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We put Philly's music scene to the test

I WASN'T SURE it was possible to have a different musical experience in the city every day for an entire month.

A different scene, every day: PhillyBloco at the World Café Live.
A different scene, every day: PhillyBloco at the World Café Live.Read more

I WASN'T SURE it was possible to have a different musical experience in the city every day for an entire month.

I thought I'd wind up at the same handful of places night after night, listening to generic rock 'n' roll. Or worse, I thought that there would be days when the city was quiet - when no live shows were happening, no deejays were spinning and no music lovers were partying.

I was wrong. Way wrong.

Over 31 consecutive days, starting on New Year's Day, I listened to Brazilian beats, smooth jazz, guttural hardcore, gospel, freestyle rapping, reggae, house music, bossa nova, lo-fi punk, classical, R&B and so much more.

I went to an illegal warehouse party, watched the Philadelphia Orchestra play at Martin Luther King High School, danced to country music at a gay bar and listened as a new band rehearsed in the studio in preparation for its very first live performance.

It was an amazing month that could never be repeated.

The experiment almost fell apart on the second day of my adventure.

On Jan. 2, I planned to listen to a few local bands play the intimate, second-floor room at the North Star Bar. But the power was out in the neighborhood. The dining room was dark and the amps couldn't work.

I thought that my streak of musical experiences would end after only one day.

Instead, the first band, Turning Violet Violet, set up its gear on the ground floor and the bar staff placed candles around the room. For nearly an hour, singer Sarah Gulish led the band through an acoustic set of their delicate indie pop.

The power returned mid-way through the set but the band continued in the dim light. When Mike Onufrak, lead singer for the band Onufrak, set up for the second act, he said, "I wish we were playing with the power out. It was kind of cool."

So, the bar staff dimmed the lights and replicated the power outage.

The next day, I listened to Orrin Evans, the Mount Airy-based jazz pianist with numerous recordings and gigs around the world, play his weekly jam session at the World Café Live, in University City. The day after that, I laughed as packs of revelers belted out "Sweet Caroline" during Keyboard Karaoke at Jolly's Dueling Piano Bar, in Center City.

A few days later, I entered an old Victorian home in West Philly that had a 6-foot-6, Mohawk-sporting, black-leather-clad punk guarding the door. He let me in - for $3 and a can of black beans - and I quickly ran into a former work colleague.

"What are you doing here?" Daniel Caputi asked.

Twenty minutes later, Caputi was in the cramped basement, passionately screaming and stomping, surrounded by a raucous pack of moshers. He was the lead singer in the opening band, a hardcore crew named No Lessons Learned.

"What did you think?" he asked afterward.

I was blown away. By his performance. By the energy in the room.

Two days later, I was blown away even more.

I arrived at Fluid, on 4th Street near South, and found about 150 people waiting in the cold to enter the club. At 11 p.m. On a Monday.

Diplo, the BlackBerry-hawking uber-DJ who makes dance floors shake around the world, had returned to spin at the Mad Decent Monday party. Inside the club, another 200 people frolicked to his pulsating beats.

Throughout the month, I tried to find free or inexpensive events. The Kimmel Center, for example, has a free concert series. Triumph Brewing Company, in Old City, has free live music seven days a week.

Many shows at Kung Fu Necktie are only $5. There are dozens of venues that feature great music for less than $10.

On most nights, I had numerous options - bluegrass, surf punk, be-bop, experimental, hip-hop, etc.

Only the day of the 15-inch thundersnow storm caused problems.

The shows I considered seeing were postponed, and many of the clubs closed early for the night. I roamed the streets until I found a pack of partiers inside the Northern Liberties neighborhood haunt, the 700 Club. DJ Damien Taylor spun vinyl as everyone happily ignored the three-inches of snow falling per hour.

The next evening, I was lured to the Raven Lounge by the warm-sounding name of the opening act - Summer Osborne. Only a handful of folks braved the barely-plowed city, so it was almost like a private show, with the St. Louis-native belting out sassy songs and occasionally giving me shoutouts mid-performance.

I wrapped up my month of living musically with an outdoor concert at the Piazza at Schmidt's as snowflakes wafted in the air, a lovely jazz brunch at Warmdaddy's and neo-New Wave night at National Mechanics.

I wish I had the stamina to do this project for 365 days.

There's that much music to experience in Philadelphia.

In March, G.W. Miller III is launching JUMP, a quarterly, Philadelphia music magazine.