Wednesday, December 18
John McMillian: Beatles vs. Stones
It’s a debate that’s plagued rock n’ roll fans for half a century, and author John McMillian hopes to shed a little light on its history. In Beatles vs. Stones, McMillian explains how the bands’ images were exploited to cater to different crowds, yet the rivalry itself was a simple creation of the media. 6pm. Free. UPenn Bookstore, 3601 Walnut St. upenn.bncollege.com
Teresa Unseld: Transcend
Unseld strives to push beyond the limits of conventional artistic wisdom to create a visceral product that places emphasis on “connecting our human and spiritual experiences.” To do so, her work combines graphite and collage techniques and displaying themes relating to family and other interpersonal relationships. Noon. Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 S. 22nd St. twenty-twogallery.com
Sophie Tucker: The Last of the Red Hot Mamas
Called America’s queen of the double entendre, Sophie Tucker inspired the entire subgenre of comedy that led to the likes of Bette Midler and Joan Rivers. Kathy Halenda stars in this one-woman show celebrating the late comedienne’s legacy. Through Dec. 29. $35. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. walnutstreettheatre.org
Thursday, December 19
The English Beat
Back in 1979, as the decade’s upbeat psych-rock aesthetic was giving way to the darker sounds of post-punk and electronica, something was growing in the blue-collar metropolis of Birmingham, England. A four-piece band then known only as The Beat played its debut show and were introduced as “the hottest thing since the Pennsylvania meltdown.” (The Three Mile Island incident had just happened.) As superfluous a comparison as that may have been, the group instantly connected with its audience, thanks to optimistic songwriting and danceable rhythms that served as an anesthetic of sorts at a time of high unemployment and political tensions throughout their native country.
Of course, the ska genre was well-established by the time The Beat—known as The English Beat in the U.S.—first hit the live scene, but they were among the first to infuse it with elements of punk rock and new wave to pave the way for the rise of 2 Tone. After five years together, during which they released three studio albums and donated profits to various charitable causes, the band made the decision to call it a day following the release of 1982’s Special Beat Service.
The original Beat may cease to exist—though they reunited for a brief UK tour in 2003—but guitarist Dave Wakeling continues to keep its spirit alive with new members, playing songs from the band’s catalogue, as well as its newer material. As the crowd at this World Café Live show will attest, maybe that Three Mile Island analogy is accurate, as there really is no stopping their legacy from radiating. / JAKE ABBATE
8pm. $25-$38. With RK$TDY. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. worldcafelive.com
Throwing it back to the ‘50s with elements of surf rock as well as Chicago and Mississippi-style blues influences, Crushed Out looks to get Milkboy’s second-story stage jumping as the band shows off its adoration of the classics and no-frills approach to making music. 8pm. $8. Milkboy, 1100 Chestnut St. 215.925.6455. milkboyphilly.com
Philadelphia Homeless Memorial Day
With a turnout anticipated to be in the hundreds, the city will call for an end to homelessness and increased health-care coverage via this day of remembrance for those who died in 2013. 4:30pm. Free. Thomas Paine Plaza, Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Blvd. 215.232.7272. facebook.com/homelessmemorialphilly
Women, Wine and Works of Art
The African American Museum offers visitors the chance to watch Ellen Tiberino, daughter of city art legends Ellen Powell and Joseph Tiberino, create personal mosaics while enjoying a glass of wine and taking in The Unflinching Eye, an exhibit inspired by her family. 7pm. $5-$8. African American Museum, 701 Arch St. aampmuseum.org
Friday, December 20
A Sip Down Memory Lane
Scent is strongly and inexorably tied to human memory. Certain smells can stimulate brain activity and carry a person’s thoughts back in time. Never is this phenomenon more pertinent than during the holiday season: Most of us create an idyllic memory of our childhood holidays, an environment we can always revert back to during the season. The smell of the house you grew up in, the tree in the living room, feasts cooking in the kitchen—the holidays are a revered time in American culture, and it’s worth deconstructing why that is.
The Lantern Theater Company’s A Sip Down Memory Lane is all about exploring and celebrating the aromas that can evoke memories in our brains. The Wine School of Philadelphia’s president, Keith Wallace, will present an array of carefully chosen wine and cocktail samples meant to stimulate your taste buds and recollective synapses. Seven wines, spirits and classic cocktails will be smartly paired with traditional holiday tavern fare, and Wallace will lead a discussion on the conjuring of memories that the drinks have, as well as a general reflection on the ties between scent and memory.
