I lived on the outskirts of Philadelphia for a good portion of my life. The best things about the city are not their cool neighborhood bars, not their cheese steaks nor soft pretzels – nope it was their vibrant and passionate local rock music scene.
I recently wrapped up my album review of Soko’s new release, My Dreams Dictate My Reality, and was slammed with a few wonderful memories of my early years in Philly. (Read it here, especially if you remember The Revival).
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Then coincidentally, in my InBox that afternoon, arrived the latest offering from In The Pocket, a special project that screams Philly Rock Royalty.
David Uosikkinen of Hooters’ fame put this concept together a few years ago, and it’s been a fun journey ever since. For rock fans still in Philly, I am sure it is even more of a fantastic experience, but rock music fans everywhere will enjoy this creative rock music. Check out our interview with Uosikkinenfrom 2012 to learn a little bit more about this cool collaborative endeavor.
Uosikkinen’s brainchild was to assemble a group of Philadelphia music legends, lock them in a studio and have them collaborate on re-imagining a hit song from the city’s rich musical past. Each musician is given the musical freedom to put their own distinctive spin on each recording. Every few months, they release a new offering, and follow that up with a live show or two. Over the past few years, I’ve become a big fan and have enjoyed the musical ear candy, including their cuts at “Open My Eyes” (Todd Rundgren/Nazz), “Beat Up Guitar” (Hooters), “Change Reaction” (Robert Hazard) and “Disco Inferno” (The Trammps).
The new song, the 12th in the series, is an under-appreciated punk classic, “Punk Rock Girl” originally recorded by The Dead Milkmen in 1988. On this version, we are treated to Richard Bush (The A’s) on vocals and he puts his unique and pleasing spin on this angsty rocker. The song is less edgy than the original, and more of a feverish party version highlighted by a some killer guitar riffs from Tommy Conwell that actually boast a bit of a cool rockabilly vibe, and he’s accompanied nicely by William Wittman (Cindy Lauper) also on guitar. Uosikkinen and bassist Pete Donnelly (NRBQ) drive the aggressive, rollicking rhythm throughout.
I always loved the lyrics on the original, including nostalgic references to Zipperhead and Mojo Nixon, as well as the mistaken reference in “…someone played a Beach Boys song on the jukebox,
It was “California Dreamin’…” and Bush delivers them in that distinctive voice and style that made the A’s so poignant a few decades earlier.
In another nice twist, Uosikkinen and In The Pocket are joined by two of his Hooters’ brethren. Rob Hyman’s melodica is a wonderful and noticeable addition to this version, while Eric Bazilian’s hurdy gurdy is a bit understated, but still a nice creative addition.
The 1988 original was a masterpiece, and this one might just be a bit better! It’s a blast to listen to and a song that’s even better if you’re personally connected to the Philadelphia music scene of the 80’s and 90’s.
You can catch Uosikkinen and friends on March 28th at the Ardmore Music Hall. Get tickets here. For those of us in Florida and outside of the Philly region will need to pop on their music, enjoy the flood of nostalgia and wonder what their next offering will be – always a fun trip down memory lane…
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On Tuesday, October 2nd David Uosikkinen’s In The Pocket will rock the World Cafe Live. They’ll be featuring the release of their spin on The Trammps disco classic “Disco Inferno,” the sixth song from In The Pocket: Essential Songs of Philadelphia.
Uosikkinen, the charismatic drummer from The Hooters, is back with an all-star cast of Philadelphia rock legends. We sat down recently with him and shared a six pack, Rock And Roll Animal style. Here’s his RARA’s Six Pack:
Cretin: Growing up, you played in a band called The Kooks – Are you familiar with the current band with the same name. Uosikkinen: I know the band. What I’ve heard I really liked. My band, The Kooks was in high school where we weren’t writing songs, we were covering songs. I think the name is great; it looks cool in print. Two “O’s” just like The Hooters.
Cretin: What was your all-time favorite venue to play in Philly? Uosikkinen: I’ve got a soft spot for The Bijou Cafe – it was a really famous place; Electric Factory Concerts used to book shows there. We played there once when there was a bomb scare and wrote a song about it called “Bombscare.” It was my favorite place to play back in the day.
Cretin: Favorite cover song? Uosikkinen: I think it would have to be “Friday On My Mind” by David Bowie. Great Song
Cretin: I saw you open the show at Live Aid. Was that the most exciting momoent for you on stage? Uosikkinen: Right before I sat down at my drums Jack Nicholson came out and shook my hand. I have to say that was pretty cool.
Cretin: How old were you before you learned how to spell “Uosikkinen”? Uosikkinen: (Laughs heartily) My last name was such a challenge going through school, you have no idea. It was okay going through elementary school because you had one teacher, but when you started going into Jr. High School, with seven different teachers, every one butchered it. It got to the point where I made up versions of my name. I’d change the spelling, I’d shorten it, and say Dave Oskin. Back then it was impossible for people to say, now it’s a lot more common to hear different sounding names.
Cretin: Any food you missed when you left Philly and moved to Los Angeles for a few years? Uosikkinen:Cheese steaks. No question.
We’re sitting around the farm cranking The Drowning Men and trying to organize all of the random tidbits here at the end of the summer, and we noticed a Philly slant to a few of the topics. So, grab your exhaust-seasoned soft pretzels and mediocre over-priced South Philly cheese steaks and check out this stuff.
We love The Last Royals. Yeah, we know they’re now from New York, but their lead singer Eric James grew up in Philly, and they’ll be in the City of Brotherly Love at the cozy North Star Bar this Friday, September 14th. These guys are going to be huge; take advantage of this opportunity to catch them playing a smaller venue while you still can. Pick up a free download of their new single “Only the Brave” via our Free Music Friday feature on 8/10/12.
In The Pocket is Philadelphia Rock and Roll. David Uosikkinen, of The Hooters, leads this all-star cast of Philly Rock Legends as they cover iconic songs from the city’s storied musical past. They’ll be premiering their sixth single “Disco Inferno” on October 2nd at World Cafe Live. Uosikkinen is an interesting guy and is a walking encyclopedia on Philadelphia music and he’s assembled a kick ass band. Check out our recent interview with Uosikkinen here. and visit his website for more info on the cool new single and upcoming show.
Finally on the Philly front, we reviewed some fun new techno / electronic rock from City Rain, a local duo with an interesting entree into that realm. Check it out here.
Heading North up the New Jersey Turnpike, we were recently introduced to On the Fifty a punk pop band from The Big Apple. They’ve released their first single off of their upcoming EP, Fast Hands, Bad Timing. The song, “The Future” is excellent, and the video even better. Check it out at AltPress, it’s just a bit twisted, but oh so fun…
There you have it, a quick and dirty run down of some cool stuff on the Philly and New York music scenes. And, even if you’re not close, do yourself a favor and check out the music from these four bands.