This past weekend I wrapped up my summer music festival attending for the year at the Brandywine Folk Festival in Kennett Square, PA. In its second year, the BFF is not yet a well-oiled machine, but it does have a lot of potential and lots of room to grow. Held at the lovely Anson B. Nixon Park, the setting is ideal for spreading a blanket under the shade of tall trees and listening to some great live music. I saw tons of local & regional bands, some that I knew of and some were new discoveries for me. The fantastic lineup is what drew me to this festival, and I was not disappointed.
There were plenty of Philly favorite rock bands like Toy Soldiers, The Lawsuits, Cheers Elephant, Nico’s Gun, and Cold Fronts. Delaware was represented well with Travel Songs, Robot House, and Mean Lady. As with many folk festivals, the types of music were diverse from the rootsy rock of Mason Porter to the genius of Miracles of Modern Science and their classical string instruments.
A few of the unexpected surprises of the weekend were the chanting and drumming of Lobo Marino, which could be the soundtrack to a relaxing yoga class. Another surprise was the highly energetic & theatrical band Qiet which felt (and looked) like a big brass band playing its way through a carnival. My favorite moment of the festival happened during Good Old War’s Saturday night headlining set. They performed a version of Crosby Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” that had the entire crowd singing along, and the band’s harmonies gave me the chills. Not to leave the crowd wanting more even after the 11 pm noise curfew, Good Old War stepped to the front of the stage and sang a few more songs acoustically with the audience.
With any young festival, you are bound to have some growing pains, and the BFF had a few problems with maintaining sound quality and keeping bands on schedule. This led to some of the later acts having their sets cut short and the crowd was left wanting more. There were also several times when there was a noticeable decline in attendance. Friday evening, there was only a scattered crowd and for the caliber of bands playing, I felt the festival grounds should have been packed. Part of that could be attributed to attendees coming after work on a Friday evening, and some who attended other days may have just skipped the first night altogether.
If the camping was on-site, it might have enticed more weekend festival-goers to come a day early. Even with a few details needing attention, the Brandywine Folk Festival was a very enjoyable weekend. I saw lots of families there with children and dogs as well. There was a nice selection of artisan booths and food & beer vendors to shop. At times, the good vibes were flowing and people were dancing and hooping to the music. I think if the Brandywine Folk Collective can gain more exposure for their festival and get a larger crowd for the entire weekend, while maintaining the strong musical lineup from this year, the Brandywine Folk Festival will grow into a great end-of-summer event for our area.