Happy news: We are May 2013’s Philly Rising winning band!

by Ji11

Jill takes a wicked triangle solo

What’s more awesome, Jill’s expression, or Erin’s dress? (Erin’s dress, definitely.)

As you may recall, our CD Release Party for 39 Summers was on May 18th 2013 at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington.
The album release was really successful (We sold out the venue! We got a lot of hugs! We got to make music with people we love! We sold a lot of CDs!), and we thought it would be a good idea to keep the momentum going by playing at the World Cafe Live in Philly as quickly as possible afterwards. So on the following Monday, just a few short days after the album release party, we headed up and played WCL Philly’s open mic, called Philly Rising.

The open mic was packed with really good players: both seasoned soloists, full bands, and a few new people trying out their material. It was a big crowd, pretty loud, mostly friendly, and we were grateful that we reserved a table near the front so we’d have a place to sit and we could see. We were happy that the lovely Em McKeever, her friend Harley, and Rodney, all joined us. We had a blast listening to everyone, cheering each other on, and keeping each other entertained.

We could only play two songs, so we played 39 Summers and It Only Takes Two to Rock, both songs went especially well. The crowd, which was a very chatty bunch, seemed to quiet down when we took the stage, and when I introduced It Only Takes Two in my silly Tenacious D ripoff voice, people were really paying attention. We played the crap out of the song, and we had strangers yelling “HOT BREAKFAST!” by the time our little two-song set was over. Gotta say, it felt really good to win over a crowd like that.

We didn’t know that Philly Rising was a competition, so we were rather surprised to hear that we had won the night via email after we’d gotten home. The prize for winning the night was that we’d get to compete against all of the other May winners in July.

So, the July competition just happened on July 2nd, and we were up against really talented folks. You could feel the energy in the room– the competitive energy, but also the camaraderie too. Some bands and waitstaff recognized us (“Hey! You’re the Breakfast people, right?”) which felt really nice.

The April bands played first and the fabulously tight, piano-based quartet (quintet? I can’t remember because I’m old) Dan Orlando Band won for the April folks. Then the May bands played, and we were scheduled to play at 10:30, but things were moving at a rapid clip, so we wound up playing at around 10pm. The May bands were fabulous, and we knew we weren’t going to win, and we were also totally OK with that. We’re just two people, and competitions are really kind of silly anyway… how could you possibly compare what we do to a solo blues guy or to a jam-band or to a full-blown rock band with three-part harmonies? How do you determine who is “better?” And what does “better” even mean?

They called us to the stage, and as we walked up I heard someone say, “Oh, I love these guys.” I winked at them and said, “Keep your expectations nice and low, folks.” We had a bunch of friends from Philly at the show to support us, so there was some enthusiastic fist-pumping happening to get the crowd primed; we were very, very appreciative. We were allowed to play three songs, so we picked “39 Summers,” “Act Surprised” and “It Only Takes Two to Rock.” People seemed pretty into 39 Summers, we got applause for the big vocal ending of Act Surprised, and once again, people dug It Only Takes Two.

This funny thing happened: At the end of It Only Takes Two, Matt and I were really laying the rock moves/rock scowls on super-thick, so I thought it’d be funny to take the mic off the stand and twirl the mic stand over my head at the end of the song to be magna-ridiculous. So right after Matt counts off for the big ending, I start taking the mic off the mic stand, but the mic cable unplugged itself, and I let out a very dainty “FUCK!” and just start belting the rest of the song without a mic… and I could tell that people could still hear it (thank goodness for having a big mouth). Then I saw Matt move over, so I just hopped on his mic to finish out the rest of the song– he was on both knees on the floor– I’m sure I had one arm in the air or something silly, and the place went nuts. Instead of laughing at us for the mic breaking in my hand, they were totally on our side and laughing at the ridiculousness of it, which again, made me so happy because they absolutely could have made us feel like total tools.

Anyway, we left the stage and a few more bands played. One of the remaining bands were these two 20-ish girls playing guitars with great harmonies. After they were done playing, they came up to us and said, very nicely: “It’s really obvious that you guys have been doing this for a long time.” She didn’t mean it as a dig at our age, but to be funny I turned it into one, and we all laughed about it.

Keep taking your Centrum Silver, kids.

So… we were packing up to leave as the judges tallied the votes, and HOLYCRAP, we won! While we would have been happy with just this little feather in our caps, we found out there are some prizes, as well: Three hours of studio time at Cambridge Sound Studios in Newtown, PA; a couple spins on 93.7 WSTW, our band’s Hearo.fm profile (should we decide to make one, that is) will get featured on Hearo.fm’s front page, and a featured performance spot upstairs at World Cafe Live in Philly on September 30th.

On Wednesday, January 22nd 2014, we’ll play a 12-band showcase downstairs at World Cafe Live in Philly as part a showcase all of 2013’s monthly Philly Rising winners. That concert will also be a competition, and we’ll need you there to cheer us on! As of right now we’re scheduled to play at 8:15pm, but sometimes these events move quickly, so we could go on earlier. Of course, we may also go on later, but not much later… so please come support us!

Stay tuned!

Your pal,

Ji11

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