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“Philadelphia Folk Fest 2018- Singing in the Rain”
Written by Michelle and Kevin Crilley, Special Contributors

            The Philadelphia Folk Festival celebrated its 57th birthday last weekend at the Old Poole Farm in Upper Salford Township last weekend.

            As we wrap up a summer of near record-breaking rainfall, folk fest was

Philadelphia Folk Festival music fans, at Sunday night's

concert on the Main Stage, had to break out the rain 

gear as a light rain fell during the show.

not spared the weather's wrath. While rain at folk fest is nothing new, Friday evening's concert was suspended for nearly two hours. This had not happened in the past 27 years, but with a big crowd in an open field, thunderstorms cannot be taken lightly.

            Attendees were advised to seek shelter and ride out the storm. After Mother Nature's own light and sound show, the concert resumed with all scheduled acts playing slightly abbreviated sets.

            As we have come to expect, the evening featured a wide array of musical styles, ranging from Western Swing (Grammy winners "Riders in the Sky") to bluegrass ("The Seldom Scene ") and blues (fest veteran "The David Bromberg Quintet").

            The Saturday evening concert kept things rolling in grand style, opening with legendary bluesman Chris Smither. In this, his 12th appearance at fest (dating back to 1969), we knew in a moment that he only gets better with age. His tales of heartache

Poewr folk duo "Shovels and Rope" Michal Trent and 

Cary Ann Hearst play Sunday night on the Main Stage

as one of the featured acts.

and redemption and his lyrical mastery keep audiences hanging on every word.

             He is truly one of the icons of folk fest, and of folk music in general. What a great fortune to welcome him back after a fourteen-year hiatus.

            Sunday night's show featured an impressive lineup of acts to send folk fest out on a high note. Power folk duo "Shovels and Rope" were a pleasant surprise to say the least. With just a guitar, drums, and two microphones, these 30-somethings are a musical tour-de-force. We are sure that these folks have big things coming their way.

            The festival headliner was "Wynonna & the Big Noise", a favorite act for many women in the audience. Now a 35-year veteran of the music scene, she has come a long way from her start with "The Judds."  Wynonna's commanding stage presence and powerful voice had everyone on the hillside paying close attention. Her rousing set included a two-song Tom Petty tribute and closed with her hit song "No One Else on Earth". What a great ending to a wonderful weekend of music. 

            While the night time main stage shows feature the big names and bright

Darragh Graham plays the Didgeridoo during an 

appearance by the Irish accoustic folk rock band

Hermitage Green on the Camp Stage, Sunday 


lights, the fest also showcases lesser known acts, intimate music workshops by master musicians, and much more at 6 smaller venues.

            With some 80 plus musical acts performing over four nights and three days, we cannot begin to mention them all. Some other noteworthy acts included folk heavies like Patty Griffin and John Gorka, 30-year veteran Celtic rockers Tempest, Irish fiddler extraordinaire Eileen Ivers, Zydeco music icons "BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet", and longtime fest favorite "The Slambovian Circus of Dreams". The phrase "so much music, so little time" is not lost on anyone who has been to Folk Fest.

            In fact, fest has so much to offer, it is a daunting task to sample all the venues and activities.

            In the words of first time festival camper Juan Mattas of Chester, "This place is non-stop, around the clock. It reminds me of Las Vegas or New York City, there is  always something happening." For a guy who has travelled around the world, we are pretty sure Juan has found a new second home at Folk Fest.

            As anyone can imagine, organizing and running a music festival for over 20,000 people is a daunting task for festival organizers and volunteers. An additional challenge this year was the issue of parking. According to 15-year Parking volunteer Vicki Sharpless of Malvern, roughly 25% of available parking spaces were lost to flooded field conditions.

            Having attended folk fest for well over 30 years, we were completely impressed at the way township officials, festival grounds crew, and parking volunteers teamed up to get the site ready for this event. Considering that we have had nearly 15 inches of rain in the past 5 weeks, the site was in remarkable shape.

            That real-life example of cooperation among all these people (including 2,200 festival volunteers) is just another reason we love this event.

            And so ends another year at Philadelphia Folk Fest. If the idea of sitting, standing, or dancing on a muddy hillside doesn't sound appealing to you, consider this. Think about your favorite song. Then think about sharing that moment and that melody, in a beautiful place under the open sky with the people you love most in the world. Add a few thousand smiling strangers, and you'll begin to understand the magic and lure of this event for so many people.

            We know a place like that, and we'd love to take you there. Hope to see you all next August down on the Old Pool Farm.





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