City Paper's got music in its blood. Back in the day, the ream of fishwrap in your hands was known as the WXPN Express. That's right, we were the program guide to WXPN; we were championing cutting-edge music in the womb.
So when Senior Editor Patrick Rapa started talking about the "old-heads" concept he and photographer Michael T. Regan had cooked up for our spring Music Issue, part of me was wary. As a onetime captain of the paper's music section, I've got an admittedly knee-jerk, roll-with-the-new mentality. But as Rapa points out in the intro to his package, we're always tabbing hot new bands. We do it with Jon Solomon's Local Support podcast (citypaper.net/podcast). We do it with our streaming music player. We do it in the pages of our music section every week. We do it well. Why not give it up for the rocks upon which our scene is built?
Rapa sold me. And it wasn't hard. Sure, the "Philly Classics" you'll find within the pages of our cover package have been around (and around) the block. But every one — even the oldest of our old-heads, 88-year-old Bach Festival artistic director Jonathan Sternberg — remains spry, vital. The reason? Each combines a stubborn aversion to artistic stagnancy with a steadfast refusal to bow to the newest trend. You'll read about label-defying guitarist Linda Cohen, whose classical/folk style long predates the "freak folk" "craze" in the city's indie scene. We've got Lady B. And Phil Roy. And DJ Too Tuff. And Bootsie Barnes. They're all beacons in their own way. They're who we try to shine a light on around here — makers of good music, new, old and otherwise.
Of course we are rolling with the new — with a nod to the old — by teaming up with Y-Rock on XPN for another bracket (more on those in a bit) in this season of brackets. We're doing this online poll thing called the Philly Rock Shoot-Out (p. 35, citypaper.net/shootout) where we'll put eight local bands of our choosing against eight local bands of theirs. The winning band gets to play a couple of high-profile shows. The winning organization gets to take over the other for a hot second.
We've Gone Mad
Speaking of contests, we've gone a bit mad over here. Yes, it's March, which means that fans of boring fundamentally sound college basketball can get all excited and fill out illegal office pools and talk about Gonzaga. Yes. Woo. March Madness. Gonzaga.
But we've got brackets of our own. Fun ones that don't require you to watch games played by athletes who don't have the decency to have their names printed on the backs of their shirts. We'd become quite enamored of our polling software after last year's Nick Norlen-curated, runaway sensation, Philly Madness, which pitted Philadelphia institutions against Philadelphia notables against abstract Philadelphia concepts in a 76-entity scrum to determine who or what best represented our city. In the end, the Mummers bested Pierre Robert and have had a whole year to strut. This year, we've inducted the Mummers into our Philly Madness Hall of Fame and fielded an entirely new field of 76 (much to webmaster Marc Steel's chagrin). Will Michael Nutter make it to the finals, or be bested in the first round by his daughter? Who will survive the gossip scribe scramble? Who's got the stones — Kalas or Reese — to take it to the finals? Do Tim and Eric have it in them to hatchet Man Man? Which blog — Phawker, Foobooz or the 700 Level — will emerge from the RSS war? Can Rollins trump Westbrook? Fill out a bracket (p. 11) and click on over to citypaper.net/phillymadness to join the fun.
And for good measure, our Beer Week Beeramid (citypaper.net/beeramid) continues, as we attempt (very, very unscientifically) to determine which locally brewed beer is best.
Brackets! Voting! We're out of our minds!