Arts and Culture

Malcolm X Park Jazz series underway. Next show is on Thursday, June 25

June 24, 2015


Jazz vocalist Barbara Walker will perform at Malcolm X. Park on July 9. (Photo from

Recently we let you know about the Cedar Park Summer Jazz series happening every Friday night, and here’s information on the annual West Philadelphia Jazz Heritage Series held at Malcolm X. Park (52nd and Pine). Concerts are set for every other Thursday from May 28 to Sept. 17, starting at 7 p.m. (weather permitting). This summer, the popular concert series returns for its 15th season! All concerts are free and open to the public.

Here’s the concert schedule and line up of performers.

June 25 – The Budesa Brothers
July 9 – The Barbara Walker Story (vocalist)
July 23 – Shirley Lites (vocalist)
Aug. 6 – Geo. Barron (tenor sax), Janet Barron (vocalist)
Aug. 20 – Lawrence Jones (tenor sax)
Sept. 3 – Michelle Beckham
Sept. 17 – The Nate Murray Band

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Incarcerated fathers reconnecting with their children: A mural unveiling on Saturday

June 19, 2015


The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program will unveil a new mural in Southwest Philly on Saturday that honors the commitment of incarcerated fathers to their children.

The mural, entitled Fathers and Children Together (FACT), will be installed at 55th and Woodland on Saturday (the day before Fathers’ Day) at 11 a.m.. The public is invited and light refreshments will be served.

The mural is the result of collaboration between the Mural Arts Program, the United Community Action Network at SCI Graterford, the maximum security state prison outside of Philadelphia, and the Fathers and Children Together (FACT) program. The FACT program helps incarcerated fathers reconnect with children in the hopes that they can become positive role models and encourage their kids to choose education over incarceration. During FACT session inside Graterford, kids are able to interact one-on-one with their fathers.

About a third of the mural, which is painted on parachute cloth, was painted inside Graterford. Christy Bottie, who has led art workshops in the FACT program, is working on the rest of the mural with lead muralist Ernel Martinez.

Drawings created together by fathers and their children during FACT sessions make up the border of the mural.

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Free performances at Curio about school shootings ask: ‘Why?’

June 19, 2015

Here are a few chances to visit Curio Theatre before it closes its doors until the next season. The local theater company will present a series of free performances this weekend and on Monday, June 22.


CuriosiTeens! (Photo courtesy of Curio Theatre Company)

Curio’s young company, CuriosiTeens! will present three performances of Bang Bang You’re Dead, a powerful drama written by William Mastrosimone in the wake of the school shootings of the late 1990s. The goal of this production is to search out and answer a very complex question: “Why?”. The first performance is tonight at 7 p.m., and there will be two shows tomorrow (Saturday, June 20) – at 2 and 7 p.m. All shows are on Curio’s Main Stage (48th and Baltimore). Please call 215-525-1350 or email to reserve your tickets.

On Monday, Curio’s 2015 New Play reading series concludes with Antagonyms written by Rachel Gluck. “When a man returns to his home city after fifteen years of running, four people must struggle to maintain control over their lives, and keep the past in the past.” The play is directed by Jack Tamburri. The cast features Isa St. Clair, Trevor Fayle, Colleen Hughes and Andrew J. Carroll. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. on Curio’s Corner Stage, 48th and Baltimore Ave.

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“P.M. at Penn Museum” summer concert series returns this Wednesday

June 15, 2015


Photo courtesy of Penn Museum.

Penn Museum is bringing back its popular summer concert series this week. P.M. at Penn Museum concerts will kick off in the outdoor Stoner Courtyard on Wednesday, June 17, with a performance by Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble. Penn Museum’s summer night concerts, which are held every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. through early September, offer a great opportunity to relax after a long workday in the museum’s green space and enjoy live music from around the globe.

