Intern-view: A Sit Down With Anthony Tidd, Curator of Sittin’ In

By Dan Jacob, Campus Philly Editorial Intern

This Wednesday, February 15, you have a FREE chance to be part of  a live show, jam session, dance party that features the hottest talent on the scene! Join the Kimmel Center for the 5th Annviersary Sittin’ In hosted by the founder Anothony Tidd and featuring some of Sittin’ In’s favorite regulars.

Last week, we were lucky enough to land an interview with  the man behind the show, Anthony Tidd. Below learn more about Wednesday’s event and why you should go!


Before we jump into Sittin’ In, I wanted to know about you. Could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey to Philadelphia?

Anthony: I am originally from London, I came to Philly 16 years ago, I’m a bass player, I’ve performed all over the world for various artists, I’m the Creative Music Program Director at The Kimmel Center, and the curator of Sittin In’.

So, what is Sittin’ In and how did it come about?

Anthony:  Years ago, I was just getting settled in at The Kimmel, from my experience in Philly there were no venues or very few. At the time, a well-known jam session had just ended. At The Kimmel Center, we were dealing with trying to bring in new artists that wouldn’t traditionally go there, it was a monthly series that included a jam session, that was primarily geared towards people into jazz and soul, which wasn’t being represented well. We started off with a group jam session; it featured James Poyser of The Roots, Matt Cappy, a very well-known trumpet player in Philly, also drummer Steven Mckie. The first one was a great success, eventually, it built up a nice following, of musicians and artists.

One thing that caught my attention about Sittin In’ was that the lineup is pretty eclectic, ranging from vocalists to MCs. Was that by design or did that kind of just happen?

Anthony: It was by design, the thing that makes Sittin In’ different is that it is curated by me. I tour a lot so I know a lot people, I bring out people, the other thing is; I specifically go on scouting runs in New York or D.C. So, over the years we’ve had a very eclectic lineup you’re right, we’ve done folk, jazz, hip hop, electro, Brazilian, salsa (etc.).

You’re obviously an experienced musician whose worked with talent at many levels throughout the world. Is there anything unique about the Philly music scene?

Anthony: Well, I don’t know about unique- it is just respectable all over the world. Many, many, musicians have come out, either lived in Philadelphia or came from Philly. Philly also- up until the last ten years had a very very strong jazz club and dancing culture. The other thing Philly is known for, it’s another one of those regions- like Detroit or Chicago, its recording history- take Gamble and Huff, it’s always been a very musical city.

This is the 5th Anniversary of Sittin’ In. What do you think has been the catalyst for its success?

Anthony: Honestly, I think -Philadelphia, Philadelphia has always had a great and very appreciative audience, it’s known for that around the world. Record companies would always send their acts to Philly. So, because of that appreciation for music, there’s hunger for people to get out and experience talent, I think that was part of it. Sittin In, looks like another event I was involved in- Back to Basics, another jam session, I was involved in Black louie by the Roots, about 12 years ago, so you know it’s been a continued tradition, Sittin In’ is the latest one to follow in tradition.

Right, so it’s a continuation of a tradition, with you doing your best part to keep that going.

Anthony: Right. Every year, there’s a new generation of musicians, but I think the difference is about Sittin In- it’s split between a serious event and a concert series, serious artists perform but it also features impromptu features and performances.

Campus Philly’s goal this month is to get students to be more involved with the all the things happening in Philadelphia, what would be your elevator pitch to get students to come out to Sittin’ In?

Anthony: I would just say Sittin In’ is great because it’s for everybody, music, cultures, the best DJs in the city, great live music, creative live music, for over 5 years we’ve built a reputation for putting on the best show, and lastly it’s free. You can’t go wrong there.

What artists have influenced your musical career?

Anthony: Influences, well I started in London, but my great American influences are partially contemporary- Steve Coleman, saxophonist- for over 22 years, he’s been a great influence my life.  And The Roots, they are part of the reason I moved to the states.

[Anthony has written about Steve Coleman’s influence on him for Philly.com definitely worth the read]

Do you have any tips for students looking to get more involved in Philadelphia’s musical community?

Anthony: Tips..yes- my tip is : If you want to be part of the music scene, find a great musician, you know? I would usually recommend an older musician. When I was 18, I was playing with musicians who were 30-45, get in with someone like that and follow them around-  it requires, navigation, they’ve done it all before. In terms of their craft, if it’s a great musician, mirror them. Also, get out and explore, don’t just sit and rehearse all day. Well do that, but also explore.

And last, but not least, what have you been listening to lately?

Anthony: That’s a really hard question. So much going on, it’s hard to say, most people I’m used to were written and recorded 50 years ago, some contemporary artists, so one thing- a lot of Afrobeats, but I’ve been checking out more of that kind of thing, I’ve also been checking out A Tribe Called Quest’s new album. I’m actually a collector of vinyl, so a lot of old school music.

Oh wait, I forgot to ask: Do you know of any artists on the rise in Philly?

Anthony: The artist on the rise, well she couldn’t, make it this time- Lee Mo, and also one Chartel Findlater, Laurin Talese, young singers who have different stuff on the scene. Those two will be at the show.

Great! Well it was great talking to you, thank you so much for your time!

 Sittin’ In is this Wednesday February 15th 8:00pm @ The Kimmel Center and is free to attend! Get your tickets here

P.S. Anthony’s birthday is also February 15th be sure to send him well wishes!