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Experience the energy of the Philly Folk Fest in 150 photos

Old Crowd Medicine Show at Philly Folk Fest | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Old Crowd Medicine Show | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

This weekend, up in northern Montgomery County, Philly Folk Fest reigned under mostly sunny weather. The 53rd annual gathering treated the crowd to its trademark mix of sounds and styles: heavy on the promising up-and-coming acts (El Caribefunk, Sturgill Simpson) and locals (Kicking Down Doors, Ryan Tennis, Katie Frank and the Pheromones), but also showcasing scene favorites (Old Crow Medicine Show, The Lone Bellow) and heritiage artists back for another set in front of familiar faces (Janis Ian, Loudon Wainwright III). Our photographer Michelle Montgomery was at the festival for all three days, and shot an immense amount of pictures capturing the scenes, the sights, the sound-makers and, most vividly, the folk folks. We whittled down her photos to our favorite 150, encompassing three days and nights of lively festivity and high spirits. Continue reading →

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Gene Shay takes us through the Philadelphia Folk Festival photo album

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Folksong Society

Five decades can contain a lot of history, especially in the world of folk music. Thankfully, Gene Shay has an incredible memory. With the 51st Philadelphia Folk Festival descending on Schwenksville this weekend, we sat down with Shay and a collection of photos from the Folksong Society archives to get a picture of where the festival began and how far it has come.
The scene you see above is Wilson Farm in Paoli, the location of the very first Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1962, and the three subsequent festivals through 1965. Shay remembers the owner of the land, C. Colket “Collie” Wilson, as a patron of the arts in the Philadelphia region. “The Pennsylvania Ballet needed a place to rehearse during the summer, and he said ‘I’ll build a stage.’ There was no canopy, no sides, just an open platform on cinderblocks. The dancers would come and rehearse, swim in the swimming pool when they were exhausted. And that was the stage he offered us. He thought it would be nice to have somebody out there other than the ballet. There was an old barn, that was built in the 1700s; it was in ruins when we were there, but people used to play guitar along its wall.” Continue reading →