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Love @ the Crossroads - G. Love & Philly's Special Sauce
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 3 Episode #26




The Semi-Complete Nick DeMatteo


I’m from Philly. Born there, lived there a little, grew up near there & was there every week for decades. It’s in my blood in more ways than one. But that pales in comparison to my dad’s experience. He was born there, lived there 30 years, and visited family there every week for many MORE decades.


Why does this matter? Because place matters. Not just for family but for culture too. And that very much includes music. Now that I’ve spent over 20 years in NYC, I can tell you there’s one big difference in the two cities: pressure. Both cities are a crossroads of cultures. Both have tons of options & influences & sounds. But whereas NYC is one giant pressure cooker, constantly testing you, Philly lets you breathe, doesn’t ask you to be any more than you are. It’s why so many stage shows & musicians have historically gone there first to get into fighting shape. You NEED to be in fighting shape to thrive in NYC. Philly doesn’t just let you live, it encourages it. In NYC you can do whatever you want too, but you’re on your own until you can prove you’re worth the trouble.


This is why Philly music fans, venues & radio are so much better, so much easier to find your place in and be supported. It’s also why Philly music is way more of a mix of styles than NYC music. In NYC, you have every imaginable style of music, but they’re segregated into silos that rarely mix in any significant way. And they’re way more self-conscious about it all. In Philly, every kind of music talks to every other kind just because, and the results are new amalgams that couldn’t have been born anywhere else. Does that make Philly the greatest music city in the US? Probably not. There are too many worthy competitors – New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, etc. But it does put Philly WELL in the top 5, and I’d say even the top 3.


G. Love & Special Sauce are a great example of the Philly amalgam. Led by Garrett Dutton, they mix hip-hop, funk, psychedelica, folk, blues, soul & alt rock in a way only a Philly band could do. There are so many other examples of this kind of mixing through the decades. The Philadelphia Sound itself – funk-soul-dance mixed with lush orchestral strings & percussive horns. Think Hall & Oates – folk roots turned to funk-soul-pop-rock. Lil Uzi Vert – lo-fi emo rap rock. Below is a very incomplete list of other well-known artists from the Philly area. Note the variety of styles, both among and within the artists:


The Four Aces, Danny & the Juniors, Frankie Avalon/Fabian/Bobby Rydell/Chubby Checker/Nicky DeMatteo, McCoy Tyner, Todd Rundgren & Nazz, Jim Croce, Hall & Oates, Gamble & Huff/McFadden & Whitehead/The Stylistics/Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes/Teddy Pendergrass/Sister Sledge/The Delfonics, Patti LaBelle, Joan Jett, Robert Hazard & the Heroes, The Hooters, Cinderella/Britny Fox, Pretty Poison, The Dead Milkmen, Live, Ween, Schoolly D, DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince, Boyz II Men, The Roots, Jill Scott, G. Love & Special Sauce, Ape Café, Nick DeMatteo & REC, Huffamoose, Disco Biscuits, Circa Survive, Low Cut Connie, Eve, Chiddy Bang, Meek Mill, Lil Uzi Vert, Tierra Whack.


Every single thing I have ever done has Philly in it somewhere. Here’s the most complete playlist to date of my solo & band work:

The Semi-Complete Nick DeMatteo -


Do you have any ties to Philly music? Did you know so many famous artists came from there? Do you remember G. Love? Did you know that they’re still around after almost 30 years? What other areas of the country are as fertile a ground for music mixing as Philly? Discuss dammit!

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