Rev Chris
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Rev Chris

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Blues Americana




"New Orleans expats and enthusiasts celebrate Mardi Gras in Philly"

Julia K Sanders, a New Orleans native, always celebrates Mardi Gras with live Jazz and Creole food including, jambalaya and hushpuppies.

Last night she wore a festive mask made out of feathers and Mardi Gras beads she inherited from her mother.

But she wasn’t in New Orleans this year, she was at Acadia, a relatively new Cajun-Creole restaurant around the corner from Philadelphia’s Italian Market.

Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, marks the end of the celebratory Carnival season and gives way to the start of Lent, a season of reflection, fasting and prayer in the Christian liturgy.

Sanders said she typically tries to recreate the ethos of Mardi Gras at home with friends and gives the restaurant high marks for capturing the right feel.

“The only thing that’s missing from this aside from the parade itself, is the people that are on the second floors of balconies that have the wrought iron fences that are throwing beads to the people that are open handed in the streets,” Sanders said.

Sanders was not the only one at Acadia trying to recreate a bit of the Big Easy in Philadelphia.

Across the bar was Leslie Manning. She kept a low-key approach to Mardi Gras in the past, eating New Orleans-style food with family. Though she was born in Philadelphia, her father’s side of the family is from New Orleans.

“It’s been a couple of years it feels like, since I’ve celebrated or done anything special since I haven’t been with my family a few years,” she said. “So it is nice to recognize this.”

At the bar, Jeff Marvin wore a purple shirt that says New Orleans. He and his wife Jan Marvin are from Louisiana and met in Baton Rouge.

Usually they spend Mardi Gras with family, but on Tuesday they came to support keyboardist friend Christopher Marsceill, better known as Reverend Chris, who is playing with his quintet.

Reverend Chris lived in New Orleans for roughly a decade before Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home.

Sitting in the next room was Madison Tompkins from Washington, Louisiana. Her Mardi Gras outfit features gold alligator earrings with a purple, green and gold striped shirt. It’s all tied together with a sequined, oversized green bow tie.

Tomkin’s has been celebrating Mardi Gras in Philadelphia the past four years. “I try to find the best place in Philly that I can to eat some of the food from home,” she said, adding that it’s not always easy.

A handful of Acadia’s guests with Louisiana ties, say it can be hard to find an authentic Mardi Gras celebration.

Sean Nevins, chef-owner of Acadia, says he wanted to do that year round.

“Everyone who’s been to New Orleans or who has lived there for a while, there’s a piece of New Orleans that travels around with them,” he said. “So what I really wanted to do in Philadelphia is tap into that.”

Tuesday night, the restaurant seemed to be doing just that, attracting expats and self-proclaimed New Orleans enthusiasts like Alicia Williams and her half a dozen friends.

Alicia Williams, 34, a self-proclaimed Mardi Gras Enthusiast, celebrates the US holiday at Acadia Bar in South Philadelphia next to her friend Shakeena Parker. “I love the food, I love the culture, I love the history, I love the drinks — I love everything about New Orleans,” she said. “Especially Mardi Gras.”

Williams says while she’s itching to visit New Orleans again, Acadia is a nice substitute closer to home. -

"Rev Chris : @etude"

by Geno Thackera

Christopher Marsceill may be based in northwest Philadelphia, but a casual listener could just as easily believe it was Nashville or New Orleans—not just because he goes by Rev Chris in polite company and otherwise, but because he and his amiable High Rollers band share a love for earthy horns and Dixie swing. This lineup's first recording @etude offers a fun melting pot of largely Southern gumbo with high camaraderie and high spirits.

The leader's mostly-electric piano makes a soft and sprightly bed for the horn duo to caper over while the shuffling rhythm players stomp their hearts out. New addition Thomas Razler on sax adds a dose of Philly soul in spots like the brightly bouncing "Gene Pullen," while Bart Miltenberger's trumpet brings us to the heart of N'awlins with dashes of creole and cabaret. Marsceill's time living in that town obviously left some permanent effects, judging by "Huddle House Honey"'s zoot-suit swagger or the ragtimey blues of "The Sun Is Gold" (not to mention the brief straightforward homage to Allen Toussaint). Touches of the French Quarter and Professor Longhair are never terribly far away.

Mostly there's little need to step up to the mike, though the Rev's light drawl occasionally adds to the old-time vibe in a charmingly low-key manner. For the most part he's happy to stick to the keys and let the band do what they do best. The High Rollers' friendly chemistry is palpable throughout. It's a recording that was made with everyone live in the same room, and there was no inclination to overthink or over-polish while letting the good times roll. The attitude of @etude is one of bright celebration; it all makes an invitingly upbeat listen from a sharp crew ready to carouse till the sun comes up.

