about music, film, and other aspects of popular culture for The Atlantic since 1984 and was appointed lead jazz critic for the Voice […]

INCOMING: The Manson Family Revisited

? ROLLING STONE: A new six-part docuseries revisits the Manson Family murders for a definitive portrait of the infamous cult. Its trailer promises plenty of archival footage, plus haunting re-creations and interviews with the Family that have never been revealed until now. “He was a puppet master pulling everyone’s strings,” says a Family member in a voiceover. Another adds, “I was definitely under Charlie’s spell.” (June 14) MORE

THE COLONEL REMEMBERS: Nirvana At JC Dobbs

Sad, sad news. We received word today that Tom Sheehy, aka The Colonel — longtime Philly music publicist/scenester/historian, storied music biz vet, barroom philosopher, perennial guest list fixture, late-blooming recipient of a Ph.D. in 20th-century American History from Penn, colonel in the ‘MMaRmy, and frequent Phawker contributor — passed away this weekend. This week we will honor his memory by re-posting some of his greatest Phawker hits. We conclude our weeklong tribute to The Colonel with his 2011 remembrance of the night Nirvana honored a longstanding booking at J.C. Dobbs on October 1st 1991, one week after the release of […]

BEING THERE: Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival @ MassMOCA

Photo by JOANN LOVIGLIO EDITOR’S NOTE: Heading up to Solid Sound Festival (aka Wilco-Con) tomorrow — throwing this up to get in the mood. FYI, that immaculate recording of Wilco’s set at 2017’s Solid Sound that I link to below is full-on Band of Tweedy godhead, if you’re into that kind of thing. “A few years ago timed slowed down, we got a diagnosis [wife Sue Miller was diagnosed with Lymphoma] that derailed things so we played songs to each other, me and [my son] Spencer, to speed up the time. Killing time without hurting anyone else. That’s what [the […]

Win Tix To See David Sedaris @ The Keswick

Illustration by RANDY GLASS This is neither the time nor the place for johnny-come-lately arrivistes to learn about the 11 acclaimed and beloved books of caustic elegance David Sedaris has published since failing upwards from his job as a Christmas elf at Macy’s in 1992. Today we are not serving your kind, so try Wikipedia. Sorry to be harsh, but the Keswick show is way sold out, so this one goes out to the lifers, the true believers, or perhaps more aptly, the true non-believers. You and me, pal, we’re the loonies. Did you know that? I bet you didn’t […]

BEING THERE: Polish American Family Festival

One of the most famous relics of Polish identity is the painting of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa [pictured, above]. Poles who migrated to this country and longed for some aspect of their home, some celebration of their identity, set up a chapel in the 1950s up in Doylestown dedicated to the Black Madonna. These days, the shrine is impressively large, in fact it’s one of the largest monuments to the Polish identity around. Last weekend, Doylestown hosted the Polish American Family Festival & Fair celebrating diverse aspects of the Polish identity, from music to food to beer and dancing. […]

THE LADY OF THE LOG: Q&A w/ Catherine Coulson

Artowrk by JJUSTINE DEVINE EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on September 28th, 2015. In advance of Sunday night’s long-anticipated reactivation of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, we present this reprise edition. EDITOR’S NOTE 4/25/16: Just found out the sad and shocking news that Katherine passed away today. In tribute, we present a reprise edition of this very in-depth interview we did with her last October in advance of her talk at the Pennsylvania Academy Of The Arts, which was part of PAFA’s David Lynch retrospective, The Unified Field. She was very generous with her time — this was probably the […]

FROM THE VAULT: Q&A With Dean Wareham

BY JONATHAN VALANIA Back in the ’60s, Andy Warhol’s Factory — his studio-cum-playpen situated in a brick-walled walk-up on 47th Street in Manhattan — was the epicenter of all things edgy, artsy and, ultimately, profoundly influential. Dylan, Edie Sedgwick, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Nico, and The Velvet Underground all came and went, and most sat for one of Warhol’s screen tests — a three-minute black and white stare-down between the camera and subject. There are some 500 of them in the Warhol archives. Recently the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh commissioned ex-Galaxie 500/Luna mainman Dean Wareham — whose cred as […]

THE GODFATHER OF GRUNGE: Q&A With Butch Vig, Garbage Drummer/Producer Extraordinaire

Photo by AUTUMN DEWILDE EDITOR’S NOTE: A considerably shorter version of this interview appeared in the November 10th edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Enjoy. BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE INQUIRER The Smart Studios Story documents the rise and fall of the legendary recording studio founded by acclaimed producer Butch Vig and his partner Steve Marker, where they recorded Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, Death Cab For Cutie and, most importantly, Nirvana’s Nevermind. The film tracks the evolution of Smart Studios from its humble DIY beginnings as a glorified punk rock treehouse with free beer to the center of the alt-rock universe in […]

CAPTAIN’S LOG: A Fanboy Q&A w/ William Shatner

Artwork by PIERRE-LUC FAUBERT BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR PHILLY.COM Pretend, for the length of this introduction, you are me. Your earliest television memory is Star Trek, back when you thought you could talk to the people on TV simply by yelling at the screen. In the ‘70s, Star Trek reruns ran in seeming perpetuity. You watched every episode many times over, your thirst for the show was unquenchable and you became the ultimate fanboy — an obsessive, jock-mocked, girl-repellent Trekkie. You still have your copy of the Star Fleet Technical Manual you bought at the mall with your paper route […]

Q&A With Nick Spitzer, Professor Of American Boogie & Host Of NPR’s American Routes

Illustration by ALEX FINE EDITOR’S NOTE: Like many of you, we were deeply disappointed to learn that WHYY-FM has elected to drop American Routes from their weekend programming, where it has been a fixture for more than a decade. (Boo-stink!) But fear not local lovers of Americana, WXPN has stepped in and offered American Routes a home on its airwaves. American Routes will air on Sundays from 3-5 pm starting Sunday June 19th. (Hooray!) To celebrate, we are re-running our in-depth 2009 interview with American Routes host Nick Spitzer. Enjoy!) BY JONATHAN VALANIA Nick Spitzer is a folkorist, ethnographer, professor […]