The Philadelphia music scene is a hot bed of talent and activity these days with city-based acts such as Strand of Oaks, Low Cut Connie and others taking their sounds to the national stage. Musicians from far and wide are moving into town to collaborate with others here, while A-list acts are tapping the local pool for players for their major international tours. As the producer and co-host of the weekly FM CRAIC Radio music show, this provides a deep well of interview subjects and the excitement of being part of a close-knit and supportive music community.
Sometimes it seems like you can’t walk a city block without bumping into another busy musician. That will certainly be the case on Saturday, June 22nd when Molestice hits the 100 block of North Mole Street. Molestice, the premier free music festival in Philly has established itself as a barometer of the city’s diverse and vibrant music scene with a line up of home based and national acts. Hartford, Connecticut’s Bronze Radio Return will headline the summer festival, joined by &More (Chill Moody & Donn T), Ali Awan, Great Time, Brian LaPann, Camp Candle and Hannah Krupa. The family-friendly street festival runs from 12 noon to 9:00pm and also features craft beers, gourmet food trucks and all-ages activities. For many attendees Molestice is an annual appointment on their cultural calendar. You can register to join the fun here:
Molestice has a rich history on the block extending over 35 years. In recent years, it has been adopted by Mole Street Artists, a national entertainment booking agency with roots on the 100 block of North Mole Street and a deep commitment to supporting and nurturing local musicians and the music community. Mole Street Artists was founded by musicians Brian LaPann and Brendan Walsh. I was excited to join this entrepreneurial and creative duo as Talent Buyer for the agency providing local and A-list acts for private and corporate events throughout the US and overseas. With over 25 years experience in booking international acts for theaters and festivals, I’ve always
had a passion for discovering new artists and bringing them to the attention of audiences. This continues to today in my role as a radio show producer, artist manager and in curating and booking music for the annual Molestice festival. I am excited about experiencing the audience reaction to each of the acts on the line up from the opener to headliner. Many of the performers have been guests on the radio show and each brings something different to enhance the summer music festival experience.
This year, live music kicks off with emerging artist Hannah Krupa. She has already graced the stage at venues such as Ronnie Scotts in London and The Hotel Café in Los Angeles. She’s embarking on a new phase in her career with the imminent release of her debut EP. Her sound is a little Joss Stone, and a little Amy Winehouse.
Camp Candle is a duo combining hip-hop, electronic pop, R&B and indie pop to create their own musical signature. Their lyrics reflect the harsh realities of the urban experience while focusing on the hopeful and optimistic. The band is preparing new music for release in August of this year. The duo consists of singer / guitarist Hetepsa and producer / multi-instrumentalist, Nu Ra. They met at high school in Philadelphia and then took different paths before reconnecting over a shared passion for music. Comparisons have been made to artists such as Phantogram, Washed Out and Beach House. The live show consists of soulful vocals, live percussion and melodic electronic grooves, proving that two can be greater than the sum of its parts.
Brian LaPann is a powerful guitarist, songwriter and singer with a magnetic stage presence to match. His music infuses blues, funk and rock to move the summer festival crowd. I first became aware of Brian though his acclaimed first band, 61 North. These days, in addition to his own band, he also leads Philly favorites Blues Junior, a powerful soul, blues, RnB, funk and rock band of seasoned performers that he assembles for special occasions at private events from Philly to New York and Los Angeles. A respected guitarist, he has been tapped by artists such as Chill Moody for studio sessions and for live performances such as The Roots Picnic in New York City.
The members of Great Time met while studying jazz at the New School in New York. Now, they live and work at the recording facility they built in an idyllic rural setting close to Philadelphia. Here they create their own music, while also producing and recording the work of other artists. “Our music speaks to a crowd that wants to dance and be engaged,” says band member Jill Ryan. Paste Magazine noted that “Great Time can’t seem to decide if they want to be a dance pop band or a raging rock band”. That is not a criticism, it is a compliment to the band’s expansive talents and diversity of musical reach. The live show runs the gamut from roaring rock to dance-pop. Hard to define but aptly named Great Time!
