WORLD CAFÉ LIVE
World Café Live (www.worldcafelive.com) is an independent music venue in downtown Philadelphia. Located in the University City area, it brings in both local and national artists, as well as hosting a variety of other private and public events. The venue opened in 2004, and hosts over 500 shows per year between its upstairs and downstairs space.
The idea for World Café Live started when Hal Real heard David Dye’s contemporary music program called World Café. Broadcasted on local public radio station WXPN, the program highlighted no frills artists who were dedicated to their craft and appreciative of their fans. Hal knew that a venue to support those types of artists was missing from the Philadelphia area. Hal’s company – Real Entertainment Group – and WXPN joined forces and moved into the space that became World Café Live.
World Café Live consists of two main areas. The “upstairs” is a restaurant and bar that also has a small performance area. They have a full sit down dinner service. The “downstairs” is the larger performance area. With a capacity of 650 people, it also has a full bar in the back along with an elevated seating area. A lighter food menu is available downstairs.
At our visit on Friday night, we were lucky enough to be hosted for dinner by Food & Beverage Events Director, Denny Carvell. Although the upstairs room and restaurant was closed on this particular night for a private event, Denny arranged for us to be able to order dinner off of the full menu.
Executive Chef Rob Cottman just rolled out a brand new menu, that features some fantastic new options, along with some old favorites. The menu offers both vegetarian and vegan choices, as well as gluten-free options.
We were seated for dinner on the mezzanine level, which has seating for dining, as well as benches and high top bars running along the front edge to allow for viewing of the show below. We started with the Garlic Hummus and Sweet Potato Fries as appetizers. The hummus plate was large and could easily be shared by four people as a starter. The fries were delicious, and came with a citrus chipotle aioli that really complemented the sweetness of the fries.
For entrees, my husband was immediately drawn to the Chicken & Waffle Club. He’s a big fan of chicken and waffles, and Chef Cottman’s take on it did not disappoint. Inside the Belgian waffle is a fried chicken breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato and muenster cheese. The waffle is topped with a citrus chipotle agave syrup, which my husband said was delicious. I opted for the Atlantic Salmon which was accompanied by confit tomatoes and a parmesan mushroom risotto. The dish looked almost as good as it tasted! The salmon was cooked perfectly, and the crab meuniére sauce was delicious. Sometimes risotto can be too mushy, and sometimes too dry. This risotto was cooked perfectly.
They also have several tempting desserts on the menu. We were too full from our dinner and anxious to get downstairs to our seats for the show, but we will definitely have to check the desserts out next time.
Tip #1: The food at World Café Live is fantastic! If you are going for a show “downstairs”, come early and enjoy dinner “upstairs” beforehand. You can make a reservation on Yelp or by calling the box office at 215-222-1400.
Tip #2: There are several parking options near the venue. If you get there early, it is usually fairly easy to find street parking right on Walnut Street in front of the venue. Be sure to pay attention to the parking signs when parking on the street. If you can’t find a spot on the street, there are several parking garages close by. The Cira Center South Garage (129 South 30th Street) is only $8 in the evenings (enter after 5 p.m.) or on weekends.
Tip #3: As mentioned above, radio station WXPN shares the building with World Café Live. When you come for a show, be sure to walk around and check out the radio station studio.
Tip #4: If you want to avoid ticket fees, buy your tickets during World Café Live’s “happy hour”. Between 5 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, go to the box office and get your tickets with no fees. Cash only and tickets for the mezzanine area are excluded.
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Grant Stinnett is based out of Boston, MA. His father is a professional bassist, which encouraged him to pick up the same instrument at age 14. Shortly thereafter, he set a goal to be the best bassist in the world. He is continuing to perfect his skills, while performing all around the world. His YouTube videos have generated a lot of views and helped him build his following. You can download Stinnett’s single “New Horizons” here: http://amzn.to/2ie6bj4
If I had to use one word to describe Grant Stinnett, it would be “amazing”! I have never seen someone make as many different sounds with so little equipment as Stinnett did.
