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  • Writer's pictureChristine

Swear and Shake featuring Jillette Johnson at MilkBoy

Swear and Shake entertaining the crowd at MilkBoy Philadelphia on a recent Thursday night.

MilkBoy Philly

MilkBoy is one of those places that if you know its history, it makes it even more special to see a show there.

The “original” MilkBoy is a recording studio founded in 1994 by Tommy Joyner. It is currently located on North 7th Street in Philadelphia, and has served as the recording studio for many nationally known artists including R. Kelly, Miley Cyrus, and the Roots. In 1999, Joyner partnered with composer Jamie Lokoff, and in 2002 they moved the studio to the Philadelphia “main line” suburbs in Ardmore.

In 2006, MilkBoy decided to open a food/coffee shop that also hosted live acoustic music. They opened their first location around the corner from the studio in Ardmore, and then a second location just down Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr.

In 2011, MilkBoy obtained a liquor license and opened their current Center City Philadelphia location at 1100 Chestnut Street. The location is a restaurant/bar with a full menu downstairs. Upstairs is another bar, along with the live music venue.

Tip #1: MilkBoy Philly is open crazy hours. Because the venue is directly across the street from a large hospital, they open at 7 a.m. weekdays and serve a full food and drink menu to cater to the “3rd shifters”. They are also open late night to grab a late night snack or drink after a show.

If you are going to a show at MilkBoy and want to get dinner or a snack beforehand, consider just eating there. They have a great menu, with what I would call a higher end twist on typical bar food. At our visit the other night, I had the BBQ Grilled Cheese sandwich, which had pulled chicken, jack and cheddar cheese, and jalapenos on toasted bread. I would have liked a few more jalapenos on the sandwich, but otherwise, it was delicious. My husband had the Flat Iron Sliders, which were also good, but definitely a smaller portion compared to my grilled cheese.

MilkBoy also has a great beer and drink selection. Prices are typical for bars/restaurants in the city.

Tip #2: If you are looking to have something different for dinner and like ramen, check out Hiro Ramen. It is located right next door to MilkBoy at 1102 Chestnut Street. They don’t keep their website up to date and they don’t even have a sign above the storefront. However, they have good ramen and it’s BYOB.

If you are going to a show at MilkBoy, the music venue is located upstairs on the second floor. It’s a small venue and a small stage, which makes for a very intimate show and a good view no matter where you stand.

The stage at MilkBoy.

There is a small bar located in the back of the room. Restrooms are also all the way in the back. The bands typically set up a merch table (literally a folding table) at the top of the stairs.

The bar located at the back of the room.

Tip #3: While you will have to buy tickets for the shows at MilkBoy through Ticketfly, you don’t need to have a print out of your ticket. Your name will just be on a list, and you check in when you arrive. Be sure to bring your ID.

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Jillette Johnson

Jillette Johnson performing her opening set.

Opening up for Swear and Shake was singer/songwriter Jillette Johnson. Jillette is from New York City, but is currently based in Nashville. Jillette started singing and playing piano at the age of 10, and began performing at the age of 12. She released her first album – Water in a Whale – in June of 2013. She has just finished recording her second album – All I Ever See In You Is Me – and will be releasing it on July 28th.   Download All I Ever See In You Is Me here.

Jillette has an amazing voice. It’s both unique and powerful. It’s rare that a musician can totally captivate you by playing a keyboard and singing songs you’ve never heard before, but Jillette could do that for me.

Jillette’s performance was fantastic. Not only is she a great performer, but I loved her personality as well. A song or two into her set, she asked those of us listening to her, if we were bothered by all of the loud talking by the rest of the crowd hanging out in the back of the room by the bar. She told us she would tell them to be quiet if we wanted her to (luckily, my husband said very loudly “Don’t let the performer interrupt your conversation”, and people actually shut up!).

Jillette played a number of songs from her new album, including a song that she said she had never performed live before. She also made an impromptu addition to her set list, and did an amazing cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”. She told us that a lot of people say she sounds like Stevie Nicks, and it’s true.

We got a chance to chat with Jillette for a bit after the show, and she’s really sweet and clearly passionate about her music. I’m looking forward to buying her album when it comes out in July. You can keep up with news about Jillette on her website at

Swear and Shake

Swear and Shake made sure the Thursday night crowd had a great time!

Swear and Shake is an indie folk band based out of Nashville. The band formed in 2010 and is made up of Kari Spieler (vocals, guitar), Adam McHeffey (vocals, guitar), and Shaun Savage (bass guitar). They released their debut album – Maple Ridge – in 2012, and just released their second album – The Sound of Letting Go.  Download The Sound Of Letting Go here.

We first discovered Swear and Shake when they opened for another one of our favorite bands – Red Wanting Blue. While I knew that I followed them on social media because we really liked them when we saw them a few years back, I’m not a regular listener. So, I was a little apprehensive about what I would think of them in a headlining show. I was not disappointed!

The band has great energy and personality. They were very interactive with the crowd. In fact, they shared stories of when they had previously been to Philadelphia and played a bar called The Fire, including a visit one February where someone busted the window in their van and stole a bag of dirty clothes. They had to drive to Long Island in the cold with a busted window.

Swear and Shake is one of those bands that can hold your attention with a slow and quiet song, and then get the crowd singing and clapping their hands to an upbeat song. They played a number of songs from their new album, as well as some crowd favorites. They even played a request from the crowd on the fly, while Kari walked off stage for a couple of minutes to replace the string on her guitar.

Swear and Shake is such a fun band! They even have a polaroid camera on their merch table, where you can pay for a picture with the band!

Swear and Shake is currently on tour promoting their latest album. You can find them out on the road playing small venues across the U.S. all summer. Check out their website at

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