The show must indeed go on.
In spite of dour weather reports -- and the eventual slow and steady rain on Sunday -- the 11th WXPN Singer Songwriter Weekend successfully took place at Penn's Landing in Old City this past weekend.
The festival spanned three days, beginning on Friday with popular rock quartet Fountains of Wayne and ending on Sunday with a performance by the North Mississippi Allstars.
The station attempted to recruit a wide variety of bands and songwriters, often taking advantage of the close relationships WXPN has forged with artists over the years.
"We're very much about all types of music and when we put together our line-up, we want to make sure we represent that diversity," said Kim Winnick, marketing director for WXPN.
Luther Dickinson, who plays lead guitar, mandolin and sings for the North Mississippi Allstars, acknowledged the close relationship his band has with the radio station.
"XPN has been helping us and we've been helping them ever since our first album," he said after the show. "We'll do anything for them."
"XPN does have a good relationship with the artists because, frankly, some of these artists don't get airplay elsewhere," said Winnick. "They appreciate that XPN plays their music."
The Singer Songwriter Weekend is another opportunity for such bands to gain exposure, this time by playing to an audience that is usually around 16,000 people.
This year, attendance varied predictably with the weather throughout the weekend.
"Rachael Yamagata and Fountains of Wayne both drew a really good crowd [Friday night,]" Winnick said. Saturday also had a "strong crowd."
With an overcast sky on Sunday, however, organizers weren't sure what to expect.
"We didn't know what was going to happen. It could have gone either way. At around two the rain came and it kept going the rest of the day," said Winnick.
"The people who stuck around were lucky enough to see the performances in a much more intimate setting," she said.
Many acts decided to confront the weather head-on during their sets.
The North Mississippi Allstars got a cheer from the crowd after opening their set with a song that included the lyrics, "Let it rain, let it pour, let it rain a whole lot more."
"All the artists handled the rain really well," said 24-year-old Kelli Smith of Philadelphia, adding that the Singer Songwriter Weekend is "a great atmosphere."
The crowd generally was made up of three main types -- loyal WXPN listeners, fans of specific bands and others who simply enjoy live music.
Tim Sbong, a 55-year-old WXPN member from Dover, Del., recalled that he has been attending concerts sponsored by WXPN since 1990.
Another WXPN member, 20-year-old Carly Frintner of New Jersey, said she came for all three days.
"There weren't as many people [Sunday,] but there was just as much energy," she said.
She said that she particularly enjoyed Charlie Musselwhite and Shemekia Copeland.
"That's why people listen to this radio station," she added.
Others came to see a particular band perform.
Fountains of Wayne, buoyed by their two Grammy award nominations in 2003, were a large draw, as was veteran blues musician Charlie Musselwhite, who has been nominated for six Grammies.
Those who didn't come for a particular group came for the atmosphere and the live music.
Mel, a 58-year old from Northeast Philadelphia, named three things about the concert that drew him.
"I like being outside, listening to music and people coming together," he said, adding that he went to the WXPN-sponsored Jam on the River in late May as well.
Fifty-three-year old Kathy Fantini of Ambler said she enjoyed the concert because it was "sort of casual." She added that she particularly enjoyed the Old '97's, a group described on the WXPN Web site as having pioneered the "alternative country" movement.
A few Penn students also made their way into the crowd.
A group of six went to see Fountains of Wayne on Friday night and met with an unexpected surprise -- new University President Amy Gutmann was enjoying the same band they had come to see.
"We saw this blonde sitting [at the side of the stage] and some of us said, 'Wait a minute she looks really familiar,'" said Engineering senior Evan Goldberg.
"One of us said, 'That's Amy Gutmann,'" he continued. "After the first song, we started giving her shout-outs, saying 'Hey, Amy!' and she looked over and laughed, which means she has a good sense of humor."
Then College senior Peter Bonilla yelled, "'Amy Gutmann, lower my tuition!'"
"It was something to get her attention and I wanted to see if I could get her to laugh," he said.
Goldberg said that Gutmann appeared to be enjoying the concert.
"She was headbanging all night, which was pretty funny," he said.
Winnick said that WXPN makes an effort to attract an audience from Penn.
"In terms of reaching out to the [Penn] community, we look for every opportunity we can to reach out, whether it be to the students, staff or alumni," she said.
"We feel that we're very much a part of Penn and want to make sure that everyone at Penn is aware of us and that we are in touch with the entire Penn campus."Comments powered by Disqus
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