4 out of 5 stars -

"Redemption of Philly jazz scene starting in the Northwest"

I didn’t move to Northwest Philadelphia for the jazz. I came for the Wissahickon Woods and the bohemian, multicultural vibe. When I first settled in the neighborhood in 1996, the local music scene was limited to an eclectic mix at the Mermaid Inn which, on any given night, featured a Grateful Dead cover band, blues, Celtic sea shanties or an open mic. If I wanted to hear jazz, I had to go to Chris Jazz Café in Center City or Ortleib’s in Northern Liberties. Just thinking about parking and traffic was enough to keep me on my sofa.

Then North By Northwest opened in Mt Airy. The music wasn’t strictly jazz, but it was close enough. Around the same time, Paul Roller, chef/owner of Flying Fish restaurant in Chestnut Hill, started presenting live jazz. That’s where I heard legendary Mississippi blues pianist and singer Mose Allison. The last time I had heard Allison was at Pep’s Bar on Lombard Street, one of over 30 Philly jazz clubs that closed its doors in the 1970s, only to be replaced by rock venues such as the Electric Factory, Keswick and Tower Theater.

North By Northwest eventually closed and recently reopened as the 7165, offering jazz brunch on Sundays. Meanwhile, Reverend Chris Marsceill plays New Orleans-style piano on Friday nights at Tavern on the Hill in Chestnut Hill. For the Chardonnay-and-pearls set, Woodmere Museum launched a Friday Night Jazz series.

Then came the Bynum brothers, owners of Warmdaddy’s, Relish, South, and the now defunct Zanzibar Blue. When they announced the opening of Paris Bistro Jazz Café in Chestnut Hill in 2014, I was skeptical. Were they really going to create an authentic jazz venue or will it be just one more missed opportunity? Zanzibar Blue had been my favorite jazz hangout in its intimate location on South 11th Street, but when they relocated it in a cavernous space in the Bellevue Hyatt, I lost interest. Apparently, so did the owners.

But when I entered Paris Bistro, with my mental score, they had me at “Bonjour.” I passed through a noisy, brightly lit main dining room and descended a flight of stairs into a 1930s-style jazz lounge with red banquettes, mirrored walls, and retro wall sconces. There were only a dozen seats at the semi-circular bar. So far, so good.

The menu was standard Parisian bistro fare. But the main course wasn’t anything on the menu. It was the music — from formidable local groups like the Hot Club of Philadelphia with vocalist Phyllis Chapell performing Django Rheinhardt-style gypsy jazz. Other nights, the lineup includes the same songbirds who appear at the other Bynum cabarets: Brenda Smith, Anna Cecilia and Michelle Lordi. With just a $5 cover, I sat at the bar, sipping a prosecco cocktail and thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

But it does.

This fall, Philly percussionist Jim Hamilton launched a jazz series at Rittenhouse Soundworks, his 15,000-square-foot recording studio and performing arts space in Germantown. There’s no signage. Just a metal door marked 219 on Rittenhouse Street next to the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. That’s part of the mystique. I missed the first two concerts but caught the third one in November featuring 10 acts, including The Jost Project with vibraphonist Tony Miceli, vocalist Paul Jost, bassist Kevin MacConnel and drummer Doug Hirlinger. The performance space is nothing short of dynamic. Its size, however, doesn’t detract from the quality of sound or comfort.

Many well known musicians were among the over 150 attendees hooting, whistling and applauding. The ambience was electric. No French food or pretense. No bartenders or hovering waiters. Just unmatched chairs, pretzels, soda, wine and beer. And world class jazz. All for 10 bucks suggested donation. And, oh yeah, free parking. Musicians performing in January include legendary neo-soul trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, vocalist Phyllis Chapell, and vibraphonist David Friedman. Embracing a build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy, Hamilton envisions establishing a much-needed straight-ahead jazz radio station, an art gallery and tap dance performance space.

So why is Northwest Philly, rather than Center City or the Main Line, turning into a jazz wonderland? Maybe it’s the cultural diversity that’s always been here. Or the fact that so many musicians live in the area. Whatever the reason, if the ghosts of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Nina Simone were to stumble into a jam session at Rittenhouse Soundworks, they’d feel right at home. -

"West Parkside: Bringing Jazz Back To West Philly"

A Philadelphia businessman recently opened a jazz venue in West Parkside to spark an interest for arts and live music in what he calls an “upcoming neighborhood.”

