Thousands of sun-baked people filled the lawns of Wiggins Park, which was the Camden, New Jersey site of the 2012 XPoNential Music Festival. It is hosted each year by my favorite commercial free/member supported radio station WXPN which is based at the University of Pennsylvania and features an eclectic blend of music that fills my ears with exquisite sound and nourishes my heart. I knew I would be joining friends and loved ones whom I see regularly, including my cousin Jody Rosenblum and her son Aaron, home from the North Star State of Minnesota and some I haven’t run into for years, as well as new members of my ever growing tribe. I was right on all counts. I made the wise decision to stay at the nearby home of my friends Phil Garber and Janet Berkowitz, rather than trek the hour plus to and fro which meant less travel time, more play time! Armed with blanket, mini cooler filled with healthy munchies, sunscreen, and water (one of the perks of being an XPN member, which I’ve been, I’m thinking for 15-20 years, is that we get refills of liquid refreshment as needed throughout the day. Nothing like hydration to make for a happy festival go-er:), I was ready to roll~
Each year, in addition to favorites, I find cool new musical discoveries. This year, it was the female fronted rockin’ band called Delta Rae. The line up included: The Lumineers, Hold Steady, Dawes, Rhett Miller, J.D. Souther, Diego Garcia, Kathleen Edwards, Wilco, The Avett Brothers and the Counting Crows. I was familiar with all of these folks having been introduced to them on this station and sang, danced, clapped, cheered, swayed, drummed and hugged along to the tunes. Speaking of hugs, I noticed that a man behind me named Chris had a FREE HUGS button on his backpack and he was more than willing to assure me that it wasn’t false advertising. A few times over the weekend we greeted heart to heart. A lovely young couple, named Glenda and Steve who had just moved to the area from New Mexico, sat next to our group of friends and as we ran into each other at the end of last night, we discovered that we had a great deal in common. She is a social worker as well and is enrolled at Rutgers University which is where I earned my Masters in Social Work (MSW) in 1985. We agreed to stay in touch. I saw friends from various incarnations of my life; one nursing supervisor from a nursing home where I had worked, another, a hospice social worker, who visited residents in another facility where I had been employed. Two photographer friends Frank Jacobs and Alex Lowy were round and about throughout the days, working their magic. I think that they have the coolest jobs, that allow them to get right in there, down in front, snapping candids of performers and the appreciative audience. Nancy Hesch and Sherry Reisner were welcome additions to the frolic. Another friend, Rocky Wilson, a colorfully creative performer himself, was easy to spot, sporting his rainbow hued hat and carrying his critter puppets…a monkey named Bongo and a rabbit named Pepperoni.
On to the music! What impressed me the most, across the board, regardless of genre was the way in which each performer engaged with the audience. Whether it was in the more intimate setting of the park itself or a short walk away at the Susquehanna Bank Center (a considerably larger stadium), it felt personal. These are consummate musicians who have earned their place on stage and the hearts of those who applauded their talent. Not a huge concert-goer in my teens, I felt particularly youthful last night, getting my second wind, easing away a sun-induced headache, I danced with kids young enough to be my own, along with my friends Janet Berkowitz and Gary Schoenberg, to the music of the Counting Crows. Janet is a mime and performance artist who, last night reminded me of the Pied Piper as her enthusiasm drew people of all ages to cavort with her. Still shots and videos were being taken. It wouldn’t surpise me if they were up on Youtube by now. Gotta check!
Came home, eagerly rinsing off the sweat and grit, easing into sweet sleep, dreaming of the music of my soul.
www.xpn.org WXPN 88.5 fm
www.bradsrawchips.com Kale Is Kool shirt from Brad’s Raw Foods
www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D5PtyrewSs Counting Crows A Long December
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqZZlL0l5Uk The Avett Brothers I and Love and You
www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhgShqI45ik J.D. Souther You’re Only Lonely
www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQEj_9IhJSo Dawes When My Time Comes
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws4SSGAzz3M Kathleen Edwards Asking For Flowers
http://youtu.be/TnCWk7ElXIs Delta Rae Is There Anyone Out There?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YfpTi-d_nM Diego Garcia All Eyes On You