Location (Philly Neighbourhood): The deepest of South Philly
Hometown: born in King of Prussia, but grew up in Rochester, NY
Current Project(s)/What you do in the Philly music scene: I currently produce and host 25 O’Clock, a Philly-centric music and arts podcast. I’ve been doing it for almost three years now. I’m also a songwriter, and gig occasionally under my own name.
Past Project(s): I played bass for The Way Home, guitar for The Sobriquets, and have guested with more Philly band and artists than I can count.
Instrument(s) you play (if any): Guitar, bass, some drums. I taught myself some piano over the last couple of years, too, with medium success.
Location of Photo(s): My studio and home in South Philly.
What do those location(s) mean to you?: I love this house. Not only is it my first, but it’s the first time I’ve ever had a living space that I have complete control over. I redid the basement in the first month I had it, I’ve always wanted a small studio space for the podcast and my own writing and demoing. After a couple of years of doing the podcast at the kitchen table, I was thrilled to be able to set up everything up the way I want it and leave it that way. Also, the washer and dryer are close by, so I can multitask.
As for the outside, I also loved the idea of being able to have my own garden, even just a small one. I got so many tomatoes this season! The cukes were a bit of a bust, but it’s all part of the learning process. I like to sit out there and just look at all the plants. It’s a little bit of green in the middle of the city.
Favourite Place in Philly: I love the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I could go once a week for the rest of my life and always see something I never noticed before. I highly recommend the current show of the Johnson collection, it’s fascinating that one guy had so many works of art in his house.
Favourite Watering Hole/Coffee Spot: For coffee, I like Plenty on East Passyunk. For a drink, I’ve been going to the POPE (Pub on Passyunk East) since they opened over a decade ago. People sometimes forget that they were the only good bar in the East Passyunk neighborhood for a bit. Now, you’re tripping over them.
Favourite Restaurant: Eesh, don’t make me choose! I’ll try and keep it brief: For the best rustic Italian ever, look no further than the Brigantessa/Le Virtu family of restaurants. For something more casual, you can’t go wrong with Little Lion in Old City, or Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street. My fave in Chinatown is Sakura, and if I’m in the Reading Terminal, chances are I’m eating a muffuletta at the counter at Beck’s Cajun Cafe. Okay, I’ll stop.
Favourite Cheesesteak Place: I’m a Jon’s Roast Pork guy. I think the roast pork is the overlooked middle child of Philly sandwiches. Also, you cannot beat the Italian hoagies at P&S Ravioli Co. on 17th and Oregon.
Favourite Pizza Spot: Marra’s on East Passyunk. Without a doubt, the best pizza in the city. For the longest time, you couldn’t even get it delivered unless you lived in the neighborhood. You need to have it in the restaurant with a carafe of house red or a cold Peroni to truly experience it the way it was intended.
Favourite Philly Record Shop: Long In The Tooth. It’s a great collection of new and old, used and new. And an honourable mention to Bridgeset Sound, which is both a record shop and a musical instrument store. Steve has curated an excellent selection of goods, there’s nothing in that store that isn’t meant to be there.
Favourite Philly Venue: For a big show, Union Transfer. For something smaller, Boot and Saddle (can’t beat their pre-show happy hour, either). And for a true divey rock club, Connie’s Ric Rac has always felt like home.
Favourite Philly Band(s): Oh man. Where to start? Off the top of my head: Hop Along, Cayetana, Abi Reimold, Levee Drivers, Sheer Mag, Waxahatchee, Purling Hiss, Bardo Pond, Sadie Dupuis/Speedy Ortiz, any project Rocco Renzetti is helming, Valley Exit (producer Jeff Ziegler’s project), Hawk Tubley, Muscle Tough, Sonja Sofya, and last but never least, Dear Forbidden. I already want to add like 10 more bands.
Best show you’ve seen in Philly: I saw Massive Attack on my birthday in 2006, and it’s easily in my top 5. The shows Phish has done at The Mann over the last few years have all been stellar (haters, be silent). Seeing the Tragically Hip a handful of times at the TLA was also a highlight. Growing up, I never saw then with less than 10,000 people in Western New York, so it was always a blast to see them play theatre gigs down here.
What are you listening to now: A lot of 80s and 90s era power pop, everything from Marshall Crenshaw to Superdrag to Teenage Fanclub. It’s been a real inspiration to my writing (keep it short and sweet, get in and out in less than four minutes). For newer releases, I love the new War on Drugs, the posthumous Gordon Downie solo record ‘Introduce Yourself’ (RIP Gord), QOTSA ‘Villains’, and the new Lorde. I just spun the new Bjork this morning, and I look forward to it continuing to pleasantly fry my brain like most of her work does to me.
If you could sum up in one sentence what Philly / Philly music scene means to you, what would it be?
Philly is the place where I learned how to truly be in a band, to fully immerse and enrich yourself in a scene, and to give back to it in whatever way you can.
Life motto: ‘Isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish when a new sensation gets in your brain?’ -Tragically Hip
Random Fun Fact: I have a culinary degree and well as a mostly useless BA in English Literature. Guess which one pays the bills?
Childhood Dream Job: I always wanted to perform, so I guess I got to do it after all.
Pets: Do my indoor herb plants count as pets?
Future plans: Keep the podcast going, keep writing and playing out more (I forgot how much I missed it until recently). I’ve got about a dozen ideas for books, including one about Philly music, so I may get around to one or two of them someday.