The Phoenix Files

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holy Ghost: consider what’s behind the story

A posted response to Saturday’s print story on Holy Ghost Church, a story retold as part of PhoenixvilleNews’s “Top Ten” news items of 2008, requires a response.

The post misunderstood what was written about the role of one person named in that story, the person now under order of excommunication. The poster encouraged her to “keep up the fight,” because “we are all behind your cause!”

But one important point of the story was that she leads no fight and she leads no cause. At April 15’s Council meeting, she did not speak. Neither did she speak at later Planning Commission meetings. In constructing its charges against her, the Church constructed and described a role for her in the matter that she had not played. Whether that was by intention or by inattention, I cannot say.

But those charges read then as shots across the congregation’s bow: one letter of excommunication delivered to someone specially singled out was a warning to others.

To encourage her in her “cause” is to grant truth to precisely what it is she denies.

It also lends credence to another easy but unfortunate assumption, that as a leader she came running to the press with her story. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No one did that. The story really “broke” with that Council meeting April 15, but nothing appeared here or in print until September 22. That’s no accident. It took those five months to reach editorial agreement to work on the story at all, and many more sources than a single one to get the story and its background right.

The story was proper to print. The issues it raised could not be discussed constructively elsewhere, certainly not where they had first appeared, before public bodies which, by definition, could not entertain issues internal to a church’s life as material to the matters before them.

The story’s informants — when they allowed themselves to be — were hesitant, often tremblingly fearful of the harm they, family members and friends might suffer if they were to say anything.

She was among them. I sought her out for comment, she did not seek me. She granted me permission to identify her in the September 22 story only after the pastor of the Church chose to read the letter of excommunication, and himself use her name, publicly on September 21. But in no sense did she want the appearance of her name to suggest that she played some larger role in the matter than she did.

For any Holy Ghost member to speak publicly or privately about Church matters has been no easy step. I admire them, and grateful to them, for doing so. Some have made open and public remarks. Some have not, preferring to speak on background only.

Honor their courage, but respect the truth of the matter – and the boundaries they each have felt necessary to set.

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What were we thinking? Or, on the making of lists

List-making is an imperfect thing. Whenever someone endeavors to create a top-10 list, or some other such nonsense, things get left off the list, and certain other things get put on the list that have no business being there.

We all love to tear apart other people’s top ten lists (for example, I feel confident in my ability to immediately dismiss any top-records-of-all-time list that includes a Pink Floyd record), and now’s your chance to love or hate on our list of top local stories for 2008.

These stories, which can be voted on by you, our readers, at, were chosen at random with absolutely no thought put into the process. Joking. These were chosen over the course of two weeks by our staff, which started with a list of about 40 or so stories and narrowed them down to the ten you see here.

The creation of the final top-10 list was not an easy task. Several very worthy stories were left off the list (the Brandywine/PPG property, for example), and some stories that have a narrower impact on the community, but were important in showing some trend (the closing of the Vale Rio, for one), made their way on the list.

We will be rolling out print/online pieces focusing on each of these stories each day from Christmas to New Year’s Day, and we want your input in choosing which is the top story, so be sure to vote.

Of course, we also want to know whether you thought we got the list right, so email me at, if you have suggestions for stories that should have made it in the top-10 countdown. Your suggestion may end up in our Sound Off feature. Any email seeking to defend the “greatness” of a Pink Floyd record will be summarily deleted.

Posted by
Nick Danna

Monday, December 22, 2008

WOW with Kim Cooley: Inside the new Bridge St. business, Lush.

Custodian of Public Opinion

Posted by
J.M. "Matt" Byrd

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Silence

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Your Chance to Win $250

Monday, December 15, 2008

Custodian of Public Opinion

Phoenixville's Borough Council Spokesman

Posted by
J.M. "Matt" Byrd

Sunday, December 14, 2008


In what has been a Thanksgiving Eve tradition in the storied careers of the Hooters and Tommy Conwell, both bands played to a packed Electric Factory for what was billed as WMMR GOBBLAROO 2008. It was Thanksgiving Eve in 2007 that the Hooters shared the very same stage with the A’s, another classicPhilly rock band from the 80’s. For the $39.50 price of admission everyonein attendance received a copy of the Hooters new double live album,
appropriately titled “Both Sides Live”, featuring highlights from last year’s show as well as a private unplugged recording session done at Rob Hyman’s Conshohocken studio earlier this year. Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, featuring original members Rob Miller, Paul Slivka, Jimmy Hannum and Chris Day, opened the evening’s festivities playing an electrifying set of many of their standards, which included “I’m Not Your Man”, “Do You Still Believe in Me”, “Walkin’ on the Water” and “Loves on Fire”. Time has certainly not diminished the guitar skills and stage presence of Conwell as he can still captivate an audience with his brash in your face showmanship, which has become a staple for Conwell the moment he walks on a stage. The
band played for nearly ninety minutes getting a charged crowd ready for the night’s headliners the Hooters.

