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Multifaceted lifestyle blog featuring the freshest happenings in Philly

SXSW, Spring & Beyond: An Interview with Brandon Potter and ill Fated Natives

Story by Franceska Rouzard | Photos by Saeed Briscoe

The weather is warming up and that means Festival season is upon us. Last week marks the end of South By South West. In Philadelphia, some enjoyed Texas’ biggest festival/conference through social media. Others, like Brandon Potter, of What Scene?and local band, ill Fated Natives, made the pilgrimage to participate in person. I had a conversation with both on the night of their return home. They shared their plans for April, their favorite memories from their trip, and useful information for “indie-prenuers” and indie musicians who’d like to attend the festival in the future.

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I’d never met Brandon Potter before that evening at The Fire, a bar in Northern Liberties cleverly named due to its proximity to a firehouse. It was the night of an Open Mic/ Welcome Home/ pop up performance for ill Fated Natives. The bar was a mix of avid supporters and friendly strangers. Potter, along with his partners of What Scene and in collaboration with RECPhilly, another local event planning company, organized an all Philadelphian artist show for SxSW. Even under the dark red lighting of The Fire, he seemed rested and pleased.

FR: What is What Scene? ?

Brandon Potter: It’s still forming but, right now we focus on events. I started it as a blog in 2010. Then, in 2013 me and some friends, my friend Chance, who rocked with me all the time, and my friend Kurt started the Foxtail Fest. And since then we’ve been doing shows.

FR: Interesting! What made you do SxSW?

Brandon Potter: I’ve always dreamed of going there. I know so many new artists drop new stuff then. They broke in my playing that festival. You know, get signed. It felt like it was necessary that Philly have a presence out there. Us being up and coming in the music, SxSW was just the right fit to make good connections.

FR: How did the show come together?

Brandon Potter: I’ve worked with Dave and Broad Street Music Group years ago on the first Foxtail Festival. They had a stage. We both knew each other was working hard on the scene.. When he reached out to me about a stage at SxSW, I said we have to make this happen.

As far as event planning, each is planned separately. Except for the yearly events. Basically, my friends and I do everything from top to bottom. We book the artists and come up with the concepts everything. Its really hard work.

FR: You’ve worked with well known artists like SZA and A$AP Mob? How did Ill Fated Natives end up on the SxSW bill?
Brandon Potter: Yeah, we worked with A$AP Mob for Foxtail. We were planning on booking A$AP Yams to DJ for SxSW before he passed away. It was crazy. So we regrouped and decided to go with an all Philly line up with Freeway, OCD, and Ground Up.

I’m a huge fan of Ill Fated Natives. I’ve listened to their music and I love their new project but I didn’t personally book them. Our partners RECPhilly booked them for SxSW along with other artists like Voss and Chill Moody.

FR: What was that experience like?

Brandon Potter: It was really packed. It was right on 6th street which is the main street. It was about 300 when it was all said and done. Crazy atmosphere.

FR: What’s next?

Brandon Potter: We have a series of 4/20 friendly series of events coming.

FR: ….What kind?

Brandon Potter: 4/20 friendly. [Chuckles.] Last year we did this festival called Hamsterdam: 4/20 Circus. We had acrobats, DJ Diamond Kutz. We transformed this warehouse into a circus. This year we’re doing a series of smaller events, four days in a row, April 17-20th. Hopefully, a show in New York.

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After talking with Potter, I snuck upstairs to the greenroom (cleverly disguised as an apartment), in hopes of interviewing Ill Fated Natives before their performance. I feared they would be too tired from the festival, five days on the road with several other shows. To my surprise, they were more energetic then I’d ever seen them. Joey Stix, the band’s drummer and Bets Charmelus, the bassist, recounted their very different versions of a story from the road in which Stix asked for breakfast and was attacked by gnats. I was sure the laughter from the reenactments could be heard on the first floor. It’s hard to believe they’d only officially been a band for 2 years. They behave like a family, like brothers. I talked with both and guitarist, Otheni Thompson, about the road, their experience at SxSW, and what’s to come in the spring.

FR: How did you travel? Who went with you?

Joey Stix: It was crazy. Sleep was a get in where you fit in situation in the van. At one point someone was sleeping in the aisle. We went with our friends Ian, Malc, the videographer, Zak Cedarholm, who is awesome.

