Connie’s Ric Rac wasn’t always South Philly’s home for original live music.
Way back when, it was a shop owned by Connie Tartaglia with a variety of curious objects; really more of a “bric-a-brac”. However, after the explosion of online buying, Connie sold her entire inventory and had closed shop, literally, by the early 2000s. The building sat vacant and plans were made for a laundromat until Connie’s sons, Frankie and Joe Jr., stepped in and, alongside childhood friend Pete Pelullo (Principal, Reed Street Builders), built a stage and a bar. Connie’s Ric Rac was reborn as a hidden-gem DIY venue that attracted artists from all factions of the Philly music scene.
At the time, Frankie had just moved back to South Philly from New York City and while he was there he met and formed an acoustic folk rock duo with colleague Rob Ogus. They splashed onto an emerging Philadelphia acoustic scene and after establishing their footing, evolved into a nationally touring band as Discount Heroes.
Initially opened as a BYOB, The Ric Rac was a venue focused on the music, not selling booze. It was all about having a great time and enjoying the talents of the artist. Thanks to this vibe, The Ric Rac became “the spot” for many of the area’s up-and-coming musicians and bands. Many enjoyed late night jam sessions at The Ric Rac after Discount Heroes shows and open mic performances.
But music wasn’t everything. Connie’s also became a go-to place for comedians, with many joke-makers and sketch-performers calling The Ric Rac home. Soon, The Ric Rac made it onto the comedy map with high profile national acts such as Hannibal Burress (SNL, 30 Rock) and Toddy Barry (Comedy Central, Flight of The Conchords) and troupes such as Philly Improv Theatre (PHIT), The Sixth Borough (to which Frankie was a founding member), Bedtime Stories (Gregg Gethard, Chris’ brother) and Ministry of Secret Jokes (Doogie Horner). After 4 years as a BYOB, The Ric Rac began serving bottled beer, wine, and spirits, but it never lost its “venue before bar” vibe.
Today, Connie’s has reached a new level of prominence in the region as a venue that “gets it”, one that truly supports the artists and performers.
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