This year’s August print issue is filled with many of the great performers of the Philadelphia Folk Fest. We won’t bore you with a detailed run down of the entire weekend, so make sure to pick up a copy of the issue or read it online here.
The city was cool as folk this past weekend during the 53rd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, where legends and fans gathered to revive their souls with a dose of twanging banjos.
Friday night’s lineup was filled with a diverse sound, with John Flynn opening the Friday evening concert on the Martin Guitar Main Stage. Flynn brought warmth to the stage and performed songs that encompassed stories, love and social justice.
Shemekia Copeland (featured in our August print issue) brought a powerful blues presence to the festival and performed songs like “Lemon Pie” and “Mississippi Mud.”
Archie Fisher released his first album in 1968, and brought a familiar and comforting folk sound to the stage. But when Tempest took the spotlight, they asked everyone to get out of their seats, because “It’s Friday night and it’s time to boogie Philadelphia.” The band said the vibe of the Philadelphia Folk Festival is “like having a living room and filling in with your best friends.”
Old Crow Medicine Show (yup, in the new print issue too) was last to take the stage on Friday night, and the band left everything they had on it. Performing songs like “Sweet Amarillo”, “I Hear Them All” and “Take a Whiff on Me”, Old Crow Medicine Show had the crowd dancing and singing until the clock struck midnight.
On Saturday, Johnnyswim opened the evening concert on the Martin Guitar stage, followed by The Gibson Brothers, The Lone Bellow and The Slide Brothers.
Janis Ian, a 10 time Grammy nominee, performed “Married in London” for the folk festival crowd and received hoots and hollers after the lyrics, “But love has no color, and hearts have no sex, so love where you can, and fuck the rest.”
Natalie MacMaster came on after Ian. MacMaster’s fiddle playing kept the crowd engaged and upbeat, which was a great setup for Tommy Emmanuel whose music indulged in humor, passion and joy.
After Emmanuel, Rebirth Brass Band hit the stage (interview in our print issue!). Immediately, most of the crowd was on their feet and dancing to the soul jiving New Orleans party machine that compiles the band.
Steve Poltz closed the festival Saturday night, and his performance was unforgettable. Truly a character unlike any other, he began the performance by announcing that “this is the greatest gig I’ve ever played!” The most notable song during his performance was called “I Want All My Friends To Be Happy”. Poltz shared that he lost a dear friend to cancer a few months ago and wrote the song in retaliation because “cancer pissed me off.”
Sunday’s lineup began with Ten Strings and a Goat Skin. The band emitted an energy and sound that festival attendees of all ages could relate with.
After Goat Skin, Orpheus Supertones made their 2014 Folk Festival debut. The band’s sound is comprised of twin fiddles, banjo, guitar and bass with a vocal harmony that allowed the crowd to relax and enjoy the afternoon.
DakhaBrakha brought a set list unique to the other performers at the festival. From Ukraine, the music was rooted in the soul and sound of the countries ethnic background.
Sarah Jarosz hit the stage with a sultry voice, but fiery spirit. Her songs ranged from heavy hearted lyrics to taunt that had fans up and dancing by the end of her set. The Steep Canyon Rangers’ stage presence emitted a high-energy yet homely feel and it is apparent the band is blossoming into one of the bluegrass greats. They were followed by Jason Isbell, our well deserving cover story for this summer’s print issue. Isbell was calming and comforting when he took the stage, adding to the family feeling that the Philly Folk Festival is known for.
Loudon Wainwright III closed the festival with a performance style similar to Poltz’s charismatic energy the night before, but still something entirely its own. Performing songs such as “Daughter”, “It Ain’t Gaza” and “My Meds”, Wainwright also told stories his father had written for Life Magazine such as the loss of the family dog when Loudon was a child.
The overall energy of the festival was full of good vibrations, as everyone in attendance was there for the appreciation and connection that is shared through the love of music.
Check out last year’s August issue for more bands who frequent Folk Fest. Can’t wait until next year!