Music, food, theater and more.
“I’ve been performing ever since I was a little boy in church,” says Bilal. “I used to stand up in the pews and run around like in a Richard Pryor movie.” Though no longer a child, he performs with the same Pentecostal passion; refrain from calling 911 if you see the soul singer collapse to the floor, only to wind up underneath the piano. “I’m just letting go,” he says. For Bilal, “letting go” after falling down has been a hard lesson learned. Though his debut album 1st Born Second won him critical acclaim, his follow-up, Love for Sale, was shelved by Interscope –a disappointment he likens to “an unwanted abortion.” But with a genre-bending album soon to be released by new home Plug Research, and concertgoers who devotedly belt tracks from his fallen project, the Philly native is on the verge of a revival. “I’m just thankful I’m over that hump,” he says. “It didn’t stop me, because I still felt the love. That kept me going.” Gerald Johnson
9pm. $27-40. World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. worldcafelive.com
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Even in 1955, Harold was a bad name for a kid. Destined to be the class glue eater, a name like that sets you up for a boring life. The only Harold worth knowing is the title toddler from Crockett Johnson’s beloved children’s novel Harold and the Purple Crayon in which the 4-year-old goes for a walk in the moonlight only to discover there is no moon. Through 64 pages, Harold uses his violet art supplies to create a dream world but finally ends up at home by drawing a picture of his own bedroom. Beloved by children and adults, the book launched six sequels. Relive your youth at a recession-friendly preview of Enchantment Theater’s staging of The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon. The free one-night production is open to everyone, but offers special accomodations for the vision and hearing impaired, including a touch tour of the set before the show. Afterward, stick around for a dessert buffet and a question-and-answer sesssion with the cast. Erica Palan
6pm. Free. Prince Music Theater, 1416 Chestnut St. 215.568.2115. art-reach.org
When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?
New City Stage offers theatergoers an alternative to the usual uplifting holiday fare with their production of Mark Medoff’s When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? The recipient of 1974 Obie and Drama Desk awards, Medoff’s story is set in 1969 at an all-night diner in a remote New Mexico desert town. In the diner the young waitress and overnight cook (nicknamed Red Ryder) begin their daily drudgery while two upscale travelers enjoy their breakfast. The morning calm is interrupted with the arrival of a Vietnam vet and his young hippie companion. An alternately funny and disturbing dark comedy loaded with guns, drugs, and torture, in Ryder Medoff uses class and generational differences to debunk what he sees as the false idealism of the peace, love and flower power movement. For financially-minded theatergoers the production (which runs through January 12) has two “pay what you can” performances on December 10 and 11. J. Cooper Robb
8pm. Pay what you can. Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom St. 215.563.7500. newcitystage.org
Saturn Never Sleeps
If there were ever a séance for Sun Ra, SNS would be it. Producer King Britt and his fiance, multimedia artist Rucyl, have yet to walk down the aisle, but they are already combining their superpowers to conjure the free-wheeling, afro-futuristic spirit of the electronic music innovators who have influenced their work. “Sun Ra was ethereal, visual, thought-provoking, rhythmic, and, most importantly, free,” says Rucyl. “These are the core concepts we try to support with our performances.” The result is an evening that is irresistibly intergalactic and improvisational, in which producers and VJ’s—celebrating their love for “jazz, beats, blips, Rhodes and Kraftwerk ”—are curated as objects of art. “History is being made with every show,” says Britt, who says he senses Sun Ra’s omnipresence. “We feel that he has chosen us to carry the torch and fuse our electronic club world with the jazz world,” he says. “We understand the power of this union and will continue the revolution started by our predecessors.” G.J.
7pm. $12. Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. 215.925.9914. paintedbride.org.
