Nothing Says I Love You Like an Allman Brother

Being a hopeless romantic, I decided to make this year’s Valentine’s Day a spur-of-the-moment kind of holiday. By which I mean, Passion was fully booked up and OpenTable.com wasn’t cooperating with my last-minute scrambling.

wxpn1.jpgWhen my attempted breakfast in bed, of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon, was met with a meager appetite and stifled yawns, it became quickly apparent that dinner at Smoke’s or Cereality might not be the ironic evening encore Id originally planned. In a last-ditch effort at originality, I hit upon the website for World Cafe Live, the live-music space in WXPN‘s new building. As luck would have it, they were hosting a Valentine’s Day “Jam Lover’s Fest” with none other than Oteil Burbridge. Whats that, you say? Oteil who? Oteil Burbridge, formerly of the Allman Brother’s band, of course. You know, the bassist. Awww jeah.

It took about five minutes of hearing Oteil jam, later that night, before I realized, Christ, I hate the Allman Brothers! I hate jam bands even more! What was I thinking? I started having horrible flashbacks to a New Year’s Eve Phish concert that I went to back in college, where the band would rhyme nonsensically and riff for 45 minutes on one song (no joke). Oteil wasn’t that bad, but still, a five-minute bass guitar jam feels like an eternity when all you really want to hear is “Freebird.”

wxpn2.jpgFortunately for Ana and me, everything else about our trip to the WXPN building was well worth the five-minute drive. The comfort food at the joint was de-lish; the renovated Hajoca building was decked out in mahogany paneling and funky, colorful decor; and the warm-up act, The Blue Method, was kinda catchy. I still don’t understand why, during one of their solo instrument jams, Ana felt the need to declare the saxophonist dead sexy. But this was more than made up for by the moo-moo wearing lead singer, a fella named Brian Williams. In addition to making Ruban Studard look like a toothpick, Willimas brought tears to my eyes as he sang gloriously, reached deep into his soul for the lyrics, paused briefly to hock a loogie, and then played the trumpet.

wxpn3.jpgIn some ways, I felt that World Cafe Live could still use a little Trading Spaces action. The tables and chairs in the Downstairs performing space, where we were, seemed like the kind you’d find in a high school cafeteria — cheap Formica and aluminum. But besides some minor decorating quibbles, I thought the space had phenomenal potential. I know Philly has plenty of live-music dinner joints, with Warmdaddy’s, Zanzibar Blue, Ortleibs, and Tritone already scattered around town. But let’s be honest: In these joints it’s often difficult to see the band, and the acoustics are downright fugly. The XPN building has the only stage large enough for a band to actually shake their bootie, as well as an amphitheater that’s actually designed for music listening. What more can you ask of a former plumbing supply warehouse?

Hopefully World Cafe Live will start drawing some decent talent soon (the only name I recognized in the next month was Edwin McCain, who I think may have played cowbell for Blue Oyster Cult). But even if they don’t draw the John Legends of the world I’ll probably head back soon anyway. The “Sunday Gospel Brunch” sounds too good to pass up.

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