WMUH is celebrating 75 years with a big anniversary party and you are invited.
We are proud and please to present Kurt Vile + The Violators, The Sun Ra Arkestra, and Catatonic Suns, Saturday, November 18, 2023, at Miller Symphony Hall. Tickets are available beginning Friday, March 19, 2023, through the Miller Symphony Hall Box Office.
Since his earliest self-produced CD-Rs, Philadelphia psych-pop master Kurt Vile has referred to himself as “Philly’s Constant Hitmaker“—and while he gave himself that name with a sly wink, he was also nodding toward the songwriting prowess that would result in him becoming one of his home city’s most celebrated rock artists. “I’m always thinking about catchy music, even though it’s fried, or sizzled, out,” he says. “It’s my own version of a classic thing—it’s moving forward and backward at the same time.”
On his latest album, (watch my moves), Vile pulls his talents as a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer in unexpected directions—and the result is a vibrant, yet meditative album propelled by Vile’s laid-back charm and curious spirit. Every lyric has been chiseled down into an aphorism, every bloom of distorted guitar or murmuring synth helping create that “fried” pop. “It’s about songwriting. It’s about lyrics. It’s about being the master of all domains in the music.”
(watch my moves) is Vile’s debut on Verve Records, a label that both fits and fuels his musically adventurous nature. “It just shook things up where I wanted to make this epic record,” says Vile. “I sit around listening to jazz records all the time, and I like the idea of tappin’ into a different world…. and it’s cool to be extended family with The Velvet Underground and John and Alice Coltrane.”
While Vile is clearly inspired by a record store’s worth of legendary artists and 21st-century contemporaries, (watch my moves) proves that his musical vision is singular. “Elvis could be like, ‘(watch my moves)‘—like, literally, ‘Check out my dance moves.’ Granted, I don’t have great dance moves, but I am sort of always hustlin’, you know,” Vile laughs. “And I’ve been doin’ my thing for a long time. So, people just better watch out in one way or another.”
The Sun Ra Arkestra
The Sun Ra Arkestra’s live shows combine big band swing, outer-space jazz, dancing, singing, chanting and Afro-pageantry. For most of the 20th century, iconic jazz bandleader Sun Ra helmed one of the planet’s most exciting big bands. Entertaining audiences from the Pyramids to the Hollywood Bowl, the visionary pianist/composer took his acclaimed Arkestra everywhere including a stop at The Open Space Gallery in Allentown for improvco back in 1989. A skilled clutch of musicians were with him at every turn of the journey, helping Ra fulfill his lofty mission of enhancing listeners’ lives. When Ra passed in the spring of 1993 at the age of 79, the group knew it was paramount to sustain his work.
Saxophonist John Gilmore initially took the helm, and after his death, Marshall Allen, inventive saxophonist and the brigade’s key lieutenant since the late 1950s, rightly emerged as the Arkestra’s leader in 1995. Since that time, from sold-out concerts around the world to two critically-acclaimed albums of his and Sun Ra music, he’s directed the beloved group to some of its highest heights.
The 98-year-old Allen is a wonder, shepherding the Arkestra through its second act, and pushing its members into making some of the outfit’s most remarkable sounds ever. Physically spry and musically daring, Allen is an on-stage beacon during the band’s stellar concerts, crafting the music’s dynamics, signaling soloists for lift-off, and configuring passages to reflect the ever-changing vibe between ensemble and audience. Like Sunny before him, Marshall is expert at delivering all sorts of turns to keep his presentation unique. The Arkestra’s schedule of dates across the country is relentless, yet the revered nonagenarian’s smile is as constant as his saxophone language is exuberant. The reason is simple: “My work is an extension of Sun Ra’s mission to provide for the spiritual healing of the planet Earth,” he often says.
Hailing from Allentown, creating a blend of 90s indie DIY sensibilities with blankets of psychedelia, you are brought Catatonic Suns. What started out as a lo-fi demo project as evident in their early releases, Catatonic Suns soon blossomed into a live/studio band making some noise and connections along the way. With releases such as Aphelion and their single Tangerine Dayglo, listeners can be transported by swirling guitars and washed out vocals with the occasional angst mixed on top. A full length album titled Saudade was released February 11th, 2022.