Following A Sip Down Memory Lane, the Lantern Theater presents its Christmas special A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which focuses on holiday memories, seen through the scope of a child’s gaze of his Welsh village at Christmastime. Tickets are available for both great events as a package, as well as separately. / DANIEL GELB
6pm. $27-$50. Lantern Theater, 10th and Ludlow Sts. 215.829.0395. lanterntheater.org
The 5th Annual Art Dash
Still need a gift for your art fanatic friend or loved one? Original pieces at the Art Dash are available for a $25 flat fee, with the artist’s name revealed to you at the time of purchase. All works are locally sourced, and proceeds benefit Little Berlin’s 2014 art programs. 6pm. Free. Little Berlin, 2430 Coral St. littleberlin.org
Family Style Open Mic hosted by Michelle Myers
An eclectic mix of artistic performance and storytelling highlights the Asian Arts Initiative’s monthly open mic night. Open slots are available to all community members, with the dialogue geared toward promoting multicultural awareness. 7pm. $5-$10. Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St. 215.557.0455. asianartsinitiative.org
Huggy Lowdown’s Holiday Comedy Showdown
D.C.-based funnyman Huggy Lowdown brings his celeb-gossip and entertainment news gags to our neck of the woods. Featuring fellow comedian Chris Paul, the duo will meet-and-greet fans after their gut-busting performance. 7pm. $22.50-$35. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. philly.worldcafelive.com
Saturday, December 21
Paul O’Neill’s baby has succeeded far beyond his wildest dreams, and it’s all because the music of his Trans-Siberian Orchestra is so universally well-received. Yes, TSO’s focus has long and often been on Christmas, but their take on holiday music is so unique that they have complete dominance over much of the market. Who else does Christmas tunes incorporating classical music with prog, metal and symphonic rock? O’Neill’s been known to attribute the crowd and the crew as integral components of the band’s success. And when they touch down on Broad Street a few days before Christmas, the energy in the Wells Fargo Center’s going to undoubtedly be electric.
Citing a wide but unsurprising breadth of bands that inspired O’Neill and his friends Jon Oliva, Robert Kinkel and Al Pitrelli, TSO draws flavors from Yes, Rush, Queen, The Who, Floyd, Zeppelin and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their initial motives weren’t so Christmasy, but after a handful of unforeseen circumstances, personally and record label-wise, their debut, 1996’s Christmas Eve and Other Stories, came out to a roar of critical excitement. Just about every classic Yuletide jam you could possibly hope for is rendered symphonic rock gold. It’s a stunner, one that’ll rightfully be brought out and dusted off each December for heavy rotation—probably until there are no more Decembers.
You know what else is cool about these guys? They actually establish multiple touring armies so that, during the holiday season, they can blanket their fans with shows all over the world. Even cooler: When TSO first started touring in 1999, they played a small handful of dates, and one of em’ was in Upper Darby at our fair Tower Theatre (so they’ve got obvious affection for the City of Brotherly Love). An envelope containing tickets to either their matinee or evening show would be an awesome surprise to find nestled between string lights and candy canes on someone’s tree. / BILL CHENEVERT
3pm and 8pm. $30-$70. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. wellsfargocenterphilly.com
A Tribute to Bob Marley with Junior Marvin and One Love
Not too many of us can say, with all honesty, that we’ve worked closely with actual legends. Sure, we may all be special or gifted within the boundaries of our own individualism, but a select few can count any of the most influential artists as colleagues, fewer still as friends. And inside this very marginalized space of exceptional people, can the majority count themselves as equals amongst those legends? No. But musician and actor Junior Marvin can.
Jamaican born and London raised, Marvin’s interest in performing was encouraged early in life. Debuting in The Beatles’ 1965 Help! led to several television appearances for the young artist. Marvin later became a member of the London cast of Hair and can be heard on the original London recordings. “It was a great run,” Marvin tells PW. “I was about 16 or 17 years old at the time. The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was my audition piece.” After meeting Bob Marley in ‘77, Marvin’s musical dexterity has been enjoyed the world over as guitarist for the planet’s most influential reggae group, Bob Marley & the Wailers. Since Marley’s death in 1981, Marvin has gone on to release four albums worth of material with The Wailers Band, and continues to this day with a group called One Love.
