Here are some facts blasted your way that are meant to overwhelm: Make Music Day takes place in 560 cities in 110 countries worldwide. As of Monday, there are 177 artists gigging in 53 venues across Philadelphia—the “venues” actually just spots being set up all over the city, from parks to porches to bars and bookstores. This whole thing’s been booked by a software system where musicians sign themselves up through a website that matches them based on availability and proximity. There are 215 performances slated from 8am to 8pm, and there’s a slogan: “All Day, All Over, All Free.” We’re all in.
Now, how on Earth does one go about maximizing this insane day of wonderful options? No worries: We’ve done the heavy lifting. (You can find the minutiae on makemusicphilly.com.)
10am: Make Music Philly Kick Off: XPN presents A Play Along Percussion Party with Philly Drum Project at LOVE Park, 1599 JFK Blvd.
Philly Drum Project isn’t necessarily just about bongos and incense—this is about getting people to play via lessons, exchanges, sales, rentals, collaborations and encouragement. This morning’s grand opening will be a percussive maelstrom with a mayoral proclamation (This day’s pretty much paid for by the City’s Office of Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy and WXPN) and strangers with cowbells, tambourines, snares and sticks ready to hit.
11am: Tim Hein at Bainbridge Green, Bainbridge Street between S. Third and Fifth streets.
Hein’s a looker from Western Pennsylvania and makes eerie-yet-pretty countrified blues that remind me of Neko Case’s aesthetic—like David Lynch in Laurel Canyon. He’s gigging three times today, and he’ll be one of the first at Bainbridge Green, that weird and under-utilized space along Bainbridge. Seven “shows” will go down here, and there are probably 20 bars within spitting distance. Just sayin’.
Noon: Kimpedro’s NU Gruv Quartet at Arch St. Meeting House, 320 Arch St.
I’m not gonna front: I love this guy for his Facebook page pronouncements. JazGuardian was founded in 1993 by Kimpedro Rodriguez and some other dudes, and it sounds like a few egos got inflated. Look at this gem: “The main difference this time is ALL members must be Spiritually Grounded and have their Egos and ALL levels of Arrogance checked at the door! (They are too many “lovers of self” trying to transfer negative energy).” They’re guaranteed to groove you with good vibes.
1:30pm: Sara Abo-Harb at the Franklin Institute, 220 N. 22nd St.
Sara’s great. Girl can belt. She’s a five-octave R&B and pop singer who competed in the Media Theatre’s “Delco Idol” competition and reminds me of Ariana Grande. She’ll probably destroy a handful of covers with that bizarro 19-year-old confidence and grace.
2pm: Luci Rising at Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge, 200 S. 12th St.
A competitor in the first run of the “Songbird” sing-off, Luci was the jazzy, free-spirited soul and R&B spirit of Frank Ocean and Meshell Ndegeocello combined. She’s got some chops, and she’s adorable.
3pm: Natalie Bermudez at Barnes & Noble Cafe, 1805 Walnut St.
One more flourish in the solo-girl-funk leg of this tour. This UArts music student’s got that soulful Etta James-ian jazz vixen vibe. She reminds me a little of that Karmin dip (Amy Renee Heidemann), but with a much-needed Jessica Rabbit edge.
4pm: Twin Pines at Joe Coffee, 1845 Walnut St.
Right down the street, you should get some excellent cold-brew coffee and perk up with the outstanding thrash of Philly’s own feel-good post-punk grunge quartet. They’re like Japandroids mixed with undoubted heroes of theirs, Balance and Composure. But not that hard. Perfect disruptive Rittenhouse sidewalk noise.
5pm: Wayside Shakeup at Race Street Pier, N. Columbus Blvd. at Race.
What a great time to catch a breeze off the river, and the Toy Soldier-ly and Dr. Dog-like rustic romping rock pop times will runneth over. This quintet’s definitely influenced by some usual suspects—Zep, the Dead, Springsteen, REM—but there’s a family for them here in their hometown of brotherly roots rock.
6pm: The Philly Gathering All-Star Rap Group at Autographs & Aerosols, 49th Street and Baltimore Avenue.
This 17-foot U-Haul’s been converted into a mobile venue. This and the porch in Kensington called the Aporchalpyse (2505 E. York St.) seem like two of the coolest places to make sure you don’t miss today. But A&A looks like it’s going to be super-duper fly for this big-ass throwdown, one of only two performances in this unique locale.
7pm: Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra at the Dell Center, Ridge Ave. and Huntington Drive.
Championing ethnic diversity in classical music, the BPCO is founded and led by Jeri Lynne Johnson, an African-American woman in classical music, which is, sadly, quite rare. They’re super-talented and doing great work, plus they’ve teamed up with Settlement Music School, Art Sanctuary, PIFA and the Free Library of Philadelphia. I keep saying it, and I’ll say it again: Get yourself to the Dell, and educate yourself on the great stuff they do.
7:30pm: Ted Leo, then Lee Fields & The Expressions at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Blvd. at Chestnut St.
Technically, this kicks off at 6:30pm with a harmonica free-for-all jam session led by John Colgan-Davis from Dukes of Destiny, but you might not want to miss Ted Leo, a rock super-hero in our time who’s as smart as he is brilliant and talented (and punk). And then there’s Mr. Fields—or “Little JB” for his likeness to James Brown himself. With the Expressions, he’s seen new life as a solo artist after decades of supporting folks like Kool & The Gang, Hip Huggers and Darrell Banks. This will be one soul-tastic, rip-roarin explosion of a finale. Bring your dancin’ shoes—and cape to remove—for this free dance frenzy on the water.
Now, that’s a musical day. You’re welcome.
Sat., June 21, 8am to 8pm. Free. Various locations. makemusicphilly.com
Floetry’s Philadelphia story
The 50 greatest Philly pop songs