Philadelphia Folk Festival, Day 2

Posted August 19th, 2013 at 12:54 am (UTC+0)

By Katherine Cole

Hello again from the Old Pool Farm near Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. Day two of the 52nd annual Philadelphia Festival was every bit as glorious as the first. On the weather side, things started out sunny & mild and just got better from there. Musically, the day began with sets from solo singer-songwriters including longtime favorite Ellis Paul from Boston, Massachusetts (his first PFF vist since 2009), and Winnipeg Canada’s Del Barber. The 29-year old told me his festival debut was a double treat: not only was he playing a legendary event, the added bonus was a chance to try his hand at fishing in some of the beautiful rivers and streams nearby the festival site.

Other Saturday highlights included sets by The Decemberists’  spinoff group Black Prairie (Chris Funk, Nate Query & Jenny Connlee with Portland Oregon musicians Jon Neufeld and Annalisa Tornfelt), Todd Rundgren, and local hero Ben Vaughn.  It’s impossible to categorize Vaughn’s style: he’s known for writing movie scores and themes for award winning television programs, a documentary album and film both about and recorded in his much loved 1965 Rambler automobile and several CDs of his own original songs.

Saturday night belonged to Nashville hitmakers The Mavericks, reunited last year after nearly a decade apart.

But not all the excitement was happening on the festival stages. Part of the fun of attending the festival is hanging out in the campground. Organizers estimate that 7000 campers set up temporary homes on the hillside for the weekend. Some are no more than simple tents with sleeping bags inside, but others go for more glamorous lodging.


That multi-family campsite shows how creative some of the set ups can be. Signs, flags, fire pits—homesteaders pull out all the stops to make their weekend homes unique and inviting. While the majority stick with the basics, there are a growing number of campers who prefer a bit of glamor, whether that means bringing a favorite pair of arm chairs and a rug from home, or setting up an full closet and kitchen.

A full closet stretches across the width of this large tent.(photo by Katherine Cole)


This campsite has a complete kitchen: six burners for cooking, cupboard full of spices and cookware, a sink for washing up, blender for frozen drinks and two different coffeemakers. (photo by Katherine Cole)


















But that large kitchen set up was not the most elaborate I saw while wandering the Folk Festival campground. Another I passed was being manned by a couple of guys who’d previously worked in professional kitchens and their experience showed. Their workspace included a double stainless steel sink with a separate propane tank (to make sure the water to the kitchen was hot enough to keep things clean), a grill with burners as hot as the standard US in home gas range, and enough shelves, knives and workspace to make any home chef a happy camper. This campsite also included a custom rigged propane powered water heater to ensure hot showers for all.

All this just for a few days of hot water at the Philadelphia Folk Festival! This set up provides not just (propane heated) hot water for showers at a multi-family campsite, but also for a large kitchen set up. Note the hot and cold taps, just like at home. (photo by Katherine Cole)


No freeze dried, packaged food for these guys. There’s a whole pig in there, slow roasting over coals for a full day. (photo by Katherine Cole)













In my post from Day One at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, I included a photo of a piano that someone had set up in the campground. I received an email, asking if it was a “real” piano, or just an old, broken one. You’ll be pleased to learn that the piano in question is fine and, as you can hear, in tune. Thank you to Lisabeth Weber for testing it out for me!

Host of VOA's Roots and Branches, and world traveler extraordinaire! When I'm not listening to music, I'm probably talking about it or thinking about the next band I'm going to see. Or my next interview! Join me every week for the best in folk, bluegrass and all other forms of American roots music!

5 responses to “Philadelphia Folk Festival, Day 2”

  1. Ruth Heil says:

    Del Barber’s show on the Lobby Stage was a weekend favorite.

    And as for the piano, it’s one of three. Brought in on a trailer and then tuned, three pianos are shared with us who play by a man I call Piano Bob. They are stationed in places where they’ll be kept dry and enjoyed by anyone who wants to use them.

    There’s a painful limitation to being a pianist at a folk festival. A piano is not the kind of thing one can lug in on their back, and electric instruments don’t fit well in the acoustic environment. Piano Bob is a hero to me, because he gives me a chance to participate in the music-making, a seriously wonderful component of the PFF campground experience.

  2. […] Philadelphia Folk Festival, Day 2 Their workspace included a double stainless steel sink with a separate propane tank (to make sure the water to the kitchen was hot enough to keep things clean), a grill with burners as hot as the standard US in home gas range, and enough shelves … Read more on Voice of America (blog) […]

  3. James W says:

    Enjoyed your article about this year’s Folk Fest. It was my 7th, my wife’s 23rd. You could say I “married into” Fest. Did you see the feature-length documentary DVD, At Fest, in the merchandise tent? You can see the trailer here:

  4. I did see the documentary–and I think everyone should!



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