We were in the middle of dinner when Grant took the stage at 7:30 p.m. The only criticism I have of World Café Live, is that they advertised start of the show as 8:00 p.m., so anyone that didn’t come early missed Stinnett’s performance. As Stinnett stated at the start of his set, he’s the guy they bring in to get us all warmed up for the main performance. In my mind, seeing Stinnett’s performance was worth the price of admission!
I won’t even try to repeat the explanation Stinnett gave the audience about how he makes the music he does, using what at first glance just appears to be an acoustic guitar. It’s clearly a special acoustic guitar, however, as he is able to create drum beats and lay down a track that he can put on replay with a touch of his foot pedals and his “band in a box” machine. The guitar even contains a single bass string that allows him to add the bass line to the songs.
A couple of songs into the set, Stinnett said he was going to pull out his electric bass guitar. The song he played was “Run of the Angels”. It’s really like nothing I’ve ever heard on a bass guitar. Again – amazing! I didn’t get video of his performance during the show, but check out his You Tube video.
You Tube video courtesy of Grant Stinnett:
I really enjoyed Stinnett’s set and will be keeping my eye out for him the next time he comes to the Philadelphia area. You can keep up with Grant Stinnett on his social media, as well as his website at www.grantstinnett.com.
The Trews are based out of Canada, and are made up of band members Colin MacDonald (vocals), John-Angus MacDonald (guitar), Jack Syperek (bassist) and Gavin Maguire (drums). The band started under the name “One I’d Trouser”, which they changed to “Trousers” and eventually “The Trews”.
In the summer of 2002, the band entered and won a contest called Rocksearch, which led to them landing a record deal with Bumstead Productions. That led to the release of their first full length album in 2003 called “House of Ill Fame”. The album ended up being very successful, spawning hits like “Not Ready to Go” and “Tired of Waiting”. The band was nominated as New Band of the Year at the 2004 Juno awards (Canada’s Grammy’s), and “Not Ready to Go” was nominated as Single of the Year in 2005.
The Trews’ second album – “Den of Thieves” – was released in 2005, and also enjoyed both commercial and critical success. It was certified Canadian Gold in April of 2006, and included hits “So She’s Leaving” and “Yearning”.
Throughout the years, The Trews have continued to release music including three more studio albums – “No Time for Later” (2008), “Hope & Ruin” (2011), and “The Trews” (2014) – as well as three live albums. They’ve been nominated for five Juno awards, and they’ve been nominated for 17 East Coast Music Awards (7 of which they’ve won). You can download The Trews’ latest album “Time Capsule”, which includes all of their hits from over the years, here: http://amzn.to/2xyy2Be
We discovered The Trews at a New Year’s Eve show at the House of Blues in Cleveland this past year. They opened for a band we’ve followed for years – Red Wanting Blue. We were so impressed with The Trews, that we started following them. They played a show at Milkboy in Philadelphia earlier this year, which was an amazing show with only a couple of dozen people attending. While it was great to have the chance to see them in such an intimate setting, it was disappointing to see such a small crowd for such a great band. So, when we saw they were coming back to Philadelphia as the opener for dada, we grabbed tickets right away.
The Trews took the stage at about 8:15 p.m. This band has so much energy, they hit you right from the beginning with their hard-hitting rock sound. They kicked off their set with favorites “Lotta Work/Little Love” and “Beautiful and Tragic”, before going into one of my personal favorites “So She’s Leaving”.
A highlight of their set for me was “Tired of Waiting”, which has a great bass line and a good old rock n’ roll beat to it. I also feel it’s a song that really shows off Colin’s strong vocals. Wearing his signature blue bandana around his neck, Colin is a great rock n’ roll band front man.
The Trews wrapped up their 10-song set strong. As soon as we heard John-Angus’ distinct guitar riff, The Trews fans in the audience knew we were getting “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me”. John-Angus was featured on guitar throughout the song, which also featured the band going into double-time at the end of the song. This song also shows off their great vocal harmonies, particularly when they sing the refrain a cappella with the crowd clapping along. The set wrapped up with “Not Ready to Go”, and although this sounds totally cliché, I was definitely not ready for them to go either – I wanted more. As we still had another band to go, The Trews had to wrap up their set around 9:00 p.m.
