On July 12 at 7 p.m., Fantasia, the vocal powerhouse who has appeared on Broadway and won her first Grammy Award since becoming the “American Idol” grand champion in 2004, will open the 2012 “Essence of Entertainment” series at the Dell Music Center, 33rd St. & Ridge Ave. The evening of R&B will also feature soul sensations Raheem Devaughn and Avant.
As the fourth largest performance venue in the city, The Dell has provided entertainment to Philadelphia residents for the past 40 years. In 2008, the popular outdoor venue in Fairmount Park underwent $6 million in major capital improvements and reopened for the 2010 summer concert season.
“The Dell is back and it’s better than ever,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said upon completion of the project. “After a $6 million investment — including new seating, reconstruction of the parking lot, major renovations to the Dell stage complex and much more — we’re here to announce the opening of what really is a new facility.”
The 2012 summer season under the stars features a diverse roster of family entertainment that ranges from the classic R&B of the Manhattans and Bloodstone to the comedy of Deray Davis, who was a scene stealer in the feature film “Jumping the Broom,” and Philly’s own Turae.
“We have a great lineup of accomplished musicians coming in this summer and we are excited about our 2012 season and look forward to showcasing our artists and welcoming everyone to The Dell Music Center,” said Susan Slawson, first deputy commissioner of recreation and programs. “Special thanks to this season Dell Music Center sponsors, The Philadelphia Tribune, Rita’s Water Ice and Clear Channel Radio for their support.”
The 2012 Essence of Entertainment Concert Series schedule. Showtime is 7 p.m.
July 12: Fantasia, Raheem Devaughn, and Avant
July 19: New Birth, Bloodstone, Heatwave and The Manhattans
July 26: Comedy Explosion w/Philly’s Own Turae, Deray Davis, Aries Spears & Dominque
August 2: Gospel Show – The Clark Sisters, Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller, Vicki Yohe & E. Daniels
August 9: George Benson, Boney James & Pamela “The Saxtress” Williams
August 16: Robin Thicke, Chrisette Michelle & Leah Smith
August 23: Will Downing with Kelly Price & Lao Tizer
August 30: Funk Show – War, George Clinton, Dazz Band, Ohio Players & Barkays
To purchase tickets, call (215) 685-9564 or visit www.mydelleast.com.
Venue to become Georgie Woods Entertainment Center in 2015
City Council on Thursday, March 15 voted to rename the Robin Hood Dell East. Effective in January 2015, the venue in North Philadelphia will be known as the Georgie Woods Entertainment Center.
Council unanimously supported the name change, which came over the objection of one man, Joey Temple, who urged Council to rewrite the bill renaming the entertainment venue so the name change would take place immediately.
“Why wait until 2015?” Temple asked Council during the public comment portion of the meeting. “I think Georgie Woods’ name should go up immediately.”
Temple, an ex-gang member, credited Woods with turning his life around and said Woods didn’t get the public recognition he deserved.
“Not a lot was done in his favor,” said Temple.
The bill’s sponsor, Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr., explained that city custom mandates a 10-year waiting period between the death of a notable Philadelphian and the naming of a public facility after him or her. Woods died in 2005.
“He would have been proud of the renaming of the Dell,” said Jones.
Jones also introduced legislation that would make the Police Advisory Commission permanent and expand its authority through a change to the city charter. He also called for an investigation into the commission, which has a backlog of 400 complaints.
“Maybe it needs a referendum for greater independence, or maybe the current structure needs to be tweaked,” Jones told the Tribune earlier this week. “Either way, people need to have confidence that their complaints will be heard — and if they’re legitimate, that some fair action will be taken. Police officers should also be confident that false allegations will be dealt with swiftly too.”
The proposal was referred to committee.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell took Mayor Michael Nutter to task for a ban on feeding the homeless outdoors in city parks.
“What if Jesus were around at this time, trying to spread some fishes and some loaves of bread? I guess he’d be in trouble,” Blackwell fumed. “It amazes me that we have to give, but the giving that one makes out of one’s own reserves is being regulated.”
Blackwell, well known for her advocacy for the homeless, chastised the mayor in a blistering seven-minute speech before council. She condemned the ban and related policies that would fine violators up to $150 after two warnings.
“It is unconscionable that we have decided that we’re not allowed to feed the hungry,” she said.
Nutter, citing health and safety concerns, announced on Wednesday that he had instructed parks commissioner to begin enforcing a ban on feeding the homeless in public parks within the next 30 days, as part of a new administration policy.
He pitched the policy as one centered on public health and safety concerns, and as way to assist people needing food and shelter.
“Aside from the dignity provided by sitting down at a given time in a given place for a nutritious meal, an indoor location enables the city and its partners to offer health, mental health, housing, a place to receive mail and other needed services to this very vulnerable population,” he said.
