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Congrats to Chiddy for Breaking the Guinness World Freestyle Record!

Congrats to Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege for breaking the Guinness World Record for longest freestyle! He dethroned Indianapolis MC M-Eighty whose former record was nine hours, fifteen minutes and fifteen seconds in 2009. Chiddy ended the record-breaking freestyle marathon at nine hours, eighteen minutes and twenty-two seconds. To celebrate this amazing accomplishment, Chiddy Bang will release their new mixtape Peanut Butter and Swelly. Way to rep Philly! Much love! - The Deli Staff
 
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Free Download: The Key Studio Sessions Volume One - Various Artists

WXPN’s The Key just dropped The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume One today. It features a single track from 17 diverse local acts like Creepoid, Purling Hiss, Grimace Federation, Moon Women, Slutever, Cheers Elphant, Prowler, Attia Taylor, and many more. You can download the in-studio compilation HERE. Enjoy! - The Deli Staff
 
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Watch Chiddy Bang Attempt to Break the World Record for Freestylin’ Right Now LIVE!

This is crazy! Chiddy Bang (a.k.a. Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege and Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin) are attempting to break the Guinness World Record for freestylin’. The current record is nine hours and sixteen minutes. You can watch them attempt it LIVE from Las Vegas HERE. LOL…we’re interested to see what happens when he needs to take a leak. Go! Chiddy! Go! - The Deli Staff
 
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FYI on DIYs in PHL: Rock to the Future

In a time when it is obvious that our government is failing to help or care about our art programs and the future of our youth, it has become apparent that it is up to each individual to take on that responsibility and do what they can to rectify this horrible injustice. Rock to the Future’s Founding Director Jessica McKay is a local individual that has stepped up to the challenge. Her award-winning Rock to the Future is “a free after school music education and youth development program open to Philadelphia students ages 9-14. The program focuses on the incorporation of music education with academics to create success in school and in life by improving cognitive thinking, learning capacity, socialization skills, self-esteem, and creative thinking.” The Deli Magazine will be presenting the Rock to the Future Benefit Show this Saturday at Danger Danger Gallery with local favorites and do-gooders Algernon Cadwallader, Conversations with Enemies, Hop Along and Power Animal. Please come join us and help support a truly worthwhile cause! But first, check out our interview with McKay HERE, and we hope that her thoughts and actions are as inspirational to you as they are to us.
 

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FYI on DIYs in PHL: Rock to the Future

- by Q.D. Tran

 

In a time when it is obvious that our government is failing to help or care about our art programs and the future of our youth, it has become apparent that it is up to each individual to take on that responsibility and do what they can to rectify this horrible injustice. Rock to the Future’s Founding Director Jessica McKay is a local individual that has stepped up to the challenge. Her award-winning Rock to the Future is “a free after school music education and youth development program open to Philadelphia students ages 9-14. The program focuses on the incorporation of music education with academics to create success in school and in life by improving cognitive thinking, learning capacity, socialization skills, self-esteem, and creative thinking.” The Deli Magazine will be presenting the Rock to the Future Benefit Show this Saturday at Danger Danger Gallery with local favorites and do-gooders Algernon Cadwallader, Conversations with Enemies, Hop Along and Power Animal. Please come join us and help support a truly worthwhile cause! But first, check out our interview with McKay, and we hope that her thoughts and actions are as inspirational to you as they are to us.
 
The Deli: What originally inspired you to want to start Rock to the Future?
 
Jessica McKay: Many public schools do not offer music lessons or music education classes. It’s no secret that when there are budget cuts the first programs cut are music and arts programs. This is really a senseless and upsetting practice because it is proven that music education can increase academic grades, SAT and standardized test scores, cognitive thinking, math and science skills, and reasoning, not to mention the benefits of having a creative outlet and finding a positive method of expression. Since private music lessons can cost upwards of $40 an hour, there is a huge opportunity gap for low-income Philadelphia student. So I decided that there should be a free program for students to learn music.
 
At Rock to the Future, students learn a musical instrument, form bands, and collaborate with each other to write original music (better original music then I’ve heard some adult bands produce!). Students also receive homework help and attend educational and musical workshops.
 
TD: We saw that you won a Turning Point Prize of $15,000 from Women for Social Innovation last year. Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment, especially in this economy. What did you do to celebrate your victory?

JM: I remember the moment I found out that I was the winner. It was a Friday morning, March 2010, around 10am. I was driving the Monster Energy truck when I got a phone call telling me I had won. Of course, it was incredible, unbelievable, and no doubt a turning point in my life. Unfortunately, I don’t quite remember the evening celebration, which likely took place at The El Bar. It must have been a great celebration!
 
TD: How did that grant help your program?
 
