XPN Philly Local at the Philly Folk Fest: Helen Leicht on her camp stage picks

Aaron Brown of Aaron and the Spell

Every year, the Saturday concerts at Philadelphia Folk Fest get moving with Helen Leicht’s Philly Local Showcase on the festival’s Camp Stage. This year’s lineup spans styles from soul to chamber rock, kicking off with Aaron and the Spell at 11:00, continuing with Carsie Blanton at 11:45, Harper Blynn at 12:30 and Andrew Lipke at 1:15. Today, Helen gives us a look at the homegrown talent she has in store.

Aaron and the Spell is the impressive acoustic soul project of Harrisburg’s Aaron Brown, an emerging songwriter who in the past has dabbled in punk rock and (in high school) jazz music. His songs are neither punk nor jazz and that’s totally fine, since his singing voice is warm and welcoming, styled after Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. “As soon as I heard him sing, I said ‘wow!'” says Helen. “At our Philly Local showcase, I try to feature different styles of music, and he’s a great representation of soul music, the soul sound of Philly. Plus, his cover of ‘Purple Rain’ blew me away. When I heard him do it, I said ‘seriously, this guy is for real.'” Aaron and the Spell will be featured in tomorrow’s Key Studio Session, and you’ll be able to hear the tracks debut on tonight on the Philly Local Hour on 88.5 FM. Below, check out a recording of Brown singing “God Bless America” at Citizens’ Bank Park for a Phillies game.

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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 →


Voices of the Wetlands All-Stars to headline at the Philadelphia Folk Festival

Voices of the Wetlands All-Stars is a supergroup of Louisiana musicians who started working with volunteers from the Voices of the Wetlands nonprofit to bring attention to the environmental issues that the state’s wetlands face. Members of the group include Grammy award winner Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers and The Meters, 2012 Blues Music Award winners Tab Benoit and Johnny Sansone, New Orleans drummer Johnny Vidacovich, Louisiana fiddle player Waylon Thibodeaux, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians, and bassist Corey Duplechin. The group will be closing the Martin Guitar stage at the 51st Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival on Friday, August 17th with a Louisiana-style blues performance.  For tickets and information on the Philly Folk Festival visit their website here. Watch a video of Voices of the Wetlands All-Stars perform the song “Louisiana Sunshine” in the player below.


Philadelphia Folk Festival announces lineup including Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Wanda Jackson, Steve Earle and more

The lineup for the 51st annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, August 17th through August 19th at Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township, near Schwenksville, PA.was announced today. Highlights include Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Steve Earle and The Dukes, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Wanda Jackson, and Little Feat. Other performers include Strand Of Oaks, City & Colour, The Secret Sisters, The Holmes Brothers, Arborea, Chris Bathgate and more. Go here for tickets and more information about the weekend and the lineup. WXPN’s Gene Shay will once again host the festival.


Philadelphia Folk Festival’s 50th Anniversary kicks off tonight, runs through Aug. 21st

Since 1962, the non-profit Philadelphia Folksong Society has presented the Philadelphia Folk Festival, a four-day music and arts festival that takes place annually during the third week of August. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the festival, which begins tonight, August 18th, and runs through Sunday, August 21st. The event is run with the help of 2,500 volunteers, and has grown to host over 5,000 campers each year on its 40-acre location at Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township (near Schwenksville, PA).

This year’s festival theme is “collaboration,” according to a press release from Artistic Director Richard Kardon. “Imagine the possibilities,” said the other Artistic Director, Jesse Lundy. “What if Arlo Guthrie is backed up by the David Bromberg Big Band? Perhaps Jorma Kaukonen and Roy Book Binder will discuss the impact and play the music of the Reverend Gary Davis. Or, maybe Tom Rush, Tom Paxton and David Amram will perform together.”

WXPN Folk Show host Gene Shay has played a large role in Folk Fest, and in the Philadelphia and national folk music scene as a whole. As one of the “founding fathers” of PFF, he was instrumental in producing the first festival in 1962, and has since served as the emcee/master of ceremonies for every year since. Shay has been called “The grandfather of Philadelphia Folk Music” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as “The dean of American folk DJs” by The Philadelphia Daily News.

The WXPN connections don’t end there. On Thursday night at 7:20, World Cafe host David Dye will hold an exclusive concert featuring Terrance Simien And The Zydeco Experience, Amanda Shires, and Joel Plaskett Emergency. The concert as well as interviews will be broadcast on WXPN and World Cafe. Only attendees with All-Festival with Camping tickets will be eligible to attend. There will also be a Philly Local Showcase hosted by WXPN’s Helen Leicht featuring Suzie Brown and Jim Boggia on Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Camp Stage.

The complete performance schedule is available online here. A listing of the main stage performers can be found below.