Bets Charmelus: He’s been responsible for the last couple promotional videos for us. Before that, they were shot by Saeed Jones and edited by our friend Jessica Arce, who both super talented.

FR: So you were on the road for five days? What cities did you visit other than Austin?

Joey Stix: We went to DC and Atlanta to perform. We stopped in Virginia for Waffle House on the way back.

FR: Which city was your favorite? Did I hear you mention metal heads in Atlanta?

Joey Stix: They weren’t metal. They just had a metal vibe. But they sounded like folk. Lots of alternative rock undertones.

Otheni Thompson: They called themselves punk.

FR: I heard a rumor that you raised the money to attend SxSW yourself. Is that true?

Bets Charmelus: It all came from The Fire Ceremony when we released our first project.

FR: For those who are thinking about doing something similar next year, how much was it?
Bets Charmelus: [Chuckles] Enough.

Otheni Thompson: How it came together is that we were at Parkhouse Studios when Dave, from RECPhilly, approached us about SxSW. That propelled everything forward. We had to get out music out. We had to raise money for SxSW. We had to have a crazy release show.

Bets Charmelus: You can’t go to a festival like SxSW empty handed. Everyone became really productive. Normally, we struggle with getting everyone on the same page. Like if O and Joey are motivated, then I’m slacking or vice versa. This time the team was focused and the tribe came around us. Next thing we know we had a site! We had business cards! We had a show popping! Everyone just came around us and felt like we have to do this. We have to make this happen.

Joey Stix: Yeah, we found out about the opportunity like a month before we went. A solid month. It didn’t kick in until about a week before.

FR: How was the reception? Did you feel welcomed?

Otheni Thompson: Oh yeah, for sure.

Joey Stix: We got there at a weird time. We arrived an hour before we were supposed to perform. We rolled out of a 15 passenger van and had to do soundcheck. Just trying to stretch and shit. It was kind of packed when we started. But once we were in the groove, people really started coming around.

Bets Charmelus: There was just so much music happening. Everywhere. If you leaned one way you could hear rap. Lean another way and hear something hardcore. I was like, “What the f- is happening?” It was beautiful.

FR: What was the craziest thing you saw? What stood out to you the most?

Otheni Thompson: We had a near spiritual experience.

Bets Charmelus: Completely spiritual experience.

Otheni Thompson: It was at the OK Africa show.We got there early to lock the front down. The openers were really cool. Everything that happened after that was incredible. Ibeyi was having a lot of technical difficulties so they just rocked out with keys and a beatbox. Ian and Malc met them the night before and had a quick but beautiful exchange. That trickled into the next day and the band recognized them at the show.

Bets Charmelus: Yeah, they were on stage talking to them during the performance.

Otheni Thompson: Then Hiatus Kayote came out and just smashed it. They’re definitely master musicians. All of them. Messing with time and making you move in different ways. That was followed by BadBadNotGood. The entire time, we’re in this corner next to the stage dancing like no one else is there. Thrashing. Then, they brought Jus Blaze and Freeway out.

Bets Charmelus: Us being from Philly, I almost popped a blood vessel. Everyone was like, “Oh wow! This is cool.” We were f-ing wilding out. Joey had one foot on the stage. I’m standing on the chair, screaming. A stage manager comes over and tells me to get down. Immediately, someone else gets up there.

Joey Stix: I was looking at every drummer on stage so intensely. “You need some help? I got you! I. GOT. YOU.”

Bets Charmelus: I really think that experience translated into what happened just now downstairs. I found myself playing things that I normally don’t. Thinking to myself, BadBadNotGood would do something like this. It changed my perspective of everything.

FR: So what’s next?

Joey Stix: We have a ton of shows in April. We have like six. My homie, Mars Parker, has a release party on April 4th. DG Philly is having an event at Pub Webb on April 10th.

Bets Charmelus: There is a band called Galvanize who throw an event called Get Lucid, they’re having a release party on the 17th. We’re opening for them. On the 18th, there is the Marijuana Marathon by What Scene? Then, we’re performing for iNERD on the 23rd.

Other Thompson: And we’re looking to release our first video after that. We recorded that all throughout the trip. Zak had been recording it since The Fire Ceremony.

Story by Franceska Rouzard | @frenchthegypsy
Photos by Saeed Briscoe

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#HeinekenGreenRoom with Mannie Fresh: PHOTO RECAP

No April fools in The Dolphin for the first Heineken Green Room of the year. DJ Mannie Fresh dropped in and Philly welcomed him with an abundance of love — shouting out Big Tymers lyrics and heating up South Broad St. to say 400 Degreez, if you will.

