Tag Archives: Phillyist

Phillyist Repost…Flugtag Coverage

( #Flugtag )

In the last of my “Greatest Hits” with the Phillyist, here is the video I filmed and edited of the Redbull Flugtag. The article was fine – but this video makes me laugh four months later.

It was a nice ride with the Phillyist, thank you all for coming along. Looking forward to focusing on this blog and finishing up my MBA this year.

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Phillyist Repost…Tom Amoriello Interview

Listening to classical guitar on a Sunday afternoon might not be the activity of choice for most Philadelphians, but the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society is hoping to change that. The Society held their Member’s Concert this past Sunday, one of many scheduled in the coming months. Phillyist had a chance to speak with Tom Amoriello, a performer and member of the PCGS about the concert and the organization.

How did you get involved with the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society (PCGS)?
I have been a member since 1992 and volunteered my time by serving on the board of directors, collecting tickets at the door, selling CD’s for the artists, escorting visiting performers to lunch, setting chairs up for our student recitals and festival, and adjudicating competitions—this is small in comparison to what others involved in the organization have done.

While I was a guitar major at Rowan University , the PCGS provided master classes with international artists—please remember this is pre-Youtube, so in order to see many of these artists who you would read about you had to attend their concerts. Most of them with the exception of Christopher Parkening and a few others did not have major label distribution or much media exposure.

You mentioned attending Rowan University, how did you get your start in classic guitar?
My Grandpa Jordan, who passed when I was three, had an old non-functioning Silvertone (electric guitar) that was around so would dance around to act like a superstar. I really loved the music that my parents enjoyed in the late 70’s such as Billy Joel, The Beatles and Elton John—I wanted to be more than just a listener or spectator.

I had my first guitar lessons at The Philadelphia Music Company which was located around Broad & Passyunk Ave in 1984. After three years of Music Store Lessons with five different teachers I decided to teach myself using VHS Instructional Tapes and Guitar Magazines. I was not very musically inclined and had to work for every inch of progress. Eventually I attended Music Tech of Minneapolis which was the equivalent of an Art Institute of Philadelphia but for music. I did all of this before my formal study of music on the college level.

Rumor has it that you were a bit of a metal head—how did you end up playing classical guitar?
I still am a metal head! I even attended [Ronnie James] Dio’s last concert before he passed in Atlantic City back in August 2009. I also love rare pointy electric guitars like the Peavy Razer—it doesn’t get any more metal than that! I would love to tell you that I was weened on Brahms and have such a cultured background in music but that would not be true. I guess I became disinterested in becoming a trend chaser in the early 1990’s—I really liked the physical sensation of challenging music and the classical guitar is right at the top of that list.

Getting back to PCGS, ultimately what is the goal of the organization?
PCGS is a community of members of all ages and accomplishments that support classical guitar activities throughout the Delaware Valley. They present concerts—typically on the 2nd Sunday of the month as well as informal gatherings—providing members of all levels performance opportunities.

What’s next for PCGS this year?
The theme of the 2010–11 season is “A Celebration of Women Guitarists” which will feature local and international performers which are all held at the Settlement Music School located at 416 Queen Street. You can go to www.phillyguitar.org to keep you up to date on our scheduled events or to become a member—you do not need to be a guitarist as many of our members are simply aficionados of guitar music.

Thanks for your time today!
Thank you for the questions and bringing attention to the PCGS.

UPDATE: You can learn what Tom is up to on his new website: TomAmoriello.com

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Phillyist Repost… Kids Getting Stupider Response

NOTE: With Phillyist going dark last month, the Gothamist network has allowed me to reprint some select articles on my own blog.

This month’s Philadelphia Magazine cover story tackles the issue of kids getting stupider. When I first saw the cover, I thought this would be an article that has a crazy headline and then backpedals. That thought was closely followed by “What does this have to do with Philadelphia?”

