Now and Then

By Tim Whitaker
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 24, 2007

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Eve Jeffers, stone cold Philly girl, came home last week to promote her new record. But after the time had been set, the release date got delayed. So rather than seem a drama queen, she turned her homecoming into a birthday party for her and her mom, who taught her the only way to get where you want to go is to demand it.

"I've definitely grown up," Eve told PW's Kate Kilpatrick just days before her red-carpet throwdown at World Cafe Live. "I'm definitely more mature, and I definitely don't live the things I used to live on the block in Philly."

Eve's no Philly flyby: She grew up in the Mill Creek Housing Projects in West Philly--"I got into a lot of stuff, but I never brought none of my rah-rah stuff in the house around my mother"--then moved to Germantown as a teenager. She scratched and bumped to get known in macho-fueled hip-hop circles, even dancing in a strip club briefly before becoming a hard-boiled MC and signing with Ruff Ryders.

Albums, TV and movies followed (she stole Barbershop!), and even a line of clothing (look for a Fetish relaunch). The new album is coming, she swears, and it promises to bring big noise, judging by the single and video that's already been released titled "Tambourine."

At the birthday party at World Cafe Live, Eve performed a handful of songs, commanding the stage with both the edge and the sense of warmth and play that distinguishes her and makes her look so homegrown.

"Any city I go to," she told Kilpatrick, "people are always like, 'I can tell you're from Philly--Philly girls are so feisty.' I get that all the time. And it's true. No matter where we move to, it never grows out of us. You'll still always be Philly."

Two days later, Broad and Dauphin in North Philadelphia, and a different kind of homecoming, this one to honor the late radio personality Georgie Woods.

Woods came to the city from New York way back in 1953 and began broadcasting on WDAS and WHAT, the two AM stations that programmed to black listeners at the far right end of the dial.

In the early and mid-'60s Woods would sometimes scrap the music and turn the station into his personal pulpit for civil rights issues, whether to rally protesters to help integrate Girard College or to calm the fever in North Philadelphia during the riots of 1964.

Woods, though, might be best known to older Philadelphians for his days hosting shows at the old Uptown Theater on Broad Street. In a single show, Woods would bring act after act to the stage--Smokey, James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder among scores of others.

Those historic memories are part of the reason there's yet another effort to get the Uptown Theater back on its feet again. The hope is that a revitalized Uptown will finally fuel an Avenue of the Arts "up this way instead of having everything be down that way," as one of the speakers puts it.

It's fitting this celebration for Georgie Woods is being held on Broad Street in front of the long-closed Uptown Theater.

Woods' family is here to see Broad between Susquehanna and Dauphin renamed Georgie Woods Boulevard and to watch a mural displaying his image on the side of the Uptown building dedicated.

The mayor is here too, with a check for $1 million to kick off the campaign to renovate the Uptown. (And yes, he's loudly cheered.)

Musicians from the Uptown house band reminisce with each other--"Remember when the Delfonics scared the Whispers out of town?"--before breaking into a jazzed-up version of the old Soul Train theme song that gets the whole block moving.

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