The Philadelphia Folk Festival keeps getting hipper as it gets older. Now part of the Keychange Pledge – an international program that encourages music festivals to reach a 50/50 gender-balanced lineup – this year's fest (the 57th annual) should draw some 30,000 music-lovers of all ages. Weekend campers and day-trippers alike can groove to 100-plus acts performing folk, country, world, blues, bluegrass, and more. There will also be music workshops, a beer tent, food and crafts, and plenty of kids' activities.
Here are 11 acts not to miss.
This buzz-worthy Tennessee native just got a well-deserved career boost: Her 2012 feminist anthem, "Workin' Woman Blues," made NPR's "200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women" list (at No. 39). Her latest album, The Order of Time, has the siren-voiced, twang-tinged singer blending soul, pop, and folk music with ease. She's a transfixing stage presence, too. Check out: "Workin' Woman Blues."
A relative unknown outside his native Canada, this talented singer-songwriter has 10 albums under his belt and plenty of praise to go with them. Something of a musical chameleon, Myles is as comfortable with jazz and pop as he is with folk and R&B. His latest CD, Real Love, is a nostalgia-tinged ode to classic rock. Check out: "Dreaming."
For many fans, David Bromberg's name alone is synonymous with the Philly Folk Festival. A "musician's musician" who plays guitar, fiddle, Dobro, and mandolin, Bromberg's focus in recent years has been on his first, and most enduring, love: the blues. Check out: "Walkin' Blues."
Playing together since age 12, the still-teenaged duo of Nick Earle and Joe Coffin are building buzz and gaining fans one gig at a time. Both excellent singers and guitarists, the duo earned raves in their native Canada for last year's Wood, Wire, Blood & Bone, which showcased their skills in electric blues, rock, and be-bop-inspired originals. Check out: It's Raining."
He isn't the first successful actor to launch a musical side career but definitely one of the most talented. Over the last 15 years, the unassuming Daniels has played more than 300 shows and recorded even more than that number of songs. On the road with his son Ben (and Ben's band), expect to hear mostly original (and cleverly written) songs, as well as engaging stories to go with them. Check out: "Wicked World."
Call it Cowboy Music for the modern age, with a side of comedy thrown in. Fans may remember this dynamic foursome from their early '90s kids' show and appearances in movies such as the Patsy Cline biopic Sweet Dreams (as the Jordanaires) and Toy Story 2. But they're mostly found onstage, endearing themselves to audiences with top-flight playing, singing, and occasional yodeling. Check out: "Cool Water."
Let's face it: Wynonna's voice is really the biggest (and best) noise. Mom Naomi may have had the glamour, but it was Wynonna's vocal talent that truly drove the Judds' million-selling success all those years ago. With her own band, the Big Noise, led by husband/drummer/producer Cactus Moser, Wynonna's still in her vocal-powerhouse glory, belting out country, blues, soul, and Americana. Check out: "Things That I Lean On."
Two-time winners of Scotland's Traditional Music Awards' "Live Act of the Year," this high-energy, eight-member band – led by brothers Daniel and Martin Gillespie – is known for basically blowing audiences away with its passionate, Celtic-infused pop. Check out: "Take My Hand."
Grammy winner Patty Griffin has enjoyed a consistently impressive and acclaimed career in the years since her 1996 debut, Living With Ghosts. With poignant, memorable songs and a powerful yet delicate voice that ex-love (and still fan) Robert Plant recently described as "heavenly but wild," Griffin is an entrancing stage presence. Check out: "Up to the Mountain."
Senegalese born singer-songwriter/percussionist Élage Diouf brings a compelling blend of pop, world, blues, and folk music. A former member of Cirque du Soleil, the charismatic Diouf is clearly at ease in front of a crowd, where he's known to encourage audience members to dance, sing, and sometimes even join him onstage. Check out: "Probleme Yi."