After reading the article, my first hunch proved (mostly) right. Author Sandy Hingston does wonderful job painting a picture of an appalled mother shocked that her high school senior son doesn’t know the days of the week, spends six hours a day playing Warcraft, and doesn’t read books in class (they watch movies instead), but then turns it all around by bringing in specialists to prove that kids today just learn differently. (Neurologist Anjan Chatterjee’s explanation about not needing to know the days of the week has to be misquoted). My issue with the article is that it is essentially the same thirty-year-old argument that started with the Atari generation and keeps popping up with every new technological fad.

Today’s villain isn’t the gaming console, it is social media. “Kids spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter instead of reading War and Peace.” The solution to this issue is still the same—pull the kids away from the computer/tv/video game and make them do something else. I don’t have kids of my own, but I am around plenty of people who do. I see parents who let their kids do whatever they want, and I see the parents that regulate. Guess which kids are doing better in school and can actually hold a conversation?

Bottom line, if your kid spending six hours playing Warcraft bothers you so much, unplug the fucking computer and lock them in the basement with a book-light and the complete works of Leo Tolstoy. Another crazy idea: play the annoying game they are obsessed with to get a window into their world.

Back to my other question about what this article has to do with Philadelphia (since it was published in Philadelphia Magazine), as far as I can tell—not much. The Daily Beast ranked Philadelphia as the 11th smartest city. The University of Pennsylvania continues to dominate the college scene while Drexel, Temple, Villanova, Swarthmore, and Haverford gain recognition. Additionally the city seems to be developing its own identity with a culinary renaissance and our art, drama, literary, and musical scenes have burgeoning support structures in place as well.

I get what Sandy Hingston is going for—have one conversation with a mumbled-mouthed sixteen-year-old with a hoodie over his eyes and ear-buds blasting and you will want to damn the whole generation, but we need to be patient. Hingston’s article says that these kids excel at absorbing massive amounts of information in small bites, maybe they are keeping to themselves because they don’t like what they see.

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Phillyist Repost…Reggie Wu Interview

( #ReggieWu )

NOTE: With the Phillyist going dark, the Gothamist network has given me permission to reprint some of my favorite posts.

Just a few short decades ago Philadelphia was a thriving east coast home for the 80’s metal scene. Reggie Wu, a founding member of the Philly metal scene, was a guitarist for a band named Heavens Edge. Reggie became “Philly-famous,” and was signed to a contract with Columbia records. He sat down with Phillyist to tell us his story.

When was Heavens Edge active and where did the name come from?
We started around 1987 and stayed together until 1992ish. One of the guys in the band—Mark (Evans) was in a band called Network but they had to change their name because another band was already using it. They held a fan contest to pick the new name and Heavens Edge was one of the options. They didn’t use it but he remembered it and then we used it. A lot of people think it was [a combination of] our names “Evans/Reg”!

What was the Philadelphia music scene like when you were playing?
It was hot—Philly was awesome! Cinderella and Britny Fox earned record deals, so Philadelphia was the national hot spot for a bit. Every show was a mob scene. WMMR was fully behind the band.

How did the band get their record contract?
We set up a showcase at the Troc and invited seven labels to see us. Our managers said we would be lucky if one showed up. Right before we went on, they said all seven were there. We had a great show and got verbal offers from every label. It was the night of dreams.

Did you have any crazy rock star moments?
For us there was really no rock star lifestyle. I was the only one in the band who had a child so on off days I would landscape to make extra money because the salary from the band was never enough. Kept you real humble. There was one perk—when you are broke and trying to make it, all music equipment is impossible to get—when you finally get a record deal, all the music equipment is given to you for free.

The 80’s metal/rock scene was very … white. What was it like being an Asian American guitarist in the metal scene and in Philadelphia during that period?
It really wasn’t a big deal. I was a big fan of both Loudness (Akira Takasaki) and Jake E Lee. I guess I never really thought of myself as different.

How did you get started with music?
My mom is a classical piano teacher. It was the rule that at four or five-years-old we learned classical piano and a second instrument a few years after that. My second instrument was the violin and I hated it. Eventually I got a guitar, which obviously I loved.

