Music in the Philadelphia Folk Festival campground | photo by Yoni Kroll for WXPN
Feels Like Home: How local artists build their community at Philly Folk Fest
The annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, which just celebrated its 58th year earlier this month, is very much unlike any other music festival out there. It’s not just that it’s 99 percent volunteer run, though that is amazing. And it’s not that there are multiple generations of fans camping out for the weekend and crowding all the shows, though that is also pretty fantastic. It’s also not the music scene in the campgrounds that literally goes until dawn every single night. These are all things that you might be able to find elsewhere, though not on as large of a scale as exists on the farm in Upper Salford every August. But you know what you’re not going to find anywhere else? An organization like the Folksong Society, which puts on the festival every year, and their Philadelphia Music Co-op initiative.
What does the co-op have to do with it? From their website: “The Philadelphia Music Co-op offers artist showcase, networking, promotion, gig booking, and distribution opportunities. The Co-op employs cooperative values of shared ownership and a holistic approach to help artists help themselves. At PFS, we have developed relationships and frequent contact with area promoters, press, media, and venue talent buyers, which we leverage for the Co-op members. Co-op artists are immediately given weighted consideration for programs that PFS directly produces.”
In layman’s terms that basically means that co-op members work with the Folksong Society and with each other to cut through some of the nonsense and headache of being a band, which allows them to focus on what’s important: making music. All you had to do to see this in practice was go to the Philadelphia Music Co-op Showcase at this year’s festival or really go see any of the local bands playing, since almost all have done stuff with the Folksong Society before. The following five interviews are with Philadelphia musicians – some of whom are co-op members – who performed at the Folk Festival this year.