Give the last-minute gift of Philadelphia music and literature

gift Philadelphia

Christmas is almost here, Philly.

Those looking for last-minute gift ideas, look no further—give a gift that is artful, entertaining and local. Here is a quick list of some of 2022’s finest records and books from Philadelphia artists and writers.


Patti Smith – ‘A Book of Days’

When legendary poet Patti Smith spoke at the Free Library in November, she reminded the audience of her youth spent in Germantown and Upper Darby, as well as Deptford Township in New Jersey. With that, this Philly/South Jersey author’s new book of Instagram-like snapshots and reminiscing descriptions – one-a-day during a Leap Year – looks back at the “stuff” that’s made Smith’s life worth living. Her mom’s old key-chain and her dad’s ceramic tchotchkes from when the family lived in G-Town, to old guitars and books, to recent travel photos and snaps of her cat – ‘A Book of Days’ is a fascinating, poetic look at what makes Patti Smith tick.

Black Thought – ‘African Dreams’ and ‘Cheat Codes

Who knows when The Roots, Philly’s finest live hip hop ensemble, will ever release a new album. But, with Questlove directing Oscar-winning documentaries such as ‘Summer of Soul’, the band’s mouthpiece and lyricist, Black Thought, spent 2022 dropping two rare rounds of rough edged solo material. While his ‘Cheat Codes’ album from this summer featured sample-heavy collaborations with producer Danger Mouse, this month’s new EP with Nigerian singer and musician Seun Kuti, ‘African Dreams’, is sweeter and more soulful.

Stephanie Feldman – ‘Saturnalia

Something wicked this way comes when local author Feldman pens an eerily spine-tingling novel about carnival fortune tellers, private social clubs and a surprisingly clash of worlds when the tarot cards go flying.

Sun Ra and Chris Reisman – ‘Art on Saturn: The Album Cover Art of Sun Ra’s Saturn Label


Before his passing, Germantown native musician and bandleader Sun Ra had his own independent record label where he would press precious few copies of his new albums, and hand-draw paint each record sleeve. If you were lucky, you would spy him making his own deliveries at some of the area’s finer record shops. To go with the kaleidoscopic free jazz and quirky parade music, each sleeve was a work of art. And rare. This book collects much of Ra’s tribal cartoon cover art while painstakingly detailing every story behind every sleeve.  If you really want to make this Ra gift complete, throw in a copy of the Sun’s Arkestra’s new 2022 album, ‘Living Sky’, and a copy of current bandleader Marshall Allen’s solo album, ‘Sun Ra’s Journey’.

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow – ‘Abdul’s Story‘ and ‘Hold Them Close: A Love Letter to Black Children

You would be hard pressed to call Philly-based educator Thompkins-Bigelow a children’s book author, alone, with such smart, sensitive and worldly Afro-Centric books such as these two offerings from 2022.

Shana Goldin-Perschbacher – ‘Queer Country

Temple University interdisciplinary popular music studies and identity studies professor Goldin-Perschbacher details LGBTQ+ country music. Chronicling the silence within country’s circles, she marvels at the diversity of out-and-proud country musicians Trixie Mattel, Orville Peck, Brandi Carlile, Brothers Osborne front-man T.J. Osborne and Lil Nas X while detailing how, together, they form a communal bond for a dynamic, much-needed read.

V. Shayne Frederick– ‘The King Suite

Just in time for Christmas, Philly composer, elastic vocalist, pianist and educator V. Shayne Frederick released a regally cosmopolitan, complexly rhythmic jazz-soul album that touches on the influence of Jon Hendricks and Al Green in a wholly original fashion.

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