Headliners include Little Feat, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Hiatt, Steve Earle and Wanda Jackson
How would you top a festival who celebrated their 50th anniversary last summer?
“We felt that last year’s 50th celebration was so special, we didn’t even try to top it” says Lisa Schwartz, Marketing Chair and President of the Philadelphia Folksong Society.
Every year, in late August, tens of thousands gather right outside Philadelphia at the Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township for the organization’s biggest event, the Philadelphia Folk Festival. It returns this month to continue on with the legacy of providing the folk community of the greater Philadelphia area and beyond with a summer celebration like no other.
Schwartz and company were tasked with the difficulty of trying to follow up a concert bill that last year included Justin Townes Earle, the David Bromberg Big Band and Arlo Guthrie. To do so the folk society teamed up with longtime partners and local promoters Point Entertainment to bring in top-notch talent.
“Point Entertainment has done a stellar job putting together our lineup,” Schwartz adds.
The festival this year does a great job of bringing together acts from my different generations. From Little Feat and Wanda Jackson to John Hiatt to City & Colour, there’s something on the bill that fits all age ranges.
“And, collaboration will once again be the key,” says Artistic Director Richard Kardon.
With fellow Artistic Director and Point Entertainment co-head Jesse Lundy, the two are bringing a fresh, new idea to the realm of summer festivals. Their idea is to book a smaller number of bands compared to years past. The 2012 Saturday lineup is the perfect example of idea being put into motion.
“Saturday is so packed full of amazing acts that we’ve decided to do away with the Afternoon Concert and straight through,” Lundy comments.
On top of bringing bigger talent in, the thinner lineup will also allow and encourage the acts to collaborate with one another. It’s this idea and possibility of two artists teaming up that creates the chance for something truly special and unique.
“This lineup offers incredible opportunities,” adds Kardon.
Saturday alone will include Little Feat, John Hiatt and the Combo, Steve Earle and the Dukes, Lucinda Williams and Wanda Jackson.
To help navigate the crowd through each day, WXPN DJ and proclaimed “Godfather of Philadelphia Folk Music” Gene Shay will be lending his smooth, golden voice as the master of ceremonies. Shay has been with the festival ever since day one. He was one of the original partners that put together the first summer affair.
The Philadelphia Folk Festival, on top of bringing together all kinds of musical acts, does a phenomenal job of providing other activities as well. Two additional stages, the camp stage and the crafts stage, offer a number of different kinds of fun for all ages. These include puppeteers, jugglers, storytellers, various workshops and a crafts show. On top of all that, the festival also has space for over 5,000 campsites.
Tickets for this year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival start at $145 for a three day pass. Individual passes for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are $65, $89, and $79 respectively. Additional charges for camping start from $10 and go up to $30. Whether it’s just for a day or the entire weekend, make the trip up to scenic Old Pool Farm. The days will be cooler and nights will be full of campfire get-togethers perfect for summer’s end. You will hear some great acts collaborate for the first and probably only time, meet new friends and have an experience worth remembering for a lifetime.
by Matt Kelchner
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