Earlier this year, Bunny Wailer, along with Marcia Griffiths, threw a celebration in Negril, Jamaica to commemorate Marley’s birthday. Together with musicians from several of the Marley sub-groups, a tribute to the life and memory of the late, great icon was born and took to the road. “It was such a great atmosphere,” Marvin recalls of the boisterous reception the tribute show got at The Hamilton in D.C. in September. “We had such a good time, we decided to keep the recording.” He hopes to bring the same energy to The Blockley’s final days. / KENNEDY ALLEN
9pm. $18-$23. With SensaMotion + Cultureal. The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St. theblockley.com
All Bets Are Off III
Six local comedians and one live house band highlight this holiday week special. Featuring Chip Chantry, rated “Philly’s Phunniest” of 2013 at the Helium Comedy Club, this comedy special is a great way to start your winter vacation. 7pm. $5. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St.philly.worldcafelive.com
Naughty Knee-Slapping Burlesque with Minnie Tonka
The lovely and petite Minnie Tonka hosts this burlesque dance class, where you will learn to appear both sexy and funny in front of an audience. Showcase your naughty nature and your silly side; just don’t forget to bring gloves and heels. 2pm. $25. Peek-A-Boo Dance Clinic, 2400 E. Cumberland St. 215.470.7074. peekaboorevue.com
Manayunk Winter Solstice
Manayunk hosts their first annual Solstice Fire, an outdoor festival celebrating the winter season. The gathering kicks off with a birds of prey show, followed by a ceremonious drum circle where the torches and fire are lit. 3pm. Free. Canal View Park, Manayunk. 215.482.9565. manayunk.com
Mayhem and Mistletoe
Party at the South Philly stadiums during their holiday celebration. Come dressed to impress for costume contests, including Ugliest Sweater and Sexiest Santa; have your picture taken with Kris Kringle himself; and enjoy live music while you quaff holiday-themed drinks. 9pm. $20. XFinity Live, 1100 Pattison Ave. 267.443.6418. xfinitylive.com
Gender Comedy: A Less Stupid Twelfth Night Gay Fantasia
For anyone who thought Shakespeare’s comedies needed robots, here you go. Gender confusion, needlessly cruel drunks and cyborgs are all here in the play the queen never wanted you to see. 8pm. $20-$25. Curio Theatre Company, 4740 Baltimore Ave. 215.525.1350. curiotheatre.org
Sunday, December 22
Saves the Day
After nearly two decades and an abundant helping of line-up changes that have left singer Chris Conley as the sole remaining original member, Saves the Day has remained one of the most important staples of contemporary emo, with no indication of becoming stale. In September, the band unveiled its eponymous eighth studio effort boasting a collection of boisterous power pop anthems demonstrating its ability to change with the times while retaining Conley’s confessional lyricism that fans know and love.
It’s a style that’s contributed to the rise of the genre’s new wave with mixed results. Patrick Stump reportedly auditioned for Fall Out Boy by covering “Through Being Cool,” and on the more local scene, Balance and Composure frontman Jon Simmons has cited the group’s breakthrough release Stay What You Are as one of the albums that shaped his musical palette. In an almost poetic twist of fate, the latter will join his heroes as one of the opening acts for a short run of acoustic shows, which kicked off last week in Chicago. Also joining in the fun will be Walter Schreifels of legendary post-hardcore bands Quicksand and Rival Schools.
Though the tour got off to a bit of a rocky start—the band’s tour van was robbed of a MacBook and Schreifels’ guitar after their first concert—it has continued to go on without a subsequent hitch, with the headliners promising long sets, deep cuts and the possibility of taking requests. Not bad tricks for a bunch of old dogs. / J.A.
7:30pm. Sold out. With Walter Schreifels + Jon Simmons. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 215.563.3980. r5productions.com
Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Pig Iron Theatre Company tackles one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known comedies with the physically taxing antics people have come to expect from their performances. Drunks, drag and duels all come together for a classically lurid night out. 2pm. $25-$49. FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd. 215.413.9006. pigiron.org
Santa Paws Adoption & Photos with Santa
The third annual Santa Paws event is a great way to save a life and bring home a new best friend for the holidays. Discounted animal adoptions are the important portion of this event, but the cute part is the option to get pet photos on Santa’s lap. 10am. Free. ACCT Philly, 111 W. Hunting Park Ave. 267.385.3800. acctphilly.org
The Wind in the Willows
Quintessence Theatre Group presents their first foray into children’s theater, with a pastoral vision of English countryside. This adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic revolves around several anthropomorphic creatures and their adventures in the woods. 2pm. $15-$25. Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave. 215.987.4450. quintessencetheatre.org
Monday, December 23
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
The Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is a feast for the eyes and ears. The show is as much Balanchine’s as it is the Ballet’s and Beatrice Jona Affron’s “Orchestra of the Pennsylvania Ballet,” which flawlessly executes Tchaikovsky’s legendary score. And to be clear, this is a little bit of a looser, more child-friendly affair. There are children everywhere—in the show, in the aisles, in the seat next to you asking “Who’s that?” But they’re in Christmas formal wear, asking in tiny 5-year-old voices. It’s adorable.
