Bloktoberfest > Gentrification

Shiloh Baptist Church, courtesty of lb_philly

For you outsiders, Philly is a city of neighborhoods. Last time Noise Narcs’ Material Lives came to visit, she said that she would probably hate Philly if she didn’t have a local to take her to all the (walkable) awesome ‘hoods and was instead bounded by the tiny boundaries of the tourist circuit. One of those formidable hoods is Graduate Hopstial (which I’m still calling it despite the hospital’s renaming and residents attempts to go by SoSo for South of South), an area south of tony Rittenhouse Square. Graduate Hospital had become a predominately black neighborhood by the 1920s, home of Philly’s contralto pride Marian Anderson, and for many decades was one of the arteries of the heartbeat of Philly’s musical scene. But in the 1980s and 1990s, the neighborhood fell on tough times, setting the stage for the inevitable gentrification flow from nearby Rittenhouse. I won’t bore with you my conflicted feelings here, the inevitability of market forces and neighborhood change, cities’ struggles with providing sufficient affordable housing, our historical guilt for the sordid past of redlining which prevented African Americans from buying houses (this Plan Philly article does a good job at detailing the area’s gentrification). But, anyway, suffice to say both gentrifications’ good and bad sides have reared their heads in Graduate Hospital.

But Bloktoberfest is pure good. On the 20th Street block of Christian Street sits Shiloh Baptist Church, a mammoth and beautiful church that once housed Philadelphia’s largest African American Baptist congregation. And in an attempt to bridge the gap from the gentrfiying to historical residents, the neighborhood has been hosting Bloktoberfest, a celebration of craft beer (33 varieties at bargain prices), food truck cuisine, and music, all in support of Shiloh Baptist Church. And it’s free to attend. The ‘fest’s previous year was marred by rain, but was still a truly remarkable time. This year promises to be even better. Plus, how often do you get a chance to tour a gorgeous church drunk?

A selection of Bloktoberfest’s bands:

Budos Band: My Staten Island friends have been talking for years about the excellence of their borough’s afrobeat revivalists with good reason.
Budos Band, “Chicago Falcon” [Buy Budos Band III]

The Love Language: Recently signed to Merge, these guys walk the same swirling paths that My Morning Jacket used to tread.
The Love Language, “This Love Is Our Own” [Buy]

Allo Darlin’: Philly’s heart belongs to twee and so does this London quartet’s.
Allo Darlin’, “The Polaroid Song” [Buy]

Cozy Galaxies: Née Major Leagues, these Philadelphians (along with Dr. Dog) make a case for Philly’s defining new sound as mix of The Beatles and bar rock.
Cozy Galaxies, “Dreamer” [Buy]

And for the honor of the hood, the inimicable Marian Anderson:
Marian Anderson, “My Souls Been Anchored in the Lord” [Buy]

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2 Responses to Bloktoberfest > Gentrification

  1. Pingback: Guest Post: Inside MOG’s Cozy Galaxies | Noise Narcs

  2. Chrissy says:

    Although my being there was a definite result of gentrification, I have the fondest memories of opening the windows of my mom’s home at 18th + Pemberton to hear the wonderful music flowing over the wind from Shiloh to my ears. I miss that neighborhood (my mom died in 2001) and all the wonderful neighbors. On hot summer we’d share a sidewalk folding chair and cool iced tea while keeping a watchful eye out for trouble and/or scandal.

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