In addition to the concerts, guests can enjoy non-alcoholic beverages and regionally themed light fare available for purchase at the Pepper Mill Café. Tickets are $10 and include museum admission (free for children under 6). Concerts are held indoors during inclement weather. Here’s the line-up for this month, from the Penn Museum’s website:

June 17

Harrisburg Mandolin Ensemble
This Pennsylvania-based group returns to kick off the summer series. Inspired by the early 20th-century tradition of the community mandolin concert, the group lays down original tunes and arrangements, as well as selections of jazz, swing, bluegrass, old-time, folk, and world music.

June 24

Xande Cruz
With a sound as rich and diverse as his native São Paulo, Xande Cruz adeptly blends urban and traditional, colors and sounds, together in a soulful way like none other. His music defies genres by combining Afro-Brazilian rhythms with samples, funk guitars, bass, drums, horns, and vocals.

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Free family events this weekend: West Park Arts and River Fests

June 12, 2015

Two popular annual community events are happening this Saturday and Sunday in West and Southwest Philly. Details are below. Please check our Events Calendar for more events.

West Park Arts Fest – Saturday, June 13


Kyo Daiko performs at West Park Arts Fest (photo courtesy of West Park Arts).


West Park Arts Fest, a fun day of free performances and activities for the whole family, will take place on Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. – WestParkArtsFest5 p.m., on the School of the Future grounds (4021 Parkside Ave). The festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Philadelphia. Outdoor Mainstage performers include: Gretchen Elise, Kyo Daiko, Gegisom MLK Choir, Ceo Black, and more. Universal Dance and Drum Ensemble, Kun-Yang Lin, Lady Hoofers, and other artists will perform on the Dance stage. Children’s Pavilion activities include: a drawing workshop, Treehouse Books giveaway, reading out loud and bookmark making, activities with Franklin Institute and Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia Zoo animals and artifacts, storytelling with Kala Jojo, and more! Also, there will be many wonderful vendors and free historic trolley tours of Fairmount Park Centennial District at 12:00, 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. (sign up here). More information about the fest is available here.

River Fest & Tidal Schuylkill Boat Parade – Sunday, June 14  

BoatParadeOn Sunday, June 14, families are invited to spend the day at the beautiful Bartram’s Garden (54th and Lindbergh). The annual River Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include tons of great stuff: free boat, pony and hay rides, Youth Bicycle Rodeo, Philly’s oldest tugboat, free food (hot dogs, pretzels and snacks), Ice Cream on the River (free ice cream for those who paddle out to the floating ice cream parlor), a petting zoo, live music performances, and more. Plus, the Tidal Schuylkill Boat Parade, which starts at noon. Check out the Bartram’s Garden website for more information.


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A chance to meet award-winning West Philly author Asali Solomon this Thursday

June 10, 2015


Asali Solomon (Photo from

West Philly native and Haverford College professor Asali Solomon will read from her highly-acclaimed novel “Disgruntled” and sign copies at two local venues this Thursday (June 11).

First, Solomon will be at Bindlestiff Books at 4530 Baltimore Ave. for a signing from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Copies of “Disgruntled” have been available in the store for a few weeks now, and will be available at the event.

Then, starting at 7 p.m., Solomon will be reading from her novel at Little Earthquakes, as part of the “Still Untitled” series. Little Earthquakes is a group house at 4710 Warrington Avenue that hosts many events.

In addition to Solomon, New York City poet Ely Shipley will be a guest at Thursday’s salon at Little Earthquakes. Shipley’s first book, “Boy with Flowers,” won the Barrow Street Press book prize, the Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. His chapbook, “On Beards: A Memoir of Passing,” is forthcoming from speCt! books. The event is free and open to the public. Please email for more information.

As a reminder, “Disgruntled” is a coming-of-age novel set in West Philadelphia. Solomon invites readers into the journey of protagonist Kenya Curtis, an African immigrant, as she navigates childhood in West Philly. We meet Kenya as a fourth grader at Henry C. Lea School where she tries to fit in but is confronted with her and her family’s Afrocentric identity. The novel is partly autobiographical. Here is a great review of “Disgruntled” in the Los Angeles Times. By the way, Solomon still lives in West Philly.

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