Philly is always up for a good Battle Royale. Look at the Dukes of Hazzard-like struggle between the local motoring cops and the bikers barreling down Broad Street. Where is Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane when you need him? Or Mayor Kenney’s roughhouse with his longtime soda tax detractors. Where is Boss Hogg when you need him?
Last week-into-this-week is a particularly, persnickety and competitive one, and we’re all the better for it, and whatever accompanying bruises may befall us: say, the division championship Sixers-Hawks baller rivalry, the heated internal competition between new Eagles signee QB Nick Mullens and main man Jalen Hurts, hearing Johnny Showcase and Rumi heading up the “America’s Got Talent” ladder against all odds, the building-up-to-a-head-of-steam angry drivers considering the morning and evening rush PENNDOT lane changes geared toward bikers on Walnut and Chestnut from 22nd to 63rd.
Philadelphia thrives on making an issue out of everything, then turning it hard. Good. I like the grief. Now, If we could just get a hockey team as hot-headed as the Broad Street Bullies, or a band as ornery as Marah used to be (yeah, I may not have always loved, or even liked, what they released, but, they were good for copy), we could really be proud of our pugilism. Again.
Speaking of chasing ATVs, Philly’s favorite fashionista low rider, Lil Uzi Vert, jumped off fellow rapper and producer Pi’erre Bourne’s new track, “Sossboy 2,” and latest album The Life Of Pi’erre 5, at the weekend. Since every new track Bourne has dropped as of late snags 4 million-plus views on YouTube and Vert always ignites fireworks, expect “Sossboy2” to be your early earworm hit of the late spring.
Father’s Day whiskey
Everybody is hitting me up for Father’s Day. Save for missing my Dad and being a proud, loving papa to my pharaoh hound, the holiday is lost on me. That doesn’t mean I can’t be cheery, say, if Philly distillers such as Manatawny Still Works get together with the likes of, say, Levante for a collaborative whiskey, in time for F-Day. Not quite Easttown/Delco, yet not so very far away – brewed as it was in West Chester, fermented and distilled in Pottstown for three years – there’s a party for its release, Sunday, June 20 at Levante Brewing’s Stables on Park Road starting at 11am. Sounds early for whiskey, but why not? Get there early for a bottle and get a custom dual-branded whiskey tasting glass. Also for boozy dads, prior to this, at the Art in The Age tasting room on June 18, there’s a meat-themed cocktail class collab with the Tabachoy Filipino food cart for Whiskey & Steak Workshop and a Deerslayer Venison Whiskey from Tamworth Distilling. That sounds like a lot of carnivore-ing.
Hopefully, outdoor diners and neighbors between Fitler Square and the 2100 block of Spruce are still patient enough with M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant/Apple TV production shooting. After what seemed like the longest ever April in Fitler filming history, Night, Lauren Ambrose, Rupert Grint and the rest of Servant’s regulars were filming some sort of backyard carnival scenes last week, with additional scenes to be shot through this weekend. Servant and Shyamalan are due to leave the neighborhood by the end of June.
New Ali Awan project
One-time Philadelphia Weekly cover subject, composer, singer, guitarist Ali Awan just released his first, long length major project since that shoot, the Moon Mode EP, and will host a release show at the bucolic Sunflower Philly field on June 18. Well worth the sunburst.
Philly AIDS Thrift space
After a drive-in fundraising film screening of honorary Philadelphian John Waters’ “Female Trouble,” and for the first time in over 10 years, Philly AIDS Thrift will soon enough expand their facilities at 710 S. 5th St., adding nearly 4,000 square feet to the existing 19,000 square feet of space, with a fresh added donation collection center and some iconic local gay murals to follow.
In case you weren’t paying total attention, last year, when Mayor Kenney signed Juneteenth into the books as a recognizable holiday commemorating the post-Civil War date in 1865 when Union generals informed slaves they were free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation, that declaration was only for one year – 2020. Luckily an executive order in January 2021 has made June 19 a recurring holiday in Philadelphia (it’s been an official Pennsylvania holiday for the past two years), so, we’re all good. Look for art installations and “Jawnteenth” events all weekend at Malcolm X Park in West Philly.
Masked Philly: Tim Motzer
In Icepack’s continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to, beyond the pale, during C-19 – from lock down to the current reopening and present-day unmasking – I reached out this week to Tim Motzer. The Philly guitarist-composer has forever been at the forefront of different musical movements in this town: the avant-garde jazz and electronic scene from which his solo recordings and label, 1k Records is bound, the R&B/DJ oriented space funk of King Britt’s Sylk 130, the spoken word scene where he has been forever linked to poetess/singer Ursula Rucker.
Like every touring musician from 2020 to the present, Motzer had to shut down travel, even re-invent the workspace. Not only did that mean, for Motzer, doing more music online, but collaborating with choreographers and dancers at UArts, online.
“It was quite a transition, but it did work,” he said. “It was an important daily practice working with dancers. It felt important to ‘connect,’ and helped us all get through the lockdown. I created a music score working with choreographer Curt Haworth and 15 UArts dancers for a 25-minute collaborative work, Chimera Dreamscape, that was performed live to a Zoom audience,” said Motzer of a project that drew inspiration from ancient mythology, glam rock and psychedelia, and using imagination to move beyond the norm, even morphing into a storylines about living life in the Zoomasphere, available on YouTube. Motzer also combated boredom and depression while connecting with the community by creating a videocast “Searching for Sparks,” where he conversed with locals (Rucker, Kurt Rosenwinkel) and internationally renowned artists (David Torn, Percy Jones) about getting through the pandemic and finding a way forward.
“I found this to be not only therapeutic for us in our conversations, but for the viewers; this sharing of ideas, information, process, and inspiration made us all feel a little bit better, and somewhat more inspired.” This also is available on YouTube.
Motzer did, and does, find the mask interesting. “We all became anonymous… and it was very sci-fi, very William Gibson-ish – eventually. Taking the masks off now is a wonderful feeling, but at the same time, I think many people are still playing it safe and wearing them. It’s probably still a good idea for the short term. On my past travels to Japan and Korea, I noticed people there always wear masks, especially on trains, and areas of concentration. So, moving forward, this may be a good way for us.”
Along with revisiting an old friend – painting and mixed-media series – during COVID’s shutdown with tons of work to show for it (“including painting album covers for my label 1k Recordings, and for MoonJune Records releases”), Motzer is gearing up for his first tour since the shutdown with his PAKT ensemble (July 23 Kennett Flash, Kennett Square and July 25 Sellersville Theatre), as well as his first-ever, self-vocal album, “Many Ways Around the Sun,” on yet another local label Ropeadope. “After I recorded this during quarantine, I played it for my engineer who said, ‘This is your ‘Hunky Dory,’’ said Motzer in comparison to the Bowie classic. “Some songs are like prayers or meditations for this complicated time. Others are about following your heart, and cherishing the earth, humanity, and our loved ones.” The album is out in July, and the first single, the title track, is out now on Bandcamp.com.