Under dimmed lighting, audience members listened to funky, upbeat music by Illvibe Collective. People met and greeted, getting out of their seats to shake hands with one another, quietly chatting as they awaited the main event.
When 9 p.m. rolled around, featured performer and host for the evening Julie Dexter, an award-winning British singer-songwriter and producer, took the stage. Dexter made an entrance as a keyboardist, drummer and bassist played alongside her on the stage.
During Wednesday’s performance, the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza replicated a jazz performance for its free monthly show, “Sittin’ In.”
Anthony Tidd, the director of the Creative Music Program at the Kimmel Center, said “Sittin’ In” has been a monthly tradition at the center for three years now.
“The object of ‘Sittin In’ is to help keep the current live music scene in Philly alive,” Tidd said. “In addition to that, I am trying to bring folks to the Kimmel who might not come or play there often.”
Dexter specializes in jazz, R&B, world music and soul, but the center prides itself on showcasing a laundry list of genres, institutional marketing manager Sophia Konopelsky said.
“[Our talent] ranges anywhere from jazz performers, R&B artists, folk artists and Latin artists,” Konopelsky said. “It’s really a broad range of performers.”
For Tidd, the most valuable aspect of the event is the variety of different artists.
“The nature of the event is that, although it has a core audience, it also pulls different crowds, depending on who is hosting,” Tidd said. “One night might be a salsa dance vibe, the next might be big band jazz. … It’s always changing, hence the hashtag ‘whoissittinin.’”
In addition to recruiting monthly talent, Tidd said “Sittin’ In” also gives local artists the opportunity to perform a jam session.
Brandon Wallace, who performs under the name Iron-M.I.C., heard of the jam session through advertisements at the Kimmel Center, and jumped on the opportunity to hear a multitude of different genres for free. Wallace, who was also in the audience last Wednesday, danced in his seat along to Dexter’s scatting.
Last month, Iron-M.I.C had the chance to perform in his first jam session.
“It really helped solidify my niche in knowing what my specialty is,” Wallace said.
In addition to “Sittin’ In,” Wallace has also been involved with a weekly karaoke night at Maxi’s, a pizzeria and bar on Main Campus.
Tidd said the center often sees college-aged students performing at the jam session, hoping to make their mark and be recruited for their own feature performance.
“Many of the musicians who play the jam sessions are U-Arts and Temple students,” Tidd said. “Also students from the Creative Music Program, CAPA and Temple have been featured hosts of the night. We even did an all youth ‘Sittin’ In’ a couple of months back. Even the DJ was a high school student.”
The Kimmel Center will host upcoming ‘Sittin’ In’ sessions Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.
Logan Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.