Words & Photos by Adam Quinn
The folkers slept soundly Friday night to the downpour. With no regard for the rain, and all the regard to experience the Philadelphia Folk Fest, many still ventured through the deep mud and relentless rain to experience the temporary tent city set up on Old Pool Farm.
Saturday morning brought a frees start: cool morning, sunny skies, and a lot of fresh mud to navigate. The hill outside our site was now a three-inch deep slide of mud. But, what is a festival without a little rain and mud?
This year the Philadelphia Folk Fest took a different approach for their Saturday afternoon sets. Festival-goers were treated to a variety of showcases rather than individual acts. Showcases included The Philly Local Showcase hosted by XPN’s Helen Leicht, Woody Guthrie’s 100th Birthday Celebration hosted by Mason Porter, the usual kids activities in Dulcimer Grove, the Philadelphia Jug Band’s 50th Anniversary Showcase and Martin Guitar’s campers contest – just to name a few. The showcases provided a chance for the musicians to have some fun together and for campers to experience a wide variety of musical talents.
Of all the showcases, Woody’s 100th celebration seemed to draw the biggest crowd. Musicians from around the Philly scene took turns sharing hand-picked covers from Woody’s catalog.
Witnessing folk musicians from all walks put their twist on Guthrie’s songs was truly special. The selection ranged from “All You Fascists Are Born to Lose,” performed by Zach Stock, to “Car Song,” performed by the Philadelphia Jug Band, to “Ramblin’ Round,” performed by John Francis.
In a fitting end to the showcase, all performs took the stage to sing “This Land is Your Land” along with the crowd. And yes, they included the verse often left out during the majority of the song’s public performances:
“there was a big high wall there/that tried to stop me/the sign was painted/said private property/but on the other side/it didn’t say nothing/that side was made for you and me.”
The Philadelphia Folk Fest has withstood the test of time. I like to think this steadfastness has to do with with two things: the music and all the folks out there who love playing and listening to music. Woody traveled the country singing real-life stories about real-life folks, the same type of people who have gathered on the Old Pool Farm for the last 50 years. Witnessing a celebration of one our America’s greatest folk-singers at one of America’s greatest folk festivals was a truly special experience. Of course, why wouldn’t it be packed? We had a damn good day, damn good music and some pretty damn cool folks to enjoy with.
This is a time-lapse shot of the afternoon spent witnessing Woody’s Celebration.