Ballet companies across the country reportedly make 40 percent of their annual ticket sales with The Nutcracker runs, and why wouldn’t they? The endless dancers, the hundreds of costumes—It’s one of the finest holiday traditions in the world for a reason. In Pennsylvania Ballet’s staging, which premiered earlier this month, the most stunning feats of athleticism and execution of technical prowess come from the first act’s toys and soldier (Leah Hirsch, Marria Cosentino and Amir Yogev) and the second act’s dreamlike suite that includes the Sugarplum Fairy (Elizabeth Mateer) and her cavalier (Lorin Mathis). The second act’s “Land of Sweets” brilliantly showcases the Asian Tea dancers, the Arabian Coffee dancer and the Russian Candy Cane dancers. The sets were stunning, all the way down to Mother Ginger’s birth of the polichinelles.
With The Nutcracker’s fill of gift-giving, eloquent fake snowfall and childlike dreamscapes, Christmas spirit is certainly in the air. At least until Sunday’s final curtain. / B.C.
Through Dec. 29. Various times. $25-$125. With RK$TDY. 240 S. Broad St. paballet.org
American Fairy Tales
Three of L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy tales come to life for a family-friendly show. Fast-paced and interactive, the latest output of the B. Someday Family Theatre Series is a fun holiday treat the whole clan will love. 7pm. $7-$12. Walking Fish Theatre, 2509 Frankford Ave. 215.427.9255. walkingfishtheatre.com
Tuesday, December 24
Volunteer for the Holidays
If you’re feeling in the giving spirit—and “giving,” to you, means something more than handing someone a plasma screen TV—then there are other, perhaps more Christmas-y events going on in Philadelphia this week:
On Tues., Dec. 24, the Holy Spirit United Methodist Church (1441 E. Hunting Park Ave.) is accepting volunteers from noon to 5 p.m. to help prepare for Christmas Eve dinner. The church puts together a dinner and lets those who need it leave with a bag of groceries and clothing. Those interested should contact Richard DeJesus (267.505.4451).
Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (642 N. Broad St.), a network of nonprofit volunteer organizations around the area, is looking for volunteers to deliver meals and gifts to seniors on Christmas Day. For more information, call 215.765.8118. The deadline to apply to volunteer is Wed., Dec. 18.
Also, the SHARE Food Program (2901 W. Hunting Park Ave.), a nonprofit working to build stronger communities throughout the Northeast, is looking for volunteers who can help pack holiday meal boxes for families in need. Volunteers will be useful all week. Check out SHAREFoodProgram.org for more information. / RANDY LOBASSO
Kung Pao Klezmer
The Gershman Y hosts a new Christmas Eve holiday celebration. Enjoy a multi-course Chinese feast (including vegetarian options), and take in the foot-tapping live tunes of Klingon Klez. 6pm. $25-$48. Joy Tsin Lau Restaurant, 1026 Race St. gershmany.org
Moo Shu Jew Show
Jewish comedian Cory Kahaney headlines this annual Christmas Eve romp. Jewish Philadelphians rejoice; show tickets include a full Chinese banquet dinner and plenty of laughs! 6pm. $69-$80. Ocean Harbor, 1023 Race St. mooshujewshow.com
Wednesday, December 25
ACCT Philly Holiday Open House
Share your Christmas Day with the great folks at the ACCT animal shelter. Create cards, blankets and toys for the shelter pets while enjoying free snacks and drinks. Hand out treats, toys and holiday affection to animals who deserve to be loved all year round. 11am. Free. Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia, 111 W. Hunting Park Ave. 267.385.3800. acctphilly.org
Being [ ] at Christmas
The National Museum of American Jewish History hosts its annual fill-in-the-blank Christmas Day celebration. A full day of family fun is scheduled, including storytimes, art projects, food and comedy. 10am. $5-$12. NMAJH, 101 S. Independence Mall. 215.923.3811. nmajh.org
Compiled by Jake Abbate, Drew O’Meara and Daniel Gelb.
Calendar: March 25-April 1
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide