50th Anniversary of Philadelphia Folk Fest

It’s about time I got around to posting these. I’ve been so wiped out all week that I’ve been a bit lazy. The weeks leading up to the festival were jam-packed: I had interviews with Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers, Canadian folk-rocker Joel Plaskett, and Philly’s own Sean Hoots of Hoots & Hellmouth, in addition to a non–Folk Fest interview with Adam Granduciel of the Philly local band The War On Drugs that I had to put together before their show on the 18th (Side note: If you’ve never heard of them, check out their new album, Slave Ambient. It’s really good.). After the interviews were finished, I wrote a preview and, after the festival was over, a review. Folk Fest, like any festival, had its ups and downs, all of which you can read in the review. Here is a selection of the photos I took. There were, in all, about 1,100 photos, so this is just a tiny piece of the whole. However, it will be a long blog post, so if you make it through the whole thing, I commend you.

Philly songstress Birdie Busch

The classy, handkerchiefed rear-end of Sean Hoots


Philly’s favorite accompanist, the awesome Bob Beach

Andrew “Hellmouth” Gray left the band in September 2010 to return to teaching. This was his first appearance with the band since his departure. He busted out some insane dance moves for the occasion.

I definitely could have used a flash here. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually be able to afford the one I want. Either way, this guy’s shirt rules.

The beautiful fans in Dulcimer Grove

Some people went all out when decorating their campsites.

The aftermath of the gale-force winds and storm that befell our poor campsite on Friday afternoon. We had barely been set up for four hours, and three canopies were torn asunder. At least we were able to salvage one-and-a-half (note the midget red canopy on the left).

Unfortunately, Jesse’s never-before-used canopy didn’t make it.

Justin Townes Earle, often mistaken for Dr. Gonzo

Tattoo closeup

Nothing starts a Saturday morning off better than a Bloody Mary (even one made with Bold ‘N Spicy mix instead of real tomato juice). Using heirloom tomatoes, red bell pepper, black pepper, and cold cuts, I did my best to emulate those made on Sundays by Alex at Atlantis; unfortunately, I forgot a crucial ingredient—horseradish!

Campsite family photo on our neighbors’ disgusting-smelling rug. It did, however, really tie the room together. From left, Hunter, me, Sam, Jesse, Kitty, and Becca.

Probably the best photo of Hunter and me ever taken. It’s funny that Sam didn’t even mean to take this one.

Thankfully, we were granted a reprieve from the rain on Saturday. It was hot, but absolutely beautiful otherwise.

These acrobats were pretty amazing.

A couple taking advantage of the many hammocks in Dulcimer Grove

If you can believe it, this guy was more covered up than probably half of the Folk Fest population.

Hat twins

You really had to pay attention to where you were walking, or else you’d end up face-first in this. Amazingly, I didn’t fall down once all weekend.

Sam and Becca, sisters and overall awesome girls

Jesse contemplating one of our neighbors’ great toys

Yes, you’re supposed to get inside the ball.

One of about 100 images I shot of Trombone Shorty. He was AMAZING.

As you can see, the man is ripped.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was enamored with Shorty

Not really sure what’s erupting out of his armpit.

David Bromberg, who collaborated with almost everyone

Bromberg’s trombone player

First, he brought out Arlo Guthrie

And then Trombone Shorty

Kids love Folk Fest, too.

Dulcimer Grove was beautiful at night.

One of the most anticipated Folk Fest acts for me was guitar master Jorma Kaukonen, founding member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. He was great, but his set was disappointingly short.

Jorma brought out David Bromberg and they jammed together for a bit. Too bad I did such a crappy focusing job on this one.

The legendary Gene Shay, who has been the emcee at the Folk Fest I think for all 50 years

Arlo Guthrie

Guthrie and Bromberg

On Sunday, it started raining around 8 a.m., but thankfully stopped for the Acoustic Workshop, which featured Medeski, Martin & Wood founding member Chris Wood (pictured above), his brother Oliver, Jorma, and Bromberg, among others.

This might very well be my favorite photo of the festival.


Festival mascot

Oliver Wood

Chris Wood

The Wood Brothers’ percussionist, Jano Rix


And finally, the man himself, Mister Levon Helm. I was so beat by the end of Sunday, since it rained pretty much all day, that we left before the end of his set. I’ve seen him twice before, so I wasn’t devastated, but I would have liked to see the collaborations at the end. Oh well. There’s always next year.


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