Ted Leo will close Make Music Philly with a concert at Penn's Landing. Credit: Getty Images
Summer hits the ground grooving at Saturday’s second annual Make Music Philly, a free, daylong celebration featuring 230-plus performances by amateur and professional musicians at an eclectic mix of more than four dozen locations citywide.
In a town with a national rep for its vibrant summer concert scene, grassroots Make Music Philly stands apart as the only “do-it-yourself” festival. Musicians representing genres from Latin jazz to bluegrass to classical, hip-hop and kids’ music will play in public spaces and volunteered venues between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the Summer Solstice — the official start of everyone’s favorite season and the longest day of the year. The invitation to artists was wide open and the concerts and informal performances have all been “donated” — a testament to the generous creative community in Philadelphia, where music springs from just about every neighborhood.
“The inaugural Make Music Philly day launched a new and wonderful tradition last year, adding a new element to our city’s rich musical legacy,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. In 2014, it “will bring together even more resident artists, businesses and community organizations in a celebration of musical diversity, ingenuity and Philly pride.”
Philadelphia is among more than 800 cities worldwide that will mark June 21 with a bounty of free music. The French started the Summer Solstice tradition in 1982 with the Fete de la Musique, and the United States joined the party in 2006 with National Music Day. Last year, 110 countries participated, highlighting the essential role of music around the globe.
From classical to hip-hop, there's music for everyone at Make Music Philly. Credit: Michelle Alton
Locally, Saturday’s performances will include a few group-participation events. At 10 a.m. at the festival’s kickoff ceremony at Love Park, the Philly Drum Project invites anyone with a percussion instrument to join in for a community drum performance. But first you’ll be treated to an improvisational performance by a drum ensemble that includes members such as Chuck Treece (G. Love, King Britt, McRad) and Spanky McCurdy (Lady Gaga, Jill Scott). Drumsticks will be available, compliments of Zildjian and the event is sponsored by Tama. At 6:30 p.m. at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, those with a yen to play the harmonica can bust out their harps — or use harmonicas donated by Hohner — at a mammoth jam session led by John Colgan-Davis (Dukes of Destiny). That will be followed by a 7:30 concert headlined by indie rock guitarist/singer/songwriter Ted Leo and soul and R&B favorites Lee Fields & the Expressions.
University of Pennsylvania public radio station WXPN-FM (88.5) is the lead organizer of Make Music Philly in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and other cultural organizations and with input from volunteer music industry professionals, nonprofits and community groups. All artists and venues were paired through “matchmaking” software developed for the festival.
Visit MakeMusicPhilly.org for late entries and searchable listings. Updates will be posted to Facebook and Twitter (@makemusicphilly or #makemusicphilly), and all the events can be delivered directly to your mobile phone by downloading the Solstice Music Festival app on your iPhone or Android.