Friday, August 19th (Main Stage)

2:30pm: Hoots & Hellmouth, Birdie Busch, US Rails, Hogmaw, Philadelphia Jug Band

7:30pm: Justine Townes Earle, Roy Book Binder, Alexis P. Suter Band, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Tempest, Dennis Hangey, John Flynn

Saturday, August 20th (Main Stage)

4pm: David Bromberg Big Band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

7:30pm: Arlo Guthrie, Jorma Kaukonen, Battlefield Band, John Hartford String Band, Angel Band, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, The Campbell Brothers

Sunday, August 21st (Main Stage)

4pm: Dan Bern, Tom Paxton, David Amram, David Wax Museum, Tom Rush, The Wood Brothers, The Levon Helm Band, The Great Groove Band

All-festival ticket prices are listed below. There are many other individual day and evening ticket options, including specials for youths, available at the PFF website. For more information on ticketing, click here. To purchase tickets, click here.

All Festival (all day and evening events from Friday to Sunday)  —  $138.00
All Festival Youth ages 12-16  —  $69.00
All Festival Child Camping —  $10.00
All Festival Youth Camping– $94.00
All Festival/Tent Camping (all events from Thursday evening to Sun plus tent camping access)  —  $188.00
All Festival/Vehicle Camping* (all events from Thursday evening to Sunday plus Vehicle camping access)  —  $188.00

*Vehicle camping requires the purchase of an RV Fee ticket for each camping vehicle entering the campgrounds  —  $30.00  If you camp with a friend who owns the RV, just purchase the All Festival/RV Camping ticket.


Philadelphia Folk Festival adds Levon Helm, Trombone Shorty and more bands to the lineup

The Philadelphia Folk Festival announced additions to the lineup for their 50th anniversary festival on August 18-21. Among the additions are The Levon Helm Band, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, The David Wax Museum, Jim Boggia, Suzie Brown and Jessica Lea Mayfield. They join a lineup that includes Jorma Kaukonen, Arlo Guthrie, the David Bromberg Big Band, Justin Townes Earle and many more. The complete lineup, ticket information and set times can be found here. On Thursday evening August 18th, World Cafe host David Dye will be hosting a special recording of sets by Amanda Shire, Terrance Simien and the Joel Plaskett Emergency. Below, a video of Trombone Shorty from a live broadcast he did on WXPN on June 4th, 2010.


Just Announced: The lineup for the 50th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival

The organizers of The 50th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival—who held their media meet-and-greet earlier tonight at North Bowl—have just announced many of this year’s top acts. The partial list of performers who will take the stage from August 19-21 at the Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township, PA, includes Arlo Guthrie, David Bromberg Big Band, Jorma Kaukonen, The Campbell Brothers, The Kennedys, Angel Band, Joel Plaskett Emergency, The Wood Brothers, Tom Paxton, Tom Rush, Dala, Tempest, Madison Violet, Give & Take Jugglers, The Great Groove Band, Dan Bern, Justin Townes Earle, John Hartford String Band, David Amram, The Battlefield Band, John Flynn, Elizabeth Butters, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Runa, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Wilderness of Manitoba, Kim & Reggie Harris, Roy Book Binder, Footworks, Caitlin Rose, Brad Hinton, Burning Bridget Cleary, Alexis P. Suter Band, and The Berrys.

From the Folk Festival’s website:

“Collaboration will be the key focus this year,” said Artistic Director, Richard Kardon. “Imagine the possibilities,” said the other Artistic Director, Jesse Lundy. What if Arlo Guthrie is backed up by the David Bromberg Big Band? Perhaps Jorma Kaukonen and Roy Book Binder will discuss the impact and play the music of the Reverend Gary Davis. Or, maybe Tom Rush, Tom Paxton and David Amram will perform together. Dala, Madison Violet and The Battlefield Band could discuss and perform Atlantic Celtic fiddle songs. How about Sunday Morning Gospel with the Campbell Brothers’ Sacred Steel? Or, Kim & Reggie Harris, The Kennedys and David Bromberg & Nancy Josephson could present a song workshop as husband and wife teams? So, expect the unexpected!

Returning for his 50th consecutive year as host is WXPN-FM DJ Gene Shay who has been called the “Godfather of Philadelphia Folk Music”. Shay, who helped put together the very first PHILADELPHIA FOLK FESTIVAL has been the same golden voice on the radio, playing folk artists every Sunday night, for most of our lives.

Individual daily tickets start at $46; three-day passes are available for $110. Tickets are now available and can be purchased online at For complete information about the festival and tickets, visit the website or call 800-556-FOLK.


Morning Roundup 8/23/10

Matt Garfield of Mose Giganticus (performing tonight at the M Room) talks to The Deli about the place where electrical engineering and metal meet. (It involves a musical homage to Nikola Tesla.)

Make Major Moves offers up a photo recap of this weekend’s Philadelphia Folk Festival, including a ton of pics of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.

Local noise-pop quartet Party Photographers perform live tonight on Maria Tessa Sciarrino’s “Her Jazz” radio show. (9 p.m., WPRB 103.3 FM)

Plus, over the weekend:

Paste Magazine compiled a list of The Roots’ 10 Best Moments On Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. We’re guessing there weren’t enough highlights to fill a list of the host’s 10 most memorable moments.

Phawker’s Brendan Skwire discussed why the appearance of bluegrass legend Jesse McReynolds at the Philly Folk Fest might force him to finally attend the event for the first time. (No word yet on whether or not he actually went.)