Dan Gross: Boyz guy loves Philly home

Boyz II Men (from left): Nate Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman
Boyz II Men (from left): Nate Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman
Posted: September 15, 2011

AFTER 20 YEARS in Boyz II Men, Nate Morris still prefers a hometown crowd. "Philly's always great. When you're from here, you're from here. Philly supports Philly," Morris said, still happy about the warm reception the group got as surprise guests during the Wawa Welcome America! concert July 4 on the Parkway.

Morris was glad that The Roots, who curated the Welcome America weekend, had asked them to play.

Morris and the other members of Boyz II Men attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, as did the founding members of The Roots. He and Roots drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson had the same homeroom at CAPA and knew frontman Tariq Trotter.

On Saturday, Morris, his brother Wanya Morris and lifelong friend Shawn Stockman will play Temple's Liacouras Center along with a 34-piece orchestra. It's billed as a 20th-anniversary celebration, and will be held about a month before the release of "Twenty," which will feature 10 new songs and 10 greatest hits.

"The type of music we do has been dormant for years," Morris said. He believes that old fans and new listeners will enjoy the R&B material full of the group's classic harmonies. We asked Morris whether the guys had asked Michael McCary, who left the group in 2003 due to a medical problem, to sing on the new album. "We reached out to have Michael involved. Mike had some outrageous demands," he said.

The group's new single "More Than You'll Ever Know" is on iTunes now, and it has also just launched an iPhone and Android app. A percentage of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Boyz II Men House charity.

Goalie's history lesson

Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov took in the historic Betsy Ross House (239 Arch) a couple days back and took a carriage ride, courtesy of Historic Philadelphia. Onlookers say he seemed to be having a great time.

Stand-up guy

You may not know David Koechner's name, but you've probably seen him on "The Office," as Michael Scott's even- more-inappropriate pal Todd Packer or as Champ Kind in "Anchorman."

Tonight through Saturday Koechner performs stand-up at Helium Comedy Club (2031 Sansom). Koechner (pronounced KECK-ner) spent the summer of 2008 shooting the indie comedy "Tenure" on the Main Line with Luke Wilson.

The actor, whose credits also include "Thank You For Smoking" and "Waiting," started doing stand-up two years ago and says it came naturally after performing improvisational sketch comedy all his life, including at Second City in Chicago, where he met Steve Carell. Koechner can be seen in theaters now in "Final Destination 5" and "A Good, Old Fashioned Orgy."

For info, or tickets, visit heliumcomedy.com.

Goodnight, pottymouth

Adam Mansbach, author of the amusing best-selling bedtime book for parents, "Go the F--k to Sleep," will speak at the National Museum of American Jewish History (5th & Market) at 7 p.m. Tuesday as part of the NMAJH's "It's Your Story" series.

Mansbach, whose novels include "The End of the Jews," "Angry Black White Boy" and "Shackling Water," will talk about the Jewish storylines in his writing, the intersection of African-American and Jewish culture, specifically in jazz and hip-hop, and his profanely comical "children's" book.

Tix are $12 or $10 for museum members, available at nmajh.org.

Director's eco award

"Gasland" director Josh Fox, in town recently at the Marcellus Shale fracking protest, will receive the Eco Champion Award from the Manayunk Eco Arts Festival on Sept. 24. The event runs the 24th and 25th. For more info visit manayunk.com.
Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow @PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or email grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit philly.com/DanGross.

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