The Hooters, which includes Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman, John Lilley, Dave Uosikkinen and Fran Smith, Jr., have evolved into the elder statesman of the Philly rock scene garnering iconic status as the last intact group from the infamous Philly rock scene of the eighties. There is no arguing that they have stood the test of time on every level, producing great songs and offering up a live show that has never gone stale and sounds as fresh and alive as it did at the peak of their career, when they owned Philadelphia. Having released their first studio album “Time Stand Still” earlier this year, the Hooters have again offered up another impressive album with “Both
Sides Live”, which is only available through the Hooters website at with an anticipated commercial release of spring 2009.

Hooter fans both young and old will not be disappointed by this collection of live recordings of all the hits and beyond. The first CD includes highlights of the two concerts they did one year ago at this very venue. The second disc features the best of two private recording sessions they
did in an MTV unplugged format to a live audience of friends and family. Following a lengthy intermission, the Hooters hit the stage to a thunderous ovation from an audience that has never grown tired of their Hooters. The set appropriately opened with their most recent single “I’m Alive”, setting the tone for a high energy performance of one great Hooters song after another. Crowd favorites included “And We Danced”, “South Ferry Road”, “All You Zombies”, “Hanging on a Heartbeat” and “Where Do The Children Go”. They also played some more obscure songs from the early days, which included “Amore” and “Man in the Street”. As a part of their lengthy encore they did an impressive rendition of the late Robert Hazard’s “Escalator of Life”.
With any luck the Hooters on Thanksgiving Eve will continue to be an annual event.

Photo by Rob Nagy

Posted by
Rob Nagy

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In this weekend's edition of The Phoenix

Thursday, December 11, 2008


By Rob Nagy

By all accounts singer songwriter Nik Everett should have become as well known as his Philly based contemporaries the Hooters, Tommy Conwell and Robert Hazard. Hailing from Wilmington, DE, Everett burst onto the Philadelphia music scene armed with his guitar and a wealth of original songs that were rivaled by few. With the drive, talent and determination to make a name for himself, fame and fortune eluded him. Everett was given a brief look by major record labels only to be passed up. Now approaching three decades in music, Everett has released his fifth album “Little Victories” continuing the legacy of great songwriting and vocal prowess.
Like most musicians from Everett’s time, he gravitated towards the influence of the Beatles starting out as a drummer and vocalist shifting to guitar while continuing his duties as a lead singer in a variety of local bands. From the start there was no mistaking Everett’s distinct vocal style and songwriting abilities as he continued to hone his craft. There were local artists getting more media, fan and radio attention but no one could argue that Everett was not equally deserving of the same. In an effort to find his place as an artist, Everett played in a variety of local bands that had no trouble finding work but fell short of the personal goals Everett was now striving to reach.. “As time progressed the bands I was in were getting into heavier rock”, says Everett”, And I was going more in the singer songwriter direction after having taken up the guitar again and applying myself toward writing songs. My new heroes became solo Beatles (especially McCartney), Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens and Neil Young. I also noticed the girls liked singers and guitar players too.” Everett started performing singing and playing guitar without the backing of a band, which satisfied him creatively but monetarily was less rewarding. In an effort to provide some variety and for financial reasons Everett returned to playing in a variety of bands in and around Philadelphia hitting all the clubs and college campuses while continuing to perform solo billed as “The Original Acoustic Rock n’ Roll Man”. In 1984 Everett anxiously released his debut “Paralyzed in Motion”. Everett’s hard work soon began to pay off as he was given the opportunity to play J.C. Dobbs, the Cabarets and some prestigious clubs in New York City. By the early eighties Philadelphia was becoming a hot bed for music with Everett jumping on board forming “The Nik Everett Group”. It was unlikely not to find Everett and his band gracing the stage six days a week in a local or regional venue. By the late eighties he had gained a respectable following of fans and the admiration of the regional music press. The release of the “Surrender Tonight” album charted in the northeast grabbed the attention of major record labels and won the honor of earning Best Independent Release by the Philadelphia Music Foundation. “We had become one of the biggest bands in the region”, recalls Everett, “Performing from New York City to Washington, D.C. and all the shore points in between, opening for the Hooters, Tommy Conwell, Robert Hazard, Dave Edmunds and Marshall Crenshaw. It was really an exciting time.” As with many of the Philly bands at the time, The Nik Everett Group took the next step toward fame and fortune with both Atlantic and Columbia Records showing genuine interest in the band. “We went through showcases going into the early 90’s”, recalls Everett. “It was very exciting but stressful. It ended up burning out the whole group and then we broke up. I thought I had the energy to try it again. I took a few years off, got refreshed and then came back and just went through the same thing all over again. With a new sense of direction, relying on his own abilities, Everett released his second solo release “Gravel & Honey”. While Everett was settling into his role as a solo act he was growing frustrated with the lack of attention his songs were getting on a larger scale. He considered stepping back from the music business and joining the corporate world only to find that was not his calling. “I was going to get out of music all together and then 9/11 hit”, recalls Everett, “It really made me think about things and what I was destined to do.”