For a dozen years singer-guitarist Geoff Farina fronted the Boston combo Karate, blending jazz-informed performance styles and structures with rough-edged indie rock until hearing problems forced him to disband the group in 2005. Now Farina’s re-emerged with the somewhat quieter but no less compelling or musically accomplished Glorytellers, which also counts among its members former Karate drummer Gavin McCarthy and guitarist Mike Castellana, recently seen playing alongside Boston country-punk Sarah Borges. Together, the trio creates an atmospheric, bluesy sound with elements of folk, bluegrass, noirish surf/lounge-pop and lots of nimble fretwork a tad reminiscent of those jazzy Karate chops. Get there early to see Farina and Come/Codeine guitarist Chris Brokaw perform as a duo to open the evening’s festivities. Michael Alan Goldberg
8pm, $10. With Curtis Harvey + Chris Brokaw and Geoff Farina. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. 215.291.4919. kungfunecktie.com
This Richmond quartet recalls the early halcyon days of thrash before it transformed into the kind of fat, bloated monster that requires a staff psychologist to make it through a tour. Racing guitars Reign in Blood while hardcore rhythms pound ferociously like a ready-to-burst forehead vein. Into their tenth year, Municipal Waste’s fourth album Manic Aggressive graduates from the over-inebriated party-centric hijinks of prior releases to embrace politically-tinged lyrics and a wider palette of (still raging) sonics. With metal and hardcore reconnecting after years of estrangement, it’s a nice reminder that—as with Suicidal Tendencies and DRI before them—humor proves a fine replacement for coloring book blasphemy and indecipherable cookie monster brutality. Chris Parker
7:30 pm. With Brutal Truth, Phobia, and Cauldron. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 267.765.5210. r5productions.com
Anarchism & Colonialism
Nothing says happy holidays like an impassioned lecture on anarchy. So this year, skip the eggnog, the clay dreidle and the stockings stuffed with tube socks and treat your loved one to rhetoric they can use the next time they want to incite a riot. Radical bookstore and anarchist collective Wooden Shoe Books will be hosting New York-based writer, teacher, activist and dancer Maia Ramnath, who will lead discussion on the “historical relationships between anarchy and anti-colonial struggles.” The open forum promises to be a breeding ground for ideas on “confronting present-day manifestations of colonization in all its forms.” After the lecture, feed your inner Noam Chomsky by browsing their collection of literature on social justice, radicalism and all around fist in the air non-fiction. All proceeds will go toward the Institute for Anarchist Studies as well as Maia’s travel cost. Tim McGinnis
7pm. $5. Wooden Shoe Books, 704 South St. 215.413.0999.woodenshoebooks.com
Courtesy of the Lucky Old Souls series and an American Composers Forum grant, pianist Tom Lawton will give the first public performance of “Seven Vignettes from Broad and Lombard,” a trio suite featuring bassist Josh Machiz and drummer Alex Maio. Lawton spent time at the Philadelphia Senior Center, talking to elderly residents about the meaning of music—an open-ended subject that led the composer to think in ways he wouldn’t have expected. Fans of Bobby Zankel’s Warriors of the Wonderful Sound know about Lawton’s solidity at the keyboard. The trio setting should provide a fuller view. Also on the bill: Classical Revolution, a string quartet playing Bach and Astor Piazzolla. David R. Adler
9pm. $10. Moonstone Arts Center, 110 S. 13th St. 215.735.9600. moonstoneartscenter.org
Films from the Urban Archives
Years ago, Temple University’s Urban Archives were bequeathed from the TV stations WPVI and KYW some 14,000 cans of 16mm footage. On these reels lie untold hours of documentaries, newsreels and various unedited miscellany from the ’40s to the ’80s—the bulk of the region’s audio-visual history. While these wares have typically been used by documentarians; folks from PBS and ESPN and students, UA Assistant Archivist John Pettit and Secret Cinema’s Jay Schwartz dreamed up a new angle: Find the most fascinating items and screen them to the public. Films From the Urban Archives, which originally screened in two parts in April, returns in a single, truncated form, yielding such footage on everything from the original Electric Factory to early Move. “We’ve traditionally been more of a paper- and photo-based archives, so having audio-visual material to draw from really helps round out the historical record,” says Pettit. “The elements of film lend itself to a much more visceral experience of something that happened in the past.” Matt Prigge
8pm. Free. Moore College of Art and Design, 20th and Race sts. 215.965.4099. thesecretcinema.com
Rock Bass Rainbow Fest
For a motley crew of graduates from Tyler School of Art, it’s all about giving back to the community. Together as the Cohoquinoque Crew, they organized a two-day festival with to promote the arts and a sense of unity in their Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods. The funky names reflect a love for their ‘hoods including the “fishy” rock bass and the area’s “fun-loving scene,” according to Crew member Jessica Tyler. The festivities kick off Friday night with a fashion show followed by a dance party featuring DJs FoShow & Tell and Milkywaters and bands My Friends and Band Name. The next day, about 40 vendors will be on hand for a craft fair featuring jewelry, ceramics, paintings, photography, clothing, accessories and beauty products. The Crew also hosts a food drive for local food bank Philabundance and an auction for the charity of their choice. Sherri Hospedales
10am. (Also on Fri., Dec. 11 at 8pm.) Skybox, 2424 E.York St. 215.423.1800. rbrf.wordpress.com
Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs
Holly Golightly got her start in Billy Childish’s Thee Headcoatees during the early 1990s, so it’s no surprise that she shares a certain minimalist retro aesthetic with the Buff Medways’ wild man. Since then, she’s worked with the leading lights of electric blues revival—Dan Melchior, the Greenhornes and, memorably, Jack White. Still, while she’s one of garage rock’s leading ladies, her own work leans more towards Wanda Jackson—rough, heart-felt and full of stinging slides. Lawyer Dave, her longtime life and musical partner, is the only other member of the Brokeoffs, playing guitar with his hands and a variety of drums with his feet, for a stripped and smoking sound. Jennifer Kelly
