There’s nothing like a good jam session. Like the music scene’s French cafes of the Enlightenment, with perhaps a little less pretension, thriving monthly jam sessions raise art and new ideas from their nascent stage to the greater community. And Philly’s music scene has always been supported by these gatherings. Take for example the great Black Lily at The Five Spot in the 90s and early 2000s that launched artists like Jill Scott and Jazmine Sullivan. Following in the tradition of Black Lily, which featured predominantly women voices, comes the Iris Music Showcase, a new jam session organized by funk singer-songwriter and Philly DIY leader Taylor Kelly at Silk City diner. 

“It felt like a necessity,” says Kelly, referring to Iris. “As a woman vocalist, I feel like the scene is very male- and instrumentalist-dominated.” But that’s not the case with Iris. Every month, Kelly will invite featured women artists to prepare some songs, at least one original and one cover. She hopes that by emphasizing the vocalist’s role in the jam, more singers will feel comfortable sharing in on the jam. “I think a lot of the time vocalists [at jam sessions] don’t feel like they have a place because the band doesn’t listen to them, or they’re playing too loud. As a band leader myself, I know it’s an important part of being in a band: if you have a vocalist, you need to know how to play with a vocalist and support them.”

And that’s where the connection to Black Lily comes in: there’s a place for any musician to come sit in at Iris, but the focus will be on local women singers. Artists will also chose a cover song from an earlier time, and explain how it influenced them. “We’re paying tribute to this showcase [Black Lily] that came before us that was so iconic and part of Philadelphia history and culture. It’s cool what we’re doing now, but let’s not forget what came before us.”

Iris Music Showcase’s first night is this upcoming Wednesday the 17th at Silk City starting at 7 p.m. The hype is real for this month’s featured guests Zami Inez, Noel Scales (who joined XPN Local for a Key Studio Session just last month), and Suzanne Sheer (who also made an XPN appearance in December, performing at Home for the Holidays). Follow Iris on Instagram here to stay up to date with monthly guests and more news about the event.

Noel Scales - Picky
Suzanne Sheer - Girls On The Internet
Zami Inez - For Good