February 2018 Staff Picks

John OatesGin BlossomsSyleena Johnson, and Phoebe Bridgers are just a few of the amazing artists we have coming to the World Cafe Live stage this February. Plus, we have our second show of the Spotlight Artist Series featuring The Stooges Brass Band with their unique blend of authentic New Orleans brass, contemporary jazz, and hip-hop beats—oh yeah, and it’s completely FREE! What better way to celebrate Mardi Gras?

You can check out these artists and more on WCL’s February Spotify playlist.


John Oates is one half of the best-selling duo of all time Hall & Oates, as well as an accomplished solo artist. Daryl Hall & John Oates have gone on to record 21 albums, which have sold over 80 million units, making them the most successful duo in rock history. They have scored 10 #1 records, over 20 Top-40 hits, and have toured the world for decades.Since embarking on a long awaited solo career in 1999, Oates has recorded five solo albums: Phunk Shui1000 Miles of LifeMississippi Mile, a live album called The Bluesville Sessions, and Good Road To Follow. You do not want to miss his performance with The Good Road Band on February 6th!

Favorite tracks: “Color of Love,” “Bad Bad Love,” “Different Kind of Groove Sometime” 

Syleena Johnson is one of those undeniable talents whose unfaltering truth shines through every note she sings, and we are so excited for her to take the World Cafe Live stage on February 9th. Undoubtedly one of the best singers of her generation, Johnson has collaborated with everyone from Kanye West and Common to Anthony Hamilton and R. Kelly. Her 2017 record, Rebirth of Soul, features covers hand-picked by her father, Syl Johnson—including his own “Is It Because I’m Black?”

Favorite tracks: “Make Me Yours,” “Guess What,” “Is It Because I’m Black?”

The Stooges Brass Band, widely considered one of New Orleans’ elite brass bands, is playing the World Cafe Live on February 16th as part of our new Spotlight Artist Series—bringing you the best emerging talent to come through Philly. Over the course of a twenty-year career, the Stooges have shared the stage with greats including Jessica Simpson, Galactic, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Trombone Shorty, Shemekia Copeland, Pedrito Martinez Group, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Ozomatli, Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli), Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, and The Funky Meters, among others.

Favorite tracks: “Stooges Party,” “Wind It Up”

In the late 80’s, Gin Blossoms started to grow a huge following as the #1 local music draw in Phoenix, Arizona. Their indelible jangle-pop sound was evolving during radio’s diverse mix of hair bands and grunge music superstars. Their breakout record, New Miserable Experience, was where their rise to fame began. This album kept the band on the chart for almost 3 years with singles “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” Until I Fall Away,” “Mrs. Rita,” and “Found Out About You.” The crossover hits on New Miserable Experience played on 4 radio formats and, to date, have sold over 5 million records.

Now, the band is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the very record that brought them to fame on February 20th here at World Cafe Live.

Favorite tracks: “Found Out About You,” “Hey Jealousy”

On February 21st, we welcome Los Angeles-based folk-rock artist, Phoebe Bridgers, who has been described as Elliott Smith meets Gillian Welch. Bridgers grew up in the rose-colored city of Pasadena, attending the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts to study music. From an early age, she found encouragement from a close-knit artistic community of friends and family to follow her dreams, and at school she forged relationships that would teach her as much about her craft as her classes. She has collaborated with friends and mentors including Terra Naomi, Noah Gundersen, Chad Gilbert, and Conor Oberst. Indie rock-pop outfit, Soccer Mommy will open the show. 

Favorite tracks: “Motion Sickness,” “Scott Street”

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Southern Avenue brings Memphis soul to Philly for first show of the World Cafe Live Spotlight Artist Series

Southern Avenue, who Rock 103 FM calls, “the most-talked-about band in Memphis,” took to the World Cafe Live stage this past Friday for the first show of our Spotlight Artist Series–highlighting the best emerging talent to come through Philly. Appropriately taking their name from a street that stretches all the way through Memphis–the quintet embodies the sound of the city. By drawing inspiration from gospel, blues, and the iconic artists signed to Stax Records before them and adding their own, youthful energy, Southern Avenue reinvents a classic sound.  

While some guests came with their own copy of the group’s self-titled CD in hand, eagerly awaiting the post-performance meet and greet, others came without having any prior knowledge of the band. Either way, it is safe to say everyone was left wanting more, and more is what you will get! Southern Avenue is returning to the World Cafe Live on April 25th, this time performing in our intimate, upstairs space. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office.

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We are so grateful for everyone who helped make our first Spotlight show a success, and we can’t wait to welcome our next Spotlight Artist, The Stooges Brass Band–a New Orleans-based group that blends brass, contemporary jazz, and hip-hop beats–on Friday, February 16th. We support these up-and-coming artists so fully that we are bringing these shows to you completely FREE. Be sure to RSVP, so you don’t miss out on the chance to say, “I saw them here first.”

Written and photographed by Tate Kamish