Friday, December 27
Gov’t Mule and Soulive
It’s really a feat that Warren Haynes is still touring so constantly. The 53-year-old’s been a part of the Allman Brothers Band for nearly 25 years, and the man can jam. Seriously, he’s been on board since interest in the Brothers was renewed in the early 2000s as they played alongside folks like String Cheese Incident, moe. and Dave Matthews Band, including spots at some of the country’s biggest music fests. His side gig, Gov’t Mule, is kind of like Phil Lesh & Friends in that it’s a mix of new and old heads—most of the old heads being legendary high-functioning legends—who are deeply steeped in a classic rock tradition. And it’s heavily spiked with the blues and experimental improvisation.
But what makes this show extra awesome is that Soulive, one of my favorite live acts ever, opens for them on both of these nights. As a junior in high school and shepherd for my brother and his drunk friends, we saw Soulive at Irving Plaza in New York City on New Year’s Eve. It remains, to this day, one of my most treasured concert experiences. They’re a trio, mostly; Erik Krasno’s stellar guitar work is as funktastic and jazzy as the brothers Evans (Alan and Neal), on drums and Hammond B3 organ, keep time and solo masterfully. This combo of jazz and jam may seem a touch wacky, but trust us—it makes all the sense. Solos and improvs will be aplenty, just with different vibes, all of ‘em worth soaking in. / BILL CHENEVERT
Through Sat., Dec. 28. 7:30pm. $25-$35. Tower Theater, 69th and Ludlow sts., Upper Darby. 610.352.2887. thetowerphilly.com
The OG New York City ska band brings their soulful, rocksteady presence back to Philly. Combining elements of traditional Jamaican ska, rocksteady and dub, the band breaks down stereotypes that often pigeonhole the genre. Vocalist Vic Ruggerio and his deep Bronx accent take the stage tonight, with support from area ska jammers RK$TDY and the Bullbuckers. 8pm. $15-$17. North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. northstarbar.com
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Louis Sachar’s popular series of children’s books come to life in this theatre adaptation at the Arden. Bring the kids to watch the tale of a school built as a tower 30 stories high, and the unique narratives of the students and faculty that inhabit the structure. Noon and 4pm. $18-$36. Arden Theatre, 40 N. Second St. 215.922.1122. ardentheatre.org
Saturday, December 28
I Love Lucy: Live on Stage
One of the sitcoms that defined the TV era itself is coming to life in a fantastically creative post-Christmas event for the stage. On air from 1951 to 1957, I Love Lucy has been named one of the top 100 television shows of all time; the hysterical antics of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, partnered with their friends and landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz, have been delighting audiences continuously for half a century, and to this day, the show is still syndicated and translated into dozens of languages for viewers around the world—bringing in an average audience of 40 million each year in the U.S. alone.
As the first TV show to be shot using 35mm film in front of a live studio audience, it seems only fitting that this modern revival, I Love Lucy: Live On Stage, would follow suit. It takes place in a reproduction of the Desilu Playhouse sound stage, giving audiences the opportunity to witness the “live filming” of two episodes of the classic sitcom, set in the Ricardos’ New York City apartment. Attendees will also get to see the famed Tropicana nightclub and dig the Ricky Ricardo Orchestra’s hand-clapping, foot-stomping Cuban music. A charming host enlightens the crowd to the behind-the-scenes filming process, and the Crystaltone Singers perform advertisement jingles between scenes to complete the ambiance of 1950s television glamor.
Sirena Irwin has received critical acclaim for her evocation of Lucille Ball’s legendary comedic brilliance, as has her co-star, Bill Mendieta, for his reprisal of Desi Arnaz’s Ricky Ricardo. The more technical aspect of the production has not gone unrecognized either, receiving awards for best scenic design, best costumes, best sound and best lighting. Fans of theatre and television alike will enjoy the respite from the end-of-the-year hustle and bustle—their own, that is; Lucy will be as crazed as ever. / KENNEDY ALLEN
Through Sun., Dec. 29. Various times. The Merriam Theatre, 250 S. Broad St. 215.893.1999. merriamtheater.com
Sweet Loretta Fat
Philly-based pop rockers Fooling April take the stage tonight under the moniker Sweet Loretta Fat and pay tribute to the Beatles. The group has covered Beatles classics to perfection in the area since 2008; tonight, they’ll toss the costumes and wigs away, letting the tribute music speak for itself. 8pm. $15. With the Parsnip Revolt. World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St. worldcafelive.com
Philadelphia Swing Dance Society
Ring in the new year early and classy, jitterbugging and foxtrotting to the sounds of the Walt Wagner Big Swing Band. Beginner/review lessons are available before the dance, and a sparkling cider toast will be held for the “almost new year” at midnight. 7pm. The Commodore Barry Club, 6815 Emlen St. swingdance.org
MIND & BODY
Inner Peace Meditation Retreat
Join Buddhist monk and meditation teacher Gen Tenzin for a retreat to cleanse your spirit before the new year. No meditation experience is necessary for this inner peace retreat. 10am. $5-$15. Amitayus Kadampa Buddhist Center, 1102 Pine St. 267.702.3817. meditationinphiladelphia.org
Sunday, December 29
Mykki Blanco is Michael Quattlebaum, Jr., one of the last remaining vestiges of punk as we know it. His whole life is a performance piece. Inspired in equal parts by Bruce La Bruce and Lil’ Kim (Kimmy Blanco was one of her aliases), dude’s been fucking with gender for a good four years now. The thing that’s so great about him is that he plays up a persona, a teenage girl-lookin’ ‘round-the-way princess, but doesn’t ever really strive for “passing.” He takes his hip-hop obsession and mixes it with poetry, queercore, riot grrrl and drag. Take any of his stellar videos—for example the awe-inspiring “Haze.Boogie.Life” or the visually slick “Wavvy”—and your head will spin. And the drag piece is one of the most intriguing: Is he pretending to be a woman? Is he a rapper who just likes to wear wigs and lipstick and expose his midriff?
While we eagerly anticipate a proper LP debut, Michael, in 2014, we do have a few great EPs and mixtapes to confirm that he’s mad talented, especially, Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss, which yields the sickening “Kingpinning,” as well as a guest spot from a collaborator in queerness, Le1f. His most recent, Betty Rubble: The Initiation, depicts something brilliant on the cover, too, with his female persona getting dominantly seduced by a man who could very well be his male persona. Mykki Blanco is the most dynamic creature on the queer hip-hop scene—one that barely exists—and he’s doing it with so much brain power, creativity and vitriol that it’s incredibly inspiring. / B.C.
8pm. $13-$15. With D.J. Larry B + T.E.A.M.S. The Barbary, 951 Frankford Ave. 215.634.7400. thebarbary.org
Art Star Holiday Market
The Blue Cross River Rink celebrates 20 years with this winter festival full of food, music and gift shops featuring handmade items curated by local independent crafters. Local beer and holiday cocktails served under a massive, 400-person warming tent will keep you in festive spirits for their holiday light show. 11am. Free. Blue Cross River Rink, 201 S. Columbus Blvd. artstarphilly.com
Before they revolutionized technology and became pop culture icons, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were nerds. This critically acclaimed musical journey chronicles the lives of America’s favorite geeks, from high school swirlie victims to Silicon Valley billionaires. 3pm and 7:30pm. $69-$79. Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. 215.985.0420. philadelphiatheatrecompany.org
Calendar: March 25-April 1
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide