Senior project highlight: Philly Spice with Matt Coakley and Ashley Fatur | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

Senior project highlight: Philly Spice with Matt Coakley and Ashley Fatur

Matt Coakley and Ashley Fatur, both senior music industry majors at Drexel University, held a record release show and arts fest at Creep Records May 26. The show’s purpose was to celebrate the release of Philly Spice, a Motown and ’60s inspired record written and produced by Coakley for his senior project.

The album’s tracks are performed by over 20 musicians, all close friends, family and acquaintances of Matt Coakley from the Philadelphia region. All of the 20-plus musicians switch and rotate on all nine original tracks and three covers presented within the record.

Coakley came up with the idea of Philly Spice after doing research on songwriting, arranging and recording techniques from the ‘60s rock and pop scene. “The album was influenced by artists & studios such as The Beatles, Motown, Abbey Road studios and Columbia Studios,” Coakley said.

Fatur’s role in the event was being the “business person” and photographer. Fatur booked the acts and venue, promoted the event and organized the festival as a whole. Despite having to fit multiple members on a small stage and a whole audience in a small space, Coakley and Fatur still managed to pull off the event with over 50 people in attendance.

Aside from the main act, The Philadelphia Spice, the event included two other bands that involved members of Philly Spice, including Avenue Eight and the solo-artist Bravely. Although Bravely is not part of Avenue Eight nor Philly Spice, he still played a significant role in the event. “I chose Bravely because I knew of Matthew Smith from his other band Hodera and have been following his new project Bravely,” Fatur said.

As the opening act, Bravely performed a set of original songs, as well as a couple of covers. After Bravely’s set, and a small break for the audience to sit and eat food, Avenue Eight came on stage and performed a variety of original funk songs and covers.

“There is obviously a lot of overlap of members between Avenue Eight and Philly Spice,”  Coakley stated. “I write, arrange and perform with Avenue Eight, but as a whole, it is lead singer Franco Giacomarra’s brainchild. Franco and I have been making music together since the seventh grade, and although Avenue Eight has been on hiatus for a while, we wanted to get together for one last big show before I leave for Chicago.”

After another short break, members of The Philadelphia Spice came to the stage and performed every song on the Philly Spice record while incorporating heart-felt comments and whole-hearted jokes between tracks. The room was packed shoulder to shoulder with people of all ages. The upbeat sound of Philly Spice kept the audience dancing and cheering until the very end.

Abby Wagner, a member of Philly Spice and Coakley’s partner, was among the few female soloists. “I’m so honored to have performed with such talented musicians. I was excited to get more experience performing in a friendly environment and I think everyone had a great time, I think it was a success,” Wagner said.

After Philly Spice’s set, the member’s announced the release date of the album, and Coakley thanked the audience for coming. “The event was fun, and it was really special to be able to play onstage with some of my closest friends and family members.”

Ashley Fatur was at the entrance conversing with audience members and giving goodbyes. “I think the event went really well and I was really lucky all of the problems we had were minor or worked themselves out one way or another!”

This was a one-stop shop for Philly Spice, as well as the final big show for the band Avenue Eight in Philadelphia. The full record, Philly Spice by The Philadelphia Spice, will be on streaming services May 31.