Know Your Scene: “We Are Music” Honors Philly’s Music, Sights, and Dante Bucci

Stills from “We Are Music” by Todd Rawiszer

The chatter surrounding Philly’s music scene is growing. It’s a topic Rock On Philly has touched on before, and partially the reason why we started our website. On December 1st, Philly will also now have a tangible representation of the music found in the City of Brotherly Love. “We Are Music,” a live music video project that incorporates over twenty Philly musicians and many iconic Philly locations.

At the nucleus of this ambitious project is Brendan McGeehan, a musician who has lived in Philadelphia for over eight years. Originally “We Are Music” was written for McGeehan’s band AlyCat by fellow members Allison Hilley and John Glaubitz. It was McGeehan’s idea to create a new version to show off the various talents of the Philly music community. “We were talking about what kind of video to make. The song is very uniting in its mantra and lends itself to having guests on it,” McGeehan explains to Rock On Philly. “We thought it would be cool to include our friends and film on location because we love our city and think it’s really beautiful… From there, the idea was hatched and we just started to plan it.”

stills

The video includes a large cross-section of Philly’s music scene, and includes jam bands, folk, rock, jazz, world, and even classical musicians. These artists then built from the original song and added their own element. “It was something you could have never anticipated,” explains McGeehan. “That spontaneity is part of what makes [the video] so cool.” For the locations, McGeehan says that they are “a combination of my wishlist, the other musicians’ wishlist[s], and cool places that also represent everything that Philly is.” The diverse locations include the Whispering Benches in Fairmount Park, 30th Street Station, the Academy of Fine Arts (one of McGeehan’s “favorite shots”), and a mural in North Philly.

The video has a dual purpose in not only highlighting Philly’s music scene, but also celebrating the late Philly musician Dante Bucci, who passed away in August 2014. All the musicians in the video were friends with Bucci and wanted to pay tribute to the multi-talented artist. Incredibly, McGeehan and his team were able to include Bucci on the track and film him. “I had this idea for the video when Dante was still alive and I wanted him to be a part of it,” McGeehan explains. “He played hang on the original studio recording. In April 2014, we filmed him performing for no good reason [production did not start for the project until months afterwards], just because.”

McGeehan loves to share his first encounter with Bucci. “I met him when I first got to Philly. I was playing a cabaret/variety show with a bunch of different acts and when we were rehearsing for the show, there’s this guy that shows up and starts playing a Theremin [an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact] and playing opera on it… and I thought to myself ‘this town is so cool for enjoying this and this guy is so cool for playing that,’ and it was Dante. And that moment was really representative of who he was. He enjoyed offbeat sounds and was a master of them, and he was always great to work with, very professional. A total virtuoso musician.”

When Bucci passed away, “the whole music community was devastated,” says McGeehan. But almost like fate stepping in, McGeehan and the Philly music community still have this piece of him that they were able to morph into something complete through “We Are Music.” “It’s like he’s jamming with everyone one last time,” McGeehan says.

We Are Music 1

“We Are Music” is a live music video project, meaning that all the music is recorded on location and not added later (unlike most music videos). This format came with some challenges, such as controlling outside noises. Sometimes, this led to “happy accidents” during filming, such as some cool echoes during a drum scene that were left in the final take. “There are certain noises that are just going to have to be in the track, but that’s what makes it live,” says McGeehan. Production began last fall and McGeehan and his team shot all the musicians in only two days, in what McGeehan calls “guerrilla-style filmmaking.” Other integral parts of this team included editor Jay Yachetta, cameraman Todd Rawiszer, and production assistant Kyle Levesque.

I can tell speaking to McGeehan about this project that he truly loves Philly; his eyes literally light up speaking about the city, and his energy is infectious. “I’m constantly amazed by what our city has in terms of arts and visual landscapes. Having lived here and worked here for so long, I know the talent that is here and it’s definitely under-appreciated nationally,” he says. He believes that one of Philly’s defining characteristics is how tight-knit the music community is. “If you don’t know every musician in Philly, you know the same people. We’re close, but it’s a big scene, too. It’s remarkable how aware we are of each other. It’s a beautiful thing and you don’t get that living in NYC or L.A.”

However, he also agrees that there is “definitely more we can do. I would love to see more people do this for a living without having to do something else. We have great venues and the city needs to be more sensitive to that, like creating more parking and loading zones for musicians.” He also wants to see musicians and music lovers continue to support each other across genres. “If you’re in a certain scene, go to a venue you normally wouldn’t go to or hear music you normally wouldn’t listen to. Find what elements you do like and take from that. It’s an enriching exercise no matter what.”

WAM premiere flyer-2

On Tuesday, December 1st, you can witness the love for Philly yourself at the “We Are Music” premiere screening at World Café Live. Prior to the screening, various musicians will perform and share stories of their time with Dante Bucci. Proceeds from the event will benefit Musicians On Call, an organization that meant a lot to Bucci and serves to bring live music to the bedsides of patients through weekly programs at local hospitals. Tickets for the premiere can be purchased here.

What do you think of this video project uniting Philly’s musicians? Tell us in the comments below!

3 Comments

  1. Bryana Natale

    November 8, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I love the fact that with this project, Philly’s music talent and the beauty of the city is being shown. It is also very sweet and heart-warming that the project is dedicated to Bucci and lastly, I have to mention the fact that McGeehan brings up the valid point that the city needs to be more sensitive of all the great venues we have. HECK YES.

  2. Pingback: To Philly, With Love: We Are Music Premiere This Tuesday 12/1! - Rock On Philly

  3. Pingback: Philly Shows You Can’t Miss in December! - Rock On Philly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *