Though Philadelphia is city primarily known for its American history during the Civil War era, it actually has quite a rich musical history, too. Apart from playing a prominent role in the Jazz movement of the '20s, Philly has created quite a number of successful contemporary artists—Hall & Oates, Boyz II Men, and Diplo, to name a few. To honor the City of Brother Love's rich musical heritage, Street has thrown together a DIY tour of Philly’s coolest musical attractions.
The Checker Café:
2125 Ridge Ave.
The Checker Café is one of Philadelphia’s longest standing jazz clubs. Opened in 1934, the Checker Café was the heart and soul of the vibrant Ridge Avenue entertainment district. In its prime, the jazz hot spot welcomed some of the industry’s most forthcoming players—Pearl Bailey, Gloria Swanson, and even Bessie Smith were amongst the joint’s top headliners. Although you can’t catch a show here like you could in its prime, apparently the Checker Café is still open, if you want to grab a drink and soak in the club’s rich history.
The Uptown Theater:
2227 N Broad St.
The Uptown Theater was built in the late '20s but didn’t hit its stride until a few decades later. The Uptown Theater came into its own as a center for black culture and hosted primarily R&B, soul, and gospel artists. It wasn't until the '60s, though, that the Uptown Theater became a major hotbed for the civil rights movement. Radio personality Georgie Woods instituted the freedom shows, which were a series of civil rights minded performances. The concerts were pro–bono, and all of the funds were given away to charity.
Even after the Civil Rights Movement, the Uptown Theater had a reputation as an open minded place where amateurs could get their start. Notably, Daryl Hall from Hall & Oates played there when he was a student at Temple University.
World Cafe Live:
3025 Walnut St.
The World Cafe Live is one of WXPN’s radio studios. For those of you who don’t know, WXPN is a public FM radio station licensed to the university. What’s cool about the World Cafe Live is that you can hear and watch the broadcasts live. Not to mention, the multilevel venue also contains a concert hall, small bistro–style restaurant, and a music shop. For an exciting night, try catching the World Cafe Live’s Monday Night Jazz Jam.
The Kimmel Center:
300 S Broad St.
The Kimmel Center is one of the coolest buildings in Philadelphia, and is home to some of the most world–class entertainment. Making the trek to see its sweeping curves and high vaulted glass arches should be incentive enough, but on top of that you can actually get a tour of the Kimmel Center for free. They also have a ton of free and student friendly programming.
Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame:
Corner of S. Broad and Walnut
The Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame is a stretch of sidewalk commemorating Philadelphia’s music legends. Established by the non–profit Philadelphia Music Alliance in 1986, the walk is akin to Hollywood's Walk of Fame, though without the obnoxious gold stars and even more obnoxious tourists. Philly's Walk of Fame stretches over a few blocks and is complete with small bronze plaques built into the cement. More than 100 of these plaques pay tribute to musicians who had their starts in the City of Brotherly Love.