The Key’s Year-End Mania: Nikki Volpicelli’s 5 Behind-The-Scenes Women of 2013
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributor Nikki Volpicelli highlights women doing amazing work this year.
…because every single one of these women (and many more) deserves a shout out before this year ends.
Sometimes Nicky Devine is sitting at the bar at Johnny Brenda’s with a keen eye on the running of the evening’s concert. Other times you can’t find her at all because she’s sprinting around the venue, making sure everyone going on stage is happy (and wanting to return to our lovely city to entertain us again). That’s the life of a Production Assistant. Devine splits her time as a PA and a Production Supervisor for Weathervane Music, managing the production and release schedule of monthly Shaking Through sessions. She’s also Festival Director at the annual 2nd Street Festival, and if you’ve ever experienced the panic attack that is trying to maneuver your way through NoLibs on this day, you can begin to understand the impossibility of running the whole operation.
“Who asks these questions?” Was the first question I asked myself after reading this super well crafted Q&A with fuzz-rocker King Tuff (one of my favorite artists this year). I took to the side bar of the Philly Girl About Town blog for an answer and found co-editor Carly Marcoux. Compared to some of its online peers, PGAT only posts a few choice interviews and reviews per month, but Marcoux keeps busy, holding down a day job and playing drums on the side (and singing) in The Pretty Greens – a feminist fuzz-garage group that periodically publishes a pop-art fanzine called Pretty Signals (Issue #2 came out in August). SheT also plays in No Other and freelances for Tom Tom Magazine, a quarterly publication dedicated to female drummers.
Being the Sofar Sounds Philly Coordinator means a ton of things, including more email than you could throw your laptop out of the window at. The organization puts together monthly shows in secret locations across the city – typically a home or apartment – and Lederach helps pin down the pop-up venues with co-coordinator Ken Winneg. It can be awkward to walk right into a stranger’s home, but Lederach helps ensure it doesn’t feel like breaking and entering. She’s in contact with everyone a month leading up to the show, making sure there’s a guest list and everyone on it knows where they’re going. She also takes care of any artists needs and helps with promotion. In addition to Sofar Sounds, Lederach works as an artist manager for Small Houses and sells rad watercolor lyric artwork on Etsy.
“I remember some nights running sound, bartending, collecting door money and running the show in general,” recalls Marley McNamara. “Nightmare!” She’s talking about the time she turned the back room of Roosevelt’s on 23rd & Walnut into a venue to help promote some of the local talent she saw coming in and out of the doors at World Cafe Live, where she works full-time. From there, McNamara started helping WCL talent buyer Laura Wilson with a semi-pro talent contest called Beta Hi-fi. It was through a series of these competitions that she found herself managing The Districts, along with the Levee Drivers and Ali Wadsworth. This year, two of her artists released new records. She also managed to assist The Districts through an insane year that ended with the group signing to Fat Possum Records.
It’s hard to consider a musician “behind-the-scenes,” but I had to include Mary Lattimore on this list. In addition to releasing The Withdrawing Room EP earlier this year, the harpist was credited on Kurt Vile’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze and Nightlands’ Oak Island. Pre-2013, she was also featured on Thurston Moore’s 2011 record, Demolished Thoughts, and Vile’s 2011 record Smoke Ring for my Halo. Recently, she’s been performing with Jeff Zeigler of Arc in Round and recorded an in-the-round jam with Zeigler and guitarist Chris Forsyth for Folkadelphia. When Lattimore performs, it’s hard to take your eyes off the huge harp she sits behind, but maybe she’s staying in the background on purpose. Her sound is serene, earthy and spacious – wide and compellingly organic. It’s kind of nice that it’s never overshadowed by flashy theatrics.