The Philadelphia Folk Festival is coming back to the Old Pool Farm.
After being staged as a virtual-only event for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the venerable Folk Fest will celebrate its 60th anniversary in its familiar setting in Upper Salford Township near Schwenksville Aug. 18-21.
The list of headliners announced Tuesday for this year’s fest, which is presented by the Philadelphia Folksong Society and bills itself as the oldest continuously run outdoor music festival in North America, is topped by Michael Franti & Spearhead, the project led by San Francisco rapper and guitarist Franti, which blends hip-hop with folk, reggae, and rock.
Punch Brothers, the group of virtuosic bluegrass and folk musicians led by Chris Thile, will perform with their American Acoustic ensemble, which includes the North Carolina duo Watchhouse and Texas multi-instrumentalist and singer Sarah Jarosz.
Headliners also include Americana soul duo The War & Treaty, the married Nashville duo of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount, who bill themselves as “just two love birds singing without reverb.” They’re touring behind their 2020 album Hearts Town.
Along with Franti, this year’s folk fest has another marquee hip-hop act with folk influences and 1990s roots in Arrested Development. The Atlanta band, led by rapper Speech’s 5 million-selling 1992 debut album 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of ..., is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The 2022 fest will be the first in-person gathering since the death of Gene Shay, the revered Philadelphia DJ who cofounded the fest in 1962 and served as emcee for decades. That role will be filled by Christine Lavin, the singer and Four Bitchin’ Babes founder who’s a longtime Folk Fest regular.
The 2022 lineup mixes standard bearers who have played the fest many times with more contemporary acts. Among the veteran folkies are Tom Rush, Jim Kweskin, Happy Traum, and Livingston Taylor. Bettye LaVette, the great R&B and soul singer with a specialty in reinterpreting classic rock standards, also returns to the fest.
On the more contemporary singer-songwriters’ list are Hiss Golden Messenger, the folk-rock project of North Carolina singer M.C. Taylor; Aoife O’Donovan, the Grammy-winning Boston singer who’s a member of the bands Crooked Still and I’m With Her; self-identified “social justice songwriter” Crys Matthews; and music historian and American songster Dom Flemons.
More acts will be announced in the coming weeks.
This year’s Folk Fest will also be streamed live from three stages. In person and virtual tickets are on sale at folkfest.org/60thtickets.