Northeast Times

Musical bliss

It’s time for WX­PN’s an­nu­al XPo­Nen­tial Mu­sic Fest­iv­al, a mel­low week­end of top-notch mu­sic by the lazy river.

WX­PN gen­er­al man­ager Ro­ger LaMay said listen­ers who like the sta­tion’s di­verse blend of mu­sic will love the 18th an­nu­al XPo­Nen­tial Mu­sic Fest­iv­al.

There’s loc­al tal­ent, in­clud­ing Dav­id Uosikkin­en’s In the Pock­et, fea­tur­ing mem­bers of the Hoot­ers. The fest­iv­al is the first stop on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s latest tour and the band’s first Phil­adelphia show since 2007. Book­er T. boasts in­duc­tion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, 12-time Grammy Award win­ner Emmyl­ou Har­ris will ap­pear at the fest­iv­al for the first time as the clos­ing act.

“It’s got something for every­body,” LaMay said. 

LaMay has been at WX­PN (88.5 FM) for eight years. Pre­vi­ously, he was gen­er­al man­ager of Fox 29.

The fest­iv­al had been held on the con­crete of Penn’s Land­ing for more than a dec­ade un­til LaMay moved it to its present site, Wig­gins Park, on the Cam­den wa­ter­front.

“It’s been a great home for us,” he said. “It’s on grass. People can spread out. It’s a great loc­a­tion along the river, and you have a great view of Phil­adelphia.”

WX­PN is the non-com­mer­cial, mem­ber-sup­por­ted ra­dio ser­vice of the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania. The sta­tion bills it­self as a lead­er of adult al­bum al­tern­at­ive mu­sic. Rock, blues and folk mu­sic are the staples.

At the fest­iv­al, there will be two stages. The nat­ur­al am­phi­theat­er, LaMay said, makes for great sound.

Tick­et sales are brisk, and more than 15,000 people are ex­pec­ted to at­tend, thanks to a com­bin­a­tion of mar­ket­ing from the sta­tion and the bands. Some of the acts have very loy­al fol­low­ings.

LaMay de­scribes the crowds as mel­low and fam­ily-friendly.

Since WX­PN doesn’t go crazy out­bid­ding oth­er fest­ivals for acts, it can keep tick­ets mod­er­ately priced. There are dis­counts for sta­tion mem­bers.

Bad weath­er won’t dampen the spir­its.

“We go rain or shine,” he said. “We’ve had pretty good weath­er over the years.”

The gen­er­al man­ager and his team start meet­ing weekly and book­ing acts each Janu­ary.

LaMay be­lieves every fest­iv­al has been a good one, and fans seem ex­cited for the up­com­ing week­end of en­ter­tain­ment.

“It comes to­geth­er over a six-month peri­od, and every year it kind of works,” he said. “We’ve got­ten great feed­back for this year’s lineup.”

The lineup in­cludes South Phil­adelphia’s Kuf Knotz, who will make his second ap­pear­ance. He played at the 2008 fest­iv­al as part of a band called The Hustle.

Knotz blends hip-hop, soul, blues, jazz and rock. His de­but al­bum, Boom­box Lo­gic, was re­leased last Oc­to­ber, and he’s re­cord­ing a second al­bum. He hosts monthly Boom­Box Col­lect­ive con­certs at World Caf&ea­cute; Live.

“I’m very ex­cited,” said Knotz, who will per­form Sunday at 1 p.m. “I’m on the main stage, and it’s sup­posed to be a beau­ti­ful week­end.”

The lineups and stage place­ments are de­signed to guar­an­tee good en­ter­tain­ment all day long, for three days.

Knotz pro­fesses to be a big fan of Ben Folds. He likes the sounds of Ra Ra Ri­ot. And he’s friendly with Kings­foil, a Cent­ral Pennsylvania band dis­covered by ra­dio vet­er­an Helen Leicht.

In all, there will be more than 30 bands. One-quarter to one-third of the per­formers are loc­al.

“That’s part of what XPN is all about,” LaMay said of giv­ing loc­al acts an op­por­tun­ity.

What the fest­iv­al has been all about, at least in some years, is help­ing to launch some ca­reers. Among those who’ve gone on to big­ger and bet­ter things after per­form­ing at the fest­iv­al are Amos Lee, In­grid Mi­chael­son, Grace Pot­ter and Dr. Dog.

LaMay guar­an­tees that fans will see their old fa­vor­ites and dis­cov­er new fa­vor­ites.

“There are bands and artists that are clearly in our sweet spot, our core,” he said. “And there are bands with oth­er audi­ences. One thing I prom­ise just about every­body is that you’ll see some­body else that you’ll go away talk­ing about.” ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

Fine tun­ing …

WX­PN (88.5 FM) will hold its an­nu­al XPo­Nen­tial Mu­sic Fest­iv­al from Ju­ly 22 to 24 at Wig­gins Park on the Cam­den wa­ter­front. The park is loc­ated between Ad­ven­ture Aquar­i­um and the Susque­hanna Bank Cen­ter.

Gates open at 5 p.m. on Ju­ly 22 and noon on Ju­ly 23-24. The mu­sic starts a half-hour later.

Kathy O’Con­nell will host a Kids Corner Area from noon to 6 p.m. on Ju­ly 23-24. Activ­it­ies in­clude crafts, ex­hib­its, amuse­ment rides, themed gar­dens and nature walks.

Early-bird tick­ets are avail­able through Fri­day at a cost of $25 per day or $50 for a three-day pass. Chil­dren ages 2 to 12 pay $5.

For tick­ets, a list of per­formers or more in­form­a­tion, call 215-222-1400 or vis­it ht­tp://www.xpn.org

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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