EMoney sat down the Mannie pre-show for an interview airing on Watch the snippet below (full interview posted soon).

DJ Lean Wit It set the party off right — and capped it too. All added up to a packed dance floor and a lot of “Hein-ees” in the party. Be sure to check back for more HGR coming your way in 2015.

Photo credits: Daniel Wooden // Jimmy Giambrone

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Tonight and Tomorrow: Dice Raw of The Roots presents The Last Jimmy

“The Last Jimmy” is a poignant and relevant stage play that explores mass incarceration and outlines the ills of the criminal justice system and prison industrial complex.

Told though a hip-hop musical odyssey featuring song, live music and dance, this production takes us down the plight of the court and prison system though the experience of young black males.

“The Last Jimmy” is inspired by Dr. Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow.

The performance features original music and lyrics by Dice Raw along with original choreography by Renee Harris; is directed by noted Philadelphia- based director, Ozzie Jones and written by Phillip S. Brown.

Buy Tickets Here

SHOW DATES @ The Prince Music Theater ( 1412 Chestnut St. )
Fri 3/20
Sat 3/21

Buy Tickets Here



Fri 13th: CMTA and The Wrkn Clss Present Lil Feece (Sashi)

On March 13th Creative Minds Think Alike, in conjunction with The Wrkn Clss, a full service production group, will be presenting hip-hop artist Lil Feece, (Sashi), to the Philadelphia region with the release of his upcoming EP, “SASHI SZN”. The celebration will be held at Cohesive Collection, 1215 Vine St from 10pm to 2am.

We will be presenting the event as a celebration rather than a release party in order to familiarize the guest with Sashi.  We will have a visual arts element that will be present at the event; the visual art element has a long-term strategy that will not be implemented until the event has passed.

DJ’s Ryan Mahoney and DJ F1lthy will curate the sounds of the evening. DJ Ryan Mahoney is native to Atlantic City and an emerging DJ on both colleges in Philadelphia as well as the alternative scene that is developing here in Philadelphia. DJ Ryan Mahoney built his experience by spinning in a number of clubs in the tri-state area and having the number one online campus radio-station on iHeart radio, Philly Rap Fix. DJ F1lthy has been making a lot of noise in the tri-state area as well, with his expertise being in music production as well as on the turntables. DJ F1lthy is a force to be recognized that shows no signs of letting up.

Hosting the event will be the captivating Franceleslia, recognized for the way she electrifies her crowd, her presence and technique is in demand across the nation. Franceleslia has created a massive hosting movement in which she graced over 20 stages in less than a year. Her repertoire includes AFROPUNK, Camron’s SUPERBOWL Party at WIP, Danny Brown’s Album Release Party and Trillectro festival just to name a few.

Being as though Creative Minds Think Alike is an emerging brand, we feel that it is our duty to present the opportunity for underground artist to display their craftsmanship.  We have partnered with Lil Feece in the past with the most recent project being Gravy Trap. On behalf of Creative Minds Think Alike, we formally invite you to partake in the celebration as well as grow and build with an array of guest and hosts that are becoming familiar and essential to the metropolitan area, Philadelphia. Feature


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Heineken Green Room: Mannie Fresh

Become a Heineken Green Room Insider!

Hey Philly! The Holiday season may be over, but we’re still in the giving spirit… Right now is a special chance to gain access to all the can’t miss events and promotions coming your way in 2015!

Don’t miss out on an exclusive night with Big Tymer and #1 Stunna — multi-platinum and Grammy nominated rapper, producer, & DJ Mannie Fresh. Mr. Go DJ! is coming to Philly so you know where to be if you wanna do it ‘Real Big!’

Remember, this event is open ONLY to Heineken Green Room members. You must be 21 or over to enter.

Enter HERE and obtain access for this and future events, for you plus a friend. Must enter before March 30th at 5pm.

We’ll keep you posted for more Heineken Green Room!