The mayor added that until the many groups that feed the homeless outside and those that have indoor facilities can coordinate their activities, the outdoor groups can feed people on the apron at City Hall.
They “will be required to sign up with the Department of Public Property and reserve the days and times for their activity,” said Nutter. “Those who wish to provide safe food will be welcome to do so, and we will try to coordinate their feeding to assure a more balanced, predictable schedule for the hungry.”
Finally, as council begins to dig into Nutter’s budget proposal, members voiced their opinions of the administration’s plan to change the way property values are assessed, switching the basis of taxes to full market value.
The administration plans to enact full valuation assessment later this year. Councilman Bill Green has urged the administration to delay a year to implement its plan in the name of bolstering confidence in city government.
However, the administration’s plan seems to have growing support among council members as they study revenue options. Full valuation would net about $90 million more dollars in revenue for the school district. The city would not receive any more than it does now, approximately $458 million.
“The administration is conflating two issues,” Green said this week. The “move to full value, which is required under state law, and revenue. They are separate and distinct issues. As we move to [full valuation] we should have that debate and make sure we have as much information as possible. As we talk about additional revenue … we should have a discussion about whether or not it is needed.”
Though the mayor’s budget does not include a formal tax increase, the city expects to collect about 8 percent more in property taxes next year as it moves to a tax system based on market values.
Administration officials are loathe to call that added revenue a tax hike.
“That would be a tax increase,” Green said.
Bells were rung, posters were waved and City Council people sang as emotions were laid bare during a special Monday hearing to rename the Robin Hood Dell East open-air music venue in honor of Philadelphia radio legend, music promoter and civil rights activist Georgie Woods. Dozens of speakers told the council committee that Woods, who died in 2005, fought for the African-American community in Philadelphia.
Woods came to the region in 1953 and began broadcasting from AM stations WDAS and WHAT. During the 1960s, Woods used the airwaves to talk about the American Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, Woods helped charter buses to take people down to the March on Washington, D.C., (subsequently famous for its “I Have a Dream” speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.) and had asked a young Ed Bradley, who later went on to become a well-known CBS correspondent, to be a bus captain.
It was the threat of Woods’ storied legacy fading into the annals of history that spurred Councilman Curtis Jones to action. Recently, Jones asked several interns, as they passed a mural of Woods, if they knew who was on the wall — none of them could answer the question.
“That, in the city of Philadelphia, to which he gave his professional life, was unacceptable. We owed him more than that. But for Georgie Woods, there wouldn't be many of the broadcasters that I see out in the audience today, but his guidance and mentorship created news departments that actually gave real information in real time to real people in real communities. He was a little bit Don Cornelius, John Shaft, a little bit Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medger Evers. He was not perfect, but he was perfect for us at that time. It is my hope that people will talk about him, not just as an entertainer where he had his roots, but as an agent for change in the greatest city in America — Philadelphia.”
Gary Shepard, Jerry Wells and Terry Lee Barrett were among the recognized voices from Philadelphia’s radio community that credited Woods for their careers. Radio personality E. Steven Collins, whose early career including working as Woods’ radio producer, remembered he was shushed as a child when his father insisted on the family listening to Woods as he introduced Martin Luther King to his radio audience. “At the time, MLK wasn’t welcomed here — he was considered a rabble-rouser — but Georgie Woods introduced him to our family.” It was a moment, Collins testified, that still vividly resonates with his 91-year-old mother, who recently mentioned the episode to him. “Georgie Woods went to the old Civic Center and confronted Frank Rizzo, and demanded dignity for Black people in this city. He did it over and over and over again.”
Political consultant Donald “Ducky” Birts looked around the hearing room and declared he was the only one left who had worked with Woods from the beginning of his Philly days until the end. “Georgie did a lot of things behind the scenes that a lot of people didn't see,” recalled Birts. “In 1968, we started Progress Plaza with Rev. Leon Sullivan. Georgie was a part of that. And also, Georgie was involved with Dr. King raising money at the Uptown Theater.”
Passions were on full display when the mayor’s recreation commissioner, Sue Slawson, suggested patience in renaming the Dell East, in Fairmount Park, in honor of Woods: “Such caution is warranted, because we wish to retain the Dell’s successful marketing and community familiarity,” Slawson said. In addition to mentioning marketing concerns, she cited a city regulation which states no city property can be named in someone’s honor until they have been dead for 10 years. “There are some things money can't buy!” yelled a supporter, who was visibly outraged at the commissioner’s suggestion.
The committee unanimously approved a revised name change: “The Georgie Woods Entertainment Center at the Robin Hood Dell” to take effect in 2015. The plan now goes to the full Council for a vote.