In 2004 Everett released his finest work up to that point the “Summers Gone” album. Again, Everett had penned songs that were as good as most anything out at the time. Hoping to get that big break, Everett was again disappointed by the lack of attention his songs were getting. “ I paid a lot of money to people who, I hoped, would be able to get the “Summers Gone” record on the radio. That did not happen, which was very discouraging. I really thought that by this point I would be a Marshall Crenshaw or John Hiatt. I’d have some records out. I’d have some money in the bank. I’d have financial security and I’d just be able to play music, maybe a couple hundred people in just about every major city throughout America would come out and see me. It didn’t happen and for a while that was a hard thing to get over. There was a time”, added Everett, “I could walk into just about any club in Philly and people wanted pictures or autographs, the women flowed, that all feeds into your ego and that was a hard thing to get over and sort of deflate and come back down to earth.”

Most recently Everett has released his fourth solo effort “Little Victories”, an appropriate title featuring twelve new compositions from Everett as well as a remake of the classic Elvis Presley song “Don’t Be Cruel”. In typical Nik Everett fashion “Little Victories” is a “Big” victory for Everett proving that some artists only gets better with age. Standouts include “Out of Time”, “Melody”, “Goodbye To You”, “Little Victories” and “The End Is Not In Sight”. “I wanted to do a little more ‘Pleasing to the ear’ record, less rocky this time around”, says Everett. “Something that sort of engaged the listener in one mode instead of jumping around doing a lot of things, which I enjoy doing but this time around this is what I wanted to do. I don’t like to be calculated but the only calculation behind it was that some of the listening rooms and folk festivals that I’ve been trying to get into told me ‘That if I made a more acoustic based record I’d have a shot at getting some better gigs.’ I like to think that I have accomplished what I set out to do on this record.” Along with recording and performing, Everett is looking into other avenues of getting his music heard. He has scored a song for the film documentary “Greetings From Asbury Park”, a film reminding us of the history of this once great beach resort, its decline and attempt at a rebirth. Not one to sit and watch life pass him by, Everett is already giving thought to his next release which he expects to be more of a rocking band oriented record. “I Feel very lucky to be doing what I do”, says Everett. “There are still people that buy my music all over the world. I get these really heartwarming emails saying what this song means to them and that’s the kind of stuff that keeps you going. I still am successful and there are still people out there that consider me something that moves them but it’s just at a smaller scale. I have to consider myself very blessed.”

The Nik Everett Band plays Steel City in Phoenixville, PA on Friday December 12, 2008. Opening is the Graham Brown Band. Tickets are $12.00 I advance and $15.00 DOS. Showtime 8:00 P.M.

For more info on Nik Everett go to
Little Victories is available on-line or download at or at any Nik Everett show

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Custodian of Public Opinion

Conductor Cassidy's Shining Time Station

Posted by
J.M. "Matt" Byrd

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Holidays from The Phoenix Editorial Staff

Photos from Phoenixville's Night Life

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Custodian of Public Opinion

Other Bad Places to Build a School

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ginger Bread House for PACS

Free Speech and Patience

This blog post is a quote, the whole quote (almost), and (almost) nothing but the quote.

It is a fictional Presidential speech, but the only one such included in an academic archive of Presidential speeches. So, some people think it’s got serious game.

I’m simply putting it on the table for your consideration, under circumstances in which the patience of one part of this Borough’s public with the legal limits of free speech, and the patience of another part for the impatience of the first, are both being tested.

“America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.

“’You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.

Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.’”

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence
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