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South Philly musician, Rev. TJ McGlinchey, talks Jim Henson Holiday Tribute
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South Philly musician, Rev. TJ McGlinchey, talks Jim Henson Holiday Tribute

April 13, 2022
by Britt Rizzo

Reverend TJ McGlinchey is a performer, producer, and music educator hailing from South Philly. McGlinchey studied Music Education and Jazz Performance at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and joins us this Saturday, April 16th for a special Holiday Concert Tribute to Jim Henson & Company. This special evening features over a dozen of Philadelphia’s most-Muppety singers, songwriters, musicians, and puppeteers to celebrate togetherness, traditions, and families of all types.

Grab your tickets here to secure your spot at the show upstairs in The Lounge on 4/16!

The following questions were answered by Reverend TJ McGlinchey.

We often host tribute shows here at WCL. This one, in particular, stands out as there will be puppeteers in addition to musicians. How did this idea come about?

I have long been a huge fan of The Muppets and the music they have created. One evening at The Fire in 2011, I asked Derek Dorsey if he’d be interested in having a tribute show for the music of Jim Henson & The Muppets. He looked surprised but agreed to let me try it out. It went really well and that began a series of annual tribute shows that traveled to other well-worn spots in the Philadelphia music scene including Lickety Split and Milkboy Cafe in Ardmore. It eventually transformed into a kids’ show. But this iteration is back to being aimed at adults. Hence the 8 pm start time.

What can we expect from a Jim Henson tribute and who can we expect to see from the Muppet Universe this Saturday?

The performers playing on Saturday are some of my favorite people in the Philadelphia music scene. We’ve all picked out our favorite Muppet tunes and will be doing our best impersonations of Muppets as humans. As far as puppets, you can expect at least two or three puppet friends appearing, not necessarily Muppet characters that you are familiar with but loveable nonetheless, to provide some comic relief. There will be a large rainbow on stage and we will be encouraging the crowd to sing along wherever possible. Audience participation is key to this kind of operation. We want big, warm, fuzzy feelings all around. I’m hoping to achieve the kind of choral effect that happens when all the Muppets sing together at the end of the movies…

A full list of performers:

James Cooper
Tom Curtis, Jr.
Alex Vogelsong
Michael Schleich
Eric Gershenow
Shane Razzi
Jess Ehinger
Mark Rascati
Julieann Ott (w/ Rob Lincoln)
Sammy Vile & Friends
Rev. TJ McGlinchey (w/ Will Schwarz)

The Muppet Universe seems quite timeless despite debuting in 1976 – what do you attribute to this?

Do puppets age? I’m not sure. Beloved puppeteers may come and go; but the Muppets themselves, those characters are timeless and ageless. Kermit, Fozzy, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Rowlf, Rizzo, Pepe, Animal, Beaker, the Swedish Chef… I could go on and on. These puppets are like famous actors to me and the people who love The Muppets. They are like an extended family of quite strange artists, actors, and musicians. Any collective of artists will have these archetypes. And the most timeless aspect of all is the music. The opening banjo notes of Rainbow Connection alone are enough to inspire fond memories of childhood past and the times when watching these movies were awe-inspiring. Muppets on bikes in Muppets Take Manhattan? Amazing.

You’re returning to WCL next Tuesday as a part of Philly Sings Philly – can we expect any Muppets x Philly crossover?

Well, now that you mention it… Sammy Vile of Vilebred is playing both shows as well. He produced a puppet-centric music video for a song called ‘Delete Hate’ from my funk project Thelonious Jawn which you can watch here. The TJ puppet, whom we affectionately call PJ McStitchy, maybe at both shows as well. Sammy’s puppet friend Frank Puppetburg could also make an appearance. So, there’s potential for puppetry crossover there, for sure.