JM: The Turning Point Prize is what allowed me to start the program actually. I always had the idea of starting a music school for under-privileged students, but I honestly never thought I would win! But after finding out that I had won, I had 5 months to find a location, instruments, participants, instructors, volunteers, and create a curriculum - it was definitely a rapid change in my life. I left my full-time job at a financial firm in Center City and took on the challenge full-time. I’ve made some mistakes and learned a lot along the way, which will help us improve our program for next year. That single grant started the program, and now we are looking for more funding to continue this amazing program.
 
TD: What are your plans for the funds raised from your benefit shows?
 
JM: The funds raised from the Danger Danger and Circle of Hope benefit shows and End of the Year Showcase at World Café Live will go directly towards operating expenses and purchasing additional instruments and supplies for the 2011 - 2012 programming year. We currently have 14 students, and next year we want to admit 8 more students. We need to expand our physical space and need to purchase additional instruments (or have instruments donated!) for the new students - not to mention supplies, educational and lesson materials, etc. Our goal is to provide each student with a working instrument for practice at home and an instrument to use for rehearsal and lessons at Rock to the Future. The more people that come to the shows, the more we will be able to offer our students next year!
 
TD: What is the most rewarding part of the program for you?
 
JM: Watching these students - students who have fallen through the cracks at their schools, who do not have a support system at home or otherwise, who have never turned in homework or completed anything, and have never had an opportunity to learn - watching them learn discipline, focus, positive socialization skills, and learning life skills that will help them throughout their lives is just…inspirational and touching. Students who have never picked up an instrument are playing “Let it Be” or “All You Need Is Love”, it brings tears to your eyes. These kids are amazing and have come so far in only 9 months. Watching them grow and achieve new heights, it’s incredible. 
 
TD: What’s the most challenging part about running the program for you?
 
JM: Finding committed and reliable volunteers is definitely challenging. Some days I am there by myself running workshops with 14 students. Of course, Assistant Director Josh Craft (Conversations with Enemies/Cloud Entertainment) and Assistant Operations Director Mike Bobak are there most days, but we can always use more help. With such a low operating budget and small paid staff, having supervision and volunteers is absolutely essential. It’s hard finding people who want to commit to 3 hours a month, let alone 3 hours a week.
 
Doing everything - volunteer coordination, event planning, programming, scheduling, budgeting - is a difficult task. It’s definitely a goal next year to have reliable volunteers who can help with a specific task on a regular basis.
 
TD: How many people do you currently have working with you?
 
JM: Rock to the Future’s Assistant Director and guitar instructor is Josh Craft. He hardly makes a dime and spends a lot of his time hands-on at Rock to the Future. Mike Bobak is the Assistant Operations Director, Monika Julien (Conversations with Enemies) is our bass instructor, and Caitlin Vivian is the keyboard instructor. Casey Bell (Break it up!) was previously our drum instructor - she recently received a full-time position at a publishing firm, and we are sad to see her go. Our new drum instructor is John Holback. And Chris Bradley is our web design guru (currently working on a new site!).
 
Jake Loggins from UPenn’s Entrepreneur Legal Clinic completed our incorporation and non-profit paperwork.
 
Eric Remer, Eric Kennedy, Jessica Lowe, and Jessie Rinyu spent two weeks painting an amazing wall mural in our room.
 
We have also had many volunteers over the past year. Currently we have 4 solid volunteers - Sarah McStravog, Cati McDonough, Jason Padmore, and Erica Rubin. Other volunteers who have helped a lot this past year are Marc Neibauer (Eat Your Birthday Cake), Chris Rosello (Chris Brooks), Willie Nelson (Crills Wilson), and Justin Baldwin.
 
This past year we have also had songwriting workshops for the students from Hilary White (Lion Versus), Frances Quinlan (Hop Along), Andy Mohalt (The Armchairs), Nate Rylan (Early Ape), Chris Rosello, and Your So Called Friends (NYC).
 
The best way I can describe my thanks to these people: You have lit a fire in my heart and have help me stay on track and motivated. You are amazing and wonderful and there is no way this program could have achieved so much this past year without you.
 
Sincerely, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
 
TD: Are there any other organizations that have been really helpful to you in making this program run smoothly?
 
JM: Girls Rock Philly were our fiscal sponsors this year. They are an incredible program and run a week long all-female summer camp. Girls Rock Philly’s Founding Director Beth Warsaw-Duncan has been a mentor to me and has been incredibly helpful. She is even the one who originally sent me the Turning Point Prize grant information. So really, without Beth, Rock to the Future might not exist. Check out Girls Rock Philly! I volunteer for them and they are awesome.
 
Colleen Curren and The International Music Fraternity for Women at Rowan University have been doing bi-weekly music workshops (music history, vocal techniques, classical instruments, theory), which have been fantastic. Meg Boyd and Philadelphia PR Associates have also done pro-bono PR for Rock to the Future this past year.
 