The Trews have consistently maintained a busy tour schedule – whether as the headliner or opening act. The Trews supported the dada Forever 25th Anniversary tour for a couple of weeks. Because their fan base in Canada is much larger than here in the U.S., they tend to play more dates there. Check out their website to keep up with their upcoming tour dates and any news at www.thetrews.com.
Set List: Lotta Work/Little Love, Beautiful and Tragic, So She’s Leaving, Way Too High, Leave It Alone, Tired of Waiting, Fleeting Trust, Civillianaire, Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me, Not Ready to Go
I listen to a lot of music and my musical tastes are pretty varied, but I have to admit that I had never heard of the band dada before I bought tickets for this show. I’m a big fan of The Trews, which is the reason I bought the tickets.
It turns out that I should have known about dada. This tour is celebrating their 25th anniversary, so the band has been around for a long time. Formed in 1992 and based out of Los Angeles, the band is made up of Michael Gurley (singer-guitarist), Joie Calio (singer-bassist) and Phil Leavitt (drummer). They released their debut album – “Puzzles” – on September 8, 1992. The first single off that album – “Dizz Knee Land” – broke into the Top 5 on the Modern Rock Single’s chart, and led to the band traveling around the world opening for acts like Crowded House, Depeche Mode, and Sting. You know you have “Dizz Knee Land” in your head now, so download it here: http://amzn.to/2gLX9JW
Through the past 25 years, dada has released 6 full-length albums and an EP. The band is known for its marathon-length live shows, which has helped them draw a dedicated following over the years.
Members of the band have also worked on several solo projects. Most notably, Leavitt and Calio have formed a rock/blues duo called 7Horse. That duo has released 3 albums to date, and perform a mini-set within each of dada’s shows.
The familiar music from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly played as the house lights dimmed around 9:30 p.m. The guys of dada took the stage, with Gurley sporting a cowboy hat, Calio all in black, and Leavitt with a suit vest and sunglasses. They kicked off their set with “Dim” and “Surround”.
After “Surround”, the band talked about celebrating 25 years. The joked how they were only 9 years old when they started. They thanked their fans for following them and staying dedicated all these years. As we could clearly tell by the people around us during the show, dada has a very dedicated fan base that was thrilled to be at the show.
Next, dada went into “Feel Me Don’t You”, which featured them incorporating parts of The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. The next song the band played was their first new single in over a decade – “The Bluebird”. It featured a nice guitar solo from Gurley.
In the middle of the set, we got a two song mini-set from Calio and Leavitt’s side project – 7Horse. It was nice to see Leavitt featured as lead vocalist on those songs.
The full band returned for the last half of their set, which included their second new single due to be released September 22nd – “Take Me To the Song” – as well as a cover of Three Dog Night’s “One (Is the Loneliest Number)”.
Before wrapping up, the band spoke again about the last 25 years. Leavitt spoke about that 1992 release of “Puzzle” and how some of their early record labels don’t even exist anymore, but the band has persevered. They talked about how they look at this as just the start of their second 25 years, which drew a huge cheer from the crowd. They wrapped up their main set with their biggest popular hit – “Dizz Knee Land”.
After a quick encore break, dada wrapped up the show around 11:30 with “Dorina”.
The band is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the release of their first new singles in over a decade, as well as touring the U.S. throughout the months of September and October. Be sure to check their website at www.dadaforever.com for a list of their remaining tour dates, as well as updates on the release of their new music.
Set List: Dim, Surround, Love Is a Weird Thing, Feel Me Don’t You, The Bluebird, Playboy in Outerspace, Please Come On Home (7Horse), Meth Lab Zoso Sticker (7Horse), Bob the Drummer, Take Me To the Song, One (Is the Loneliest Number) (Three Dog Night cover), Agent’s Got No Secret, Dog, Dizz Knee Land. Encore: Dorina
Have questions about seeing a show at World Café Live? Want to know more about Grant Stinnett, The Trews or dada? Are you a fan of any of these artists? What do you think? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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