Become a HGR Insider NOW



Verbatum Jones Creates a Spotlight for Underrated Artists with ‘Positive Vibezz’

Author: Franceska Rouzard | Photographer: Molly Rose

Music, particularly rap, is a fiercely competitive industry. In Hip Hop, every rapper is “the greatest to ever do it” and there is very little room at the top. However, in recent years there has been a subtle yet significant shift. Alongside records about lavish lifestyles and beautiful women are the equally popular songs that preach about spreading love and self worth. Along with the change of subject matter in Hip Hop comes a surge of good sportsmanship – artists wanting to help other artists. And while I’ve seen a distinctive growth in this amongst creatives, none have exemplified the desire to see fellow artists prosper as much as Verbatum Jones, East Coast rapper and curator of the vibrant artist showcase, Vibezz. Jones is also well known for Everbody Eats, an intimate potluck performance.


I met Jones in college in 2010. His presence was commanding yet warm, like the leader of revolutionary movement – he was ambitious and passionate. When he speaks about music, it moves those around him into action. For this reason, no one was surprised when he announced that he would be curating Vibezz, a show featuring a plethora of local and brilliant but somewhat underrated artists.

With Vibezz, held on Saturday, February 7th, Jones expanded the spotlight to his musical extended family. Not to be confused with your typical showcase, the event’s energy was just as welcoming as its host. Jones was inspired by his Haitian background, remembering attending parties filled with home-cooked food and libations so guests were treated to homemade pizza muffins and goodie bags in addition to dope giveaways like Power Beats 2 Wireless headphones. However what set Vibezz apart is due entirely to the unmatched amount of audience participation. “Vibezz!” was shouted from every corner, some in reverence of the performers, others in excitement for music played by DJ Tank Top, cousin of Jones and New York native.

The evening began with soul singer Andrea Valle, the youngest of the artist collective. Contrasting her sweet appearance, her music was raw and soulful.


The tone of the event quickly changed with rapper Gabriel Wolf. His high energy and passion infected the crowd into unparalleled participation.


Jamir Milligan, accompanied by Andrew Aulenbach of Halfro on the piano, brought the audience back to a familiar place with a beautiful gospel rendition and covers of John Legend and Kanye West.


The night was closed out by The Bul Bey, accompanied by his live band Hazie Blu. I would definitely award him “Most Moving Performance” for his cover of Verbatum Jones’ single “Nappy”, a symbolic song of the theme for the event – share love and positive “vibezz.”


At the end of the night, I spoke with attendees over cigarettes outside of the venue. As we floated and recounted the best parts of the evening, each of us were left with a single question: “When/where will Vibezz land next?”


Philadelphia Art Alliance: Winter Exhibitions

Running now until April 5th, the Philadelphia Art Alliance’s Winter Exhibitions featuring the works of the following artists:

Delainey Barclay: Paper and String
Kate Clements: Charade
Robyn Weatherley: Trace

The Philadelphia Art Alliance is located at 251 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

For more information: or 215-545-4302.

The Philadelphia Art Alliance is dedicated to the advancement and appreciation of innovative contemporary art with a focus on craft and design, and to inspiring dynamic interaction between audiences and artists.Since its founding in 1915, the PAA has presented the work of artists and designers working in a wide variety of media, from ceramics and jewelry to textiles and sculpture. Each year we present up to twelve new exhibitions featuring the work of emerging and established artists. Rather than understanding “craft” as a class of objects, the PAA encourages visitors to consider “craft” as a verb. This broader definition means that our exhibitions encompass a range of topics and types of work, from useful and decorative objects to sculpture and installations. Our diverse program of exhibitions, inspired by our setting in a masterfully crafted domestic space, can thus be communicated to visitors in engaging and unexpected ways.


Robyn Weatherley: Trace

 Image: Adieu, 2012; blown glass, paper

In an installation of new and recent works, Robyn Weatherley explores intangible remnants. She addresses concepts of passage, transition, and residual memory in relation to body, psyche and environment. Her imagined vestiges contemplate our unconscious and often invisible interactions with the world. From the seemingly mundane act of breathing to the emotional residues that may be left behind in the wake of a psychological experience, she aims to make visible some of what lies beyond the reaches of our ordinary senses. Her works range from a large installation of individual breaths captured in glass set adrift in delicate boats to works constructed through the meticulous build up and layering of very thin fragile shards of blown glass.

Robyn Weatherley earned a Master of Fine Arts in Glass at Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA in 2013, where she was also awarded a highly competitive Temple University Fellowship and Teaching Assistantship for the duration of her graduate studies. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Canada in 2010. She has worked, studied in Canada, the United States and Scotland. Her work has been exhibited in Philadelphia, as well as Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa in Canada. Robyn currently lives and works in Calgary, Canada and serves as the Managing Editor of Contemporary Canadian Glass; Magazine of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC).


