Calendar: June 23-29

What to do in Philly this week.

By PW Staff
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 22, 2010

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Wednesday, June 23

Sublime Frequencies
If you’ve ever stumbled into a Starbucks en route to a square job, gazed at the Putumayo World Music CDs and contemplated the troubling way that non-Western musics are categorized by and distributed to Western audiences, you likely have something in common with Hisham Mayet. Equal parts ethnographer and music nerd, Mayet co-founded Sublime Frequencies to share the vibrant music cultures of Africa, Asia and the Middle East that are often neglected by traditional researchers and curators. In addition to releasing fantastic albums like Omar Souleyman’s Jazeera Nights and Night Recordings From Bali, Sublime Frequencies also visually document their adventures. Mayet and colleague Olivia Wyatt will be on location at Space 1026 to screen two recent films: Land of the Songhai, which documents Mayet’s experiences in Western Niger, and Staring into the Sun, featuring Wyatt’s research of 13 Ethiopian tribes. After the films, Mayet will be pulling records from his personal crates for what is sure to be an ecstatic DJ session at Kung Fu Necktie. -Elliott Sharp

Screening, 8pm. $5. Space 1026, 1026 Arch St. 215.574.7630.
Dance party, 11pm. Free. Kung Fu Necktie, 1248 N. Front St. 215.291.4919.

Samantha Crain
It’s a wonder that, at 23, singer/songwriter Samantha Crain does heartbreak as well as artists twice her age. Crain’s singular vocal style is two parts Erin McKeown, one part Neko Case, one part Judy Garland—and completely captivating. Her brand-new You (Understood) takes the firm pop hooks of last year’s Songs in the Night and updates them, layering in more ambitious vocals and more complex melodies, along with a refreshing willingness to keep things slow and moody. You’ll feel bad for breaking her heart, but that guilt can be somewhat tempered by the confidence that a damn good song is likely to come out of it. -Jeffrey Barg

8pm. $12-$15. With Frontier Ruckus. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400.

Thursday, June 24

Tim Berne’s Los Totopos
For the last 30 years, alto saxophonist Tim Berne has developed a singularly challenging body of work for a host of different lineups (Bloodcount, Caos Totale, Big Satan, more). He recently struck up a creative rapport with young Philly-based keyboardist Matt Mitchell, who brings formidable skills to two of Berne’s newest projects, Adobe Probe and this week’s featured band Los Totopos (“chips”). Together with clarinetist/bass clarinetist Oscar Noriega and drummer Ches Smith, Berne and Mitchell grapple with skewed beats and lines of careening intricacy, mapping the porous border between stringent writing and throw-out-the-rule-book improv. Mitchell’s facility with acoustic and electronic sound gives Los Totopos all the more sonic edge. -David R. Adler

8pm. $12. Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. 215.545.4302.

First Person Arts
This foodie-oriented First Person Arts Salon event should ring the dinner bell of the ever-growing tribe of foodie-geeks out there who regularly photograph their French fries. At Calypso in Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, author Ann Vanderhoof—a personal hero for taking off a Canadian winter to eat and drink her way through the West Indies on a boat—will lecture said tribe on Caribbean food and culture. As author of upcoming travelogue/memoir The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating and Island Life, she’s got a thing or two to say about adventurous eating. Meanwhile, we’ll be tucking into Calypso chef Claudette Campbell’s much-praised Trinidadian specialty fare. The menu will include “doubles,” Trinidadian street food made of spicy fried chick peas and fried bread, stewed chicken with peas and rice; fried plantains and a tossed green salad and pound cake for dessert, all washed down with a cool strawberry-mango lemonade with fresh fruit. -Tara Murtha

6pm. $30-$35. Calypso, Chestnut Hill Farmers Market, 8229 Germantown Ave.