But your parents were against playing metal guitar as a career?
Coming from a Chinese family, it was all about being a doctor or lawyer (as my siblings and peers became). So when I told my parents I was going to pursue music they were against it—if I wasn’t doing it their way I had to leave. So moved out at sixteen.

What was it like being sixteen-years-old and on your own?
It was awesome. I was the only sixteen-year-old with an apartment, although I was totally poor. You just got use living that way. I cut lawns after school for money and jammed every spare second that I had.

I was very fortunate. There were a couple of key families that really helped me stay alive. To this day I am grateful for what they did for me and I am still very close to them.

Did you ever make up with your parents?
Yes. Unfortunately my younger brother passed away in a tragic accident when he was fifteen. I was nineteen at the time and it brought us all back together. I am super close with my parents to this day.

As grunge became popular, what happened to the band?
Our shows definitely became smaller—the attendance got much thinner. We were struggling financially and creatively. We tried to get a bit grungy but it just wasn’t us. Me, Dave and George started another band that was “grungier” but it didn’t go anywhere.

Mark started a cover band to make some income—things were bad then. I sold most of my guitars for groceries. I had the fifth seven string ever made; Steve Vai got the first four—I sold it for like $500, it is probably worth a ton more today.

How did you land on your feet?
My mom was a classical piano teacher—she always had me teaching when I was young. When the band broke up, I ran an ad in a local paper and got my first twenty students. I have been teaching ever since.

Is it hard to tell your students to focus in class with your rock and roll experiences?
I try to relay all the info that I can and give them as much good advice as possible. I relate well with my students. Nothing is more gratifying than seeing them succeed. It is all about helping the next generation get rockin!

Looking back, what are your overall thoughts on the Philly metal scene?
We all formed a really close-knit musical community. There are some really amazing musicians in this area. I am very proud to say I came from the Philly music scene!

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Goodbye Phillyist

( @Phillyist, #Blogging )


Image Credit: Vic15

Phillyist announced today at 4:45 PM that the blog was closing down on January 31st. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed writing for Phillyist the last four months, so this news comes as a disappointment. I plan on taking the things I learned and incorporating them into this blog as well as looking for other places to contribute.

I have a post brewing in my head about my growing pains and experiences with Phillyist—but for now, I suggest you all check out the site and feel a little sad that a Philly blog is going dark.

PS: I should have one more post with them next week assuming a certain bar owner answers my questions.

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Phillyist: Interview with Reggie Wu

( #ReggieWu, #Metal, #Philadelphia )

Phillyist published my interview with Philadelphia metal guitarist Reggie Wu.

Check it out: Phillyist Interviews…Reggie Wu

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Phillyist: NYE Recommendations

( @Phillyist, #Booze, #NewYearsEve )

The Phillyist was kind enough to publish a video I put together with Mario DelMonte at Kress Wine. He gives me his recommendations on sparkling wines and champagne.

Phillyist: NYE Drink Recommendations

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Phillyist: Top 5 Jersey Restaurants near PATCO

( #Phillyist, #Food, #SouthJersey )

Phillyist published another Top 5 list I whipped up. The point was to hit a few different genres of food so don’t put too much credence in the order.

Phillyist: Top 5 South Jersey Restaurants near PATCO

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Phillyist: A Pleasant Afternoon Typewriting?

( #Philly, #Phillyist, #Type-In )

Phillyist published another short post by me today (I am on a roll this week). I saw a notice on Make this morning about a Philadelphia “Type-In”, so I did a quick write up while drinking my tea and getting ready for work this morning.

Phillyist: A Pleasant Afternoon Typewriting?

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Phillyist: Top 5 Comics of 2010

( #Philly, #Comics, #Phillyist, @ronmarz )

Phillyist is doing a Countdown to 2011 and asked the writers to start doing best of lists. Nobody covered comics, so I figured I would toss one out there…

Phillyist: Joey’s Top 5 Comics of 2010

I stayed away from the typical spandex characters because I am honestly bored with them. I would have put Walking Dead on the list, but everybody knows about that now, so the title certainly doesn’t need any more attention.

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