Jamal Parker, 41, owns the jazz venue, Le Cochon Noir, which translates to “The Black Pig.” Parker opened the spot at 5070 Parkside Ave. about a year and a half ago.

Today the venue, situated across from Fairmount Park, supports jazz musicians five nights a week.

“The interesting thing about where we are located is that this is a challenged area–a neighborhood to stay away from,” Parker said. “But places like Northern Liberties and Manayunk were the same and now, they are bubbling and lively.”

Growing up, Parker’s parents filled their home with music from his father working in radio to his mother’s constant need to have music bounce off the walls and float into their eardrums. Parker said he had no option, but to love jazz.

“My first love for jazz happened somewhere in my adolescent years,” Parker said. “But, when I was in college and started taking courses in jazz and music that’s when I realized I had fallen in love with jazz.”

Now, his love for music is bringing in awards.

Downbeat magazine, which is a leading jazz publication, named Le Cochon Noir one of the Top 150 Great Jazz Rooms in its international jazz venue guide in 2011. This year the magazine released the Top 212 Great Jazz Rooms in its February issue and the West Philadelphia venue was listed again.

“We do jazz every night we are open,” Parker said. “When you talk about a jazz club it is either a restaurant that does sub-par food, but great music or great food and sub-par music. This place does it all.”

Legendary artists have graced the stage such as Bluesman Larry Wise, who has played along side Muddy Waters and Big Momma Thornton. Le Cochon Noir also prides itself by having local talent from Philadelphia play at its venue like The Dukes of Destiny.

Chris “The Rev.” Marsceill, 31, a Philadelphia native, plays the piano at Le Cochon Noir every Sunday.

“It is a great mix here. The food is wonderful. The art is great,” Marsceill said.

Le Cochon Noir also hosts an art exhibition on the last Friday of every month called Final Friday. The venue boasts high ceilings that can allow local artists to exhibit up to 20 paintings that cover its walls, Parker said.

“It is nice having a place where the art changes every month,” said Marsceill, who crafted his sound in New Orleans. “The following month you will have different clientele and people from other neighborhoods.”

“The music is a nice link to the art,” Marsceill added. “It is layback and very southern. For the past year this neighborhood has been improving.”

Parker said he hopes a “renaissance” occurs in Parkside and that his venue can help improve the popularity of jazz in Philadelphia.

“It is certainly a challenge to get people to support local live music, especially, if it’s not popular music like soul, R&B or hip-hop,” Parker said. “For a town like Philadelphia, we have a talented history of jazz musicians and it is sad to see the lack of support for jazz.” -

"Truby - Marsceill - Bess"

Some very good straight ahead modern jazz from a trio of young musicians who obviously know what they’re doing. The opening tunes, “Green Dolphin Street,” “If I Were A Bell,” “Autumn Leaves,” make it clear where these guys are coming from. This was familiar territory for the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and other name bop stars in the ’60s and these three have clearly listened to the masters and paid attention. In fact, their sound is quite reminiscent of the piano, bass, and drum trios from that era. What’s unusual is that this group can be heard at Fritzel’s on Bourbon Street, usually associated with nothing else but traditional New Orleans jazz. It’s a tribute to leader Bradford Truby that he can comfortably fit into both musical styles. Bryan Besse is one of a handful of New Orleans drummers who do the kind of accented rhythms we usually associate with folks like Max Roach and places like New York. Chris Marshall on the keyboards has the kind of funky feel in his playing that the boppers were just beginning to experiment with and that James Booker brought to fruition. All in all, this is an excellent debut for some new additions to the local scene from whom I hope we’ll hear a great deal more. - OffBeat Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Rev Chris leads a band through original songs and surprising arrangements that brings any audience to their feet with fonky Latin grooves, New Orleans second lines, and danceable boogie-woogie. A favorite in the Philadlephia area, since he relocated here following Hurricane Katrina, he has graced the stages of World Cafe Live, the Twisted Tail, Chris's Jazz Cafe, SOUTH Jazz Parlour, various festivals throughout the PA, NJ, DE, and DC area in addition to holding down a weekly solo piano gig since 2007, at the Tavern on the Hill - in the Chestnut Hill section of the city. In 2010 he won "Favorite Local Personality" on the Philly HotList beating out but more well known names (Tina Fey, Questlove, and more) because he connects with his audience during his 200+ live shows every year.

Joining him onstage are some of the finest musicians in the area including drummers Gusten Rudolph or Claudio de Pujadas, saxophonist Thomas B Razler, trumpeter Bart Miltenberger, and bassist and longtime collaborator Richard Curtis.

As of January 2023 the band has released three studio albums and one live album and has a fourth studio album in the works for release this spring.

Band Members