By Hannah Zaic
As fans, judges, and musicians, anxiously await the start of the show in the Hard Rock Cafe’s dimly lit dining room, the mood is excited, perhaps even optimistic. Patrons, expecting just dinner with a side of rock & roll relic, are pleasantly surprised by a bonus concert by some of Philly’s best country and folk artists.
Tonight’s leg of the city-wide battle of PHL LIVE Center Stage will be judged by three of the most influential figures in the Philadelphia music scene: That Mag publisher, Brian Cronin; Executive Director of the Philadelphia Folksong Society, Justin Nordell; and WXTU Music Director and Radio Personality, Mark Razz.
Before shifting their full attention on the PHL LIVE country and folk finalists, the judges could be found socializing at the marble slab bar, catching up with fans, friends, and other individuals, sipping drinks, and trading war stories from the grueling music industry. The finalists performing this night were Man About a Horse, Ami Yares, Alex Mery & the Townsmen, Jessica Graae and Black Horse Motel.
You can log onto iRadioPhilly to see the highlights and to listen to the performances.
Our master of ceremonies is the illustrious Jennifer Logue of Rock On Philly. Logue is the first talent to take the stage before our finalists join her one-by-one for a discreet and organized mic check.
It was a great night to be in Center City and regardless of the competitive nature of the event, everyone in the room was eager to show why our arts community is unlike any other in the world. Simply put, fans, judges, and musicians came for a friendly competition, but also stuck around to cheer each other on.
This display of mutual respect between artists, to and from the fans, is right in line with what PHL LIVE’s creator, Philadelphia Councilman-at-Large, David Oh, first imagined for the contest. During its second run, the multi-venue, genre-crossing event series is bigger and better than ever and shows no sign of slowing down.
That Mag was lucky enough to sit down and talk with the councilman between acts. Otherwise, for most of the evening, he could be found at one of the tables near the stage, enjoying great music, as well as a few jokes told by our finalists and MC.
You wouldn’t think that a Republican Councilman would be inspired to create a music events series as successful as PHL LIVE. However, after attending a film festival, Councilman Oh was inspired and wondered if his music series should be structured similarly to the film festival.
Unlike most inaugural music festivals, adding a competitive spin would attract a fair amount of local, independent artists who are actually paid for their work. Since 2011, Councilman Oh has been bringing his notoriety (and cash) to local artists, while also serving as our city’s first Asian-American elected official! How cool is that?!
The culmination of 2017’s contest is going to be the PHL LIVE Awards Show held at the Trocadero, tonight, December 15th. For those of you looking to get involved next year, there are ten genres you could compete in for the grand prizes, which are as follows:
ANNOUNCING PHL LIVE CENTER STAGE
Coor’s Light Presents PHL LIVE Center Stage: 2017 Prizes
Grand Prizes for each of the 10 music category winners and the People’s Choice winner:
- $1,000.00 for each of th 11 winners (total of $11,000.00 in prize money)
- City Council Citation awarded to each of the 11 winners at the Awards Show in December at the Trocadero Theater
- Resolution presented to the group of 11 winners in City Council
(You can find more information about PHL LIVE’s 2017 finalists, terms, conditions and prizes at www.phllive.org.)
Since the finalists are beating out so many other acts to play for a judge’s panel of industry heavyweights, the concerts held around the city at stellar venues like Milkboy #1 & #2, The World Cafe Live and The Hard Rock Cafe are guaranteed to be Philly local talent at its best. Better get out there and see them play before they aren’t so local anymore!
Here is to another epic year with PHL LIVE and to many, many more to come. Onwards, to the Trocadero!