Delainey Barclay: Paper and String

Image: Space In Between (detail), Vintage Wallpaper, multi-media. 

Delainey Barclay’s recent body of work for the PAA is focused on air, shadow, light and space. To keep the large-scale pieces, which resemble textbook atomic structures, relatable to the viewer in her installations, Barclay uses childhood craft projects as a basis for the techniques used in assembling the work. Everyday objects that can be found in abundance in most households are the materials from which she has chosen to make all her three-dimensional forms. Whether it is formed from vintage magazines and wallpapers, or string and other craft materials, her work focuses on both materials and process. These are often paired with paintings that explore these concepts in two-dimensional form and cross the boundaries between craft and fine art, making the work approachable and giving it a familiarity.

Barclay’s other body of work Delainey Barclay is an oil painter and installation artist based in Wilmington, Delaware. Since receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Columbus College of Art and Design, she has maintained a working studio. She is also a founder of Project Space, an artist run gallery, installation lounge and studio space.


Kate Clements: Charade

Image: Blue Frame II, 2104; kiln-fired glass

In her work, Kate Clements explores the ambiguity of fashion-its capacity for imitation and distinction, its juxtaposition of the artificial and the natural. She sees the life cycle of fashion as a process of creative destruction by which the “new” replaces the “old,” yet nothing is truly new. By the time a new style has been produced for mass consumption, it has been casted aside or even rejected by elite society as a bi-product of class division.

Clements’ choice of materials acknowledges and embraces ideas of imitation. Glass represents a counterfeit to jewels; wood vinyl covering cheap plywood creates the illusion of solid oak. Cut outs suggest the absence of an object that is no longer there, present only through its trace. These imitations and absences act as a veil of protection that is ultimately removed when the viewer discovers what attracts them to the work are deficiencies.

Kate Clements received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2011 and came to Philadelphia in 2013 from the Midwest to pursue her MFA in glass at the Tyler School of Art of Temple University where she was awarded a University Fellowship. Her work has been featured in Italian Vogue Gioiello magazine and she was recent recipient of the Academic Award from Bullseye Glass Emerge 2014, A Showcase of Rising and Evolving Talents in Kiln-Glass.

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Heineken Green Room: Featuring Mannie Fresh

Happy 2015, Heineken Green Room Insiders!

We’ve been busy planning a 2015 that’s going to be bigger than ever, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at our first Heineken Green Room coming your way April 1st… no April fools!

Known for producing all your favorite Big Tymers and #1 Stunnas from Cash Money Records — multi-platinum and Grammy nominated DJ Mannie Fresh is coming to Philly to turn the party up and guarantee you’ll be hollering “Go DJ!” before the night is through.

This event is open ONLY to Heineken Green Room Insiders. Insiders must RSVP for themselves +1 friend by March 30th at 5pm.

RSVP does not guarantee admittance, so arrive early, as entry will be first come, first serve. You must be 21 or over to attend.




Gravy Trap: An Autumn Classic – Wednesday Nov 26th

On Wednesday November 26th, 2014 Cult Classics and [EV]-BnksCrtv will debut a showcase production at Sole Control in the Piazza, Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. .

The event will be presented as a movie catered to the city of Philadelphia. “We not only want people to feel like the audience, but also cast” says Tre’ Banks, who will be reffered to as the “narrator” rather than the traditional “host”, all tying into the feature film experience. The movie/event will be titled “GRAVY TRAP” — based off of the classic pop film Parent Trap. The most notorious holiday condiment (gravy),and a play on one of today’s most popular descriptive words (trap).


Recap footage will serve as the film that Philly hosted, developed and produced.

Headlining the show case will be Atlanta’s rising superstar Key! He appears on “Look at my Wrist” and “B*tch You Guessed It”. 

The duration of the night will be orchestrated by both Reebok Brand ambassador DJ YS and Ohio’s own rising selector, DJ Chris Mars B.

The showcase will be hosted and narrated by personality and curator Tré Banks and the beautiful New York native Franceleslia.

Acts will range from Philadelphia Natives as well as guests representing Ohio and Washington DC.

The night will also entail a collaboration pop up between emerging Philadelphia brands CMTA (Creative Minds Think Alike) and MaryJanesCloset.