The Pennypack Music Festival

May 16, 2012

The Pennypack Music Festival/Wednesday Nights and the ALL NEW Saturday Summer Slam Jam!
By:  Krista Doran
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It’s that time of the year again folks!  Time to pack up the kiddies, lawn chairs and blankets and head down to Pennypack Park for the Pennypack Summer Music Festival!  We have all spent time at the park over the last several years listening to great live music, comfortably lounging in the grass with our family and friends.  It’s a wonderful experience for the whole family and we are very lucky to have these concerts available to us to enjoy every year!

The festivals all started back in the ’70’s through the imagination of Ed Kelly and Louis Farinella, and other activist citizens of NE Philadelphia.  Kelly led the grassroots effort to build the existing bandshell with the mindset “If we build it, they will come.”  The shows featured Big Band acts such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey and local area string bands. The concerts regularly attracted huge, appreciative crowds and were a great success for more than 20 years. But as the years passed, the original founders could no longer handle the exhaustive administrative and logistical tasks of running the festival every year. Consequently, despite the obvious need, it ceased to exist.

Luckily, in the Winter of 2000, revival efforts  began and a new group of community activists began to take things over. They put together a plan for a new Summer music series that would use the existing band shell.  By mid-Summer of 2001, the series was officially renamed the Pennypack Park Festival and the abandoned band shell was completely restored! The first year, the new festival was able to put on three small and very successful shows featuring Jazz, Latin, and Big Band music.

Today the concerts continue to be a huge success.  Every Wednesday night, another great Tribute Band is featured, along with other awesome local bands as openers.  Just a few of these amazing acts will include Steal Your Face (Grateful Dead Tribute), Romeo Delight (Van Halen Tribute), The Glimmer Twins (Rolling Stones Tribute), Diamond Dogs (Bowie Tribute) and of course, Philly’s own Mike LeCompt and AJ Slick, plus many more!  The series runs from 5/9 through to 9/15.  These concerts give local musicians the chance to play up on that big stage for the huge crowds that love the music.  This year, the Board approved a special SATURDAY concert that is going to feature the areas top cover bands!  This event called Summer Slam Jam, is going to take place on Saturday June 2, from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm and will feature opening band Original Haze and then starting at 2:00 pm: Boss Hydro, Stems and Seeds, Dirty Electrick, Chowder and Rev!  This is sure to be a great time for the whole family to enjoy, so make your plans now to be there!

The summer concerts are something everyone looks forward to. What you may not know are the many fundraising efforts and scholarships the concerts help to support.  The Festival’s ongoing mission to promote and develop musical and other performing arts is a historic commitment to youth participation.  This is why it is so important for our local community to come enjoy and support all the summer concerts.  Yes, it is about great music but it also about making our community better and better.  The Festival consistently seeks grant funding from public and private foundations, government sources and the private sector and donations from the loyal audiences continue to be a critical source of support as the board looks to eventually increase the number of scholarships that can be awarded.  To read the entire history of the concert series, view the upcoming schedule and for more information please visit www.pennypack.org!

On behalf of, well everyone who enjoys these concerts year after year, all of us at The Out On The Town would like to thank the entire Board (Steve Hartzell, Norman Jadczak, Glenn Devitt, Jerry Lathrop, Janet Tagliavia, Lonnie Goldiner, Lisa Greco, Bob Finnegan, Harry Fritsch and Donny Smith) for all the painstaking effort that goes into such a demanding and wonderful achievement.  This series is a true commitment to community in every sense of the word. All of the concerts are free, so please support this commitment with donating all you can when those buckets come around!

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