The best rock show this week in Philadelphia happened 29 years ago in Toronto, which either means the winter doldrums are officially upon us or we’re just feeling especially knock-kneed, pissed-off, bespectacled and amphetamined for no particular reason other than it just seems right and natural. Either way, we’re amusing ourselves imagining the punch-up that will invariably ensue when we master time travel (muahahahaha!) and send circa 1978 Elvis Costello to the doorstep of circa 2007 Elvis Costello (a guy who seems more like a Declan MacManus these days, though isn’t that as it should be?). Imagine the mutual looks […]

Lost Album Of Local-ish Theremin Virtuoso Found

In 1927 The New York Times reported from Berlin about an astounding recent invention: a box with a brass rod and ring that, when the inventor moved his hands around them, produced a violinlike sound of “extraordinary beauty and fullness of tone.” “He created music out of nothing but motions in the air,” the article said. The inventor was Leon Theremin (born Lev Termen), a young Russian scientist whose fascinating life would later include spying for Soviet intelligence, serving time in a Siberian labor camp and inventing a host of things, including electronic bugs, an early television and an electronic […]

ROCK SNOB: Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Rock Town Hall Is Now Open To All! Let The Great National Debate Begin!

Rock Town Hall was founded to carry on and expand late-night turntable debates on self-important issues in rock. In 2002, we convened as a private discussion list among a baker’s dozen of opinionated, music-loving friends. In time we grew to a virtual Who the Hell Does He Think He Is? among rock musicians, journalists, DJs, record collectors, and assorted rock nerds. Although we continue to possess little power to influence the state of rock ?n roll, we delight in the battle and seek the cultivation of occasionally novel perspectives on the genre. Now we’re throwing the doors of Rock Town […]

MILESTONE: Academy of Music Turns 150, Considering Chin Tuck And Getting Eyes ‘Done’

The academy had a grand ball on January 26th, 1857, and after America’s first opera house premiered Verdi’s ?Il Trovatore? that same year, it has been in continuous use ever since.The “open horseshoe” shape design has offered more visibility than most opera houses to the audience seated on both sides of the balconies, surrounding a 5,000 pound crystal chandelier, which was loaded with gas burners, until it was electrified in 1900. Legendary singers have performed there from Maria Callas to Enrico Caruso. The world renowned Philadelphia Orchestra spent more than 100 seasons in the academy, until it moved down the […]

ALL THE LEAVES ARE BROWN: Denny Doherty, Last Papa Of The MAMAS AND PAPAS, Dead At 66

They were the first pop group, after The Beatles and the so-called British invasion, to include women (and a Canadian) as equal partners and to showcase tuneful and harmoniously sophisticated songs. As a group, they produced five albums and sold an estimated 20 million records. Behind the scenes, though, the group was wasting its talent and its energy because they were all — especially Mr. Doherty — in thrall to sex, drugs and alcohol. One of five children of a hard-drinking Halifax pipe fitter, Mr. Doherty began his singing career there with a local rock band, The Hepsters, while working […]

PHAWKER RADIO: The Transfiguration Of Vincent

BY JONATHAN VALANIA First, a word about his sponsor: While I can’t ever foresee the need to hear a new Superchunk album in this lifetime, the label those folks have set up, Merge, so consistently releases product of uncommon purity and indispensability that it should make the likes of Matador, Touch and Go, Sub Pop and Drag City glow with the red-blush shame of the recently spanked. I tip my hat to them. Folk music gets a bad rap, having long ago been relegated to the leafy retreats of crunchy granola ninnies in white socks and Birkenstocks, where its rough-hewn […]

ROCKSNOB: Beware Of Aging Rock Critics With Candy

BY ED KING There’s no need to lecture me on the deceptively breezy charms of the music of this month’s wondergirl, sassy British upstart Lily Allen. As any gimmick-hungry yob who’s ever hoped to dig gold from rock ‘n roll will tell you, writing and selling a catchy little pop song is a bitch. I’d been hearing so much about this Lily Allen, seemingly out of the blue, for the last month that I feared I’d fallen a few more steps out of touch with Today’s Happening People. It wasn’t as bad as I’d feared: last week I learned from […]


BY DAVID R. STAMPONE WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT Many folks here in the 215 have closely followed the career of one John Reis, even if said guy is as essentially San Diegan as voted-in-Tuesday Baseball Hall of Famer Tony “Mr. Padre” Gwynn. His groups have always been well-received in the Delaware Valley (as is his weekly free-form radio show “The Swami Sound System,” heard online at starting 1 am every Sunday). And, actually, two of his biggest bands each had a Philadelphia story. NOW PLAYING ON PHAWKER RADIO! Hot Snakes began as an SD/Philly two-dudes-in-two-cities project, with Reis rocking guitar/bass […]