Friday, June 25

The Fractals
Veteran songwriter/guitarist Kevin Hanson played for around a decade with bassist Jim Stager and drummer Erik Johnson in Philly’s alt-rock, ’90s mainstays Huffamoose. After the band called it quits circa 2001, the three musicians played together under various monikers before landing on the Fractals. This spring saw the release of their debut LP Heavy Rotation, a collection of nine Hanson-penned tunes that run a gamut of moods from consciously ridiculous (“Priscilla the Killa”) to light pop melodrama (“Isn’t It Remarkable”). The album’s opener is the jaunty “Take Your Clothes off Please,” whose airy guitar melody reminisces the good-timey playfulness of the La’s “There She Goes.” -Kevin Brosky

9pm. $10. With iNFiNiEN + Controlled Storms. North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. 215.787.0488.

Taste of Philadelphia
Kicking off Philadelphia’s increasingly corporate-sponsored celebration of independence, the newly rechristened Wawa Welcome America! begins its curious 10-day odyssey (one that includes a screening of Avatar, “Dietz and Watson Hot Dog Day” and the construction of a mile-long Wawa hoagie) with a three-day Taste of Philadelphia event that promises bite-sized samples of the best in local cuisine while listening to live music. After the opening Friday night, you can rock right back into Saturday, when Morris “Jerome bring me my mirror!” Day and the Time will spin you into the Purple Rain throwback (Day played Prince’s eponymous nemesis Morris in the movie). After a career that almost faded to black, Day earned back some shine by reuniting with the Time after nearly two decades to back Rihanna at the Grammys. According to Wikipedia, he also appears regularly in Toyota commercials in the Atlanta area. Happy 234th, America! -Tara Murtha

Starting at 5pm. Free. Penn’s Landing, Chestnut St. and Columbus Blvd.

Saturday, June 26

Slam Dunk Showdown
Philadelphia basketball fans haven’t had the easiest year. (Love you, A.I.!) But here’s a chance for redemption. The Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown rolls into town on the hunt for the best amateur dunker. The contest is open to dunkers 18 and older, who will show their dunking skills to a panel of judges at NBA Nation. Each dunker gets an Adidas jersey, shorts and shoes—pretty sweet, considering it’s free to participate. The winner receives a grand, a Flip video camera and is eligible to compete to be named the best amateur slam dunker in the nation against winners from seven other cities in a So You Think You Can Dance?-style dunk-off. The competitors probably aren’t quite as talented as Iverson, but, well, it’s not like we saw him play a whole lot this year anyway.  -Erica Palan

4pm. Free. Penn’s Landing, Chestnut St. and Columbus Blvd.

Fourth Wall Arts Salon
Crusty basement house shows can be fun—it’s not every night you see a band dressed up as TVs or a mermaid grotto built entirely out of cardboard. But if you’re looking to class up your weekend cultural consumption a bit, hit up the Fourth Wall Arts Salon. On the last Saturday of the month, Fourth Wall Arts calls for the city’s humanities-lovers to unite in celebration of dance, music, words, visual art and everything else that piques their interest. Grab a drink, swap tips about DJing software or trade poems with fellow members of the creative class and bask in the talent of fellow bohemians. This month, actor Carlo Campbell hosts a slate of performances by Philly-based talents. Dancer Alexandria “Brinae Ali” Bradley taps, Disco Biscuits guitarist Jon Gutwillig chills out, Penn Law prof David Abrams drops economics knowledge, and Ran’D Shine does magic—plus music, poetry, painters, and a post-Salon hangout. -Alexandra Jones

7pm. $10-$15. RUBA, 414 Green St. 215.627.9831.

Toy Soldiers

Toy Soldiers, the latest band to come out of Drexel University’s MAD Dragon imprint, feed unhinged country blues through damaged amps in boot stomping, piano rolling, old-time mayhem. Begun as a stripped down duo of Ron Gallo and Mike Baurer, the band picked up a rag-tag roots orchestra for its debut album Whisper Down the Lane.  Baurer has left the band, but others have remained, including gospel-country-soul diva Kate Foust, inflammatory blues-guitarist Dan King and jack-of-all trades Noah Skaroff, who can play anything from saxophone to lap steel. Up in front, Gallo has the gaudiness of a backwoods vaudevillian, blowing out the big climaxes with a showman-like vibrato and leading good-time choruses with sturdy cheer. -Jennifer Kelly

9:30pm. $10. With Black Taxi + New Madrid. Johnny Brenda’s,  1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684.

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