Following years supporting the musical dreams of others, Ali Awan stepped out front and released his debut single “Citadel Blues” in January 2018. It came to the attention of Philly rocker Deadfellow who shared the track with the crew over at Philly radio leader WXPN. Since then it’s been a roller coaster of live shows, critical acclaim and musical development. Named “Artist to Watch” by WXPN (88.5FM) and “the Philly rocker you should be listening to right now,” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, his 7-song EP Butterfly is taking him places. Expect a set of that veers from garage rock to psychedelic, folk and soul inspired jams.
&More (Chill Moody and Donn T)
Philly MC and entrepreneur Chill Moody and soulful singer and songwriter Donn T have each carved out their own musical legacy. Now they’ve joined forces as &More (Chill Moody & Donn T), the hip hop / RnB band. The debut album Ethel Bobcat arrived in May and already the band has 60 dates locked in on their live touring schedule. With soulful grooves, dance beats and optimistic rhymes, the band appeals to a wide audience and is bringing a fresh, new approach to making music. The band &More shares the focus on community that inspires the mission behind the summer music festival, Molestice. The debut album is named for Ethel Bobcat, a fictional, maternal figure in black communities who looked out for the neighborhood and offered wisdom and advice when needed. “What she represented is what we felt we were missing in music and our communities now,” says Chill. “When that figure is no longer, we gotta understand the correlation in the fact that there are no more old heads in the neighborhood looking out for that.” “We now all have to be Ethel Bobcat,” adds Donn. “But the music,” continues Chill, “is Ethel Bobcat. So the album is what Ms. Ethel would be saying to you.” &More channels the power of music as a unifying force to bring people of all kinds together in shared celebration.
Bronze Radio Return
With over 70 million streams on Spotify and appearances on prestigious festivals such as Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Firefly, Bronze Radio Return continues to be a force to be reckoned with. The five-piece band has been writing, recording and touring together since 2008. With seven albums to their name, they continue to hone their skills and grow their audiences nationwide. Bronze Radio Return is known for its rousing, anthemic, upbeat sound that’s part dance party, part roots-rock. Acclaimed for its songwriting prowess, the band’s songs have achieved over 100 high profile placings in movies, commercials and television shows, leaving them dubbed “the band you’ve probably heard, but haven’t heard of.” Unless, of course you’re one of the over 450,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. With a robust touring schedule over the past ten years, the band has developed an electric stage presence and that energy percolates throughout the crowd inducing die-hard fans and newbies alike to dance and sway to the grooves. I caught the band’s show at World Café Live in March and deemed them the perfect choice to headline Molestice.
Mole Street Artists founders Brian LaPann and Brendan Walsh have a vision for Molestice that will grow to activate every block of Mole Street in Philadelphia to celebrate the Summer Solstice with a community music festival and cultural gathering. “With Molestice, we see a future in Philadelphia that’s vibrant and harmonious. We want to see Molestice become what Jazz Fest is to New Orleans – taking over the city with a celebration of music, culture and camaraderie,” says Brian. “When you check out Mole Street on a map of Philadelphia,” continues Walsh, “this quirky street extends from the deep South all the way to North Philadelphia. We want to grow Molestice from a single block party to a citywide celebration.”
Mole Street Artists is well placed to produce such a celebrated event. Since 2011, Mole Street Artists has operated as a boutique booking agency for high end clients, providing musical performers for corporate events, hotels and hospitality, weddings and private parties throughout the United States and overseas. Collectively, Brian, Brendan and I share a passion for music and a motivation to be a positive force as part of the musical eco-system in Philadelphia and beyond. For us Molestice is an opportunity to create community and shared experience through music for people of all ages and diverse backgrounds.
Mark your calendars for Saturday June 22nd, 2019 when the 100 block of N. Mole Street in Philadelphia will be transformed by the joyous sounds of Molestice—the FREE annual block party + music festival to celebrate the summer solstice. Be part of a lively crowd of friendly people enjoying an eclectic mix of local music, tasty craft beers, Philadelphia's favorite food trucks, and all-ages activities.
Senior Talent Buyer – Mole Street Artists
Producer / Co-Host CRAIC Radio Show (WPPM 106.5FM)
Co-Manager – The End of America