Of all the cool things to come out of Kenzo Pride, the movement that grew in the wake of last year’s Kensington Strangler killings—talk of reviving a newspaper, the Kenzo News online news show, late-night dive-bar reunions full of drunken Jeff Foxworthy-style jokes about how to recognize a real Kenzo—here comes the coolest: For the first time since “retiring” in 1986, Sky Brady is back.
Next week, as part of an ongoing series of Kensington reunions organized by unofficial neighborhood mayor Rich Antipuna, the Sky Brady Band’s releasing a compilation album featuring all-time classic “Kensington Girls,” a track that lived in the rarified air of neighborhood bars like the Silver Lounge, Egger’s Tavern and the Bubble Club back in the day.
But it’s been nearly impossible to find since the 45 went out of print more than 15 years ago. Even Sky Brady had only two left.
Now, the party people will be able to reasonably and righteously expect to hear it pound out of DJ Too Tuff’s speakers and can dream of dancing to “Muchachas de Philly” at your mother’s new boyfriend’s daughter’s Quinceanera in South Philly. PW caught up with Sky Brady hisself on the horn from his home in Delaware, where he’s an in-demand party DJ. We talked “Kensington Girls,” the reunion, and an epic Kenzo kumbaya moment so tender it’ll bring a tattooed tear near your eye.
“Kensington Girls” is legend. How’d it happen?
There was so much bad press about Kensington ... and it got old after a while. We wanted to do something that was positive, to give the neighborhood a shot in the arm. [Bandmate] Alex Uskuraitis wrote the song.
What was the initial reaction?
It blew us away. It was on every jukebox. Nick Moran, [a journalist] at the Fishtown Star at the time, promoted us. He’d even put a picture of the band and pictures of Kensington girls in the paper. Basically I sat outside Al’s Record Spot on [Kensington] Avenue and we set up a card table, gave balloons out to the kids, and sold 45s up at K & A (ed note: local-speak for the intersection of Kensington and Allegheny Avenues) and Pat’s Music. We didn’t see any residuals from it, but we sold about 7,000 copies. And we did a march on K & A where everybody came ... and made a big circle and held hands and sang “Kensington Girls.”
Any other obscure hits on the new album?
In the ’80s when Wilson Goode was mayor, me and Alex wrote a follow-up to “Kensington Girls” called “Philly Girls” [which shouts out] every neighborhood in the city. It was never promoted. We might’ve sold about 500 copies. I know I had 500 copies under my bed. [laughs] We gave it away around the neighborhood. On the flip side of “Philly Girls,” we have it in Spanish. It’s called “Muchachas de Philly.”
So what happened all this time? How’d the reunion come about?
It was like Eddie and the Cruisers. “What ever happened to Sky Brady?” I got a call from Alex in 2008, he said he was approached about doing something for the Phillies because they were going to the World Series. So we did a jingle called “Philly Phans.” When it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood. I’m out singing again which I haven’t done in a lot of years, and it feels good. It all ties together. “Last Day of Summer,” that’s the single. The reunion next Monday will be the last day of summer, and Phillies are on their way to the World Series, and the “Kensington Girls” will be there because it’s a Kensington reunion.
The Sky Brady Band CD Release Festival, Sun., Sept 18, 3-7pm. $7. O’Reilly’s Pub, Frankford and Lehigh aves. 215.425.0413. oreillysphilly.com
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PW's Music Issue 2014