Summertime finally hit this past weekend, and BRP celebrated it in a big way. The weather was warm and the music was plentiful. In true hypocritical BRP fashion, I violated my “I’m not really a festival guy” guideline, not once, but twice. That means that I have a lot to write about and explain, and much to tell you. Enough of this intro stuff, let’s move on.
Saturday was achingly beautiful in the Philly area: warm, breezy, tons of sunshine, and low humidity. The best township on the Main Line hosted the Wayne Music Festival, an annual tradition that is becoming a beloved event, and this year they upped the ante by bringing in some bands that people had actually heard of before. We got up there in time to see Huffamoose, then followed up with Ben Arnold, Rugby Road, and finally, Rusted Root.
Here are some good things about the WMF. It’s FREE! It takes place about 10 minutes from my house. It’s full of family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. It’s FREE! The restaurants and bars in Wayne don’t gouge you, but instead charge their normal prices for food and beverages. It’s modest in size but growing by leaps and bounds, and isn’t full of young drunks (but watch out for those lecherous, buzzed, 50+ fat dudes, haha). Oh, and it’s FREE!
Downsides are the typical complaints about festivals: bands play short sets, there is more talking and milling about than focus on the music, and parking and crowd management are a hassle. But since it’s free, it’s hard to complain. Now, I’ve been to WMF in past years, and the musical talent has been, ahem, modest. This year was different as the powers that be brought in bands that people knew, and that swelled the crowds and made the event noteworthy from the blogger perspective.
How was the music? Here are a few pictures and a short discussion about each band that I checked out:
Huffamoose These guys had a few albums out in the 90s, then split up and went their separate ways. This was not the first reunion show they have played, but they only play together sporadically. I own the first album which includes the great song “Wait” and a number of lesser tunes that are still worth listening to. But I flubbed up on this one: I thought they were coming on at 8 (they came on at 5), and we were watching them for just a bit before Helen said, “that’s Huffamoose.” I said something lame like "they only sound like Huffamoose, but they are coming on later." She insisted she was right, and clearly she was. It just goes to show you that even globally-famous music bloggers are still idiots. Anyway, their set was good, they ended with “James” which we fondly remembered, and they played a nice set. The pics came out good, too.
Ben Arnold I had heard of Ben before, but knew virtually nothing about him. This was the best surprise of the day – he jammed loud and brought a big band with him complete with horns. His blues music was simply great, and we enjoyed this set immensely. Ben has a good voice, and the lead guitarist let it rip a couple of times, thus proving how hard it is to make it big in the music industry. Great pictures on this one, too. I would recommend seeing Ben if you get the chance.
Rugby Road Fraternity row at UVa is on Rugby Road. I have no idea if these guys are named after that dubious space in Charlottesville, but they don't smell like puke, and have been on the Philly local scene for a few decades. They play blues-oriented rock, and proved that they can carry a one hour set with good songs and tight arrangements. I liked them, and if you get the chance to check them out, you should. You could do far worse. I got some good shots of the band, including a number from the side.
This band is big enough to even have a logo. But that didn’t make them the best band of the day despite their headliner status. In fact, while I like some of their more up-tempo, percussion-heavy songs, they also have a bad habit of mixing in boring, slow, world-music ballads. We ended up talking a lot with friends and neighbors while these guys were on stage despite having great seats (yes, seats!) and fantastic sightlines of the stage. When they came on, it was dark, and the stage lights and darkness played havoc with my camera. I have some pictures, but like the band that is their subject, they really aren’t all that.
The WMF ended with fireworks over Lancaster Avenue. It was a quick Uber ride home and was a very satisfying day. As one of my buddies said, we live in a pretty special area. And as my man from Ridgewood, NJ said, “I wish Ridgewood had something that matched this!”
All right stags and hens, it’s time to sign off and get cranking on my next missive about the Radio 104.5 10th Anniversary show in lovely Camden, NJ. I’ll be back with that before you know it. Go have some summer fun, and to help get you in the mood, here’s a great XTC two-some. See ya shortly!
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.