Ellen Farber and Women for Social Innovation have been helping the entire year with professional advice and mentoring. Aaron’s Sales and Leasing and Circle Thrift have both made considerable donations to Rock to the Future. And last, The Spruce Foundation has partnered with Rock to the Future to bring new volunteers to our organization.
 
So many people and organizations have helped this past year!
 
TD: Is Rock to the Future your full-time job or do you have another day/night job?
 
JM: At this point financially, Rock to the Future cannot provide a salary for Assistant Director Josh, Assistant Operations Director Mike, or myself. So even though it is a full-time job running the program, I do have a part-time job. In addition to Rock to the Future, I work for Monster Energy. I drive a big monster truck and give out Monster! And I’m really good at budgeting my money.
 
Josh Craft also runs Cloud Entertainment and does full-time booking at Millcreek Tavern, Pterodactyl, and Bookspace. And Mike Bobak works as a mentor/tutor for Northeast High School.
 
We do it for the love of music!
 
TD: How did you start getting involved in music? Were you involved in any music programs growing up?
 
JM: I owe my success in school and life to music. I started playing violin in 4th grade, then clarinet and saxophone throughout middle school, and finally I was in the drumline in high school. I played drums for Sailboat! and currently play drums for Conversations with Enemies. There is no doubt in my mind that the reason that I was able to stay out trouble in my youth is because I was in a very disciplined drumline program at Upper Darby High School. Being involved with a music program that demanded excellence and discipline kept me on track. Those kinds of programs are so important, especially at an age when peer pressure and “being cool” seem so crucial.
 
TD: If you could talk to someone who has the ability to get our government to invest more in the arts, what would you say to them?
 
JM: Do you want students in your district to achieve higher grades? Do you want to reduce teen drug and alcohol use and pregnancy? Do you want to help create a better Philadelphia and a new generation of cultural excellence? Cutting arts programs seems like an easy way to save money. However, removing these programs from schools and reducing funding to arts programs is incredibly detrimental to the success of Philadelphia youth. Students no longer have the opportunity to find positive self-expression, and are losing out on the educational and social benefits of music and arts education. Improving arts programs will increase grades, standardized test scores, and will give students skills that they can be proud of and use throughout their lives.
 
TD: Please tell us one particular story of how you feel your program has affected the life of one of your children or co-workers.
 
JM: There is a particular student who is known for being in trouble and failing his classes. When I was at his school recently, his teacher told me that he had turned in a project he had worked on at Rock to the Future that he would never have previously completed. He loves attending Rock to the Future and is working hard to stay in the program next year. Watching his slow, yet steady, improvement over the year is absolutely amazing. It’s great when students have straight A’s or are naturally amazing musicians, but the students who we can see grow over the year and learn, that’s a joy in itself.
 
TD: What plans do you have for the future of this program?
 
JM: Next year we want to expand our physical space and want to admit 8-10 more students. We want to help as many students as possible, but are careful not to overextend our resources. Slow and steady expansion is the plan. It’s important that we are able to help students on an individual level. Rock to the Future is not a babysitting service and we want to make sure our students are dedicated and committed, and we want to make sure that we are dedicated and committed to each student.
 
TD: I know that you are based in North Philly. Do you want to expand the program to other parts of the city? If so, where first and why?
 
JM: There are no solid plans for the future since we are just off the ground in North Philadelphia. I would love to open locations in West Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia. These are all low-income areas with a great need for music education. Many students from these areas applied to Rock to the Future but could not attend because of the daily attendance requirement. Rock to the Future could be life changing for so many students. It is an opportunity for students to learn self-worth and realize their goals and potential. Not to mention we would love to help build the next potential generation of Philadelphia musicians.
 
TD: If someone wanted to get involved with the program, how would they go about doing so?
 
JM: Contact me, Jessica McKay. You don’t need musical experience, and there is no minimum time commitment! You can contact me at RocktotheFuturePhilly@gmail.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/rocktothefuture or visit www.RocktotheFuturePhilly.org to find out more information. We always need more volunteers - hands on helping the students Monday - Friday from 3 - 6pm, or hands off helping with fundraising events, PR, grantwriting…the list goes on. We, of course, always need donations: additional instruments, musical accessories, and actual money!
 
TD: What song or band would make you so proud to hear your students cover?
 
JM: I’m not sure that anything can beat seeing the students perform “Let It Be” at this past Winter Concert. At the End of the Year Showcase on June 5th, students will perform “All You Need Is Love” which I just know will be amazing. In addition to that, I’d love to hear some Led Zeppelin or Beach Boys in the future!
 
TD: What is your favorite thing to get at the deli?
 
JM: Anything with pickles and hot and sweet peppers. And mac n cheese on the side.

 

 

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