Music through the year's longest day in Philly

Ted Leo, a postpunk songwriter, will play at Penn's Landing.
Ted Leo, a postpunk songwriter, will play at Penn's Landing.
Posted: June 21, 2014

With the additional sunlight of summer's solstice beaming throughout the waking hours of June 21, expect the year's longest day (into night) to be crammed tight with melody, harmony, and rhythm, if give "Make Music Philly" has any say in your affairs.

Not to be confused with the Kimmel Center's annual, experimental music "Solstice in the City" party, the WXPN-hosted "Make Music Philly" is a free, all-day-all-night affair (based on the precepts of France's National Music Day, with participating cities across the globe). Every crevice and corner of neighborhood Philly will be packed with sound.

It could be locals like Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra regaling Robin Hood Dell East audiences with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, eternal open mic host Boy Wonder and steel drum man Dante Bucci jamming at Lickety Split, Carol Moog's blues duo at Bainbridge Green, a Philly pop team (Ben Arnold, Cookie Rabinowitz, Pete Donnelly, the Fractals) migrating to Roxborough's Gorgas Park, or Sara Abo-Harb rocking the Franklin Institute in the afternoon and the Hard Rock Cafe at night.

It could be brand-name nationals such as crotchety, postpunk songwriter Ted Leo and R&B barnstormer Lee Fields & The Expressions at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing. The idea behind "Make Music Philly" is to just keep playing.

Few musicians embody that philosophy better than Andy Kahn. The Philadelphia jazz lion/composer (he co-wrote Karen Young's 1978 disco-smash "Hot Shot" as well as her "Bring on the Boys") is a constantly gigging, piano-playing machine, alone (e.g., Sunday afternoon's Tin Pan Alley tribute at the Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square) and with the All-Star Jazz Trio (Saturdays at The Prime Rib, 1701 Locust St.). As to what makes him the diehard that he is, he laughs and says, "What choice do I have? It's what I do. Gig. All the time."

For "Make Music Philly," Kahn booked the day-long "Jazz at Jacobs," for the Jacobs Music Company Steinway Selection Center at 17th and Chestnut Streets, with a stunning array of local pianists, starting with the well-known Dave Posmontier and ending with the legendary Bob Cohen, the house pianist for 12 years at Borgia Café. "I was looking for the very best pianists, the most interesting musicians in the city, and sent out invitations - 50 invitations to 50 keyboardists," says Kahn. "I think we got the best. Especially Bob Cohen. He's the rarest, what with spending most of his time under a mushroom."

In between those piano-pounding bookends, Jacobs chairman/chief executive Al Rinaldi, saxophonist "Bootsie" Barnes' organ-playing powerhouse Lucas Brown, and Kahn's All Stars (co-starring Bruce Klauber and Bruce Kaminsky) with guitarist Jimmy Bruno will rock the piano store's foundations with the all-day hammering of 88s.

"Philly should have been part of the 'Make Music' ideal forever," Kahn says. "I mean, how cool is the event? Five hundred cities doing it around the world makes it pretty cool, and essential. Now that we're here, it's a marvelous thing, and since this is Jacobs' second year doing it, we're prouder still."


Make Music Philly starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. Information: www.makemusicphilly.org

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