9pm. $12. With the Tough Shits + Far-Out Fangtooth. M Room, 15 W. Girard. 215.739.5577. themanhattanroom.com
Toddlers do not have big balls. Nor do they want to hear about big balls—they’ll find out in due time, if they’re lucky. So perhaps it seems odd that Dan Bern’s latest release is a collection of lullabies entitled 2 Feet Tall. But just as it’s not fair to pigeonhole the talented anti-folk singer with one testicle-extolling song from more than a decade ago, he’s certainly more than just a children’s singer too. With witty lyrics and simple chords, Bern has always been expert at blending the incongruous. Let’s just hope he doesn’t take that hybridization too far. Jeffrey Barg
7pm and 10pm. $22. With Nicole Reynolds. Puck, 14 E. Court St., Doylestown. 215.348.9000. pucklive.com
Jewish cuisine, n.: the practice of honoring your forefathers by taking already unhealthy foods and deep-frying them. See also: sufganiyot; chicken fat. But not everyone was raised watching their bubbe get third-degree burns while ministering over a pan of boiling hot oil. This is your chance to feast with the Chosen People on potato pancakes prepared by experts from across the city, both obvious (Zahav, Jones) and not. Singapore Chinese Kitchen initially seems like an outlier, but where do you think all the Jews go out to eat on Christmas Day? More puzzling is Greek restaurant Estia: Maybe they’re out for revenge for when the Jewish Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks, which gave rise to Hanukkah in the first place? Might be delicious, but watch out for hot flying fry grease—it might not be bubbe’s fault after all. Jeffrey Barg
2-4pm. $10-$18. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St. 215.545.4400. gershmany.org
The Levee Drivers
These Bucks County traditionalists won 2007’s “Best of Philly Rising” contest with their taut and hard-hitting country rock. August Lutz, the front man, conjures the surpressed menace of a young Johnny Cash, while guitarist Jason Schultz picks out soaring, anthemic leads. Still the band’s secret weapon may well be its rhythm section, drummer Jeff Orlowski and bassist Kyle Perella, laying down a freight train beat that drives over velvety midnight landscapes. The Levee Drivers’ “Tennessee Girl” is not the Sammy Kershaw song, nor does its “Wichita” have anything to do with the Jayhawks, though both originals have deep roots in Americana’s past. J.K.
9pm. $8. With Polar Ice Cap + Several Wolves. M Room, 15 W. Girard. 215.739.5577. themanhattanroom.com
Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night
Imagine hundreds of people in a procession through the streets, all carrying boomboxes, with something slightly different coming from each one, all meshing into one giant, organic, ambient soundscape. It’s sort of hard to imagine, actually, but that’s the idea behind composer Phil Kline’s 21st-century symphony, Unsilent Night. Since its debut in 1992 in Manhattan, Kline has been taking the experimental music venture on the road each yeah during the winter holiday season. Kline leads the crowd on the hour-long auditory trek around the city, like some kind of aural amoeba. Each participant hears a different piece from his or her position, as do people on the outside of the procession. The sound of distant choirs of Christmas bells and spacey synths feels a bit “out there,” on its own. But when it comes together in such a multilayered, fluid manner, it verges on gorgeous. Kevin Brosky
6:30pm. Free. Ethical Society Building, 1906 Rittenhouse Square. 215.574.8248. unsilentnight.com.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Life is tough for hyperliterate carnivores. Most of them agree that Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer’s debut novel, is one of the best books of the decade. (Paste magazine just ranked it No. 9 on its own 2000-2009 list.) So does that mean that with the publication of Eating Animals—Foer’s first nonfiction book, about the toll that meat production takes on the planet and the insanity of eating cows and chickens but not puppies and kitties—we have to stop eating animals? Is it possible to appreciate smart storytelling, tenacious reporting and compelling arguments, and still appreciate a cheeseburger? Test your mettle when Foer comes to the Penn Bookstore ... if you can stomach it. J.B.
7pm. Free. Penn Bookstore, 36th and Walnut sts. 215.898.7595. upenn.edu/bookstore
A Sunny Day In Glasgow
Philly outfit A Sunny Day in Glasgow may detest being called a “shoegazer” or “nü-gazer” or “dream-pop” band, but unfortunately that’s what happens when you run your guitars through tons of reverb and delay pedals, add some gauzy female vocals, and layer the hazy, woozy drones and noises on thick. But whatever labels stick to them, the good news is that the shit sounds fabulous. Their sound manipulations may remind you of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, or Cocteau Twins, but their songs don’t sound like anyone else, and ASDiG augments their atmospherics with all sorts of synths, electronics, percussion and the occasional bright melody or vocal harmony to create a brilliant psych-rock shimmer that’ll have you thinking more about how good you feel than what to call it. M.A.G.
9pm. $10. With Reading Rainbow + Ape School. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com
Orrin Evans Big Band
Pianist Orrin Evans is a de facto ambassador for the Philadelphia jazz scene and a kind of community leader here at home. He co-leads Tar Baby and Luvpark; boasts sideman credits with Ralph Peterson, Dave Douglas, Mark Helias, Mos Def, the Mingus Big Band and many more; and adds a multimedia twist to his own gigs by recruiting tap dancers, poets and other performers to his cause. He’s brought all that to bear in forming the Captain Black Big Band, now in the midst of a weekly run through December. Evans’ hard-swinging currents and rhythmic disturbances can make the band sound like an advancing army. D.R.A.
8pm. $12. Chris’ Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St. 215.568.3131 chrisjazzcafe.com