Last night the 52nd Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival kicked off as it always does – with a live taping of XPN’s World Cafe with David Dye.
This year, David’s featured guest was Nashville four-piece Luella and the Sun. The honky-tonk blues four-piece was fronted by the stylish and charismatic Melissa Mathes, aka Luella, who had a tremendous stage presence, a voice straight out of gospel and a dress assembled from plastic six-pack rings.
Their performance left a positive impression on the crowd, many of whom were on their feet and dancing by the close. New England gypsy swing band Caravan of Thieves also played an enjoyable opening set, though it wasn’t as warmly received by the trickling-in audience (many of whom were still staking their tents when the band went on.)
The undeniable stars of the show, though, were eclectic Memphis four-piece Star & Micey. They were impossible to pin down to a style; their set started with a cappella ’round-the-drumset riff on Dylan, then launched into boisterous indie-pop (“Love”), twangy nods to Hank Williams (“So Much Pain”), bootstomp blues (“I Can’t Wait”) and probably three or four other genres in between.
Best of all was their energy; guitarist Nick Redmond cracked “my grandma warned me never to do this” before taking a backflip into the crowd. Meanwhile the whole band descended into the audience to play their encore off-mic. The revved-up vibe of the night-time campground show lent itself well to the band’s vivaciousness, but we expect they’d be this much of a blast anywhere; can’t wait till the next time. Meantime, check out photos of the showcase in the gallery below.
Caravan of Thieves | Photo by John Vettese